A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time

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"A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" is the seventeenth televised episode of the series Gargoyles, and the fourth episode of Season 2. It originally aired on September 7, 1995.


Main Plot

The Scrolls of Merlin are being escorted by Elisa and Matt to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when their boat is ambushed by Banquo and Fleance who have been sent by Macbeth to steal the scrolls. Hudson secures one of the two scroll canisters from Banquo's jet, but is rendered unconscious and falls into the ocean. He washes ashore near the house of the blind author Jeffrey Robbins, and the two become friends. Meanwhile, Broadway attempts to take back the other canister at Macbeth's place, but Macbeth stops him and captures him. He then takes the other canister from Hudson's stone form on Robbins' terrace. Believing the scrolls contain magic spells, Macbeth begins to open them while Hudson and the rest of the clan converge at Macbeth's house. When Macbeth realizes that the scrolls contain Merlin's diary instead of spells, he loses interest and allows the gargoyles to leave with them.


The two archaeologists Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smyth come across a chest containing the Scrolls while exploring a cavern. The chest contained an enchantment put in place by Merlin to ensure the one who found the scrolls is a seeker of knowledge rather than a destroyer.

Broadway doesn't believe he needs to learn how to read because he has such an exciting life. He changes his tune during the course of this episode, however. After he's taken prisoner, Macbeth describes to him some of the written exploits of Merlin. Broadway is so impressed with Macbeth's narrative that he thinks the former king actually lived during that time period. When Goliath threatens to burn the Scrolls in exchange for Broadway's freedom, Broadway pleads with Goliath not to destroy them since he finally understands the magic inherent in the written word.

Hudson is also unable to read, and doesn't pursue learning to do so because he is ashamed. Robbins convinces him of the importance of reading, and that one is never too old to learn. Hudson is amazed when Robbins directs him to Macbeth's Mansion with a telephone book.

Robbins is a Vietnam veteran and a semi-successful writer, though he hasn't written anything in a while. The discovery of The Scrolls of Merlin sparks an interest in him and he begins working on a new novel.

The Story

Previously on Gargoyles

Act One

Two archaeologists, Professor Lydia Duane and Dr. Arthur Morwood-Smyth, explore a cave in Wales. The two hear a faint sound and find themselves in a chamber filled with various artifacts, including an enchanted lyre and a chest. On the chest (written in ancient Celtic) is the warning: "The seeker of knowledge need fear nothing here; the destroyer, everything." Upon opening the chest, the Duane and Morwood-Smyth are surrounded by mystical energy that briefly forms into the image of Merlin himself, before retreating into the closed chest. Opening the chest, Morwood-Smyth remarks in awe that they've unearthed the Scrolls of Merlin.

At the Clock Tower, Lexington reads a periodical to the Manhattan Clan that reports the Scrolls of Merlin will be brought to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for further study. He asks aloud if anyone believes the Scrolls were actually written by the fabled wizard. Elisa considers the possibility to be incredible, while Brooklyn (as he reads a copy of Tempo magazine) quickly compares Merlin to the Magus that cursed their clan. Goliath elaborates that Merlin was a "white wizard" from the 5th century, and that the library located downstairs in the Manhattan Civic Center has plenty of books about him. Finishing a sandwich, Broadway asks why anyone would bother staring at "marks" on a page when they can rent the video. Lex rebuts that they aren't marks for those that can read; Broadway quickly dismisses the notion, declaring that he can't read and doesn't believe he's "missing anything". Brooklyn quips that "ignorance is bliss" before throwing the comment to Hudson, who is more concerned with watching Celebrity Hockey with Bronx. Elisa then announces her departure, explaining that she and Matt have both been assigned to the Scrolls escort team. Before she leaves, Goliath asks if the authorities know what the scrolls contain. Elisa confirms that the Scrolls are still sealed, but that the growing rumor is that they contain magical spells. Goliath grimaces at the thought.

