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MORE RAMBLINGS ON TIME TRAVEL AND FREE WILL:
Hey, Gary (and everyone)... You asked me further questions about time. The
answers all come down to Point of View. You didn't comment on the
"religious" aspects of my comments, but frankly, they seem unavoidable.
PoV. To Goliath, in the 1990s, the past seems fixed. The present and
future, not. To Goliath in 1940, the past and present seem fixed, and the
future seems fixed for a few decades, and then past the mid-nineties, not.
To Greg Weisman, in his capacity as god of the Gargoyle Universe, the past,
present and future seem fixed.
But what does this mean? It means we are bound by what we know and nothing
more. What does "fixed" mean? Goliath realizes that Griff can't return to
his clan in the forties, because he didn't return in the forties. But that
doesn't mean Goliath cannot affect their mutual futures, by bopping Griff
forward to the nineties.
Greg Weisman knows that something big happens in the year 2158. But he
doesn't yet know all the results of that. For that matter, Greg has a lot of
knowledge about what happened in 984. But what exactly happened between 984
and 994? I've got a basic idea, but there's room for movement. There are
facts I can't dodge, therefore facts that my characters can't dodge. But
that doesn't remove their free will.
Pre-destination does not NEGATE free will, unless the character abdicates
free will in the mistaken belief that he or she has none. And even then, the
"act" of abdication is a choice, an act of free will.
One other note: the Gettysburgh Address in my previous example could be
called a "time circle". Unbroken. No beginning or end. The Archmage is not
a circle, but a loop in a straight line. Think of a roller coaster. It goes
along straight for 100 yards. Then it begins a loop-de-loop. We travel up
and backwards and around and then the track flattens out again at the eighty
yard mark. For twenty yards the tracks run side by side, or put another
way, since the track is unbroken, lengths of the ONE track run side by side.
Then one length, "the younger length," heads back into the loop, while the
other "mature" length continues forward on the straight flat track.
Hope this helps. (GDW/1-27-98)
Here's a rambling:
There's been a little debate in the comment room, regarding the Archmage
time travel loop, time travel in general, and the subject of free will in
the Gargoyles universe. I posted my two cents, but thought I should include
it here too, in case anyone missed it:
Oh, I'm probably going to regret this, but...
Gary, Gary, Gary> Yep. There is a loop. And you're comparison to the
classic "Kill your own grandfather" chestnut doesn't parallel.
I could show you this pretty easy on a diagram, but it's a little more
complicated in type. But let me give it a shot.
The grandfather thing is a "non-working" paradox. The timestream short
circuits. [No cheating, now. No "Well, it turns out the man I always
thought of as my grandfather wasn't really my biological grandfather" and no
"He had sex with my grandmother just before I killed him." None of that.] I
go back in time to kill my grandfather. He dies. My father's never born.
I'm never born, therefore I don't exist to go back in time to kill my
grandfather. Since I don't exist, my grandfather never dies. So my father
is born, and, subsequently, so am I, allowing me to go back in time to kill
my grandfather. And so on, and so on, and so on... It iterates without
fusing. Again, short circuit.
Compare another chestnut that I made up a few years ago. I am a historian.
My specialty is Abraham Lincoln. I travel back in time and meet him just
before he's scheduled to give the Gettysburgh Address. To my horror, I
discover that he's got writer's block. The most famous speech a president
ever gave, and Abe can't think of what to write. I panic. And "write" the
speech for him. Of course I didn't compose it. I simply write down the
Gettysburgh Address from memory. Abe loves it. Gives the speech. Reporters
transcribe it. Historians put it in history books. I study it and go back
in time. Time flows unbroken. It is a "working" paradox. A paradox that
doesn't short circuit the time stream. Now it raises a HUGE question? Who
composed the Address? Not Abe, he got it from me. Not me, I got if from a
history book. Not the historians or the reporters, they got it from Abe.
The answer is it was born with the timestream, created by God or the Big Bang
or whatever. It is mysterious. But it works.
The best example of a working paradox story I've ever read is Robert
Heinlein's "All You Zombies". It's a brilliant, subversive little piece of
The Archmage (and/or the M.I.A.) loop has much more in common with the
Gettysburgh chestnut than the Grandfather chestnut. It is a working
paradox. Simpler even than Gettysburgh. You are the Archmage. Once upon a
time, you were a kid. Then you grew up to be a man, and you wind up falling
into a chasm. You're rescued by a "STRANGER" who looks something like you,
but not quite. The "Stranger" mentors you and gives you power and actually
changes you so that you look more like the stranger than like your old self.
Then the "stranger" sends you back in time to that point where you rescue
your old self. Now to that old immature version of you, you seem like "the
stranger". You mentor the old you, you give him power. Then you send him
back to effect the rescue. It's a loop, because you don't go back again.
You continue forward until Goliath does you in. There's a beginning and an
end and a loop in the middle. It IS a paradox. But it's a working paradox.
