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Awakening: Part III is the central episode of our five part introduction to the series, and, unusually, largely action free. In fact, apart from the ending, there is very little action full stop. Greg Weisman noted this in the episode commentary, and also mentioned that it was no less interesting – no less strong – for the lack of fight scenes.
I’m inclined to agree with him. This episode gives us a chance to learn a lot about (almost) all of the lead characters, and, if we didn’t know them so well, would we really care what happened during the action scenes?
This episode, in a way, cements together the other four, bridging the gap between the Scotland of the opening two parts and the Manhattan of the final two. It’s the first time we really get to meet Elisa, as well as the beginning Elisa-Goliath relationship, Hudson’s first encounter with the television and Lexington, Broadway and Brooklyn’s first chance to strike out and explore their new home.
It has some wonderful quotes, too.
Points of Interest
(Obviously, I haven’t covered everything I could have. These are just a few points that I found particularly interesting, as well as a few things to think about and discuss, and some questions for you to consider.)
Goliath and Elisa
“A good detective trusts no one.”
“That’s one thing we have in common.”
So, what do you think of Elisa’s reaction to the clan? I like it. A lot. One of the main reasons I love the show is the very human, very believable characters. Elisa didn’t accept them automatically, or even understand them at first. (I’m always amused when she produces her badge, despite having just been told that they’re from a different century and have no real idea what it does. It’s an instinctive action for her, even when she’s faced with a group of creatures that she’s struggling to comprehend. Perhaps because she’s faced with a group of creatures she’s struggling to comprehend.)
Despite being the female lead, Detective Maza makes mistakes and has her flaws. I love the mutate plotline because we get to see that more clearly, but we can see it here too. She falls off the building – a pretty big mistake, but understandable in the circumstances – and she’s astonished when she realises that Goliath can talk. It’s certainly an interesting beginning to what will be one of the most defining relationships of the series.
Goliath’s initial reaction to Elisa is pretty interesting too, actually. I didn’t notice this until I did my rewatch this week, but he was ready to climb off and leave her on the ledge, and was definitely grumbling when he lifted her on to his back. Is he tired of humans, do you think, or is he just tired of being the rescuer? He always has a tendency to be the more serious gargoyle – wanting to know about the threats of the city, rather than exploring it excitedly like the trio – and that has to take a toll. And his clan suffered a lot because of their attempt to rescue the princess. He’s quite jaded here, and it doesn’t really lift until the Manhattan clan make the decision to become the Manhattan clan, and protect the whole city.
Demona and Xanatos
“I’m sure our enemies mean to use the information for some terrible purpose.”
So, did anyone actually buy that? I know we don’t know his motives yet, but did anyone watch him – without cheating and looking at it in hindsight – and really think that he was as nice as he seemed?
I love the casual way he mentioned that he’d “just called the mayor”, and that way he uses the word “invasion” as if it was perfectly normal. The latter shows a lot about his confidence and ego, and the former gives us an interesting glimpse of his power and influence. Unlike a lot of villains, particularly a lot of villains in cartoons, Xanatos isn’t out and out mad and he doesn’t indulge in costumes or gimmicks. He’s a slick, highly intelligent businessman. Even as a child, I remember finding that a lot more intimidating because it was a lot more real than the antics of someone like the Joker.
Xanatos is also part of one of the most important moments of the episode: Demona’s reveal. Do you think that it was giving away too much? According to the episode commentary, Greg Weisman certainly thinks so, but I think it’s important to keep in mind the target audience of the series. I know it was, and still is, adored by adults and children alike (that’s why we’re still watching it, after all), but most of the advertising was geared towards boys aged between 6 and 11. Things can’t be too complicated, for a start, and maintaining the tension in a multipart story – particularly when the show is only just getting off the ground – is paramount. Do you think that a recognisable silhouette is a more effective way of doing this than, for example, showing Xanatos talking to someone entirely unseen? What did you think was going on?
Reactions to the Modern World
Ok, so this isn’t the most serious discussion section, but I always enjoy watching the gargoyles react to technology – from Hudson and the chair, as seen in the screencap above, to Goliath and the “living tapestry” - so I thought I’d mention it. What are your favourite moments? Do you think they overplay the comedy?
(I, personally, don’t think they do. Time limits prevented them from showing all of the adjustment period, but I thought it was important to show their astonishment, for a sense of realism if nothing else. The confusion often caused drama as well as amusement, too, as we’ll see in later episodes.)
“Nothing’s real to you ‘til you’ve named it, given it limits.”
The conversation between Hudson and Elisa is one of my favourite parts of the series, let alone this episode. Like the use of the word ‘friend’, which we discussed last week, it emphasises the differences between humans and gargoyles, and, since they eventually choose names, between the Manhattan clan and the gargoyles of the past.
The need to name and define things is a very human trait, and, when questioned by Hudson, Elisa can’t actually come up with a way to justify it. Is she being practical – saying things “need names”, largely for organisational purposes – or does Hudson have a point? Do we restrict things too much when we name them? I’m a scientist (in training, but a scientist nonetheless), and I’ve had it drilled into me since day one that names – particularly Latin binomials – are incredibly important. I almost envy the freedom of the gargoyles, and their ability to just enjoy things at face value.
Gargoyles Defying the Laws of Physics: 6 or so?
Star Trek Voices: 3
Dramatic Awakening Scene: Only 1!
(Let me know if you can think of any interesting categories I could add here! They could be serious, such as ‘reading is good’ or less serious, such … well, such as the ones I’ve already picked.)
- Greg’s Episode Ramble