Happy Halloween everyone! Before we begin the next analysis I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Gargoyles just celebrated it’s 25th anniversary, just last week in fact. Which would make it the Silver Anniversary if I recall correctly. Anyway…
Last time on Gargoyles.
Xanatos and the gargoyles duked it out. Xanatos in a spiffy new battle armor and the gargoyles with just their dukes.
Oh and Elisa got a new partner, a conspiracy theorist named Matt Bluestone.
Our episode begins one dark and stormy night at Castle Wyvern, back when it was still in Scotland. In fact a good ten years before the castle was sacked and the gargoyle clan was massacred. Inside we see Princess Katherine back when she was just a child and her father, Prince Malcolm (played by the late Roger Rees).
The prince is trying to get his daughter to settle down for sleep, telling her that gargoyles will get her if she doesn’t behave. And you know, if you want to frighten your child with cautionary tales maybe don’t use the sworn guardians of the castle, she might develop a complex against them. Because right at that moment a gargoyle shows up scaring her, a pre-Hudson Hudson. Sporting an unscarred eye too.
Speaking to the prince in private, Hudson asks him not use the gargoyles frighten the girl as they would never harm a child, but the prince just shrugs it off. Maybe he should use something imaginary like kelpies, wirry-cows or the Nucklavee. Though since magic is already confirmed to exist there’s always the possibility that those things aren’t imaginary.
Anyway, the two of them have more pressing concerns. Prince Malcolm has recently banished someone known as the Archmage and they’re concerned he might be out for revenge. And as the saying goes, “speak of the Devil and he doth appear.” In this case, that evil devil is David Warner, playing the role of the Archmage.
The Archmage’s attack is swift and brutal, blasting Hudson away with magic before striking the prince with a poisoned dart and disappearing.
The scene then shifts to the present day where the gargoyles have awoken and Hudson has been dreaming of the past. At her apartment, Elisa is settling down from her shift when she gets an unexpected visitor of her own. Demona who swoops in and hit her with a dart before Elisa can retaliate.
Demona: You’ve just been poisoned. In 24 hours you’ll be dead. I have the antidote. Tell Goliath I’ll be at the Old York Opera House in the Village. Ciao.
Luckily the dart actually hits the badge Elisa was carrying in her inside pocket meaning that there’s no threat. However when she relays this information to the clan Goliath still plans to meet up with her, reasoning that if they don’t make an appearance Demona will try again and Elisa may not be so lucky next time. Goliath ultimately decides that he’s going to try and reason with her. Because Brooklyn’s still a little to angry with her Goliath has him guard the clock tower and Broadway and Lexington to guard Elisa leaving Hudson to accompany him to the meeting despite Hudson’s own concern.
At the Opera House, Hudson takes a moment to investigate the area while a storm begins to form, adding to the tenseness of the scene. Unfortunately Demona isn’t in the talking mood and immediately attacks Goliath with a laser rifle, hitting him square in the chest. Thankfully this is a Disney cartoon so it just wounds him rather than killing him, Demona then turns her weapon on Hudson who surprisingly enough reflects the beam back to Demona buying him some time as he takes the wounded Goliath into the Opera House to hide.
As the game of cat and mouse begins Demona decides to taunt Hudson and try and draw him out.
Demona: Well done, old soldier. But you’re only prolonging the inevitable.
Hudson: I could say the same to you, lass. It’s not that long till sunrise, when we’ll all change. And tomorrow night when Goliath awakens healed, he’ll make short work of you.
Demona: You won’t make it to sunrise.
As Hudson takes a moment to consider his options we shift back to the past where Prince Malcolm is being tended to by a teenage Magus. The bad news is that the poison in the dart he was struck with is enchanted and it’s beyond the Magus’ skill. Meaning unless a cure is found he’ll be dead by dawn. The good news is that such a cure exists within the Grimorum Arcanorum. The even more bad news is that they don’t have it, and the worst news is that the Archmage does. Poisoned by a maniacal madman and the only hope is possessed by said madman? Prince Malcolm is not having a good night.
Princess Katherine angrily takes this all out on Hudson who just slinks away, ridden with guilt. Later he meets up with a pre-leader Goliath and a pre-evil Demona and explains to them that they’re going after the Archmage, insisting that he can’t fail the prince again. Demona tells Goliath that perhaps it’s time for Hudson to step down, as she’s never seen him look so old before.
Back in the present, Hudson leads Goliath out of the opera house and down a storm drain which Demona notes is pretty risky considering he won’t be able to use his wings down there. While Goliath keeps insisting that Hudson leave him behind Hudson won’t hear any of it, even bringing up the time they went against the Archmage to try and keep his spirits up. Interesting way to justify a flashback but whatever works.
Back in the past (we’re going to be jumping around a lot I feel), Hudson has picked up on the Archmage’s tracks which lead to a cave near the cliffs. Demona points out that their wings will be useless underground and with the Archmage’s magic they’ll be fighting with a pretty big handicap.
Hudson: I did not track him this far to give up now. I will not fail the prince again.
Goliath: And I will not let him do this alone.
Demona: I don’t know who’s the bigger fool; him for going, you for following, or me for not leaving you both.
As they venture deeper underground the cavern take on a much more temple-like appearance as the walls become covered with strange carvings and figures. Eventually they reach a great chasm and on the other side a skull-shaped ruin that reminds me of the Temple of Doom. Also there is the Archmage waiting for them who begins blasting them with magic.
