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Awakening, Part I

Synopsis |  Review by Juan F. Lara |  Review by Todd Jensen



Act I

A crowd walking through the streets of New York is startled by sounds of explosions from the top of a building obscured by clouds. The crowd scatters as debis rains down from the clouds. Stone and steel crash into the street, causing quite a bit of damage. The crowd watches the sky in fear as the police arrive. A female detective pulls up and indentifies herself as Maza, 23rd precinct. She asks the officer in charge what is going on. As he answers that he doesn't know more debris falls into the street. She orders the crowd back and notices what appears to be claw marks in one of the stones that have fallen. She narrowly dodges still more falling debris. A fire hydrant is hit, dousing the crowd. Maza looks again at the claw marks as the water spreads and wonders what could be strong enough the leave claw marks in solid stone.

The year is 994 A.D.. A castle in Scotland is under seige from a band of Vikings. Catapults hurl huge boulders into the battlements. The castle's defense is failing. The Captain of the Guard reassures his men that they can hold the castle a few minutes more until sunset. He glances up at the stone gargoyles perched on the tower. "Then we'll see some fun," he chuckles.

In the Viking ranks, a soldier tells his comrade that the attack on a castle full of gargoyles is crazy. Their leader, Hakon overhears and says that his sanity shouldn't be questioned. "I say those gargoyles are naught but chiseled stone," he yells, "and even if they're not, it's worth the risk for the plunder within." He gives the order to attack, and the Vikings storm the castle. They overrun the defense, and ascend the tower. The sun sets just as Hakon reaches the gargoyle at the top of the highest tower. He stares unbelievingly as the statue's stony exterior cracks and falls away, revealing a living, breathing gargoyle underneath. The Vikings back away in fear as the other gargoyles come to life as well. Goliath notices the intruder and picks him up by one arm. "You are trespassing," Goliath thunders. Undaunted, Hakon swings his sword at Goliath, who catches it. A slow trickle of blood oozes from Goliath's palm. Hakon orders his men to attack, that the gargoyles are not invincible. The gargoyles attack, and easily overwhelm the Vikings. As the vikings flee, Hakon shouts that he'll be back. The Captain of the Guard thanks Goliath for his help.

Later that evening, there is a celebration in the dining hall. Several of the guards joke about their recent plight. The Captain overhears them laughing at his alliance with the gargoyles. The Captain sits at his table, and the Princess thanks him for fighting well. He refuses the credit, saying that the gargoyles were the true heroes. The Princess dismisses his opinion, saying that they are monsters. The door to the dining hall opens. Goliath and his mate, Demona enter (only Goliath is named at this point, but for clarity, I will use the other gargoyles future names).

Act II

The attendees at the banquet are outraged by the appearance of the gargoyles. The Captain apologizes and explains that he invited them to be recognized for their bravery. The princess expresses her anger at his decision. Her advisor, the Magus agrees with her and says that no good could come from associating with these unnatural creatures. The gargoyles approach the head table, and Goliath spreads his wings. The air forces the princess back in her chair, but Goliath merely folds his wings into a cape and bows to the Princess. The Captain remarks that they named him well, as he is as good a soldier as the Philistine giant. The Princess reminds the Captain that the Biblical Goliath was also a bully and a savage. Demona growls at the Princess, but Goliath calms her and excuses himself. The Princess informs the Captain that in the future, he should report to the Magus, not directly to her. The Captain leaves.

The Captain follows Goliath and Demona down a hallway and apologizes for the Princess's outburst. Goliath dismisses his apology, saying that her opinion does not matter. Demona recants saying that saved the humans' lives, and now they are repaid with contempt. The Captain agrees with her. She continues, saying that the cliffs were their home ages before the humans came. Goliath calms her once again. "Their ways, are not our ways," he says. She commends his patience.

The Magus returns to his chambers and consults his spellbook.

As the next day dawns, the gargoyles are once again immobilized in stone on the parapets. A hooded figure rides out of the castle, and heads toward the Viking encampment. Once there, he talks to Hakon about arranging a bargain for the fall of the castle. Hakon listens.

After nightfall, Goliath removes the bandage from his hand, which has now healed. The Captain says that the Vikings may return at sunrise, and that the gargoyles should chase them away once and for all. Demona agrees. Goliath refuses to leave the castle unguarded. The Captain persists, reminding Goliath that their leader swore he'd be back. Goliath reluctantly agrees, but says that he will go alone. Demona argues that it would be too dangerous. He reassures her that he won't go by himself, and he leaves her in charge. He reminds her of their love and leaves.

