Angels In the Night (review)
A review by --GregX 16:37, 12 August 2010 (CDT)
Well, here we are. The end of the painful crap festival that was “The Goliath Chronicles.” For nine years, the end of any official “Gargoyles” material. Until the SLG comic books, that is. I’ve made no secret of my hatred for this season, and now you get to read one more rant from me about them. Where better to end then with this turdburger?
I give you: “Angels In the Night.” If you wish to kill me for giving this to you, I will completely understand.
Now, it’s been over a decade since I last watched this. This is only my second time viewing it, but I’m going to write this from the perspective of a new viewer, as I may as well be seeing this again for the first time.
We open to our title sequence, “Angels In the Night” as fireworks are going off over the city. We pull down to the streets and see a parade including some men in a dragon costume. As we do this, another one of Goliath’s monotonous monologues begins:
"The yearning for renewal is universal. The human new year takes many forms, but each message is the same. The struggles of the old year die away, as unspoiled hopes of the new year are born. Sometimes, hope is all we have."
In an alleyway, a couple of thugs drag a sharply dressed woman out of a building and demand her rings. One of them asks her “do you want to take the rings off, or do you want me to?” You know, as far as pick up lines go, that’s not bad. But they are interrupted by the sound of growling as Broadway flutters down and hits the things with his wings, sending them flying across the alley. Okay, this is obviously an example of ABC’s strict Standards & Practices, but beyond that, he barely grazes them with those things. I miss Adrienne Bello.
The first thug gets to his feet and runs away, but is captured by Goliath who says “surprise, surprise.” Um, did Goliath just crack a one-liner? Why did Goliath crack a one-liner? This is fine for Lexington, Brooklyn, and Broadway, but Goliath? And to think, I’m only one minute-six seconds into this thing.
Goliath asks the woman if she’s alright, and this being TGC, she is about to answer and then just runs off yelling “stay away from me!” Okay, I can understand being afraid of gargoyles, especially if you don’t know much about them. But instead of playing it like she’s been rescued by monstrous looking creatures that could hurt her, it’s played like she’s a southern wife of a plantation owner who is saved by a gang of black guys in gang colors.
Lexington laments that no matter how many they save humans still look at gargoyles like they’re going to eat them. Um, no Lex, that is not how the scene was written, or how it was played. “The Goliath Chronicles” just takes so much for granted.
Goliath angrily blames John Castaway, and points at a Quarrymen billboard posted on top of a neighboring building. Hudson agrees that their hatred and bigotry has spread across Manhattan like a virus. And this here is something else that TGC took for granted. The reaction to the existence of the gargoyles has been so monolithic, and so one-dimensional. While I do not doubt the existence of an organization like the Quarrymen, their reaction wouldn’t be the only reaction.
Goliath contacts Angela, who is patrolling a peaceful Central Park with Bronx, and she agrees to meet them back at the castle. So, Goliath, Hudson, Lexington, and Broadway are off patrolling together in Chinatown, and Angela and Bronx are alone in Central Park. This does not seem typical for how the clan splits up when they patrol. Why, I smell a convenient plot device!
As Goliath, Hudson, and the Trio glide back to the castle, they hear a crash from a nearby construction site, and investigate. They arrive to hear the cries of a little girl who is hurt and trapped underground. As the gargoyles leap down, they trip a laser wire, and lights shine as a cage closes above them. They also discover that the source of the cries is a digital recording. Why do I have a feeling that this is going to be stupid?
The scene cuts to the construction zone crawling with police, firefighters and reporters. We hear the voice of Travis Marshall as he reports on the incident. First of all, he refers to Castaway as an industrialist. Um, since when is John Castaway an industrialist? Where did this Castaway Corporation stupidity come from? He also reports that the gargoyles were seen flying in carrying a suspicious metal case just before the blast. Wait, so the public thinks gargoyles are smart enough to plant bombs? And finally, wait, that’s not Travis Marshall! Sure, that’s his voice, but it’s coming out of someone else, someone familiar… wait, that was one of the Japanese reporters from “Bushido!” Why does he have Travis Marshall’s voice?
The camera zooms in on the statues of Angela and Bronx as Wrong-Character-Model-Travis questions their fate as they may be the very last of their kind. My question is did anyone involved with this production care? Scott Thomas, you were the producer, did you just fall asleep? How do you mix the character models up like this?
We cut to City Hall as we hear Goliath’s voice: “You and your Quarrymen must leave the city at once. Defy me and you will be sorry.” The recording ends and we see Margot Yale (sadly not voiced by Marina Sirtis) as she declares that it must be Goliath. Well, I suppose it could be Thailog, but we saw the bastard die a few episodes back. But, since when has continuity mattered to TGC.
