In the twentieth episode of the second season of Gargoyles, Xanatos is the worst. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.
This show is going to destroy me, I just know it.
I feel like this week’s episodes are part of their own unofficial little arc, and that arc is: XANATOS IS GODDAMN EVIL AND I REALLY DON’T LIKE HIM. It’s very easy to despise someone who treats other living beings as tools, and this episode is just more proof in a long line of evidence that he cannot possibly treat anyone with respect or gratitude. Of course, for the first half of “The Price,” I thought Macbeth had done the unspeakable and used a spell to prevent Hudson from waking during the night. (Surprisingly, this is the least disturbing thing in this episode. GREAT.) Admittedly, the plan didn’t make much sense to me. I couldn’t understand why he’d want to do something so cruel, especially since he didn’t return to destroy Hudson. In the end, the only theory I had was that he’d done this solely so that it would make the other gargoyles miserable.
And lord, were they EVER upset. The show never stated it in the script, but y’all, they spent NEARLY A THOUSAND YEARS TRAPPED JUST LIKE THAT, and suddenly, Hudson had reverted to that form. That’s upsetting! Even worse, Macbeth DIED during that attack, which meant that the gargoyles had no way of utilizing any counter-sorcery to free their brethren from his stone imprisonment. My assumption from that point was that Goliath would have to find a way to convince Demona, the only being they knew who could do sorcery, to help Hudson. That’s an interesting story, right? How far would they go to save someone that they cared about? What sort of compromises would they have to make?
So yeah, clearly I wasn’t prepared for the plot twist that sat right in the middle of “The Price.” XANATOS. AGAIN. Intentional or not, his appearance felt different this time around, as if he’d dropped all pretense of manipulation and decided to be straight-up with Hudson in regards to his intentions. He announces them matter-of-factly: he needed a gargoyles’s stone skin for the Cauldron of Life, a spell that apparently granted someone eternal life. He is so forward about the fact that immortality should be his, and that makes him so much worse. He’s not aimless, nor is he accidentally stumbling into these moral nightmares. No, it’s all on purpose: the world should bend to his will because. That’s it. Just because. It’s a little more complicated from an external standpoint, since you can tell that Xanatos is used to getting what he wants. That privilege bleeds into everything he does, and he gets pissed when things don’t go according to plan. (See the end of this episode for a great example of that. His face is fascinating as he reacts to Hudson leaving.)
I’d count his mortality as one of those things. Why waste what he has accomplished because of a silly little thing like death? Thus, his reason for capturing Hudson is even more disturbing: he thought he could convince Hudson to be a guinea pig by exploiting Hudson’s age. Wasn’t Hudson afraid? Wasn’t he worried that he was no longer useful to his clan? THIS IS SOME HEAVY SHIT FOR A CHILDREN’S SHOW, Y’ALL. Yet Hudson faces his mortality with honesty and integrity, and that’s why Xanatos failed so badly here. He honestly thought this would be appealing to Hudson, rather than offensive. That’s understandable because I don’t believe Xanatos can genuinely see the world through any worldview but his own. He might be able to manipulate people, but truly empathize with them?
Not a chance.
Two last things: I won’t forgive this show for that scene where everyone mourned Hudson’s death over his crumbled remains. WOW, THAT WAS MESSED UP. I also won’t forget the sheer casual nature of Owen sticking his hand in that cauldron and discovering that the Cauldron of Life granted eternal life by turning whatever was stuck in it into stone. SO DOES THAT MEAN OWEN HAS A STONE HAND AND FOREARM NOW. BECAUSE WHAT THE HELL. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW.
The video for “The Price” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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