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Chapter XVIII: "The Mirror"

Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Writer: Lydia C. Marano

Arguably the best single episode of the series. The animation is fluid, dynamic and very strong. The writing is sharp, even quite funny over and over. And yet, dramatically the story is still potent. It really advances the Goliath & Elisa romance arc. Changes Demona permanently. And introduces Puck -- and by extension, the entire third race: The Children of Oberon. All in a mere 22 minutes.

It's also very gratifying for me. A bit of a vindication. As you may have seen from the memos I wrote to Brynne & Lydia, there was some considerable resistance to the notion that none of the characters would notice their own personal change from one species to another. Most of my collaborators thought the idea was way too complicated to pull off. I argued that it might seem complex, but in fact it would play cleaner on screen -- and funnier and more directly to theme. In my mind, another title for this episode could have been -- had we already not been using it for our Werefox episode -- "Eye of the Beholder", because all the transformed characters really noticed was when someone else was "OTHER". Being a monster or being "normal" was based on their point of view, not any objective look in the mirror. [As it is, the title is the kind I like. Simple, objective and yet metaphoric. At one point, it was titled: "Mirror, Mirror". But we simplified it even more.]

But anyway, when the human Brooklyn, Lex and Broadway are confronted by "Gargoyles", the scene is an intentional mirror of the scene from AWAKENING, PART ONE where Brooklyn says, "If they think we're beasts and monsters..." Again, this is playing with the idea of "beasts and monsters" being merely in the eye of the beholder. The species have reversed, but the situation is exactly the same simply because the Trio remain in the minority. I suppose that's one thing that X-Men's mutants have in common with the Gargs. Both are a metaphor for being part of a minority. Feared almost automatically.

On the other hand, when Elisa is transformed, she believes that Goliath & Co. have been transformed into something like her. I think her immediate reaction is very telling about how she ALREADY felt about Goliath at that point. She's thrilled. She throws her arms about him. Now they're the same species. There's no impediment to their love. What's interesting is that if you stopped and asked Elisa under normal circumstances whether she would wish for Goliath to be transformed into a human, the answer would most certainly be "No." She knows that being a Gargoyle is fundamental to who he is. You can't change that without changing him -- and yet in that instant, in that unguarded moment, her desire to be with him overwhelms that rational knowledge. She's just happy.

At the museum, Elisa looks at herself in the mirror. She then moves, but the reflection holds. That was the idea of one of our board artists. A little clue that the mirror is magic. (It's not an animation error.)

Family Reactions #1

During that museum chase, my wife wanted to know why no alarms were going off. I figure Demona or the thieves just shut them off.

Erin didn't realize that that was Elisa dressed as a security guard at first. We were trying to withhold that information for a bit.

"Titania's Mirror", "The Children of Oberon", "Oberon sent me." We were laying groundwork to expand the entire series' base. But I don't know if back then I knew that much about what if anything I had planned specifically for Titania & Oberon.

Anymore than I knew then what I'd do with the "Dracula's Daughter" reference. But we try not to waste anything.

Coming up with that "Children of Oberon" name was a struggle. And so many people have asked me since whether or not Oberon is literally everyone's father, I almost regret landing on that choice. Our thought process is largely present in the episode when Goliath et al, go through various noms: Fair Folk, Dark Elves, Changelings, Shape-Shifters. Of course, at the time we were misusing the term Changeling. I think that was Odo's influence frankly, but I should have known better. I suggested "The Oberati". But the Reaves didn't care for that. I think they thought it sounded too much like an Italian sports car.

I do love the moment when Brooklyn cites Shakespeare's play as a sort of reference work on the Children. I hope we sent a few people to the library with that line. Did we?

I also love Hudson's line in response to Elisa's question: Are they real?

Hudson: "As real as I am, if the stories be true." It's full of delicious dramatic irony. If you can suspend belief on a bunch of gargoyles, then this shouldn't be a problem for you. I love things that work on multiple levels.

I also love Hudson's "Be careful what you wish for" line.

We were trying to show a bit here how Demona had managed to operate in the modern world up to this point. One of the thieves has clearly worked for Demona before without ever having laid eyes on her. Of course, showing Demona's M.O. here, was like giving it a swan song. Because after this episode, though she clearly doesn't realize it yet, her life is going to get MUCH easier. Being a human during the day is a great boon to all her scheming. I'm very curious about everyone's reaction to that? Shock? Amusement? I also tried to work very hard so that in that last two minutes of epilogue, everyone would get that she only was human during the day. I was very afraid that the audience would think she was permanently transformed into a human. Was anyone confused? Or was anyone surprised that Puck's revenge/gift STUCK? We wouldn't really explore the change until HIGH NOON. Had you forgotten about it by then?

Family Reactions #2
As Demona's casting the spell that will summon Puck. (Which I always thought was very cool, with the feather and all.)
Benny: "That's a magic mirror. Is Demona going in there?"
Erin: "Puck's gonna come out."

As I've mentioned before, during the writing of this story we figured out that Owen was Puck. So to play fair we dropped a hint here. Demona (who knows) says to Puck: "You serve the human. You can serve me." Puck changes the subject, replying "Humans [note the plural] have a sense of humor, you have none." This was done intentionally to distract the audience away from the hint we had just dropped. But obviously, in hindsight, it's a clear reference to Owen serving Xanatos. Anyone get it right off the bat? Anyone even take note of the line the first time? Originally, the line read, "You serve him, now you can serve me." With the "him" referring to Xanatos. But our S&P executive was afraid the "him" could be taken to mean Satan. I know that seems silly now. But keep in mind, we were very paranoid back then about the show being attacked for promoting devil worship. So we made the change.

Sensitive Broadway: "Maybe even love." It's a nice moment. Wistful.

