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Future Tense

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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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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

I haven't posted in years, (too far behind in reading), but I just had to post my daughter's reaction to Future Tense.

My daughters, 9 and 6, and I have been watching Gargoyles from the beginning. Most evenings they greet me when get home from work with, "Do we have time for an episode?!?". They are not just hooked, they are obsessed. Miriam, my little one, is seriously considering being Elisa for Purim.

(I told her from the start I wasn't making a gargoyle costume. I learned my lesson from our watching of Avatar two years ago when I somehow found myself having agreed to make them water and air bending costumes because they are no longer cheaply available to buy. Hours and hours later they came out pretty dang good, especially considering I don't actually know how to sew. Their friend went as a earth bender...he wore a green t-shirt with the earth bending symbol silk screened on it - cheaply available on the internet :| .)

We watched Future Tense a few evenings ago. Miriam spent the whole episode tense and near tears asking, "they're going to use the Phoenix Gate, right? They have to use the Phoenix Gate right?" I had to sit with my arm around her. When we got to the end she smiled a big smile and told me it was a really good episode but too scary to watch again. She repeated her assessment a few days later to a friend, (the earth bender). The girls had him watch the first episode of Awakenings yesterday.

As for the big one, she assured me she wasn't scared the whole time.

Thank you for the shared experience with my girls!

Greg responds...

I haven't posted in about a year, either.

I love to hear about fans watching the show with their kids. And I'm so gratified that the kids appreciate it and are becoming a new generation of Gargoyles fans. And Future Tense IS scary!!

Response recorded on July 09, 2021

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Dragomir writes...

In "Future Tense" Puck depicted Demona & Brooklyn as mates, now obviously that's not happening considering Brook found Katana & started a family, but was there ever a point in time in which you were seriously considering the idea of a reformed Demona hooking up with Brooklyn in the future? OR, was Demona & Brooklyn's illusionary relationship meant to be a hint towards the eventual pairing up of Delilah and Malibu later on? Or was that all just coincidence and Puck's "shipping" of Demona & Brooklyn was never meant to be a clue as to their future or the futures of their clones? I only ask because I was always interested by Puck's ominous warning to Goliath regarding how his portrayal of the future, while not one hundred percent accurate, could still give hints as to the possible futures of the gargoyles as well as their friends and foes, i.e. like how although Lexington himself didn't turn evil as he did in Puck's illusion, his clone did indeed "join the darkside" by siding with Thailog. Thanks for your time!

Greg responds...

1. Honestly? Never.

2. <heh heh heh> Wouldn't you like to know. (I mean, obviously, you would. You asked the question.)

3. I'll leave this to your imagination/interpretation.

Response recorded on July 09, 2021

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Ice writes...

Well, first, sorry for a typo in a question I recently sent you about Castle Wyvern. I meant haunted, not hunted.

Also, I want to mention the Young Justice episode "Failsafe". I actually missed the episode the week before, so at first I was really confused. I thought at first maybe an alien invasion started in that episode out of nowhere and this was part two. After Batman died, it was hard to take it seriously, as in, I knew at that point that I was wrong and that this episode was going to end up being similar to "Future Tense". There were a few points for a second I actually questioned it though. Such as when Martian Manhunter came in, I easily bought the whole idea that the beams were just teleporting people. Again, I feel this might be just a result of missing the previous episode, assuming I just missed something big (Such as when I unfortunately missed the episode where apparently Red Tornado was forced into betraying the team by his programming, I don't know much about what happened there, only info I have on that is from what the characters said in following episodes.) I'm not for certain when I came back to the idea that the episode was going to have a "Future Tense" sort of ending, I think it probably was the point when Manhunter said he was wrong about the beams, since, if the beams really did kill the people they hit, obviously Manhunter would've been dead. It was a pretty good episode though as always.

I suppose the only question I really have is if comparisons(I was reading through unanswered questions earlier and I saw another person making the comparison) between "Failsafe" and "Future Tense" bug you? Or just comparisons between Gargoyles and any other work you've done since. (As in "Oh, that character is just like *whoever* from Gargoyles" or "Oh, this is just like that one episode of Gargoyles" I suppose.)

Greg responds...

I take all that with a grain of salt.

Obviously, when I was working on Failsafe, I was aware of what we had done back in the day on Future Tense. But the truth is that Brandon came up with the springboard for Failsafe, and he and I worked together with writer Nicole Dubuc to just make this episode the best IT could be.

After that, I realize some comparisons are inevitable, but ultimately the episode either stands on its own or it doesn't. I think it does. Others might disagree. That's what makes it a horse race, as they say.

Response recorded on February 09, 2012

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Daniel writes...

Hi Greg, new fan here. Before I ask my questions, I want to thank you very much for what you've done with the Gargoyles franchise. The stories are amazing and continue to captivate me. I will do my best to help by spreading the word and supporting the franchise.

1. Does Goliath's experience in Future Tense effect how he sees and trusts Lexington, especially considering recent predictions being so close to what’s been happening? Even though he never really saw Lex’s costume, would other things such as Brooklyn’s Timedancer costume being very similar and the police station blowing up cause Goliath to be more wary of Lex?

2. Also, is there some kind of inside joke or reason behind knocking Lexington unconscious so much? It might be just me and I understand that he’s not the best fighter, but it seems to happen a lot.

Greg responds...

1. No comment beyond what can already be found on this subject in the archives.

2. No more, to my thinking, than any of the others.

Response recorded on August 06, 2010

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Random Fan writes...

I know that you wont answer questions that are suggetions for the future or if they try to pry the future out of you so I'm trying very hard to make this neither.
Has Goliath told anyone the entire story behind future tense or has he kept the details to himself? Would the rest of the Manhatan clan know about it?

An Ask Greg Helper responds...

I've already answered this one. Please check the archives.

Response recorded on May 10, 2010

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M. writes...

I'm curious if Goliath ever told the others in the clan besides Elisa and Angela about what happened in "Future Tense", considering that Brooklyn returned wearing EXACTLY the same armor. This was one of the most interesting revelatins from CBII. Throughly enjoyed everything you've done and looking very forward to more.

Greg responds...

I don't think he did tell much. And certainly not in the kind of detail that would allow Brooklyn to model his armor off of Goliath's story, if that's what you mean.

Response recorded on May 07, 2010

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This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....

July 8th...

Goliath, Angela, Elisa and Bronx depart Avalon. While aboard the skiff and en route to their next destination, Goliath collapses. In what seems to him like hours, but actually lasts mere seconds, Goliath sees a nightmarish vision of the year 2036 generated by Puck in order to trick Goliath into turning over the Phoenix Gate. Goliath tosses the Gate into the time-stream to prevent Puck - or anyone else - from getting it.

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Caswin writes...

I realize that Puck's "Future Tense" world wasn't perfectly-created. Some details aren't going to make sense. Yet - looking through the image archives, right here on Station 8 - I have to wonder about that sword Xanatos used in his final battle with Hudson. It looks more like a genuine conscious addition than anything else. Is there a story (within a story, I suppose) behind that?

Greg responds...

I'm not answering that question at this time.

Response recorded on July 03, 2007