In the courtyard, Broadway is eating, while Lexington, Brooklyn, and Bronx are playing a game of catch with a ham. Demona alights on the tower above and watches the young ones at play. A boy watches the scene from a nearby camp and walks over just as Bronx catches the ham. He introduces himself as Tom and asks the gargoyles' names. Lexington replies that, except for Goliath, they don't have names (yet). Tom asks how they tell each other apart. Lex answers that they look different. Tom persists, asking what they call each other. "Friend," says Brooklyn. Tom's mother runs over and yells at the gargoyles to get away. Brooklyn says that they wouldn't harm the boy, but Tom's mother calls them beasts and throws a stick, hitting Brooklyn. Demona lands and says that the humans are the beasts. Brooklyn and Lexington say that if they are to be called beasts, they should live up to the name. They growl and advance toward the humans.


The gargoyles advance on the humans, who run away when Bronx barks at them. Broadway hears the commotion and thinks that they are under attack again. Goliath and Hudson land in the middle of the foray. Goliath angrily send Brooklyn, Lexington, Broadway, and Bronx to the rookery. Brooklyn apologizes, saying that they meant no harm. Goliath is not swayed, and they sadly go down into the rookery. Demona protests that they were not at fault, the humans were. Goliath says that no matter who was at fault, he cannot condone fighting between the gargoyles and their human charges. He says that he will make it up to them later, but now he has business to attend to.

Goliath and Hudson fly over the countryside, looking for the Vikings. They see tracks leading into a forest, and land to investigate. Hudson says that the tracks are very light for horses carrying armored men. He and Goliath follow the tracks into the forest.

In the rookery, Brooklyn remarks on how embarassing the situation is. Broadway says that he hasn't been down here since he hatched, while Lexington examines the eggs in the nest. Broadway goes to a stalactite, pulls some slime off of it, sniffs and eats it. Lexington watches in disgust, hoping that they aren't there long. Broadway might eat them he quips.

In the castle armory, someone tampers with the bowstrings.

Goliath and Hudson follow the tracks. Hudson reminds Goliath of the approaching sunrise, and that they should return. Goliath spots the Vikings, and they attack. However, they are only attacking a few men that are leading the horses. It was a decoy to lead them from the castle. They hurry back to the castle, but are caught by the sunrise and immobilized.

At the castle, the Vikings attack. The guards on the battlements aim their bows, but the strings break, leaving them defenseless. Someone raises the portcullis, and the Vikings storm the castle, easily overrunning it.

Inside the castle, the Princess runs to the Captain for help. He grabs her arm, saying that it is worse than that.

The Vikings take the castle and lead off their prisoners. On one of the parapets, Hakon and the Captain are talking. Hakon asks why the Captain would betray his own kind. The Captain answers that they are not his kind. Hakon walks over to a gargoyle and raises his mace. The Captain stops him, saying that it is not necessary. The gargoyles won't follow once they are out of sight of the castle. Hakon shoves the Captain out of the way and smashes all of the gargoyles to rubble.

Hudson and Goliath return after sunset and find the castle in flames. "No..." whispers Goliath. He alights on Demona's perch, picks up her crumbled remains and roars in anguish.


by Juan F. Lara

This series had a lot of the aspects that make the Disney feature films great but were missing for one reason or another from the TV shows.

Animation is great all through the episodes (particularly the effects animation). But the episodes also have a sweeping music score that's apparently been scored particularly for each episode, as opposed to the music outtakes spliced together that other DA shows have to settle with. It also has great sound effects (I wish I had a stereo TV). So the scenes seem as grand as scenes in a feature film.

The battle: I don't think we see a lot of crowd scenes in TV animation. But the many battles fought in these eps were portrayed very vividly.

They allowed a character to bleed, like they would in a feature film. :-) I liked the way they handled Goliath's wound, with just a trickle slowly oozing out. It's dramatic without being gratuitous.

I like the character designs for the gargoyles. Particularly the wings which have extra hands on them.

Goliath has a commanding presence at the dinner. I liked his pushing back the Princess with just the wind of his wings, and his bow to her.

I didn't mind the comic relief too much. They're carrying the running gag of Broadway's eating too far (even making a joke when they're attacking the Viking camp). But I did like the scene where they play with the "dog". This scene reminded me of the comic relief the features use. It lightened up the tone but not enough to detract from the film's dark aspects, somewhat like the skating scene in "Bambi".

