Review and Analysis: Gargoyles Reawakening

Last time-

“You were doing these reviews in February.”
“Hey, I’ve been busy!”

Anyway, last time on-

“Really? Since the pandemic you haven’t had a moment to yourself? For Pete’s sake you took all of August off.”
“Shut. Up. Snake in the Grass!”

Anyway, last time on Gargoyles, Elisa’s younger brother started working for Xanatos, Jackal and Hyena got arrested, the Trio got a helicopter and Spoiler Warning: it never shows up again. Now let’s get on with the recap.

The episode starts off one snowy, winter night at a local convenience mart currently in the process of being robbed. And the elderly store keeper snarking at the robber with all the weariness of someone who’s gone through this so often it starts to become tedious. As the thief makes off the scene changes back to the past, the night before the massacre at Castle Wyvern in fact. A pre-Demona Demona argues with Goliath into taking the whole clan with him to track the Vikings; she argues why should the gargoyles even bother defending the humans and the castle and another new gargoyle agrees with her. One voiced by….Michael Dorn?

Geez, first we’ve got Counselor Troi, then Commander Riker, then Lieutenant Uhura and now Mr. Worf? That does it, I’m starting a list.

However a pre-Hudson Hudson steps in and reminds them that a gargoyle can no more stop guarding the castle than breathing the air. And with a word of affirmation to his friend and to his beloved, Goliath and Hudson leave the castle to their ill-fated journey.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will work out fine with no unforeseen circumstances or betrayals.”

Back to the Nineties and the clocktower, the Trio head off to the movies. Hudson declines under the classic belief that it will be on TV soon enough, as well as the fact that someone needs to stay and defend their new home. Reiterating the same bit that the Trio recite with the same enthusiasm as a grandchild who’s heard the same joke a thousand times.

Elisa checks in on a wistful Goliath who seems to be a little listless, maybe because the Clan has started to really settle into the modern world, maybe it’s just a case of seasonal depression I mean it happens to most people during the winter. She offhandedly mentions the police motto “protect and serve” which intrigues Goliath and offers to go along with her and protect and serve the citizens of New York.

Elisa: Sure, why not? My car is big. I’m sure my partner won’t even notice you.

Over at the Eyrie Building, Xanatos and Demona are conducting some kind of experiment involving someone or something hidden underneath a sheet. That or they’re reenacting the big scene from Frankenstein.

So where did they get the skulls for candleholders? I’m just curious and I mean Halloween is coming up…

Xanatos: If this works it’ll be a miracle.

Demona: None of your plans have worked. The Pack, the Steel Clan robots, all have been proven useless.

Xanatos: You’re stolen spells haven’t done any better.

Demona: Neither science nor sorcery have defeated Goliath, perhaps a combination of the two will be more effective.

With the spells properly prepared, Xanatos preps the machines which start throwing electricity into the body. He throws a switch, a second switch a third switch.

“Not, the third switch!”

Until the voltage triggers something and the flashes of electricity are replaced with luminous clouds of magic, which enter into the body beneath the sheet.

Then a claw twitches. And a creature rises up to the shocked horror of Demona and the ecstatic delight of Xanatos.

Xanatos: It’s ALIVE! ALIVE!….I’ve always wanted to say that.

Even genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropists have got to enjoy the little things.”

Though silhouetted by shadows it’s clear that this is the same gargoyle seen at the beginning though obviously not completely the same as before as hydraulics sound every time he moves and he now possesses a bright red cybernetic eye. She asks the Creature whether he remembers her and he nods, she also introduces Xanatos as her servant which earns her a miffed look from him.

The Creature: What…am I?

Demona: You are cold stone brought to life.

The Creature: Cold…Stone?

So…she named him after her favorite ice cream chain?

Demona: Don’t you remember anything?

Coldstone: I remember…the castle. Goliath, my rookery brother…went to find the Vikings. Dawn came, and then…oblivion.

Demona spins him a lie that Goliath abandoned him and the clan to be killed by humans, and as she lets him see his reflection for the first time in a thousand years she blames Goliath for the reason he now looks the way he does.

Suffice to say, he doesn’t take it well.

