In the fourth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, the group faces Macbeth again, but he’s not the best part of this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.
Macbeth is an interesting antagonist, especially since this show is so deliberately vague about exactly who he is. There’s that absurd line he has where he comments on the fact that he himself put the seal on Merlin’s scrolls, and it further cements his oddly timeless nature. But what does he want? Why is he here? Thus, without a specific motivation, he’s upstaged by a character who might never been seen again on the show.
Of course, I don’t know if you can call this upstaging if the writers always intended for Robbins to be the emotional focus of “A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time.” Macbeth is an antagonist who is larger than life, a presence that immediately sparks fear and trepidation in the gargoyles because of how intense their initial interaction with him was. Seriously, look how shocked Broadway was when Macbeth revealed himself! Again, though, his motivation is cloudy. Why exactly did he want Merlin’s spells? For the power they granted him? To be closer to that specific time period? For nostalgia?
If anything, Macbeth exists here to highlight how much people misunderstand about power and magic. He was willing to imprison Broadway and cause harm to the people who found or guarded the scrolls. He sought out the kind of power that people only dream of. Yet here we’ve got Jeffrey Robbins, the man who takes Hudson in without any hesitation when Hudson is harmed. There’s no clever plot twist that awaits us at the end of “A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time.” No, Hudson truly does meet a caring individual who lets him spend the night, and all the while, he extols the magic of books.
And look, y’all, I can’t recall a cartoon ever giving me such a confluence of identities in one person. Robbins is a black and blind writer; he wrote multiple books himself; HIS SERVICE DOG IS PORTRAYED ALONGSIDE HIM. There’s no after-school-special vibe to him, either; he’s just a random person off the coast of New York that Hudson happened to meet. The conversation they have over the course of the night touches on a number of things, but the importance of books and reading is the main focus. It helps contextualize that scene early in the episode where Lexington talks about books and is then made fun of by Brooklyn and Hudson. Hudson doesn’t hate reading; he’s just ashamed that he’s illiterate. This episode explores that shame through Hudson, who never wanted to admit this truth. All I could think was how powerful this might have been to someone watching this. Robbins doesn’t berate Hudson for not being able to read, nor does he badger him about teaching the skill. Instead, Robbins just tells Hudson how wonderful reading can be.
Thus, when Merlin’s scrolls are revealed to be a diary, not a list of spells, Hudson realizes how “powerful” the scrolls still are. Words can transport us places we’ve never been or never can go. What value is there of a firsthand account of life in Merlin’s time? Well, it’s priceless. It’s invaluable. Hudson realizing that is a significant moment for his character. I’d also like to publicly push my support for Robbins teaching Hudson to read. PLEASE. CAN THIS HAPPEN.
The video for “A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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