Review and Analysis: Gargoyles Leader of the Pack

It’s the beginning of Season 2 here at Gargoyles; the first season was full of culture shock, betrayals, swords, sorcery, robots, lasers, very special episodes that didn’t feel ham-fisted. You have to wonder where things can go from here.

Season 2 also marks a change to the opening, previously the opening was a montage of clips from the series accompanied with moody, atmospheric music. Now there’s an accompanying narration too, as provided by Goliath.

“One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled.
It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear.
It was the age of gargoyles.
Stone by day, warriors by night,
We were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,
frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years.
Now, here in Manhattan, the spell is broken, AND WE LIVE AGAIN!
We are defenders of the night!
We are GARGOYLES!”

The last two lines match well with the crescendo of the opening theme and the narration helps set up what the series is about to new viewers. Anyway, previously on Gargoyles

Oh. This episode actually provides a “Previously on…” of its own. That’s also new. It covers the previous episodes covering the Pack and how Fox is the only one who actually knows that they’re working for Xanatos, ending once more with her swooning over his brilliance.

The episode begins at Rikers Island where a figure in a golden, canine-themed armor is traversing the walls.

They easily break into the prison and incapacitate one of the guards, hitting him with a wave that causes the guard to start hallucinating until he collapses.

“Oh I chose a bad day to pack those special brownies!”

Wolf and Jackal are currently sharing a cell when they’re suddenly broken out by Dingo, the only member of the Pack that wasn’t imprisoned, and the three of them make a break for it. Over at the women’s block Fox and Hyena are also sharing a cell and I have to question the wisdom of putting members of the same group into the same cell. Hyena entertains herself by flicking at cockroaches while Fox reads Jean-Paul Sartre.

Hyena: Why do you read that stuff?

Fox: Because Nietzsche’s too butch, and Kafka reminds me of your little friends over there.

Wasn’t expecting a literary joke in a Disney cartoon, but the series continues to surprise. The strange figure arrives to break them out and introduces himself as Coyote (gotta keep with the theme I guess.) He hands over Hyena’s special claws and she looks more than willing to use them on another guard, Fox however not only stops her from killing the guard but also refuses to leave, wanting to serve out her sentence. Hyena starts flirting with Coyote while they meet up with Dingo’s group in the courtyard, they manage to break out after Coyote rips the steel doors from the gate and flings it at the guards. From there he calls up a submersible airship and the Pack make their getaway.

Over at the clocktower the Clan awakens and finds Elisa waiting to tell them of the Pack’s escape, Lexington still smarting from their betrayal is anxious for some payback and is eager to go and find them. He’s convinced that they’ll return to their old studio despite the fact that Elisa informed him that that’s the first place the police are checking; but with his mind set, Brooklyn and Bronx decide to accompany him while the others decide to go straight to the man who created the Pack in the first place, Xanatos.

Back on the airship, Wolf is quick to try and take over as leader from Coyote despite Dingo’s warnings. The attempted coup doesn’t go well for Wolf as he’s soon taken down by a combination of knock-out gas and electric shocks. But while the rest of the Pack is suitably impressed by his tech they’re still skeptical about who he is. So Coyote decides now’s the time for the dramatic unveiling and he turns out to be, David Xanatos himself.

“Dun dun dun!”
“Would you stop that?!”

Xanatos lays it out for them, he broke them out of jail because they have a mutual desire for revenge against the Gargoyles for sending them to jail and is fairly confident that eventually they’ll come looking for them. Speaking of which, Goliath, Broadway and Hudson arrive at the Eyrie Building to look for Xanatos only to find Owen waiting for them. He informs them that Xanatos is conveniently out but is polite enough to tell them that the Pack will soon be arriving at their studio.

Elsewhere, the rest of the Clan are scoping out the studio and Lex’s vengeful attitude is starting to disconcert even Brooklyn.

Brooklyn: Look, Lex, I know how you feel. You trusted them and they used you, nearly got you and Goliath killed. I feel the same way every time somebody mentions Demona. But you can’t let it consume you! You need to remember what’s really important; family, protecting our home!

Lexington: You have your priorities, and I have mine.

Seeing the police leave, Lexington decides to check it out himself and Brooklyn reluctantly decides to take Bronx and follow him down. Inside, they find the studio empty much to Lexington’s disappointment but Bronx gets a whiff of something he doesn’t like. And that whiff turns out to be a hidden door beneath the floor of the studio which brings up the airship.

That or a Laser Floyd show is about to begin.

Brooklyn tries to hold back Lexington, feeling that they need a plan of attack, but Lex opts for the Leeroy Jenkins approach and immediately tackles Wolf. The fight goes well at first until the Pack’s superior numbers and tech eventually overwhelm all three of them and they’re captured.

Later Goliath and the rest arrive at the studio and amusingly they find a phone call waiting for them which Broadway answers. Owen informs them that the others have been taken and the Pack is holding them on an oil tanker in the middle of the bay. At the tanker, the other three Gargoyles find themselves locked in the hull. While Lex fumes over their defeat Brooklyn laments the similar situation they’ve found themselves in back in “Enter Macbeth.”

