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01 January 2020 @ 01:00 am
What started out as a plan to review all of the episodes of Xena, from the beginning, during my most recent re-watch of the show (having seen it all the way through probably 5 or 6 times at least), has turned into the creation of this journal where I not only want to display my reviews of XWP but to also extend to other shows I like.

So this is my journal to record any tv show reviews that I make. (I may choose to dive into movie reviews as well in the future). I've been interested in reviewing my favorite shows lately (though I've really only been doing Xena Warrior Princess extensively at the moment due to time and motivation--ha) but I hope to do more shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Legend of the Seeker, Beastmaster, Robin Hood, Hercules the Legendary Journeys and Ocean Girl...and any other shows I might get hooked on.

Quite an undertaking, I know! But it should be a fun ride.

This journal is an offshoot from my main journal on LJ: auroragoddess1 where I write about my life, post creative icons and walls and anything else that I feel like posting about. So if you like any of these reviews and enjoy this journal, please friend me over at auroragoddess1 (you're free to friend me here as well but I spend most of my time over at that journal.)

I don't claim to be a great writer and I can be a bit wordy but it's fun to go through shows that I love and try to comment on the things that I like and don't like. My reviews may end up as both reviews and summaries of the episodes, depending on what I feel like writing about. Either way, I hope they're informative and enjoyable!

So please feel free to read the reviews and comments are always appreciated!

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01 January 2020 @ 12:00 am
Here you will be able to take a quick jump to any review in this journal. I will probably be reviewing several shows simultaneously so this list should help you to easily navigate to the show and review you're looking for.

Choose from the links below and if you read and enjoy, please comment!

Due to a lovely LJ feature called Date Out of Order I'm able to set these reviews to the dates that I originally did them! I think that's awesome. So even though I started this journal on August 22, 2009 I'm able to make posts as far back as November 2008. How cool is that?

Airdates from: epguides.com

Shows to Review

Xena Warrior Princess - 6 seasons, 134 episodes, 1995-2001
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 7 seasons, 144 episodes, 1997-2003
Robin Hood - 3 seasons, 39 episodes, 2006-2009
Beastmaster - 3 seasons, 66 episodes, 1999-2002
Legend of the Seeker - 2 seasons, 44 episodes, 2008 - 2010
Cleopatra2525 - 3 seasons, 28 episodes, 2000-2001
Ocean Girl - 4 seasons, 78 episodes, 1994-1997
Gilmore Girls - 7 seasons, 153 episodes, 2000-2007
Hercules the Legendary Journeys - 6 seasons, 111 episodes, 5 tv movies, 1994-2000
Angel - 5 seasons, 110 episodes, 1999-2004
Heroes - 4 seasons, 78 episodes, 2006-2010
Firefly - 1 season, 15 episodes, 2002

Reviews list updated:  October 21, 2012

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21 October 2012 @ 06:14 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Five
Episode:  3
Title: Succession
Airdate:  October 11, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc, Mikes Xena Images
Date Reviewed: October 21, 2012


After one Ares heavy episode, we get a second one! Kinda makes up for the lack of him last season...

Though this one has a very different feel to it. Where the last one was very much about Ares' interest in Xena, Succession focuses on Ares' interest in Gabrielle which really has never happened in prior episodes. Oh, there was the time when they kind of bonded when he lost his godhood in The Quill Is Mightier (always one of my favorite moments) and he played a big role as Gabrielle's conscience in Forget Me Not (though that wasn't really him), but the two of them haven't had much contact one on one since then, 'till now. I kinda find it cool especially now that Gabrielle is a full-fledged warrior...and Ares is noticing her.

The fact that he does notice her is a big point of the story. I find it odd, in a way, that Xena somehow does not accept Gabrielle's newfound skills, how she takes all the bad guys for herself and leaves Gabrielle with none.... That's not something we've seen since probably season 2 at most when Gabrielle was pretty much fighting side by side with Xena.

So why now? Is Xena not able to accept the extent to which Gabrielle has grown into a fighter? I know she's always had guilt about leading Gabrielle down that path. Or maybe she's simply still out of sorts after the whole being dead business.... Either way, Gabrielle does get left out and I find myself rooting for her fairly strongly throughout the episode. I'm not always a huge Gabrielle fan but I do enjoy those moments when she gets the spotlight, shows her ability to shine.

Ares' interest in her is cool because, as a warrior, he sees the side that Xena wishes to either deny or not take full notice of. Ares fills a gap that Xena isn't able to fill right now at a time when Gabrielle needs someone to fill it. I guess Gabrielle needs someone to give a voice to the fact that her decision to fight fully is a good choice and isn't a mistake (even if Gabrielle knew that pacifism wasn't for her, doesn't mean that she's ready to kill which is what the sais do for her.)

And Ares is as suave with her as he is with Xena but I don't feel the longing sexual vibe as I get every time he and Xena share the screen. With Gabrielle, it's much more a mentorship and I like it that way.

Yet even with Ares giving Gabrielle his full attention, it's clear that Xena is not off his mind. The romp in the sheets with Mavican at the beginning and the "smoke chakram" is quite interesting in showing where Ares' mind is--he's probably fantasizing that the woman he's rolling around with is Xena, yet realizes that no one can hold a candle to her flame. And the chakram smoke ring.... yeah, releasing that sexual tension?

He'd looking for an heir.... Why now? Why is this suddenly so important? Never once (since Agathon) have we seen Ares searching for someone to take up the mantel of Ares' top warrior to replace losing Xena for that title. And Mavican--she's endowed, to be sure, but not really Ares' type. More like Ares' type of distraction, meant for a little fun.

It's pretty clear from the very beginning that his focus is on Gabrielle whether or not the reasons are very clear to start with.

I wonder, though. Later on in the episode, he tells Xena that it's over between them (highly unlikely, but still...) but maybe up until now, he's always been hoping, working, that Xena could come back to him. He's been really persistent at trying every possible angle and failing at it. Maybe now he finally realizes (after what happened in Chakram? Seeing Xena innocent and still being attracted to her?) that Xena will never again be Warrior Queen material. So he's set his sights on fighting someone else, where before he had always left that spot open hoping Xena would come back to him. Maybe that's why.

Given that Xena's original leathers are somewhere in Roman hands, I guess it makes since for her to get new outfit. I know that the design of it is meant to hide Lucy's growing baby belly and even now (before it's "reveled" on the show) it's clear she's pregnant. It's a nice outfit but really hard to get used to the color difference... and how much skin it covers! Wonder why they didn't just keep the same colors (brown, bronze etc instead of bluish/black and silver....)

Having Ares pit Xena and Gabrielle against Mavican in an alternate world that he creates is a cool concept, especially when it turns out that the two of them are merged into one body. That's the best twist, so they are forced to fight Mavican on their own instead of relying on their skills as a team.

This episode is really all about Gabrielle's growth--and once it is revealed that Xena can watch the action and not Gabrielle, that Ares comes to Xena and speaks about the plans while leaving Gabrielle in the dark to figure things out on her own shows that Ares really is focused on having this game be all about getting Gabrielle to display the skills Ares considers worthy of his top warrior. It was never about Mavican (not too surprising because, as a fighter, she's good, but she doesn't have the kind of intelligence that Ares wants).

I like that it starts out with Gabrielle going up against Mavican in the dark. Another interesting fact I enjoy: not only are Xena and Gabrielle merged into the same being but one is out during the day and one is out during the night yet they do not share the time of day I would expect. You always think night and day, good and bad, light and dark. Yet Gabrielle is out during the night (dark) and Xena is out during the day (light). Is there symbolism in that? I have to wonder.... Maybe Ares planned it that way. Or maybe it's just because working and fighting at night is much harder and Ares wanted to test Gabrielle's skill to the extreme.

Mavican might be considered an interesting character--she has a clear purpose about her life and her "destiny" so she's not truly a one dimensional villain. She's really good at the speeches (even seems to bore Gabrielle which is funny because Gabrielle's usually the big talker!) But maybe her greatest flaw is the fact that she is so single minded that any deviation from her path causes her to lose focus. She might have made a good villain for more than an episode if she had been smart enough and more well rounded.

Looking again at her picture, it does look like she's supposed to be more like a "crazy" version of Gabrielle, with the wild hair and the clear purpose, and all of the speeches. It is kind of cool, though, that she wants to be written into history as the one who "stood toe to toe with Xena" just like Palemon.
At least Palemon had some redeeming qualities.

Fun fact: I like that Ares calls Xena his "old" girlfriend. More proof for me that they did know each other in the past. Their scene by the river is quite good, actually. She senses his presence and he comes in with banter and tries to have fun instead of getting down to business. First time the "real" Xena has spoke to him since her death--though nothing, attitude-wise, has changed. She tries ti figure out what Ares' game is and, of course, Ares drops hints about what is going on as he always does. (if he really wanted to keep it a secret, he could, but I get that he's the type of guy that either likes to gloat about his plans or isn't very good at manipulating; probably both).

In their final scene together in that dark room when Ares says that he's after Gabrielle, of course Xena is furious but I get that she's more angry because Ares is trying to manipulate the situation the way he possibly did for her a long time ago when she was a warrior for him. I think it's really that she just does not like seeing him mess with Gabrielle. Mess with Xena, okay, she can take it, but leave Gabrielle alone. That's the general vibe I get.

When Ares finally comes to speak to Gabrielle one on one, it's right after Gabrielle has read the note from Xena that Ares is manipulating the situation to get Gabrielle to kill. Ares has a plan.

I do love their conversation even though what Ares says isn't quite....practical? Such as: having Xena go off home and stop fighting to live with her mother. Not only would Xena not do that, Gabrielle would never believe that she would. So why would Ares tell her that? To appeal to her side that he's looking for a good warrior to lead people, one born of peace and not war. It's his whole "peace through power" that he brought up in Chakram with Xena but since then hasn't mentioned since The Reckoning. Quite an odd concept because what God of War wouldn't want violence in his world? Yet Gabrielle does kind of seem tempted by what he says, how she's the right one for the job. Maybe she's doing a little manipulating herself so that she can get a weapon and have a fighting chance against Mavican.

