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Leader of the Pack

Synopsis |  Review by Juan F. Lara |  Review by Todd Jensen


by Kieran Dunn


by Adam Cerling

Act I

It is evening, and the sun is low in the sky over the state's island prison. Silhouetted against the sun, a black-and-gold, dog-like figure climbs straight up the prison's outside wall. It uses a small torch inside its hand to burn through the bars of a high window. The clatter of the falling metal alerts a passing guard as the figure steps through the window; he draws his gun and shouts a warning, but the intruder uses a weapon on him which distorts his senses and reduces him to a quivering heap on the floor. The intruder removes the guard's keys and strides off down the hall.

In one of the prison cells, Jackal is staring moodily out the window while Wolf does one-handed push-ups on the floor. They hear a clatter, and Dingo appears outside the cell. Silencing their questions, he hurriedly uses plastic explosive to blow open the cell. The three escape into the prison corridors.

In the ladies' cell, Hyena is occupied tormenting cockroaches and criticizing Fox's literary taste. They are both shortly surprised, however, by the appearance of the figure in black and gold, who asks to be called "Coyote" and opens their cell with more explosive. He presents Hyena with one of her taloned gloves; she is instantly won over. A female guard behind Coyote breaks a nightstick over Coyote's back. He turns nonchalantly to fling her into the cell. Hyena moves to kill the guard, but Fox stops her. Faced with an insistence for urgency by Coyote, Fox unexpectedly refuses to go, choosing instead to serve her time, "pay her debt." Coyote and Hyena leave them. They escape from a gang of guards by leaping out a hole in the wall opened by Coyote's arm-laser.

The five fugitives, pursued by guards and gunfire, join one another at the prison doors. Coyote tears the massive doors from the hinges and throws them at the guards, impressing Wolf. Taking cover on the rocky coast of the island, they trade gunfire with the guards. Their questions about the planned method of escape are shortly answered as, with a tremendous eruption of water, a huge airship explodes from the sea. The Pack straps into their seats inside the craft, and Coyote pilots it away.

The sun has gone down on Manhattan, and the Gargoyles awaken upon the clock tower. Inside the tower, Elisa greets the six with the news that the Pack has broken free of prison. Lexington responds with anger and urgency--he wants to track them down quickly, beginning at Pack Media Studios. Goliath and Elisa think it unlikely that the Pack would return there, but Brooklyn offers to go with Lexington and check it out. Bronx also goes with them. Goliath, Elisa, and Hudson decide that the problem is best traced to its source--Xanatos.

Back on the airship, Coyote begins to explain his plan to the Pack but is challenged by Wolf. Jackal and Dingo seem to support Coyote's leadership, but Wolf attacks him anyway--only to be electrocuted by a touch. Wolf attacks a second time, but Coyote uses a sleep-gas on him. The others concede that Coyote is an excellent fighter, but insist for the last time to know his identity. Removing his helmet, Coyote reveals that identity-- David Xanatos.

Act II

Xanatos deftly convinces the pack that vengeance is better exacted against the Gargoyles than him. He gives them their old equipment back and explains that the Gargoyles will come to them soon.

Goliath, Hudson, and Broadway swoop into Xanatos' castle. Owen is there. He apologizes for Xanatos' absence and discloses that their business should be with the Pack, in Pack Media Studios. Goliath says he'll want to speak with Xanatos afterward. The three leave.

On a building above Pack Media Studios, Lexington, Brooklyn and Bronx look down at police cars surrounding Pack Media Studios. Lexington makes his vengeful sentiments about the Pack clear to Brooklyn. Brooklyn tries to dissuade Lex, relating Lex's experience with the Pack to his with Demona, but Lexington stubbornly clings to his thoughts of revenge. Soon the police cars disperse; the three go down to look around.

The studio at first seems to be empty, but after only a moment of doubt the floor mechanically opens and the airship arises with a deafening roar. The door falls open and Wolf strides out, followed by Dingo, Hyena and Jackal. Lexington leaps without forethought into battle, and Brooklyn and Bronx are forced to follow his lead. Xanatos in full Coyote gear joins the fray after a moment, and soon the three Gargoyles are out of commission.


Goliath, Hudson and Broadway enter the studio to find it abandoned and in shambles. A telephone rings, and after a nod from Goliath, Broadway answers it. It is Owen, calling to "invite" the Gargoyles to meet the Pack on an oil tanker in the bay. He lets it be known that the Pack has the other Gargoyles.

Deep inside the hold of the oil tanker, Lexington has just regained consciousness. As Bronx claws at the walls, Lexington seethes with anger as Brooklyn explains the situation. Brooklyn remarks that Goliath should rescue them, but Lexington hotly denies that he needs any help dealing with the pack. He begins pounding on the steel.

On deck, the Pack are readying their weapons. Just as "Coyote" reassures them about the plan, the remaining Gargoyles swoop in for battle. Hudson and Broadway take on the Pack members while Goliath pursues Xanatos, who has fled to an upper walkway. Mid-melee, Broadway hears Lexington's pounding below; he successfully opens the hatch to the hold once Hudson throws Hyena into him. Barrels of oil are scattered, spilling over the deck. Soon Bronx, Brooklyn, and Lexington have joined the battle.