And I liked how that light-toned scene quickly turned dramatic when Tom's mother struck at Lexington.

"I hope we're not in here long. He might eat us."

The gargoyles' destruction and Goliath coming upon the ruined castle are the best scenes in the first episode. I especially liked how the camera turns away from Hakon and we only see the shadow of him smashing a gargoyle; a common device used in the features. And Goliath's outburst upon finding Demona's apparent remains had a lot of pathos.

(We know, though, that Demona is somehow still alive in the 20th. century, and a villainess. But even so, a large number of gargoyles were killed. So that scene didn't lose any power for me.)


by Todd Jensen

When I first heard of Disney's plans to produce "Gargoyles", I didn't know what to think of it. The name sounded interesting, but the promo art that I saw (depicting Goliath in a New York cityscape) made it seem as if it would be just another urban super-hero series. Certainly it did not seem at all "conventional Disney". I decided to give it a try when it first aired in the October of 1994 - and was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed it.

After the brief opening in modern-day New York with stones falling from the top of the Eyrie Building and frightening the onlookers (and both the tone and the animation style made it all the clearer that this was not going to be a typical Disney production), the episode preceded quickly into the account of a siege of a Scottish castle in 994. Since I've long been fond of medieval adventure stories, I eagerly sat up, deciding at once that this was going to be my kind of show - although I also remembered throughout, at the back of my head, that this was only the origin story and that the bulk of the series would be taking place in the modern world. The 10th century Scotland sequence, indeed, reminded me a lot of the animated segments of David Macaulay's PBS television specials about construction techniques in the ancient and medieval world.

The battle between the Vikings on the one hand, and the archers and gargoyles defending the castle on the other, quickly introduces the main gargoyle characters of Season One (Goliath, the trio, Hudson, Demona, and Bronx), alongside Hakon and the Captain of the Guard, and gives the audience a good sense of their natures. We also get a glimpse of Tom and Mary among the refugees sheltering in the courtyard, including Tom's fascinated delight with the gargoyles. The gargoyles' awakening is extremely dramatic and gives a clear sense of their awe-inspiring nature. And the fact that Hakon draws blood on Goliath makes it all the more clear that this is not another comedy series, but a serious action-drama (if one that allows a little comic relief in the antics of the trio, such as Lexington poking fun at Broadway's bulk or Broadway bonking a Viking over the head with a drumstick).

From there, we become introduced to the remaining two characters of note in the gargoyles' "origin story", Princess Katharine and the Magus, and to their dislike of the gargoyles, a dislike which almost all of the humans in the castle share (the only exceptions being the Captain and Tom). At the same time that we see this prejudiced attitude on the humans' part, we also see that the gargoyles are anything but the savage monsters that the humans presume them to be, that there is more to them than the terrifying warriors who drive off the Vikings. Goliath, invited by the Captain to the victory banquet, greets Princess Katharine with a very dignified bow, using one of his wings for a cape (in a delightful touch, Katharine is taken aback at such an elegant display from a being whom she had judged to be little more than a wild animal), and, although he clearly does not like the unfriendly treatment from the humans, remains calm and patient about it, explaining to his indignant mate Demona, "It is the nature of humankind to fear what they do not understand. Their ways are not our ways." We get a further look into gargoyle society in the scene where Tom first meets the trio, and, bewildered over the gargoyles' absence of personal names (another fine touch, but more will be said about it in the review for "Awakening: Part Three") asks, "But what do you call each other?", to which Brooklyn replies, "Friend".

Yet we also see that the gargoyles' patience is not infinite. Demona is clearly incensed already at the humans' ingratitude, and Brooklyn, Lexington, and Bronx decide, after Mary's both verbal and physical assault upon them, to act a little more like their image of "demons and monsters", escalating the already discordant situation. Goliath displays his desire for peace between the two races when he steps in, and while Demona protests his decision to punish the trio and Bronx by sending them down to the rookery, I, at least, felt that Goliath had done the right thing in chastising the young gargoyles for their decision to fight back, which would affect the humans' fear of them the way that gasoline would affect a raging fire. (Where I do hold Goliath in the wrong was in sending Broadway down to the rookery alongside Brooklyn, Lexington, and Bronx, since he had not taken part in the altercation - though since it saves his life, I am not inclined to make much of a fuss over it.)