Puck reminds Demona that the mirror isn't "Aladdin's lamp". At the time, the Aladdin series was still in production at Disney. So that's a bit of an in-joke.

And how about that: Demona is still carrying a torch for Goliath. On some level, she wants him more than almost anything. Yet she continually allows her hatred to get in the way. And the irony is, that at this point, pre-Vows it isn't yet too late for them. But her actions further serve to cement the Goliath/Elisa relationship. More now than ever before.

Puck/Brent Spiner is just fantastic. I love that "charming personality" line. And "You don't know what you're asking, believe me." And "I'll do EXACTLY as you asked." And "My mistake." And "A very long nap." He's just so rich.

Plus the boarding and animation on Puck is just great. As is the sound work that accompanies him zipping around.

I always wanted Puck to be the one character who could break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. Every time he appeared, we'd put a line or two in the script that was addressed to the audience. And every time, Frank or Dennis Woodyard would cut it out of the board. They didn't like breaking the fourth wall. (A lot of guys don't. I tried to do that with Max on Max Steel, but Richard Raynis and Jeff Kline wouldn't allow that either.) Oh, well....

Puck also establishes that Oberon's Children generally use rhyming spells instead of Latin or Hebrew or whatever. (Thus making life slightly -- but ONLY slightly -- easier on me and the writers.) But Puck isn't too formal: "Human's love a battle hearty, so does Puck, come on, let's Party!" Fun. (And I like Brooklyn's line, "Party's over." too.)

Family Reactions #3
When Elisa's transformed into a gargoyle.

Erin: "She looks cute." [I very much agree. Though I always wonder where her red jacket goes.]

Ben then asked why she was transformed.

Beth explained that Demona didn't want Elisa to be human anymore.

Erin then corrects my wife and explains that Puck is tricking Demona.

KIDS GET IT! Adults need to pay closer attention!

Goliath suddenly has lust in his heart:
G: "I never realized when you were human just how beautiful you were."
E (with a smile): "You mean you thought I was ugly?"
G: "Uh... careful! Updraft!!"
Man, that guy is smooth.

Anyway, that's one of my all-time favorite exchanges. I think it reveals so much. Somewhere underneath, Goliath has been attracted to who Elisa IS deep-down -- at least since AWAKENING, PART THREE. But he never thought of her as a potential love interest. He wasn't brought up liberally enough to think that way. After all, she has no wings, no tail. And those human shaped feet!

But suddenly, she's revealed as a FEMALE. Now, even when she goes back to being human, his perspective is permanently altered. Hers, however, is not. She's already consciously had those thoughts. Consciously rejected them. So at the end of the episode, he wants to discuss these (for him) new feelings -- but she does not. And the sun helps shut him up.
G: "That's not what I meant."
E: "But that's the way it is."
Another of my all-time favorite exchanges. (I'm really partial to things involving the G/E relationship. I know, I know, I'm a romantic sap.]

I also like the ongoing confusion. Elisa: "Everyone in Manhattan has been turned into... HUMANS!" Goliath: "No, no, no, no, no." And when the Gargoyles are changed into humans, Brooklyn is so sure that they've always been humans, it's funny. Like that moment in CITY OF STONE, when he's convinced that the "statue of Elisa" is a bad likeness of her: "They got the nose wrong."

FYI, there was an honest attempt, within the logical parameters of what our gargs looked like, to make their human versions resemble the actors who played them. Thus Goliath has darker skin than the others, because Keith David is African-American. (Though otherwise Goliath really looks like Conan to me.) The bald Lex has brown hair and the bald Broadway has blond like Thom Adcox and Bill Fagerbakke respectively. Brooklyn resembles Jeff Bennett but with Brooklyn's white hair instead of Jeff's blond. And Hudson looks like Ed Asner with a beard. More or less. Thom Adcox is the one who most looked like the human version of his character.

Cool little touches:

Demona nudges an unconscious Puck with her tail.

She continues to call Hudson, "Old Soldier". Her tenth century "name" for him.

Her line about the "gift of being a gargoyle". I love that superior attitude.

Lexington's "Fun, but weird" line.

Hudson wrapping the sheet over the mirror.

Elisa and Demona have a brief "cat-fight" as Gargoyles. Not quite as diverting as the one they'll have as humans in High Noon. But it was nice to put them on equal physical footing for a change. Let them have it out.

Demona mentions that Puck isn't too tired to make himself "invisible to the crowd". This was us trying to plug a hole in our story. We felt it would undercut the mob's reactions to our newly human heroes if they had the same reaction to seeing Puck. And yet Puck clearly looks more human than Gargoyle. More "other". So we slid that line in to avoid the whole problem.

FAMILY REACTION #4

Beth laughed at Hudson's very Scots reading of "No doubt about it." Which is pronounced more like: "No doot aboot it."

More sappy stuff (which I love):

Goliath's line: "I'll always be there to catch you."

Elisa completely forgetting her fear of flying in order to save the MAN she loves.

That brief moment when both Elisa and Goliath are humans at the same time.

Hudson's wistful line about seeing the sun, just once.

Although it had little to do with the metaphor, we couldn't really resist the notion of showing Bronx transformed into a dog. We picked the biggest dog we could think of, a Wolfhound type, though a bulldog might have been more reminiscent.

In the script, Demona smashes the mirror upon seeing her human reflection in the glass. But somehow the scene never got animated. So we added the sound of the mirror being smashed to the exterior shot at the end. This was important in order to give the story full closure. The initial point of the episode was to prevent Demona from getting Titania's Mirror. Structurally, therefore, I couldn't allow her to keep it.

But no fear, later we introduced Oberon's Mirror (clearly part of a matching set) in THE GATHERING, PART ONE.

I wonder what all those Manhattanites thought when suddenly they realized they were all barefoot.



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