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City of Stone, Part I

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


by Guandalug la'Fay


by Adam Cerling

Act I

Police cars are clustered around a tall city bank, their lights tinting the night scarlet. Elisa, crouched with Matt behind a police car, tells her partner that they are ordered to continue the standoff. Matt is frustrated and tired, but nonetheless he uses a bullhorn to plea with a fourth-story bank window. A lady terrorist breaks the window, shouts defiance, and opens fire with an energy rifle on the cars below. The police duck for cover and raise large shields. "You think they're starting to see it our way?" Matt cracks. Elisa looks up and sees the Gargoyles arriving. "Not yet," she says, "but they will."

One of the terrorists' hostages asks what his and his female companion's fate will be. As the lady terrorist begins to explain, one of three little girls behind the hostage couple expresses certainty that the ordeal will soon end. Goliath bursts through a wall. As the hostages cry out in fear, he subdues one terrorist and draws the others' fire. Lexington, Brooklyn and Broadway then crash through the ceiling, tackling three more terrorists. The lady terrorist flees into the open vault, but as she pulls the massive door closed Goliath rips it from her grasp. He kicks her to the ground, sending her rifle flying, and she pleads for mercy. "You have more to fear from your own cowardice than from me," Goliath declares. The other three gargoyles, having tied up the terrorists, try to reassure the hostages, but they protest in fear and revulsion. "Don't... gush all over us, okay?" Brooklyn says. "It's kind of embarrassing." Goliath drops the lady terrorist with the others and begins to lead the Gargoyles away, but the three little girls stop him. They commend him for having spared the woman, and remind him never to forget life is precious lest he become like "her". Goliath protests--he would never be like the lady terrorist. The girls correct him--they weren't talking about that terrorist. Then, to the Gargoyles' confusion, the three little girls vanish.

Demona soars through the city, a roll of paper triumphantly clutched in her hand. As she glides, she reminisces back to 995 AD:

The captain of the Wyvern Castle guard and Demona jointly urge Goliath to lead all the Gargoyles away to drive off the Vikings. Goliath does not want to leave the castle unguarded, but he soon compromises by going alone (with Hudson) to do the job. Goliath gone, Demona and the captain argue: all the Gargoyles were supposed to be gone when the Vikings attacked the next day. The captain insists the plan can still be carried out, pledging that by day he will protect the helpless stone gargoyles. Demona grudgingly accedes.

Near dawn, Demona almost decides to confess her plans to Coldstone and Desdemona, but she changes her mind upon seeing the Vikings' stealthily approaching troops. Wary, she hides herself amongst the rocks at the foot of the cliff below the castle. As the sun rises, the Vikings attack, and Demona turns to stone with a tear upon her cheek. The Vikings take the castle and smash every gargoyle inside.

The next evening, Demona awakens to see a ruined castle. Apparently, her plans to free her clan from human rule has succeeded--and they have. Upon entering the castle, she finds it full of her brothers and sisters' broken remains.

Act II

Weeping, Demona looks up to see Goliath returning to the castle from his false mission. As he cries out in anguish, rubble sliding through his fingers, Demona flees, planning to return later. She plans to tell him she was out looking for him--she anticipates his joy upon seeing her alive.

Goliath and the five other living Gargoyles are ensnared by the Magus' stone spell by the time she returns. She is horrified. "Oh, my love...! What have I... What have they done to you?" Hearing a horse neigh, she turns to peer over the battlements. The Magus, aided by young Tom, is loading the eggs from the rookery into a hay-filled wagon. Princess Katherine is with them as they ride away. Demona climbs the tallest tower to where Goliath sits ensorcelled. She kisses her lips and touches them to Goliath's; she kisses his forehead and lets a teardrop fall there. Farewell said, she glides away.

On a small farm, a boy, Gillecomgain, heads sullenly toward the stables with a bucket in his hand. He hears a commotion inside and investigates. Seizing a pitchfork, he rounds a corner to face Demona, who clutches a hoard of fruit. Demona shrieks and swipes at the boy. He collapses, clutching his face, blood leaking through his fingers. Demona leaves. "That'll teach you humans to betray us." She nonchalantly takes a mouthful of apple.

