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Time to ramble...
Picking up right where Part Three leaves off, Demona is forced to back off on killing Elisa right away because of Bronx. I really like that scene, mostly for how it illustrates Bronx's level of sophistication. It's not like he understands English, beyond a few simple names and commands. But he understands tone of voice. Something that Demona uses. She talks him down by saying nasty things in a nice tone of voice. He's still suspicious. But as long as her actions and tone don't get hostile, he's content to back off. At one point though, she can't restrain her venom, and he starts to growl again. And she has to regain her composure.
Great Choral music during the battle. Carl Johnson and music editor Marc Perlman (both of whom will be attending the Gathering this June in Los Angeles) did a magnificent job with this.
And there's some great fog as well.
It's also nice to see a legitimately joyful Demona, hoisting Macbeth into the air. He laughs, but his mind's on other things, wondering why Bodhe wanted to talk to him without Demona present. Perhaps he's feeling guilty. Perhaps she picks up on that, which is why she eavesdrops.
A tragedy of bad timing: My sense is that Macbeth is about to read Bodhe the riot act, when Luach interrupts. Mac essentially agrees with Luach, but not with his manner. He takes JUST the wrong moment to teach him a lesson about being a good king. Luach reacts badly and storms out. And it is Luach's behavior that Macbeth is considering when Demona leaves. Two seconds later, I'm quite sure the conversation went like this:
Bodhe: "Well, sire?"
Macbeth: "Well, what?"
Bodhe: "The Gargoyles, sire. You must disavow them!"
Macbeth: "Don't be a fool." etc.
The siege is pretty cool too. (Though you'd think boulders dropped from the battlements would be a touch more effective.)
Mac rescues Gruoch. Even at this age, I still think they're a sexy couple.
I like the scene where Canmore removes his Hunter's Mask. Like Gille before him with Demona, he's truly annoyed when Mac doesn't immediately recognize him.
"Never would I have done so! We have been allies for thirty-seven years!!" Demona ain't a great judge of character.
Luach and Bodhe show up. I like this scene too. (O.K., I'm partial. What can I tell you?) Bodhe has an interesting moment. One of two things happens here. Either he's pleased to finally have one of his own blood (i.e. his grandson) installed as King or the death of Macbeth has finally awakened the hero inside him. Or both. For once, I tend to give Bodhe the benefit of the doubt. I think, at this late date, he's finally come into his own. I like to think he died a good warrior's death at Luach's side.
Demona wakes up. She claims not to believe Gruoch's admonishment, but NOTE, she does not kill Gruoch. Underneath it all, she knows that Gruoch is right and feels chastened.
Macbeth wakes up. Here we have our final scene on Lunfanan Hill. It parallels the previous break-up of Mac and Gru. That time Mac sent her away, but he loved her still. This time she sends him away. She loves him too. But this parting is permanent. Very moving to me. "I will always love you." And because of that, he must leave her. But we know he hasn't forgotten her even into the present. Her loss informs what follows.
Back to the present. Over episodes two and three, things in the present have been progressing very slowly. Now the present takes center stage.
Demona echoes what I'm sure by this time we were all thinking: "Take off that mask. You aren't fooling anyone... Macbeth." And he explains that he wears it as a symbol of her betrayal. (And for a psychological edge, no doubt.)
Meanwhile, we have that semi-feeble exchange between Goliath and Xanatos in the air. Feeble (a) because in one little scenelet, the mouth on Xanatos' armor is moving like it had lips; and (b) because the whole tapestry thing was a fairly forced way to get X and Goliath back to the castle.
I like Demona's line: "Let's not start that again. You blame me. I blame you..." etc. It's a very rational Xanatosian moment for her. But that rationality is born from the knowledge that she can't kill Macbeth without killing herself. Her usual vengeful attitude is useless. What she doesn't know is how suicidal he is. "Revenge is a dish best served cold. And I have waited 900 years for mine." Hey, leave a dish out for 900 years and it will get pretty cold.
There's always a bit of comedy in the pain-sharing battles of D&M.
When the floor starts to give way, it reminds me of a scene that was WAY better animated in the DuckTales pilot. Where the bricks of gold fall away in a simlilar vein. It's nice here, but it was awesome there.
I also like when Demona has Mac's E-M gun, tosses it and catches it to fire at X and G. Nice little touch.
And Xanatos' truly frightened yet underplayed: "This is bad." when he sees the computer screen.
I like the multiple falls that get us down to the Atrium -- a wonderful setting for the final confrontations.
And Goliath's speech: "...Death never does."
Again we get multiple images of the Sisters throughout this scene. And again, I had to fight for that.
Each Sister gets to take a mental punch to weaken first Macbeth and then Demona. Are they being hypocrites here? One aspect of their persona is, certainly. But there's more going on, some of which I still haven't revealed.
But the key thing in terms of this scene (and the events of AVALON) is that both Mac and Demona need to be mentally weakened for the spells of control that the Sisters are going to use on them in HIGH NOON and AVALON. And M&D need to borderline volunteer to relinquish control over themselves. Macbeth, who has been suicidal, is tired and willing. Demona's tougher. But even she doesn't put up much of a fight. "You tricked me." she says. And certainly they have, but she can't break the grip of three children, and though of course they are not ordinary children, one must wonder if she really wanted to.
Goliath: You have learned nothing.
The sisters (as children) say their cool (and ironic) line: "We have written their stories. They are our responsibility. They are our children." My three year old son Ben says: "I love the triplets."
But theirs is a story for another day.
Xanatos really has to sweat in this one. Unusual for him. I love his line to Bronx: "What are you looking at?"
But once the skies burn, he's back to his old self: "Magnificent." Believe it or not, it took some effort to really get the skies burning. The animation came back with only a few contrails of gas burning. We used video tricks to get that whole sky-burning effect that was SO important to the story.
When the gargs rush back inside they were supposed to lift Elisa up into the air in their joy at seeing her unstoned again. Thus you have contrast to explain Xanatos' line to Owen, "You'll forgive me, if I just shake your hand." (But you also have to wonder how he'd respond to Fox when next he saw her.)
And Xanatos gives a line I'd been waiting to use for a year. "I always wondered why I allowed you gargoyles to live. You come in handy now and then." I had always worried that an audience raised on certain villain cliches would just assume that the reason Xanatos never killed the gargs on one of the myriad occasions when he had the chance, was because we were bad writers. This X/G exchange was here to demonstrate that X wasn't that kind of villain. That he was never wasteful. Maybe at this point in the series, it wasn't necessary to spell it out. But it was still nice to get the sentiment across.
Of course, this ends the Xanatos/Demona partnership. Uneasy though it had been. It's why VOWS had to come first.
And that's my ramble...