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Future Tense

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



by Harvester of Eyes

Act I

The skiff is somewhere out over the open water, and Goliath and Elisa are feeling homesick. Goliath expresses his wish that Avalon would finally send them home. Suddenly, he gets struck by lightning and falls to his knees. The others rush to his aid. He tells them he is all right, and moments later, they see the Statue of Liberty through the fog. As they approach and it becomes clearer, they notice something is wrong. The statue leans on its side, a ruined shell of what it once was. Beyond it, Manhattan Island has fallen into a similar state of disarray. Dominating the crumbling skyline is the Eyrie Building, and resting above it sits a glowing pyramid, held up by a series of structures that extend out through the city like the legs of a spider. As the skiff travelers wonder what has happened, the glare of a searchlight falls on them. A voice tells them that they are violating Manhattan National Sovereignty, and to stand by for apprehension. The skiff is then attacked by Steel Clan robots, and in the ensuing battle, Angela and Elisa are taken prisoner and carried away towards the Eyrie Building. Goliath is about to join them when his robot captor is destroyed by an energy blast from an approaching hovercraft. The craft pulls up alongside him and Goliath, seeing Bronx already in the cockpit with two other figures, climbs aboard. Once inside the hovercraft, Goliath learns that his rescuers are Claw the Mutate and Detective Matt Bluestone, both of them looking much older. Matt remarks that Goliath still looks exactly the same after forty years. Goliath begins to wonder how he could have been gone so long, but he pushes it to the back of his mind, and states that they must rescue Elisa and Angela. The others agree, and Claw pilots the craft towards land.

Later, as they walk through the ruined streets of Manhattan, Goliath notices that the humans don't seem to be afraid of him, Claw, and Bronx. Matt simply says that they have better things to be afraid of. A few moments later, the pyramid atop the Eyrie Building flashes, and an enormous hologram of David Xanatos appears beneath it. The hologram tells the people that the "age of Xanatopia" is at hand, and soon their suffering will come to an end. When Goliath sees the broadcast, he wishes to return to the clock tower to gather the rest of the clan. Matt simply points to a ruined building, damaged in a long-ago battle, and says, "that is the clock tower." Claw and Matt then lead Goliath and Bronx underground to the Labyrinth, the base of operations for the resistance against Xanatos.

Upon their arrival, Goliath sees a bronze statue of Hudson displayed against a far wall. Matt tells him that Hudson was killed 32 years ago while fighting Xanatos's breakaway from the United States. He also says that Xanatos himself has not been seen in person since then. When Goliath remarks that Xanatos did not look any older in his broadcast, Brooklyn enters the room and explains that there's a rumor circulating that Xanatos has achieved immortality. When Goliath steps towards Brooklyn to greet him, Brooklyn says, "I've been waiting a long time for this," and then punches Goliath, sending him flying against the wall.

Act II

Matt asks Brooklyn the reason for his violent outburst, and Brooklyn explains that Goliath abandoned the clan forty years ago, leaving them to the mercy of Xanatos and his henchmen. As Goliath tries to explain, Broadway enters the room and says that he always believed Goliath would someday return. As he moves into the light, Goliath sees that the big gargoyle's face is scarred, and his eyes have been put out. He now "sees" through a sonar collar attached to his neck. Brooklyn explains that Broadway, Talon, Maggie, and Coldstone tried to stop Sevarius and the Ultra Pack from turning the last free humans into Mutates, and that Broadway was the only survivor of this battle. Goliath once more apologizes, wishing there were something he could do to change what has happened. Brooklyn then excitedly asks if Goliath still has the Phoenix Gate, saying that they could use it to go back in time and change the past for the better. Goliath refuses however, explaining that history is immutable and their answers lie in the present. Demona then appears in a doorway and says that deposing Xanatos is easier said than done. Goliath lunges at Demona, ready to attack, but Brooklyn stops him and explains that Demona is no longer an enemy. Brooklyn then walks towards Demona and the two embrace. Goliath is at first confused by what he sees, saying that he thought Demona and Thailog were mates. Brooklyn hesitates for a moment, and then explains that Thailog was killed in something called the Clone Wars. Lexington then appears and Goliath notices, with dismay, that Lexington has become a cyborg, with much of his upper body replaced by prosthetic robot parts.