Now we see that it is John Castaway (once again voiced by Scott Cleverdon, wait, does that mean they’re going to reveal that he’s Jon Canmore in this episode) who played the tape. He expresses faux shock that the gargoyles would blow up a building, because of how many people they could hurt. Margot declares that they’ve got two of them, and that they won’t get away with this. Now, I want to know, where Demona is. Her daughter is currently in custody. There is no way in hell Demona hasn’t heard the news by now.
Back at the construction site, we see a bulldozer removing pieces of debris with pieces of stone gargoyles in the wreckage. Elisa Maza and Matt Bluestone watch, and Matt gives Elisa his condolences. But Elisa finds a silver lining that at least Angela and Bronx will be safe in protective custody. But she is outraged when another cop tells her that the two gargoyles are being taken downtown to be booked, as they have a warrant for their arrest. Again, TGC is taking things for granted. I suppose after “…And Justice For All” it at least fits in their own continuity, but all it does is remind me of how much THAT episode took for granted.
We fade to the Eyrie Building where Owen also expresses his condolences, and Elisa meets with David “Mr. Sappy Emasculated Good Guy” Xanatos. Remember, this is TGC, and Xanatos isn’t cool here. Elisa complains that she tried to see Angela, but was barred. Xanatos is also aware that Margot branded Elisa a “gargoyle sympathizer.” Elisa laments that in a minute Angela will wake up to find the clan dead, the whole world against her, and that she’s all alone. There’s that word, alone, could that be foreshadowing an appearance from Demona in this episode? Because, you know, such a thing would make sense.
Elisa is overjoyed that Goliath is still alive. The rest of the clan are just confused as to what happened. Xanatos smiles and begins his explanation. Apparently, Xanatos learned of the “extras” Castaway was adding to his construction crew, so he had his spy bribe the construction crew to add a few “extras” of his own. The moment they turned to stone, the floor rotated moving them into a protective chamber while pieces of impostors rotated in just in time for the explosion. Okay, first of all, why not just WARN THE GARGOYLES TO STAY AWAY FROM THAT CONSTRUCTION SITE?! WHY NOT REPORT SUCH A THING TO THE AUTHORITIES ANONYMOUSLY! If this was TGC’s attempt to make Xanatos cool again, it falls flat on its face. There is no internal logic to this.
Goliath says Xanatos’s intentions are good (uh… Yeah?) but that it’s not their nature to abandon a protectorate. Broadway is also determined to rescue Angela and Bronx. Xanatos admits that he did not anticipate their capture. Really, Xanatos? With the city out to capture the gargoyles, you did not anticipate a scenario where they might actually catch one? Really? I don’t even think that’s the real Xanatos anymore. Um… it’s the Chameleon from “The Spectacular Spider-Man” pretending to be Xanatos, just like he pretended to be Norman Osborn. As soon as their backs are turned, he’s cracking the safe. The real Xanatos is on a second honeymoon with Fox, trying to turn her back into the badass that she was so she doesn’t cry on rocking chairs while clutching Teddy Bears ever again.
Hey, it’s the Clock Tower, we haven’t seen that since “The Journey.” Protesters are outside, and we can hear Margot Yale on the phone. Wait, why is Margot’s office now in the Clock Tower? Wasn’t it in City Hall just a few minutes ago? Did Scott Thomas fall asleep again?
Elisa barges past Margot’s assistant, Maxwell, as she demands to speak to Margot. The A.D.A. explains that she is taking the gargoyles to an upstate detention facility, and that “we” will carry out the transfer tonight. Elisa is in charge of security, and as a gargoyle sympathizer, she will do her very best to protect them.
Back at the castle, the trio are watching TV as Wrong-Character-Model-Travis Marshall interviews people on the street. One gentleman says he was on the fence, but if the gargoyles tried to blow up a building then they got what they deserved. Another woman with the most grating Southern accent ever wails around about how she “detests bats.”
Brooklyn turns off the TV and pouts about why they should stay where they’re not wanted. Lexington agrees and suggests Avalon or Japan, where they might meet other “gargoyleth.” Yes, Lexington said “gargoyleth.” With a lisp. Hmm… I could make the very obvious gay joke here, but I won’t. Brooklyn’s spirits are up as he thinks of meeting other female gargoyles. Hey, numbskulls! What about Bronx and Angela? Don’t they, I don’t know, need rescuing?
