This is the follow up to Destiny, and is another brilliant
episode. Very much a solution to the LL's accident problem, the
writers combined to produce this wonderful story that has some of
the most touching scenes ever, as well as the sure-fire winner of
guest star Bruce Campbell as the King of Thieves Autolycus.
In the grimmest of openings, poor little Gabrielle is taking Xena's body back to Amphipolis to be buried next to Lyceus. After a surprise meeting with Iolaus, she is met by Ephiny and the Amazons. The group includes the new queen Velasca, who has killed queen Melosa in fair combat and is claiming the throne. Gabrielle must decide whether to stay and become the new queen at Ephiny's urging. Meanwhile, Xena is not dead- surprise, surprise!- and has entered Autolycus' body. She wants him to steal her body back and help her get the ambrosia needed to bring her back to life. This task is made more complicated when Gabrielle decided to give Xena an Amazon funeral pyre! Naturally every thing works out alright in the end and Xena gets her ambrosia.
I was incredibly impressed with Renee O'Connor's acting in this episode. She has a number of monologues to Xena's coffin, or talking about Xena that she pulls off with real feeling. She also fully convinces as the Amazon princess, being persuaded to take on the mask of the queen. It is she that holds this episode together. I am a big Lucy Lawless fan, but thanks to a good story and excellent script, Lucy's virtual absence is barely noticed -although we hear her voice quite a lot. It is interesting to notice how even though Lucy is in this episode for a couple of scenes, she barely moves at all! This must have been soon after that accident.
There are so many memorable moments in this episode it is hard to pick some out, but Gabrielle's meeting with Iolaus is a nice crossover between the series (which I was delighted to see was mentioned when Xena and Gab guested in a recent Herc episode and Xena thanked Iolaus for looking aftr Gabrielle while she was dead.) Gabrielle's crowning ceremony, complete with Velasca's attempt to abort it is notable for Gabrielle showing her teeth as queen, and the following scene where Gabrielle talks to but refuses to say goodbye to Xena is a real tear jerker. Have your kleenex ready, as it always gets me(sob!) Then we have the hilarious sight of Autolycus disguised as an Amazon- still with beard mind you!
For many of us the scene between Gabrielle and Xena in the dreamscape sort of setting is a beautiful one. Subtext fans really liked The Kiss, but that whole scene is another wonderful one. I know many male fans that greatly appreciated Gabrielle's new Amazon outfit- little more than a suede bikini really, but I liked the necklace and jewellery. This is one of my all time favourite episodes. 10/10.
In this third episode dealing with Xena's death and
Gabrielle's ascent to the Amazon throne, we have the return of an
old friend- Callisto! Gabrielle is passing on the queen's mask to
Ephiny when Velasca appears to spoil the party. She has with her
a lille bag of ambrosia and eats some in front of the surprised
Amazons. As a goddess, she then sets out to get her revenge on
Gabrielle, Xena, Ephiny and the rest. As Xena says, to defeat an
immortal, they NEED an immortal. Xena decides that they will ask
Callisto to help them. In the Hercules episode, Surprise,
Callisto was brought back to life by Hera to get Hercules. Her
reward is immortality, but Hercules trapped her in an old temple.
