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I've been waiting for a long time to ramble on this one.
I like this episode mostly, I think, because of how it deals with death, and even the personification of that concept. Anubis' change when going through the three personae really does reflect the faces of death: it can be horrifying and gruesome (Jackal-avatar), or it can be a peaceful release (Emir-avatar), and finally, outside of those faces, it just exists as a constant part of life (Anubis).
I thought Anubis was well done (and I cannot describe how thrilled I was to hear Tony Jay's voice in GARGOYLES). Actually, Mr. Jay also played an incarnation of Death (the Grim Reaper, in this case) in an episode of DARKWING DUCK (a slightly less dignified portrayal, but a fun one). At any rate, I also thought it was cool that Anubis talked without a mouth or any outward expression. In fact, he strikes me as the type of being who really doesn't care what form/name he takes on. I could be wrong on that count, but he seems to take his office very seriously and place it above all other concerns. I, too, felt it was out of character for him when he laughed in THE GATHERING part 1.
On a tangent, here, Greg, I feel I must disagree with your description of laughter as "petty." I, for one, think laughter to be one of the best things there is in life--heck, I watched "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" last week and one of the best parts is the laughing at the end (I'll say no more for fear of spoiling it). Anubis, of course, is one who for ages has been "guardian of the gate" so he would be less likely to laugh at anything in this world (certainly not at the Banshee falling on her bum), but I still don't think that in any way diminishes the "power of laughter," if you will. Of course, I could have just been reading too much into that statement. Okay, enough out of me on that.
I was VERY surprised to see the Emir actually appear. I had always figured (as I have said in earlier rambles) that Xanatos' dealings with the Emir would be something of a running gag, always in the background of the series. Instead, he turned out to be a person with a past and an agenda all his own. I don't condone his actions here, but I do understand, and even sympathize with him. I cannot fully know his pain, that of losing a child (and I pray I never find out), but I have lost family and friends over the years, and felt the wish to turn back the clock, if only for a little bit. Tony Shaloub did fantastic work here. I especially like his one line: "To hold [my son] again...I would move Heaven and Earth with my BARE HANDS!" Indeed, he seems to be doing that. I may be wrong in assuming the Emir is Islamic, but if he is then calling up a deity of the Egyptian pantheon shows just how desperate and determined he is to regain his son.
Okay, now let's back track and start at the beginning.
I was glad to see the Pack again, though a little disappointed that Dingo wasn't among them (I was starting to find him the most interesting), but then he always did seem to be the odd one out. Coyote's new design was cool, and I was glad the head was still there (though I was puzzled, since last I saw it was smashed--now I know it's an image). My eyes widened at Hyena's line to Coyote, "Wanna make sparks fly?" That had to be one of the most sexually tilted lines I had ever heard in the series. And then there's Jackal's look at the Anubis carving. I know Jackal liked Anubis for being jackal-headed, but I sometimes wonder if the connection to death might not have sweetened the idea.
The old "hidden temple in the Sphinx" concept. I know it was at least used in an old computer game before GARGOYLES came out, but is this an idea that dates even further back?
The travelers arrive, and Angela describes the Sphinx as the world's "biggest gargoyle" (and yes, I did expect that connection to be made!).
I looked at the scene where Goliath spys on Coyote and from what I can tell the face is in the bubble. Also, Coyote and Goliath seem to press the same carvings--maybe that got fixed in later airings?
Shortly thereafter a battle ensues. Jackal and Hyena, with their prediliction for blades, are still unnerving. I love the little "Uh-oh" Elisa says before Coyote knocks her out.
One more thing about Anubis, here. It always fascinates me how he refers to death as a "boon." Actually, his lines about death really got me the first time I saw this ep. It actually made me think about the nature of death and look at it in a slightly different way.
The Pack has some nice interplay with each other in this ep. Pity it's the last we'll see of it for a while--a fact I didn't really pick up on until the second or third viewing. The Pack had always been a group (except for HER BROTHER'S KEEPER, where it was Jackal and Hyena), and them splitting up was as unthinkable to me as the Manhattan clan splitting up. But I digress....
Jackal to Coyote: "You're not exactly Mr. subtlety." And the understatement of the year award goes to.... :-)
I agree that a great opportunity was missed by not having our heroes get blasted and survive. It would have really driven the magnitude of the situation home. However...even as I think of that, I can't help but wonder if their bodies could still be damaged, which may open up a whole other can of worms. Ah well, it's all moot now.
I knew Jackal would try to take the Emir's place as Anubis' avatar. I thought it was a great job with the character design and voice mixing--not only did I like having both Anubis and his "vessel" talking at the same time, I kind of expected it. It seemed right.
Jackal-avatar's attitude and use of power are indeed chilling. Heck, by the time he ages Elisa he's doing it just for fun (she wasn't even moving to attack him). The skeletonized crocodiles were pretty eerie, but that WHOLE TOWN (obviously inhabited) being wiped out was horrifying. I had wondered for years if Emir-avatar had been able to undo that damage. Now I know that he couldn't...and that makes the whole scene all the more disturbing.
I never picked up on Jackal using the promise of reuniting the Emir with his son as Jackal's way of keeping the Emir from stopping his fun--I always took it that Jackal would kill the Emir last of all. But now the Emir's refusal to act sooner makes more sense to me.
Goliath anashamedly refers to Angela as his daughter here. He doesn't do it to her face, but still....
The Emir-avatar's design is cool, too. I especially like the soft blue eyes (as opposed to Jackal-avatar's one ghost-white eye and Anubis' glowing red eyes).
Backing up, again, I like the "black light" energy that Jackal-avatar gave off. I had always wondered how something like that would be accomplished, and this was a pretty darn good way of showing how.
Emir-avatar destroys the temple, and I remember worrying (even on the second viewing) that the Sphinx would be destroyed as well. I was also thankful that it survived. (Like Todd, I saw that "X-Men Evolution" episode, and recalled cringing when I saw missles hitting the Sphinx in the face and back).
I already knew that gargoyles aged at half the speed of humans (again, that Disney Adventures article), but it was nice to actually hear it onscreen.
And I loved that final summation by Goliath. Very poignant.
This was an episode I really loved (the title is great, too).
Glad you liked it.
I don't recall ever EVER knocking laughter in general. I think I was just referring to that moment in Gathering that really didn't work for me.