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



by Leigh Ann Hussey

Act I

A dark-haired (and evidently foreign) man, pursued by a gang of armed British skinheads, flees toward a store called "In to the Mystic", whose sign proclaims it "Open all night". A lion-headed creature, looking out the window, sighs, "There goes the neighborhood," and his unicorn-headed companion says firmly, "It's not our problem." The fleeing man takes refuge in the store, and wonders aloud what kind of store it is as he looks around at the many books and at the portrait on the wall of a dashingly-dressed figure with an eagle's head and wings and a lion's body. "Magic," says the only other patron in the place, and the fellow is ready to believe it when he sees what he thinks are the eccentric proprietors' impressive masks. But when he asks for help, they tell him what goes on outside the shop is not their business.

The skiff from Avalon bobs at the bank of the Thames, and as the four travellers climb the bank, they find a memorial statue group, consisting of a WWII-era fighter plane with a figure standing on each wing -- one of which looks like the portrait in the shop, and the other of which is unquestionably Goliath. A nearby cabbie, who remembers the blitz "like it was yesterday," ferrys Elisa to "a shop in Soho that might interest you" since she's interested in the legends. The gargoyles follow.

Almost as soon as the cab leaves her at the shop door, the skinheads appear and threaten her, but before they can attack, the gargoyles show up to drive them off. The unicorn and lion come out of the shop and address Goliath as though they know him, the lion saying he thought Goliath "had died with Griff". Goliath is confused, and only gets moreso as Leo and Una (as they call themselves) insist they know him and that he led Griff to death during the blitz in 1940. They take it inside to discuss it further, out of the way of the frightened onlookers. Leo accuses Goliath of lying and they get into a wrestling match. Una puts all the travellers to sleep with a spell (DORMITE, HOSTES MEI, UBI STATE! - Sleep, my enemies, where you stand!). "Good thinking," says Leo. "I know my merchandise!" Una answers.

Goliath awakes to discover that Leo and Una have taken the others away -- they tell him that now he is powerless and will live with the torment they've lived with for half a century. Goliath decides he must use the Phoenix Gate to find out what happened in 1940, and using it, vanishes, reappearing in the sky over London with a plane bearing down on him.

Act II

Griff appears and shoves Goliath out of the plane's path. The two planes -- British ones -- fly off, the pilot who nearly hit Goliath (Bader) figuring he was seeing things. Griff turns aside Goliath's thanks, saying he'd always hoped there were other gargoyles about. "You look like Scottish stock to me. Here to help with the war?" "You could say that..." Griff takes him down to meet Una and Leo, who greet him warmly -- Goliath looks a bit rueful and pensive.

The shop turns out to have been in the clan for generations. As they drink tea, it's clear from the conversation that Leo and Una are no different in 1940 -- still unwilling to get involved in events outside the shop. Griff, on the other hand, is all fervor and hero-spirit, dedicated to stopping the Nazis in England to keep them from taking over the entire world. Goliath, pressed by Griff, says "In my experience, human problems become gargoyle problems."

The air raid sirens sound again, and again Una and Leo stay behind. Goliath agrees to go with Griff, and Una begs Goliath to look after him, saying "He's very dear to me -- I mean, to us." "You have my oath," Goliath replies. "I won't let anything happen to him this time." "This time?" Una wonders at their retreating backs.

Lights go out all over the city, and people flee as the bombs fall. The gargoyles rescue one of the English fliers from the Messerschmidt on his tail, and it turns out to be Bader, who exclaims delightedly, "They're real! And they're on our side!" Griff rescues another pilot who has to bail out of his crippled plain. Goliath follows, trying not to lose sight of him, and is hit from behind by a German, who closes in on him.