On rough waters outside Manhattan, Professor Duane helps Elisa come aboard the H.M.S. Churchill, with Matt right below. Duane expresses her surprise that the escorts arrived, and Elisa insists that she wouldn't have missed the opportunity, even if she had to swim. Inside the ship's bridge, Duane explains to the detectives that the Scrolls of Merlin are sealed in two canisters. Meanwhile, flying directly toward the Churchill are two Harrier jets that swiftly attack, striking particle energy beams on the ship. Elisa helps Duane find cover from the explosion while the Captain of the Churchill radios a distress call to the Coast Guard. Elisa and Matt see the jets flying in the distance, which the Manhattan Clan – gliding not far from the scene – also spot. Hudson figures the jets must belong to Xanatos. Lexington recognizes the jets as those capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter, mentioning that's he's read about them. Broadway discounts the notion of reading once more, maintaining that his life is interesting enough as it is. The two jets soon lands on the Churchill's deck and Elisa and Matt maintain their positions, guarding the canisters and crew on the bridge. The two pilots from the jets, Banquo and Fleance, jump out and race toward the bridge, with Banquo attacking the crew on deck with a Lightning Gun. The aggressors blow the hatch to the bridge wide open, knocking out Matt and the Captain in the process. Elisa fires on the attackers, but is soon disarmed and knocked to the ground. Duane is now clutching the canisters when she is told by Fleance to hand them over. Duane refuses, arguing the Scrolls are priceless. Fleance mockingly expresses her surprise, before kicking out Duane's feet from under her, catching both canisters as they fall out of Duane's hands. Fleance tosses one canister to Banquo and they both make their way back to the Harrier jets. Hudson glides and lands on Banquo's jet, smashing the cockpit wide open. Goliath grabs hold onto the other jet, when Elisa races outside the bridge to inform the gargoyle that the assailants have stolen the Scrolls. Hudson manages to grab one canister before Banquo tases him from the jet's hull, causing Hudson to crash into the water. Goliath is also forcibly removed from the second jet and the two henchmen make their getaway. The Manhattan clan notices Broadway has managed to hold onto one of the jets, and figure that Hudson must be keeping a grip on the second, when, in fact, he is barely afloat on the waters; still keeping his claws on the canister he apprehended.

At the harbor, Professor Duane explains to the New York Police Department that she has no one specific suspect in mind, arguing that "who wouldn't want them?" Elisa steps away and discreetly concludes with the Manhattan Clan that Xanatos must be the one responsible, arguing this latest caper made her look like an amateur. Goliath determines that without any proof to tie Xanatos to the scene of the crime, the duty to bring him to justice falls on the gargoyles.

Hudson is washed ashore, but struggles to get back on his feet, quickly falling unconscious again.

The two jets land in the hangar of Macbeth's Mansion, where Broadway looks for cover as Banquo and Fleance realize they have lost, not just one, but both canisters.

At the Eyrie Building, Owen is working in the Great Hall when Goliath bursts in, joined by Lexington and Brooklyn. Goliath demands the whereabouts of Xanatos, Hudson, and Broadway but Owen offers no clues and even less assistance. Goliath declares he and Lexington and Brooklyn will find them on their own, with Owen smiling as they leave.

The two henchmen scour the hangar for the missing canister, figuring it couldn't have just walked away. Broadway knocks them both out of his way, tearing through the hangar's door. Just before making his getaway, he is stopped by Macbeth.

Act Two

Macbeth calmly demands the canister from Broadway, and when Broadway charges at him, uses the gargoyle's momentum to throw him to the ground. Macbeth insists he takes no pleasure hurting Broadway and even acknowledges Broadway's courage, but ends the spat with the gargoyle by throwing a grenade that detonates knock-out gas. Broadway collapses and Macbeth takes the canister, opening it. He then discovers it to be the second of two volumes. Figuring it to be useless (and dangerous) to read the Scrolls out of order, he asks his henchmen where the first Scroll is.

