This week’s Gargoyles retrospective is for “Double Jeopardy” (which aired November 6, 1995) and “Upgrade” (November 9, 1995). These two episodes are all about the bad guys, with the former introducing an evil clone of Goliath named Thailog (subtle), and the latter seeing the return of the Pack (once again), now armed with some seriously alarming physical alterations.
1. Where Have You Been My Whole Life?
The moment I heard Keith David’s evil laugh, I knew Thailog was going to be a delightful and magnetic villain. Having met him now, I wish he’d been introduced sooner, as he’s so much fun to watch, and because his origin is a far more sensible way of exploiting the Gargoyles than Xanatos’s previous convoluted schemes. Learning to master e-mail and to orchestrate his own kidnapping under Xanatos’s nose, Thailog proves to have surpassed his human father, and his ultimate motivation – to get rich off the ransom money – is so simple it’s refreshing. While the final shot of Xanatos looking out over the city, imagining Thailog cackling at him, is quite corny, it is still thrilling to watch the billionaire realize that at least one plot hasn’t worked out in his favor.
2. Cloning was Scary
Thailog reveals to Goliath that he planned to share the money with him, but on seeing his horrified reaction to his existence – calling him an abomination and so on – he decided to kill him too. I can’t blame Goliath for being so disturbed by Thailog though, given he is from Medieval times, as the very notion of cloning must’ve been frightening for a lot of people back when this aired. (We’re talking a year before Dolly the Sheep was cloned.) As someone who’s grown up with characters like Laura Kinney or the Clone Club from Orphan Black, I perceive clones as siblings or children, but to an older audience, they were likely still grappling with whether clones are “pieces of my soul,” as Goliath says. Perhaps Thailog was just concocting a sob story, but still, the episode’s take on nature vs. nurture must’ve been an insightful lesson for young viewers.
3. The Pack are Back (I’ll Never Get Tired of Typing That)
“Upgrade” sees Wolf, Hyena, Jackal and Dingo recruited by Xanatos’s robotic double (Coyote) once again, now promising them some serious upgrades to get back at the Gargoyles: Wolf, using Sevarius’s research, becomes a genetic chimera with his namesake, while Hyena and Jackal become creepy cyborgs, capable of dislocating whole body parts like snakes. Dingo, who’s as unsettled by what his teammates have become as we are, just opts for power armor.
As weird as their redesigns are though, it’s nothing compared to Coyote, whose damaged decapitated Terminator-esque head is simply placed on a floating platform, and then inside a big Iron Monger-style suit. If Xanatos can afford all these upgrades, why not build a new Coyote, or decentralize the double by putting the AI in the armor itself? It all winds up becoming too easy when Goliath defeats Coyote by clawing out the head from the suit, and then crushing it (which was admittedly awesome).
4. I Choose You
The subplot for the episode has Goliath and Hudson realizing they need to appoint a new second-in-command and successor. In the end, Goliath announces he has chosen Brooklyn as their next leader, having kept quiet about his decision until now as he felt disclosing it may have driven a wedge between the three younger Gargoyles. However, I don’t really feel Brooklyn proved himself particularly smarter than his siblings in the fight with the new-and-improved Pack. I suppose I simply don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know Brooklyn as well as Broadway, but ultimately it all just feels rather tacked on.
5. A Game of… Something
So what about Fox, the Diana Ross to the Pack’s Supremes? She appears in three brief interludes playing chess with her husband (in her old outfit no less), using white figures resembling the Gargoyles, while he uses black ones based on the Pack. She’s also heard on a commercial for the New York subway aimed at Brooklyn, Broadway and Lexington, directing them to the abandoned station that the Pack have imprisoned Goliath, Hudson, Elisa and Bronx in. It’s pretty hilarious that she’s wealthy enough to afford advertising the train, which raises the question, why is she undermining her husband’s plans? That is, unless it wasn’t her husband piloting Coyote, given he refers to him in the third person… Maybe we’ll find out in a later episode?Continued below
– Of course, Thailog couldn’t have debuted sooner, as the new “flashback” to the year before revealing how Goliath’s DNA was obtained clearly demonstrates he was never part of the show bible.
– The mercenary Sevarius hires to kidnap Thailog looks like a reject from the original “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” comic.
– Wolf’s new mug sprouts a snout during combat. Speaking of whom, isn’t it funny Greg Weisman recycled the idea of a hunter becoming a human-animal hybrid for Kraven on The Spectacular Spider-Man?
– Hyena’s robo-fetish is still hilarious.