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Hooves and Harlots Reviewed

Probably the most important episode for the character Gabrielle in the series so far, as she finally becomes something more than a tag-along. The episode also introduces the Amazons - recurring characters that have become favourites with many of us, and an obvious set of characters to feature in a TV show about an Ancient Greek woman warrior. Xena and Gabrielle enter Amazon territory and are apprehended by a group of the legendary warrior women. On the way back to their camp they are attacked by a mystery archer. One of the Amazons, Terreis, is mortally wounded, although Gabrielle tries valiantly to save her. In recognition of Gabrielle`s bravery she asks her to accept her right of caste. On arriving at the Amazon village and meeting Queen Melosa, Gabrielle soon learns that she has inherited all Terreis` things, including her rank as Amazon Princess. Meanwhile, Xena tries to avert a war between the Amazons and Centaurs - the hooves and the harlots of the title.

Gabrielle`s development as a character is one of the themes running through the series, and although her rank as Amazon Princess comes about almost by accident, it is a storyline that has become an important part of the show. She chooses a weapon - her fighting staff, no swords or bows and arrows for Gab. However when it comes to the fighting, Xena is still the champion, and fairly easily bests the queen. Ephiny(Danielle Cormack) is introduced, and she will reappear several times in the future, another popular character. She is at first quite hostile to Xena, and the pair have a few tussles, but she proves to be a valuble ally to Xena and Gabrielle.

A few points though. How did that one treacherous man manage to fire all those arrows? If Xena as Gabrielle`s champion beats Queen Melosa in a fight, doesn`t that make Gabrielle queen? How come Xena takes over the role? If Xena hates Centaurs so much, how come she left her child with them?(See Series 2`s opener Orphan of War.) Lots of women in tight and skimpy leather, Gabrielle finally ditching the peasant girl blouse and long skirt, Eponin`s flashy staff tricks, slightly dodgy centaur SFX, but an enjoyable episode.

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