A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Displaying 1 record.
I mentioned back in MARK OF THE PANTHER that I feard that episode would be focused on the illegal poaching angle, and become less of a story, more of a "public service announcement" of sorts. I said back then that, in my experience, when a show is focused on (or does an episode focused on) certain issues (especially environmental ones for some reason) it seems to sacrifice plot, character, and even believability to force its moral across.
Thankfully, that does not happen in this episode, or in any episode of GARGOYLES that I can think of.
Granted there are *some* lines that come close to being preachy. I find myself laughing at the "Forget me, save the trees!" line. And Zaphiro's "There is no such thing as a few trees," while admittidly cool and well-delivered, initially struck me as so absolutist and dogmatic.
Now, in that last case, I would have felt better if the conversation between Zaphiro and Elisa continued after that (maybe with Zaphiro pointing out that rainforest soil is absolutely worthless for farming). This is another one of those times I really wish GARGOYLES had hour-long episodes.
Actually, I really do like that scene between Elisa and Zaphiro because Elisa plays devil's advocate--she actually tries to see things from the side of the "forest defilers." Going back to what I said about other "environmentally-minded" shows and episodes, things have a tendency to be drawn completely in black and white--anyone who chops down a tree is evil to the core, basically. Broad strokes and caricatures.
Let's look at "Captain Planet and the Planeteers," for example. From what I remember, they had a cadre of "Eco-villains" who largely seemed to be destroying the environment because they enjoyed doing so. And it was specifically the environment that they enjoyed destroying. In some cases, they had a motivation (oftimes greed, though one character needed radiation to survive), but mostly they seemed to do it because they enjoyed polluting. If a normal person was doing "bad things" it was because they were under the influence of one of the big bad-guys, and by the end said normal people saw the error of their ways and turned around. Thus, it doesn't seem terribly realistic to me.
Contrast this with MONONOKE HIME ("Princess Mononoke"), one of my favorite animated movies. The "forest defiler," Lady Eboshi, while she can be quite ruthless and capitalistic, has a heart. She frees women from prostitution and takes care of lepers. She has depth, and this makes her more realistic and identifiable. Thus I was able to take this movie seriously, and more fully appreciate humanity's impact on the natural world.
And thankfully, THE GREEN is much closer to MONONOKE HIME than "Captain Planet." Much of this comes from Elisa. In addition to the scene I already mentioned, I LOVE the scene between her and Goliath at the pyramid when he leaves to protect The Green. She argues from the human point of view, in essence still playing devil's advocate, but she can fully sympathize with the gargoyles. And while Goliath can understand Elisa's point of view, he can see little other choice for the gargoyles trying to save The Green than the guerilla attacks. Even the Mayan clan seems to understand (Turquesa is a bit snappish about the "misguided laws," but Jade seems downright cheerful towards Elisa).
And as for the "villains" themselves, Jackal and Hyena are the only real ones, and their primary interest is the money. They don't show any specific enjoyment out of destroying the rainforest (even Jackal's destruction of trees stems from his trying to keep the gargoyles from doing anymore damage and--heck--he just likes destroying stuff, period). Vogel, and through him Cyberbiotics, are the "big bad" employing Jackal and Hyena, but again it's about the money and not a gleeful hatred for the environment (Environmental Ethics for Businesses: "Care about the environment unless it costs you money."). Even the workers are just doing their jobs (and they're probably as unnerved by Jackal and Hyena as they are the gargoyles). The destruction of the rainforest is, as is often the case in real life, the direct side effect of pursuing other goals (as opposed to the ultimate goal of some malefactor).
Okay, NOW we can get down to smaller details.
I LOVED seeing the new gargoyles. Zaphiro's design was excellent! And Hector Elizondo's voice-work was wonderful. The whole cast did a great job, in fact (and was the Jesse Corti playing Jade the same fellow who played Le Fou in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST?).
The "flesh by day and night" thing was nice--we don't often get to see the gargs in sun-lit environments.
And it was great seeing Jackal and Hyena again, and they actually managaed to be more unnerving than ever. There are the scenes you and Erin mentioned (a headless Hyena is pretty intimidating), but the whole "retract eye/ear" thing creeps me out, too. Those long cords are rewinding into their SKULLS!! And the sound Hyena's earpiece makes when it goes back in her ear...[shudder].
Admittidly, Jackal did have a nice plan, and if it weren't for the amulet being in New York it might have worked. I find it strange that Hyena seems to think being in NY again is a good "omen." Then again, she likes fighting the gargs, so....
I was pleased to no end to see Broadway and Lexington show up again. And their fight with Hyena was well staged (though the destruction of the various exhibits sets my teeth on edge, as well). You brought up Broadway's clan mentality towards maternity (the plural "mothers"), but what I find interesting is Hyena's use of the singular ("mamma"), which almost seems to indicate that she already in her mind sees these guys as brothers.
RE: the head injury. Yeah, that's another one of those things Toon Disney cuts out. Hyena's holding her head in pain was actually a nice touch, though.
I like the look on Jackal's face when Vogel points out the little "contractual oddity." I almost wonder if Vogel enjoyed needling Jackal on some level.
Actually, I must say I was surprised to see Vogel here. I mean, if any corporation was supposed to be "behind it all" shouldn't it be Xanatos Enterprises--the "bad guy's" company? Instead, it's the company headed by a good man, but run (while said good man is ill) by a rather unemotional businessman. It actually helped with the message and increased the depth of both Vogel and Renard. You get the sense that while Vogel may not like Jackal and Hyena (or their actions) he puts it aside in favor of results.
Still, his deciding to pull Cyberbiotics out of the rainforest entirely seemed a bit too pat. Despite that, though, it's pretty well handled.
I would have loved getting a chance to listen to Broadway and Lex's rationale for ultimately not destroying the amulet. I kind of figured they wouldn't, and having seen Obsidiana lose her pendant and Bronx find it I kind of figured out what the ruse would be.
Dang, but Morgan's casual with Hyena the killer cyborg. Unconcious or not, I'd wait until I was packing a nuclear weapon before I got near her.
Jackal doesn't kill Elisa. He tasers her unconcious, but doesn't kill her right off. Why? I just find myself wondering if he didn't have even WORSE things planned for her.
Elisa comes up with a sort of back-up solution that I had been wondering about for quite some time before this episode aired. It always struck me as being advisable to collect "genetic samples" of endangered plant and animal life "just in case." So I rather liked Elisa's contribution here.
A couple final thoughts: I liked that the gargs never referred to the rainforest as such. It was always "the forest" or, even better, "The Green." I love their using a title for this land they hold in reverence.
Also, the "Oxygen" line you mentioned. It is a valid point (one that I keep forgetting, I'll admit), but, yeah, it may have been a bit difficult to pull off without feeling preachy or forced (I could only see Elisa saying this line since the Mayan clan strike me as mostly knowing their own turf--they know the forest is important, but they may not know how globally necessary it is).
It's a good episode, and a well done "special message" ep. And hey, more gargoyles (and cool looking ones at that)!
It's always a fine line, but we do try to avoid being preachy.
And yes, Jesse Corti is Jade and Le Fou.
In materials I've read since, I'm no longer certain that the rain forests are the lungs of the world. That's been called into question... to some extent by the DESTRUCTION of the rain forest. If so much is gone, why haven't oxygen levels dipped -- or something like that.