Griff lays the unconscious pilot down and sees Goliath in trouble. The German has Goliath in his sight and is about to fire, when he himself is hit by Bader and his plane goes down. The gargoyles wave their thanks to Bader and he returns a thumbs-up. Griff helps the wounded Goliath down, but anti-aircraft gunners on the ground take them for more enemy planes and fire on them. The get down out of the air safely, but just then the tower of a burning cathedral begins to fall on them, and Goliath barely saves them. On the ground, again Goliath reacts just in time to push Griff out of the way of an oncoming truck. Goliath realizes that fate is conspiring against them -- history cannot be changed, Griff didn't come home in 1940. "Where are you from, anyway?" Griff demands of him when Goliath tells him this. "Not where," Goliath answers, "when." Just then, an abandoned Messerschmidt plummets toward them, and Goliath invokes the Phoenix Gate to vanish them both just before the plane crashes no the very spot they were standing.

In the basement of the shop, Elisa, Angela and Bronx struggle in their chains. "Your friend has shown his true character," Una tells them angrily. "He has abandoned you -- as he once abandoned Griff." She describes his sorcerous disappearance in a ball of flame. "The Phoenix Gate!" Elisa realizes. "He must have gone back in time to save your friend." Una rages, "Nothing can change what happened to Griff! Goliath talked him into fighting the Nazis! We'd all but convinced him to stay safe, with us!" "But that's the real problem, isn't it," Leo says, proceeding to free the captives over Una's protests. "We should have gone with them. I think all these years we've been blaming the wrong gargoyle for the loss of Griff." "We were protecting our home!" Una argues. "And maybe that was the right thing to do! But it is our guilt that haunts us. Not Goliath's." They hug each other sadly as Una mourns, "Oh, Griff. Why did you have to be so brave?"

Outside the shop, Griff and Goliath appear, and Goliath saves Griff one more time as Griff, overcome by all the new sights, steps backward off the curb into the path of a car. "Let's not start that again," Goliaths says, explaining that they're in the 1990s now.

Elisa is saying to Leo and Una, "You have no reason to blame yourselves. Horrible things happen in wartime," when the bell rings upstairs and Bronx bounds up to greet Goliath, followed by the others. Una begins to apologize, but then stops in astonishment at the appearance of Griff. They are amazed that he hasn't changed -- he is amazed that they have. "How long has it been, exactly?" Griff wonders. "What does it matter?" Leo says. "Tonight is a new beginning -- for all of us!"

As the travellers float off in their skiff into the mists over the Thames, Elisa trying with little success to understand Goliath's explanation of the time paradoxes involved, back at the same gang of skinheads is terrorizing the same foreigner with jingoistic belligerence. This time, however, they are driven off by Griff, and Leo and Una with him. "And don't come back!" Una shouts. "Or we'll make it our business," Leo adds. "The more things change, the more they stay the same," Griff says, joining them as the passers-by look on in wonder and delight.


by Juan F. Lara

Apparently no advancement of any of the plot threads in this episode, but an entertaining episode none the less. (BTW: For lack of a better term, I'm referring to Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx as "the travellers" from now on.)

Good Points

The direction of this episode was the aspect that I liked the most of it. Like "Shadows of the Past", the story moved at a slow and steady pace. Several scenes focused on dialogue or characters reacting to a situation. Near the beginning, the travellers slowly came upon the war memorial, not noticing that one of the statues resembled Goliath until the scene's end. Also, when Griff and Goliath return to the '90's, the episode spent time showing Griff's dismay over what has happened to him, illustrating the change in time by having that punk with the video game walk past them. The script also had small details that made the dialogue sound realistic, such as Elisa apologizing for using American money and Griff noting that Leo has "aged well". Because of these directorial methods, this episode had the sophisticated tone that characterizes the best "Gargoyles" episodes.

The series focused on the theme of taking up a responsibility to protect, as it did in "Heritage" and "Golem". The theme had more impact here than in "Heritage", though, because the series had already established how important the duty to protect is to gargoyle society. So the conflict Leo and Una felt over refusing to protect humans seemed very vivid to me. Also, I liked Griff's characterization a lot. He was believable in his determination to help in the war effort and in his interaction with other characters.

This was another showcase of excellent WD-Japanimation. The air raid scenes had breathtaking artwork and character angles. But the camera also often focused on Douglas Bader, Clive, and the German pilots as they fought. So the pilots, particularly Bader, were able to become characters with depth.