Lex announces that Fox has infiltrated Xanatos's lair, and Brooklyn calls a meeting in the war room. Inside the war room, Matt explains to Goliath that "Fox," or rather Xanatos's son, is the secret weapon of the resistance. The clan gathers around a computer monitor, where Lexington receives a transmission from inside the pyramid atop the Eyrie Building. Everyone watches as Xanatos's son, Alexander, battles with his father. During their fight, Xanatos reveals that he is both aware of the fact that his son has joined forces with Brooklyn, and he also knows that Alexander is broadcasting the location of his father to the resistance headquarters. Xanatos further reveals that he's "piggybacking" on that signal, meaning that in a short time, he'll have the location of the clan's hideout, and be able to destroy them. Xanatos then boasts that before the night is over, he'll rule the world, and that an immortal ruler does not need an heir. After saying this, Xanatos slays his son, and the transmission ends. Lexington announces that he was able to get a fix on Xanatos's location: inside the Great Hall of Castle Wyvern. Brooklyn, realizing their options are limited, decides that the best course of action is a pre-emptive attack. The plans are quickly made, and the clan then evacuates the base before Xanatos destroys it.

Later, as Demona, Goliath, and the Trio are perched atop a building, waiting for the diversion from Matt's ground team, Demona tells Goliath that once they are inside the castle, he should rescue Angela and escape with her. She insists that Goliath should give Angela the Phoenix Gate, so their daughter can hide safely in the past. Just then, the charges laid by Matt's ground team begin to explode, and the gargoyles use the diversion to fly up to the Eyrie Building and land in the courtyard of the castle. Once they've landed, Lex uses his ocular implant to receive a video image from Matt, Claw, and Bronx down on the ground. The three are surrounded by Xanatos's troops, who open fire on the brave resistance fighters and vaporize them. Just as Lexington finishes reporting their deaths, the doors and windows surrounding the courtyard spring open, disgorging a platoon of cyborg shock troops that all resemble Thailog. The Thailog clones march towards the gargoyles, their weapons at the ready.


The gargoyles are surrounded by Xanatos's cyborg shook troops, and Brooklyn tells Broadway to nail them. Broadway responds by pressing a button on his sonar collar, causing the collar to emit a high frequency that disrupts the senses of the Thailogs. The gargoyles press their advantage and attack the disoriented troops. During the fighting, Lexington is grabbed by two Thailogs and dragged to a hidden compartment in the castle wall that closes behind them. As Broadway goes to try and help Goliath open the door, he is shot in the back by one of the few remaining shock troops. Broadway dies in Goliath's arms. Now there are only three left: Goliath, Demona, and Brooklyn. The gargoyles make their way down to the Great Hall, and as they enter the room, a spotlight glares down on them. Before they can react, they are teleported out of the Great Hall and into what is presumably the Eyrie Pyramid. Once there, they find Elisa and Angela being held captive. They also find Xanatos, who reveals that his body was destroyed in the fight with Hudson 32 years ago.

After that fight, his mind was uploaded into a computer network, granting him his long-desired immortality. The computer-generated world the gargoyles have been transported to is in essence, Xanatos. He then announces that he is about to download himself into every computer in the world, which will make him ruler of the planet. Xanatos then makes the sun rise in his computer world, which turns the gargoyles to stone and Demona into a human. As Demona watches in horror, Xanatos cruelly fires upon the stone forms of Brooklyn and Angela, reducing them to dust. Enraged, Demona leaps at Xanatos. Right before Xanatos kills her, Demona tells the statue of Goliath that the cyber-world is not real, but merely a creation of the mind. If Goliath's will is strong enough, he can break free and destroy Xanatos. Goliath successfully manages to fight off the illusion of reality, and attacks Xanatos. The two engage in a battle of wills, and in the end, Xanatos is slain by Goliath. As the cyber-world begins to fall apart, Goliath grabs Elisa, and the two are transported back to the Great Hall.

