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Ties that Bind Reviewed

Xena and Gabrielle are about to free some girls help captive by a slaver named Kirilus when an older man beats them to it. After helping him out he claims to be Atrius - Xena`s father. As they make their way back to the girl`s village Xena eventually accepts him and is enjoying getting to know him again, however, Atrius is not all he seems.

This episode sees the return of Ares, who manipulates Xena again to try and win her back - and comes pretty close to succeeding. The main point of interest in this episode is seeing Xena once againg fight for, and then with an army. She tries to stop Kirilus` army by beating him in combat and taking over. However, when she sees that Atrius has been badly beaten up by the villagers, she leads the army into a revenge attack, with Gabrielle stopping her just in time. This is our first glimpse of the `old` Xena, albeit a brief and rather unconvincing one. While the sight of Xena yelling `kill `em all!` is a memorable one, it is a shame that it isn`t in a better written episode. I felt that Xena was far too quick to switch to warlord after one quick look at her father, who she had previously disowned for many years. A few chats and she is ready to forget all her good deeds? I don`t think so. Then there is Gabrielle`s whack over the head. She knocks Xena over, and the great warrior is so slow to react it is untrue! Either turn and whack her Xena, or call for an attack! But she gets up super slow, still looking pretty aggressive.

Then there is Ares plan. Disguising himself as her father is a good move, but he really gives it away at the end when Xena was so close to returning to her old ways. Would a god really be that daft?

I feel a lot of the problems with this episode lie in the script. Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster`s script lacks cohesion and the characterisation is a bit off. It is also too heavy handed. One minute Xena is telling Gabrielle how her father used to ride with her and humming, the next he is reminding her how he used to take her riding and humming. However, there are some good points to all this. We are always keen to learn more about Xena`s family background, although Atrius isn`t that nice a character - not surprising given who he really is! I like the character of Ares a lot, and especially Kevin Smith. He would return again and again to taunt Xena. Director Charles Siebert does a wonderful rotating camera shot when they confront each other as Ares circles Xena. Also the closing scene between Xena and Gabrielle is a very touching one. Another episode with a good idea, but a bit disappointing.

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