Goliath butts in saying that they cannot throw away their work to gain acceptance. How they fought and suffered all their lives to gain acceptance not because it was easy, but because it was right. Hmm, that’s funny Goliath, I seem to recall you trying to keep your existence as well as your clan’s a secret since the moment you awoke in Manhattan, until those damn Hunters exposed you to the world. Remember that Goliath? Why do I have a feeling this dialogue was originally written for Charles Xavier?
We cut to a payphone on a city street (you don’t see those too much anymore), Margot’s assistant, Maxwell is giving someone a tip about Margot’s plan to smuggle the gargoyles out of the city. But who could it be? Why, it’s none other than John Castaway who promises Maxwell a Silver Hammer at their next rally. Cute, TGC writers. Very cute.
Castaway is wearing his ornate Quarryman armor, with three red slashes behind his Q. Hmm, what could this mean? Are we going to get a long overdue revelation? Castaway addresses a crowd of Quarrymen as they don their hoods, they are going to attack the train and “smash some stone!” The crowd wave their hammers around and shout “SMASH SOME STOME! SMASH SOME STONE! SMASH SOME STONE! SMASH SOME STONE!” as Castaway grins like a villain from a 1980’s animated toy commercial.
Upstate New York, a train moves across a bridge and through a tunnel. Inside, Angela and Bronx are in tight cages. Angela mourns the death of her clan, but Elisa whispers that they are alive. Elisa is about to whisper more when Margot yells at her. “You’re a police woman, not an animal therapist.” Wait, Margot, you think they’re animals and you want to prosecute them? Can you please come prosecute that dog that tore up my trashcans too?
Outside, two helicopters pursue the train. Castaway tells them over a radio to do their duty. Four armored Quarrymen with jetpacks, called Alpha Squad, fly out of their chopper and land on the roof of the train.
(By the way, as a personal note, while writing this review, I received an e-mail saying that tickets are available for “The Colbert Report.” I clicked the link to reserve tickets, but they were no longer available. “The Goliath Chronicles” made me miss another chance to see Stephen Colbert live. True story.)
Castaway orders them to go in for the kill, but his pilot (voiced by Ed Asner) picks up five unidentified blips on the radar heading for the train. Castaway clichés us with a “No, it cannot be!” and orders Alpha Squad to attack. For some unexplained reason, Alpha Squad is no longer on the roof of the train, but flying fifty feet above it, and just start shooting like madmen who can’t aim. Their blasts hitting the bars allowing Angela and Bronx to break free, while the two police officers are out cold. Magic lasers of plot, I see.
Castaway warns Alpha Squad that trouble is heading their way. The Quarryman wonders what his boss is talking about when Goliath tackles him in midair. Castaway orders a Beta Squad of Quarrymen to attack as they use their magic powers of stock footage to fly out of their helicopter. “I don’t know how you survived certain death, Goliath,” Castaway says, oozing with evil, “but it doesn’t matter now.” He pulls a detonator out of his jacket pocket and blows up a bridge.
Does everyone else see what’s coming yet?
Castaway’s helicopter descends above the train, and he leaps out to take matters into his own hands. By the way, he’s not wearing his Quarryman armor. Castaway is doing this wearing a suit and tie? Why. I don’t know.
The gargoyles battle the Quarrymen in the air with terrible animated and bad story boarding. In one instance, Hudson swings his sword at a Quarryman’s gun, and the fun is sliced in half well before Hudson’s sword even connects with it.
Inside the train, people finally notice the fight between the gargoyles and the Quarrymen in the air. People are stunned that the Quarrymen are attacking the train. Wait? WHAT?! Now the Quarrymen are bad guys in your eyes? You don’t assume that maybe it’s the gargoyles attacking the train and the Quarrymen protecting you? And TGC just throws out any semblance it could ever claim to have of internal logic. The season is ending in a few minutes, time to set this game to EASY mode.
A hole magically appears in the side of the train car that Elisa, Margot, Angela and Bronx are in, and Broadway comes gliding in. Again, this hole is formed long before Broadway touched the wall. It’s as if the train opened itself up for him. Angela hugs him and is happy he’s alive. Broadway assures his damsel in distress girlfriend that they’re taking her home. Because that’s what Angela is in this episode, a damsel in distress. They could have replaced her role with any other gargoyle except for maybe Goliath, and this episode would have played out exactly the same. Yes, it’s quite obvious now that Demona will not be making an appearance.
Up front, Castaway stuns the engineers with a net, and increases the speed of the train. In the passenger cars, a woman screams “THE TRAIN IS OUT OF CONTROL, WE’LL ALL BE KILLED!” and Castaway smirks like Starscream and oozes more evil with his “and away we go.”