Either way, I highly doubt Ares could ever fully believe that Gabrielle would do as he wanted, he has got to know her better than that.

The resulting fight with Mavican is good especially when Gabrielle doesn't have a chance to stab Mavican with the sai and she morphs into Xena who finishes off the fight. Good scene. Poor Mavican, though, being left to hang on those vines forever. And Ares is clearly not pleased that Xena has foiled his plans but does not make any move to save Mavican, either, because she was incidental in his plans for Gabrielle.

He brings them back to reality and Mavican never gets her name written into history.... I like that Xena finally realizes (after "watching" her fight on the scene) that Gabrielle is more capable than she realized and is sorry she didn't treat her right. Sometimes, I just love those sweet scenes. And Ares may be upset that they foiled his plans but he doesn't seem too angry--kind of like he's willing to just go with the flow, let them beat him, whatever. He'll be back again as he always is.

Another point that proves (for me) that Ares and Xena knew each other in the old days: "Years ago, Ares said to me that anyone who asked for his help doesn't deserve it."

It's a good episode. Interesting "game" and nice conclusion (love the way Xena grabs Gabrielle by the shoulders as they walk away, all in good fun as friends). And Ares was in it so by my books, it can't be bad. It doesn't really teach any kind of moral but it does focus on Gabrielle and I think that's very needed right now when she's changing so drastically from what we know her to be. Ares has a bit of lighthearted playfulness about him, too, which I always find cool despite that he's the God of War and he's actually causing harm, or at least headache, for Xena and Gabrielle.
21 October 2012 @ 04:29 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Five
Episode:  2
Title: Chakram
Airdate:  October 4, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc, Mikes Xena Images
Date Reviewed: October 21, 2012


I've always loved Xena's chakram. Such an awesome weapon deserves an awesome backstory. Or at least, having an episode named after it. That's just one of the reasons why I love this episode.

The other is because Ares is back! (I also love Xena's journey of seeing a new side of her when she does not have her darkside, and other things like Gabrielle's new fighting skills and protectiveness of Xena etc)  It's been far too long since we've seen him. You don't realize how much he's missed during a season until he shows up again, with an all new look and somewhat all new attitude. Maybe it's the fact that he's been gone for an entire season (well DejaVu doesn't count...) that makes him even more appealing. Or maybe it's just that he looks even sexier than ever before...

At the risk of turning this review into an Ares review.... he is one of the big reasons why I love this episode so much. That first scene really does make me stop 'cause I wasn't expecting him to be back, and I wasn't expecting him to look so different (re: hot). His conversation with that other war god Kal (which really begs the question: a war god of a different culture? country? Because the Olympians are prominent in these parts) is quite interesting. Ares is and clearly always will be focused on Xena (wouldn't you be after an entire season away??) and actually seems possessive of her ("So let's just cut the crap and while you're at it, you stop tryin' to snatch Xena.  Force doesn't work with her.  Never has-- never will.  So, uh-- stop it."). He doesn't want anyone else honing in on his territory, his woman (whether she's really his or not is irrelevant, he's still got dibs and by his rules, is the only one who's allowed to try and recruit her).  He and this Kal are clearly up to something, and from Ares' part, he's only talking to him in order to get what he wants. He'd never form any kind of alliance without getting something in return.

Ares is aware of Xena's death though it doesn't seem to affect him at all--and he's even quite skeptical about the fact that she "rose from the dead" as if he believes that either 1) death could never defeat her or 2) that she somehow find a way out of it all, herself, and rose herself from the dead. He seems unsure to take this "Eli" seriously as a powerful man who can bring back the dead. He seems willing to easily underestimate Eli.

The most interesting point of their conversation, however, is this: "Are you still mad about me stealing the dark chakram? That was years ago!"

So some important things have come into light 1) that the chakram Xena owns is special (more than we already realized given it's amazing abilities) and that there is much more to it than we know; and why is it called the "Dark Chakram"?; 2) that Ares and Kal have some kind of history from who knows how long ago; 3) and Ares stole the chakram which leads me to believe fairly certainty that the only reason Xena has the chakram is because Ares gave it to her (or she otherwise got it from him). Which also means that she and Ares knew each other in the past contrary to what The Reckoning leads us to believe (that she's never seen him before). It leaves a lot of questions without answers, but I find these points very intriguing, real food for the imagination.

One last point I enjoy from the first scene: "No, I think we both know why I'm here.  So, you take my advice.  Back-- off." Ah, Ares' "possessiveness" of Xena shows itself a second time and he just reaffirms how much he'd be willing to fight Kal (based on looks and tone of voice alone) if he got in Ares' way or tried to take something that belongs to Ares... It's quite interesting how interested he is in her, almost to the point of a protectiveness (at least as "protective" as the God of War could be about a warrior he wants back as his warrior queen.) To me, this is a different side to Ares that we've not seen. Maybe it's similar to his dealings with Agathon in A Dirty Half Dozen and the looks and help he gives to Xena, but somehow, it does feel different...

That poor monk.... Now we realize that there are two chakrams, and one that scorches you dead if you try to touch it when you're not "pure" enough. Intriguing... In some ways, it seems this chakram is more deadly than the so-called Dark Chakram... Or maybe true purity can be more potent than evil....

The fact that Xena comes back without a darkside is really interesting. While I love the symbolism that her lightside and darkside are connected to the chakram, and because the chakram is broken and not whole, Xena isn't either, literally speaking having that be the reason she has no darkside doesn't make much sense. For one, if this is the Dark Chakram, then I would think that would mean that Xena would have lost her good side as a result of it being broken (that actually would have been really cool to see--the release of EvilXena when she comes back from the dead and, oh, it really would have worked because Xena was a demon just before she came back... possibilities!) The other reason it doesn't literally work is because, while the chakram is special, Xena's goodness and darkness are within her, and some mystical power doesn't keep her together.

My theory for Xena's loss of darkness is that when the angels and the God of the heavens brought her back to life through Eli, they had attempted to somehow reverse what had been done by DemonXena in hell. Maybe they'd worked to erase that from her memory so that she would not know what she had been and in doing so, accidentally erased too much and completely wiped her of her darkside, leaving her an innocent woman that's completely aware of evil but has never felt it before. And I love, then, that it will later take the merging of the light and dark chakrams (not just fixing the dark chakram that was broken in two) to make her whole, in mind, body and soul. That's a really clever way of dealing with it, not to mention the new and improved chakram that she gets.
I love Gabrielle's new outfit. Her sais are cool, too, but I just don't understand how she can be so good at wielding them from the first time she uses them. She just came out of a long stint of pacifism and then going bazerk on a bunch of Romans--now she's perfectly skilled at using two small dagger-like weapons at close range, with magnificent kicks and spins and thrusts that could be worthy of Xena? Where has she been hiding these skills all these years?

Xena's temporary new outfit is interesting, too, how "peasant" she looks. The beads in her hair, the sandals and skirt and non-fitted top (which is pretty--one of my favorite costumes) really conveys the innocent nature that she has now found herself in. It's interesting to watch her not acting herself, shying away from a fight and being a background figure. I guess it is good that Gabrielle is so good with the sais because she steps up when Xena can't, protects her and becomes the dominant one. It is a nice change for Gabrielle after that long pacifist phase but even more than that, it shows a very grown-up woman who can take charge on her own and protect and care without Xena. After 5 seasons, this is the Gabrielle that I think has finally come into her own, can now fully stand toe-to-toe with Xena. I wouldn't mind if she had her long hair back but....the short is here to stay.

This episode shows a lot of growth and revelation by Gabrielle, too. Apart from being a skilled fighter when Xena can't fight for herself, one of my favorite conversations is when she speaks to Eli about how she knew, deep down, that the way of Love was not for her. She tried it but in the end, it wouldn't have worked out long-term. I'm glad to see her admit that. Her pacifist journey was important to the development of her character (no matter how annoying it could be at times, the way it was handled), it's nice to see Gabrielle realize that she was trying too hard to follow a way that would never work for her. She has a good heart but her skills and her mind can best be used when she's there with Xena on Xena's path, doing good in the way that she had always done. She had to get over a huge hurtle when everything came crashing down when Hope was born--it two her two seasons but I think she's finally found her place.

And Eli, too, knew that Gabrielle's heart wasn't fully in it--he wanted to convert her because he cared about her but, in the end, he knew it wasn't right either.

Joxer had some revelations in this episode, too, which in some ways kind of came out of the blue but when you think about them, you realize it's been building for a while. Joxer has always (well, since about mid-season 2, I believe) had a crush on Gabrielle which has always been quite sweet because Gabrielle just viewed him as loveable brother. It's interesting to see him actually say he loves her, first to Eli and then finally to Gabrielle. He spends much of the episode trying to find a way to tell her, even goes to the innocent Xena for advice on matters of the heart (is it because she's Xena and she knows Gabriele inside and out? Or is it because Xena's lost her darkside and therefore, might be more easily able to give love advice than when she's a hard warrior?)

The best part is that Xena's already fully aware that Joxer loves Gabrielle--she's known for some time, I'm sure, and it's just taken Joxer a really long time to either realize it or to get up enough courage to make it known. I know it's because he saw her dead and then resurrected is what changed things for him (awwww...)

There are some revelations for Ares, as well, but I think there are ones that are not fully known by him. I just find the bath scene particularly interesting (even more interesting is that he fully overhears the conversation between Xena about "unconditional love"--foreshadowing?) and responds to Xena's "kiss the girl" comment in his usual suave way. The scene is sensual, for sure, and there are a lot of feelings there swirling around (particularly on Ares' part). He's gentle with her but he's also trying to seduce her into doing what he wants which in some ways, should leave a bad taste in my mouth but for some reason, doesn't.....