Above them, Xanatos as Coyote tries to use his "hallucinogenic" weapon on Goliath, but the moment Xanatos switches to his laser, Goliath slams a fist into the deck. Steel buckles beneath Xanatos; his shot misses, and the laser ignites the barrels of oil below. Goliath corners "Coyote" and tears of the helmet, discovering Xanatos beneath. Xanatos escapes, leaping down to the burning deck. Goliath follows.

Against a backdrop of fire and smoke the other Gargoyles begin to prevail over the four Pack members. Xanatos, with a temporary advantage over Goliath, aims his laser at Goliath's head. Bronx tackles Xanatos, freeing Goliath and earning a hearty mouthful of Xanatos' face. When Xanatos throws Bronx off, the missing chunk of physiognomy reveals that he is actually a robot. The Pack is shocked. The robot advances on Goliath once more--but a blast from a laser-toting Lexington puts a sizable hole in that plan. "I will have my revenge," it groans as it collapses, and Goliath neatly kicks its head off. Lexington raises the laser and faces the Pack: "Who's next?"

The Pack flees, startling an angry objection from Lex. As they pile into airship, explosions begin to shake the oil tanker. The Gargoyles are knocked from their feet; Brooklyn is knocked unconscious and thrown beneath a railing. Lexington raises his laser again, aiming for the airship, but hesitates, sighting Brooklyn through the scope. Just as Brooklyn slides off the edge of the ship and tumbles toward the flaming sea, Lexington grabs him and pulls him to safety.

The broken head of the robot takes off like a rocket before the Gargoyles can examine it, and then they are forced to flee the burning, sinking ship. Bronx howls at one end of the ship until Goliath swoops down to catch him up. Brooklyn, having regained consciousness, thanks Lex for saving him. "Hey, I'm used to it," Lexington replies. "Besides, it helped me get my priorities straight."

Fox stands before the parole board. The board spokesman announces their decision to grant her early parole, citing her excellent behavior during the prison break. Outside, she steps into a limousine, frees her bound hair, and locks lips with David Xanatos. Xanatos explains that the entire plot was merely a front to get Fox legally out of prison. He even got to test his prototype robot. Fox expresses her dismay at its destruction, but Xanatos reassures her that "robots are nothing, Fox, my dear; I can build a dozen more like this one. But true love is so much harder to come by."


by Juan F. Lara

Good Points

The breakout - WD-Japan used its main studio to do the animation here, and so the breakout scene was well directed and drawn. The Pack members also had good character interaction, at first. I particularly liked Hyena's attraction to Coyote at the beginning, and her "playing" with the cockroaches.

BS&P let through a lot more than I'd expect in Act 3. The Gargoyles looked especially fierce in this act, going against the "ugly is evil" convention. And the scene of Bronx tearing off the robot's "skin" was very graphic. Likewise the artwork for the severed head (Nasty expression on its face. :-).

DYN: I thought some of the guards were crushed to death when Coyote threw the prison door at them.

Bad Points

The animation fell apart with the first scene of the Gargoyles in Act 1. I think WD-Japan had its secondary studios do the work for the rest of the episode. In Acts 1 and 2 the Gargoyles looked too cartoony. Lexington had Tiny-toon sized eyes and the body of a nine-year-old. Also the appendages in his wings were too thick. So he looked like he had four arms. Character movement also looked weird in the Act 2 fight. While I liked the moments mentioned above in Act 3, the fire didn't look real to me.

They severely mischaracterized Lexington. In other episodes Lexington distinguished himself by keeping his cool and thinking rationally during a crisis. So his "Death Wish" vigilantarism seemed totally off, even when you take his beef with the Pack into consideration. I felt that he acted just like every other character who went on a vendetta.

I also didn't like how they handled the story's theme. Brooklyn had very stilted lines when he tried to reason with Lexington. The storyline also had a very pat resolution with Lexington saving Brooklyn's life and returning to normal. Last year's episodes had these problems, but not this year's.

There must be easier ways of arranging an early parole. :-) I know, Xanatos probably had some later plans concerning the now freed Pack. But for now all the payoff of his scheme didn't seem to justify all the sound and fury.


Hyena: O.K., Rover. But you better be awful cute behind that mask.

Hudson: Come on, then. We're none of us getting any younger.

Hudson: Stay down, blast ya!

Dingo: He's a robot!
Hyena: A robot?! Even better....

Hyena: Why do you read that stuff?
Fox: Because Nietzche's too butch and Kafka reminds me of your little friends over there.

I still wouldn't call this episode terrible. But I think I lucked out in that this wasn't the first episode of the new season that I saw.


by Todd Jensen

The opening episode of Season Two, "Leader of the Pack" reunited the Pack - almost. Fox drops out in this story, but is succeeded by the mysterious Coyote, who would become a permanent fixture in the Pack from then on.