Bad Points

Leo and Una seemed too melodramatic in their villifying Goliath in Act 1. So when they kidnapped Goliath's friends I didn't feel certain that they were acting in character. Goliath's decisions to go back in time to 1940 and bring Griff back with him depended entirely on the kidnapping. But the kidnapping felt unsastisfying as a plot device. I didn't start to sympathize with Leo and Una until the second viewing, and mostly because of knowing how important pro- tection is to gargoyles.

Could Leo and Una really get away with pretending to "wear masks" all these years?


The instant Goliath appeared in 1940 I guessed that he'd return with Griff. Goliath is lucky that Griff is the kind of person who'd see the change in time as a new adventure, and that Leo and Una had already come to terms with their loss on their own, else they'd be mad that Goliath sent Griff 55 years into the future instead of bringing him back to the shop. :-) But I did like the scene of the travellers having trouble understanding the time trip.

How is it that some gargoyle species are gargoyle versions of animals?

A large crowd of people saw the British gargs fight the hooligans, and "really good costumes" shouldn't be enough to explain their maneuvers. :-) So are they going to live out in the open as gargoyles now?

I think that the official seal of the United Kingdom has a lion and a unicorn, but I don't know about any griffin. (What else do you name them other than "Leo", "Una", and "Griff"? :-)

Cast list: Gregg Berger (Cornfed in "Duckman") played Leo. Sarah Douglas played Una, Neil Dickson played Griff, Charles Shaughnessey played Bader and Jeff Bennett played Clive.

"M.I.A." didn't have any big turning points in the continuity, or the best characterized one-shot characters in the series. But it did have some outstanding direction and artwork that made it an above-average episode.

Leo: I am Leo. This is Una. And Griff was the hero you led to his demise! Does that refresh your recollection?
Goliath: Not in the slightest.


by Todd Jensen

This is a particularly favorite World Tour episode of mine, thanks to the London setting (not to mention another piece of historical time travel, courtesy of the Phoenix Gate). I spent much of my boyhood in England, and so have a certain fondness towards it to this day.

The episode is also a landmark in that it reveals that there really were surviving gargoyle clans in other parts of the world, and ones with a different physical appearance than that of the Scottish gargoyles whom we had already met. (From this perspective, Raven's deception is almost a foreshadowing of the truth - presumably without his being aware of it.) The London gargoyles look like heraldic animals with feathered wings, yet they are still clearly gargoyles, and have no difficulty in recognizing Goliath and his companions as members of the same species as themselves. (Griff can even tell right away that Goliath is of "Scottish stock".) "M.I.A." serves, therefore, as the next step in setting up what could be described as a rebirth of the gargoyle race.

Leo and Una differ from Goliath's clan more than just physical appearance, however. Instead of being urban crime-fighters, they run a small magic shop (in a concept evidently inspired by Napoleon's famous description of the English as "a nation of shopkeepers"), and are clearly more concerned about operating it than in doing anything about the bands of thugs roaming the streets in the present - or the German bombers in 1940. As far as they're concerned, what goes on between humans is the humans' problem, and not their concern, not unless it directly threatens their shop or clan.

By contrast, Griff is ready to extend the notion of "gargoyles protect" to include the human community in London as well, recognizing the danger that the Nazis pose to everyone, and not willing to stand idly by as the Luftwaffe attacks. (If Greg Weisman ever gets to make the "Pendragon" spin-off, I would like to see him, at some point, explore the issue of how it was that Griff remained true to the Gargoyle Way as Leo and Una - and presumably the rest of the London clan - did not.) He is delighted when Goliath is willing to join him in his efforts to help defend the city (though he is not too upset with Leo and Una over choosing to stay behind, understanding that someone has to look after the shop even in wartime). And he springs into action effectively, battling German warplanes and rescuing compatriots (both human and gargoyle) with equal skill.

