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Possession Outline Notes

In preparation for my Ramble on "Posession", reprinted here is the 1995 memo I sent to Cary Bates about the outline...

Note that Coldfire's original name was actually "Goldfire". Yuck.

WEISMAN 7-4-95

Notes on Outline formerly known as "Tricksters"...
For starters we need a new title and a new number: 4319-067. "Tricksters" (4319-066) will join "Puck's Macbeth" (4319-052, I believe) in limbo until or unless we get a third season. (I haven't given up on either story.)

This is basically a Coldstone story with Puck as catylist. It's the next step in Coldstone's evolution after "Reawakening", "Legion" and "High Noon". Maybe call it "Possession" or "Possesions". Or "Cross. Double Cross." Or "Triple Cross" or some title-esque thing. I'm not sure.

1. The Himalayas. Middle of a blizzard. Some mountain climbers or locals are frightened off by a fur covered monster that they mistake for the Yeti or Abominable Snowman. They run off, but suddenly the monster is attacked by Xanatos in his battle armor alongside the Steel Clan Robots, all painted in snow-camouflage white. The monster puts up a fight, and in fact seems to be one heavily-armed Yeti. But he is eventually knocked out and defeated, revealing that he is Coldstone (wearing furs). DISSOLVE TO:

2. Eyrie Building some days later. Xanatos (dressed in a tuxedo) and Owen have Coldstone back in the lab where he was first created. They have deactivated him from the neck down. (Here's a weird thought: maybe they've literally removed his head from off his body.) Coldstone/Othello can hear them, see them and talk to them, but he cannot move or activate his weapons. (But for some reason his sense of smell has been magically enhanced -- no, just kidding.) Owen and Xanatos are talking about solving the Coldstone "problem". (The solution to which seems to involve two sheeted figures, lying semi-prone on tables at the back of the lab. These figures are the "COLDSTEEL" and "GOLDFIRE" robots. More on them later.) Unfortunately for Xanatos, they have not figured out how to accomplish his mysterious goal. The main problem is that Coldstone's creation involved magic, which Xanatos has no access to. Unless, he hints, Owen were to morph into Puck and wiggle his nose or something. But Owen reminds Xanatos that he is forbidden from using his magic except to train Xanatos' son Alexander. Well, Xanatos isn't too upset. He'll figure something out, and in the meantime Coldstone isn't going anywhere. Fox (dressed in an evening gown) appears on a video-intercom. Coldstone may not be going anywhere but they are. And they're going to be late. WIPE TO:

3. Alexander's room. Xanatos and Owen join Fox and Alexander. The new parents have tickets to see Verdi's opera "OTELLO" at the MET. Fox hands the baby over to Owen, giving him babysitter instructions, and Mom and Dad leave for their first night out since Alexander was born. DISSOLVE TO:

4. Eyrie Lab. Goliath and Hudson sneak in, and prepare to reactivate Coldstone. (Note: throughout this scene and the next, Hudson does not speak. Try to make this as unnoticeable as possible.) Confusion as to how Goliath found him is secondary to Coldstone's immediate concern for Goliath and Hudson's safety. Within Coldstone's cyber-mind, the battle continues. (Maybe we dissolve into the cyperscape to get a glimpse of that battle.) Coldstone's love (Desdemona) is trapped in an eternal conflict against Coldstone and Goliath's enemy (Iago). If the evil one should triumph, Goliath would be in grave danger. But that's exactly why Goliath has come. He's been worried about his brother and has studied magical scrolls to find a solution. If Coldstone will return to the clock tower with Goliath, Goliath feels he can end the conflict. Coldstone agrees and Goliath activates him. (Or reattaches his head.) They sneak out.