So Xena and Gabrielle go to get her- despite Gabrielle's
misgivings. Callisto isn't the ideal ally, but Xena tempts her
with the amrosia, one bit of which will turn Callisto into a god
too. With her help, Xena leads them to a lava pit, and while
Callisto and Velasca fight it out on a rope bridge, Xena cuts it
to send them into the molten rock and (hopefully) entomb them for
There is a limit to how often Callisto can be brought back, but this episode is one of the better Callisto ones, thanks to Hudson Leick's slightly less manic performance. Her taunting of Gabrielle is horribly in character and delightfully wicked. Particularly interesting is Callisto's condition that Xena must confess to her crimes. She does this in a small village similar to Cirra, and Lucy Lawless is as good as ever at the soliliquies. It is a different twist to Callisto's character, and the follow up scene where Gabrielle tries to ask her about how she felt when Xena was confessing her crimes is a chilling reminder to her that there is no point in trying to figure her out. Hudson Leick carries these scenes off very well. Melinda Clarke as Velasca is a pretty good baddie, looking like an Amazon Terminator. You have to wonder why she didn't just kill Gabrielle right at the start, or at least follow the Amazons to their hiding place- after all she IS a god. Xena's bungee jump to save Gabrielle at the end is wonderfully improbable, and the ending leaves the door open for the return of either character. This is another good episode that closes this little story arc nicely, and while Xena, Gabrielle and Callisto are an unlikely team, the episode works well. The big question for Amazon fans though is where is Eponin? The weapons instuctor from Hooves and Harlots had quite a few fans. 8/10
A recent internet poll had this episode topping the charts as
the fans' favourite. It is totally different from anything else
and is also notable for being Michael (Iolaus) Hurst's first Xena
episode as director. It follows a day in the life of our
favourite duo, from waking up to going to bed. It is divided into
ten sections each with an on screen title.
Xena and Gabrielle are woken up by an attack from a troop of soldiers from Zargreas' army who are on a looting mission and want to keep Xena out of their way. They also meet a man who asks for their help to defeat a giant who is going to attack their village. Xena comes up with a way of helping both villages- of course.
This episode features Xena and Gabrielle as we have never seen them before, squabbling, playing 20 questions, teasing each other, having a bath together, dealing with an amorous fan of Xena's and Gabrielle's attempts to catch Xena by surprise. There is a lot of humour but also a good story too as Xena manages to defeat a warlord and the giant Gareth, while also inventing kite flying, catching fish with her bare hands and playing matchmaker. Almost every scene either has a memorable line or a moment of visual humour. Some have seen the two villagers Hower and Minya as representation of Xena fans! Either in love or fawning over Xena, in their 'I'll do anything for the Warrior Princess' mode. They are certainly comical characters. The broad humour may not what all Xena fans would go for- seeing Xena go outside the boundaries of what we expect of her may damage her image for some. This was also a very big favourite for fans of the subtext of the show who enjoyed the bathtub scene and Xena and Gabrielle's bantering. Not the sort of episode that could be done again really, but after the drama of the Destiny/Quest/Necessary Evil story, this episode shows the range and variety of the show. Excellent. 10/10.
*WARNING-JOXER HEAVY EPISODE!* Another script that was handy
to have after Lucy Lawless' accident, this is a very Xena-lite
episode that features Joxer being caught in the middle of a tiff
between Aphrodite and her son Cupid.
After Xena heads off to the palace of King Lias, Gabrielle is left alone for a bit and who should she be unlucky to meet up with but Joxer.(My... Ancient Greece IS a small world.) Cupid and Aphrodite argue over a young couple whose marriage will result in many of Aphrodite's temples being demolished. She casts a spell on Joxer that turns him into a super smooth dashing hero whenever a bell rings. After a few dazzling fights, Joxer is arrested by the warring kings and Gabrielle must help release him and get a bell to ring so that he can become the hero again. She must also find a way to break Aphrodite's spell. This comedy episode acknowledges the debt to the classic Danny Kaye film 'The Court Jester' that had several similar sequences.
Now I am not a Joxer-hater, but this episode didn't do much for me. I find the character very irritating. OK, so I know he is supposed to be, but he is SUPER-irritating here! If we don't get Xena in an episode, we at least want a better deal for Gabrielle, who has to play straight man to Joxer. The story is weak and lacking in originality. Watch The Court Jester for a much funnier take on the theme. Cupid and Aphrodite's surfer dude and babe speech patterns are a matter of taste but Alexandra Tydings and Karl Urban are pretty popular amongst fans. This is probably my least favourite episode of all, however listen out for Joxer's theme song- irritatingly memorable, and Gabrielle's response to getting kissed by the super hero. A must for Joxer fans, although the rest of us would much rather have seen what Xena was up to at King Lias' palace and find out how Princess Diana is. 5/10.