Here, they come face-to-face with the real mastermind: Lexington. Lexington explains that Xanatos really did die in the battle with Hudson, and that Lex simply kept Xanatos's memory alive so no one would ever suspect whom the real culprit was. He also says that in less than a minute, the Xanatos program will have finished downloading into every computer in the world, and that he has still won, because there are a thousand terminals all over the city. Even if Goliath destroys the one in the Great Hall, another terminal elsewhere will finish the countdown. The two gargoyles then have a brief battle, which ends with Goliath hurling Lexington into the computer monitors, and his death. The machinery begins to overload, and Goliath grabs Elisa and flees the Great Hall, a wall of fire hot on their heels. As Goliath glides away from the exploding castle, he is struck and wounded by falling debris, and it is all he can do to land safely with Elisa in the street below.

As Goliath lies there, barely able to move, Elisa tells him that since they were too late to stop the countdown, their only option is to use the Phoenix Gate to go back in time. Goliath finally consents, musters enough strength to shake the Phoenix Gate from his belt pouch and onto the pavement, and tells Elisa to take it. Elisa, however, begins to insist that Goliath physically hand it to her. When Elisa becomes forceful, shouting at Goliath to give it to her, Goliath grabs the gate and leaps to his feet, demanding to know whom he's really talking to. Suddenly, the world around them dissolves as if it never existed, and Elisa spins around very fast and changes into the trickster, Puck. Puck explains that Oberon has begun the Gathering, and is calling his children home to Avalon. Puck was hoping to present the Phoenix Gate to Oberon in an attempt to bribe the fairy king into letting Puck spend more time in the mortal world. He needed to get the gate from Goliath, and since Oberon's law prevents Puck from simply taking it, Puck had to find a way to make Goliath willingly give him the gate, which was the reason Puck created a horrible dream of the future. As he is leaving, Puck asks Goliath if it was a dream, or a prophecy. When Goliath insists on an answer, Puck commands him to wake up.

Suddenly Goliath finds himself back on the skiff with Angela, Bronx, and Elisa. Angela says that one minute Goliath was talking about wanting to get home, and then he passed out and fell off the skiff. Goliath, afraid that Puck may try to deceive him again, takes out the Phoenix Gate and uses it to open a time portal high above the skiff. Goliath then hurls the gate into the portal seconds before it closes, taking the gate with it. Angela says that without a mind to control the gate, it will be lost in the timestream forever. Goliath replies that that is best, since it will also be out of reach from anyone who desires it. When Elisa asks him for an explanation, Goliath simply says that he had a nightmare, and that they must get home to make sure it doesn't come true.


by Juan F. Lara

The May run of new eps begins with a very entertaining demonstration of what the show's makers can do in terms of animation and standards & practices.

Good Points

Initially I resisted the premise: Why not do the "It's a Wonderful Life" / "Escape from New York" routine after some of the nutty premises the show has recently done? But the very imaginative characterization of the future cast and city quickly won me over.:

I was very impressed with the new character designs: Brooklyn and Claw (drawn well at last) believably looked their ages, and I liked the irony of tech-head Lex now having Coldstone cyber-prostheses. Also, Xanatos's son had an imaginative blend of features from each of his parents.

I also found the directions some of the characters' lives took very intriguing. The most intriguing to me was Demona's reform. In this episode Demona acted the way she seemed to be during the first half of "Awakening, Part 1". It was moving to see her be a friend and comrade to Goliath again, considering what feelings for her Goliath might have still had. Her relationship with Brooklyn worked for me; she probably turned to the Gargoyles for help when Xanatos became too powerful, and gradually changed due to working closely with Brooklyn and the others. For Xanatos, the writers seemingly provided a clever means of giving him "immortality", but they also added a cool twist to his fate at the very end.

The premise allowed the creators to take a no-holds-barred approach to the fates of the characters. So it was macabre fun to count off each significant character as they all got bumped off. :-) Disney allowing major characters to get killed AT ALL even in a premise like this one still had novelty value for me. The creators increased this value by providing particularly intense death scenes. Watch for Alexander Fox's head exploding through his eyes.