5. The clocktower. Bronx, Angela and the trio are there watching t.v. or something. They are suprised when Goliath and Hudson arrive. They just left on patrol a half-hour ago. But obviously, when Coldstone steps out of the shadows, everyone's even more surprised to see him. (Maybe Angela realizes that Coldstone is Gabriel's father.) Bronx approaches Goliath and Coldstone, growling low (but who exactly he is growling at is ambiguous). Goliath quickly kneels beside Bronx and calms him. (Only the audience notices the slight sparkle of magic and the glazed way Bronx treads off into a corner and immediately goes to sleep.)

Everyone's got tons of questions, but Goliath doesn't have time for explanations. Iago must be removed from Coldstone's body. The only way to do that is to temporarily empty out all of Coldstone's personalities. Then Othello and Desdemona can be safely returned without Iago. But where will Othello and Desdemona go while this takes place? Goliath reveals they will each have to enter one of us. Angela volunteers. And Broadway does too, before Brooklyn and Lex have a chance. Lex pulls Goliath aside: where'd he learn to do magic? Goliath answers "soothingly" that he studied magic while Avalon sent them around the world. Lex's suspicions magically melt away. Suddenly, he's more impressed by Goliath's new abilities than suspicious of them.

Goliath casts the rhyming (non-latin) spell. Desdemona is transferred into Angela. Othello goes into Broadway. Iago, theoretically, is released into the ether. And the empty Coldstone falls comatose to the floor. Brooklyn seems particularly startled by these events, but he seems to recover quickly. (The reason "Brooklyn" is shocked is because he's really been possessed by Iago. No one else realizes this, and Iago's smart enough to keep his mouth shut.) Othello and Desdemona are pleased that the spell worked. Lex asks if Broadway and Angela are still in there own bodies. Yes, but they will remain dormant until Othello and Des are transferred back into Coldstone. They are ready for that transfer now, but Goliath is tired from his magical exertion. He needs to go off and rest. He asks "Hudson" to go with him, Hudson nods and they depart.

6. We follow Goliath and Hudson. They lands on top of a nearby building (or some cooler location). Goliath morphs into Puck and then transforms Hudson into baby Alex. (That's who it was the whole time. The real Goliath and Hudson ARE out on patrol.) Puck announces that Alex's first magic lesson has officially begun. Welcome to SOUL TRANSFERENCE 101.

7. Cut to Clock Tower. Without thinking about it, Othello/Broadway and Desdemona/Angela are holding hands as they wait for "Goliath's" return. Iago/Brooklyn notices this and approaches them. He suggests that while Goliath is off recovering, they can take their new bodies out for a spin. Lex (still hazy from Puck/Goliath's magical tampering) isn't sure about this, but "Brooklyn" thinks it will be all right. Soon Othello and Des will be reconfined back in the cyber-prison of the Coldstone body. They might as well enjoy this last chance at flesh-and-blood freedom. Besides, what's the harm? Oth/Bway and Des/Ang have to admit they wouldn't mind feeling the wind against their faces one last time. They take off for one last flight. As Iago/Brooklyn moves to follow them, Lex stops him. Neither notice that behind them, a flash of magic (Puck) enters the prone body of Coldstone. Lex feels they should wait for Goliath. So "Brooklyn" instructs Lex to stay behind and do just that. "Brooklyn" will follow the "love-birds" -- to make sure they stay out of trouble. He leaves. Lex watches him go. And suddenly, behind Lex, Coldstone looms threateningly.

8. We follow Des/Ang and Oth/Bway on a romantic flight through the city. It's glorious. Othello and Des are almost literally drunk with the sensation of being alive again in Broadway and Angela's bodies. They land on the Chrysler building (or wherever). Oth/Bway marvels at the simplest pleasures. The touch of Des/Ang's flesh and blood hand. The softness of her hair. Until now he had not realized how Coldstone's cyborg sensors and reanimated stone skin has dulled his senses. Des/Ang also appreciates the reality of true sensation over the electric illusion of life on the cyberscape. Brooklyn steps out of the shadows. And like a devil in their ears, subtly reemphasizes to them that the prospect of returning to Coldstone is a fairly grim notion. Too bad, he sympathizes, that there's no way they could keep the bodies they're in. Oth/Bway and Des/Ang exchange a guilty look. But the wheels are turning.