1995 AD--Demona reaches her destination, Pack Media Studios. Inside are Xanatos and Owen. They reassure Demona that the technical equipment there can override every broadcast and cable channel in Manhattan. Demona holds up her scrap of paper, explaining that it is how she lived all her centuries: a spell which steals one minute of life from all who see and hear her use it. Broadcasting the spell over the city will result in centuries of life to split amongst themselves. Leaving Owen with a reminder for caution, Xanatos departs, to return the next day at sundown. With Owen behind the camera, Demona reads the spell, causing wind to whip about the studio. Soon Owen objects--Demona's spell is not the one she promised. Demona uses magic to hurl Owen into a chair. Upon completing her sorcery, Demona ties Owen there. "You are the tricky one, so we'll just make sure you stay put." Demona turns the camera and shows Owen the recording, which is set to broadcast in a loop.

Elisa, in her apartment, is preparing to leave when her TV picture is overridden by Demona's spellcasting performance. To her dismay, it is on every channel. She rushes out the door.

Elisa drives past a crowd clustered around a store window, watching the broadcast. Three women at the edge of the crowd--their hair colors, black, blonde and white, being the same as those of the three little girls in the bank--remark upon the events, calling each other by name: Luna, Phoebe, and Selene. They have waited 975 years for this moment, one says, chiding the others for their impatience--they can wait a little longer...

1020 AD--a group of armed men await an attack and hope in vain it will not come. Demona and a pack of other gargoyles swoop in and capture the men in a net. The gargoyles swiftly raid the stone keep the men guarded. One of the captives threatens Demona: "The Hunter will wipe your thieving kind off the face of this earth!" Demona, looking much older now, silences him with a mace.

Demona rations out stolen food amongst her troops as they sit around a fire in their hideout. One complains about acting like a thief--he believes they must attempt peace with the humans. Demona throws him across the room. She makes it clear that humans will never again accept them, the last of their kind, with the likes of the Hunter amongst them. She is interrupted then by three bedraggled gargoyles at the mouth of the cavernous retreat--one black-haired, one white-haired, one blonde. Unknown to Demona, they bring news of the Hunter: He seeks a human target at Castle Moray. If allied with the humans of Moray, the remaining gargoyles can defeat him. Demona spurns that course of action, unwilling to ally with humans ever again. She plans instead to ambush the Hunter once he has struck at his target.


At Moray Castle, a young noblewoman, Gruoch, has just bested Findlaech, Lord of Moray, at chess. Lord Findlaech is impressed. Gruoch's father, Bodhe, sitting at a table set for dinner, suggests that his daughter try her skill against that of young Macbeth, Findlaech's son. Ill at ease, Macbeth takes his father's place at the chessboard. As the two young people reset the chess pieces, Lord Findlaech and his friend discuss prince Duncan, heir to the throne of the realm--they have grave doubts about his ability to rule. Over the chessboard, Gruoch and Macbeth's hands touch, drawing a flushed face from each. Calling it a night, Bodhe stands to take his daughter to her chambers. Macbeth accompanies them.

Left alone, Lord Findlaech claps for the kitchen boy to refill a decanter-- but the Hunter appears in the serving boy's stead. Findlaech barely has time to sweep up a silver tray before the Hunter is upon him. Findlaech parries the Hunter's sword with the tray, but the struggle brings the two onto the battlements outside. Macbeth returns to the hall, only to see his father fighting for his life. He fetches a pair of swords from the mantel. Just as the Hunter knocks away Findlaech's tray, Macbeth calls to his father and tosses one of the swords to him. The Hunter knocks it over the battlements. Macbeth and the Hunter come to blows. Above, Gruoch and her father see the melee from their windows, and Gruoch cries out, distracting Macbeth. The Hunter knocks away Macbeth's sword, but is grabbed from behind by Findlaech. Gruoch arrives on the scene; Macbeth disarms the Hunter; Findlaech takes the sword, intending to strike a mortal blow to the assassin, but the Hunter dodges. Sword bouncing away from stone, Findlaech is thrown from the battlements by the Hunter, who tears Findlaech's necklace--the Sigil of Moray--from his neck. Macbeth rushes to the edge of the battlements and sees his father plummet to his death.