The real highlight of the story, however, is the trouble that Goliath finds himself in, complete with the third time loop in the series. After the modern-day Leo and Una accuse him of being responsible for Griff's death, and even stoop to the point of kidnapping his friends in revenge, Goliath realizes that his only hope of rescuing them and finding out what is going on will be to go back in time to 1940. There he, after meeting Griff, keeps on attempting to keep the adventurous young gargoyle safe from harm, while always finding it impossible to get him back to the shop. (In a particularly enjoyable and amusing touch, Goliath keeps on letting slip remarks about his mission in such a way that confuses the other gargoyles, as when he promises Una that he will not let any harm befall Griff "this time" - in response to which she says bewilderedly, "This time?") In the end, Goliath comes to understand once again that he can't change history - but what he can do is bring Griff back with him to the 1990's.

During his visit to the shop in 1940, Goliath also utters one of the truest lines, not only in the episode, but in the series, when, in response to Una's comment that "the Nazis are a human problem, he says "Human problems become gargoyle problems." And a close inspection of the series shows that Goliath is correct. A great many of the gargoyle problems indeed did originate from human problems; the gargoyle massacres in 10th and 11th century Scotland turn out, for example, to be closely linked to the various power struggles over the Scottish throne, and even the Quarrymen threat that would emerge at the end of the series was ultimately due to a human problem (Jon Canmore/Castaway shot his older brother, couldn't take the responsibility for it, and went after the gargoyles as the easy way out). No species can be an island.

And Leo and Una come to recognize this at the end, as Leo points out that the real reason for their bitterness towards Goliath was that they knew, deep down inside, that Griff was in the right, and that they ought to have followed his example and helped protect the humans. (Indeed, their case is almost a subtle repeat of Demona's problem - suppressed guilt redirected outwards upon a scapegoat, in Demona's case the human race, in Leo and Una's case Goliath.) They free Goliath's companions - even before Goliath returns with Griff - and afterwards join with Griff in putting a stop to the marauding skinheads, rediscovering what it truly means to be a gargoyle.

The Battle of Britain sequence is very exciting and effective (although experts on that part of history - I must confess that I'm not one - have pointed out a few nits in it - for one of these, see the "Tidbits" section), with fast-moving action. It also ties in well with the present-day, where the trouble facing London comes from a band of skinheads preying upon immigrants, echoing the Nazis' virulent racism; as Griff puts it, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." The war memorial to Goliath and Griff is also a great touch (although I wonder how many Londoners must have felt puzzled over its choice of dedicatees - it would be almost like raising a World War I monument to the Angels of Mons!).

All in all, this is another very enjoyable World Tour episode, and highly recommendable.


The notion of Goliath taking part in the Battle of Britain was a very early idea in "Gargoyles" (once it was redesigned as a serious adventure series rather than a comedy). Originally, the plan was for Goliath to be awake during the thousand years when the rest of his clan was in stone sleep, remaining in Castle Wyvern and guarding them for most of that time - but when the Second World War erupts, Goliath, realizing the gravity of the situation, fights alongside the RAF to prevent the Germans from conquering Britain and endangering Castle Wyvern and its sleeping gargoyles. When this notion of how Goliath spent the thousand years between 994 and 1994 was dropped, Greg still felt enamored enough of the notion of Goliath participating in the Battle of Britain that he looked for another way to allow for his presence there, and found it in the Phoenix Gate.

One of the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain sequence (identified in the dialogue) is Douglas Bader, an actual historical figure who took part in the defense of London during the Blitz, and whom Greg Weisman had even met as a boy. (Bader is another human in the series who, after the initial astonishment at seeing gargoyles has worn off, readily accepts them, leading to a particularly great scene where he saves Goliath and Griff from a German bomber and then exchanges a thumbs-up with Griff.) The animators erred, however, in having him fly a Spitfire in this scene (he actually flew a Hurricane during the Battle of Britain).

The notion of Leo, Una, and Griff looking like a winged lion, unicorn, and griffon respectively came from English gargoyle sculptures with similar appearances.

According to Greg, the bulk of the London clan (there's more of them, of course, than just Leo, Una, and Griff) lives on a country estate just outside London. Una serves as its leader; her second-in-command stays on the estate to look after things there.

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