Meleager the Mighty returns but he is in serious trouble. Xena
and Gabrielle arrive in town just in time to hear him be
sentenced to hang for murder. Gabrielle has so much faith (you
might almost say Blind faith) in her pal that she tricks
the guards and helps him escape. Xena is not so sure and after
Gab is almost lynched, she agrees to catch and return Meleager,
much to Gabrielle's dismay. The pair are at odds and Xena only
persuades Meleager to return by making him consider Gabrielle's
position for breaking him out. However, when hearing his story
about the circumstances she realizes that he is innocent and Xena
knows who the killer is! How can she save Meleager but see
This is quite an interesting episode for Gabrielle's character. We see her fall out with Xena and act on her own to try and save her friend Meleager, who first appeared in Season One's The Prodigal. To see Gabrielle and Xena not working together for once is certainly different. Gabrielle is seen to be either too trusting and naive, or a true and faithful friend. Her strong belief in Meleager is seen to be hero worship and putting people on too high a pedestal when it looks as if he is guilty. Xena warns Gabrielle about this, and encourages her to be more forgiving than her 'friends don't lie' statement. Gabrielle was a bit harsh in her condemnation I thought.
Where I feel this episode lost it was in the character of the judge who sentences Meleager, Arbis. At the beginning, Xena says she has heard of him and knows him to be fair. However, about half way through he suddenly becomes the conniving villain who is behind it all. I think this weakened the story. To show Xena correcting a true injustice without recourse to having the honourable judge become a pantomime villain would have been more believable. It felt like a cop out- as did the very sudden ending. Not EVERYONE in a position of power has to be corrupt. For example, the episode Cradle of Hope was all the better for having King Gregor be a good and honest man. However, I like Meleager, and the plot of having Xena and Gabrielle on opposite sides in terms of their belief in him was quite a good one. 7/10.
While out shopping, Gabrielle is kidnapped and a young fighter
tells Xena he has killed her. Xena and the young man, Palaemon,
fight. During this, Xena is splashed in the eyes with oil causing
temporary blindness that can only be cured by washing with a
particluar herb available only in Athens. Instead of heading that
way though, Xena chains herself to Palaemon and gets him to help
her rescue Gabrielle in return for another shot at killing her
once she regains her sight. Meanwhile, Gabrille has become
embroiled in a plot by the king's minister Apex. He wants her to
marry the king, who is actually dead! By doing this he will
somehow get the throne. Xena and Palaemon must storm the castle
and rescue Gabrielle from a ritual cremation along with her dead
I liked this story, although it is flawed. One of the main problems is Gabrielle's role in this episode. She makes one feeble attempt to escape, and that's it. She is far too passive. Why would she agree to marry a man she doesn't know and has never met? Her role in this episode is mainly as comic relief. Her scenes with the fashion and etiquette guru Vidalis are very funny, and I loved her little chat with her husband to be about how all the men she gets serious with end up dead, and her comments about being, 'more of a redhead really.' Meanwhile, Xena and Palaemon are having the dramatic stuff happen to them. The hand cuffing is reminiscent of Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, where the hero handcuffs himself to a girl to get her to help him. Xena again shows her great humanity in being willing to give up her sight to save her friend, and then is willing to undo the chains and sacrifice herself rather than dragging Palaemon over a cliff with her. The puppyish enthusiasm of Palaemon for her more bloodthirsty victories prompt Xena to complain that 'those aren't pleasant memories for me!' She sees through him, as he is not the killer he claims to be.
I loved the character of Vidalis- a clearly gay character who chases after Palaemon at the end! He is played by Sydney Jackson who was the storekeeper in Dreamworker. His criticism of Gabrielle for having 'the hand gestures of a wagon driver', and covering up 'that peasant muscle' are high points. He also popped up in the classic Aussie soap Prisoner Cell Block H the other day. Is he an Aussie?