Outside, the gargoyles continue to have poorly animated aerial battles with flying Quarrymen when Hudson notices the train. “It must be Castaway!” Goliath bellows. They take off after the train as the Quarrymen continue their pursuit. The people at the windows just watching.
Inside, Broadway realizes that the emergency breaks have been shut off and vows that he and Angela will go up front and stop the train. Margot doesn’t understand why they would. Elisa explains it in two words: “Gargoyles protect.” And we turn down the difficulty setting to VERY EASY mode. But the heartwarming moment ends when a Quarryman takes a shot at Broadway and Angela and actually hits them.
Goliath orders the others to take out the Quarrymen while he handles Castaway. Yes, it is time, let their epic struggle commence!
Inside Margot’s train car, they have been joined by a lot of people, all expressing concern for Broadway and Angela. They say they don’t know why the Quarrymen are attacking the train, that they want to help. Again, I ask based on what I know you were seeing, why are you correctly assuming the Quarrymen are attacking the train. Why aren’t you assuming the gargoyles are and the Quarrymen are protecting you? If the season weren’t ending in four minutes, I know you’d be siding with the Quarrymen, you know you’d be siding with the Quarrymen. Anyone with critical thinking skills knows you’d be siding with the Quarrymen.
“We saw what you were doing to save us,” a woman says to Elisa. “Thank you so much.” Um, what did you see, how did you see, this is a private train car. I’ve been on a train before, you can’t see into the car in front of you without windows. I need to ask, what’s below VERY EASY mode? Oh, I know, the episode and civil rights has now slipped down to DUH, WE THINK THE VIEWERS ARE COMPLETE TOOLS mode.
Goliath lands on the roof of the engine, and somehow sees the bridge gone from an angle where he could not logically see it, and tears his way in, only to be shot by Castaway. “I knew you gargoyles wouldn’t let me down. Sacrificing yourselves in order to protect everyone on board,” Castaway gloats at the injured gargoyle.
What did you just say, John Castaway? Let me repeat it: “I knew you gargoyles wouldn’t let me down. Sacrificing yourselves in order to protect everyone on board.”
“I knew you gargoyles wouldn’t let me down. Sacrificing yourselves in order to protect everyone on board.”
Did that sink in for you? Do the writers even understand what the implications of having Castaway say that actually are? DO THEY?! Yup, in “Hunter’s Moon” Jon Canmore started out as a three dimensional character, and that continued in “The Journey” when he became John Castaway. When we got to “For It May Come True,” he devolved into a two dimensional raving lunatic who was stupidly firing anti-aircraft cannons in the middle of Manhattan. But at least he still believed the gargoyles to be an insidious evil.
“You would destroy all these innocent lives,” Goliath says. “For what? An ancient hatred?!” Are we about to get that revelation now? Sure there is no way Goliath would actually know that Castaway and Canmore are the same guy, but, it’s TGC. Get ready to be beaten over the head, people!
Castaway blasts the controls, the break has been destroyed, the train cannot be slowed down. By the way, considering how close the train was to the bridge, and how fast it’s supposedly moving, they should have been dead seconds ago, but eh.
People in the train panic, and Castaway shouts “NOTHING CAN STOP US NOW!” Goliath rushes Castaway and gets blasted through the wing as he disarms Castaway. He grabs Castaway and lifts him to his feet growling “go ahead coward, show me just what you feel about gargoyles. Here’s your big chance. Show me!” I get that this is supposed to be dramatic, but it, like everything else in this scene falls flat. I liked “Brave words for a man who hides his face behind a hood” in “The Journey” much better.
Goliath knocks Castaway unconscious and carries him and the two tied up engineers out of the car, depositing them in the second car. He gasps as he sees the gorge and the destroyed bridge coming up, and separates the engine from the rest of the train. Goliath then orders Brooklyn to “save all he can carry off the train!” Which, at this speed and considering how close they are to the gorge well, as I said, they should all be dead already.
Brooklyn has an idea to save them all. They grab the Quarrymen’s jet packs, and jam them into the side of the second car. Hudson thinks the idea is daft, but Lex explains they’re like retro-rockets. As the train is maybe twenty feet from the gorge, Hudson yells “whatever you’re doing, you better do it now!” And Brooklyn orders “Fire your…” but it’s too late, the train goes over the edge and everyone dies. The end.
Actually, no. That’s what would have happened and should have happened if this episode weren’t so terrible boarded. “FIRE YOUR ENGINES!” Brooklyn orders and the gargoyles activate their jet packs, jet packs designed to carry one person, and they manage to successful stop the train. Hudson asks if he could have cut it a little closer and Brooklyn just shrugs.
