In the fifth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, Demona summons someone to help her, and I am still recovering from the sheer chaos this act brought into my life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.
I imagine that when y’all got to that part in one of my earlier reviews – where I wrote about how cool it was that this show combined tropes from fantasy and science fiction at the same time, often in the same scene – you just chuckled. How could you not? I haven’t even fully seen what this show is capable of. (There are still forty-seven more episodes for me to watch!) And yet, “The Mirror” throws fantasy, science fiction, and Shakespeare into a blender to give me the weirdest episode of Gargoyles yet, and IT IS SO GOOD. The Fair People exist canonically within this universe! ELVES AND FAERIES ARE REAL HERE, PLEASE LET THERE BE A MILLION MORE OF THEM.
I have a thing for trickster characters in general, so I was definitely biased in favor of this episode before I saw a second of it. However, the writers use of Puck, who might very well be the Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, isn’t just for the chaos he causes. Oh, that’s a huge part of the appeal of this story. There’s a poetic power to what we witness here. Demona summons Puck after stealing a magical mirror from the Met, and it’s hilarious to watch her bite off more than she can chew. (I’m also intrigued by the fact that she seems to have a MANSION APARTMENT in Manhattan. How the fuck did she get that? Who is her landlord? What kind of rent is she paying? In all seriousness, I’m guessing that Xanatos is paying for it.) She assumes she can control Puck, which is a mistake for ANY trickster-style character. You never can! But I also saw that as something distinct to her personality. Demona is obsessed with power, and she relishes any chance to hold that over someone else. Thus, in her mind, merely exerting her power on Puck should get her what she wants. Right?
I know that this isn’t revolutionary in terms of how the trope is applied. When it comes to tricksters who grant wishes or requests, it’s incredibly common to see those wishes granted in absurdly literal ways, which delights the trickster to no end. Puck certainly does that here, and Brent Spiner is a goddamn gift from the heavens in terms of voice acting. He fulfills this role with wonder and mischief and I CAN’T IMAGINE A BETTER VOICE.
However, it’s what Puck does that interested me so much. The show takes a nosedive into the surreal, and yet I wasn’t pulled out of the world. It made sense in a strange way, especially because the weirdness was grounded by the characters’ reactions. For example, I was frightened that Demona was going to wipe Elisa out of existence, but Puck’s clever twist – to get rid of Elisa the human by turning her into a gargoyle – had such a remarkable impact on the story. It allowed the show to definitively establish a romantic subplot between Elisa and Goliath, but it also revealed just how committed Demona was to destruction. Her characterization is less about getting any sort of specific revenge for how she was treated. She wants all humans to suffer, sure, but ultimately, she just wants a world of gargoyles. Yet even when Puck grants her that (THAT WHOLE SEQUENCE WAS WILD, HELP ME), she’s not satisfied at all. It’s not enough for her! Humans don’t exist anywhere in Manhattan, but she’s more concerned with who gets to be a gargoyle. It’s not something to be earned or to change into; only certain gargoyles get to survive!
Funny how those are only the gargoyles who have done what Demona wants.
There’s a lot to enjoy here amidst all the weirdness, like the gargoyles briefly becoming human themselves. Or Puck’s absolutely absurd method of keeping the gargoyles occupied while Demona fights Goliath. Or PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS ONCE PUCK IS AROUND. The writers clearly had the time of their lives writing this episode, and that’s certainly the case for the ending. After Goliath grants Puck his freedom for returning things to normal, Puck has one last surprise. You know, I don’t even think Puck would have granted that last wish in the way he had if Demona hadn’t been so rude to him. But here we are, in a world where the sun rises and DEMONA BECOMES HUMAN INSTEAD OF TURNING TO STONE. I cannot even fathom how this is going to play out because… seriously, talk about Shakespearean tragedy. The irony is that she’s now forced to become the very thing she despises. EVERY. DAMN. DAY.
I need more of this show now. RIGHT NOW.
The video for “The Mirror” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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