9. Back at the clock tower, the real Goliath and Hudson return home. Coldstone is there, very glad to see them. (No immediate sign of Lex or Bronx.) Goliath is glad to see his brother but both gargoyles are naturally cautious. They can't be sure which personality is in control. Almost on cue, Bronx comes treading out of the darkness, and behaves in a friendly manner toward Coldstone. That's good enough for Goliath and Hudson: Bronx has a sixth sense about this kind of stuff. If he trusts Coldstone, then the right personality must be in control. (What neither Goliath or Hudson notice is that when Bronx's "work" is done, he trudges blankly back into the shadows and plops down to sleep next to a bound and gagged Lexington. Bronx is still under Puck's spell.) "Coldstone" tells the gargoyles that Xanatos is plotting against them again. He's created new monsters that must be destroyed before they can be used against them. Goliath expresses disappointment but not surprise. Xanatos had called a truce between them, saying that he owed Goliath and the clan for helping to save Alexander. Obviously, Xanatos' version of debt is a little different than Goliath's. Golaith, Hudson and "Coldstone" depart for the Eyrie Building.

10. Oth/Bway, Des/Ang and "Brooklyn" return to the clock tower and find Lex tied up tight with steel cables. What happened? Coldstone jumped him. Obviously, Goliath's spell didn't succeed in forcing Iago out of the Coldstone body. He's got control and he's tricked Goliath and Hudson into launching an attack against Xanatos, destroying their truce. At first, "Brooklyn" protests that this is impossible. But when everyone turns to ask him why, he fumfers and covers quickly. Whatever has happened, Brooklyn says, the choice is clear. They have to destroy the Coldstone body. It's the only way to protect the world from Iago's evil. Lex is horrified -- moral qualms aside -- what would happen to Othello and Desdemona? What would happen to Broadway and Angela? Oth/Bway speaks up. Brooklyn is right. They have a chance to destroy Iago once and for all. Nothing else matters. Oth/Bway, Des/Ang and "Brooklyn" take off after Coldstone. Lex follows reluctantly.

11. Eyrie lab. "Coldstone" leads Goliath and Hudson. He pulls the sheets off the two covered figures to reveal two new robots: COLDSTEEL and GOLDFIRE. (Coldsteel is made of blue steel and modeled after Iago -- very powerful and dangerous, a fitting opponent for Coldstone. Goldfire is gold in appearance and modeled after Desdemona -- beautiful in a cold, art decco fashion, she is a fitting companion for Coldstone. Both have the usual built-in weapons. Plus Goldfire has built-in flame-throwers.) The resemblence to Coldstone's lover and foe are not lost on Goliath, and while he and Hudson question the situation, they do not notice "Coldstone" picking up a remote control devise and hooking it directly into his cyborg body. He uses the device to activate the two automatons and then uses them to take down Goliath and Hudson. (There's no other action in this act, so make this a big battle sequence ending in the defeat of our two heroes.)

12. Oth/Bway, Des/Ang, Iago/Brook and a very confused Lex are about to come in for a landing at the seemingly quiet castle. Oth/Bway suggests splitting up to look for their enemy. Brooklyn agrees. Othello and Des can check the Great Hall, Lex and Brook will check the lab. As Oth/Bway and Des/Ang head off in one direction, we follow Lex and Brooklyn to the lab.

13. No one is in the lab, but there are clear signs of a struggle. Lex is pretty upset. He feels like he's coming out of a haze. A whole bunch of stuff makes no sense. Why wouldn't Goliath mention he had studied magic before now? Why were he and Hudson surprised to see Coldstone when they returned to the clocktower? And how can they even think about destroying Coldstone's body while Othello and Desdemona are still possessing Bway and Angela? Brooklyn thinks he has an answer. He slams Lex hard.