Back in the present, Goliath is still insisting that Hudson save himself but Hudson believes that whatever happens they’ll do it together. Unfortunately Demona has tracked them down through the sewers and the chase is back on. Even more unfortunately the two of them hit a dead end in the form of a waterfall; so with no more options Hudson takes Goliath and does a Richard Kimble right off the waterfall. And apparently Thor is on the two gargoyles’ side as a bolt of lightning strikes near Demona before she can pursue them.
Back in the past the gargoyles are having a tough time against the Archmage with Hudson taking a nasty blast of magic straight to the face. Goliath however manages to leap the chasm and wrestle away the Grimorum from the Archmage; catching it before it falls into the chasm. Infuriated, the Archmage tries to impale Goliath with a broken stalagmite (or stalactite) but Demona pushes Goliath out of the way and the Archmage ends up plummeting down the chasm.
Hudson recovers and compliments the two of them and shows that his eye has been scarred as well. In the present, Hudson and Goliath have fled to a cemetery, seeing that Demona has tracked them down, Hudson stashes Goliath in a mausoleum while he goes out to face her alone. To keep her from discovering Goliath, Hudson engages in some hit-and-run tactics until the fight reaches the top of the mausoleum itself. Finally reaching the breaking point, Demona attempts to bludgeon Hudson while Goliath, hearing the sounds of battle, weakly climbs to the roof to try and assist.
Hudson: Give it up girl. You can’t win.
Demona: I’m smarter, stronger and younger than you! You’re pride will cost you your life!
Hudson: But I know something you don’t, something that comes only with age.
And Demona finally catches on what he means as the storm breaks and so does the dawn.
Hudson: I know how to wait.
And so the three of them enter into their stone sleep, leaving some very interesting statues for the day.
Finally in the past the antidote has worked and the Prince will recover. Demona still insists that the clan needs a new, younger leader. And while Goliath disagrees Hudson doesn’t. Unsure of his new position, Goliath agrees on the condition that Hudson stay on to help advise him, which Hudson agrees to.
In the present, the three have awoken and now that Goliath has fully recovered the tables have turned. Demona flees, but not before mocking them that there’s no antidote and Elisa is surely dead by now. Goliath and Hudson decide to not spill the secret that Elisa’s still alive and take a moment to reflect. Goliath thanks Hudson for keeping him alive and acknowledges that there’s no one else he’d rather have by his side.
Hudson: I thought my warrior days were over.
Goliath: “Nonsense. There are years of fighting left for you.
Hudson: (sighs) Now there’s something to look forward to.
And the episode ends with the two of them sharing a hearty laugh before heading off for home.
Review and Thoughts:
Long Way To Morning is the first episode for Hudson to take center stage; for most of season one he had been a bit of a background player and nearly every character (besides team pet Bronx) had an episode dedicated to them at this point, suffice to say he was due an episode.
While on the surface, the two plots parallel each other with neatly with the underlying theme of racing against time and a poison there’s a much deeper theme to it and it ties in with Hudson himself. Heck, him having the flashback makes the most sense too, as the oldest one in the clan (not to mention the only one with an accent) it’s only natural that his thoughts would linger with the past and the life they left behind.
The concern of age is something that affects Hudson both in the past and the present weigh heavily on Hudson but the lives of others counting on him means he has to set that aside and do what’s necessary. The flashbacks were not only a way to show the transition of power from Hudson to Goliath but as way to encourage Goliath and himself during their dire predicament. What happens in the flashback? Even though Hudson himself was taken out of the fight and blinded in one eye, they were still victorious and the Prince was saved. Hudson might fall in his fight against Demona? It may still buy Goliath enough time to recover.
But one thing that Demona and indeed Hudson himself underestimated was his fighting spirit and his need to protect others no matter how out of his depth he may be. He may not be as quick and strong as he used to be, but he can still dodge laser fire pretty easily and match Demona blow for blow. He may not be as well adjusted to the new era as the Trio but the tricks and skills he’s learned serve him well even in the 20th Century. Plus, age has given him wisdom (which doesn’t always occur) thus giving him some strengths that the others don’t have. He doesn’t have the blind spot for Demona nor the temper involving her like Goliath and Brooklyn do and he certainly isn’t as naive as Broadway or Lexington. Time may have slowed him down but it’s also helped shape him into a perfect mentor figure.
The episode also gives some background into other characters as well, we see the makings of Princess Katherine’s prejudice towards the gargoyles. It may seem silly that it began in such an innocuous way, especially considering her father’s good relationship with the gargoyles and they were responsible for saving his life. But it’s important to remember that such prejudices, real or fictional, often begin in such small ways.
Also shown is Demona and her naked ambitions and how they’ve changed since then. In the past her ambitions were toward Goliath and how he should take over leading the clan. And though both Hudson and Goliath eventually agree with her, the tone it takes makes it sound like she’s almost living vicariously through Goliath and that a promotion for him is one for her as well. Kinda Lady Macbeth like actually.
Compare that with the present where her schemes to take control of the clan, here her ambitions have been warped by time and bloodlust. Her desire to take over means that she’ll anyone and everyone that would dare oppose her; Goliath, Hudson, Elisa, heck I wouldn’t put it past her to try and declare herself leader of a non-existent clan.
For the Archmage, David Warner is deliciously evil in the role. The guy has the look and sound of an evil sorcerer and David does a great job sounding bombastic yet natural at the same time. Not bad for such a short role.
Next time, it’s Elisa and her family take the spotlight and Xanatos begins his next scheme…