They all land on the ground, and Goliath tells them he’s never been as proud of them as he is now. The crowd rushes outside cheering them, and I’m sorry, this is so hokey and corny, I have trouble watching it. But Hudson likes the sound of that. Elisa emerges from the crowd to give Goliath a safe and chaste hug. Are they still in love in “The Goliath Chronicles” or are they just friends?
Do you know what’s funny about this cheering crowd? Many of them are character models we saw at Castaway’s first Quarrymen rally in “The Journey.”
Margot addresses reporters as John Castaway is taken away in handcuffs, and never, ever is the name Jon Canmore even mentioned. Margot announces that is her privilege to announce that the peoples’ charges “against these noble crea… these noble beings has been dropped.”
The episode closes as the sun rises over another Goliath monologue.
"One thousand years ago, we lived in a world that understood our purpose. It was the age of Gargoyles. Ten centuries later, we awoke to a world bent on our destruction. Somehow, we never lost hope, and today we come full circle. A new age has begun, and we live again."
Uh, Goliath, one thousand years ago, you were used and abused like animals, they’d rather let dogs into the dining hall than you, and humans routinely hunted down clans and shattered them. Even then you said that humans fear what they do not understand? Were you high when you delivered this monologue? Whatever.
Sigh. Where do I start? Everything about this episode was complete and utter ass. There, what more do I need to say?
In Greg Weisman’s Master Plan, Goliath has to die just for gargoyles to be granted minority protection status. Just so it’s illegal to hunt them down and kill them. He has to make a sacrifice. What did “Angels In the Night” sacrifice except for good taste? It took so much for granted.
“Angels In the Night” even took the series itself for granted. There are so many elements in the series that could have been brought into play. Not just elements from “Gargoyles,” but elements that TGC used in earlier episodes, even! As I mentioned earlier, if Castaway hadn’t been an idiot and hijacked the train personally, he could have easily spun this to make him and his Quarrymen look heroic. But, nope, someone told him the season was ending in five minutes and the episode’s difficulty level was set to RETARD mode.
As much as I am glad she wasn’t subjected to another appearance in TGC, how can you do an episode like this and not include Demona? Whatever differences they have, if the entire clan is dead and Angela is in custody, you’re damn right Demona is going to attempt a rescue. Besides that, even with this crappy, unrealistic, resolution, you’d think having Demona present at the very end to either continue her denial or eat crow is something that would need to be seen. Even though it would have sucked anyway, Demona needed to be in this episode.
And then we have the villain of the piece, John Castaway. Sigh. Was he Jon Canmore? They alluded to something with Goliath’s line about an ancient hatred, and some fans think of that as confirmation that Castaway was Canmore. However, in my opinion, that is way too subtle for TGC. If TGC meant for him to be Jon Canmore, TGC would have beat you over the head with him being Jon Canmore. No, TGC reduced John Castaway into a Snidley Whiplash, one dimensional, cackling cartoon character, a British industrialist with nothing better to do than hunt gargoyles alongside his fruity little club. He “knows” the gargoyles will protect people? Then why does he want to destroy them? What was the point of any of this?
At least Greg Weisman managed to redeem the character of John Castaway in the recent comic books. What little we saw of him there presented an actual three-dimensional antagonist. We know why he does what he does, we see his relationship with his family, and we see the sincerity of his beliefs. Oh, and he’s Jon Canmore too. I just hope the comic continues and we see some more of him and the Quarrymen, for more of an antidote to what we saw here.
Now, the big question: are “The Goliath Chronicles” redeemable in anyway? My answer won’t surprise you, but it is no. They are not even worth going back to watch at and laugh at. They don’t even have that kind of value. I didn’t laugh when I re-visited this episode and “To Serve Mankind,” I was angry. Very angry.
Well, this wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The way Greg Weisman told it, this episode was originally supposed to end with the gargoyles abandoning Manhattan. Elisa would have changed her name and moved to Chicago with Goliath. Brooklyn and Lexington would have gone on their own world tour, and he does not recall what the plans were for the rest of them. This was an executive approved premise and Disney was going to do it. Greg Weisman fought to get them to reconsider, and we ended up with something slightly better. But only slightly.
Now, I don’t have anything against the people who worked on “The Goliath Chronicles” as I understand the circumstances they were working under. I even sympathize. But, I have to judge the work outside of the people, and the work itself was a catastrophic failure, the destruction of one of the most beautiful television series to ever grace the airwaves. These episodes are very painful to watch. Thankfully, they’re not canon. The comic books written by Greg Weisman are. If you have yet to pick them up, do so. And let’s hope Boom Studios picks up the license for more.
So, what do we do with TGC? Where do we send it? I have an idea.