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The Reckoning Reviewed

Coming across a group of villagers being attacked by a hooded man, Xena tries to help, but finds the fighter a match and then when he disappears into thin air, she is the one left standing holding a bloody sword when help arrives. The other villagers think Xena is the murderer and after a brief escape attempt she is arrested and put on trial with Gabrielle acting as her advocate. It turns out to be the first appearance of Ares, God of War, and he tries to tempt Xena to become his consort. Xena almost gives in and cracks a few heads - including Gabrielle`s! However, she is too clever for Ares and manages to restore the murderered men and escape Ares - for now.

This is a very dark episode examining Xena`s attitude to her past. We rarely see her paying for her past crimes - Callisto is the main vengeance seeker later on. Xena doesn`t appear to fight to free herself, or make a run for it because she realizes that she cannot spend the rest of her life running. She admits at one point that it doesn`t matter if she did this crime as she has done a lot worse and could do again. It is Gabrielle`s belief in Xena that helps pull her through, that and the fact that Xena doesn`t like being tricked of course!

The other notable thing about this episode is Kevin Smith as Ares. He plays Ares as very seductive and attractive. Ares will reappear many times in the future, each time seeking to reclaim Xena as his, and to get her to return to her warlord past. We see Gabrielle in a positive light in this episode too. She makes an able lawyer, but her arguments aren`t what saves Xena. After Xena strikes her in her Ares-induced rage, Gabrielle shows her true friendship for Xena and returns to try and help her escape. She even tries to get a punch in as payback at the end but ends up with bruised knuckles for her trouble! Xena and Gabrielle`s bond of friendship is strengthened in this episode.

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