The Hunter retrieves his sword and raises it to kill Macbeth, but Demona dives from the sky to tackle him. "Now I finally have my revenge," declares the Hunter, getting up to charge Demona. Demona sweep-kicks him, dropping him to the ground. Macbeth, crying "murderer", grabs the Hunter's sword and lunges at him. Demona sweeps Macbeth aside, over the low wall, and Macbeth barely catches hold of the stone. Gruoch runs to grasp his arms. Demona advances on the Hunter with intent to kill, but sees Gruoch being pulled over the battlements in her weak attempt to save Macbeth. Demona chooses instead to save the young couple. When she looks up again, the Hunter is gone.

At Edinburgh Castle, Prince Duncan paces his chambers worriedly. The Hunter enters and displays the Sigil of Moray, reporting that Findlaech is dead but Macbeth still lives. The Hunter removes his mask--three long scars across his face mark him as Gillecomgain, the farm boy mauled by Demona. The Prince is pleased: his crown is now secure, with Findlaech unable to support cousin Macbeth's ascension to the throne. Three serving girls, black-, blonde-, and white-haired, bring food, and Duncan rewards Gillecomgain with the stewardship of Moray.

1995 AD--Macbeth pulls a mask like the Hunter's over his head, then turns off a bank of monitors displaying Demona's magical broadcast.

At the police station, Elisa rushes past Matt in the hall. He asks her to help with the phone calls about the broadcast. Elisa pleads other business.

Upon Xanatos's skyscraper, Xanatos steps into a helicopter piloted by Fox, intending to return to Pack Media Studios. "Take it from a professional, David," Fox mentions en route, "that Demona broadcast isn't exactly riveting TV." Xanatos reprimands Fox for watching it, but is interrupted by a telephone call. It is Owen, having just escaped his bonds, warning Xanatos that Demona's spell is not what she said it was. The sun sinks into the sea as Xanatos receives the news. With the coming of night, Owen turns to stone--as does Fox. Its pilot petrified, Xanatos's helicopter spirals downward.

At the clock tower, Goliath and the other Gargoyles awaken, only to discover that Elisa has also been turned to stone...


by Juan F. Lara

At last we got some background information in this very good multiparter:

The flashbacks were easily the best part of the episode. I was fascinated at finally learning what happened to Demona during the day the Vikings attacked, like I was when I watched the last two episodes of "The Maxx" a while back. Also, "City of Stone" had the luxury of time that "Vows" couldn't have. So the episode could reveal its facts in a smooth pace that made the story very intriguing.

Demona got the focus that she's needed. She seemed a more understandable and interesting character he than ever before. The first and second act had some memorable imagery, like Demona turned to stone by the beach side, and her giving a tearful kiss to Goliath. Likewise, I liked how Demona suddenly saved a human at the end, which contrasted with all the warring she was carrying out up to then.

MacBeth's story - So was this what King James prohibited Billy Shakespeare to write about? :-) The writers came up with an origin story for MacBeth that resembled the "Lion King" story. I loved the parallels with the Shakespeare play and the role-reversal of Duncan and MacBeth. And I found MacBeth's rela- tionships with his father and with Gruoch very touching. I felt neutral about MacBeth up to now, but "City of Stone" made him compelling for me.

I was less satisfied with the contemporary story, though. A device that could override ALL channels seemed contrived to me, ( but does that technology really exist? ) and I found it hard to believe that no one could stop it during the day. Xanatos seemed unusually foolish in letting Demona get the better of him.

As kids, the Weird Sisters were dressed in sailor suits. Could that be a "Sailor Moon" reference? :-) Their scene at the bank looked like it was in- spired by "Twin Peaks". :-)

Animation by Koko Entertainment. Sometimes mouths moved but not chins, and I thought they overdid Demona's withered face at times. But overall I liked the animation and artwork.


by Todd Jensen

The second multi-parter in "Gargoyles", "City of Stone" is one of my favorite stories in the series - which surprises me when I think about it. Its focus is not on Goliath and his clan (although they do have a fairly prominent role, all the same), but on Demona and Macbeth, focusing on their backstory in 11th century Scotland. Normally, when a television series (whether live-action or animated) does an episode that revolves around the antagonist or a recurring supporting character and gives the protagonists only a small role, I dislike it strongly. Yet "City of Stone" is one of the extremely few exceptions to this rule (another one being the episode in the "X-Files" about Cancerman's background, where Mulder and Scully were kept off-stage for most of the story), and I enjoyed it even more than I did many episodes in "Gargoyles" where Goliath, his fellow gargoyles, and Elisa were stage center.

