Valid XHTML 1.0!
Valid CSS!
Episode List

Previous Episode |  Episode List |  Next Episode


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



by Adam Cerling

Act I

King Arthur, reentering the world after his age-long sleep in Avalon [cf. Avalon, Part III], poles his boat to a pier in modern-day London. The craft sinks when he steps off. As he begins to explore the city, he is watched from the rooftop shadows by a Gargoyle. Arthur breaks open the locked door of a church and enters, intending to stand vigil there. Instead, he finds the stone from which he once pulled Excalibur, set beneath a wooden throne. "I'd hoped Excalibur had returned to you," he says, laying his hands upon the stone. A light shines from the stone, and it speaks, startling him. He steps back and bumps into Griff [cf. M.I.A.], who has just arrived. Griff shocks Arthur with the declaration that this city is London. Arthur mentions Goliath to the English Gargoyle and reveals his own identity. Griff is disbelieving until the stone speaks again: to regain Excalibur, Arthur need prove himself once more. The stone offers to take Arthur to the sword if he speaks the name of its location. Griff responds with a riddle he learned as a hatchling:

"Isle of towers, glass, and stone
The lady waits for him alone
Ebon glass in emerald frame
Pure white lilies speak her name
Blood-red bane in dragon stone
Excalibur waits for him alone."

Sure enough, the riddle satisfies the stone beneath the throne, and it whisks away Arthur and Griff into a vortex of magic.

Atop a building beside the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Macbeth stands over a flaming crucible, beneath a sky of churning clouds. Brooklyn, Hudson, Broadway, and Lexington see him from afar and hurry to investigate. Macbeth incants a spell. The clouds turn red moments before dropping Griff and Arthur onto the building. Macbeth is surprised--he was expecting a better "prize" than a man and a Gargoyle. Arthur, picking himself up, exclaims upon seeing Macbeth--he recognizes him from Avalon. Before Macbeth can respond with his energy pistol, the other four Gargoyles arrive on the scene and force Macbeth and his two henchmen to flee in their airship. Introductions ensue amongst Griff, Arthur and the others, during which Griff reveals that Goliath, Elisa, and Bronx visited London. Brooklyn and the others add it to their list: Diane Maza had told of their adventures in Nigeria, and Halcyon Renard reported their presence in Prague.

In his airship, Macbeth decides that the man and Gargoyle he summoned must have a purpose in New York. He invokes a magic spell which will spy on them and discover whatever power it is they seek.

Brooklyn solves the next part of the riddle of Excalibur: the ebon glass in an emerald frame is a lake in Central Park, visible from the rooftop. They glide down to it, Griff carrying Arthur. Pure white lilies on the lake mark it as the correct one. Arthur calls to the Lady of the Lake. She rises slowly from the water, holding a flower in her hand.

Act II

Arthur does not understand why the Lady is in New York and not Britain. The Lady herself is surprised to see Arthur; his return, it seems, is premature. Arthur begs her to return his sword to him, but she does not have it. She tells Arthur that he must prove himself worthy of the sword and the leadership of the world, then summons a water elemental from the lake. The liquid beast engulfs Arthur and fends off the Gargoyles, who rush to Arthur's aid. Deducing the beast's weakness, Arthur, freeing his head from the main body of water, orders Griff to use a "lightning weapon" stolen from Macbeth's henchmen on the beast. The electricity destroys it. The Lady shows Arthur the location of Excalibur: it is hidden in a hedge maze, embedded in a stone dragon, waiting for the "timeless king" who can claim it. Her aid given, the Lady descends back into the lake. Lexington tells the others that the hedge maze is most likely the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Macbeth, through his magic, overhears Excalibur's location. He decides that to try claiming the sword for himself--he is as certainly a "timeless king" as is Arthur. He gives his henchmen a pair of jet bikes and orders them to delay Arthur and the Gargoyles.

The two thugs scatter the Gargoyles with laser fire, just outside the gardens. Griff and Arthur head into the maze while the others take on the vanguard. Inside the maze, they simply use the energy pistol to blast their way to the center. The fight with Macbeth's henchmen, meanwhile, goes poorly for Hudson, Brooklyn, Broadway, and Lex; a scourge of laser fire cuts down a large tree and pins them all beneath it. The thugs move in to finish them off.