He'd seen her in the scene earlier in the temple when Kal captured Xena and took her to the temple to force her to get the chakram of light. Ares wasn't too happy about it and released Xena from Kal's clutches (I love his flourish of the wrist as he zaps the maniacals right off her wrists! --- very much the same as he did in The Reckoning with the when she was chained up). And then he simply let her go and fought Kal so that Xena could escape. All so that he could have her all to himself (in the Warrior Queen sense--or was there more?

Then when he appears in the bath and Xena notices him, she does say that she knows him but I really do think that's a rather loaded "know". I think she somehow senses a bond of history between them, not just a simple recollection that she's seen him in the earlier scene when he saved her from Kal.

The massage of her shoulders (though it's more of a gentle rub--extremely sensual if you ask me) and his smooth talking is meant to impress her, get her back into thinking that he's everything that she needs and so much more--to be his warrior queen. (love his line: "It's all about you and me, Xena-- not Kal, not even Zeus.  Just the two of us-- bringing peace")  He hasn't brought that up in a long time, does he see this as a "second chance" type opportunity now that Xena's innocent and can easily be manipulated? Or does he view her innocence as a "second chance" for them in a relationship because she 1) doesn't know about all the things he's done to her in the past and 2) she doesn't hold the resentment toward him like she's often known to do.

I'm inclined to believe it's more of the later because an innocent Xena wouldn't do much good as a Warrior Queen when she has no recollection of hate or anger or war, or even the ability to fight. That type of Xena isn't of much good to Ares in his position, yet he's still extremely drawn to her which I think is the most fascinating point about this episode. Could be that there's more about Xena that draws him besides his warrior side--something so much deeper.

I do love when she innocently stands up naked in front of him and he's at a loss for words. He's not hesitant to kiss her, however, and who knows how far that would have gone if Gabrielle had not walked in. Xena may be innocent to evil but she's not innocent to life so even if it had gone as far as them having sex, I don't believe it'd be a violation, at least not completely. Xena would have been aware of herself and what she was doing--it's just that her normal reflexes to push him away are not there.

The most interesting thing about Xena's newfound innocence is that she questions herself still maybe even now more than ever. But it's not whether she's doing the right thing and battling with a darkside as Warrior Xena always would, it's about whether bringing back her darkness is important. Why not go through life as a peaceful person (kind of like what she would have become in the future that Between the Lines showed)?

It's great that Gabrielle is the voice of reason to Xena where Xena has always been to Gabrielle many times before. Their conversation is one of my favorites probably in the entire series especially because it comes from Gabrielle who's always been about peace and love and not wanting to perpetuate violence even though she's learned that sometimes the only answer is to fight:

Xena:  "I can make no sense of this.  Whoever you are-- _whatever_ you are-- that brought me back like this, I need to know why.  I don't know how I'm supposed to be, but-- the others say that I'm a warrior-- that I kill so that innocent people may live.  They want me back the way that I was.  Do you?  Is that your plan?  Send me a sign.  How will I know what's right unless you do?"

Gabrielle:  "Xena-- are you praying?"

Xena:  "I can't help wondering if we're doing the right thing.  Restoring this darkness, my violence-- can that really be good?"

Gabrielle:  "I think it's vital.  I know that sounds strange, coming from me.  I think you have to know the darkest part of yourself-- to be whole."

Xena:  "But this way, I harm no one."

Gabrielle:  "But Xena, what about the people who harm others?  Xena, you have this balance of lightness and darkness.  Without both of those-- the very best in you is defenseless."

Gabrielle's learned, too, that Xena's darkside makes her who she is as much as her goodness makes her who she is. That can be said of Gabrielle, too--she'll always be peaceful inside but when it's right to fight, that's when one must stand up.

I do have to wonder about this Calib and how closely he and Eli were. He had scrolls that told about the history of the chakram? Information that only someone extremely pure would be able to get the chakram of light off the alter without being killed by fire (guess that's why Xena ends up being the only one able to--because her darkside has been stripped leaving her a completely innocent "shell"--much more pure than anyone on earth, maybe even as pure as an angel.... There's an idea!). And the fact that it can kill gods... hmmm.  Eli says Calib was an old friend, I wonder if the idea that he knew about a weapon that could kill gods could be seen as foreshadowing to later events in season 5... There are interesting parallels there that I think would be good to deal with in later reviews.

I love the final confrontation in the temple. Ares and Kal have teamed up (again, for Ares' purposes only--he'd defeat Kal if he wanted to) and Xena and the others are held up inside the chakram temple (again, why is this temple in Roman territory? I don't picture the chakram as a Roman weapon especially since there was the same design depicted on the palace of Lao Ma in the Debt; it must be of oriental origin).

Xena's unable to kill with the chakram of light when she pulls it off the alter--without getting a single burn! A weapon with the power to kill gods but Xena cannot do so because she is too innocent to even defend herself.

Joxer always has horrible timing as he chooses the one time when Gabrielle really would not be able to give him her full attention for him to tell her that he loves her. I mean, it's dramatic but so unfortunate. In some ways, Joxer deserves better than that and springing it on Gabrielle was only going to bring about disappointment. I guess that's the way of love sometimes.

As much as Ares disregarded Eli's abilities at the beginning of the ep, it's quite interesting how much Eli makes Ares cower (on the inside) when they finally meet face to face. It's like this unseen force coursing through him when Ares touches him--a force that Ares would probably never understand but clearly knows it's either not good or more powerful that even Ares. It seems to me that he gets a similar expression when he goes up against Dahak in Sacrifice I, facing a flame of fire brought by the deadly god. Eli's god isn't evil, I'm certain, but it's a more powerful force than even the Olympian gods and Ares senses that. You don't often see the God of War back down--but when you do, you know it's something big and important.

I love that Ares uses one final opportunity to get to Xena after Xena kills Kal with the Chakram of Light (which really devastates her in a way that you wouldn't normally see in Xena). I don't feel that Ares is at all worried that Xena will use the chakram on him, as well, though I am sure that Ares is not mourning the loss of Kal. He's suave and wants to tempt her to give him the chakram (yeah, that's a good idea--let Ares take it so that he cane FINALLY be top god and obliterate everyone in his path! The days of him wanting that seem behind him, though--that doesn't seem like the Ares I see now; maybe he'd just want the chakram of light so that the other gods can never come after him, protect his own skin and all that).

Yet even in this state, Xena is smart and doesn't want to give into Ares. When she picks up the now newly fixed Dark Chakram off the alter (cool how placing it back on its spot on the alter fixed in like it had never been cracked in the first place!) and puts the Dark Chakram and Light Chakram together, joining them above her head to create a new, Yin Yang Super Chakram.... That's super cool, just the look on her face as she grabs the newly formed chakram and we see that old twinkle in her eye that we know that the real Xena is back in town, awesome moment. Ares, too, knows she's back and I think he's kinda happy about that, too (as much fun as Innocent Xena would have been had he gotten her to do what he wanted, there's no denying that the real Xena is so much better).

The fight scene is one of the best! That new chakram is so super cool especially the way it can split into two and have one half ricocheting in one direction and the second half ricocheting in the other! I mean, I love the old chakram and I will always miss it (it was, by far, the prettiest) but this one can do so much and really fits Xena, too--now she can kill twice as many! When she jumps and flips, catching the chakram as it returns to her and each piece joins again, and she flips over in front of the alter and faces Ares with the chakram to his throat is a priceless move. That gleam in her eye--he knows she no longer has the power to kill him and he just takes her move so casually as he often does when she's around (there is always this game between them when they're in a room together).

She's regained her memories and her darkness and knows that she should never have the kind of power that the Light Chakram gave her (the power to kill gods is kind of irrelevant, it's simply a metaphor for her, as a person or mortal should never have the power to take a life). Yet Ares knows that they will see each other again soon and leaves with his trademark flash. You can never miss that...

I'm glad that everything works out well in the end. Things will probably be more uncomfortable between Gabrielle and Joxer but at least she knows how he feels--and he's such a gentleman about it, saying that she doesn't need to say anything, she feels what she feels and he needed to get it out. Xena's back to her old self (though still in that red outfit--are her original leathers gone? Probably in Roman hands) and she thanks Gabrielle from bringing her back to her old self. A nice way to end, them walking off back toward Greece after a long time away.

It would have been nice to deal with such things as where did the chakram come from? When did Xena get it? Why are there two and why is one called the dark and one called the light? They're great questions but we never receive full answers, leaving me somewhat disappointed. This episode would have been awesome as a 2-parter, with flashbacks to show us more details. Alas, they had to leave it to our imaginations on the full story...
04 March 2012 @ 02:10 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Five
Episode:  1
Title: Fallen Angel
Airdate:  September 27, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: March 4, 2012


Finally I'm beginning season 5! This season has always held a special place in my heart because it's the first season that I saw of Xena as it aired. I've been a dedicated fan for that long, hard to believe! And I really do think that the season starts out on a high note!

I love the concept of seeing what happens to Xena and Gabrielle after they are crucified. We get to follow their spirits into the afterlife and get to see that the saying that they will be together even in death is true. If nothing else, I am glad that they will always remain close even after death.

I know that the concept that there are other afterlives out there besides Tartarus and the Elysian Fields has been used in the series before (notably, Adventures In the Sin Trade) but, as in Ides of March, it still seems kind of out of place that we have been fully introduced to Heaven and Hell. Where the other afterlives have been based specifically on a region or association (Tartarus and the Elysian Fields for Greeks, the Amazon Land of the Dead for all Amazons etc), Heaven and Hell has been the only one that really revolves around a religion of a belief held by a particular group of people. Introducing it into the show seems rather out of place especially when we have only been just briefly introduced to the religion of a One God (Altared States, A Giant Killer) and it hasn't been dealt with in a recent episode except for the fact that Callisto was apparently working for the ruler of Hell.