And the WD-Japanimation was outstanding. This ep particularly looked like an anime sci-fi, with breathtaking fight scenes like the one between the Xanatos's.

Bad Points

A LOT happened in this episode. Revelations about characters were dropped at a high rate, and the plot took several sharp turns. The creators seemed to be trying to induce a sensory overload in the viewer, so he/she would be too awestruck to not like this short. And indeed I was blown away by my first viewing. But the episode didn't seem as breathtaking during the next few viewings, since I knew every turn that was going to happen, and how "significant" the changes to the characters really were. Also, some details were lost, like when did Demona find out that Angela was her daughter?

After "Legion" and "Walkabout" I was pretty tired of virtual reality. The cyberworld in Act 3 didn't make much sense. They could transport the entire physical forms of people into VR? And if Xanatos controlled that cyberworld, why couldn't he simply erase the good guys? Also, nobody noticed that Demona could somehow get killed on her own.


Two scenes particularly stood out for me:

I loved the way they revealed that Capt. Chavez had a daughter. They gave a personal connection to what would've been a throwaway scene. Also, this scene made great use of sound effects.

The writers got satirical for Xanatos's announcement in Act 1. That poor woman's dressed looked very much like something Cinderella would wear, and the whole announcement had the feel of a commercial for one of their theme parks. :-)

Actually, instead of "Escape from New York", Xanatopia much more resembled Robotropolis from "Sonic the Hedgehog", especially when Brooklyn mentioned that Xanatos was turning humans into mutates.

DYN: the Star Wars reference: "Uh, yeah, but Thailog was killed in the Clone Wars."


"Attention. By entering these waters, you are violating Manhatten national sovereignty. Prepare for intervention."

"Demona. Brooklyn. Angela."
"Gone bye-bye.....Sory about that."

"Uh, you're going to explain all this, right?"

"Oh, was it a dream, or a prophesy?"

"Future Tense" probably won't have much significance in the continuity. (Except for what happened to the Phoenix Gate.) But I still found it a lot more fun to watch than most of the February eps.


by Todd Jensen

The final Avalon World Tour story, "Future Tense" is perhaps also the most unsettling episode in all of "Gargoyles". Even the fact that the bulk of the story turns out to be only a nightmare that Puck had visited upon Goliath does not change the fact that this is a very disturbing story, and all the more because of the possibility (see "Tidbits" for more information) that parts of it might be fulfilled in the gargoyles' actual future.

The episode's opening is particularly subtle, to such an extent that only an especially observant and suspicious viewer might have suspected what was going on here, the first time that he saw it. Goliath, wearied of the seemingly endless World Tour (just as Elisa was at the beginning of "Ill Met By Moonlight") wishes aloud to see New York again. At this moment, he is struck by an eerie blast of lightning, after which the sky and sea about the skiff take on a darker hue, and Manhattan appears on the horizon - but a very different Manhattan from the island that Goliath and Elisa know and call home. A second viewing makes it clear what has happened here; Goliath's wish has given Puck the opportunity that he needs to plunge him into his vision of a dystopian future for New York, the loophole to bend Oberon's Law, and Puck has lost no time in "fulfilling" that wish. The first time that I saw "Future Tense", however, I thought at the time that the lightning bolt was merely a time warp shifting the skiff and its passengers forty years into the future, without connecting it to Goliath's words. Which, undoubtedly, was what the production team hoped that we would think....