Macbeth, having landed his airship inside the maze, reaches Excalibur a moment before Griff and Arthur arrive. Drawing it from the dragon, he declares himself the one true king. Arthur and Griff make a brief attempt to retrieve it, but Macbeth admonishes Arthur for failing to acknowledge as king the man who pulled the sword from the stone. Arthur yields honorably. Just as Griff protests, however, the eyes of the stone dragon glow red--the beast suddenly comes to life, breathing fire.


Macbeth, Arthur and Griff dodge the flame and join forces against the dragon, who brushes them off like insects.

Outside the gardens, Macbeth's thugs move the tree to get room to finish off the Gargoyles. The Gargoyles are too fast for them, however, and escape; the battle is joined once more.

The dragon knocks Excalibur from Macbeth's hands. Arthur catches it and breaks it against the dragon's hide--the sword is a fake. Macbeth is stunned. The dragon swiftly seizes both Arthur and Macbeth in its claws and takes wing, with Griff desperately clinging to its tail.

The four other Gargoyles outside incapacitate Macbeth's thugs just in time to see the dragon depart overhead. Using the abandoned jet bikes to gain altitude, they take off in pursuit.

They quickly catch up with the dragon and distract it while Griff manages to sink his talons into the dragon's neck. Caught in the dragon's claws, Arthur suddenly deciphers the last part of the riddle--"Blood-red bane in dragon stone" refers to a bright red stone in the center of the dragon's breast. Excalibur is inside it. Arthur calls out to Griff, who comes and frees Arthur from the dragon's grip. Arthur, now clinging to the dragon's breast, smashes the red stone with his mace and reaches into the hole. He draws forth Excalibur, blazing with a magical light. The dragon, defeated, crumbles. Griff and the others carry Arthur and Macbeth safely to the ground. There, Macbeth is forced to acknowledge Arthur as the true king and owner of Excalibur. Arthur offers to make the dejected Macbeth a knight. Macbeth refuses to serve Arthur, but offers to stand by him, if needed.

On the clock tower, just before dawn, Arthur reveals his new quest: he must find Merlin again, and return Griff to England. Griff expresses a desire to remain with Arthur. In response, Arthur makes Griff his first knight and champion.


by Juan F. Lara

A decent episode, but I had a lot of problems with the story.

Bad Points

Good to see MacBeth doing something else besides trying to kill Demona. But he came off as too much of a heavy for most of this episode. He pursued Excalibur with a selfishness that made him seem just a powermad villain. He also showed little regard for Arthur. I would've expected him to treat King Arthur as an honorable adversary from the admiration he held for him in "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time". Reaves/Marano should've made the audience sympathize with MacBeth's desire to be king. Then he'd seem more like the noble MacBeth of "City of Stone" and "Sanctuary".

Eventually MacBeth did show respect for King Arthur, but his change of attitude had a jarring contrast with his behavior up to then. Arthur and MacBeth looked bizarre acting as friends after fighting so bitterly. I was left with the impression that bluebloods are really weird. :-)

Arthur's trials felt very unsastifying. In defeating the water beast, all Arthur did was give one order. That could prove Arthur's quick-thinking abilitiies, but he should've had a more substantial test for his leadership capabilities. The dragon coming alive seemed pointless. Perhaps if the riddle had hinted that this would happen. In this episode, Arthur's quest seemed arbitrary and directionless. But maybe this episode will look better after I've seen the episodes that continue this thread.

I wonder how Leo and Una feel about losing Griff again after getting him back only so recently. Griff seemed rather inconsiderate of them. :-)

Weeks have passed since the Travellers left Avalon. So where has Arthur been before he showed up in London?

Good Points

Nonetheless, this episode had strengths that the series usually has.