"Leader of the Pack" isn't quite as much fun for me as "The Thrill of the Hunt", largely because the satirical element of the Pack's "faux-hero" status was gone; they were now open felons. Thus, it felt more like a simple fight-story (a weakness shared by "Upgrade", some episodes later) - but one which still had its moments.

The focus was on Coyote, who starts off as simply a mysterious armored figure that breaks into Riker's Island and, with Dingo's assistance, helps Jackal, Hyena, and Wolf escape (Fox deliberately remaining behind). After getting them to an airship, he reveals himself to be - apparently - Xanatos, claiming to be intent on getting revenge on the gargoyles and wanting the Pack's assistance. At first sight, it appears that Xanatos is acting like a more conventional cartoon villain, but it turns out that it's all a facade: Coyote is really a robot designed to look like Xanatos and even make use of his surface character traits, a revelation dramatically brought about through Bronx chewing off half of its face. (The scene also introduces Hyena's attraction to the succession of Coyote robots that will resurface even more strongly in "Upgrade" and "Grief"; after discovering that Coyote was really a robot, she cries out, in a line both funny and disturbing, "Even better!") Furthermore, it transpires in the final scene that Xanatos's real plan was not about the gargoyles; it was a scheme between himself and Fox to get her out of prison for good behavior. The Pack's attack on the clan was just a means of making the diversionary tactic look convincing (that and finding out how well Coyote would perform under fire). With this scene, Xanatos shows us how far he deviates from the familiar stereotypes, both in his dismissal of revenge as "a sucker's game" that he has no interest in (beyond the fact that it's useful for motivating henchmen like the Pack), and in his feelings for Fox, feelings that will play a major role in his development during Season Two.

Paralleling the Pack's desire for revenge on the gargoyles is Lexington's desire for revenge on the Pack, out of his anger over having been betrayed and used by them. Here it builds to dangerous levels, to the point where Brooklyn becomes seriously concerned. (In a particularly nice touch, Brooklyn admits that he can understand Lexington's vendetta, feeling the same way about Demona. While he holds onto his feud throughout the rest of the season without showing any sign of abandoning it even by the end of "Hunter's Moon", it is pleasant to see that he recognizes it as a potential danger when she isn't close by.) It even leads to one of the most violent moments in "Gargoyles", when he blasts a hole through the middle of Coyote, and looks prepared to do the same to the flesh-and-blood members of the Pack. Fortunately (in an ending which may appear a little too pat to some), Lexington finally recognizes that there are more important things than his feud when he has to choose between going after the retreating mercenaries and saving Brooklyn's life.

Owen shows yet again how he can make even a brief appearance memorable, in his interactions with Goliath, Broadway, and Hudson. The most delightful of his moments in this episode comes when he telephones them up at Pack-Media Studios, delivering them a message about the Pack's whereabouts (and the fact that they've captured Lexington, Brooklyn, and Bronx) as if it was a formal invitation to an elegant ball or dinner party.

The episode has a few other memorable scenes: Fox explaining to Hyena why she reads Sartre (in one of the most literate moments in the series), the very unsettling distortion ray that Coyote uses on both a prison guard and Lexington, Hudson engaging in a staring match with a few of the Pack before finally calling out, "Come on, then! We're none of us gettin' any younger!", and Bronx frantically perching on the sinking oil tanker and howling just before he is rescued. It's not as great an episode, in my opinion, as "Metamorphosis" or "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", but at least it makes a lively opening to the second season.


Coyote was originally to be called "CY.O.T.I.", short for "Cyber Operational Technical Intelligence", and imagined as a robotic head which could fit onto various robotic bodies of differing shapes. Both concepts were lost in the process of developing the series (though a trace of the latter can be found in "Upgrade" with the flying head of Coyote 1.0, which becomes a component of Coyote 2.0). Coyote's name, of course, has a double appropriateness, in light of his introduction into the series. On the one hand, it fits the "wild canid" imagery of the Pack's names, blending in effectively with them. At the same time, the name also recalls the Coyote of Native American legend, a celebrated trickster figure - and Coyote is playing a trickster role, both in masquerading as Xanatos (himself a definite trickster by his own admission) and in carrying out a strategy based on deception and misdirection (just what a trickster would do). This aspect would become especially prominent in "Cloud Fathers", many episodes later.

Coyote also was influenced by Wile E. Coyote of Warner Brothers' animated cartoons, in his tendency to suffering constant cataclysmic misfortunes (being shot through the middle by Lexington, run over by a train, reduced to rust by Jackal-as-Anubis's-avatar, and getting crushed by a falling set of girders).

Brooklyn alludes to "Enter Macbeth" when he asks Lexington, "Why is it that whenever you and I take Bronx out, we always wind up in trouble?"

Note that Bronx suspects Coyote to be a robot from the start, singling him out for attack from the very moment that he, Brooklyn, and Lexington have their first encounter with the Pack in this episode. (It helps to have a strong sense of smell.)

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