Lucy Lawless does a pretty convincing job of playing blind. No wandering about with arms outstetched for Xena. She stares blankly for the most part and makes Xena's plight believable. The only wobble is when Xena runs to save Gabrielle from burning and runs neatly *around* some obstacles in a non-blind way. This episode is another strong one for Xena and Gabrielle's bond. Xena is prepared to sacrifice her eyesight for her friend, and Palaemon turns away looking as if he is intruding during their reconciliation when Xena lifts Gab out of her coffin. Forget about Gabrielle's uncharacteristic behaviour and there is a lot to enjoy in this episode. 8/10.
A script that had been around for AGES that again mixes myth
and the Xenaverse. This episode was also notable for Poseidon,
who appears in the opening credits, finally making an appearance.
Xena and Gabrielle are trying to enjoy nature when they come across a fight on a beach. Coming to the lone warrior's aid, they discover he is the King of Ithaca, Ulysses(or Odysseus in Greek myth.) He and Xena take an immediate liking to one another. Ulysses is an enely of Poseidon, god of the sea- which is a problem when trying to reach your home island. Xena and Gabrielle agree to help him sail home. Gabrielle gets very seasick, while Xena and Ulysses get close. When they reach Ithaca, they find that Ulysses wife Penelope is not dead after all, and Xena pretends that she cares nothing for him to give hima chance to be reconciled with his wife. Even when he figures it out, she refuses to come between Ulysses and his rightful kingdom.
Of all of the myth type stories, this one is one of the better ones. John D'Aquino is very dashing and appealing as Ulysses. I haven't been impressed with many of the supposed partners for Xena- Petracles(a creep), Marcus(too dull), Caesar(too unloving!), Hercules(too contrived), but I liked this one. However, romance for either of the leads has little long term future as this is a two girl show. There are nice parallels with Xena's attitude to Perdicus, when Gabrielle asks Xena what her intention are, and wishes her to follow her heart. I liked the boat-which reappears in Lost Mariner and Hercules' finale 'Atlantis', and look out for the canoe that is also seen in The Price. Poor Gabrielle's seasickness got a few cheap laughs, but we all like to see others suffer a bit! I also liked the fact that Xena made reference to the Trojan War from the episode Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts and that she fought for Troy. In the stories, it was Odysseus(or Ulysses) that came up with the wooden horse trick. Also of note is the scene with the Sirens, women whose beautiful song lures men to their deaths. Xena outsings the Sirens! OK, so I thought her song was a bit naff actually and their's was rather pretty, but it was a nice touch. A good mixture of Greek myth and our Xena. 8/10.
Xena and Gabrielle get caught up in a conflict between an army
and a vicious, homicidal tribe called the Horde. To save
themselves and the garrison of soldiers, Xena brings some of her
old skills to bear. Before she knows it, Gabrielle is getting a
glimpse of the warlord Xena, and she is shocked by her
callousness and ruthlessness. The pair clash after Xena instructs
Gabrielle not to feed the dying soldiers as she is running the
sick bay. Gabrielle rebels and defies Xena by going out to give
water to the dying Horde men, bringing the conflict to a head.
This episode apparently used up most of the extras budget, and the battle scenes are certainly quite epic. The episode opens deceptively playfully as Xena and Gabrielle are fishing together and tease and banter as usual. However, the chilling scenes of many axed bodies floating downstream soon shatterd the idyll, and after a brief canoe chase, Xena and Gabrielle arrive at the garrison, where most of the action takes place. Here they find a bunch of deeply demoralized soldiers, who believe their deaths are inevitable in the face of the relentless Horde. That Xena should take charge is inevitable as her leadership skills are all that could save them, but I did feel that Xena switched from motivator to fierce commander a bit quickly. I mean, one minute she's telling a soldier to pull himself together, the next she's yelling 'We're gonna kill then all!' and waving her sword around. Xena switch from playful friend to ruthless commander and back again just can't be fitted in completely believably in 40 minutes or so. I think they should have stretched this one to two parts as the story is certainly strong enough. It is Xena's dark side that facinates many fans, and to see her in action as the Warrior Princess is something we have waited a long time to see. However, to have her change so quickly and to be so hard on her best friend Gabrielle who she doesn't need to be the warrior with, is a slight quibble.