How is it that Xena and Gabrielle just happen to end up in Heaven when they easily could have ended up in the Elysian Fields? My theory is simply because of the inclusion of Hell in the previous episode. Maybe because Callisto (who had been sent by Hell) had a hand in causing Xena and Gabrielle's deaths, the other side of it--Heaven--took them in after they died because Hell had caused the trouble and the Elysian Fields (or Hades) would not be able to handle their souls after that. I also think that we're supposed to believe that Hell is a worse place to belong than Tartarus and Heaven is a better place to belong than the Elysian Fields. Hell is for the exceptionally evil, Heaven is the for the exceptionally good. That's my theory, anyway.

I love seeing Xena and Gabrielle on the top of the ridge dressed all in white waiting for whatever is supposed to come next for them, confused and anxious--and frankly, very beautiful in their flowing white outfits and the glow of light all around them. There actually is a digital effect applied to the scene that gives a softer glow to the scene that I had never really noticed before. Very ethereal.

I hadn't noticed it in the many times I had watched the episode before, but on this one viewing I realized that when the angels first arrive in the heavens, they fly in a synchronized pattern and form the Jewish star before dispersing. It's the same design that is on Eli's robes.

I'm glad to see both Xena and Gabrielle so happy in the presence of the angels. Like all of their real worries have been left behind on earth. Here, everything is good. I love how timid and worried Xena is, though, when the angels come to take Gabrielle first and leave Xena behind. I really feel for her, like she's afraid that even though she is there doesn't mean that she is good enough to go where Gabrielle goes and that really does break her heart. Then the angels come for her, too.

The moment that Xena and Gabrielle are separated when the demons suddenly attack, when Gabrielle falls to the endless abyss below and Xena shortly after her, both of them reaching for the other but unable to touch is quite sad and so painful. For once, things were going to be truly good for them; after all that they endured in life, this was their chance at a peaceful afterlife and then the conflict between the demons and angels changes everything. Xena's desperate to be with Gabrielle but is completely unable to. They're already dead. Losing her soul is worse than ever losing her life.

That moment when Callisto catches Xena at the end of the teaser is quite shocking. Didn't expect to see Callisto again. And did not expect to see her as a full-fledged demon! Not sure exactly why she became a demon (didn't she fail the Master by not keeping Caesar alive? By interfering physically? Or was the reason she got promoted was because she got Xena killed?)

It's a great contrast to see the angels vs the demons. Visually, it's artistic and something I would expect to see in a painting--a battle between angels and demons. When I first saw the episode, though, I remember how I was confused that the archangels armor was dark (black/green/red) with iridescent green/black wings. At first glance, they didn't appear like "good" angels, and the contrast between them and the demons wasn't as large as if they had been lighter and more radiant in appearance. I could have imagined the warrior angels as having the same white wings as the guardian angels but with shinny gold armor and flowing white outfits. (similar to how Michael appeared in the Hercules episode Revelations). I think that would have been the perfect representation.

As a soul, I think Xena's more desperate to stay with Gabrielle than ever before. Without her, she absolutely has nothing. Her determination to dive into Hell in order to save Gabrielle even if it is futile is a great show of love and devotion. Xena's trial to become an archangel just so she can rescue Gabrielle is great but it does seem odd that Michael and the others are so quick to allow a regular soul to earn her wings so quickly.

One thing I love is that while we are watching what is going on in the afterlife, we're also watching how Xena and Gabrielle's deaths have affected those that they left behind. Amarice and Eli knew of their deaths but Joxer is a very unexpected surprise. A gut feeling brought him there, thinking that they were in trouble and needed his help. Their deaths affect him the most as, outside of what Xena and Gabrielle meant to each other, Joxer was their dearest and closest friend.

It's painful and moving watching him grieve over them and, most of all, his unwavering determination to bring their bodies back to Greece to be buried in Amphipolis because that's what Xena wanted most, to be put to rest next to her brother and Gabrielle next to her. He acknowledges how deeply they cared for each other as family and as a deeply loyal friend, he'd do anything to see their wishes carried out. I love that. Joxer isn't often a very serious guy so when he gets the chance to show that side of him, it really sticks and is powerful.

The tension that develops between Amarice and Eli over their deaths is also very interesting. Eli feels extreme guilty for the path he has chosen because of how it affected his friends. Had he stood up for himself and them things might have turned out differently. Amarice fully blames him for that. She looked up to Xena most of all, I think because she wanted to be like her and admired her as a warrior. Funny how much Xena can affect her when she didn't know her for very long.

The scene when they have to bring their bodies down from the crosses, in the dead of night and the frigid cold is probably the best scene of the episode. It just resonates with me, how real it is. And how much Joxer has to fight back tears during it especially when he pulls Gabrielle down. In a way, I guess finally seeing them like this up close (for us as well as for him) is the final realization that they are gone for good this time.

It would have been great if Xena had a chance to stay an angel for much longer that she did. It's an important step to become a warrior angel and it's such a short lived experience. It almost seemed crazy for Xena, Michael and the other archangels to go into Hell and start a fight. I mean, Hell is full of demons and even the demons weren't willing to go directly into the angel's sanctum in Heaven to attack them. They're acting bravely and maybe even a little rashly just to retrieve one soul from the demon's clutches. But then, for Gabrielle, Xena would do no less...

I do love how Callisto taunts Gabrielle in Hell, tempting her with food and being as Callisto-ish as she has always been but now with a much more sinister side (well deserved). I'm still not sure how I feel about Gabrielle giving into the temptation so quickly and becoming a fledgling demon herself but, when she comes back at Callisto with the same nastiness it is quite fun.

One of the best moments of the episode is when Xena gives up her light in order to save Callisto's soul, in essence transferring her goodness to Callisto.

Michael told her that she would have great compassion as an archangel but I honestly don't think that would have made a difference for Xena. I think that Xena always has, deep down, felt responsible for the way Callisto turned out. When she saves Callisto's soul and sheds a tear for everything that Callisto has become, that is purely Xena reacting and I don't think it has anything to do with her being an archangel. I think she would have done it anyway if she had the opportunity and ability to in that same moment. Callisto's desperate cries about how Xena killed her family and how she will never stop hating her for it are so raw, no longer hidden by Callisto's sarcastic personality. For once, she was being completely honest. At that moment, she really was lost. That's why Xena saved her. It's a beautiful scene, emotionally and visually.

It's just too bad that to give up her light meant becoming what Callisto had become--a demon. Xena as a demon I have mixed feelings about, and she truly is a scary person now. She plays demon well, an extension of what she was as EvilXena, and I have to wonder if this might have been how she would have turned out had she not decided to turn her life around.

Callisto, on the other hand, I never expected to see become a completely angelic, radiant person. She has no resemblance to who she was--and she seems to remember nothing of herself as well. It's like when she was given Xena's light, it erased all memories that she's had since her family was killed. She has no pain nor guilt about who she had become--she has been given exactly what she had always hoped for, in a sense, when she was alive: no memories, oblivion. It's very full circle for her which is nice. I will always miss the old Callisto, though, but that Callisto had really been gone since season 3 anyway so...

I'm glad that Gabrielle's trial to purification isn't the same as Xena's trial; Gabrielle's is much more personal. Xena had to forgive Callisto and now Gabrielle has to. It's interesting that it is harder for Gabrielle to forgive Callisto than it was for Xena because, to me, Callisto always did cause more pain to Xena than she ever did to Gabrielle (aside from the death of Perdicus). It's actually strange to hear the name Perdicus so long after his death. I know Gabrielle thought she loved him but they really didn't have much of a connection and I wouldn't have expected her to hold so much pain over his death so many years later.

Gabrielle was truly born to be an angel. She looks great as an archangel and she takes on the role well. She knows what she has to do to stop Xena at all costs (who has become the most powerful demon of all--and we know how Xena can focus on something until she accomplishes her goal) but I know it's hard for her as well. When she tells Michael that she'll do whatever it takes even if that means cutting Xena into little pieces, she doesn't sound thrilled but knows that going against evil is the only thing that can be done. If the demons were to win in this war with the angels, what would happen to Heaven then? Somehow, I see this conflict eventually bleeding into the real world if the demons were to take full control. It'd be like an armageddon on earth. That's what's at stake.

I love the scene between Demon Xena and Archangel Gabrielle when they face-off on top of the cliff. Xena has a creepy obsessive-ness about her where Gabrielle is still her focus (and Gabrielle always knew that's how it would be). She still wants to have Gabrielle by her side; their connection cannot be destroyed. Yet still, while Xena pleads desperately with Gabrielle not to let her walk through Hell alone (probably Demon Xena's only show of real feelings among that evilness), Gabrielle has to stand up for what she feels is right above all else. She loved Xena but can't destroy her heart to be with her (and the Xena she knew before would have understood the Greater Good is more important). It's a very poignant moment.

The final battle is great and I love the fighting in the air between Xena and Gabrielle. I like that while it is happening, Callisto, now a full fledged angel, is able to do something good Does every soul that comes in heave an angel? Actually a really good thought--maybe in the Xenaverse, Heaven and Hell aren't reserved for ordinary people--like Callisto's family--but only for those that will govern over the good and evil to help and protect them. She comes to Eli to give him the ability to bring Xena and Gabrielle back to life. He blames himself for what happened to them and now he gets a chance to help them in a way he never thought he'd be able to.

I love the resurrection scene. It's powerful and I love how it cuts back and fourth between life and the afterlife, watching the losing battle between the angels and demons (demons are winning) and Eli trying hard to bring Xena and Gabrielle back to life while Amarice and Joxer watch. The moment that Xena and Gabrielle gasp and open their eyes makes your heart stop just for a moment. It's done really well. I do have to think, though, if they had not been brought back to life just what would have happened to them in the afterlife. The angels had been completely defeated by the demons. There was no good left.