Apart from MacBeth, I liked the characterizations overall. Stephanie mentioned that King Arthur was kind of a wimp, and Arthur showed this personality flaw in his insistence that he's the one true king. Griff was as appealing as ever. His awestruck reactions to the supernatural occurances were very believable. Banquo and Fleance played good comic relief. They had some good comebacks to the good guys, and I liked the contrast between them and MacBeth. And we don't see enough of the New York Gargoyles lately. :-)

Sunwoo did a much better animation job than in their previous episodes, providing some very impressive sequences like the flying dragon. The fight sequences were well directed enough to be fun to watch. I particularly liked how Lexington solved the problem of the Gargoyles needing height to glide. ("This way, guys. Take the stairs." :-)


I would've preferred that MacBeth be the Timeless King instead of Arthur. He certainly had a strong sense of honor and justice in "City of Stone", and Excalibur could've reawakened those traits in him. Also, having Arthur as a second-in-command would definitely be an original use of that character.

Evidentally, King Arthur did not make as good a choice in boats as the Travellers did. Also, I felt sorry for the groundskeepers who worked so hard in making that maze. :-)

DYN: MacBeth used the Phoenix Gate chant in Act 1.

Lexington: Brooklyn!
Brooklyn: What?!
Lexington: No, no. Sh-she means Brooklyn.

Banquo: Hey, boss. You were a king. And you've been around a long time.

"Pendragon" had a very flawed script. But I found it more enjoyable to watch than episodes like "Kingdom".


by Todd Jensen

I have a particular fondness for this episode, largely due to being a King Arthur fan. While not as profound as "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", it still does an enjoyable job in having King Arthur interact with the gargoyles in Manhattan (and provides another opportunity for us to see what Hudson and the trio were doing back home while the Avalon World Tour was going on).

I had been hoping to see what would happen to Arthur after he left Avalon (the mere fact that he was portrayed as leaving it, rather than, say, going back to his enchanted sleep until Britain's hour of need came around, made it clear to me that there'd have to be more stories about him coming up), but I was still surprised - though pleasantly so - when he entered into a team-up with Griff in London! But it makes an enjoyable partnership, though one can't help wondering how Leo and Una are going to respond to Griff being off again (though it might not be so bad this time, since we can assume that Griff would find some way of getting in touch with them and letting them know where he is).

Macbeth is again the antagonist, giving this episode a certain "deja vu" feeling; once again, the immortal Scotsman is after an Arthurian artifact, and even has Banquo and Fleance assisting him again. (In another delightful touch, we find out that Banquo and Fleance know that their boss is the Macbeth.) This also provides a repeat (of a sort) of "Avalon", where Arthur and Macbeth were adversaries; Arthur even remembers Macbeth from their previous encounter, though Macbeth (thanks to the Weird Sisters having erased his memory of those events) does not. However, the choice of Macbeth as Arthur's opponent makes sense from a thematic standpoint. Both Arthur and Macbeth were famous legendary kings from Britain's past (if with dramatically differing reputations), making them appropriate foils for each other. And in a story where Arthur's goal is to recover his old sword, even now waiting for a king of old to lay claim to it, what better rival than someone who, like Arthur, had been a king long ago? Macbeth even has a convincing motive for seeking Excalibur; with his hunt for Demona presumably over, he needs a new goal, and it would be natural for him, with the right impetus, to think of taking up again his old life as a king and leader. (Another great touch comes when Macbeth, after pulling the fake-Excalibur out of the stone dragon, triumphantly claims it as "Macbeth, son of Findlaech" - providing us with another posthumous memory of his father, alongside the brief glimpse of Findlaech in "Avalon Part Two".) To Macbeth's credit, however, when Arthur finally attains the genuine Excalibur, he acknowledges Arthur's right to it, and the two of them are reconciled.

Hudson and the trio have a relatively small role here, but still do a good job of helping Arthur and Griff out. (In the process, we have a little bit of fun with their names, through the confusion with the two Brooklyns.) Hudson shows his perceptiveness in recognizing the storm that heralds Arthur and Griff's arrival in New York to be a magical one, and Lexington displays his own ingenuity in using Banquo and Fleance's sky-sleds as a means of launching the gargoyles into flight. We also see a little of their concern over Goliath and Elisa's absence.

