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The Prodigal Reviewed

After a fight in which she freezes up, Gabrielle decides that she needs to leave Xena and return home to sort herself out. She arrives back in Poteidaia just as the town is about to be attacked by a warlord named Damon. The town has hired a warrior to help them; Meleager the Mighty. Gabrielle doesn`t get a very warm reception from her sister Lila who is angry at her for leaving and annoyed at Xena. Meleager turns out to be a drunk, and Gabrielle must try and help him and her town.

It`s not that long since Gabrielle left Xena to go the Academy in Athens, but she decides to leave again. We get to see Poteidaia and meet Lila again. She appeared very briefly in Sins of the Past and we know that she could beat Gab up then! Now, the scenes between the sisters are a bit different. And where WERE Gabrielle`s parents through all this? Had they left town? Why didn`t she ask after them? This episode was a bit different to the usual ones. Xena is only in it very briefly at the beginning and end, but Renee O`Connor is good enough to carry an episode alone, and she is well supported by Tim Thomerson who is a treat as Meleager, the well meaning warrior with a drink problem. It is interesting to see Gabrielle be the one who knows how to work with a warrior. She helps with the defences and, as usual, talks several people into things. I felt the scenes with Lila were less sucessful due to the limitations of the script or maybe the actress playing her. A whine is about all she could do. (Incidentally, Willa O`Neill was the female Argonaut in the Hercules Episode, `Once a Hero` and other episodes, and she is actually a good actress.)

Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy and soppy too.

This was Chris Manheim`s first script. Future scripts are Altared States, Remember Nothing, A Solstice Carol, Miss Amphipolis and Comedy of Eros. These all are a good mix of humour and drama. In this episode there are funny moments too. The episode opens with Gabrielle playing her pan pipes- I wish we could see that again one day. I also enjoyed Gabrielle`s attempts to get a lift back home.

On the minus side, Gabrielle`s reasons for the sudden departure are pretty flimsy. One minute happy, and happy to fight, the next she`s off! Soon afterwards she is telling Lila that she is home to stay. A bit abrupt. Also, those defences tactics were pretty pathetic, and how come Meleager was able to defeat them all. Must be one of the smallest armies around. Although I liked Gabrielle`s pole vault escape, how come the truck didn`t knock over her pole? And if there was room around the side why didn`t she just flatten herself against the wall? This episode has a good concept- Gabrielle going home and helping out a legendary but washed up old warrior, but it doesn`t quite deliver.

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