There's no short circuit. Time flows. THERE IS A BIG QUESTION! Where did
the Archmage get the idea to save himself. Well, he knows to do it because
his old self was a "witness" to the rescue. His old self was the rescuee.
But where did the IDEA come from? Again, a quirk of the timestream.
Many people have asked me why I made this the time travel rule in Gargoyles.
It's a very conservative approach. You can't change history. Period. Sure
we may not know the whole story. But what happened, happened. We can't
change it. That's the rule as I established it in "Vows," and as we stuck
with throughout the series. Why? Time travel is all theoretical. I could
have chosen any rule I wanted. I could have chosen no rules. Why did I
chose this rigid approach? Basically, cuz I thought it was MORE fun. I hate
feeling cheated at the end of stories. Time travel stories are easily
subject to this abuse. So many great Star Trek episodes full of time travel,
wind up wimping out in the end. Cheating. Using non-working paradoxes or
breaking any semblence of rules they've already established. I always felt
ripped off. I didn't want that for Gargoyles. Also it presents our
characters with a greater challenge. Griff vanished in WWII. Goliath goes
back in time to change it. AND HE CAN'T!!!!!! So he has to find another way
to solve the problem. It also explains why our guys just don't go back and
fix things so that the Wyvern Massacre never happened. Once you open a a can
of worms, you're stuck with a lot of worms (or worse, you pretend they aren't
there). That seemed lousy to me, so I made it clear that once an event is
absolutely known, you can't dodge it. Only work within it's frame. It's all
a matter of opinion, but that seemed like MORE fun to me.
And now...DAH DAH DAH. Predestination vs. Free will. This is an ancient
argument. God is omniscient. He knows what Eve is going to do. So she had
no free will, right? Well, most theologians would say she does. Eve is
created with free will by God. She doesn't have to take that apple. Cain
doesn't have to kill Abel. Sure, God knows that Eve is gonna take it, that
Cain is going to kill, but he doesn't impose that knowledge or his authority
on either Eve or Cain. (He's God. He can make those subtle distinctions in
his creations.) The fact that Mom tells you not to eat the cookies and
nevertheless knows you're going to, doesn't mean that you have no free will.
You could surprise Mom and skip 'em. Now you can't surprise God. He's God.
So he knows ahead of time what you're going to do. But it's still your
choice. Nothing touched your free will.
Now, I'll admit, that at times in Gargoyles, that distinction seems less
clear. I'm the main (though not the only) god of the Gargoyles Universe.
(At least I used to be.) But, obviously, I'm not GOD, and I don't have his
subtle powers of creation. But I tried. I suppose it's tough to figure how
the Archmage could choose not to save himself. But I think the key is that
he wouldn't want to choose anything other than what he did. So his free will
isn't touched. Griff chooses to fight in the Battle of Britain. He chooses
to risk his life. He doesn't know about Phoenix Gates or time travel. But
he knows the risks of war. He doesn't make it home for forty years. Maybe
that's a consequence he couldn't predict, but it's better than dieing. His
free will isn't missing from the equation just because the time stream (or
God or whatever you believe in) knows that he's not coming back even before
he departs. In GONE WITH THE WIND, Rhett Butler doesn't join the Confederate
Army until he knows the Confederacy is doomed. HE KNOWS. But that doesn't
effect his free will. We all make decisions. Maybe someone out there knows
the results. God. Or a psychic palm reader living in Petaluma. Or your
Uncle Ralph, who did the exact same thing when he was your age. But the fact
that someone else know, whether we know they know or not, does not effect our
Anyway, that's my two cents. (GDW/1-26-98)
Here's another tidbit you've never seen. A cut scenelet from "Hunter's Moon,
Part Two". It takes place during Act Two. Goliath, Brooklyn and Lex have
spotted the Huntership. Goliath glides in and latches onto the craft,
digging his talons into the metal hatch. He rips it free and lets it fall...
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
VINNIE is out for a stroll. Suddenly, the steel hatch SMASHES to the
sidewalk in front of him, digging a big chunk out of the sidewalk. Vinnie
takes, looks up. Shakes his head.
VINNIE: (gasp, then) Can you believe it?
And we're back inside the Huntership with Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn. That
little touch of Vinnie in the night was scripted and I think boarded, but it
was cut before the show was shipped because we were too long. It's a silly
moment, but it does help motivate Vinnie a little more for his role in "The
Journey," and anyway, I thought you all might get a kick out of it. (GDW / 12-5-97)
I did have Ed Asner/Lou Grant in mind when I was writing the character description for Hudson. The last line of the description was "Hudson hates spunk."
Jason Canmore has a younger sister Robyn and a younger brother Jon.
So do I. But my siblings don't have much else in common with his.
I knew I didn't want the show to be filled exclusively with gargoyles and white male humans. So we intentionally tried to present a more honest, inclusive version of America (and the world).
Xanatos is the kind of villain I like to write. Anyone interested in seeing his precursor (and Owen's) should check out General Eiling (and Captain Allard) in back issues of the DC comic book CAPTAIN ATOM which I used to write with Cary Bates.