Lexington: We almost had ’em!

Brooklyn: Oh yeah, yeah they were begging for mercy. How come whenever you and I take Bronx out, we wind up like this?

Lex is still convinced that he can handle himself but with the three of them caught with no idea where they are and unable to get out, well the only thing he can do is pound fruitlessly against the hull’s walls. Above deck, the Pack is prepping for the fight and while Dingo is skeptical that they’ll come knowing that it’s a trap, Xanatos is convinced.

And sure enough they do arrive, using the fog over the bay as cover as they ambush the Pack. While Goliath goes after Xanatos in his Coyote disguise, Broadway goes to free the others. Hudson in the meantime takes on Dingo, Jackal and Hyena and during the scuffle several barrels of oil are knocked over. Goliath and Xanatos fight it out and Goliath manages to power through his hallucinatory wave and disrupt a laser blast from him, which ignites the spilled oil. Goliath unmasks Xanatos and the two groups continue their fight even as the fires spread unhindered across the ship. Xanatos starts to get the upper hand until Bronx suddenly leaps upon him and starts tearing at his face. Geez, this is getting hardcore. But when Xanatos gets up we find that Xanatos isn’t actually Xanatos.

Egads! He’s a Terminator!

Dingo: He’s a robot!

Hyena: A robot? Even better.

But before Hyena’s ambiguous robosexuality can be explored further, the Xanatos-bot is shot in the back by Lex and his head kicked off by Goliath. With the head of this team cut off (so to speak) and the ship destabilizing further, the Pack makes a hasty retreat to their airship. Lex tries to pursue them even as an explosion knocks out Brooklyn, having to choose between shooting down the Pack or saving his friend from plunging into the now burning waters, Lex ultimately chooses the latter.

The rest of the Clan examine the head of the robotic Xanatos which surprisingly enough has built in rockets and it flies away. The hull of the ship ruptures and starts to sink and I can only imagine the headache this oil spill is going to cause the environmental groups, the heroes only then realize that they should be following the villain’s lead and getting the heck outta Dodge. Only getting away in the nick of time, though not without almost leaving poor Bronx on the sinking ship.

Seriously, how could you almost forget that good boy?

As the Clan leaves, Brooklyn and Lexington manage to reconcile.

Brooklyn: Thanks for saving my bacon before it got fried.

Lenxington: Hey, I’m used to it. Besides, it helped me get my priorities straight.

Back at Rikers, Fox is being reviewed by the parole board. Considering her good behavior, willingness to serve her time and even risking her life to protect one of the guards, they grant her an early parole. Much to Fox’s satisfaction. Outside a limo is waiting for her, and inside so is Xanatos as the two passionately kiss. Yep, turns out Fox’s infatuation is fully reciprocated; she inquires on who was the victor between the the Gargoyles and her former team.

Xanatos: It never mattered, that was merely the icing. You’re the cake. The whole escape was staged to give you a shot an early parole. Plus, I got the chance to test this prototype humanoid robot.

Fox: But they destroyed it. What about your revenge?

Xanatos: Revenge, as they say, is a sucker’s game. Robots are nothing, Fox my dear; I can build a dozen more like this one. True love is so much harder to come by.

And with those sweet nothings, the episode comes to an end.

Review and Thoughts:

This episode is packed with mostly action but there’s a fair amount hidden away in the details. The most obvious of course is the theme of revenge and the downsides of it, the Pack of course is so set on getting their revenge that they once again become pawns in Xanatos’ schemes which ironically enough relies on Fox not pursuing revenge, at least not in the traditional way.

It’s rather appropriate that the episode “Enter Macbeth” is referenced here because it’s shown in that episode that even while in prison and faced with the possibility that the Gargoyles could be problematic in the long run, Xanatos still doesn’t have his heart set on taking revenge. The fact that “Xanatos” under the guise of Coyote is pursuing revenge can tip off observant viewers that something is off about the character. It actually makes sense that Coyote would be engaging in such a cartoonish scheme, he is working with some uncomplicated, cartoonish villains, so what better way to manipulate them then with such a Saturday-morning plot?

On the other hand is Lexington, like the other members of the Trio he still has that issue that triggers his anger. Brooklyn mentions his own sore feelings about Demona manipulating him and Broadway is sure to smash up the gun he gets his hands on during the fight. But as Brooklyn points out, while having those feelings is completely normal and understandable, you can’t let those feelings control you. Lex’s single-minded pursuit of revenge means that his more thoughtful nature is placed aside and his recklessness nearly costs him his and his friends lives. In fact it’s only at the end when Brooklyn is nearly killed does he finally get his priorities straight, at least for the moment, we’ll see where his bitterness leads him and whether it will grow or subside.

Next time, we catch up with Elisa’s brother Derek and see the sinister workings of another one of Xanatos’ schemes…

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