Review and Analysis: Gargoyles Enter Macbeth

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Last time on Gargoyles…

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deadlyforce

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Yeah…that happened.

The episode begins with a montage with the gargoyles going about their lives at the castle.  Broadway’s cooking, Brooklyn and Lexington playing cards, Hudson and Bronx watching TV, and Goliath’s reading.  And over in prison Xanatos is patiently waiting, checking down the days before his release.

The next day brings a visit from Owen, who asks Xanatos what he wants done with the gargoyles.  Xanatos doesn’t really want them destroyed but admits that he can’t have them living there when he gets back.

This is when a security guard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies) pops in and offers Xanatos a solution to his problem.  When Xanatos inquires how he would know about them the guard says he has experience with them and for a price will take them off his hands.

Xanatos: And how would you go about this, Mister?

Guard: They call me…Macbeth.

And I gotta love how they gave him his own little leitmotif in the form of a blast of bagpipes as if to let the audience know just how Scottish the character is (though played by a Welsh actor).

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“A understand ye got yerself a wee gargoyle problem. Well dahn’t ye worry me bonny lad. Auld Macbeth’s on the case.”

Dusk falls on the castle and Macbeth now dressed in body armor and a spiffy trench coat waits for nightfall.  Elisa shows up hobbling on crutches, which I have to say is great for not only showing a sense of continuity but also showcasing the consequences of the last episode.  Shows that unlike your average action movie, bullet wounds can have long term injuries.  After introductions between the two are made, she offers to bring him inside though he makes it clear that he knows about the gargoyles, much to Elisa’s confusion.

Night falls and the gargoyles awaken and are just a little apprehensive at the new stranger, especially Bronx who starts growling at him.  Macbeth invites them to stay as guests at his home which Goliath declines at which point Macbeth insists a little more assertively by showing the guns at his hips.  He explains that he wouldn’t stoop to attacking them at night but now that they’re awake it’s fair game.

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“Ach, if A wanted ta do battle with lawn decorations, A’d pick a fight with some garden gnomes.”

Before anyone can even react he judo throws Broadway into Hudson before disorienting the rest with gas pellets.  The rest of the fight goes poorly for our heroes as Macbeth manages to trap Brooklyn, Lexington and Bronx with electrified nets and even knock out Goliath by kicking him into an electrical box.  During the fight Owen steps in to remind him that he’s not being paid to destroy the castle and Macbeth agrees to take this elsewhere, calling in a hover jet and making off with Brooklyn, Lexington and Bronx.

After that fiasco another argument breaks out between Goliath and Elisa as she continues to try and convince him that they can’t stay in the castle any longer.

Goliath: No, you don’t understand.  We’ve lost our clan, our world, our time.  This castle is all we have left.  We will not abandon it.

Elisa: What?  You need a castle to fall on you?  Read my lips. You’re not safe here.  What if the next freak job Xanatos hires shows up with a sledgehammer at high noon?  I can’t protect you during the day.

However Goliath isn’t hearing any of this and goes off to search for the missing members, ordering Hudson and Broadway to remain and protect their home.  With Goliath gone she tries to convince the other two about the dangers in staying.  While they both agree Hudson is still reluctant.  Not willing to go behind their leader’s back nor give up on their home.  But Elisa reminds him that even if this castle is where they’ve spent most their lives the simple truth of the matter is that it’s no longer their home.

And speaking of homes, we then see Macbeth’s own home, a castle like mansion with a very interesting stained glass window.  Containing the images of not only a figure that looks like himself but a distinctive gargoyle.

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“Ooh. Who could that be?”
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“Is this another eyesight thing or are you just pulling my leg?

And what’s a castle without a dungeon?  Well that’s where the captured gargoyles find themselves, kept in cages while also kept under surveillance.

Brooklyn: Who is this “Macbeth” anyway?

Lexington: Uh, the name sounds familiar… Wait, I remember. Goliath was talking about a play called “Macbeth” by some new writer named Shakespeare.

“New” huh?  Well I guess when you’ve been asleep for a thousand years anything from the 16th Century sounds new.

Brooklyn: Uh-huh. Ever read it?

Lexington: No.

Brooklyn: Maybe we should.

levarburton

Back at the castle, Broadway and Hudson have taken up Elisa’s offer but before they leave they decide to take the Grimorum Arcanorum with them for safekeeping.  Unfortunately they’re blocked by Owen who surprisingly enough manages to easily knock down Hudson before drawing a gun on our heroes.  Unfortunately for him Elisa disarms him with one of her crutches and Broadway tosses him away, even taking a moment to crush his gun.