The reunion scene is so touching mostly because Amarice and Eli and Joxer stand around not knowing what the say. Everyone's so stunned. Joxer's gentle gaze toward Gabrielle and the way he touches her face says so much. His feelings are deeper than I ever thought. Xena and Gabrielle express that they will always be together even in the afterlife but I wonder--do they remember just what they had been doing in the afterlife, fighting against each other? Would that change the way that they see themselves in the present? Or was the battle between Heaven and Hell a blur for them?

Their journey from life to death and back was a great way to begin the season. It was a compelling story with action and truth.
10 December 2011 @ 09:35 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Four
Episode:  22
Title: DejaVu All Over Again
Airdate:  May 17, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2011


Why didn't the season just end with the last episode? Huh? It was such a dramatic way to go out: Xena and Gabrielle dead, their spirits moving on to probably a better place. Things are sad and mopey but yeah, I vastly prefer that episode as the season finale to this one which I consider a waste of time. TPTB could have given us one more story in the peaceful-Gabrielle arc (like maybe even have her and Xena separated for an ep) and ended it all with Ides of March. But instead, they decide to give us this futuristic story which, while funny at times, is not up there with the greats.

The last episode we had that took place in the future (as in a more modern era) was back in season 2 with The Xena Scrolls. That concept was actually very interesting because it revolved around the scrolls Gabrielle wrote about during her travels with Xena. Here, we've jumped several decades, winding up at the turn of the millennium where Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer have once again been reincarnated but not in the bodies of people like those from The Xena Scrolls: here, they are just ordinary Joe's and Jane's, doing ordinary things and living ordinary (though somewhat eccentric) lives. Somehow, I figured that the souls of Xena and Gabrielle would wind up in a place more befitting of their characters. But I guess that's karma comin' back around...

If they were going to do another futuristic story, it would have been MUCH more interesting to continue with the lives of Janice and Mel from The Xena Scrolls.

I admit--it's fun seeing the episode basically revolve around one woman's fascination with the XWP series (to the point of obsession, perhaps), a show that only came about BECAUSE of Gabrielle's scrolls way back when. In this world, Xena really is real. We get to see the fandom through the eyes of the show (including references to actual episodes, not just in flashback) and I think that's a lot of fun to play with, right down to the Xena cardboard stand-up that Annie has in her bedroom!

As clip shows go, this is about what I would expect. The clips serve a purpose, and are fun to look back on, but they're there and it's not a lot more than that.

I love that Lucy's character Annie thinks she's Xena. But she seems so not like Xena! She's a bit geeky and clumsy but she has passion about who she thinks she is from the past. She believes she's been going around town being Xena while asleep, and that she doesn't remember any of it, like some kind of superhero. Even claiming that her replica sword has marks on it that weren't there the night before. Her boyfriend, Harry, thinks she's a loon but goes along with her delusions that lead her to go find help from a Past Lives Counselor.

Okay. It's funny, I admit, but it all seems just so slapstick. Renee's character is hilarious as a wannabe hippy type of woman, Mattie. It's all mystical and metaphysical and, psychotherapy with emphasis on the psycho... But it's entertaining for a good laugh.

Annie comes in dressed as Xena in a costume that looks very similar (if not the exact same) to the ones you could actually buy in the late 1990's. I love that there are other people at this Past Lives center who think they are other historical characters.  I love the Joan of Arc impersonator's comments toward Annie, after they have a mock fight and Annie is a wimpy fighter, about how Annie "is obviously a lover not a fighter". She didn't inherit many of the "Xena" traits, it appears...

It's interesting when Mattie has to make herself and Annie go into a trance in order to "bring out" the past that she believes she is connected to. And one of my favorite concepts of this episode is simply that it appears it is not clear exactly who is the reincarnation of Xena. It's not definitive that it is Annie. There's mystery there--and it keeps us guessing.

As Harry gets involved and starts getting dragged into these sessions where he goes back in time and sees things, too, it gets more interesting. I like that each one of them actually has to experience what is going on in the past as one of the characters instead of simply viewing the scene as a third party.

And all the while, the owner of the Past Lives place (his name escapes me at the moment) is a conniving little man. It's really cheesy, though, how he rigs it so that they are all strapped to a bomb like any classic action movie. He just does it to get more money? O-kay.

I have to say, by the end of it all, through all the drama of them trying to figure out which one of them is Xena and trying to get themselves out of the trap before the bomb explodes (Annie is adorable at clumsily trying to be the hero even though she's clearly not capable) I wouldn't have guessed that Harry would wind up being the reincarnation of Xena.

He'll always be Joxer to me. He's not a totally convincing Xena, IMO, in his expressions, mannerism etc. It's interesting that it turned out this way.

Annie, however, clearly had a very Joxer-like personality from the get-go. And Mattie, though completely different than her past life Gabrielle, is the only one of the three that keeps her "original" body. Hmm.

One of the only good points about this episode is the end when Ares appears. He'd been the owner of the Past Lives business (in disguise) and is just looking to cause some good'ol Ares kind of trouble! He escaped the tomb from The Xena Scrolls (not too surprised there--he's got god powers, afterall). Been so long since he's been around--season 3!--and boy has his hair grown out!

I have to wonder what the reason for Ares' absence during season 4 was (other than any obvious reasons like him having other acting commitments and the like). I think it's perhaps because of the whole Dahak fiasco. Maybe it shook him up more than we realize, and put him at a real distance with Xena.

I laugh every single time when I hear him tell Harry (as Xena) that he was the cause of the whole Y2K planning. Makes me feel really nostalgic because I remember all the fear surrounding it back then. Love that it was Ares' idea! That's genius (of course, his plan to put the world into chaos fails once again--he's not a very good at long-term planning.).

Ares is as charismatic as ever though it's very weird to see him speaking to Xena who's in a man's body, in the same way that he would speak to her in any regular way. Does he not care who's body she's in? Is it just the soul that counts to him? You really have to wonder if it IS more than just her body that he's fascinated by. He doesn't seem at all repulsed by the fact that she's a man at this point in time. I'm glad he doesn't care (or appear to) because bad jokes about her sex wouldn't be appropriate, and would paint Ares in a bad light.

The fight between Ares and Harry is great. Ares looks so awkward fighting with that long hair, for some reason. It really hinders his movement. The best part of the fight, however, is just as Annie says "I got to deck the God of War!" Very cool. He backs out of the fight fairly easily, and leaves, hoping to at least keep some of his dignity.

I like that Xena and Gabrielle find each other again even if it is in separate bodies. The kiss between them in the end is sweet and definitely fuels the "they're lovers" argument. I don't know what to think. There are some times when it's obvious to me, and other times when it's not. It works here, it works for their characters mainly because they've been apart for so long, finally finding each other in that great expanse that is time (their lives really are intertwined forever) and they share that emotion together with love.

Annie seems rather sad in the end, though, watching Mattie and Harry sharing their lives together when she, after finding out that she isn't the real hero, is basically alone. Harry wouldn't be coming back to her now that he's found his soulmate. I feel for Annie, I really do.

And then, she perks up when she finally takes her past life as Joxer to heart, fully embracing it by singing his tune and adding her spin to it. I love that. It makes a very upbeat ending for the episode, a heartfelt one that isn't slapstick and crazy like the rest of the ep. It's real. And as she says, maybe she'll be Xena in her next life!
20 November 2011 @ 07:28 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Four
Episode:  21
Title: Ides of March
Airdate:  May 10, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: November 20, 2011


One thing that I find particularly fascinating about this season, above the rest that have come before, is the belief that "we create our own destiny" (a running theme in this series; perhaps even part of its motto) is simply not always the case. Not that what happens to Xena and Gabrielle by the end of this ep was "destined" or "couldn't be changed" but there's just something intriguing about the idea that no matter how hard you try, there are some things you just cannot change. And that, in and of itself, is a lesson as strong as "life is only what you make of it".

This episodes is probably one of the most emotionally charged episodes to date. Not since Sacrifice have things been so intense. And that feeling is heightened by the running theme: that Xena is about to finally come face to face with that fear that has been haunting her all season: the vision of her and Gabrielle's frigid, painful deaths.

I'm still unsure about my opinion of Callisto returning in this way. I love Callisto as much as the next person (the best nemesis/villain of the series, no doubt) but I think I would be happy if she had been kept dead after season 3. Her ending was so poignant and her character's purpose had been fulfilled (and she had been given what she'd always wanted: death) In that way, she came full circle.

It is interesting to see her again after all of that, and to see that she didn't get the peaceful oblivion that she had been seeking. And is EVERYONE trying to look like Gabrielle now? (Gabrielle, Najara, Callisto all have the short 'do). But I don't know...the fact that she's in Hell now (the show is really starting to mix religions....) and is called on by "Him" to go back to earth to "bring Caesar to power" (is Caesar so evil that even Satan is looking to get him on his side?) is not a place that I would have figured Callisto would end up.

Callisto's always been about taking matters into her own hands--yet here, she goes to earth basically as Satan's (or whatever His name is in the series) servant, ready to do his bidding. Feels like a very submissive role for Callisto especially since she's not supposed to do any harm to Xena in any way, or do anything to anyone "directly". She's a messenger, only. When has Callisto been able to have this much discipline? Taking orders from anyone just isn't her thing. Just doesn't feel like a role I would have expected to find her in. Though, however she plays it, she does it well, I admit!

I think that Caesar himself has also gone a little bit insane. All this time, it's Caesar who's tormented and shaped Xena's life, and we've seen how Xena has dealt with it but now it seems that Xena both torments and pleasures him in ways that are just a bit creepy. The sex scene in his dream is intense. I think that Caesar is terrified of Xena--of the person he created--because he knows that she could come one day and end everything for him, no matter how cocky and sure of himself he likes to believe he is about his Destiny. Plus, he does--and always will--want her.

Caesar rewarding 1,000,000 dinars to anyone who brings him the head of Xena really calls Xena to action. I like it, actually, how she just gets this look like "I'm tired of playing games. It's time to end this NOW." True, going all the way to Rome to assassinate Caesar is drastic but she doesn't seem particularly disturbed by it. She actually seems pleased--finally gets to do Caesar in.