While out on patrol Elisa’s partner Matt Bluestone goes to check in on the owner of the store that was robbed at the beginning of the episode, lamenting that there isn’t more the police can do to protect him. While he’s inside Elisa checks in on Goliath, talking through an earpiece she lent him. He asks why the shopkeeper would keep his store open with all the robberies he’s had and will mostly likely be robbed again. She explains that this being an old and dying neighborhood larger stores and chains won’t come near it. But even if the neighborhood is dying there are still people around there that rely on that shop for food. The community small as it may be, needs him.

But before they can get into the long term problems of lack of economic support and how that negatively affects a region a call comes in for all units to get to Times Square. The police have cordoned off the area where a bus has been overturned and a water line has been busted, but this isn’t a traffic accident but the result of something big and mad. Coldstone is on the rampage and is picking up and throwing cars with frightening ease, and when Elisa and Matt attempt to shoot him, bullets just ricochet off of him. Before the two of them can be flattened by a Buick, Goliath swoops down and tackles the Creature, who then easily throws him aside. Elisa asks what it is and the police shine their spotlights on Coldstone, offering us a proper look at him.

Goliath: It is an abomination.

Coldstone: Rookery brother? You betrayed us!

As he points an accusatory claw at the gargoyle, he accidentally he accidentally triggers the laser cannon built into his hand.

Coldstone: What sorcery is this?

I guess that’s just a popular phrase among gargoyles. Goliath now recognizes his lost brother but Coldstone is too enraged to cease his attack. As the two continue their battle, stray laser blasts strike the nearby buildings, including the theater where the Trio are watching their movie.

Broadway: Boy, that surround sound sure is great.

Lexington: I don’t remember any explosions in Bambi.

No, you’re thinking about its sequel. Bambi Meets Godzilla.

At the battle, Goliath finds himself on the losing side until the Trio intervene while Xanatos and Demona observe through a camera in Coldstone’s robotic eye. With a break in the fighting Goliath asks Coldstone why he’s attacking in the first place and Coldstone reiterates his belief that Goliath betrayed the Clan. When Goliath tries to explain Demona shows up with Xanatos in his suit and another robot. Huh, you know a moment ago they were watching the fight from his castle and the next they’re all suited up and at Times Square, that’s some fast travel.

Demona: We have each created our own clans now, Goliath. You have yours and I have mine.

Goliath: You have no clan; you don’t know the meaning of the word!

Demona: Destroy them Coldstone.

Xanatos: Let’s not be hasty, I want them alive.

Demona: Destroy them and we will survive!

Coldstone: Survive? Like this?

Demona: Appearances mean nothing!

Easy for you to say when you’re not an undead, cyborg monstrosity.

Goliath: There has been enough death. There are so few of us left my brother.

This actually stirs something in Coldstone but before anything can come from it the groups are distracted by the arrival of a news van. Elisa reminds them that they’re supposed to remain a urban legend and showing up on the news won’t help. Assuming that he’s communicating through one of his robots, Goliath suggests moving their fight elsewhere, Elisa assures him she’ll bring backup.

Back at the Clock Tower, Hudson and Bronx catch up on the goings-on through the news and while ready to help now face the conundrum of having no one to guard the tower if they leave.

The agreed upon area turns out to be the George Washington Bridge and our heroes arrive to the seemingly empty bridge.

Lexington: Hey, looks like we beat ’em here.

And then they’re bombarded by laser fire.

Brooklyn: Remind me to be fashionably late next time.

The fight resumes with Brooklyn immediately going after Demona, Goliath and Coldstone going at it on top of the suspension towers and the rest battling Xanatos and his robot. During the fight Lexington manages to damage Xanatos’ suit to the point where he needs to remove his helmet to the shock of the others who assumed the suit was just another robot. But all of that put aside as the struggle between both Goliath and Coldstone leads to them both plunging into the river.

In the icy waters Coldstone remembers Hudson’s words, “A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air.” And even as Goliath slips into unconsciousness he still tries to reach out to his rookery brother. And with that, Coldstone flies the both of them up onto the bridge. Unfortunately the respite is short lived as Demona has recovered her weapon and aims to use it on Goliath.

