Five Thoughts on Gargoyles‘ “Eye of the Beholder” and “Vows”

By | August 13th, 2018
Posted in Television | % Comments

Today we’re looking at the Gargoyles episodes “Eye of the Beholder” and “Vows,” which respectively aired September 13 and September 14, 1995. The two episodes see the engagement and wedding of David Xanatos and the Pack leader Fox, as well as a whole raft of mystical relic related weirdness.

1. A Very Cold Engagement

“Eye of the Beholder” begins on October 1st, with Xanatos proposing to Fox, and crikey is it an awkward engagement: he actually says, “We’re genetically compatible, highly intelligent, and have the same goals. It makes perfect sense to get married.” He gives her the Eye of Odin – the necklace stolen in “The Edge” – as an engagement gift.

We then cut to October 30th, and Elisa encounters a red werewolf with a familiar eye tattoo ransacking a store, and a news report informs us the monster was first seen on October 4th. Given Fox’s transformation could’ve happened the night after she first puts on the Eye of Odin (especially as she hasn’t apparently eaten anyone), it’s a fascinating creative decision, one that gives a bit of insight into how distant Xanatos really is. That Fox felt unable to tell him about her waking up naked in random places, in an episode ostensibly about humanizing him, says a lot about his character.

2. A Very Intense Engagement

That spittle alone is nightmare fuel.

Fox’s ravenous werewolf form is pretty frightening, and the sequence when Xanatos discovers her secret, in which she undergoes a fairly graphic American Werewolf in London-style transformation is pretty shocking. I’d preface this with a disclaimer that this is a kid’s show and so it’s only comparatively shocking, but I personally found the sequences where Fox runs rampant rather in-your-face, and that her uncomfortable, almost mechanical roar was like nails on chalkboard. I imagine the censors let it pass because her werewolf form doesn’t bite or scratch people.

3. Bad Guys Can be in Love Too

This episode is about teaching kids that even bad people like Xanatos have loved ones they care about. It goes about it in a rather strange way though: at first Elisa recognizes the werewolf could be a victim of Xanatos like her brother, and needs their help. But on confirming her identity, the two callously leave Xanatos to deal with her, going to a Halloween street party (where no one will take a second look at Goliath), despite the danger Fox poses, and having been told that her heart will exerted to the point of death.

Had to throw in that shameless use of copyrighted Disney material I guess.

It’s followed by a strange moment where Goliath mistakes a guy in a mask for the werewolf and tackles him, and it’s only then he realizes things aren’t always as they seem. Inevitably Fox rears her head, and only then Goliath, Elisa and Xanatos (all resembling an awkward Disney Princess/Marvel crossover with the latter in his Steel Clan armor) put aside their antipathy for each other to remove the Eye of Odin and undo the curse. All in all, it feels false Goliath and Elisa don’t reluctantly realize they have to help Xanatos sooner, and it was a severe case of runtime padding.

4. The Whole of “Vows” is Nuts

I feel I have to summarize all of “Vows” as it’s a pretty jawdropping episode. It starts with Goliath and Xanatos wrestling on what seems to be the same rooftop where they defeated Fox, when the billionaire reveals he’s actually here to ask Goliath to be his best man, and that Demona’s the maid of honor. In an echo of last season’s “Long Way to Morning,” as Goliath prepares for the wedding, flashbacks to 975 AD (19 years before the events of the first episode) show Goliath and Demona watching Prince Malcolm’s wedding, and Demona giving her mate half of a talisman called the Phoenix Gate.

We’re also introduced to Xanatos’s father, who we learn was a poor fisherman who’s unimpressed by his son’s self-made fortune, or his choice in partner. But this being a superhero cartoon, the wedding can’t go uneventfully, and Demona unveils her half of the Phoenix Gate, which when united with Goliath’s half, transports them all back in time to Scotland, 975 AD. The Xanatos family (now consisting of three members) fight off bandits attacking French knights going to the wedding.

Continued below

Papa Xanatos must be equally annoyed by his son's daft backstory.

The French recognize Xanatos as a fellow member of the Illuminati from his jacket lapel’s medal, and invite them to come to Castle Wyvern. Once there, Xanatos has a coin placed in a letter to be delivered to him when he’s a young man, as well as another revealing how he will become “a self-made man.” Now I know this is a backstory episode for Xanatos, but this is crazy! Not to mention it’s implausible those envelopes would survive for that long (we’re talking centuries more than what happened in Back to the Future Part II).

More predestination paradoxes are introduced as Demona tries to reveal the future to her younger self, with Goliath having to knock her out, reclaim the Gate and return to the present, while leaving a message of hope to young Demona. It doesn’t work, with current Demona claiming she remembers what he said but that it didn’t change anything. Honestly, I’m not sure about all this time travel diluting the original story of the first season, which made complete sense. The good thing, although it’s canon, I can ignore it, right? Right? I guess we’ll find out.

5. Goliath’s Pockets

Where has Goliath’s half of the Phoenix Gate been this whole time? We see it on the tables at the Clock Tower with previously seen relics like the Grimorum and the Eye of Odin, which we saw Goliath chose to keep out of Xanatos’s hands. But as we’ve never seen the Phoenix Gate before, where did he keep it? Logic dictates as a token of his old flame, Goliath probably kept it on him until recently. Or perhaps he retrieved it from Castle Wyvern offscreen?

Bonus thoughts:
– Fox’s curse is pretty reminiscent of Marvel’s Man-Wolf, but the notion of becoming a werewolf from an object just saves time having to introduce the werewolf who bit them.
– How does Fox’s fur not cover her tattoo?
– Xanatos and Burnett trying to restrain Fox in her bedroom with a blanket – uh, great thinking guys.
– Goliath accidentally calling the past Hudson “Huds” is pretty funny.
– “Vows” concludes with an unusually surreal and symbolic shot of the past Demona and Goliath embracing in front of the Clock Tower:

Perhaps it's better not to have loved and lost.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the four part “City of Stone.”

//TAGS | 2018 Summer TV Binge | Gargoyles

Christopher Chiu-Tabet

Chris is the news manager of Multiversity Comics. A writer from London on the autistic spectrum, he enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, and games, plus history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic.


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