14. Othello/Bway and Des/Angela search the Great Hall. Des/Ang questions what they are going to do. Oth/Bway tries to make it sound like they have no choice. Iago must be destroyed, and the only way to do that is to destroy Coldstone. But, she protests, if they destroy Coldstone, they'll be trapped in Bway and Angela's bodies forever. Would that be so bad? he asks. After all they've been through, don't they deserve a real flesh and blood existence again? Des/Ang isn't saying yes. But she isn't saying no either.

15. Back in the lab with Lex and "Brooklyn". Lex is just regaining consciousness and he's pretty upset about being jumped and trussed up twice in one night. "Brooklyn" has Lex on the "table" where Coldstone was created. He's attaching electrodes to Lex (or some other high-tech deathtrap, that "Brooklyn" would never be blamed for). As he does this, he reveals to Lex and our audience that he is Iago. He likes Brooklyn's body and has no intention of surrendering it. Not to go back to the hellish Coldstone cyberscape, and certainly not to be bannished into nothingness. He doesn't know how Coldstone woke up again, but it's a marvelous opportunity. He and the gargoyles will destroy the Coldstone body and if by some "accident" Othello/Bway is also destroyed during the battle, then "Brooklyn" will have no choice but to console a grieving Desdemona/Angela. Eventually, he will use his position as Goliath's right hand to destroy Goliath as well and rule the clan. He thinks it's a pretty good plan, activates the deathtrap and leaves. Lex is in considerable pain, but just when it looks like curtains, a magical sparkle enters Lex via his mouth. Suddenly, Lex stops screaming, smiles and magically breaks free.

16. Oth/Bway and Des/Ang have found their way down to the Atrium beneath the castle. There they find Goliath and Hudson, trussed up. They go to help, but it's a trap. Coldstone attacks and he's winning. Iago/Brooklyn shows up and the tide starts to turn against Coldstone, but then Iago/Brook does something that allows Coldstone to get the drop on Oth/Bway. It's looking like Iago's plan is going to work, when Coldstone cybernetically summons Coldsteel and Goldfire, and uses them to trash Iago/Brook and Des/Ang respectively. Coldstone now has the upper hand and explains (while fighting) that Xanatos created these robots as a gift to Goliath. In payment for saving his son Alexander, Xanatos wanted to find a cure for Goliath's brother's multiple personality disorder. What no one counted on is that Coldstone had developed a personality of its own. Now Coldstone will use the robots to destroy all three of the former Coldstone personas so that they can't return to take the Coldstone body back. "Brooklyn" protests that he's not one of them, but Coldstone skoffs. Coldstone can sense that Brooklyn's body is possessed by Iago, and Coldstone is determined to destroy Iago. It looks like curtains for Iago, Othello, Desdemona (and thus Brooklyn, Broadway and Angela as well), when Lex swoops in and slams Coldstone back. While Coldstone is recovering, Lex (who never says a word) frees Hudson and Goliath. Now all our gargoyles (including Iago/Brooklyn) battle Coldstone and the robots. The good guys win.

After the smoke clears, Goliath and Hudson turn to face Iago/Brooklyn. (Lex is still strangely silent. And Oth/Bway and Des/Ang are too ashamed of their own desires to be too self-righteous towards Iago/Brook.) They want Iago to abandon Brooklyn's body. Iago/Brooklyn says fat chance. He's never returning to cyberspace, and he sure isn't going to voluntarily banish himself to nothingness. He does express some regret and wishes outloud that Xanatos' plan had worked out. The powerful Coldsteel robot body is clearly superior to the gargoyle teen-ager he now inhabits. Hearing this, Coldstone asks Iago/Brook if that is really what Iago wants? Why, yes. Can Coldstone transfer him? Coldstone says he can't, but Lexington can. Lexington steps forward. With a little prompting help from Coldstone (Puck) he recites the magical rhyme from Act One (the only words he's spoken in this scene) and transfers Iago out of Brooklyn and into Coldsteel. Brooklyn, the real Brooklyn, stands there very confused. But Coldsteel/Iago laughs at the fools who would give him such power. Goliath, Hudson and Coldstone move toward him, and clearly outnumbered, Iago/Coldsteel flees to fight another day.