Much of this, I suspect, stems from the fact that over half of the four-parter takes place in medieval Scotland (the Scottish scenes had been my favorite part of the first season), and gives particularly strong attention to the story of Macbeth (which here, as the Tidbits section points out, differs strongly from the more familiar Shakespearian version), which had long interested me (ever since I had taken part in a school play adaptation of Macbeth at the age of nine, in fact). I had the advantage of having enough familiarity with the historical Macbeth (I knew the dates of his reign, the fact that his wife's real name was Gruoch, that he slew Duncan in battle rather than murdering him in his sleep, and that he was a much better king than Shakespeare portrayed him as being) that I was not particularly astonished at the deviations from the famous play; if anything, I enjoyed seeing a story based much more closely on the original history of early Scotland's most famous king. Alongside that, it was also a dramatically effective story in its own right, and strongly moving in many places. And the gargoyles do have a fairly substantial role in it - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In Part One, we learn at last how Demona had survived the massacre; she hid on the beach just before sunrise. The episode handles this scene touchingly, showing us how Demona's moral cowardice leads her more and more into trouble. When she realizes how the Captain's plan is going to miscarry, she very briefly is about to warn the other gargoyles, but then merely flees. When she sees Goliath grieving over the massacre, and particularly over what he believes to be her death, she decides that she can't face him, and so remains in hiding; by the time that she emerges again, it's too late and he's already been turned to stone. As she stares up at him in grief, she cries out "What have I done -" - and then changes it to "What have they done to you?" The change is a significant one, another turning point in her journey into darkness. She gives her mate one last poignant farewell (shedding a tear which lands on Goliath's eye in such a way that makes him appear to be shedding it), before gliding off into the night. Only shortly afterwards, though, she takes another step towards becoming the Demona of modern times when she scars the face of a young peasant boy come to investigate her stealing food from his family's barn - an act which will have severe consequences indeed.

The next flashback moves forward to the year 1020, where Demona and her fellow gargoyles in Scotland are being pursued by a mysterious Hunter (who turns out to be Gillecomgain, the boy whom she attacked in 994, now grown up and seeking revenge upon her). But the Hunter does not choose gargoyles alone for his prey, as we discover when he breaks into Castle Moray and slays its lord, Findlaech, Macbeth's father, on the behalf of Prince Duncan. Duncan wants Findlaech out of the way because he fears that the High Steward of Moray would support Macbeth's claim to the throne and foil Duncan's hopes of ever becoming King of Scotland; ironically, Duncan needn't have moved against him, since Findlaech (as we see in the scene where he feasts with his friend Bodhe while their children, Macbeth and Gruoch, are becoming better acquainted) had no intention of acting against Duncan, and was fully willing to support him.

Macbeth almost shares his father's fate, but is rescued by Demona, of all people, who has been drawn to Castle Moray by the Weird Sisters' words (she rejects - for the moment - their urging her to ally with Macbeth, but is ready to go once she learns that the Hunter will be there). Demona passes up an opportunity to slay her adversary to help Gruoch save Macbeth's life - but the Hunter takes advantage of the situation to escape, much to her anger. Nevertheless, although she's clearly regretting having chosen to rescue the young Macbeth, the cornerstone of their future pact has been laid.

The Weird Sisters themselves are masterfully handled in this multi-parter, resurfacing again and again to direct the story in the direction that they want it to go in. A particularly effective touch is their habit of cropping up even in the background (such as the Edinburgh scene where they silently play the part of serving-maids to Duncan and Gillecomgain), never far away. Taking on numerous forms, young and old, human and gargoyle, they nevertheless remain recognizable throughout (by their hair-color, if nothing else). Even from the beginning, when they appear as little girls, seemingly hostages during the bank robbery, they show themselves to be far more than what they seem to be (both by their precocious wisdom and by the fact that Brendan and Margot were unaware of their presence, despite being in the same room with them all along).

