In the twelfth and penultimate episode of the first season of Gargoyles, Elisa is shocked by her brother’s decision to work for Xanatos. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.
I really feel like I have nothing to compare this to, particularly shows of the same period. I’ve been watching various episodes of Batman: The Animated Series for Patreon, and I can see it as a sort of kindred spirit, but even then? They’re such vastly different shows, y’all! There’s a serialization here that feels unparalleled for children’s/teen animation. (Seriously, this is totally like a young adult book series, isn’t?) And the stories being told? LOOK HOW COMPLICATED THIS IS.
The show doesn’t abandon its silliness either while telling these stories. The unique combination of genres here makes for some odd television, but I’m not criticizing that. The writers already established that Lexington loves to rebuild things, that he’s got a knack for assembling parts and creating this miniature marvels. The gargoyles’ obsession with learning about modern technology is also a part of this show’s mythology, so that’s why I can sit here and say that an extended sequence in which Lexington flies a helicopter – twice – is not exactly ridiculous. Oh, it’s a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, and I NEVER WANT THIS SHOW TO CHANGE. Just keep doing weird shit like this!
However, it is the emotional stories that Gargoyles gives us that keeps me floored by this show. To watch Elisa struggle with the frustrating problem of her brother was SO SATISFYING. Why? Because the show did not make this easy. Initially, Derek could not understand why Elisa despised Xanatos so much. And how could she tell him the honest truth? I respected that she knew that this was not her secret to tell, that the gargoyles should be allowed to reveal themselves as they see fit. Yet without them, she had no real means to convince Derek that the decision he was making was a bad one.
There’s another layer to this, too. Derek feels trapped by Elisa, and “Her Brother’s Keeper” does a fine job of showing us his perspective as well. To him, her concern isn’t just irrational; it seems like she’s trying to control him and dictate what sort of future he should have. There’s that brilliant moment where Elisa and Derek each seek out one of their parents for advice, which contradicts the other one. Elisa’s dad knows this is a terrible decision and is worried that Derek is abandoning the family business. Their mother, however, encourages Derek to pursue what makes him happy. NEITHER PIECE OF ADVICE IS BAD, WHICH IS WHY THIS IS SO COMPLICATED. I appreciated that, though, because, as I said, it challenges the viewer alongside these characters. Derek should be allowed to pursue his dreams!
That’s why the ending is so satisfying to me. Despite that the evidence seems OVERWHELMINGLY OBVIOUS to everyone else, Derek has to figure this out on his own. He cannot be convinced in the way that Elisa has been using. That tape that she gave him of Fox admitting that Xanatos used The Pack and Derek might sway him, but who knows? What if he believes that the pay is worth the risk or the moral complications?
I also must say that I was surprised at Fox, Jackal, and Hyena re-appearing again, as I didn’t expect it. And we learn so much information from Fox! I’m guessing, then, that we’ll see them again at some point in the future since they’re still tied to Xanatos. I don’t think he’s done using them.
The video for “Her Brother’s Keeper” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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