The previous thirty-six episodes of Gargoyles had established the show as having a duel setting: a futuristic 1990s New York and fantasy 900s Scotland. Occasionally the show would dip into stories about organised crime and there were hints of a bigger plot line about the illuminati, but most stories fell into the mix of medieval Scotland meets modern New York.
The trip to the Isle of Avalon resolved the final hanging plot line from Scotland: what had happened to the Gargoyle eggs that Goliath had entrusted to the princess. It also went some way into explaining both Demona and MacBeth’s excessive life spans. From that point onwards the premise of the show changes radically.
For about twenty of the remaining episodes in the series, the show narrows the cast and varies the setting. Goliath, Elisa, Bronx and Goliath’s new found daughter Angela are sent to a series of different locations around the world. The pretext is that the boat from Avalon takes you not to where you want to go but where you need to go. In each case there is a mission to accomplish in various settings around the world including Canada, Northern Ireland, the South American rainforest, London, Nigeria, Japan. In each location, the travellers meet new Gargoyles and/or magical creatures/gods but tailored to the culture of the location (e.g. a golem in Prague, or Anansi in Nigeria or bushido-trained Gargoyles in Japan).
The show means well but it is often culturally clumsy and feels heavy-handed in its attempt to educate. There is a recurring theme of a young-person who has become distant from their cultural roots who must re-engage with those roots to defeat a magical or modern threat. Regulars villains and other side characters also show up (e.g. The Pack in more than one setting.
The stories try hard but are often thin and poorly thought out. In The Hound of Ulster, a young man discovers that he is actually the re-incarnation of the hero Cúchulainn and that his girlfriend is actually a banshee in disguise who he has to defeat. So the mundane version of the plot has him going off to meet his girlfriend in the woods after dark and him returning later and his girlfriend (presumably) is never seen again by anybody.
This was a show that was still coming to terms with its sexual politics. Even the introduction of a new female character (Angela) still has the three main characters defined in terms of Goliath (his former love interest, his current love interest and his daughter) although the show does give each one their own agency. Fox, the former leader of The Pack, is developed further as a character but only once she is Xanatos’s wife and is revealed to be the daughter of Renard, Xanatos’s commercial rival.
The Australian episode is not good. Goliath has to fight nanobots in the outback by accessing the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Like I said, the show means well. One ground breaking aspect of that episode (aside from the nanobots breaking through the ground) is that Fox (who is running the nanobot plant in the outback – don’t ask why) is visibly pregnant. I can’t thing of any examples of a kid’s cartoon character who becomes pregnant in the course of the show. Even by broader SF shows in general, it is not a sudden magic pregnancy as a plot-twist (at least not that magic, but that’s for a later episode).
The ‘World Tour’ episodes expand the range of characters associated with the show including new Gargoyle designs. I assume this was to help feed potential toy lines but also several episodes (particularly The New Olympians featuring an Atlantis-like city full of creatures based on Greek mythology) I assume were soft-pilots for spin-off episodes.
The world tour wraps up with Oberon and Titania returning to Avalon to tie the show back to its pseudo-Shakespearean connections. Before, Goliath can finally get back to Manhattan proper we get a Gargoyle’s take on the X-Men’s Days of Future Past future dystopian timeline story. The original twist is that the whole dystopia is a trick to try and force Goliath into using time travel, instigated by the elf Puck. More of whom in a moment.
The whole Oberon/Avalon story line still has a few episodes to go though. In the process, the role of Oberon and Titania in everything is retconned into the Gargoyles backstory. It turns out that Fox’s mother was Titania in disguise, making Fox and Xanatos child (Alexander, newly born) the grandchild of Titania and hence part of Oberon’s clan. The stoical and very un-Puckish assistant to Xanatos, Owen Burnett turns out to have been Puck in disguise all along (the total difference in character is explained as part of the disguise). This all leads to a climatic battle between Xanatos and Oberon with the Gargoyles helping Xanatos.
With only a few episodes left in the series, there is a brief return to the status quo, with Manhattan based stories reprising the themes of previous episodes (fights with Demona or organised crime).
The season concludes with an excellent three parter, as the Gargoyles clash with a Gargoyle hunting clan from Scotland and Demona has a secret genocidal plan. As with some of the World Tour episode, there is a genuine attempt (if using visual shorthand) to make real world places look like how they are, with a flashback to renaissance Florence. Elisa gets a new partner and potential love interest who isn’t what he seems. Things go from bad to worse for the Gargoyles as their cover gets blown and their home in the police clock-tower gets blown up
However, by the conclusion of the three parts, the Gargoyles and Xanatos have made peace, New York now knows of the Gargoyles existence and Goliath’s clan are re-instated in Castle Wyvern. Just before the sun rises, Goliath and Elisa kiss…
The End…or that is the implication. There is a series 3 but the show had very much brought its tangled narrative to an end. In retrospect, much of the story feels like a random events constantly being reworked into the resemblance of a wider arc but the complete story with its time-travel and magic and cyborg energy weapons all just about hangs together.
Next time: The Goliath Chronicles brings the show to an end with a short season 3.