While the focus of the story remains on the medieval flashback scenes, we get a powerful beginning to the modern-day portion of the story, as Demona dupes Xanatos into helping her with her scheme (tying it in with a false claim over how she's survived for the past thousand years - a claim that will be refuted by the end of the multi-parter), and then unleashes her true plan upon New York, a plan whose nature becomes horrifyingly apparent as we see Owen, Fox, and Elisa all turned to stone by the end of Part One, and realize what must be in store for the rest of the city....


"City of Stone" was originally intended to be a direct-to-video release, but the idea was rejected by Gary Krisel because Goliath and his clan (as mentioned above) did not have a large enough role in it. Fortunately, the story idea was turned into a Season Two multi-parter rather than abandoned altogether; "Gargoyles" would have been much poorer without it.

Macbeth's backstory in "City of Stone" differs strongly from the familiar plotline of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, of course, making Macbeth the hero and Duncan the villain. Instead, it bases itself on the career of the Macbeth of real history, whose life-story was heavily distorted by Shakespeare (mainly due to the fact that he was writing the play during the reign of James I, who was a descendant of Duncan and Malcolm Canmore - and also believed himself to be a descendant of the fictional Banquo and Fleance - thus making it anything but prudent to tell the actual story - though Shakespeare may have also deliberately altered the story to produce a nightmarish atmosphere, chronicling its title character's descent into crime and bloodshed). John Rhys-Davies, who provided the voice of Macbeth in "Gargoyles", was initially astonished at this alteration of the familiar play and even accused Greg Weisman of revisionism, but changed his mind when learning that it was based on the actual history of 11th century Scotland and then became very enthusiastic about it.

The Weird Sisters are, of course, the "Gargoyles" take on the Three Witches, but interpreted as being much more powerful than mere witches. While critical opinion is divided as to whether Shakespeare meant the Witches of his play to be mere human crones practicing black magic, or the goddesses of destiny (which was what his source, Raphael Holinshed, interpreted them as being), Greg definitely saw them as the latter. In fact, he made them into a blend of three different mythical triplets: the Fates, the Furies, and the Graces. Furthermore, each one of the Weird Sisters focuses on a different one of these trios: silver-haired Luna represents Fate, golden-haired Phoebe Grace, and raven-haired Selene Vengeance. The shift in their characterization throughout the series is described by him as due to the shift in which Sister's influence is uppermost at the time.

The individual names of the Weird Sisters, incidentally, are all taken from moon-goddesses in classical mythology. Luna was the Roman goddess of the moon, Phoebe a Titaness (the mother of Leto and grandmother of Apollo and Artemis) who was often associated with the moon - particularly in Elizabethan poetry such as Shakespeare's plays, and Selene the Greek goddess of the moon (Artemis took on that role only very late in the development of Greek myth) - and, incidentally, the sister of Helios, who would have a namesake character in "The New Olympians". We do not know as yet, however, exactly what link the Weird Sisters have to the moon, if any.

The Weird Sisters' three different ages (little girls, young women, ancient hags) are based on the concept in modern-day mythological studies of the feminine trinity of Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

Once again, we spot a few familiar characters in "bit roles"; Brendan and Margot are the bank robbers' hostages, and the two gargoyles whom Demona almost warns are Othello and Desdemona. We also get a glimpse of Princess Katharine, the Magus, and Tom loading up the eggs in their cart before leaving Castle Wyvern (as a foreshadowing of "Avalon").

Demona describes Owen, after overpowering him, as "the tricky one" - another subtle hint as to his true identity.

Greg had plans to bring back the bank robbers in his projected but never-made spin-off, "Bad Guys", presumably as adversaries for the Redemption Squad.

Just before Demona breaks in on her signal, Elisa is watching the classic movie "Casablanca" on television.

Oddly enough, the petrified Elisa at the end of Part One is facing away from the gargoyles.

While Xanatos's desire for immortality won't officially enter the series until "The Price", his interest in Demona's offer of using stolen minutes from people's lives to expand his life-span is the first hint of that ambition.

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