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MARK OF THE PANTHER
And with this I should finally be caught up.
In the first few minutes, I found myself fearing that this episode would be focused primarily on our heroes stopping poachers. To me, it just seems that whenever a series does an episode like that, it turns into something where story and character are put on hold for the sake of a message or moral. Even if the message or moral is good, if that's all the episode is about it just winds up feeling hokey and forced.
Thankfully, that was not the case with this episode.
I loved the whole "I've saved you--OOF!" thing at the waterfall. A nice way of continuing, and yet making fun of, Goliath's "always being there to catch Elisa" habit.
I actually didn't recognize Diane Maza--it had been a while since I'd seen her (or even heard her VOICE), and her character design looked a bit different (not just in wardrobe, something in the face, too). Regardless, I'm still glad she appeared, and I was VERY pleased that Elisa finally got word to (at least one of) her parents.
The Panther Queen story was, of course, fantastic. It never ceases to amaze me that it all took place in the first Act. It just seems to be "bigger" than the space allotted it. I was actually kind of surprised to learn that you guys made it up yourselves. Actually, I was even more surprised to find out in the original outline, "The Jaguar Queen" that you guys didn't even have Anansi!
Angela tries to view the world through the prism of her experience, wondering if Diane is a Queen or Magus. I always loved that.
Elisa's sheepish excuses around her mother always threw me--considering the circumstances (which any reasonably intelligent person would know could not be explained with "being on a case") the truth was obviously the only way to go. But like you said, Greg, Elisa's a little selfish with her secrets.
I sincerely wished that you guys had had enough time to put in some reference to Elisa's leaving Matt an (unreceived) message.
I love the looks on Angela and Goliath's faces during the, "You're right, parents and children should be able to discuss anything" sequence. Just as I like how when the gargoyles do join the action, Elisa just smiles while Diane's face takes on a more terrified/surprised expression.
One thing that always bothered me, though--Angela BENDS a spear, as though it were metal. Maybe it was, but it sort of looked like wood to me.
I loved the were-panther transformations. Especially in Karadigi. Just the way the humans stayed on four limbs for a bit after having transformed back.
I, too, enjoyed Goliath's rather surprised/pliant "Of course not" to Diane's proud statement, "I don't need looking after."
Actually, another interesting character bit here--Goliath was going to send everybody else off in one group and travel his path alone. He seems to have this kind of "I'm the big and strong one, so I can handle anything without any help," mentality. Shades of where the Eye of Odin would eventually take him?
Diane wonders why Goliath can't just fly out of the hole--again playing to human's initial assumptions on gargoyles. I just love how Goliath is so nonchalant about the tiny spiders crawling over him, or their webs hanging off him.
Elisa, Angela and Bronx's trap is pretty darn creepy--being entirely covered in a "web blanket."
The talks on parenting are well handled--they get the point across without being overbearing. Actually, it took me a while before I realized that Goliath's treatment of Angela was more out of personal fear rather than just following clan customs. And now that I think of it, Elisa's complaints about her mother reminds me of how she disagreed with Goliath's keeping Angela in the dark in SANCTUARY. Maybe that's why Angela's words meant so much to Elisa--she thought of how unhappy Angela is at NOT being able to talk about things with Goliath.
I was surprised with Tea's story about how Fara Maku marked her--it kind of switched who was the victim between the two. I loved Diane's line, "That's not love Fara. That's selfishness." That leads me to wonder how many people have let their own selfishness outweigh their love in relationships.
When Anansi finally makes his grand entrance, all I could think was, "DAMN, that's a BIG SPIDER!" Don't ask me how, but I just knew LeVar Burton had to be in this episode somewhere, and he did a great job as Anansi, though I could barely recognize his voice. If Anansi had ever taken human form, I would have loved hearing LeVar's un-altered voice.
When Anansi starts losing the battle, I love how his eyes take on a very worried look (almost makes me feel sorry for him), and he starts trying to placate our heroes with wishes.
I was surprised that you guys actually "killed" Anansi--I hadn't thought the little spider at the end was actually him (possibly because that spider was brown instead of purple), but I am glad for the thought.
As for Tea and Fara Maku's reconciliation...yes, I'm afraid I can't help but find it a little too easy. Again, this is one of those times that I wish GARGOYLES could have run longer. Heck, if Tea had been awake (and reacted) when Fara swore to serve Anansi forever if Tea was freed, it might have worked better for me.
The resolution between the parents and children was well done. Yeah, Goliath and Angela's was pretty sappy (mostly because of Angela's reaction, and the swell of the music, IMO--Goliath's always cool), but it was still okay. Diane's and Elisa's was just great, and I love Diane's line that sometimes love can be about "letting go".
Funny thing about Elisa's "No" at the end--I didn't even hear it until the second or third time I watched this ep. And I think you're right that the ending plays better without it.
GOLIATH THE PANTHER-GOYLE: Sometimes you can only see these things through the eyes of a child. ;-)
Seriously, though, it wasn't necessary, and from what I saw in the "Panther Queen" sequence, it looks like it has to be done in a very specific fashion. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.
My ramble's a bit all over the map, but trying to do two rambles in one sitting is enough to tax anyone's brain. Suffice to say, this really is a great episode all around, and I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on it.
Looking forward to your next ramble!
Ugh, see... I have got to catch up here, because I haven't a clue as to what "Goliath the Panther-Goyle" refers to.