The adventure that follows is best described as a warped version of the Gargoyles New York, in which everything has been rendered bleak and darkly surrealistic. Xanatos has conquered and enslaved the city, with Mutate troops patrolling the streets, intimidating the last few humans left. The Steel Clan robots patrol the skies, only now they have been remodelled to sport Xanatos's familiar goatee (a particularly delightful touch). The clock tower has been destroyed, and the clan is in hiding (alongside Matt, Claw, and Demona) in the Labyrinth. Hudson is dead, having been slain in battle against Xanatos (who disappeared mysteriously after that, appearing only on holographic broadcasts from the Eyrie Building). Talon, Maggie, and Coldstone are also dead, having been slain in a battle with Sevarius and an upgraded version of the Pack (who presumably perished in this encounter as well, since they are mentioned nowhere else in the episode). Even Thailog is dead, and Demona has now become Brooklyn's mate, an event so bizarre that not only is Goliath shocked to discover it, but so is Bronx! Broadway was blinded in the same battle that cost Talon, Maggie, and Coldstone their lives, and Claw (still mute) has lost his wings. (No mention is made of what became of Fang.) And Lexington has become a cybernetic gargoyle, but his outward transformation is nothing compared to the revelation at the end that he had turned traitor and was, in fact, the real operator behind the "pseudo-Xanatos" that was running the city. (An especially effective touch was the lines around Lexington's right eye that form the outline of the Pack's symbol, a brilliant piece of irony in light of Lexington's hatred of the Pack. From this angle, his cybernetic implants add to the irony in recalling Jackal and Hyena from "Upgrade" onwards. One can all too easily become what one hates....)

And the off-stage deaths in the beginning are merely the prelude, as more fall all about Goliath. Xanatos kills his own son Alexander in an especially ruthless fashion (accompanied by the just as ruthless comment of "Since I'm immortal, I have no need for an heir."). Matt, Bronx, and Claw are disintegrated by Xanatos's troops. (Bronx's death is particularly alarming because of its implications; after this, even if Goliath could go back in time to prevent Xanatos from conquering New York, Bronx would still be gone for good.) Broadway is killed by one of the Thailog Shock Troops in the castle itself, receiving the most moving death sequence in the entire episode as he cries out in wonder over beholding the sun for the first time (he thinks). Brooklyn and Angela are turned to stone by the Xanatos Program and shattered; Demona is also slain by it moments later. By the end, it seems that only Goliath and Elisa are left standing of the entire cast - until we learn the truth.

And there were clear signs throughout that the events in "Future Tense" were all an illusion. For one thing, Xanatos's conquest of Manhattan was carried out in a style worthier of a cliched cartoon super-villain than of the wily and machiavellian entrepreneur that we had come to know over the past fifty-five episodes that preceded this one; it is highly unlikely that he would have undertaken such a blatant takeover, or attempted to seize control of the entire planet from there. (As Greg Weisman once commented in the series Bible, Xanatos isn't out to take over the world because he doesn't need to; he's able to achieve almost all of his goals under the current system, so why should he change it?) As Goliath correctly points out, "the real Xanatos, even at his worst", would never have behaved like his counterpart here. Other plotholes can be found throughout the story, plotholes that were clearly intentional on the production team's part. Everyone seems to know who Angela is (at least, none of them ask "Who's Angela?"). Brooklyn hesitates uncertainly before revealing Thailog's fate to Goliath, in a way that suggests that Puck's hurriedly searching for a way to stop up a plothole. Lexington, who took over from Xanatos after the latter's death thirty-two years before, only now decides to eliminate his former friends (the fact that the real mastermind behind Xanatos's schemes was in Brooklyn's headquarters at the very moment that "Xanatos" was gloatingly revealing to Alexander that he'd used him to figure out where that headquarters was indicates that Alex hadn't caused as much damage to his compatriots as he believed). The Xanatos Program is able to kill Demona in defiance of her link to Macbeth. Not to mention that it is highly unlikely that Goliath and his companions had really spent enough time on Avalon for forty years to go by in the outside world (again, though, the first time that I saw this episode, I believed that the lightning bolt at the beginning had sent the skiff and its passengers forward in time), that Avalon would have failed to send them back to thwart Xanatos's activities, or that the United States would have so tamely endured the loss of one of its major cities for thirty-two years (although, to be fair, we aren't told that the U.S. had done nothing to contest Xanatos's takeover). Most significant of all, however, is the fact that both Brooklyn and Demona are aware that Goliath has the Phoenix Gate, something that they ought not to know since it was not in Goliath's possession at the time that he had left New York (though one could always assume that Brooklyn could have found out about it from Griff during the latter's visit to New York in "Pendragon"). And the way in which everyone keeps on insisting that Goliath make use of the Gate somehow soon becomes suspicious....

