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Chapter XXVI: "High Noon"

Following fast on the heels of City of Stone, here's my ramble on High Noon...

The recap is interesting here. It's all Coldstone oriented. Demona, Macbeth and the Weird Sisters aren't mentioned. Nothing from City of Stone, despite this being a direct sequel to those events. The reason is that the recaps got early criticism on a Disney Afternoon mailing list for giving too much away. We'd show a villain who didn't appear until the end of Act One, thus cueing our audience to expect that villain all along. A valid criticism. So we tried to adjust here. Coldstone's participation wasn't a secret. The episode opens in his "internal cyber-world" and he's shown dormant in the Clock Tower in the very next scene. But when Demona and Macbeth first walk past Elisa and Morgan, we're not supposed to know who they are. So I intentionally kept them out of the recap to preserve that reveal.

The heather Othello gathers has no scent. Why not? Everything in that world, except for the souls of the three gargs was simply a mental construct. Sight, sound, touch. So why not smell? No chemical senses, you might argue. But why no chemical senses? Why touch and not taste? I think that the lack of smell was an unconscious or subconscious boundary that Desdemona did not want to cross. Something to remind her that this world is not real. For all we know, Othello and Iago could smell whatever they imagined they could smell.

I like seeing Hudson and Broadway learning to read. We cheated a bit. I'm not sure they could have progressed as fast as they did in the short time since "Lighthouse". But we took that liberty to show that they had been working assiduously at it.

I have mixed feelings about Hudson's "Why would she want to 'hit a sack'?" line. On the one hand, I'm not sure we ever did enough of this. Playing with the contrasts in language and expression between their world and ours. On the other hand, it just seemed a bit late in the game for Hudson not to have heard this one already. (And for that matter, I have no idea when that particular phrase originated. For all I know they've been hitting the sack since the Middle Ages.)

Elisa makes a point of saying that she's "no hero". Just a gal doing a job. But of course, we know that's not true. It's simply how she'd prefer to view herself -- particularly when she's so tired. I tried to use this episode to emphasize that Elisa works the night shift. That she gets off work just before sunrise. Starts work just after sunset. (I actually imagine that she works a four day ten hour shift, plus mucho overtime.) Sometimes it seemed like the fans had forgotten that. I got a lot of questions back then like: "She works during the day and hangs with the gargoyles at night. When does she sleep?"

Morgan has a real nice role in this one. Keith is great as Morgan. So distinctive from Goliath in a part that was a mere throwaway in Awakening, Part One. Morgan and Elisa's easy rapor in this episode and Avalon One is what gave me the idea that he might someday ask her out (on that 2nd Halloween episode I've mentioned a few times). And the notion of a Keith-Salli-Keith triangle tickled me a bit.

Enter Macbeth as a perp with a human Demona dressed as a cop. (Always nice to show our characters in different costumes on occasion.) I'm curious how many people IMMEDIATELY recognized Demona as herself? After all, you'd only gotten a BRIEF glimpse of her human form in "The Mirror". And we hadn't shown it at all in "Vows" or "City of Stone". In fact, City of Stone began what we then called our Third Tier of stories. (Tier One was the first season. Tier Two was the first eight episodes of the second season: Leader, Legion, Metamorphosis, Lighthouse, Silver Falcon, Mirror, Eye of the Beholder, Vows.) And of course, City of Stone was transitional, so one could argue that Tier Three was beginning here with High Noon. Anyway, Demona's in atypical dress and species. Who knew it was her?

And once you did know, what were you thinking? The gargoyles have the same questions, I'd imagine. Last they (and you) saw, Mac and Demona hated each other, and had been taken away by the seemingly benevolent Weird Sisters. What was going through your heads about all this? Did you wonder at the seeming inconsistencies, like their knowledge of the Clock Tower? Their ability to get Coldstone out of the tower in daylight, unseen?

When my son Ben saw Demona, he thought it was one of the "triplets", which is what he calls the Weird Sisters. (They've fast become his favorite characters.) When I pointed out that she had red hair and not white, yellow or black, he was resistent to giving up on the idea that they weren't going to appear. (I was glad they eventually did. And now I wonder what he's going to think about the next seven episodes in which they do NOT appear.)

Throughout this, we cheat a bit on Elisa's exhaustion. We knock her out, but keep her tired. The subtle differences between various means of being unconscious and their effects on how tired one is confuse me.

I love Mac and D's exchange...
Mac: "You're still thinking like a gargoyle."
D: "I am a gargoyle." And don't you forget it.

Again, back in those days I just thought the audience would get revved up merely because we were teaming up THREE of our major villains. Macbeth, Demona and the villainous side of Coldstone. In Batman or Superman that would be a BIG EVENT. A huge threat to the hero. Did it have that effect on you guys? I feel vaguely that in a strange way, it did not. That our villains were so complex, that for once they backfired on us. That it wasn't viewed as, "Wow, our heroes have barely survived an encounter with one of those guys, how will they handle three?" Rather, the conflict was less interesting than the machinations and personalities. Am I being clear? Your thoughts?

This episode had some truly gorgeous animation in it. And the transformation scenes are both very cool. The Pain Link plays well here, though occasionally seems more geared to comedy than drama for some reason. The theme of gifts coming with a price... particularly the gifts of tricksters is emphasized in this scene.

Meanwhile Othello is desperately trying to remain an ostrich with his head in the sand. A position that on at least one level, Elisa 'believes' she'd like to take as well. With Othello, I think it's a real possibility that he will never act. With Elisa, I don't think we believe it for a moment. That's part of the reason they're both in there. To make sure that the theme of "Standing Up" is emphasized. Which brings us to the title, "HIGH NOON". That was one of mine, I believe. And I stole it right from the Gary Cooper movie. Sure we'd have a battle at High Noon. Because this was Elisa's story, not the gargoyles. Because the gargoyles would be asleep and vulnerable. But also because it was that kind of archetypal the-hero-stands-alone western battle.

