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I recently re-viewed "Metamorphosis". Before typing up my ramble on the subject, here's an unedited look at the memo I wrote to story editor Michael Reaves in July, 1994 regarding Brynne & Lydia's first draft of their outline for the episode....
Notes on "Metamorphosis" Outline...
O.K. I made a few changes, as usual. Here's a bit of the reasoning, so they don't seem arbitrary. (I may be a pain to work with, but I try not to be arbitrary.)
The theme of today's adventure is SELF-DECEPTION. (We played the family theme in "Her Brother's Keeper". And since this is such a direct sequel to that one, I don't want to be playing the same emotional beats. That's not to say that "Family" isn't a secondary or tertiary theme running through this episode as well as our entire series, but we don't need to go out of our way to emphasize it here.) Derek is DECEIVED by Xanatos and Sevarius. But the deception would not have worked without Derek's own cooperation and SELF-DECEPTION. That's the tragedy. He's a victim, but he's helped to victimize himself, by fooling himself into believing that Xanatos was either a right guy or someone he could handle. But you can't play with fire without getting burned.
We'll reemphasize the theme with Xanatos himself, who will say that Sevarius fooled him and then admit that he really fooled himself, because he wanted to believe Sevarius. Of course this whole thing is an act on Xanatos' part, but it'll still reinforce the theme.
But as well as the above works, it unfortunately leaves our gargoyles as real fifth wheels to the story. So I've tossed in a little self-deception sub-plot for Brooklyn, as well.
ELISA & DEREK'S PARENTS
I've cut them. Partially out of economics. But mostly because they didn't seem to have much to say or do here. So I decided to keep our focus on Elisa & Derek.
ELISA & DEREK'S ARGUMENT
I'd rather not simply reiterate the conflict of "Her Brother's Keeper". In fact, I don't want to have to summon up the specific details of that episode. I think we should assume that in between the two seasons, Derek listened to Fox's taped "revelation" and that he and Elisa have already argued about it specifically. Now they are past that and in a mode of uneasy truce. He's talked himself into believing that Xanatos can't be that bad... or that if he is Derek'll find out for himself from the inside. Either way he can handle it. (Again: massive self-deception here.) Elisa has retreated to a "it's-your-life-but-don't-expect-me-to-approve" mode. They've agreed to disagree.
I think soliciting the homeless with a promise of money and food in exchange for being part of a scientific experiment is too slimy for even the self-deceiving Derek to swallow. Besides, it's not what he was hired to do. He's Xanatos' pilot and bodyguard. For these reasons, I've altered the set-up some.
Michael, this story really seemed to dovetail with what you suggested for a future story on the Homeless underground. MAGGIE and the homeless men seemed like great potential characters. So I've increased their role here. (Particularly Maggie's.) In some episode down the road, Derek can lead his "people" underground.
I don't want Xanatos to own Cyberbiotics. I don't have a specific idea in mind, but we might need a corporate opponent someday and I'd rather not have to create a new one. I've switched it to Genetic Undiscovered Technical Systems, also known as Gen-U-Tech or G.U.T.S., which I stuck into the bible a long time back. We never used it last season, so when it's first mentioned here, neither Elisa or Goliath will know that Xanatos owns it. I think it'll serve the same purpose.
Some of the actions that Matt and Elisa take seemed odd to me. Elisa allows Goliath to stop her from confronting Derek outside the building, but is intent on confronting him inside the building and is willing to bend the law to do it. I don't mind the bending so much as the inconsistency. Matt and Elisa talk their way by the guard, but then someone manning the cameras activates the security doors and gas. Who's manning the cameras? A different guard? Someone who wants Elisa to get through, but not Matt? The cameras must have seen that they got Matt but not her. I may be missing something, but I've made some changes to streamline this stuff.
THE PINKIE SWEAR
I don't think Derek would reveal his condition to his sister. Deep down, he must know that his self-deception has gotten him into this mess. He'd be ashamed of that and his monstrous appearance. He wouldn't initiate the pinkie swear at the end. Then again, neither would she with a monster she doesn't know. I love the pinkie swear, but I don't know if it can work here. What if in scene 2, Elisa's gesture is a more standard cross-my-heart thing, which Derek usually follows with some unique response like cross-my-eyes. Something silly that they've been doing since they were kids. Then at the end, she tries to talk to the monster; tries to inspire its trust with the standard cross-my-heart gesture. And before Derek can think about it, he automatically responds with his unique response.