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Not just continuity, but continuing an important character trait.  Nicely done.

And with that, they take the book and leave the castle.

Back at the other castle, Brooklyn’s passing the time zapping his finger on the electrified bars on his and Lexington’s cage out of boredom.  Noticing the lights dim every time he does that, Lexington hits upon the idea of diverting the majority the power to their cage and allowing Bronx to break free.  The plan works (albeit painfully for Brooklyn and Lexington who soon pass out)  and Bronx manages to break out of the cage and then out of Macbeth’s home.

Over in the city, Goliath is gliding about trying to find some lead when the sound of crashing cars on Broadway (the theater district not the gargoyle) draws his attention.  It turns out that it was caused by Bronx running down the middle of the street.  Goliath reunites with the faithful beast, in full view of pedestrians and everything.  I wondered about the wisdom of this before I remembered that back in the day gargoyles and humans did coexist and in the current day the clan may not advertise themselves they don’t necessarily hide themselves away in an emergency.  And for Goliath this counts as one so he doesn’t consider discretion.  And soon, Bronx is leading Goliath in the right direction like it was an episode of Lassie.

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“What’s that boy? You know where Brooklyn and Lexington are? And Timmy fell down the old well again? Eh, kid can take care of himself.”

Later, the two of them reach Macbeth’s home, smashing right through his front door.

Macbeth: Don’t bother knocking.  After all, we’re old friends.

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“That was hand-carved mahogany ya div.”

Goliath sends Bronx off to get the others while he takes Macbeth, who reminds him that he was able to take the whole clan in their home and is surely prepared for him in his own.  And backs that up by bravely running away.  He leads him on a merry chase through the castle, throwing steel doors and electric fences in Goliath’s way which only makes him angrier until they reach the obligatory hall of mirrors.

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“Ah yes, A’d thought ye’d come.  But which of us is the true Scotsman an’ naw just an illusion?”

Goliath starts asking questions like whether Xanatos paid him to do this, Macbeth confirms this though mentions that he only did so because if he offered to do it for free it might seem suspicious.  Which makes sense, a guy like Macbeth is obviously not strapped for cash considering all his gizmos and big fancy house.

Goliath: Then why? We’ve done you no wrong.

Macbeth: It’s not you I’m after; you’re just a pawn.  I want your queen.

Goliath: Queen?  We have no queen.

Macbeth: No?  What about Demona?

Goliath: You know Demona?

Macbeth: Know her? Ha ha ha ha! I named her!

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“What?!”
elephant
“Whaaa?”
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“What…But…That…just raises…Hermes Conrad?!

And before Goliath has a chance to process that he’s dropped through a trapdoor into the dungeons.  Macbeth explains he’s simply using the gargoyles as bait, hoping that Demona will show up to rescue them.  This time though it’s Goliath’s turn to laugh ominously, he informs Macbeth that the clan and Demona aren’t exactly on the best of terms.  What with her trying to kill them and all, and this scheme is pretty much pointless.  Infuriated at this revelation, Macbeth resumes the fight; during which a lit brazier is toppled over and a fire begins to spread.

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I had no idea that stone walls were so flammable.

While this is going on, Bronx reunites with the other gargoyles and not only manages to break through the bars of their cage but even shrugs off the electrical currents much to Lexington and Brooklyn’s surprise.  Makes me think it would’ve been better if Bronx was the one to divert the electricity and the two of them escape.

Anyway, the fight between Goliath and Macbeth switches from hand-to-hand to weapons as Macbeth grabs a sword and Goliath a morning star when they move into the armory, all the while the fire continues to spread.  Apparently neither one of them have heard the ancient Klingon proverb, “Only a fool fights in a burning house.”  In the end, Goliath manages to shatter Macbeth’s sword but Macbeth manages to slip away, fleeing from the burning wreck that was once his rather nice home in his jet.

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“Ya bloody beast!  Ya blew up me bloody house! Gaaahhh!”

The freed gargoyles convince Goliath not to pursue Macbeth and they decide to make their way back home.  But Broadway, Hudson and Elisa flag them down before they return to the castle; and Goliath, who’s mood is already pretty sour from the events of that night soon turns even worse.

Goliath: What are you doing here?  Why aren’t you guarding our home?

Elisa: You don’t live there any more.

Goliath: WHAT?

Elisa: I found you a new home.

Goliath: HOW DARE YOU! I  told you that castle IS OUR HOME!