You may notice that Xander Berkeley (the voice of Iago) does not appear in this episode. Because Iago has no lines when he's not in control of the Coldstone body. Again, I'm always so impressed with what a great job Michael Dorn does contrasting the Othello and Iago personalities without actually changing his voice.

I like Elisa's line when Brooklyn asks her if she recognized the woman with Macbeth. "She seemed familiar." Think about this for a second. If this was real life and not a cartoon, do you think you'd recognize Demona in Dominique? And yet I completely buy that Elisa recognized something in there. There's a strange nega-intimacy between Elisa and Demona. (Which is one of the sick reasons why I created Delilah, later.)

Goliath and Elisa engage in a little dueling patronizing here. Elisa has to go back on shift, so can't accompany the 'goyles to Mac's place. Goliath is pretty smug when he says the six of them can handle it. (The smugness, I hope, is undercut when he follows it up by saying, "You have a whole city to protect." Which is how he views it.) Then Elisa talks to them like they're little kids. She wants a full report when they get back. (Who says these two weren't made for each other?)

Lex, who has been and will continue to be very adept at breaking alarm systems, etc., for once admits that it's all too easy.

I like the moment when Goliath taps the camera with his wing. A nice little touch. And very well animated.

Lex is always the voice of warning in regards to Coldstone. This is important. Goliath listens to Lex this time. And Lex is fooled when Coldstone reveals Demona's involvement, seemingly before they know Demona is involved. I thought that was very clever on the villains' part.

Bronx smells Demona behind the closet, just as he did behind the tapestry.

I like how the marble bust flies and crashes. Another nice touch in the boarding and animation. Nice weight to the whole Brooklyn-Demona-Bronx fight scene.

I liked staging the Macbeth, Husdon, Broadway fight in a library. Felt like a thematic rematch from "Lighthouse".

The pain link here is a BIT of a cheat. Usually with them in different rooms on different floors, it wouldn't be quite this intense. Maybe the library is directly above whatever room Demona was in.

Lex is sure Coldstone's wrong about Demona. Brooklyn's "Uh, guess again." line is fun.

The entire battle at Macbeth's place is part of a technique I enjoy using on occasion called "Suspended Structure". This is really an Elisa and Othello Story. But we let the gargs carry the action for a period of time, while the true protagonists can't or won't take action. This keeps the story moving, without compromising the inaction of our "leads".

Demona confronts Elisa at the clock tower. The animators get a little carried away here with some of Demona's body language. God knows, it's fun to watch. But would she really do all those sexpot poses? Is that in character?

It is fun to see her hail a taxi though.

Morgan's back. Elisa now looks VERY tired. Again, great work from the animators. It's all in the eyes. Morgan helps Elisa though he thinks she's just talking about normal copwork. It only proves there's really no such thing as a "Normal Life". Morgan certainly doesn't think he has one.

Meanwhile Desdemona's gettin antsy. It's the "in" that the Weird Sisters need. They take over. Unfortunately, here, the animators screwed up. The three Desdemona's were supposed to have silver, gold and raven hair. Instead, in most shots, they just look like three Dessies. Then when they finally do get the hair right, it's just before they merge back into one Desdemona. At which point, the hair color should have been Des'. Instead, I think it's Luna's -- briefly. Oh, well. Anyway, I could have just done this with Desdemona herself. But I wanted to give the audience a hint that the Weird Sisters were still involved. Ben was thrown by the hair. He almost didn't believe these were the triplets.

I like the line: "Even shadows must be true to their shade."

High Noon at Belvedere Castle. Coldstone wonders that he can see the sun. Again, that's me making sure people are clear that Coldstone is RE-ANIMATED STONE, not flesh. I don't think it's visually clear. (Part of the problem being that Othello's coloring is too similar.)

Then Elisa arrives -- counting on Macbeth's honor to keep Demona from shooting her. For that reason, she intentionally doesn't bring her service revolver to the party. Quite the gambit. Elisa also counts on Demona's temper -- and on the fact that Demona is unaccustomed to fighting with reduced human strength. She goads Demona: "I'm here to save him." and "You fight like a rookie." I love, positively LOVE, the former of those two lines. Elisa is a hero in her own right. Though Goliath has rescued her on occasion, I felt we did a pretty good job of always evening the score. She's no damsel in distress.

Mac & Coldstone: "This is diverting." "You have no idea." (Quotations approximate.) I like that. A tip of the hat to my being a guy, if you will.

We cheat a bit here on the pain link too. One could argue that Mac IS feeling the pain. But he's ready for it and covering. He does seem to be grimacing a bit when he says, "You have no idea." But still, I think we cheated.

I love the animation on the Othello, Desdemona, Iago fight.

Battle over, Coldstone leaves. Sends himself into exile. This is the gargoyle way.

And hey, our jogger is back. Again wondering where all these statues are coming from. That's just fun continuity for me. And Elisa: "Don't ask me. I'm just taking a nap."

And then the whole final scene between Mac and D and the sisters is so much fun. I love the sense of the fog lifting from their eyes. "What Primary Objective?" "Why are we working together?"

And I'm also proud of the trick. A very Xanatosian tag here. Steal Coldstone to distract the gargs from noticing the thefts of the gate, book and eye.

And how about that reference to "The coming battle..." that the Sisters end the episode on? What did you all think of that at the time?

I'll try to post the High Noon writer's memo tomorrow. (Meant to do it yesterday, but I forgot.) Anyway, Done rambling. You're turn. (Again, I'm interested in both your original and current responses to the episode.)



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