THE MONSTER'S MIND
I don't think Xanatos ever wanted to destroy Derek's mind or make him amnesiatic, weak or easily controllable. That's more Demona's style. Xanatos has set up this whole con to manipulate Derek into serving him, as he did with Goliath in the pilot. He doesn't need Derek to be an automaton. He's already got robots. They haven't worked so great. He prefers having independent thinkers working for him. Like Owen, for example.
1. Open at NIGHT, with a shadowed DOCTOR SEVARIUS (Brent Spiner?) soliciting MAGGIE, the young homeless woman in the alley. Emphasize his limp. [No Derek involved.] Maybe give her a bit of dialogue. She's down on her luck. Lost her job, her apartment. It's a temporary set-back. (A bit of self deception here too.) She goes with him.
2. The next day at a small air field, ELISA is watching her brother DEREK land the new glider he just bought with the high salary that Xanatos pays him. They eat lunch at a hot dog stand. It's a bit awkward. But it's not Elisa's problem. It's Derek who clearly has a chip on his shoulder.
Derek: You're still mad I'm working for Xanatos. But he's not as bad as you think. And if he is, then I'll be right there on the inside to nail him.
Elisa: I think you're kidding yourself. But it's your life. Just don't expect me to agree with your decision.
They agree to disagree and do some equivalent to the pinkie swear thing. Something where she initiates the exchange with something more generic and he does something unique as an almost automatic response.
3. That night at the clock tower, the gargoyles split up to patrol the city they protect. BROOKLYN and BROADWAY are one team. They spot a shadowy creature on the ground. (It has wings, but it doesn't fly. Maybe the wings aren't fully developed yet.) For a second, the gargoyles think that it may be another gargoyle (perhaps Demona) and pursue it. The thing is clearly afraid of them and flees.
They finally catch up to it. We get a quick partial view. It's female! Maybe by the hair color and voice the audience guesses that it's Maggie. She is wearing a special bracelet, with a small light that blinks on and off and beeps quietly. Brooklyn is instantly smitten. (Maybe he thinks she's a gargoyle at first, maybe her shapely wings turn him on or something.) He says they aren't trying to hurt her but help.
Suddenly, they are surrounded by private "ambulances", out of which pour private "orderlies" (i.e. armed troops). (All of the above bare the GUTS logo.) The bracelet was a tracking device. Maggie is still more afraid of the gargoyles than the humans trying to take her back into custody. The troops are clearly surprised to see three creatures instead of one. The head guy says take them all. They pull out tranquilizer rifles and start shooting. Maggie tries to surrender. Brooklyn tries to stop her and accidentally pulls the bracelet off her wrist. He is shot by the tranq darts. It's all Broadway can do to get him safely out of there. The troops get away with Maggie.
4. At the Castle, Derek lands Xanatos' chopper and the two men disembark to find OWEN waiting for them. Owen's gotten some interesting expense reports from Gen-U-Tech Systems, one of Xanatos' subsidiaries. XANATOS isn't surprised. He gave Doctor Sevarius, the head of R & D there an interesting assignment. Would that assignment require armed mercenaries? No... it would not. Xanatos says he better check this out personally. Derek insists on coming along. (As a good bodyguard should.)
5. Back at the clock tower, Brooklyn is just coming out of it. Broadway has already filled Elisa and the other gargoyles in on what happened. But Brooklyn's version is slightly different. He's convinced himself (self-deception) that he made a real connection with the she-thing. She needs and wants his help. (Broadway's dubious. She was clearly more scared of them than of the goons.) Brooklyn shows Elisa the bracelet. (We know it's not tracking anymore because the light is busted and it no longer beeps.) She sees the G.U.T.S. logo. Brooklyn & Broadway remember the same logo being on the "ambulances". It means nothing to her, but she promises to check.
6. At Gen-U-Tech, Xanatos and Derek are greeted by Sevarius. Emphasize Sevarius' limp. He seems over-anxious, slightly paranoid. A bit of a mad scientist. Xanatos is playing it cool. He wants an update. Sevarius sits them down for a Jurassic Park style slide-show presentation. Xanatos had asked Sevarius to genetically create Gargoyles from scratch. (Derek is stunned. But keeps his cool and says nothing.)
