Valid XHTML 1.0!
Valid CSS!
Episode List

Previous Episode |  Episode List |  Next Episode

Shadows of the Past

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


by Kieran Dunn


by Leigh Ann Hussey

Act I

"Previously on GARGOYLES" shows highlights from Awakening, part II (Hakon and the Captain wrestling themselves off the cliff) and Avalon, part III("Avalon sends you where you need to be.")

The little boat from Avalon fetches up on the storm-racked Scottish coast, with the cliff where Castle Wyvern formerly stood overhead. Goliath, Angela, Bronx and Elisa move up to higher ground, Goliath eager to see the site of their ancestral home. For a moment, he even sees the castle, lightning-lit, but then only the hole where it's been quarried away. They find the rookery. Goliath hears Demona's voice saying "Come to me," but the others hear nothing.

They find a cave to wait out the storm. It was the Archmage's den, and there's evidence that the vikings camped there the eve of the attack that destroyed the clan. Goliath hears the voices of Hakon and the Captain, himself and the princess. He sees himself in the carvings on a gate in the cave, but only for a moment, and the others see the Archmage carved there. Angela is surprised that Goliath isn't telling them what he really sees -- she can tell he's lying -- but Elisa says the place is full of bad memories for him; "Old wounds bleed as bright as new ones, sometimes."

They make ready to go; Goliath looks once over his shoulder, then turns back and sees the captain and Hakon laughing at him. He attacks, but we see it is Angela and Elisa he is attacking.

Act II

Goliath is sure he sees Hakon and the captain, though it is actually Angela and Elisa. Bronx charges out of the cave and throws Goliath off them. Elisa bends to talk to him, and even as Goliath watches she seems to transform into Hakon. he pushes them away, hearing again his voice saying, "You are the betrayer?" and runs from them saying they are in danger from him. He runs back into the cave, pursued by Angela and Elisa and watched over by two eerie green glows hovering near the ceiling. He runs down the stairs into the Archmage's sanctum, followed at a distance by the others with Bronx on the scent. he hears and sees Demona, with Coldstone and Desdemona, all as they were. Elisa and Angela come up to him and he warns them back, in a broken voice, saying he can't trust what he sees. He flees and they follow. The apparitions of his rookery kin change into the shapes of Hakon and the captain.

Elisa and Angela chase after Goliath, even as he warns them they might fall. Angela tells Elisa that the fissure to their left may be too small to glide in and Goliath could be killed if he falls. Just then, the apparition of Hakon, glowing and roaring, flies toward Goliath and as he recoils he misses his step and falls. Bronx leaps and grabs him by the wrist. The others try to pull Goliath up, but as he looks up, he sees them as Hakon and the captain, calling him "Murderer" and "Betrayer". He lets go with an anguished cry and falls into the fissure. Elisa leads the climb down after him.

Goliath manages to stop his fall, gripping a ledge that turns out to be the carved lower jaw of a cave shaped like a skull. He enters and climbs the stairs he finds inside.

Deep in an inner cavern, littered with stalagmites and dominated by a huge, hieroglyph-covered stonework, Hakon's voice says, "Now we have him. The ancient magic is strongest here." Goliath comes into the cavern, not seeing the two glows overhead, and begins to climb the stairs of the stonework as Hakon's ghost says, "If there's any fight left in him, this will take care of it." Goliath touches one of the pillars, and the carvings begin to glow and the whole cavern to shake. Falling stones coalesce into the shapes of his destroyed clan, who advance on him menacingly.


"Murderer!" the gargoyle shapes say in unison. "You destroyed our clan!" "Death to Goliath!" The two glows descend and possess two of the stone shapes, attacking him and throwing him to the others. "Now we'll have our revenge!" says one of the gargoyle shapes, in Hakon's voice. The pillars of the stonework all begin to glow through their glyphs, and the two livelier pseudo-gargoyles attack and throw Goliath against the stairs. The two glows leave the bodies, the captain's voice saying "Enough! Make an end to it!" Hakon's voice replies, "Don't be a fool, I've waited a thousand years for this!" "If he becomes too weak," the captain points out, "he won't serve our purpose." "Very well," Hakon resigns. "Now for the final touch."

As Goliath staggers up, the crowd of pseudo-gargoyles parts to reveal Demona in the same form. "After a thousand years," she says, "I bring you the gift you granted me: oblivion." As her hand forms itself into the shape of Hakon's mace, the mace that destroyed them, Goliath protests, "You were not part of the slaughter!" Then he realizes, "She's not real. None of you are real!" and as she attacks, he throws her and she shatters, and all the others fall to pieces.

"Ah, you finally figureed it out," comes the voice Goliath now recognizes as Hakon. The two glows coalesce into the shadows of the captain and Hakon. The captain explains that maybe it was the magic, or the strength of their hatred that kept them there. Hakon says, as much as they hated each other, they hated Goliath more, and now he'll help them live again. With a gesture, Hakon activates the stonework, which glows more fiercely and begins to sap Goliath's life force to replenish that of the two ghosts. Goliath protests that their deaths weren't his doing, that his clan was betrayed by the captain. "I never wanted that!" the captain objects.

