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The Phoenix Gate

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Alex Wittenberg writes...

Two questions inspired by the Avalon World Tour and "The Gathering"

1. What is the nature of Avalon that it sends poele where they need to be? It is alive or sentient or just an agent of kismet? And why is the island endowed with these powers? (OK, that's really three questions, but one answer, I suppose)

2. We don't see Goliath, et al, actually return to New York. What happened to the skiff? Did it sink like Arthur's skiff did? And was there a scene perhaps showing them returning that was left on the cutting room floor?

Greg responds...

1. One answer: Yes.

2. No scene on the cutting room floor. We had JUST shown a very similar scene in "Future Tense". Basically, we felt it would have played the same way minus the "Planet of the Apes" shock value of seeing the Statue of Liberty half-destroyed. So we chose NOT to show their arrival, not to show a LESS dramatic version of what we had just depicted one episode previous. Instead, we decided to give the PoV to Hudson, Cagney and the Trio. See their surprise. Get a cliff-hanger out of it. You understand. As for the skiff, yes it sunk, as Arthur's had. Again, something we had shown before.

Response recorded on June 14, 2000

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Aaron writes...

To supplement Todd's Boudicca info. Boudicca is the one who had swords mounted on the wheel hubs of her chariot to cut roman soldiers off at the knees. Oddly, Margret Thatcher had a mood that her aids referred to as her Boudicca mode. My tenth grade history teacher wanted to name his daughter after her, but his wife objected.

Greg responds...

Can't say I blame her.

Response recorded on April 04, 2000

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p;xl writes...

You ask for comments, and boy, do people give them to you. I think you'll be shackled in this Ask Greg piece for the rest of your life, or if by some miracle... <which won't come cause Disney corps are stupid and inherently greedy> the shows ressurected.

Anycase.... I was going through my very fractured gargoyle collection. <I had started taping the episodes off the WB, but the show was cancelled, le sigh, and never got key episodes like "The Mirror" which I so adore, so I only have the crappy USA versions and a couple of uncuts>. Anyways... I saw a handfull of episodes. I'd forgotten how powerful some scenes were.

The first episodes I popped in and saw. Avalon 1-3. Avalon 1 was nice, flashback, filler episode. And then came Avalon 2, with David Warner <who for Star Trek fans voiced a cardassian in an episode where Picard was captured, the "how many lights" big brother deal ep>. His interaction with anyone is great, but with himself?! Pure genius. But even yet... this probably didn't prepare anyone for Avalon 3. This was truly a pivotal episode. In it we see the typical fights, Archmage, Macbeth/Demona. But the Magus. Wow. My congrats whoever did that... The Magus. How you expanded in on his character to let everyone know *who* he was. His feelings, regrets, hardships, guilt. And then the impossible battle he fought... you stated that Puck would have a hard time taking on the Weird Sisters. But he did it, a single sorceror, without the strength to weild the magic, took them on anyways. And in his last ounce of strength, cast a spell sealing the battle. Just must applaud whoever wrote that, whether you or anyone. And the Death scene, I'm not a cryer, but I swear I nearly shed tears. Goosebumps..

The Price came next. Another very key episode. It shows how much Goliath cares for his former leader, and the loyalty of Owen. Xanatos really pissed me off at the end of that episode, how he casually shrugged off the loyalty bit.

Well I'm gonna end my little episode opinions, but its fun to talk about them and such. With such a *huge* audience. If Gore ever put a counter on this page, I'd laugh to see what its little ticker would be. You get at least 15 questions a day I'd think.

Thanks for the show.

Greg responds...

I'd hardly call AVALON I, filler. Anyway....

As for Avalon III, I think Lydia wrote the episode. I came up with the basic story idea, and Lydia, Brynne and I worked out the plot together.

As for "The Price", you don't need to be quite so pissed at Xanatos. He knew Owen was Puck.

As for how many questions I get... I'm not sure. But February's going on forever.

Response recorded on April 04, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

Incidentally, you mentioned during your October posts that you weren't too familiar with the original Boudicca, and I thought that I'd fill you in on her a bit.

Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni (an ancient British tribe in what is now Norfolk) and wife to King Prasutagus in the early days of Roman Britain. When Prasutagus died, he left part of his lands and wealth to Rome, but the Romans greedily decided to help themselves to a lot more than he'd left them. When the widowed Boudicca protested, they flogged her and raped her daughters. In anger, Boudicca sought revenge by rallying the Britons (both the Iceni, and the neighboring tribes) against the Romans, and sacked three cities (London, St. Albans, and Colchester), ruthlessly slaughtering everyone that she could find living in them, in a war of rebellion between A.D. 60 and 61. The Romans finally defeated her army in the end, however, and Boudicca poisoned herself.

(She does remind me a bit of Demona, on the general level, in fact. Certainly the same basic concept was there of furious retaliation upon one's persecutors on a level just as savage as the original wrong itself, if not worse).

Greg responds...

Reminds me of Tamara in TITUS.

I wonder if Katharine, Tom and the Magus were thinking of that story when they named their Boudicca, or if it was just the notion of a female warrior that got them to choose the name?

Response recorded on April 03, 2000

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Michael Norton writes...

You have stated that newly hatched gargoyles need to be nursed. How did Katherine, Magus, and Tom manage to handle that when the eggs hatched on Avalon?

Greg responds...

Good question. Somehow Avalon provided.

Response recorded on March 25, 2000

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Chapter XI: "Long Way To Morning"

"Long Way To Morning" This was my title, based on an idea I'd had from way early in the development of the series. It was always obvious to me that the fact that the gargs turned to vulnerable stone at sunrise, gave the series a built-in ticking clock that added tension. But given the gargoyles' healing factor (to borrow a Wolverine term) it occured to me early on that there might come a time when sunrise couldn't come fast enough. That was the origin of this episode and the title. (I think I may have even mentioned the scenario in the Series' Writers' Bible.)

The other obvious purpose of the episode was to give Hudson a showcase episode to equal the Trio tryptich. As I've mentioned before, Gargoyles was originally developed as a comic series, and one of the funny little gargoyles in that show was "Ralph", a very domestic couch potato Gargoyle who loved to stay at home and watch T.V. Hudson developed out of Ralph, but he spent much of the first few episodes "Guarding the castle" (or the clock tower). We'd given him some great action in AWAKENING. But we still felt a major need to UN-RALPH him.

I wanted to deal with his age as realistically as possible. To have him doubt himself, maybe even be aware of his limitations, but then have him prove to himself that he still had something to contribute. I think we basically succeed in that here.

But this ep afforded us other opportunities as well. Opportunities to explore Wyvern backstory in our parallel flashback story:

--We find out definitively that Hudson WAS the leader of the clan and that Goliath was his second. We also get to see the baton get passed.

--We learn how Hudson was blinded in one eye.

--We meet Prince Malcolm and get a sense of how Princess Katharine became the bitch she was at the start of "Awakening". I think this was very important in paving the way for her role in the "Avalon" tryptich. By the end of "Awakening", she's remorseful and has seen the error of her ways, but it doesn't change how badly she acted. But this episode reveals how and why her antipathy toward Gargoyles was created. It doesn't excuse her behaviour, but it helps to explain it enough so that we can buy her as a heroine when we next see her. Malcolm doesn't come off as well. I wanted to present how easily casual thoughtless words could be hurtful, and even lead to tragic consequences. My daughter Erin (age 5 1/2) had seen this episode at least once before. But this time, that aspect of Malcolm's inadvertent damage and Katharine's mistaken blame really grabbed her attention. The injustice of it really troubled her. Which is exactly the response I was looking for. (My kids are so cool. She also noticed Hudson's eye getting injured, and commented on how smart Hudson was to jump off into the waterfall.)

--I love the subtle changes that Jeff, Keith and Marina made in their voices when playing the young Magus, Goliath and Demona. It's interesting to see Demona's progression in hindsight from "Vows" to "Long Way" to "Awakening, Part One" to "City of Stone" to the present day. She really is a fascinating character, if I do say so myself. Here, you see her ambition. But no villainy. Of course, it made for a nice counterpoint with her vicious murderous tendencies in the present day story.