As Sevarius explains his thought processes, we watch footage of Goliath battling a Steel Clan robot or Macbeth from the first season...
A. The logical decision would be to clone gargoyles from a gargoyle specimen.
1. But he was told that there was no specimen available. a. Sevarius, greedily: "Or has that changed?"
b. Xanatos says, no, it hasn't changed.
B. S: Well, then, in lieu of a direct clone he would have to build his gargoyle from scratch using available genetic material.
1. It would require the strength, speed and agility of a jungle cat (or maybe a bear? are there other options? Talk to Frank about what he wants to do? No wolf or other canines though.)
2. The wings of a bat.
a. Mutated to giant size.
3. Xanatos: "And the intelligence of a human being."
a. S: "Exactly."
C. But according to his calculations it still wouldn't work.
1. Animals are no different from machines.
a. They still require fuel to operate.
b. We get fuel by eating.
2. To keep its strength and stamina this thing would have to eat the equivalent of three cows a day.
3. X: Well then how do the gargoyles survive?
4. S: By hibernating as stone for 12 hours a day.
a. This allows them to store up energy and thus work at peak efficiency for the entire night.
b. The stone hibernation process is unknown in the animal kingdom. Sevarius had to find a substitute.
5. He presses a button revealing a glass case full of electric eels. The electric eels store and utilize myo-electric (bio-electric?) energy which could fuel the new creation.
Derek finally cuts in. This is all great theory (he's still deceiving himself into believing that these are two guys discussing hypotheticals), but why is Sevarius hiring armed mercenaries?
Sevarius seems sincerely embarrassed. He had to hire them. One of his test subjects escaped.
Xanatos and Derek simultaneously: WHAT?!! (Meaning: "You have test subjects?!!"
Sevarius misses point of their concern and says don't worry we caught her again. Look... And he presses a button that slides a panel revealing a glass wall revealing Maggie and two males now fully morphed into winged cat creatures. (Or whatever. Perhaps one looks Tiger-esque, one looks lionesque, etc., saving the coolest look for Derek. Again, ask Frank how he wants to go.)
On the reveal... we fade to black.
7. Pick up where we left off. Xanatos is stunned. Derek is horrified. Sevarius is giddy. (He seems like a border-line nut case throughout acts one and two.) Xanatos is astounded that Sevarius grew these things from scratch in such a short time.
Sevarius admits proudly that he took a shortcut. He injected bums with a mutagenic formula. Now Xanatos is horrified. And furious. Derek starts to turn on him, but Xanatos never intended for this to happen. "Sevarius deceived me. No. That's not entirely true. I deceived myself." He'd been warned about Sevarius' "unethical" practices, but he wanted to believe in the man, because he wanted to achieve his own goals. Xanatos is deeply ashamed of himself. But he's determined to make it better, cure these people.
Sevarius is astonished. He has no idea what he's done wrong. They were just bums. No friends. No family. He's made them into something better. He won't let Xanatos destroy all the progress he's made. He reaches for one of the tranquilizer guns that his troops used earlier, he takes aim at Xanatos and fires. Derek pushes Xanatos out of the way and takes the dart in the shoulder. He then quickly disarms Sevarius.
Derek and Xanatos examine the dart. A tranquilizer? Derek doesn't feel sleepy. Sevarius crumpled in the corner starts to laugh. The dart wasn't loaded with tranqs. It was loaded with the mutagenic formula.
8. Back at the precinct, Matt has tracked the GUTS logo to Gen-U-Tech. But he won't tell Elisa until he finds out why she needs to know. Elisa says she got an anonymous tip on a kidnapping. The bracelet was their only clue. She and Matt leave to investigate.
9. Back at Gen-U-Tech, Derek's still in shock. Xanatos demands to know if there's an antidote. Sevarius says there is one. Inside his head. He could create one, but why should he? Just then, a Gen-u-Tech guard comes in with word that the police are here. Xanatos gets very threatening: "By all means invite them in. Let's give them the slide show. Introduce them to the finished product.."
S: "You bankrolled all my experiments. You wouldn't dare."
X: "I'll take my chances. I've been in prison before. But you... The police, the press, the public... they're going to crucify you. And if they don't -- I will."
(The audience should believe that Xanatos was prepared to do anything to help Derek.)