Coldstone: Wait! You said destroying my brother is the only way to survive. Is that all there is for us? Mere survival?

Demona: Isn’t that enough?

Goliath: No. Gargoyles protect. It is our nature, our purpose; to lose that is to be corrupt, empty…lifeless.

But Demona has had enough and shoots at Goliath, but Coldstone throws himself into the path of the beam and plummets back into the river.

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

And sure enough Goliath leaps back into the water to try and rescue him.

“And I was just starting to get dry!”

Demona tries to take out the Trio but surprisingly enough, Xanatos was serious when he said he wanted them alive and shoots the gun out of her hands. That’s when Elisa, Hudson and Bronx arrive to turn the tide of the fight and Xanatos snatches Demona and makes an expeditious retreat. Elisa asks what happened here and what happened to the monster; that’s when Goliath returns, dripping wet and alone.

Goliath: He was not a monster. He was family. And now he’s gone.

At the top of the bridge the gargoyles mull over what it is that they protect, Hudson believes it to be their home the clocktower but Goliath disagrees.

Goliath: This Island, Manhattan; this is our castle. From this day forward, we protect all who live here, human and gargoyle alike.

The next morning, the robber from earlier bursts back into the store he previously robbed, only this time he’s not in the robbing mood. As he starts dumping his ill-gotten loot onto the counter he begs the storekeeper to call the cops so he can turn himself in.

Shopkeeper: What?! Why?

Robber: Cuz six monsters just told me to.

And the episode and the first season ends with the statues of six gargoyles watching over a little grocery store and indeed, the whole of Manhatten.

Review and Thoughts:

In case it isn’t obvious enough, this episode draws a lot from the Frankenstein mythos, from the obvious like Xanatos quoting the line from the Boris Karloff movie, to the more obscure literary references like the climax involving the cold, arctic waters. The Modern Prometheus story has been reinterpreted a multitude of different ways, usually involving how the creator responds to his creation. In the original novel Frankenstein was repulsed by the Creature he made and abandoned it; despite the Creature’s intelligence no one can see past his appearance and ultimately both Frankenstein and his creation become monsters in their cycle of revenge against one another. Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein takes a different approach; despite his Creature not turning out like he wanted and all the comedic mishaps, Dr. Frankenstein works the slow and steady path to making sure that not only can society accept his creation but that Creation and Creator can accept each other.

Reawakening takes a very different path, Coldstone isn’t a modern Prometheus, he isn’t Adam and he isn’t the Fallen Angel. He had a life and memories of his own before his death and after his resurrection his path parallels that of our heroes. Both were thrust into a modern world they didn’t understand, both were manipulated by the villains that they thought were their friends and both are seen as monsters in this strange new world. If Frankenstein’s central theme is the danger of playing God and Young Frankenstein‘s theme is that love can overcome all prejudices then Reawakening‘s theme is that of regret. Regret that Goliath couldn’t save his brother from his fate, regret that he couldn’t save his Clan from the massacre a thousand years ago, regret that he called his brother an abomination.

The casting of Michael Dorn was pretty inspired, even setting aside the Star Trek theme that’s been going on with the characters he does a great job. The character of Coldstone engages in some animalistic savagery mixed with genuine eloquence, the kind he had perfected while playing the role of Worf. His naturally deep voice contrasts quite nicely to Keith David’s own rumblings. And as an added bonus, unlike in Star Trek where his character would get thrown around by the threat of the week, now he’s the threat of the week that throws the big guy around.

We had seen early on in the episode that Goliath was getting listless from the Clan’s new situation, despite everything thing they had gone through including being forced out of their ancestral home they had adapted well, yet something was missing. What was missing was the call to arms to be guardians, protectors once more. The local shop owner being constantly robbed and what happened to Coldstone was a dark reminder that there will always be those who will exploit and harm others. But as the shopkeeper unintentionally demonstrated, there will also be those in need and moving away or hiding away benefits no one. And the little contributions each person does can help the community or the clan in bigger ways than they may see, a grocer gives food and the gargoyles protect.

Next time, we start Season 2 where big changes are sure to come…

“Yeah sure, whenever that may be.”
“Shut. Up. Elephant in the Room!”

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