On the beach, Hudson is awakened by the seeing-eye dog Gilly and the human Jeffrey Robbins. Hudson sees that he is blind and vaguely tells him that he's had a bit of trouble. Robbins asks Hudson if he needs a doctor, noting that the beach is no longer safe after dark. Hudson merely asks for a place to rest until sunrise, needing Robbins to lean on as the gargoyle is invited to the human's residence. Hudson says he has little to offer in return except for his thanks, and Robbins declares the gesture of gratitude is payment in full. The two exchange names, with Hudson explaining his name to be "like the river."

Macbeth, his henchmen, and a shackled Broadway fly in an aircraft, looking for Hudson and the missing canister. Broadway argues that they can't hold him prisoner forever, and Macbeth explains he only needs to keep him captive until the first Scroll has been located. Banquo remarks that Hudson and the Scroll are probably at the bottom of the ocean by now, with Macbeth warning both Banquo and Fleance that had better not be the case.

At Robbins's house, Hudson inquires about the Purple Heart medal on the coffee table, and Robbins explains he was blinded while serving in the Vietnam War. Hudson is unfamiliar with the human conflict Robbins is talking about, and Robbins at Hudson's confusion, explaining that Hudson's voice made Robbins figure he was once a soldier too. Hudson supposes and shares that he still is, and asks what occupies Robbins's nights these days. Robbins responds that he is a novelist. Or he used to be, before he ran out of ideas. Hudson looks at the bookcases that surround the room and is stunned at the thought that Robbins wrote them all. Robbins clarifies that he didn't write every book on his shelves, but that he did have a few "modest" successes, including Gilgamesh the King. Hudson is confused at the sight of the Braille bumps, wondering where the words are. Robbins explains that's how he can read and write, before handing him a standard English version of the text. Hudson dismisses both versions, noting no difference between the "bumps" and "scrawls". Robbins works out that Hudson is illiterate.

Macbeth is optimistic that Hudson washed up on the beach, or, at the very least, the missing canister did. Broadway, still shackled, asks what's the big deal about the Scrolls of Merlin, wondering why everyone is fussing about this "stupid magician". Macbeth pauses from his search and recounts that Merlin was a singular spectacle:

a "bearded old man who took a ragged boy and with magic and wisdom turned him into the greatest King this world will ever see. A King who ruled with justice and compassion, who took the torn remnants of warring tribes and made them into a country of beauty and civilization . . . with Merlin always by his side, until it fell. Merlin's magic was stronger than everything except the human heart."

Already his prisoner, Broadway is now suddenly captured by Macbeth's words, believing that Macbeth's vivid description must mean he was there in the 5th Century. Macbeth laughs at the thought; he's old, but not that old. He tells Broadway that he obviously read about it.

The night nearly spent, Goliath, Brooklyn, and Lexington have had no luck finding Xanatos, Hudson, and Broadway. Goliath demands Owen to reveal where they are before sunrise. Reading the newspaper, Owen explains that all of Xanatos's vertical take-off and landing aircraft are "in the shop", but that the three gargoyles might try Macbeth.

Meanwhile, with the storm raging on, Hudson argues that he's too old to learn how to read. Robbins declares this as hogwash; he had to learn Braille at age forty and he's willing to learn a new way at eighty if he has to. Hudson doesn't know who will teach him, explaining he's never told his clan he can't read. Robbins offers to be his teacher, but figures that isn't the issue. Hudson admits being illiterate shames him. Robbins counters that it's only shameful to remain illiterate. At the sound of birds chirping and the storm giving way to early daylight, Hudson declares he has to go. Robbins is worried he has run him off with his preaching, but Hudson explains that it's nearly dawn. He perches atop the outside terrace wall and turns to stone, the canister in his hand, unaffected from the transformation. Robbins hears the petrification but can't make out what happened, and returns to his house. Above his residence, Macbeth's aircraft is hovering in the clear sky, and Macbeth tells his henchmen to land.

Act Three

Macbeth's aircraft lands outside Jeffrey Robbins's house. Gilly begins to bark at the window, noting their presence. Initially, Robbins thinks Hudson has returned, but with Gilly's sudden growl, Robbins figures it to be someone else and asks who is there. Macbeth introduces himself as "Lennox Macduff" and portrays himself as a friend of Hudson's who is concerned for him. Robbins tells him that he just missed Hudson, and Macbeth wishes him good day. Gilly continues to growl as Macbeth leaves the area. Out of the corner of his eye, Macbeth spots Hudson perched on the terrace wall. He carefully slides the canister out of Hudson's stone claws.