Even Gabrielle, who's supposed to be all for peace, seems okay with it, as okay as Gabrielle could be, anyway--and is eventually understanding of what Xena has to do. A very different attitude than what she felt when Xena said she had to go and kill Ming Tien. I think, after all she's seen, Gabrielle understands why Xena has to do this--and for once, can get behind it. Xena convinces her that it's right ("he's an evil man and he's trying to kill me.")

One thing that is really interesting here is that while Xena travels to Rome to stop Caesar on a mission of murder, Gabrielle runs into Eli and his mission of peace. Nice parallel--and in the larger since, too, since Xena's always on a fighting mission (inside herself) and Gabrielle's always wanting to find that peace within.

I love that Xena makes Amarice stay with Gabrielle during all of this, as her "protector" and that she has to deal with the peaceful ways of Eli (love the way she rolls her eyes at all of it!). Gabrielle does need more help now than ever with her non-violent ways.

And once again, while Eli's ways are admirable, it does present an interesting challenge when Eli and Gabrielle (and the rest of his followers) are captured by the Romans, and Eli has faith that he must do nothing against it because it's his way. His faith truly is put to the test now and for better or for worse, he will have to live with any decision he makes.

Oh, if only Callisto had not arrived to help Caesar in time, Xena really would have had her victory and killed him (though death by chakram to his neck would not have been a pretty sight). Dressing up as a Roman was the perfect disguise (is it just me or does the look really suit Xena--even with the helmet!) but Callisto's working for a lower power now, so it's not too hard to believe that she knew Xena was coming, and exactly when she'd be there. The look of complete shock on Xena's face when she sees Callisto again, and the "miss me Xena" look on Callisto's is priceless.

I am just not used to seeing Callisto in this capacity. It's so foreign to watch her trying to convince Xena that she must choose the peaceful path in order to save her and Gabrielle's life from the crippling vision she's been having. Callisto never seemed the type of person that would be good at persuasion for anything other than torturous pain but I don't know, she does make some good points. It's a new way of seeing her--I like it. She looks so pure on the outside but we all know what's going on on the inside....

Xena, on the other hand, cannot believe what she is hearing--that those kinds of words are coming out of Callisto's mouth. I love that, too. She talks about Xena's guilt--which will always be there regardless of if Xena believes she's put it behind her (as she tells Callisto a little later on). She knows that Callisto is scheming for her master, that none of this has anything to do with peace and everything to do with not going after Caesar, and Xena's not going to fall for it. "You're trying to tempt me from my way by offering me peace".

In some ways, Callisto's point makes since, but Xena doing nothing now will not help Gabrielle as she's already been captured by Caesar. (If Callisto really wanted to get Xena off her murder mission against Caesar, she never should have told Xena that Gabrielle has been captured--she's brilliant in her thinking most of the time but that one bit of information blew her entire plan).  Xena stopping in her tracks now would only surly bring Gabrielle's death. So I understand Xena's stubborn nature, to follow her way of the warrior as she now calls it, no matter the cost--it's who she is and she's not going to change that for an easier path.

I think the one moment in this episode when my heart truly sinks is at the same time Xena's does--when she's talking to Brutus about Caesar's plans--she's the one who believes Caesar is going to declare himself emperor (again, more information from Callisto that she should not have told--it just makes Xena more interested in killing him) but Brutus still believe Caesar is nothing more than a friend to him. And then she learns about where Gabrielle and the other prisoners have been taken, and asks if it's snowing on the mountain where they are headed. Brutus confirms it is--and that's when Xena finally realizes that she's caught in the middle of her vision. The only question left is: will she finally be able to overcome it? That's really heart-stopping right there.

The next 10-15 minutes of the show do nothing but pick up in a whirlwind of action and heart-wrenching storytelling.

Gabrielle and Eli in the middle of complete and total silence of prayer in their jail cell, Gabrielle so sure beyond a doubt that Xena will come for them and Amarice believing that they're all going to get killed because they won't fight their way out.

As soon as Xena gets to the top of the mountain where Gabrielle and the others are being held prisoner, she goes to rescue them. Easy enough to get inside the cell and get them out (at least, Eli, Amarice and the rest of the captives do escape without a scratch). Xena fends off the guards but now Callisto's watching from a hill above. Her plans have completely shattered and that really pisses her off. But she's not supposed to take an active approach to the situation, right? Yet as she sees Xena and the others escaping with hardly any guards around to notice, she has to call them to action somehow--because now it seems personal for her, and that what they are doing is an affront to her plans. Apparently, it's more important to bring Caesar to power (maybe she'll receive punishment from Him if she doesn't?) than it is to take the approach of using words only. The hold that He has on her is restrictive and does seem very much like what Gabrielle is going through (except Gabrielle isn't going to be punished if she deviates from her path).

The moment Callisto lets out Xena's warcry, it really sends shivers down my spine. And as dozens of guards enter the courtyard in front of the jail, and Xena's forced to fight them off--of the few times that she's fought, she finds herself truly outnumbered. Yet she holds her own and fights as strong and as sure as she ever had before. Callisto sees this and when she realizes that Xena's going to foil her plans AGAIN, she lets out that curdling screech and hurtles the chakram toward her (Xena's been missing it since Callisto caught it in the first scene with Caesar).

The chakram rarely hurts Xena so watching it slam against Xena's back--(it clearly could have sliced through her)--and seeing the pain and anguish on Xena's face in slow-motion as she slowly falls to the ground along with the chakram as it breaks in two signals that things are definitely not good for our Warrior Princess. Something is serious wrong.

I think that single moment, the look in her eyes, the look in Gabrielle's eyes across the square--are chilling.

It's interesting that the chakram causes no wound to Xena (as if it would rather break than kill Xena) but the impact has left Xena with a severed spine, clearly paralyzed from the waist down. Never have we seen Xena so helpless.

And then everything changes. I think so many thoughts go through Gabrielle's mind in just those few seconds--yet when she sees Xena lying apparently helpless on the ground, unable to move and stop her attackers coming toward her--she does not hesitate for one second, knowing that she has to save her friend and that is all that matters.

Gabrielle has never killed except for that accidental time with Dahak's follower. Since then, Gabrielle has been tormented by those events, and the idea of shedding blood. So to watch Gabrielle so easily kill that soldier after Xena with a spear, then grab Xena's sword from the ground (ironic that it's Xena's sword?) and start to go Rambo on all of the guards in the square, killing them one after another is really....heartbreaking, knowing what Gabrielle is giving up and the pain she's willing to experience for Xena.

And Xena's eyes show just what we, as the audience, are feeling too--that heart-wrenching sadness at Gabrielle's violent ways for the safety of her friend. Xena would rather die than to watch Gabrielle kill herself on the inside--which is what she does with every single bit of blood that she sheds with her hands. That entire journey she'd been going on since Hope's birth, wanting to change the world through peace and her own serenity has been shattered because her best friend was in danger. There's no greater level of friendship, love and sacrifice than that. It brings tears to my eyes.

And it's not just the killing that is hard to watch. In Gabrielle's last encounter with a soldier, she kills him easily enough but then she proceeds to stab him (off camera, mind you--I'm sure it's rather bloody) over and over and over again as if he's not dead enough. For Gabrielle, it's harder to deal with violence when she keeps things bottled up. When they're released, like now, and for the safety of her friend, she goes berserk. It's either entirely peaceful or incredibly violent. There doesn't seem to be any happy medium for her.

And her reaction is just what I would expect--when she sees the bloody knife in her hand and the dead bodies all around--she'd been in this kind of adrenaline haze before, not really realizing what she'd been doing, but after it's calmed down, she knows that she's killed and given up her way. She dies inside all over again.

There could never be a more touching and heartbreaking scene full of love than the jail scene between Xena and Gabrielle. It's so sad--it's even hard to talk about. We now know that the vision is going to come true. There's no way for them to get out of it now. Now it's just about the two of them being together in their final moments, and what they do with that time that they have.

Xena's sorry that she made Gabrielle leave her path but I love that Gabriele, though I'm sure it hurts to know what she had to do, knows that choosing a new path of friendship (the one that has always been most important to her since Xena came into her life) is what matters. She tries to comfort Xena as she cradles Xena in her arms. For once Gabrielle is the strong one by the way they are sitting, a nice role-reversal.

I also love that Xena admits to feeling guilty that she never read Gabrielle's scrolls. It was an important part of who Gabrielle was, and she never once indulged Gabrielle. I understand that Gabrielle can't be upset by this but as Gabrielle has shared in her life with Xena (as a fighter), Xena should have shared in Gabrielle's life. That's one regret that's sad to acknowledge.

As they are taken outside in the snow-covered mountains, watching as the Romans ready the crosses and set them down, it's all very surreal. We've seen it all before but now it's real, it's happening, and it's painful.

I love how Xena and Gabrielle's deaths are intertwined with Caesar's assassination. It really shows how much the two characters and stories are connected, and when one ends, the other ends, too. I'm with Brutus on his decision to kill Caesar--he had become too powerful, too greedy, too much of what Rome is. This was the one time that I really was interested in Brutus as a character. He had potential.

I can't explain the reaction to watching Gabrielle and Xena as they are nailed to those crosses. Their expressions of pain is so real--that is some brilliant acting.

And as Caesar lies dead on the floor with dozens of stab wounds, the blood soaking his white robes, Xena and Gabrielle are hoisted up into the air, and left to hang on their crosses. That could have been the end.

But I'm glad that it wasn't. As cheesy as it may be, I'm glad that we watch as their spirits are reunited, having left their bodies, and then disappearing into the air in a brilliant white light as they leave their bodies--and the mortal world--behind. They appear happy, angelic. Having the episode end with them simply on the crosses, watching them as they die would have been too depressing (the last minutes of the episode were depressing enough).

