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Time to ramble...
Chapter LVIII : "The Gathering, Part Two"
Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves and Gary Sperling
Story: Lydia Marano
Teleplay: Lydia Marano and Gary Sperling
Director: Bob Kline
ARE WE GATHERING OR AREN'T WE?
My initial reluctance toward calling this two-parter "The Gathering" revolved around the fact that we weren't actually showing much of the Gathering on Avalon. Basically one extended scene at the beginning of Part One. And then nothing. Nothing in part two at all.
But ultimately, I came to view "gathering" as a more metaphorical concept. Certainly, a lot of folk gather in this puppy even after we leave Avalon. Xanatos, Alex, Fox, Petros, Titania, Oberon, Puck/Owen, Renard, Vogel, Fortress-Two, Cybots, Iron Clan Robots, Goliath, Hudson, Angela, Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington... etc. We're "all in" here.
The Gargoyle clan regathers. The extended (more extended than we knew) Xanatos family gathers. They form the start of a real alliance, laying the seeds for Hunter's Moon.
And, hey, if we hadn't called the eps "The Gathering", what would we call our annual convention now?
Goliath has clearly learned the lesson Diane Maza sought to teach him in "Mark of the Panther". He not only has no qualms about viewing Angela as his daughter, he
also has come to regard the bond between parent and child as sacred.
David has also learned a lesson or two. Not that he EVER would have let Oberon just take something (anything) that belonged to him, but you get the sense that in discovering in "Eye of the Beholder" that he really did LOVE Fox, he learned that he could love. And that his defense of his son here isn't just defending his property but, as Petros puts it, standing up for his family. That's what Petros is responding to here when he praises his son.
(And you got to admit that for a normal fisherman, Petros handles a lot of weird crap with surprising equanimity.)
Renard has likewise remembered what matters most to him. Not repairing his body or his company, but his family. He may not approve of his daughter and son-in-law, but he sure isn't going to let anyone take his grandson from them. He's a bit defeatist at the end. Maybe a tad self-involved, but being terminal, he may not want his final legacy to be failure. I thought it was nice to see Vogel buck him up some. (Though it was also fun to hear Vogel's flat sycophantic "You're a genius, sir." earlier.)
I liked the Iron Clan Robots. I wish it was clearer that they were scaled larger than the old Steel Clan. There supposed to be about 20 feet tall. But I'm not sure we ever see them beside anything that defines their height.
Benny suggested that they put the baby in an iron ball. The idea is so simple and brilliant, that I'm embarrassed that I never thought of it. But then, ahem, neither Owen nor David thought of it either, right? So why blame the writing staff, huh?
In general, I feel like we played a little too fast and loose with iron here. Presumably, Petros' harpoon was made of iron. If Oberon can be disabled by the ringing of an iron bell, you'd think an iron harpoon through the chest would have killed him. I guess he's just THAT powerful. It hurt bad, drained him horribly. But ultimately someone would have had to finish him in some way. NOW where is that bell?
Actually, there are moments of weak animation here that almost had me thinking of a whole 'nother way to defeat giant Obie. Moments that seemed cartoony enough so that the solution seemed to be for one of the gargs to fly into Oberon's ear, so that we could see him through the windows of Oberon's open eyes breaking stuff in there.
THE RULES ACCORDING TO OBERON
Oberon: "My decrees are mine to interpret."
Oberon: "Oberon does not compromise. Oberon commands!"
Eh, six of one, half dozen of the other.
He's promised that he won't use magic against Goliath's clan. But he interprets that loosely. He won't turn them into glass statues or zap 'em with a magic bolt. But he feels free to attack them physically with his hair. Or sic magically animated statues on 'em. (Liked those industrial age "gargs", btw.)
Of course those Industrial gargs wind up destroying themselves. Brooklyn says, "It's incredible how often that move works." Which is him covering for us the writers knowledge that we kept falling back on that same solution over and over.
And, hey, what's the deal inside Oberon's cape? Actually, I really like that. It's a nice weird, spooky cool moment to remind us how other-worldly Oberon really is.
You'll notice at the beginning of the episode that Xanatos still feels the need to come up with a cynical excuse for saving Broadway's life. He can't yet simply view him as an ally (let alone friend or fellow), but still as a resource that shouldn't be wasted. I love Jonathan's reading there. The cynicism rings so hollow. He's already going through changes.
By the end of the episode, he'll truly regard the Goliath and the clan in a new light.
So... honestly? How many of you were surprised? If not by the revelation itself, then by the details, as he tells his history to Oberon. (With "visual aids," no less.)
What we tried to do was let all thoughts of Owen AND Puck fall from your head by this time. There are a couple clues to their dual identity in episodes like "City of Stone, Part One" and "The Mirror", and I felt like there were a TON of hints in "The Gathering, Part One". But in Part Two, we tried to keep even the mention of the two characters to a minimum. So that the audience wouldn't be focused on THAT mystery and we stood a chance of at least catching everyone off guard.
I love X's line: "Owen has all sorts of hidden talents."
I also love Puck's, "I'm on a roll." This is delivered into camera. I always wanted Puck to be the one character in our series who could and would break the fourth wall. But I always met resistance from Frank and Dennis. But this ep was directed by Bob Kline, who tossed me a bone, I guess.
Puck had never played the roll of straight man. I loved that idea. That he would out Vogel Vogel. Of course, when Vogel was first introduced, many fans, as expected, were highly critical of the character. Saying he was just an Owen rip-off. It was great to turn the tables. It made us all feel so clever, as Owen is in fact a Vogel rip-off.
Puck has a bunch of great lines, some of which are probably only great because Brent delivers them so brilliantly...
"Sweet kids, but boring."
"One wish from the Puck or a lifetime of service from Owen"
"He chose Owen". Brent's reading there almost breaks your heart. As Oberon says, it's clear that Puck was impressed by X's choice. In fact, he's clearly touched by Xanatos' choice, by his loyalty. He extends a loyalty back to X that he's never, I think, felt before. As with Titania, it's Oberon's punishment backfiring on him. He sent the Children out into the world to learn humility. To learn to be ... "humane". Oberon himself did NOT learn. But many of his subjects did, and the results don't always please Lord O. Puck is loyal to Oberon because he has to be. But he's loyal to David because he wants to be. Guess which loyalty ultimately wins out?
"You hurt him with that one. Do it again." (LOVE THAT.)
"I've got a sunny disposition, and I'm always kind to animals."
It's also nice to see Puck's demeanor and Owen's side by side. Puck is horrified by his permanent banishment from Avalon. (An elegantly appropriate punishment if I do say so myself.) But Owen takes it in stride, as Owen takes everything in stride, right down to and including a stone fist. (Which is another vindication thing for me. Many people seemed willing to crucify us after "The Price" for the cavalier way that the writing staff and Xanatos allowed Owen to get that fist. But now that they knew that Owen is Puck, and that Xanatos (and the writing staff) knew it all the time, it all makes a bit more sense.)
ODDS & ENDINGS
Talk about elegant though, how about Titania's manipulations... assuming you believe her when she takes credit for everything. Do you believe her?
And no, I'm not going to tell you what she whispered to Fox. At this point, I'm quite convinced that the answer would be anti-climactic. Better left to your own imagination.
Oberon gives us the "Midsummer Night's Dream" reference. I like that.
I also like the last exchange between Xanatos and Goliath, starting with:
So suspicious our G, huh?
And I like Goliath's line, "The future is not written yet." And it isn't. Not from their point of view. There's still free will. But certainly, Goliath hasn't forgotten the recent vision that was "Future Tense".
Is it here that Broadway calls Angela "Angie" for the first and last time?