Episode 23: The Treasure
The gang of pals and Dennis pay a visit to St Bernard University which is still being constructed after 30 years. Quasimodo’s childhood friend, Pierre now is over-seeing the project after his father, Henri stepped down following the stress of a weird shadow and vanishing items. The university has connections to Nicolas Flamel who is a legendary alchemist, synonymous with the Philosopher’s Stone. Basically Flamel hid a secret in the unfinished library stained glass window. There are no physical copies of the plan as Flamel forbade it and instead made Henri memorize the design.
Frollo kidnaps Henri and Esmeralda to get the a copy as well as leverage. Quasimodo figures out the secret of the window which is a map. Everyone converges on the Indiana Jones’s style subterranean tunnel because there is a cave/tunnel quota in this show. The booty-trapped tunnel is where the stone is kept BUT it’s very dangerous to those with greedy souls who just want gold thus there are coded warning everywhere. So Frollo turns to gold after touching it but it’s okay he will revert back normal BUT not before being lugged off to the Bastille BUT it’s okay Clopin helps him bust out. Nothing it REALLY resolved narratively and it’s back to the status quo.
This episode on the one hand is weird since we meet a childhood friend of Quasimodo’s which robs his connections with Esmeralda and François as well has this character being named Pierre. Pierre does mean “Rock” which makes a cute little reference to being architect but would have made more sense to have named François Pierre since he is the Pierre Gringoire stand-in. That is a nit-pick for a puzzling design.
Also given how late we are in the show it seems weird to have Frollo get out two set-backs that are resolved within a minute. He gets turned into a gold statue but it’s ok he will revert back and then he frees himself with out any fuss or even tension.
So all that is gained from this episode is the Philosopher’s Stone is dangerous with its Midas touch and is still where Flamel kept it. Though why would Flamel even want there to be a clue to the location of the stone if he didn’t want people finding it? It was in a libray window not exactly a private place. Also we could nitpick dates but is there really a point? Also what is the point of them finding the Philosopher’s Stone when Frollo has been searching for the recipe to create it this whole time? It’s muddled.
Then again there is so much in this episode that is good. For the standards of this show there is a very well-animated chase sequence. You can tell a real effort went put into that part. All the talk of alchemy and Philosopher’s Stone, which is a big part of this show, is part of the book. It’s not a vital part of the narrative it’s more for characterization but it’s great to see it at a forefront in a version.
Also it’s good to see a stained glass window used for knowledge acquisition. That was the point of them at this point in time; to educate the masses who couldn’t read, that was their function. So as weird as it was for this window to show a clue that Flamel didn’t want people to know, the concept goes back to something fundamental about architecture of that period and the novel or rather Hugo’s tangent in the novel. Whether the original markers of the show intended to be that specific to novel or not, it’s an appreciated point.
Also I appreciated when Clopin adjusted his eye patch to show it was just decorative, it was a good touch.
Counter-point though no Djali, I suppose we can’t have it all but Frollo did look so very happy with the stone until he wasn’t.
Episode 24: A True G***y
In the episode we get the backstory of Esmeralda and François. Which we already got way back in episode 2; Angelica adopted them after their parents died when they were babies. But I guess it was thought that she was their actual grandmother by blood and not adopted. The revelation is too much for Esmeralda and she starts acts out. Honestly I’m more shocked that Djali is over 16 years old(?)and that Esmeralda and François are full siblings, most likely twins and not actual nomads much like the novel without the cruel stereotype. I thought they were adoptive together but no they are the spitting images of their parents with Esmeralda looking like their mother and François looking like their father. Also François takes this news very well as it doesn’t phase him at all.
Most of this episode is strange. Esmeralda acts out when she learns she it NOT a true nomad. As she is processing this news the King of the Nomads gets kidnapped. Esmeralda won’t listen to protocol as she is not a true member and instead she sets off on her own to save the King in a disguise with Quasimodo and François following in behind also in disguises. After finding the King she is captured too. Turns out the King had been taken by his cousin, Kasimir, who is next in line to the throne as well as exiled. Kasimir has one his goons lie that the King was seen leaving France but Quasimodo unmasks Kasimir in front of the Nomad leaders. Kasimir then reveals that he has the King and Esmeralda tied up. Why? Why would he do this? Then again he is delusional like all villains.
For whatever reason François has Quasimodo challenge Kasimir to a battle of heart and fitness of leadership. If Quasimodo wins the King will be reinstated and Kasimir will go back into exile but if Kasimir wins the King and Esmeralda will be imprisoned forever. Possibly in a cave because Kasimir threaten imprisoning him in a cave, I guess saying the word hits that beloved cave quota. I wonder if this show was sponsored by a Cave Tourism Board?
Anyway the challenge is in three parts; making their way out a stone maze in an allotted amount of time, hand-to-hand combat and pulling a rattlesnake from a bag. Quasimodo wins 2-1 but Kasimir sets fire to the stake that the King and Esmeralda are tied too. I’m not sure why they had they even bothered with validity of challenge since the King was right there proving that Kasimir was lying, it was a whole confused thing. Maybe everyone is delusional?
Anyway… Esmeralda frees herself and the King with he power of her locket which conjures a dragon, that is a bit of head-scratcher. The King then proclaims that she and François and honorable and true nomads which wasn’t an issue till this episode. Also Esmeralda reconciles with her grandmother because family is more than blood, which is a great note to end off on, no fault there.
This episode is very much a mess. While I do appreciate that this show tried to make Esmeralda’s backstory like the book without being problematic the retread from episode 2 was a little weird. I also liked that the King character was a different character than Clopin because they are frequently merged, it a minor thing just a nice touch.
What I don’t get was any of the succession, Kasimir, the King, protocols and that challenge stuff. It seemed as far a plot-line goes very half-baked. Why would they build a permanent stone maze structure for this purpose? Or maybe it was just there? But they what do they do for this challenge if it’s not at this specific location? The King was right there in front of everyone so why would they even entertain the exiled heir ruling when they were against it when they thought the King had fled France?
None of it made sense and got in the way Esmeralda’s character dealing with an identity issue and feelings of being lied to by her family but that gets resolved with King just saying she is a nomad like she has been raised which the King allowed when she was adopted by Angelica. So either it should have been a bigger issue for her and the focus of episode or it shouldn’t an issue at all. It’s just messy.
Random pluses are Djali, always Djali, the goofy dragon that Esmeralda randomly conjures to save herself and the king, and François’ muppet-like voice, loved that.