Sevarius is very frightened and agrees to manufacture the antidote if Xanatos will agree not to turn him in. X agrees for now. But one more step out of line and it's over.
10. Downstairs, a very nervous and hinky Sevarius agrees to take Matt and Elisa on a brief tour of the facility to allay their preposterous suspicions of a kidnapping. At one point, Xanatos and Derek watch them from behind a one way mirror. Xanatos tells Derek that if he wants to step out and tell his sister everything, Xanatos would support that decision, even if it meant he had to go back to prison. But Derek decides not to. He'll give Sevarius a chance to come up with a cure first. But he tells Xanatos that if Sevarius can't cure him... If he turns into a freak like one of those others... Well, if that happens, he doesn't ever want Elisa to know.
11. Back at the clock tower, Elisa fills the gargoyles in. Sevarius was one hinky individual. She thinks Brooklyn may be right. But there's nothing she can do without evidence for a warrant. But Brooklyn's a private "citizen". He doesn't need a warrant. He's determined to help that she-thing and nothing's gonna stop him. Except the dawn. They turn to stone.
12. Back at Sevarius' lab, he's hard at work on the antidote serum. (He grouses about having Xanatos looking over his shoulder all the time.) In a shadowed corner, Derek cries out in pain. The transformation is beginning. (Though we don't see him clearly.) Sevarius suggests putting Derek in the glass prison with the other specimens. Xanatos just tells him to shut up and keep working.
13. Sunset at the clock tower. Brooklyn and the others explode out of their stone cocoons. Brooklyn's fire hasn't died out during their sleep. He's determined to go. Goliath agrees. But they'll do it his way.
14. At Gen-U-Tech, we find out what Goliath had in mind. Not a massive raid, but a surgical strike. Just himself, Brooklyn and Lex. (He needs Lex to work the security systems. He would have left Brook at home if he thought Brooklyn would have stayed put.) They get in all right, they even discover Maggie in her glass cage. But again she is more afraid of them, than of her captors. Brooklyn is determined to "save" her, and the ruckus they cause soon alerts Sevarius' guards. She is shot with a tranq dart. Brooklyn scoops her up and the gargoyles attempt to fight their way out. A battle through the complex begins, the guards switching to heavier weapons.
15. Meanwhile Sevarius has finished the serum and is about to inoculate a shadowed Derek. Unfortunately, the battle has moved in their direction. Derek is forced to battle the gargoyles to protect his chance at a cure. We reveal Derek as 50% mutated and already unrecognizable to Goliath and the others. In the struggle, the air-hypo with the serum falls and shatters. And then there is an explosion. Sevarius is thrown against the tank of electric eels and is electrocuted. He falls to the ground. Xanatos approaches. Checks for a pulse. He turns to Derek. Sevarius is dead.
16. Brooklyn, Lex and Goliath escape with the unconscious Maggie. Derek curses them, blaming them for ruining his chance at a cure. Then he collapses to the floor. Xanatos tries to snap him out of it. They have to get out of here before the police show up. Or does he want his sister to see him like this? Derek agrees to leave with Xanatos. But what about the other creatures? We'll bring them, poor souls. Somehow, some way we'll find a cure for all of you.
17. Back at the clock tower, Maggie awakens to find herself surrounded by six monsters...the gargoyles. Brooklyn tries to reassure her. She's safe now. But she's terrified. She unconsciously sparks off electrical energy that keeps Brook at a distance. Maggie doesn't want to be a monster, she just wants to be human again. Can they make her human again? Brooklyn doesn't know what to say. The sun is about to come up. The gargoyles will soon turn to stone. They tell Maggie to rest. (Hudson offers her the use of his t.v.) Goliath promises they will start searching for some kind of cure tomorrow night, even if it means confronting Xanatos in his castle.
18. Gen-U-Tech, daytime, but very foggy. Matt and Elisa are racking up the overtime, as they investigate last night's ruckus. No signs of the kidnapping victims. No signs of Sevarius. A lot of mangled high-tech equipment and weapons. And cages full of jungle cats, bats and eels. And the not-so-shocking discovery that Xanatos owns Gen-U-Tech.