Broadway: NO, Goliath!  She’s right! It’s suicide to stay there.

Hudson: Lad, they’re right, you know.  It’s just a place of stone and wood.  Home is more than that Goliath.  Home is the six of us.  Wherever we can be together and safe.  That’s our home.

And while Goliath may not like it, he does accept it.  But he also decides to stop by the castle one last time to have a word with Owen.

Goliath: I have a message for you master.  We’re leaving.  But we’ll be back… We’ll be back to reclaim that which is ours!

And as the sun rises that morning, for the first time in a thousand years the castle is without gargoyles.  That same day Xanatos returns home and actually seems a little disappointed that the gargoyles are gone.  And while intrigued about Macbeth decides to put that aside for the moment and just enjoy the fact that he’s home.

Elsewhere, the gargoyles have settled into their new home, an old clock tower.  And while not thrilled to move from a much more luxurious castle to a broken down time piece they decide to make the best of it.

Goliath: As long as we’re together, it’s home.

Review and Thoughts:

I mentioned in my first review, that Greg Weisman, one of the showrunners for Gargoyles was an avid fan of the works of William Shakespeare and admitted that it influenced his creative process on the show.  So it’s really no surprise that we’d get not only a character but a episode title based on the Scottish king from Shakespeare’s drama.

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Sadly there isn’t an episode titled “Exit, Pursued by a Bear.”

The character himself is a fascinating one played exceptionally well by John Rhys-Davies using his normal accent.  Well it worked well enough when he played an Egyptian, a Spaniard, a Russian and a dwarf and it works fine here.  The character is unique in the fact that not only was he able to match the gargoyles in combat but he knows about them at all.  Which explains why he has the right tools necessary for subduing and capturing them.  But also leads into the much bigger questions, how does he know Demona?  Demona says that she got her name a long time ago, so when did he bestow that upon her?  And why is he after her in the first place?  Prior to this, Demona’s sole interactions in the modern world have been with her former clan and her partnership with Xanatos.  The fact that there’s a third party involved raises more questions than it answers.

The episode is pretty action heavy and Macbeth shows that not only does he have the tools but the talent to take on our heroes.  Though not as strong as Goliath, he is able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat and not get utterly trounced at the end, something no human has done before.  The episode makes it no secret that the only reason the gargoyles survived was because Macbeth’s personal honor not to attack them while they slept (plus he also didn’t attack an injured Elisa) and because he only wanted to capture the gargoyles, not kill them.  All in all, he makes for a surprisingly complex antagonist for the episode.

There’s two big themes to this episode: the first and most obvious one is the concept of home.  By the end of the episode the gargoyles are forced to leave their home of a thousand years behind, though the episode reinforces that as long as they’re together then wherever they are is home.  By the end of the episode Xanatos returns from his incarceration and puts his scheming aside momentarily and just be happy that he’s back home.  And by the end of the episode Macbeth has lost his home in his scheme to get Demona; which brings us to the second theme.  The consequences of letting anger cloud one’s judgment.

For the last few episodes Goliath has been stubbornly refusing to even consider the possibility of finding a new home, insisting that they were still operating under the Medieval rules of “You conquer it, you keep it.”  As a gargoyle, a central part of his character is to be a guardian for his home, in this case the castle.  And even if it wasn’t that castle is still the last vestige of familiarity before his world tuned upside down.  Before the thousand-year sleep, before the massacre of his kind, before the betrayal from the love of his life.  The fact that he’s pretty much roaring in anger over Elisa going over his head is pretty out of character for him, and just shows how his stubbornness has reached a boiling point until he’s lashing out at one of his closest friends and allies.  This doesn’t excuse his behavior, merely explains it.

That same stubborn anger also shows up during his fight with Macbeth, a few episodes ago he and Lexington were cleverly taking out the members of the Pack using stealth and hit-and run tactics.  Here his previous loss and anger towards Macbeth stealing members of his clan has him chasing after him into some pretty obvious traps and engage in a long, drawn-out fight that you’d think he’d forgotten he was there to rescue his friends in the first place.  Likewise Macbeth becomes so enraged over his plan being fruitless that instead of doing the obvious thing like try to find some common ground once he learns that he shares a common enemy in Demona he instead gets into a battle that he might not have won and ignores the spreading fire until it completely consumes his home.

Next time we’ll see how the Clan acclimates to their new home, what Xanatos will do now that he’s out of prison and what Demona has in store with the spell pages she stole…

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