Goliath is the kind of hero I like to write. Noble and flawed. Not a guy who's as bad as or worse than the bad guys he fights.
As to whether I was disappointed...
The short answer is honestly, NO. Not a bit. I'm very proud of all 66 episodes and our entire ensemble of characters.
The longer answer is that there are plenty of little things that I wish I could fix. Most of them are ticky-tack things, many I'm sure you wouldn't even notice. There are even two story things (one each in "Grief" and "The Hound of Ulster") where I feel like I missed a peace of the "true" story.
There's also material that got cut for time that I wish I had been able to include, particularly in "Avalon, Part II" and "Hunter's Moon, Part III".
There was a great scene in the clock tower between Elisa and Jason the morning after the Hunters blew the place up. It was really gorgeous stuff. But the script was way too long.
The only other regret I have is that I opted not to write and/or edit the GOLIATH CHRONICLES. I had good, sound reasons at the time, but in retrospect it was a mistake.
GARGOYLES: THE LOST MOMENTS
(First in a series.)
The following is a scene from "Hunter's Moon, Part Three" that was cut because the script was way, way too long. It was written by Michael Reaves, who was also the story editor. As usual, I did the final pass on it. We did record the scene with Salli Richarson and Deidrich Bader as Elisa and Jason, but I can't remember if we did storyboards for it. I know we never shipped it for animation. There isn't any lost footage. But I thought you all might get a kick out of reading it. Imagine Jason speaking in his true Scotish accent, not in the phony American one he generally used with Elisa. (Also note: I'm just typing this in without bothering with teleplay formatting.)
This scene would probably play better in context. So if you taped "Hunter's Moon, Part Three", then watch it right through "Robyn Correy's" video-phone conversation with "Dominique Destine". Dominique tells Robyn to enjoy life because it's so fleeting. The screen goes dark. Robyn nervously holds up the disk. Now pause the tape. Imagine one of our trademark "Claw Wipes" and read...
EXT. CLOCK TOWER RUINS - DAY
Elisa picks sadly through wreckage, occasionally placing something in a cardboard box. She bends to pick up a charred photograph.
TIGHT ON PHOTO
It is a snap-shot from last Halloween: Elisa in her "Belle" gown arm in arm with Goliath. Both very happy.
A tear rolls down her cheek. A shadow falls over her. Elisa turns.
ANGLE INCLUDES JASON
behind her on his sky-sled, in Hunter garb except the mask, aiming a tranq gun at her. Elisa drops the box and reaches for her holstered gun.
JASON: "Please don't. I'd just have to tranq you again, and I came here to talk."
She lowers her hand slowly. But she's still on guard.
ELISA: "Okay. Let's talk about what a monster you are."
JASON: "I never meant to hurt you --"
ELISA: "You really are a piece of work. Using me to get to the gargoyles."
JASON: "No! I admit I infiltrated the twenty-third because there were so many gargoyle sightings here. But I never planned--"
ELISA: "Lies. Everything was part of your plan. That phony accent... even that phony kiss..."
He looks desperate and vulnerable, despite the gun in his hand.
JASON: "That kiss was real. And I never planned on falling in love with you."
This hits her hard.
JASON (CONT'D): "The hunt's been my whole life -- I never realized how lonely I was...
ELISA: "But why are you hunting them?"
We see a flash of Jason's fiery determination. Elisa responds in kind.
JASON: "Those monsters killed my father!"
ELISA: "Those 'monsters' are my friends!"
He looks shocked and disgusted. This, he was not expecting.
ELISA: "And they couldn't have killed your father. When he died, they were in Scotland, frozen in stone by a magic spell."
JASON: "So they weren't personally responsible. They're still evil! All gargoyles are! My family has been hunting them for generations!"
Trying desperately to reach him.
ELISA: "BUT WHY? What started this blood feud?"
He's stumped. His fury won't help him on this one.
JASON: "I -- I don't know. It doesn't matter."
Elisa senses his uncertainty, presses her attack.
ELISA: "Of course it matters. You hate an entire race and you don't know why! Listen, Jason. You've been lucky so far. No one's been killed. Give up the feud. Turn yourself in. It's not too late to walk away from this."
TIGHT ON JASON
He hesitates, then shakes his head.
JASON: "Yes, it is."
He revs up the skysled and takes off fast. Elisa draws her gun, but she does not fire -- it's ambiguous whether that's because he's already too far away or because she feels too much for him to shoot him in the back. Her arm drops to her side. PULL BACK to show her forlorn and surrounded by rubble.
Now restart your VCR and pick up back at Elisa's apartment, where Elisa is trying to stop Goliath from playing vigilante. As she failed with Jason, she fails with Goliath, which leads to events at the dam, which propels things to their tragic (if semi-hopeful) conclusion.
Please don't hesitate to post comments on this scene at "ASK GREG", I'd be curious to read what you thought of it. It was always one of my favorite moments, and it broke my heart to cut it. Yet, ultimately we felt it wasn't crucial, and since we had to cut something, this seemed like the thing to go.