--Throughout production of this episode, I had to keep pointing out to the artists, etc., that the flashbacks all had a point of view, i.e. Hudson's. That Demona and Goliath's "private conversations" could NOT be as private as they thought. Hudson had to know what they were saying about him. Both because it further eroded his confidence in both the past and present (the true demon he had to overcome) and because if he didn't hear those conversations it would be cheating to include them in HIS dreams and flashbacks.

--We also intro'd the ARCHMAGE. A one-shot villain if I ever saw one, except that David Warner was so amazing, I knew I had to bring the character back. When he falls into the chasm, you can just here the Phoenix Gate exploding open down there. (Of course, to some people that sounded like him hitting bottom. Their mistake.)

Continuity:

Brooklyn still has it in for D. Broadway is now Ultra-Protective of Elisa. Hudson has superior tracking skills in the past and the present.

And Demona has clearly focused her hatred on Elisa. (Who, by the way, loses her second gun of the series.) It was important for these early episodes that we fool Demona into thinking that Elisa was dead. Otherwise, how else do we explain why she doesn't just kill her.

Demona at the end, uses her cannon as a club. This was designed to be ambiguous. Did Hudson's sword damage the weapon? Or was Demona just so furious that she wanted the satisfaction of cudgeling the old guy to death? Yeah, it was designed to be ambiguous, but no one ever EVER thought that the gun was damaged. They all assumed Demona just lost it. Which is probably true.

Speaking of that Waterfall thing, that image was important retro-pipe for Hunter's Moon, Part Three. (More on that in 54 chapters.)

Animation-wise, I just wish Demona hadn't come off as such a lousy shot.

I love Hudson and Goliath's last exchange. Goliath assures Hudson that he still has "Years of fighting left". Hudson, glad to be of use, is still less than thrilled at the prospect. It's a great wry beat, but it was also important to me to point out that no rational person would wish to fight like that forever. The gargs, including Hudson, fight the good fight because they have to, because it is their duty, part of their natural protective instincts. But none of them WANT to fight.

As usual, I'd like to encourage responses to this episode here at ASK GREG, particularly how you responded to viewing this for the first time.


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Tana writes...

Greg,

I was just reading some of your responses, and came across one response which made me crack up:

"I think Angela was a virgin even at the time of "The Journey". (Broadway too for that matter.) Not so sure about Ophelia. "

I don't know how many other fans have read Hamlet, or even seen it performed (personally I think reading should be done before viewing). But as it's one of my favorite plays, I found the comment about Ophelia absolutely marvelous. Now I don't read fanfiction, nor do I really write it (I am working on one story as more of a roast towards Stephen Sobatka and Wyrmwolf); but I tell you that one little comment does get the ideas flowing. Like who is our young "hamlet"??

I've always enjoyed all of the Shakespearian refrences, and this little one about Ophelia's purity has definately made a good day out of a bad week. Thnx!

Greg responds...

Uh, Ophelia's mate is Gabriel. Haven't I mentioned that?

Response recorded on March 22, 2000

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Michael Norton writes...

Dear Greg,

1)How would Tom's mother react to his relationship with the Princess?

2)Have you determined exactly why Tom and Katherine never had biological children of thier own?

Greg responds...

1. I think she'd be happy for him, and not a little impressed.

2. Not a lot of fertility specialists on Avalon.

Response recorded on March 21, 2000

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Vashkoda writes...

Hi Greg! Ditto what Jenna just said. I'm going to try to insert a question in here, tho'. Did the third race create Avalon, or did Avalon create the third race? If this question is hard to answer, could you tell me which appeared first? Thanks!

Greg responds...

It's not quite that cut and dry... One didn't create the other.

Response recorded on March 17, 2000

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Aris Katsaris writes...

What's the general feeling among the Avalon Gargoyles concerning Oberon and his children's coming to the island? I'd expect there'd be quite a bit of resentment, especially given Magus' death at the hands of the Sisters...

Greg responds...

I think that there's much uneasyness both ways. But I also think the Children like having a few mortals around. And the clan may simply be glad that they have both a roll (i.e. honor guard, i.e. protection) and the support of Oberon.

I tried, in that little scene in GATHERING PART ONE between Oberon and Katharine to indicate that a pleasant detante had been reached.

Response recorded on March 11, 2000


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