We get another good comic-relief moment in our glimpse of the trio and Bronx in the rookery; the expression on Broadway's face as he sniffs carefully at the slime on the wall before he proceeds to eat it is hilarious, as is Lexington's unnerved response to Broadway's act.

The first time that I saw the episode, I thought that it was the Magus who was betraying the castle to Hakon, and indeed, the scenes are carefully handled to mislead the audience in this way (the sight of the Magus paging through the Grimorum, followed by the traitor, in a hooded robe much like the Magus's choice of attire, riding out to the Vikings' camp). It helped all the more that I knew instinctively that something was going to happen to send Goliath and his clan to the 20th century, and suspected that the Magus's magic would have something to do with it. So I was momentarily taken by surprise when the traitor turned out to be the Captain - but it made sense, at the same time. The Captain had been the gargoyles' only friend in the castle (apart from Tom, who had only just arrived), he was unhappy with the way in which they were being mistreated, and he himself was becoming ostracized by his fellow humans on account of his friendship with the clan. So he had convincing motives for his betrayal. But, of course, his plan backfires, as Hakon proceeds to shatter all the gargoyles that he can find to keep them from following his victorious war-band. The scene of Hakon bringing his mace down on a gargoyle again and again, as the Captain watches on in horror, is truly chilling.

A further advantage of having the Captain (rather than the Magus) be the traitor is that it provided a greater element of complexity to the humans-vs.-gargoyles conflict. Here, the great betrayal that brings about the Wyvern Massacre and leads to the gargoyles' thousand-year-sleep is carried out by a supporter of the gargoyles, rather than their enemy. It shows that not all gargoyles or pro-gargoyle humans are saints, that they are as capable of carrying out evil acts as the gargoyle-haters. As Goliath would put it in "Awakening Part Five", "There is good and evil in all of us, humans and gargoyles alike."

So Part One ends with Goliath and Hudson returning to the sacked castle and discovering, to their shock and grief, the massacre that has taken place - including (so Goliath thinks) the death of Demona. (Though alert viewers, even if they know nothing about the story to come, will probably suspect that Demona is not gone for good, given how important a role she had played in the opening episode, not just as Goliath's mate, but as also an embittered figure railing against the humans' bigotry and contempt.) The saga had begun - and I, for one, could not wait to see what would happen next.


Castle Wyvern, while fictional, was modelled after the real castle of Tintagel in Cornwall, the place (according to legend) of King Arthur's conception. (Intriguingly enough, in the never-made "Gargoyles/Team Atlantis" crossover story entitled "The Last", Greg Weisman had the Atlantean word for "gargoyle" be "gorlois"; Gorlois was also the name of the Duke of Cornwall in the lifetime of Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father, whose likeness Uther would take on while begetting Arthur upon Gorlois's wife Igraine at Tintagel.)

Sharp-eyed viewers will note several dogs roaming through the great hall during the banquet scene. While true to medieval custom, it also adds a nice touch in displaying hypocrisy on Princess Katharine's part, when she objects to Goliath and Demona's presence with the words "To allow beasts in the dining hall!" (Originally it was intended to immediately follow up Katharine's words with a scene in which one of the dogs proceeded to help himself to food from someone's plate, to make her hypocrisy all the clearer, but unfortunately the scene was not well-enough animated to appear in the finished product.)

Another deleted scene (though this one was cut out for time constraints) had Lexington fascinated examining one of the Vikings' catapults, as an indication of his fascination with all things mechanical.

The Captain of the Guard is never given a personal name in the series. Since the gargoyles (except for Goliath) had no personal names in the 10th century, and the Captain identified with them far more than with his fellow humans (to the point where, when Hakon asks him "Why betray your own kind?", the Captain bitterly replies, "They're not my kind."), this is very fitting and appropriate. However, according to Greg Weisman, the Captain's real name was Robbie.

Officer Morgan, introduced in the "modern-day teaser" sequence at the beginning of this episode, was the first of many familiar recurring characters to appear in the background of the Gargoyles' New York. According to Greg Weisman, "Morgan" is both his first name and his last name (a concept inspired by the name of a highschool classmate of his, Morgan Lord Morgan III). In early versions of "Gargoyles" as it went through Breakdowns, "Morgan" was an early name of Elisa's, reused for an incidental character after her final name was decided upon. (Many of Elisa's "first draft" surnames, such as Chavez, Bluestone, and Reed, would also be used for other characters as the series progressed; clearly, the Gargoyles production staff shared Xanatos's fondness for "recycling" of the sort shown in "Cloud Fathers"!)

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