At least this way, we see what we, and Xena and Gabrielle, have always believed: that they will be together even in death, always.
29 August 2011 @ 11:09 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Four
Episode:  20
Title: Endgame
Airdate:  May 3, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: August 29, 2011


Finally, after some less exciting episodes (Takes One To Know One, The Plays The Thing, the India Arc etc) we're back into the thick of the real action that makes Xena so exciting: the use of the Amazons AND the Romans.

I was not expecting to see Ephiny die in the Teaser. What's the point of bringing her back for two seconds just to watch her die at the hands of Brutus? I think it's dramatic and I guess it's better seeing her go out as the strong Amazon that she is instead of simply hearing about her death off-screen, but still. I actually would have prefered to simply hearing about her death in the beginning and then having her fight against Brutus be a flashback told to Gabrielle by Amarice.

I love the scene at the beginning, that after the battle where Ephiny is killed, the Romans retreating and the Amazons hovering over Ephiny's fallen body, we see Gabrielle and Xena by a peaceful lake, and Gabrielle's trying a new method of catching fish. I love her line about how catching the fish this way doesn't mean that they will suffer (um, but you will be sticking a knife in them in the end so you can eat them, right?) and Xena's just watching her, amused and affectionate at the same time. I love that about their interactions. And it does seem that Gabrielle's new found peaceful ways do extend to animals as well as people (you'd think she would go vegetarian, then).

Amarice. Hm. She may be annoying and young and inexperienced but I like that about her, and it's a new dynamic for Xena and Gabrielle to deal with (she's not obnoxious like Tara was in her first episode so that's a plus). I love that Amarice does have the heart of an Amazon; she clearly had great respect for Ephiny (maybe to the point of hero-worship). It's just the way she goes about it (doing things as she feels she should.

She keeps speaking of "her tribe this", "her tribe that". I thought, though, that she was part of Ephiny's tribe? Or is it simply that she is trying to interpret the way Ephiny did things in ther own way and her way is more her way than Ephiny's way?

It is nice to see a young and inexperienced Amazon in the mix, one that is probably younger than 20. Every Amazon Xena and Gabrielle seem to encounter are older, more experienced (or simply older) but Amarice is still young. The Amazons aren't just made up of women in their 20's-30's, it's an entire society of women probably from birth to old age. So it's nice being able to see some of that difference, someone who is still learning.

I also like Amarice and Xena kind of "bonding"--and that Xena has to stop Amarice from using her desire to only think with her sword. In the time that Xena has been traveling with the peaceful Gabrielle (which I don't think has been longer than a couple months), she's had to accept her new path no matter how difficult it is for Xena. And she finally opens up that it is difficult, and that she doesn't always agree with what Gabrielle does but she's learned to understand her. That's really telling. Xena is willing to be there for Gabrielle and the choices she makes, no matter what, but it is difficult for her to adapt to these changes, I think.

The moment that Amarice starts calling Gabrielle queen and informs her of Ephiny's death, something inside Gabrielle I think starts to change.

She's now got a huge duty to uphold. Her pacifist ways are being questioned and tested in a huge way. The Amazons, after all, are not a society of tree-hugger women. They are fierce warriors. I'm glad that Gabrielle is put into the position that she is. I think, in part, it makes her face something inside of herself as well. That she has to find a way to be violent while still remaining on her new path. And the lives of her Amazon sisters are at stake and depend on the decisions that she ultimately makes.

So not only does Gabrielle have to lead the Amazons, she also has to do it while grieving Ephiny's death. When was the last time she saw Ephiny, anyway? Wasn't it during the whole Hope situation in Maternal Instincts/The Bitter Suite? I find it interesting that Gabrielle has such an attachment to Ephiny. She was a good person and all, and they did have some good interactions but most of the time they didn't seem "that" close. Ephiny wasn't in that many episodes, after all. So where did this deep friendship between them develop? Was it just because they had that bond as Amazons?

Even Xena knows that she has a duty to Ephiny. I love when she tells Ephiny (when she and Gabrielle visit her body in the hut in the Amazon village) that she will not let the Amazon Nation die if there's anything she can do to stop it. Xena, too, feels she owes the Amazons one (or many) perhaps because she had a hand in hurting them so long ago, but I think more than that--she knows that the Amazons are a strong and powerful group and don't deserve the persecution that they so often find themselves in, be it by the centaurs, Romans or anyone else. Now that Gabrielle is Queen, Xena is doubly invested in seeing that the Amazons are rescued from the Romans, or at least, that the Romans are stopped and that the Amazon tribe will survive into the future.

From the moment Brutus comes onto the screen, something about him does really seem different than any other Roman that Xena and Gabrielle have interacted with. He's led by duty to Caesar and he genuinely seems to feel he's doing the right thing. He's kind of "innocent" and just does what he's told, in a way--and has been taught to believe in Caesar's plans, that he'll do great things.  I like that when he's captured by Xena (drug behind the horse) and locked up in the Amazon village, he somehow seems to see a different side to the war that he's fighting in.

Gabrielle saves him from execution, which is something that most of the Amazons--including Xena, I think--want because of what he did to Ephiny. Yet Gabrielle--the person who probably is the most affected by Ephiny's death--is willing to stop Xena from letting him die at the hands of her pinch. In a way, I think Brutus discovers an act of mercy in war maybe something that he's never really experienced before.

He tells Amarice that she knows nothing of real war and carnage--and doesn't seem all that happy about the things he's seen (and perhaps done) in his time as a Roman general. And when Gabrielle wants to offer peace to Caesar on behalf of the Amazon Nation, he's willing to help her. So I think there's more to Brutus--and I like that about him. He has a kind of depth that's intriguing yet he stays true to his principles and loyalties.

Gabrielle's struggles with her leadership really takes a turn when she has to lead them into battle. I like Amarice wanting to put up the captured Romans on the front lines so that the Roman armies have to go through them to get to the Amazons, but Gabrielle forbids the use of such tactics. She's going to lead the army and rally the troops, bringing courage and loyalty from the sidelines instead of on the battlefield.

That's the closest Gabrielle has ever gotten to leading an army (like in A Good Day) but doing so without actually participating. It's a very clever way of continuing to be a part of her and Xena's world without jumping too far in and disrupting her new path. This time, she's able to make things work, and does it well.

I think that Xena is finally getting fed up with the Romans by this point in the series. The way she rides onto that battlefield (I love all the explosions behind her!) and slashes and any Roman she sees, heading straight for Pompey who has been the brains of the enslavement of the Amazons, it's quite telling in, I think, her real rage against them. She needs to avenge Ephiny, too, and I think that's a main motivation that drives her.

I understand her need for revenge, but I wasn't expecting her to kill Pompey in the way that she did especially after she was about ready to let him go. Cutting off his head.... that sends a message to Caesar, alright. I agree that she made the right choice--but watching her make it showed a side of Xena that has to make the difficult decisions (the kind of decision that she made when she left Callisto to die in Return of Callisto).

The death of Pompey now leaves Caesar the ruling power, with no more competition from Pompey or Crassus (having been gone since season 3). With Caesar now the reigning power (well, there's the senate but clearly Caesar is trying to rise ahead of everyone), Brutus, too, finally sees some of Caesar's true colors. He and Xena come to something of an understanding when she tells him that Caesar will betray anyone if it suits his purposes, and he sees part of the truth for himself when he watches Caesar burn the peace treaty. Caesar clearly does not want or care about any kind of peace--just power. His line in the end says it all: "If they aren't under my control, they're a threat." I think Brutus has some misgivings about following him so closely now.

With the Romans defeated, the Amazons finally have time to mourn Ephiny. The funeral pyre is sad and watching Gabrielle and Xena share a touching moment in front of the fire as Gabrielle breaks down with sadness for Ephiny and Xena comforts her.

The Amazons future seems certain enough when Gabrielle transfers her Queenship to one of the other Amazons who will be able to rule fulltime. Yet how will they fair now that a prime leader from so early in the show is gone, and so many more of their sisters were taken by the Romans as slaves?

It's a good episode with so many themes I like about the series, and one of my favorites of season 4.
12 August 2011 @ 11:43 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Four
Episode:  19
Title: Takes One To Know One
Airdate:  April 26, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: August 12, 2011


This episode seems to commonly be a very under-rated episode. Maybe it's because it's the first time where the Xena cast is involved in a true mystery. I think that's a really fun concept even though I'm not much of a murder mystery fan. It plays well, and is a lot of fun to watch Xena try to solve this mystery, clue by clue.

We've not seen Cyrene in quite a while and it's really nice to see Xena returning, simply to celebrate Gabrielle's birthday. Though...it is very odd that this celebration happens in Amphpolis and not Potidaea where, you know, her mother and father live and where she grew up... At least Lila is around--it wouldn't be a birthday party for Gabrielle without her. She is the one person in her family who has had the most attention outside of Gabrielle herself--Lila's her only real link to her home and her previous life, I guess.

We also haven't seen Autolycus in quite a while either. I'm not very fond of his very short hair, but his personality is just as fun as it has always been.

I like the premise: Xena arriving in Amphipolis on a dark and stormy night to find a surprise party planned for Gabrielle and the mysterious death of a bounty hunter in the tavern. I still wonder just why Gabrielle is traveling apart from Xena as they are usually always joined at the hip. Still, it works to have Xena arrive first and Gabrielle later.

As always, the main question in every mystery is: who did it. The only people in the tavern are Xena, Cyrene, Autolycus, Joxer, Minya (another welcome face) and Lila. No one, except Xena, could ever be considered a killer and since Xena is ruled out by default since she's the one who found the body, that leaves the rest of the gang. I like that everyone is a suspect and that everyone could be the one that killed the bounty hunter even though we believe that none of them could have committed a murder.

It's unusual to see Discord since she has never formally been a part of this series (more prevalent on Hercules) but my favorite thing about her appearance is her knowing exactly who Xena is without even being told because, apparently, Ares talks about her a lot ("Everyone on Olympus knows the Warrior Princess. Ares has made sure of that.")

