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Sins of the Past Reviewed

Xena makes her first appearance on her own in this episode. We also meet Gabrielle, Xena`s companion for the rest of the series and an essential character. The episode opens with Xena travelling back to her home town of Amphipolis to make her peace with her mother. Along the way, she is suffering pangs of guilt over her warrior past and removes and buries her armour, sword and chakram. However, almost instantly she comes across a band of slavers who are trying to capture Gabrielle, her sister and others from their village of Poteidaia. Xena quickly rediscovers the joys of fighting as she saves them. However, on learning who the warrior is, the villagers ask Xena to leave, despite Gabrielle`s protests. Xena goes on to Amphipolis, while Gabrielle secretly follows. Xena gets a chilly reception in her home town- even her own mother rejects her. A stoning mob gathers, but Gabrielle arrives at that moment and shows her bardic skills as she talks them out of the attack. When the slaver decides to attack Amphipolis, Xena returns to fight and save her town in a one on one combat, to begin her redemption.

a one on one combat, to begin her redemption.This was an important episode, in that the tone for the series was set here. Certainly the characters must establish themselves quickly. An immediate change from the Hercules episodes was a change in Xena`s armour. The black outfit was thought to be too dark and evil looking, so it`s brown leather now. Shame, I liked those big claw like epaulets! However, this outfit is more appropriate I suppose for the penitent but still kick-ass Xena. Lucy Lawless has to wear a horrid headband thingy that thankfully disappeared by the next episode. Renee O`Connor immediately made a strong impression as Gabrielle. She is a bit of an over eager puppy here, although her reasoning and arguements show her to be a girl of verbal skill. Her words save Xena, and also talk a cyclops out of trying to eat her.

Another feature of the series, and indeed of Hercules is the humour. This isn`t the funniest of episodes, but Xena and Gabrielle`s encounters with that cyclops are amusing. `Maybe you should think of another career,` says Xena to the giant . `Another career, I`m a blind cyclops for crying out loud!` he replies. Also very well choreographed and ridiculously implausible is the staff fight between Xena and Draco. It involves the most gravity defying feats of balance from both fighters, and is a highlight. This fight scene epitomises the show in many ways: action packed but fantastic in the fantasy sense of the word. Gabrielle`s attempt to secure a ride to Amphipolis are also quite funny as she bargains with an uncooperative wagon driver.

The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, and the actresses` portrayals are clearly still in the embryonic stages in this episode. Of course, Xena and Gabrielle have just met, and it takes a bit of time for their relationship to be established. Also, the character of Gabrielle develops a lot throughout series one and beyond...actually a huge amount! Here she is the fairly weedy young girl, with the gift of the gab. Even her bardic skills aren`t mentioned that much. One more thing- Xena`s horse is male here, yet soon becomes female! This was a solid episode to begin the series. It sets the scene well and introduces Gabrielle, Xena`s mother, Draco - a very charismatic baddie, and the idea of Xena having to pay a price for her past. A couple of funny scenes, and a great fight scene get the series off to a strong start.

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