(There is one moment in the entire sequence which is a genuine plothole, as opposed to a slip of Puck's, however; the scene where Bronx, Claw, and Matt are killed. While everything else in the nightmare is seen through Goliath's eyes, which makes sense in light of its true nature, these three deaths are depicted via Lexington's technological implants, and seen from his point of view rather than Goliath's. This makes the scene a cheat through using the perspective of one of Puck's "illusory characters" rather than of Goliath.)

Goliath at last discovers the truth, and Puck is forced to admit his deception, and his reason for it. Before he leaves, however, he can't resist making one last twist of the knife by asking Goliath if his experience was really "a dream... or a prophecy?" - and refusing to tell him which. Goliath, realizing what a close call he's had, hurriedly gets rid of the Phoenix Gate forever (or so he believes - but see the Tidbits section below), and tells his companions that they must return to Manhattan at once to prevent the nightmare that he'd just awakened from from being fulfilled.

Fortunately, as we shall see in the next few episodes, Puck's nightmare will not be fulfilled, at least, not completely. But portions of it may come true in a more subtle way....


"Gargoyles" fans have taken a strong interest in Puck's query over whether the events in "Future Tense" could actually be prophetic, since at least two elements in the nightmare that he gave Goliath have come true. Alexander was born in "The Gathering", and his full name is given in that story as "Alexander Fox Xanatos", which matches how he is known by both "Alexander" and "Fox" in the vision. And the clock tower is indeed destroyed in "Hunter's Moon". Furthermore, Greg Weisman has also mentioned that there would indeed be an Ultra-Pack in the series' future, and his plans for Brooklyn in "Timedancer" (see below) echo Goliath's forty-year absence in a twisted way. So how much else of this dream will come true? At least it will not be fulfilled in its entirety, since Goliath's homecoming in the very next episode contradicts one of the key elements of "Future Tense".

Owen is seemingly absent from this episode, but if one listens closely, one can notice that the voice coming over the speakers in Act I, announcing that the skiff and its passengers are trespassing, is his. It is tempting to wonder whether Owen's otherwise absence from "Future Tense" is in some way tied in with the fact that Puck was behind it.

One of the most memorable and chilling "bit character cameos" in the series takes place in Act I, where the Mutate troops force aside a woman and demolish the shopping cart containing all her earthly belongings. One of the items in the shopping cart, which the Mutates trample underfoot as they continue on their way, is a photograph of Captain Chavez holding a baby; the indication is that the homeless woman is Chavez's daughter, now grown-up.

One of the leading inspirations for "Future Tense" was the X-Men story "Days of Future Past". This story, which has become widely regarded among X-Men fans as a classic, was partly set in a bleak future in which the Sentinels had first killed or enslaved both the X-Men and the rest of the mutant population, but had also proceeded to enslave the human race as well; this future clearly influenced the overall atmosphere of Manhattan under Xanatos's thumb.

Despite Goliath's hopes, the Phoenix Gate was not permanently disposed of when he hurled it into the time-stream. Greg Weisman intended for it to return shortly after the events in "Hunter's Moon", where it would materialize in front of Brooklyn and whisk him off on a series of adventures. By the time that Brooklyn would return (five minutes later from the perspective of the rest of the clan, forty years later from his own perspective), he would have acquired a family, consisting of his mate Katana, a pet gargoyle beast from China named Fu-Dog, a son named Nashville, and an as-yet-unhatched daughter named Tachi. Greg even planned a spin-off covering Brooklyn's adventures with the Phoenix Gate, to be entitled "Timedancer", although the spin-off (like the rest of the projected "Gargoyles" spin-offs) was never made. After depositing Brooklyn and his family back in modern-day New York, the Gate would disappear - to reappear at the point where it first appeared in history and begin the cycle of its adventures all over again!

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