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When this episode first aired, I had missed both THE CAGE and KINGDOM--leaving me very out of the loop as far as what happened with Derek was concerned, and making this episode the first time I ever saw Beth Maza. As a result, my initial feeling was one of frustration at having lost part of the continuity. Thankfully, however, it was easy enough to figure out that the Maza family had found out about Derek's condition and Xanatos' part in it. I guess that made it *slightly* easier for them to accept living gargoyles.
In addition, since I had missed KINGDOM, this was the first time I had seen Xanatos since the World Tour started.
And Xanatos is just GREAT here. He has his moment of "cliched villainy" with the death trap (and even looks upon it as such), but he also seems much more intense this time around. He has that large "staple gun" thingy that he uses to restrain Angela and Goliath, but he also uses it on two seperate occasions as a weapon--and this thing could really kill someone! Even as a villain, Xanatos is likeable enough that you kind of forget he has the potential to be a killer. Even the death trap doesn't drive that home to me as much as his battle tactics here do.
However, before that, Xanatos' admission that he really has no interest in killing Goliath and Angela is quite refreshing--and further proof that he's not the typical animated nemesis. I even love the almost friendly look on his face as he admits neither gargoyle has done anything he'd hold a grudge against (does Xanatos even HAVE any grudges?).
Naturally, once I found out he was after Coyote the Trickster, I figured he was after immortality. His whole conversation with the Trickster is just perfectly written.
I also loved Xanatos "annoyance" at the end--FINALLY he got handed a real defeat that he could not look on the bright side of. Finally, Goliath (with a little help from his friends) was able to get under his skin, if just a smidge. I wondered, and I'm sure I wasn't alone, if this indicated a "final confrontation" was brewing. Of course, that's not what happened, but this works as a nice little misdirection.
The Robot, Coyote 4.0 was also nice, and a real treat for me to have him and Xanatos interacting. Nice design, although the "face" looked weird. More angular than usual, and sometimes the "skull" side looked like it had an eyebrow. Regardless, I love the two playing off each other, and am goofishly pleased when Xanatos, with his helmet on, is talking with Coyote 4.0, whose "face" is showing. I've always wondered what someone flipping channels would have made of this scene where there appear to be two robots talking--one with a half-human face.
Actually, that particular conversation does not speak very highly for Coyote 4.0's intelligence. He releases the Trickster ("I will check...") and then allows himself to be goaded into bringing a building down on top of him ("I should warn you, I'm programmed for vengence"). Yeah, you can definitely see the Wile E. Coyote resemblence. Now if you could have just had him hold up a little pink umbrella a split-second before the building came down on him.... ;-)
The Trickster himself was unique--the only wholly sympathetic Trickster we have met. Raven and Anansi were the antagonists of their respective episodes, and Puck...while he was enchained by Demona he didn't seem to mind giving our heroes a hard time. Coyote (the Trickster, not the Robot) not only willingly helped our heroes, but actually showed some real affection for one of them--that, of course, being Peter Maza.
Also, this Trickster was a lot more subtle--he rarely used any overt magic (a little hypnosis here, vanishing there, changing his clothes inside the Robot...). He mostly goaded others into acting (influencing luck from the sidelines, of course), and managed to take out the Robot by just dodging behind the support beams.
As for Peter Maza himself, it's nice to see more development in Elisa's dad, and showcasing where he came from. His story kind of parallels with Natsilane's, but Peter is older, more set in his beliefs--it takes more than gargoyles to convince him to believe in Coyote the Trickster. Peter also had a much more bitter break with his traditions, a good deal of which comes through with what was probably his last conversation with his father. When I first saw this ep, I had no idea that Carlos Maza had died. Having Elisa and Beth refer to "Grandpa" made me think he was still around for some reason. Of course, that made the final scene all the more poignant.
It was also nice to see and learn more about Beth. I like how each of the Maza "kids" are distinctive in personality and looks as well.
It's also nice that when Elisa realizes where they are, her first thought has to do with her family ("Beth might be in danger"). And I love the surprise in her voice when she sees her father is there as well. She is really happy to see them.
It took me a couple viewings before I started to pick up on the skiff having arrived in a pool. I rather like that twist.
When Peter and Beth start to explain to Elisa about being arrested and she asks them to start from the beginning. I don't know why but I really find that scene interesting.
Beth and Peter's reactions to the gargs are nice. Peter shows that he's probably not 100% on the whole "gargoyle" thing when he refers to them as "strange company." Beth is obviously a bit more open to them, although even she admits they seem "alien" (and no, I did not take that to mean "extraterrestrial"). Elisa, however, is used to looking at them through her own eyes, and as she says, all she sees is the beauty.
Coyote the Trickster's reverse psycology was a rather nice touch. Even better was Elisa's later comment that it was "pretty blatant."
Xanatos tries to fire from his arm-cannon only to have it kind of blow up in his face since Bronx already chewed it up. Xanatos' line here ("Big mistake, people!") always struck me as odd for some strange reason. I guess I'm not used to hearing Xanatos say something like that.
"No way my luck's this bad." I just love that line.
Beth's little pause before clarifying "uh, The Trickster, not the Robot." A nice beat that also kind of winks at the audience.
"The last thing I remember was ordering a pizza." Another bit I just love for some reason.
Peter's change of heart and appearing in the kachina garment was something I had been expecting. However, Coyote the Trickster's little speech was a surprise. It added an extra level to what Coyote was doing and Peter's part in everything. I love that little "I had to get you back" moment.
I noticed that Beth Maza had a different voice actress here than she did in THE CAGE. I'm not offering this as a complaint or nitpick, I'm just curious if there's any particular reason why.
Xanatos and Coyote alone make this a worthwhile ep, but the other elements really help turn it into one of the best eps on the World Tour.
It's been a long time. The casting change was the choice of our voice and casting director Jamie Thomason. But I can't now recall what the reason was. Perhaps the original actress was unavailable. And in any case Roxanne Beckford, who also played Tea in "Night of the Panther" is always great.