At sunset, Hudson awakes and returns to Robbins's house. Gilly quickly greets the gargoyle, licking his claws. Robbins is happy to see Hudson return, but the gargoyle insists he can't stay long. He asks if he happened to leave a canister on the terrace. Robbins hasn't come across a canister but notes that his friend, Lennox Macduff, was on the terrace and that perhaps he took it. Hudson doesn't recognize the name, and Robbins isn't surprised. The name sounded phony to him; Lennox and Macduff were two characters in the Shakespeare play, Macbeth. Hearing the name of the play, Hudson puts two and two together, but realizes that he doesn't know how to find Macbeth. He explains to Robbins that he knows this Macbeth – Macduff – but that he isn't a friend. Robbins pulls out a Braille phone book and finds Lennox Macduff's address. Hudson figures the book must be magic, to which Robbins quips, "Aren't they all?"

At Macbeth's Mansion, Banquo and Fleance stand guard on the battlements while Broadway struggles to break from his shackles. Macbeth is preparing to open the Scrolls of Merlin, surrounded by a flame pit and other magical accoutrements. Broadway asks Macbeth what he is doing and Macbeth explains he's opening the Scrolls in the safest way possible. Broadway remains prisoner now so that Macbeth can try a few magical spells on the gargoyle, to Broadway's shock.

Goliath, Brooklyn, and Lexington land just outside Macbeth's Mansion. They are soon joined by Hudson and are thrilled to see him. Goliath tells Hudson they thought he was with Broadway, but Hudson explains that he hasn't seen Broadway since the battle the night before. Lexington spots the fire's smoke growing from the mansion.

Macbeth breaks the seal from the first Scroll, as Fleance reports the Manhattan Clan's imminent arrival. Macbeth orders his henchmen to "take care of it" as he opens the first Scroll. Banquo and Fleance activate and mount two turret-mounted laser cannons, attacking the incoming gargoyles. Debris from the mansion nearly crush Macbeth and Broadway, and while Broadway relishes that the tide has finally turned, Macbeth continues his deliberate work to unseal the second Scroll.

The gargoyles can't get past the cannons, but Hudson has an idea. Goliath lands on top of Fleance's cannon, obstructing her view. Banquo gets disoriented from the gargoyles swirling above him, unprepared for Hudson ramming him off cannon's seat. Banquo nearly plummets to his death but is saved by Brooklyn. The explosion from the destroyed cannons nearly knock out Macbeth once more, but he finally manages to read the Scroll, ready to unleash the magic they contain.

Except – this isn't the kind of magic Macbeth (or anyone else) was anticipating. He quickly realizes that the Scrolls are Merlin's memoirs (the section he reads is about Merlin's first meeting with the young King Arthur), and is frustrated that there are no spells contained in them. Goliath knocks Macbeth to the ground and grabs both Scrolls from him. His mood fouled from the wasted energy, Macbeth refuses to release Broadway, even when Goliath threatens to burn the Scrolls, declaring them to be worthless. But Broadway pleads for Goliath not to burn the Scrolls; he now recognizes that the "precious magic" they contain is Merlin's life in his own words. Goliath is surprised to hear this from Broadway. Hudson agrees with Broadway, saying it would the "greatest shame" to lose them. Macbeth is impressed by the sentiments and allows Broadway to go, telling the gargoyles they are trespassing; they can take the Scrolls and go.

Gliding back home, Goliath explains that they'll return the Scrolls to Elisa so that she can return them to the museum. Goliath also offers to read them first to Hudson and Broadway if they are up for it, but Hudson turns him down. Once he and Broadway learn how to read, they'll read the Scrolls of Merlin on their own.

