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Thanks for your ramble on "The Gathering Part One", Greg! It's great to have another episode review from you here, and I hope to see at least a few more here soon, even if you don't make it all the way to "The Journey" this time.
I remember that, the first time I saw this episode, it jarred me a little (as I've mentioned before) to see Odin taking orders from Oberon, but since then, I've come to accept it. It certainly did give a sense of resolution from the World Tour to see so many of the mythical beings that Goliath, Elisa, Angela, and Bronx had met showing up in the palace - and in particular, to have the Banshee being subjected to punishment by Oberon for defying his command to return.
(Incidentally, I assume that you chose Odin as the "Child of Oberon" whom the Banshee got into an altercation with because his voice actor was already present in this episode, playing Petros?)
I also had a bit of fun seeing if I could spot any new Oberati in the crowd; I could glimpse a centaur, a winged horse, a Medusa-like figure, and a couple of Norse mythology-type giants in the great hall, as well as the people entering in through the gates carrying torches (one of whom was on horseback, I remember).
I had missed both "Walkabout" and "Ill Met By Moonlight" when they first premiered, so this was the first time that I was meeting Titania under either of her identities. Consequently, the revelation that Anastasia and Titania were the same person didn't have the same impact on me that it would have had on other viewers who had seen those two episodes first.
After such a long absence from New York, it was nice seeing all those familiar background characters (the Jogger, Travis Marshall, Officer Morgan, Brendan and Margot, Cagney) again.
The reunion of the gargoyles at the clock tower was a very moving moment, including the discovery by Hudson and the trio that they weren't the last of their kind after all. I get a particular smile out of Broadway giving Angela the half-eaten box of chocolates. Another bit that I enjoyed was Hudson's delight at being reunited with Bronx (I like the rapport that the two of them have).
Your remark that Avalon hadn't really released Goliath and Co. from their quest, but sent them back to Manhattan to thwart Oberon's attempt to kidnap Alex (apparently Avalon isn't always in harmony with its lord's intentions) reminds me of one thought that I had the first time that I saw this episode; I was wondering briefly if the fact that Avalon had sent Goliath back to Manhattan for a purpose rather than just to release him meant that they'd have to get back on that skiff for more adventures afterwards. Fortunately, they didn't have to (I didn't mind the World Tour as much as many viewers did, but I understood that it would have to come to an end sometime.)
It was when Owen nervously cleared out of the Eyrie Building after giving his security system specs to Xanatos, explaining that he couldn't risk being involved in the fight with Oberon, that I began suspecting for the first time that he might be Puck in disguise (given that Oberon's initial purpose in coming to New York had been to haul Puck back to Avalon). Oddly enough, I'd missed all the other clues earlier in the series (Demona's "You serve the human" line in "The Mirror" and her "You're the tricky one" line in "City of Stone", the striking physical resemblance of Owen and Vogel, and Owen's immediately recognizing the significance of Anastasia having remarried her first husband). Now, however, I began to wonder if Owen and Puck were really the same person, though I had to wait until Part Two to have it confirmed.
The activating of the security system struck me as an especially great scene, one of my favorite moments in "The Gathering". Another, of course, was Goliath and Elisa's parting at her apartment.
As I said, great to have another episode ramble - I'm looking forward to Part Two.
Re: choosing Odin. Economics was indeed a factor. But I don't recall it being a creative disappointment or anything.