The episode also contains much fine atmospheric work, such as the building storm at the beginning of the story and the deserted maze in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. We meet the Stone of Destiny for a third time (the first two occasions being in Part Three of "City of Stone" and Part One of "Avalon"), this time to become a character in its own right, and revealed as the stone that Arthur had pulled the stone out of fifteen centuries before. Griff is in fine form, as well. The only weak spot of the episode for me is Arthur's portrayal. He comes across as perhaps a little too bland, too similar to other takes on Arthur (particularly T. H. White's, in such matters as his longing for Merlin to still be around to help him out), not strongly individualized enough to stand out as the King Arthur of "Gargoyles", in the way that the Macbeth of "Gargoyles" stands out as distinct from his counterpart in Shakespeare. His chief character trait is a stubborn resistance to the possibility that Excalibur might not be meant to be his sword this time around, but after this episode, since he has proved himself to be still worthy of it, that facet of him would no longer be an issue. If Greg Weisman ever does get to tell the further adventures of Arthur and Griff on their quest for Merlin (a story that I was definitely longing to see), I hope that he can rectify this and produce a characterization for King Arthur that truly makes him the King Arthur of the Gargoyles Universe, not just a repeat of White's Arthur in The Once and Future King.


Greg Weisman intended "Pendragon" to be a back-door pilot to a spin-off, also entitled "Pendragon", that would have dealt with Arthur and Griff's adventures as they search for Merlin, adventures that would have taken them, among other places, to Tintagel, Stonehenge, and Antarctica. The Illuminati would have had a major role in this series as a recurring antagonist, particularly its leader, Mr. Duval, who would have turned out to be Sir Percival, a former knight of the Round Table that had survived into modern times through being the guardian of the Holy Grail. (This raises the question of how Percival can both be the Grail's guardian - an occupation that traditionally called for very high moral standards - and the head of an organization as amoral as the Illuminati. Greg commented once that Percival has had to pay a certain price for his actions as leader of the Illuminati, though he has so far refused to specify what that price was.) Arthur and Griff would also be joined by Percival's estranged wife, Blanchefleur, who would become a third regular. Greg also planned for another appearance by the Stone of Destiny, this one connected in some way with its real-life return to Scotland in late 1996. Unfortunately, the spin-off was never made (it is a sad commentary on television animation that "Pendragon" was rejected, while the dreadful "King Arthur and the Knights of Justice" received two full seasons).

Alert viewers will notice that Arthur could not have reached London immediately after leaving Avalon. For one thing, Griff is already there, indicating that the events of "M.I.A." have already taken place. Also, the trio and Hudson have been contacted by Halcyon Renard and Diane Maza about the events in "Golem" and "Mark of the Panther". According to Greg Weisman, Arthur had an unspecified adventure in the outside world that troubled him enough that he decided to return to Avalon for a time, and he was brought to London after making a second venture into the outside world.

"Gargoyles" here follows the popular (if inaccurate) interpretation of Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone being one and the same; in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, they were, in fact, separate swords. After Arthur broke his old sword (Malory does not say whether it was the Sword in the Stone or a lesser weapon) while fighting King Pellinore, Merlin brought him to the Lady of the Lake, who gave him Excalibur via the famous hand rising up from her lake garbed in a sleeve of white samite. "Pendragon" makes use of both concepts, having Excalibur once again imbedded in stone (but this time, completely encased, with the sword seemingly thrust in the stone being just a worthless lookalike), but bringing in the Lady of the Lake as instrumental in its recovery.

An issue left unresolved is the Stone of Destiny's identity as being the stone from the Sword in the Stone. The Stone of Destiny was (according to Scottish tradition) brought to Scotland from Ireland around the year 500, to eventually become a crucial part of Scottish coronation ritual from 843 (when Kenneth mac Alpin became the first King of Scotland) to 1296 (when Edward I captured it and brought it to Westminster Abbey). Thus it did not reach London until almost eight hundred years after Arthur carried out his famous act of pulling the sword from the stone (which Malory places in London). So how can the two stones be the same? Greg has hinted that the Stone of Destiny was briefly moved to London and back for the occasion, but has declined to go into details; presumably, these would eventually have been addressed in the "Pendragon" spin-off (if it ever gets made).

Previous Episode |  Episode List |  Next Episode