Once Iago/Coldsteel is gone. Puck magically removes himself from the Coldstone body, leaving it empty and comatoast. Goliath wasn't expecting Puck, but in retrospect is hardly surprised. "Why all the subterfuge?" he asks. Well, in the first place, Puck lives for subterfuge. And in the second place it was necessary. Puck explains that what he had told them about Xanatos wanting to repay his debt to Goliath was true, though obviously the bit about Coldstone developing its own personality was a little elaboration, creatively added to convince Iago to voluntarily enter the Coldsteel robot. Magical soul transfers are tricky business and generally require the cooperation of the subject. Now if they're ready Othello and Des can be transferred as well. There's a moment of hesitation on their part. Will they trade flesh & blood lives for stone & metal casings. But they know they cannot steal Broadway and Angela's bodies permanently. Othello and Des share one last embrace. Lex again casts his spell (this time with more confidence) and after the transfer is completed, Broadway and Angela regain consciousness in mid-grope. There's a nice awkward moment that should help set up any future romance for these two. Coldstone/Othello and Goldfire/Des thank Bway and Ang for the use of their bodies. Goliath invites them back to the clock tower, but they feel they must pursue Coldsteel. He's still a threat and he's still their responsibility. But when that threat is ended, they will return. They depart. Our gargoyles turn to thank Puck for the magic he wrought and ask why he has been working through Lexington? Puck replies that although he set the ball rolling, this last magic wasn't his, and that this Lexington is not exactly who he appears to be. Magical sparks fly out of Lex's mouth and coalesce in Puck's arms to reveal baby Alex. Puck praises Alex for being a good student, and himself for being a good teacher. Alex smiles, yawns and falls asleep. Lex awakens to himself almost as confused as Brooklyn, Broadway and Angela. Goliath promises to explain and the group heads for home.

Suddenly, Puck pulls a giant watch from a very small pocket. "Look at the time," he cries. And vanishes.

17. Alex's room. Puck and Alex materialize. Puck puts Alex in his crib and transforms back into Owen just as Xanatos and Fox return home from the opera. Was Alex any problem, Fox asks. No, Owen replies. He's a very well-behaved and intelligent child. Owen turns to Xanatos and tells him that the Coldstone problem has been solved. A bit surprised, Xanatos thanks Owen. Owen demurs. "Don't thank me, sir. Thank your son." A bit confused, Xanatos looks into the crib where his son sleeps and smiles.

Keep the talky scenes as brief as possible. Just get the point across. Give the most space to action sequences: the act one Coldstone vs. Xanatos fight in the Himalayas; the act two Goliath & Hudson vs. Coldsteel & Goldfire fight at the castle; the act three mega-battle in the Atrium.

Also, milk the transformation scenes. Particularly the act one scene where Puck/Goliath transfers the souls of Othello and Desdemona into the bodies of Broadway and Angela. And the act three scenes where Lex/Alex transfers Iago, Othello and Des into Coldsteel, Coldstone and Goldfire.

Don't forget that the names Othello, Desdemona and Iago are for our designation only. They should not appear in spoken dialogue at all.

Any script dealing with Coldstone, Puck and magical possession is bound to be confusing. Lots of people in other people's bodies. And a few illusions from Puck as well. Let's go out of our way to make it clear in the script both whose body we are seeing visually (and thus whose voice we are hearing), and who's mind is actually controlling that body (and voice). Remember, we're not trying to keep any secrets from the storyboard artists. However, we are trying to keep secrets from the audience, so don't hesitate to spell things out in description and then explicitly state that the audience shouldn't be able to figure this out yet.