As Hakon and the Captain become more substantial, Goliath becomes more shadowy, and as Hakon becomes flesh, he gleefully pushes Goliath around. The captain, however, looks at his new flesh with a troubled expression.

Meanwhile, Angela and Elisa reach the mouth of the skull cavern and see the blue-white glow from inside. One of Hakon's blows goes right through Goliath, and he laughs, saying "Soon we'll be free, and you'll haunt this pit 'til the end of time." Goliath attacks futilely, falling, and as Hakon roars with laughter, Goliath looks up at the captain and says, "What good is life without honor?" "I can't let this happen again!" the captain says, and attacks Hakon, pushing them both into the middle of the stonework.

With the lines of power broken, Goliath solidifies again as Angela, Elisa and Bronx rush into the cavern. Hakon and the captain wrestle. "We've hated Goliath for a thousand years!" Hakon yells. "Nay," the captain growls, "I've hated myself for betraying him, and now I've been given a chance to atone!" The gargoyles and Elisa escape to the passage right before the whole stonework explodes as dramatically as possible, collapsing on top of the two ghosts.

"Who were they?" Elisa asks. "One enemy and one friend," Goliath answers. Then, a blue-white glow rises out of the wreckage and becomes the captain's ghost, who thanks Goliath for helping him break the shackles of hate and guilt that held him there. Bidding him, "Farewell, old friend," he becomes a glow again, which shoots up toward the cavern ceiling and vanishes.

As they emerge into the near-dawn, Elisa says she worried that Goliath was losing his mind until she heard the story. Angela asks what happened to Hakon, and Goliath replies, "He has made his fate, no matter what it might be." They take up guardian postures and change to stone with the sun, and Elisa settles down to nap beside them.

Below, Hakon's ghost, imprisoned in one of the fallen stones, screams, "Don't leave me here alone! Not without anyone to hate!!"


by Juan F. Lara

The creators make up for the disappointing "Avalon" with this outstanding episode.

Good Points

This episode moved at a deliberately slow pace. The first two acts were punctuated by the brief instances when Goliath had visions that terrified him. In between were long periods wherein Goliath dwelled upon the past, and the direction focused on the eery setting. The episode also had time to include details like Goliath screaming in pain when Bronx grabbed him by his teeth, and Goliath falling again after he briefly stopped his fall into the ravine. Through this pacing the creators built up a lot of suspense. The episode also felt more atmospheric and moody than usual, and hence more intriguing. So this episode reminded me a lot of a classic horror story.

Keith David had one of his best performances as Goliath. Most of the time Goliath has been either formal and self-assured or raging in anger. Here Goliath showed new aspects to his personality through his displays of fear and guilt. I was very moved by how devastated Goliath became when the visions blamed him for his clan's slaughter, and felt concerned for his safety when he thought that he couldn't tell what was real anymore. The focus on Goliath's personal pain made this episode very compelling.

WD-Japan turned in some of their BEST work for the series. I was amazed by the intricate detail for the insides of the caves and how well they colored the characters to match the lighting. Equally detailed were the character movements. (When Angela spotted the rookery cave she sped up her pace. Angela and Elisa broke off pieces of the ledge when they tried to pull Goliath up.) WD-Japan also did an excellent job creating remarkable imagery. I particularly remembered the stone gargoyle "ghosts" and the pans over the pillars as their inscriptions glowed. The artwork and animation was as fascinating as the plot and theme.


The only problem I had with this episode was the Captain's redemption. I thought that it was too abrupt and the Captain breaking his curse seemed too pat. The writers should've had the Captain and Hakon argue more to show the Captain being pushed to the verge of backing out of their plan.

Too bad apparently none of the good guys know the incantation to use the Phoenix Gate. Otherwise they could simply use that to return to New York, even to a point in time just after they left for Avalon, so that they won't have to be missing for two weeks.


Elisa: Now THAT was an E-Ticket ride.
[How long has it been since Disney used e-tickets? :-)]

Angela: Goliath, what did you see?
Goliath: ...Nothing. Just shadows.

Hakon: If there's any fight left in him, THIS will take care of it.

Hakon: I can feel it. After all these centures I can feel again.

Hakon: "Don't leave me here alone! Not without anyone to hate!!"

"Shadows of the Past" highlighted the best aspects of the TV series, and was one of the best episodes shown so far.


by Todd Jensen

This episode begins perhaps the most controversial arc in all of "Gargoyles", the Avalon World Tour. Opinion is divided among "Gargoyles" fans as to whether it was a good idea to send Goliath, Elisa, Angela, and Bronx to several different locations around the world before finally letting them reach Manhattan; some enjoyed their adventures abroad, while others disliked them for various reasons (the absence of Hudson and the trio, the absence of the Manhattan setting, the sheer length of the World Tour - which seemed longer than it actually was thanks to being broken up by a few months of reruns, and the strong dose of fantasy elements in the form of encounters with various mythical beings). Unfortunately, I can no longer remember my initial response to the World Tour (and in particular, I can't remember wondering when they were going to get back); I do know that I enjoyed many of the episodes, however. For that matter, I believe that something along the lines of the World Tour was necessary at some point, if for no other reason than to reveal the other gargoyle clans in hiding and show that the species hadn't entered its final days after all.