She of course gives them no time at all to solve the mystery, claiming that Ares requires her to kill the one who did it because she's now the Goddess of Retrubution (I so cannot see that being a gig that she enjoys for very long--her succumbing to "justice" just isn't her). And so she gives them only until the sand in an hourglass runs out--basically, until morning.

The pressure does cause everyone to focus. But it also brings about some conflicting and sometimes twisted stories. Of course Xena is the one to take charge, going through all of the facts and all of the clues in order to pinpoint exactly what happened. She does this in a general day to day basis anyway so it's not exactly out of the ordinary for her. Her mind's always thinking of the possibilities--deducing the facts. She could make a good detective (if a detective's job required more physical action and stimulation--Xena would need that).

The fact that Xena suspects her mother first off, when she finds out that Cyrene knew that this was a bounty hunter, and that Xena had found Cyrene gone from her room that night during the storm--is interesting. Deducing all of the facts that Cyrene would clearly kill to protect Xena as she did once before is obvious and Xena is right: you are always a child to your mother, no matter the age. So by that thought alone, I could see Cyrene as the only one other than Xena who would be capable of something like this. Xena and Cyrene do display a very tight mother/daughter bond, of understanding, love and respect in this episode (especially in the end with the hug) and I love that.

I do have to say that once Gabrielle arrives, there seems to be a level of....loss of smarts? when she's going around trying to figure out how this woman died. I can't quite put my finger on it but for one, she takes all the facts and tells them again (about the kindling, about the candles, about the dead woman on the floor) and says them again like they are new facts, like no one else has said it before. She also believes that this woman could have been stabbed through the keyhole???? Where did that come from? Gabrielle always seemed smarter than that. But then, in comedies, she does often to be somehow "dumbed down" in order for the plot to flow as it does. Don't think that it is necessary as that is what Joxer is for but I have this sense that that is what is happening (happened in The Play's the Thing as well).

I do think it's a very clever thought that Gabrielle believes she's the one to have killed the bounty hunter (and Xena's utterly surprised reaction that she couldn't have killed her because she wasn't even there!) because she gave her something nasty to drink and that it caused an allergic reaction that killed her. Well, I guess that is possible.

I never would have guessed that Lila could have a crush on Joxer. His interest in Gabrielle is slowly growing into much more (having to let Lila down easily because he's in love with Gabrielle). And it's hilarious that this bounty hunter had Joxer mistaken with his brother Jett, the assassin from season 3.

It's also good to see that Autolycus still has his "heart of gold" (as mentioned by Gabrielle back in season 3), that he would risk going up against this woman, possibly even killing her, in order to help Xena out. It's a true measure of a good person...even if he does enjoy stealing.

Everyone's stories are seem disjointed but everyone does what they do because of love--for Xena and for friends. It's a very tight group and it's good that Xena has so many people around her that care for her. The Xena of a few years ago would have been lucky to have a third of the people as she does now.

One thing that does surprise me is at one point, when Discord is getting very impatient about finding the killing--and simply wants to take anyone to prove to Ares that she can do this job--is that Xena offers herself to Discord if her hunch (about who did it) doesn't pan out. She believes Discord will score points with Ares if she takes Xena. Somehow, I don't think so. I highly doubt Ares wants Xena dead.... (I could see a very nasty confrontation between Discord and Ares if he found out that Discord killed Xena just to finish her job).

How hilarious is it that someone in the tavern did kill this woman but that it was no one that they would expect? Awesome that Argo kind of got the spotlight there, being the one to put the bounty hunter in the position that caused her death. Argo doesn't outright kill this woman but she set the events in motion. I find that cool, just because the "who done it" was actually the horse! Of course, Argo never meant to--and Discord "doesn't do animals" so she had to let her go.

This episode is an okay filler. Not highly exciting but still fun. I love the birthday cake in the end--how everything turns out alright and especially, the family and friends are all together.
31 July 2011 @ 11:00 pm
Show: Xena Warrior Princess
Season: Four
Episode:  18
Title: The Convert
Airdate:  April 19, 1999
Screencaps: Miroir dArc
Date Reviewed: July 31, 2011


Crusader is one of my favorite season 4 episodes. I thought Najara was a fascinating nemesis and quiet easily a favored match for Xena once Callisto is gone. Plus, she had a mystery about her, and a conviction that seemed to have a real gray area. So having Najara return for The Convert should have been just as awesome. But somehow, it didn't quite have the same "punch".

This episode wasn't just about Najara this time. Actually, I would say that the more important storyline here was about Joxer and something he's never dealt with before, despite his claims to being a "true warrior": taking a life. It tears him up just as much as it did Gabrielle. And I really feel for him, for what he goes through.

I like the storyline that Najara was in jail and then escaped, and has appeared to truly turn her life around due to Eli and his way since he visited her in her cell. I can buy that. It's an interesting connection between Gabrielle and Naraja then--that even though they separated, they still found themselves on the same path.(and that perhaps part of Gabrielle's words about violence and doing good had stuck in Najara's head) That was one of the clear signs that I think TPTB were trying to play, in terms of showing that Najara could quite possibly be a replacement for Xena. We know that would never happen but Najara believed it so, at least, and even in this episode, Gabrielle felt drawn to feel compassion and understanding toward her once she finds out that Eli had helped Najara change her ways.

I think that possibility for change was an important part of Najara's story. She even says that the Djinn have left her, claiming that they left because of all the bad things that she had done in their name. Hmm.... I still have to wonder whether they are real or not. Either way, it's good that she's realized what she was doing was wrong. Of course, Xena isn't ready to buy it yet (if at all) and once again, she and Gabrielle are kind of put on opposite sides, where Gabrielle is falling for Najara's story and believing the best in her, and Xena's on the sidelines, wanting to know her real motive. I can admire that quality in Gabrielle, I just think that maybe after all that had happened, it would have been nice if Gabrielle herself was skeptical as well (though still her compassionate self).

The heart of the story revolves around Joxer. Jumping into action as he always does when he's buy Xena and Gabrielle's side (he really does have a lot of bravery despite his skill as a warrior being more or less in his head), and when he ends up killing that thug by sheer accident, it shocks and stuns him more than I probably ever would have guessed. I suppose seeing the body of your attacker lying dead on the ground and a pool of blood bubbling out of his chest where the dagger had been would be a rather gruesome sight (it is one of the more violent scenes in Xena).

And yet, after all that, it simply cuts Joxer into pieces. Gets himself drunk to relieve the pain, start seeing the guy's face everywhere, taunting him about the kill. And when he learns that this warlord had a son.... Well, it couldn't get any worse than that, I think. He really does beat himself up over what he did even though the guy was a murderer. Not Xena nor Gabrielle can shake him or really help him with the guilt.

In that one moment of killing, it really did change him forever. Having a serious Joxer play out on screen is somewhat of a rarity. Perhaps it made him even more aware of the fact of who he is--and that if he can't kill, does that really make him a warrior?

It's noble of Joxer wanting to not only go to the son and tell him of his fathers death but also tell him that Joxer was the one who killed him. I think in a way, he wants to be punished for what he did, too, and though it is the right thing to do, he wants to suffer a little on the outside as much as he is doing on the inside right now.

Arman's story is an interesting one, how he has always believed that his father was a good and true man and that anyone who says anything to the contrary about him being a warlord, he doesn't believe. I have to wonder about his father, though. It seems to me that his father really did care about his son, at least a little bit, otherwise, why send him off to school and have to pay his tuition (which I'm sure was paid in stolen dinars)? He could have just left the kid with some random family, never wanting to see him again. Maybe there was more to this warlord than we know?

It's a classic story, that Arman ends up forgiving Joxer in the end once he realizes that his father wasn't the good man he had always been told. Joxer needs that forgiveness from him but it will never take away the pain of his killing. I think knowing that he can be forgiven, though, will help him to start to heal.

The Najara storyline does seem a little bit out of place in this episode where Joxer is the focus. I think that Najara still has her quirks about her, and still believes that she and Gabrielle should be together, not Gabrielle and Xena. She's much more harsh toward Xena, though, more so than before ("I wanna share a life of peace with Gabrielle.  You wanna share a violent death.  You tell _me_ who's the villain here-- me or you.") I think mainly because she's realizing the bond between Xena and Gabrielle is stronger than she would like, and Najara can't handle it. I think Najara shows a bit of a jealous streak.

The way she goes crazy in the end, though, is kind of frustrating because her character had been so mysterious and interesting in her first episode. Now, with her voices returning to her (or had the ever really left?) she asks Gabrielle (because they have such a close bond now???) to hear the Djnn but when Gabrielle refuses, Najara just loses it. Before, the voices were something that spoke to her but now they seem to be in her head completely, that Najara is just crazy. Was she crazy before, keeping that part of her hidden and now it comes out? Or is being crazy a recent development? I don't know but I like to think that she didn't have the capability of becoming like this in Crusader...

The fight between her and Xena while hanging from the vines in the trees is pretty cool, though, even if a bit impractical. (but then when has something on Xena ever been practical?) I'm glad that she simply ends up in a coma in the end rather than dead. At least she'll be cared for until she does die.

I like that bringing Najara back was kind of an eye-opener for Gabrielle, about how she can fall--again--for the wrong person, believing too much in someone's potential goodness (and Xena was right.....again). I also like that she acknowledges that the non-violent approach to life is a very difficult thing for her to do. ("It's funny, it seems that when push comes to shove, sometimes the only choice is to shove back.  But with this path that I'm on, I can't do that.") Especially when she saw Xena in trouble during the battle before (when she was in the bushes with Najara)--she wanted so much to jump up and help Xena out. The little powder defense is a clever idea (your ancient form of pepper spray!) but I don't think that tactic will last forever. Xena will be there to fight when Gabrielle cannot, but what happens if the time comes when she's not?