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NoOneSpecial writes...

Hi Greg. Decided to watch Gargoyles now that it was on Disney+(or at least it was on at the time of posting this). Really enjoyed seeing again and I’m happy it’s now on a service that may give it more attention again in the future. Always hoping for more content someday.

I have a few episodes I really love (and some I really like and some I kinda don’t care much for. Can’t all be winners). One of my favorites is Future Tense. What I enjoy most is how you can re-watch, after knowing the reveal by the end and pick up so, so many details that make it so much more enjoyable, or at least for me.

Unlike the typical World Tour adventure, which usually open with us already inside the new local the group will be visiting, this one opens with the group sailing through the fog, Goliath lamenting how homesick he feels and wishing the journey will be over soon for them.

You wonder if Puck chose this moment to strike when Goliath was being particularly vulnerable emotionally or if he just got lucky. That also got me thinking, how exactly does Puck circumventing Oberon’s law to pull off his dream trick? The dream itself I can get since it’s ‘only a dream’ and not real interference. But that lightning bolt seemed pretty direct.

We arrive at the Future Tense Manhattan and there’s moment where you wonder if this is real or not. I can’t remember if kid me knew that this was all fake, but then again I was particularly genre savvy at that age. Normally when you see these kinds of horrible futures, there’s gonna be a reveal that it’s a dream or illusion.

I think one of the most underlying disturbing things about the Future Tense world is how well Puck seems to know Goliath (and the rest of the cast) to play out this dark fantasy. Subtle hints are everywhere

When they arrive, they are attacked so no time to ask questions. Both Elisa and Angela are captured. Now Elisa’s capture is important as she is always a good way to motivate Goliath into action, but Angela’s departure is crucial, because Puck doesn’t know anything about her. He can’t guess her character well enough to know how she would react. I could see Angela suddenly breaking down and begging Goliath to the Phoenix Gate to save them, except that is not the Angela we know. Like Goliath, she would rather take on problems in the present and not the past.

Next, we see Bluestone and Claw. A weird paring to say the least. I wonder what the significance of those two (if any) there was to Puck’s story? Claw can’t talk so I guess he’s an easy character to mimic, and Bluestone is an ally, but also not someone Goliath is emotionally attached to, so he works as good way of easing Goliath into the horrors to come.

Next, we meet the Manhattan Clan. Hudson is gone and we know this hits Goliath hard. I think a part of him has always still seen Hudson as the leader of the clan. Someone Goliath could always relay on for guidance and now he is gone.

Brooklyn is a harden and bitter leader, hating Goliath for putting him in his position. This also makes me wonder, how aware Goliath was of the fact Brooklyn was leading the clan in his absence. Maybe it did cross his mind, but I kinda like the idea that Golaiath didn’t fully realized that Brooklyn must have taken charge in his absence. And of course he is now with Demona, someone he once hated, which tells Goliath that Brooklyn must have gone through pretty messed up stuff to be with her.

Then we have Broadway, the heart and soul of the clan. Puck doesn’t kill him, but cripple him by making him blind, yet despite his suffering he didn’t lose hope that Goliath would come back.

Lexington is a cyborg and the real villain of the piece. He always was a favorite of mine, mostly because I just liked how he had the most distinct design out of the Manhattan clan. And again, we see Puck’s understanding everyone’s character come into play. Lexington has more of an ambitious streak than the rest, a sense of drive. This fits well his intelligence, his thirst for knowledge. He doesn’t just want to protect; he wants to achieve. He wants to learn because he wants to do something with the knowledge he gains.

Brooklyn name drops Talon, Maggie and Coldstone as being dead, again to further disturb Goliath as much as possible. He doesn’t mention Thaliog, likely because Goliath wouldn’t be that upset over him.

Another character that is never mentioned in this story is Macbeth, which I can’t help but find to be odd. I always wondered why he is left out? I could see him becoming some kind of evil general serving Xanatos. But then again, how could you spin that to be Goliath’s fault specifically?

Fox is also absent. Maybe she gone to help further the idea of Xanatos’s apparent newfound loss of humanity. Owen is not around either. Puck obviously won’t screw with his magnum opus.
“I knew Xanatos was evil, but killing his own son”

Maybe I’m reaching a little here, but I think it was at this moment that Puck realized he had made mistake with his portrayal of Xanatos and decided to make Lex the villain. In this story, he had built Xanatos (or the Xanatos Program) to be this big ultimate evil. But Goliath, both here and later, is able to unknowingly see through this ruse, because he knows Xanatos well enough to know that he isn’t this petty or destructive or power mad. This cannot be the real Xanatos, because the real one wouldn’t do these things, meaning it’s some kind of imposter, which of course it is, in more ways than one. Lies within lies.

And again, this is just an interpretation, but maybe Puck was underestimating Goliath’s opinion of Xanatos. Maybe he thought Goliath was readily and even happily believe Xanatos became this absolute monster? Maybe he thinks this fits Goliath’s sometimes strict black and white sense of morality. In the past I think it would, but Goliath has seen that the world isn’t that simple, and neither are people. Much like with the ad-libbed line about Thailog, I think maybe Puck re-worked the story a little to make Lexington the villain, since that is more plausible than what he was doing with Xanatos. But again, maybe that is just me reaching.

By the time we get to the final battle in Cyberspace all the rules seem to be getting broken and continuity goes out the door for once, which makes sense in this context. By now we know more or less that this isn’t real and something else is going on. It’s one of my favorite moments animated. There are admittedly some episodes with a little questionable animation, but this episode couldn’t have been done without such incredible sequences.

I imagine at the end, Goliath must be completely broken inside. He doesn’t have the will to go on anymore, which is saying something, because I only think of one other occasion this has happened to him, which would be after the Wyvern Massacre. But he quickly recovers once he sees through Puck’s ruse. Sure, it all ‘felt’ real as it happened, but that’s the way a dream can be. It feels so raw and powerful as it happens in the moment, but once you start to feel awake again, the effect wears off. It was after all, only a dream. In those brief moments when Goliaths struggles to accept the shock of what he is seeing, like the scene with Hudson’s statue, he must be telling himself that this has to some kind of nightmare.

Puck, of course, gets off scout free in this episode, which is why I help can’t but enjoy him getting some well-deserved comeuppance in the Gathering.

Anywho, that’s my ramble of one of favorite episodes. There are still many other episodes I love (Double Jeopardy, City of Stone, Awakening, the Mirror, Deadly Force, Kingdom), but Future Tense may be my absolute favorite for everything that it packs in, the striking animation and what I think makes it very scary in a real way; the future may actually be just as terrifying as you can imagine it to be.

Greg responds...

I'm glad you like it. Puck was definitely adjusting the scenario as it played out, as needed. I did think that he had always planned to reveal Lex as the villain, but I like your interpretation, as well. And I'm fine letting everyone decide for themselves...

Response recorded on November 11, 2021

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