Whatever the case may be, however, "Shadows of the Past" strikes me as a definite must for the series - even if there had been no World Tour, something like this would have to have happened. The skiff takes Goliath and his companions back to where it all began - the spot on the Scottish coast where Castle Wyvern had once stood before Xanatos removed it to New York. And while there, they have an encounter with Hakon and the Captain of the Guard, now in ghost-form, that rounds off the fateful events from a thousand years before. (I wonder whether the Avalon World Tour might have been more popular if more of its episodes had been as strongly linked to the events in the series before "Avalon" as this episode was, in fact.)

The episode is a mood piece, focusing on Goliath's troubled thoughts over the Wyvern Massacre, memories brought to the surface through his old, familiar surroundings. Hakon and the Captain, secretly watching, take advantage of it to break him down by besetting him with spectral illusions designed to remind him more and more of his grief and even guilt over the dreadful event that claimed the lives of so many gargoyles in his clan. Amid the gathering storm, Goliath finds his eyes apparently playing tricks on him - glimpsing Castle Wyvern back in its original place for a moment before the scene in front of his eyes reverts to the gaping hollow left behind by Xanatos - seeing the wall-carving of the Archmage striking down gargoyles turning into an image of himself turning upon his clan - and finally, seeing what appear to be Hakon and the Captain but who are really Elisa and Angela. (This last scene is made all the creepier when we hear Elisa and Angela's voices coming from out of Hakon and the Captain's mouths.) As these attacks increase, Goliath fears that he is going mad, and flees deeper into the cave - hoping in particular to put as much distance between himself and his friends as he recognizes how much of a danger he is to them in this situation. Which is, of course, just what the lurking ghosts want him to do....

The attacks reach their climax as Goliath, now in the lowermost chamber of the caves, next to an ancient megalith, finds himself now surrounded by an army of stone gargoyles - the apparent ghosts of his slaughtered clan, or, more accurately, "animated corpses" of them - that advance upon him, angrily denouncing him for betraying them. Overwhelmed by all that is happening, Goliath is about to yield when his tormentors make their one big mistake - facing him with the "revenant" of Demona, one of the few gargoyles who wasn't killed in the massacre. Goliath, knowing that Demona survived the sack of the castle, realizes now that this is all a deception - but his realization has come late enough that Hakon and the Captain can still activate the megalith's magics to transfer his life force to their bodies, turning him into a ghost in their place.

The process of Goliath's being drained of his essence is another effective moment, particularly through Hakon and the Captain's responses to it. Hakon is eager at the prospect of being solid again, laughing maniacally and proceeding to pummel Goliath with his fists - until his fists pass through Goliath's body and Hakon, realizing why that is, laughs even louder (another particularly unsettling moment in the episode, and done masterfully). The Captain, on the other hand, stares down at his hands in a troubled silence. Unlike Hakon, he does not hate Goliath - if anything, he is consumed over guilt over having unwittingly engineered the deaths of most of his clan. And he had shown little enthusiasm for the plan, repeatedly voicing his uneasiness as the two ghosts drew Goliath deeper into the cave. This makes his intervention to save Goliath's life convincing, and there is a certain satisfaction in seeing him at last make amends for his original act a thousand years before.

Goliath is reunited with his companions in time for the ghost of the Captain to emerge from the ruins of the megalith to bid farewell to his old friend before ascending, ending the episode on a note of peace (Goliath's own words to describe the two ghosts, "One enemy, and one friend" show that he has forgiven the Captain now). Almost, that is. For the very last scene (after the gargoyles turn to stone outside the cave and Elisa leans up against them) is of Hakon screaming in fury at being trapped all by himself, "without anyone to hate!"

"Shadows of the Past" is an excellent episode, rich in animation (it even includes little details such as the characters dislodging small stones as they walk along narrow paths) and atmosphere, as Goliath confronts the terrible night when he lost most of his clan and his life changed so dramatically. As such, it makes a fine launching-point for the Avalon World Tour.


When Goliath and his companions explore the Archmage's cave, Goliath unearths a battle-axe left over from the Viking encampment long before. This same axe will later on play a major role in "Vendettas" (though Greg Weisman now regrets making it an axe).

Alongside the appearance of a "zombified" Demona in the cavern where the megalith stands, we also catch a glimpse of ghostly images of Demona, Othello, and Desdemona (speedily replaced - though Goliath does not know it - by Hakon and the Captain, to show who's really behind the hauntings).

Previous Episode |  Episode List |  Next Episode