Consistency is key. I think in order to best describe who's who, the best designation for dialogue headings and description may be to put the body's name first, followed by the possessor's name in parenthesis. As follows:

COLDSTONE (OTHELLO) - Coldstone with Othello's personality in control.
GOLIATH (PUCK) - Puck magically disguised as Goliath.
HUDSON (ALEXANDER) - Alexander magically disguised as Hudson.
BROADWAY (OTHELLO) - Othello in possession of Broadway's body.
ANGELA (DESDEMONA) - Desdemona in possesion of Angela's body.
BROOKLYN (IAGO) - Iago in possession of Brooklyn's body.
COLDSTONE (PUCK) - Puck in possesion of Coldstone's body.
LEXINGTON (ALEXANDER) - Alexander in possession of Lex's body.
COLDSTEEL (IAGO) - Iago in control of the Coldsteel robot.
GOLDFIRE (DESDEMONA) - Desdemona in control of the Goldfire robot.

THE THEME here is HONOR. Xanatos is trying to honor a debt he owes Goliath. Coldstone and Desdemona are torn between their desires and the honorable thing to do, the honorable sacrifice to make. Iago demonstrates no honor and is a negative example, but even Puck shows honor. He is trying to serve his master Xanatos without breaking any rules. He's very true to that code. Emphasize the theme as much as possible.

XANATOS -- He's barely in this story, but his initial plan starts the whole ball rolling. Though he's in no particular hurry, he is -- in his own way -- actually trying to do a good deed for a change. He feels he owes Goliath for saving his son in "Gathering Part 2". He wants to return the favor by reuniting Goliath with his brother Coldstone. And he wants to help Coldstone out by creating new bodies for the Iago and Desdemona personalities, thus freeing Othello from his pseudo-schizoid condition. When we open, he's already had the Coldsteel and Goldfire robot bodies built. The inner workings are basic Steel Clan, but the robots have no artificial intelligence programming, which would allow the Iago and Desdemona personalities full control if Xanatos could figure out how to make the soul transfer.

PUCK/OWEN - He'd like to help Xanatos out, but is forbidden from using his magic that directly. So he's set up this elaborate "trick" in order to accomplish two things. One is getting Iago, Desdemona and Othello to voluntarily enter Coldsteel, Goldfire and Coldstone respectively. Two is training the infant Alexander in the art of "Soul Transfer and Exchanges". Both are necessary conditions to accomplishing his goal. So Puck demonstrates how Soul Transfers are done in Act One, but leaves it for Alex to do the magic in Act Three that would actually satisfy Xanatos' intentions.

IAGO - Initially, Iago wants to keep the Brooklyn body, if possible, without revealing that he's taken it. When Puck possesses Coldstone, Iago sees it as an opportunity. He's planted the seeds of dissatisfaction in Othello and Desdemona. He feels if they destroy Coldstone, they'd get to keep these new young bodies. And he's seducing them with both carrot and stick to make that choice. If he can kill Othello and/or Goliath in the process, all the better. He still lusts after Desdemona and wouldn't mind fooling her into "Brooklyn's" arms after Othello was out of the way.

It's important, however, to see Iago's goals change during the final battle. We need to demonstrate that he is frustrated by how much less powerful the Brooklyn body is when compared to the Coldsteel robot. We need to believe that he would willingly give up Brooklyn to live in a robot. (You might even try to hint that vanity played a part in his decision, at least subconsciously. After all, Coldsteel has been designed to look like Iago. That may impress him almost as much as the robot's power.)

OTHELLO & DESDEMONA - Are almost literally drunk with the sensation of being alive again in Broadway and Angela's bodies. Otherwise, they'd never consider what they in fact do briefly consider here, which is keeping bodies that don't belong to them. Ultimately, they realize how wrong that is and willingly give the gargoyle bodies up. Othello returns to Coldstone. Desdemona takes possession of Goldfire.