Reading the latest about the Scrolls of Merlin, Jeffrey Robbins suddenly has an idea for a new novel. Grabbing a tape recorder, he begins to write The Sword and the Staff: A Book of Merlin:

"The written word is all that stands between memory and oblivion. Without books as our anchors we are cast adrift; neither teaching, nor learning. They are windows on the past, mirrors on the present, and prisms reflecting all possible futures. Books are lighthouses erected in the dark sea of time."

Hudson sits atop Robbins's terrace wall once more, ready to learn.

Featured Characters and First Appearances

Gargoyles Humans Others

Places Objects Media Miscellaneous


  • "Why stare at marks on a page when you can rent the video?" - Broadway
  • "Uh huh. Ignorance is bliss, right Hudson?"
"Ach, leave me out of this. It's time for Celebrity Hockey." - Brooklyn and Hudson
  • "You understand I don't get any real pleasure out of this." - Macbeth
  • "Bumps, scrawls...what's the difference?"
"You can't read, can you?" - Hudson and Robbins
  • "You were there..."
"Ha ha! I'm old but I'm not that old!" - Broadway and Macbeth
  • "It shames me."
"I understand. But it isn't shameful to be illiterate, Hudson. It's only a shame to stay that way." - Hudson and Robbins
  • "I must leave."
"Oh, I've run you off with my preaching." - Hudson and Robbins
  • "The written word is all that stands between memory and oblivion. Without books as our anchors we are cast adrift; neither teaching, nor learning. They are windows on the past, mirrors on the present, and prisms reflecting all possible futures. Books are lighthouses erected in the dark sea of time." - Robbins


Hudson and Broadway, both illiterate prior to this episode, decide to learn how to read. Later episodes, such as "High Noon", show them practicing together.


Macbeth's two henchmen, introduced in this story (they would reappear in "Sanctuary", "Pendragon", "Nightwatch" and "The Journey"), are never named in the dialogue, but the ending credits list them as Banquo and Fleance. Both names are taken from William Shakespeare's Macbeth; in the play, Banquo is a leading Scottish nobleman and Fleance his son. After Macbeth learns from the three Witches that Banquo's descendants will someday rule Scotland, though Banquo himself never will, he turns upon his former friend and has him murdered; Fleance escapes, however, and his descendants indeed come to rule Scotland in the form of the Stuart dynasty (among whose members was James VI of Scotland and I of England, under whose reign Shakespeare wrote Macbeth).

Macbeth provides another Shakespearean link directly in the dialogue when he goes by the alias of "Lennox Macduff". As Jeffrey Robbins explains to Hudson, Lennox and Macduff are two characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth: Lennox plays only a small part as one of several Scottish thanes, but Macduff occupies a more prominent position as the man who will slay Macbeth at the end. (Lennox and Macduff both enter together in Act II, scene iii, directly after the Porter scene - and providing the knocking at the door that the Porter was answering.)

When Goliath mentions that the public library adjacent to the Clock Tower contains several books on Merlin, it was originally planned that he would list a few of these, such as Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave. However, the production team was unable to secure legal permission to name these books, and so dropped the list.

Gilly, Jeffrey's seeing-eye dog, was named after Gilgamesh, a legendary king of the city of Uruk in ancient Sumer (though Gilly is referred to in the dialogue as female). The novel which Jeffrey shows Hudson in this episode is entitled Gilgamesh the King, and was apparently a retelling of his myth; presumably this was why Jeffrey bestowed Gilgamesh's name on his dog.

One line connected to the Scrolls of Merlin has generated a small amount of "fan-confusion". The inscription on the bound Scrolls that Macbeth reads aloud begins, "The Scrolls of Merlin, sealed by my own hand". The "by my own hand" portion alludes to Merlin, but some viewers, led astray by the fact that Macbeth is reading these words, mistakenly assumed that Macbeth had been the one to seal them. [1]

The archaeologists Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smyth who discover the Scrolls at the beginning were named after no less than four Gargoyles writers: Lydia Marano, Diane Duane, Arthur Byron Cover, and Peter Morwood. They would reappear (in a far less Arthurian context) in "Sentinel".

DVD Release


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