19. Just after sunset at the clock tower. Brooklyn is bumming because Maggie has vanished. He's still not ready to admit that she doesn't want his help. She probably took off immediately after sunrise, when the fog-shrouded streets were still pretty empty. But where would she go? Xanatos' castle. That's where Goliath said they'd start their search for a cure. Hudson and Bronx will stay at the clock tower on the off chance she returns. Goliath and the trio will head to the castle.
20. At the castle, we find Xanatos telling Owen to find him the best geneticist on the planet, and fast. Outside in the wards, above the layer of fog, we find Derek, now fully transformed. He is teaching Maggie and the other two to glide. (They don't have a bat's natural instinct or the training that he has.) He's a natural if reluctant leader. Figures that until they find a cure they might as well learn to use their new abilities. (One of the guys should probably really enjoy flying. He's the only one not in a hurry to be cured. The other guy is mute, but with a saner more normal response.) Even Maggie seems a bit more at ease. She's now with people facing the same predicament, who are actively looking for a cure. Derek seems like a pillar of strength to lean on.
The Gargoyles arrive. Derek requires no prompting to lead his flying tigers on the attack. He beelines for Goliath. The other two males go after Lex and Broadway. But Brooklyn targets Maggie. He's determined to reach her. Air battle, complete with electricity. Somewhere in here Elisa arrives. Xanatos lets her in, hoping that somehow she can stop this pointless fighting.
Maggie battles Brooklyn, who doesn't really fight back. He tries again to tell her that he cares about her. You don't even know me, she says. The only thing they have in common is that they're both monsters. She doesn't want to be a monster. She hates monsters!! She gives him one massive zap to drive the message home.
Although Lex and Broadway are more than holding their own, Goliath isn't doing as well against Derek and is zapped into unconsciousness, falling across one of the outer battlements. Derek comes in for the kill. But Elisa is there. She doesn't recognize Derek, and for obvious reasons it never occurs to her that this is her brother. But she's never been one to judge by appearances, so she tries to talk to the creature, calmly. She asks its name. Derek laughs for a moment. Then looking at his own hands, he coins the name TALON. She tries to tell Talon that Goliath is her friend. Talon says that "her friend" is the reason Talon's been turned into a monster. Elisa says that if that's true, it must have been an accident. Goliath would never intentionally hurt anyone. She swears, cross-her-heart. And without thinking, he does the follow up gesture. She's stunned. (He's horrified.) It takes a moment to compute, but when it does... "Derek? Is that you?!" Derek denies it, but she knows now. "Xanatos. Somehow he did this to you?!" "No, he's my only chance at a cure." "Derek, how long are you going to grasp at that straw?! Deep down you must know who's to blame for this. Derek, let me help you!!" She moves towards him, but he can't face her. Because deep down he knows that he's to blame for his predicament. He goes screaming off into the night.
The other "cats" including Maggie don't know where Talon's going, but he's their leader. They follow. Broadway and Lex help Goliath and Brooklyn to their feet. Should they pursue the cats? But Brooklyn says no. He'd been kidding himself. He can't help her, particularly if she doesn't want his help.
Elisa faces off against Xanatos. He says he's been trying to help. But there's no way she's buying it. IT'S WAR NOW. Somehow, she's going to nail him. Count on it. Elisa and the gargoyles leave.
Owen enters. He's found the best geneticist on the planet that Xanatos was asking for. A man enters wearing a slouch hat and trench coat. With a flourish, he reveals himself as Sevarius. (Minus the cane, the limp, and the manic, paranoid, mad scientist demeanor. It was all a put on.) He's very proud of his performance, particularly his death scene, though Xanatos thought he hammed it up a bit. Still Sevarius is amazed they pulled it off. It took months of forcing the early subjects to "escape" until one of them was spotted by the gargoyles. For a while there he thought they'd never find each other. Yes, Xanatos agrees, but once the gargoyles did find the test subject things couldn't have proceeded more predictably. And Xanatos was right that Derek's particular abilities were well-suited to his new form. Sevarius is worried that they've lost Derek and the others. But Xanatos knows they'll be back. Talon has convinced himself that I'm his only chance at a cure. It's a delusion he can't afford to give up. Not without giving up all his hope as well.
21. Back at the castle, Brooklyn nurses his own wounds in bitter silence. But Goliath is more concerned about Elisa, who is also quiet, but crying bitter tears in spite of herself. It's not over, he tells her. No, she agrees, wiping her eyes. It's definitley not over.