This is one of the darkest episode ever I think. The light hearted fishing scene at the start doesn't prepare us for the bloodiest adventure for ages. What is also interesting is Xena's attitude in this episode. For once, she is inflexible. Normally, Xena's improvisations and quick thinking are a hallmark of her success. Here she is set on her course of action as soon as she hears who her enemies are. Even before they arrive at the garrison she warns Gabrielle that it is going to get ugly. Also, Xena is basically wrong in this episode. Her plan would not have worked as her scout didn't make it for help. It was only Gabrielle's intervention that enabled her to take part in her one on one with the Horde's leader. The final acknowledgement that a permanent solution will not be reached by the sword, but by talking, is a very forward thinking approach by Xena, who generally sticks to the sword for her solutions.
Once again Lucy Lawless does wonderfully well, becoming quite fearsome as the old Xena. That the changes in Xena are rather abrupt is down to the script rather than her. Obviously Xena has been teaching Gabrielle more about both fishing and healing! This episode is a very dark and enthralling one, but I just wish it had been longer. 8/10.
That boat from Ulysses returns as the ship of Cecrops(Tony
Todd), the cursed lost mariner of the title. An opening scene
shipwreck leaves Gabrielle drifting with no sign of Xena. She is
picked up by Cecrops and his crew, and she soon learns that this
ship is one that no body can leave- ever! Meanwhile, Xena has
been washed up on the shore, and is being pursued by pirates. She
is desperate to get to Gabrielle, even when she learns whose ship
it is. A ridiculously improbable leap gets her there. Next, Xena
tries to help Cecrops break the curse and free himself- and of
course, Xena and Gabrielle.
Another strong episode written by Steve Sears, one of the best of the staff writers, this one is especially notable for the character of Cecrops who is a truly facinating- and genuine mythical- character. Tony Todd is a fine actor who has guest starred in many series, and was especially menacing in the film Candyman. Here he is a complex character. At first it seems he is a callous pirate, but it is soon apparent that he is a noble man, and one worth saving. Another thing that leaps at you from this episode is Xena and Gabrielle's bond. Xena goes to incredible lengths to get on board a ship she knows to be cursed to save her friend and their hug on the deck is very touching. Xena's escape from the pirates and jump onto the ship is a brilliantly impossible scene. Her leap is even more gravity defying than usual! Once again Xena goes up against Poseidon, and he REALLY seems to dislike her, trying to use her against Cecrops.
Gabrielle's seasickness is again a comedic element, although this time Xena shows her a cure involving pressure points that has Gab chewing pretty gross looking squid as her tastebuds aren't working correctly. The action is slightly slower on board the ship, and the solution to Poseidon's curse is a bit lame, but this is another very enjoyable episode that has our stars getting wet a lot, and more sea fun for Gab. Look out for the leader of the pirates, Basculis played by Nigel Harbrow. He was Lord Koulos in The Black Wolf- and looks identical here. 8/10.
This years finale is a comedy that I didn't rate that highly.
It features Karl Urban (again) as Cupid, whose infant son steals
his dad's bow and arrows, and consequently causes mayhem when
people fall for the most unlikely partners. This episode sees the
return of Draco, who Xena falls for. Gabrielle gets hit and falls
for Joxer, Draco then falls for Gabrielle. Meanwhile, Joxer
REALLY falls for Gabrielle without the aid of an arrow. In
amongst the lurve, Xena and Gabrielle are supposed to be
protecting a large group of Hestian Virgins from the slaver
Draco, and Joxer turns up to help. Naturally Xena being in love
with Draco does hinder their plan.
OK, so there are some funny moments in here, but I thought this was too much like a slapstick Benny Hill episode, involving lots of chasing around and innuendo. We see Xena as a mushy slave to love, Gabrielle as a bit of a vamp frankly, and Joxer as idiotic as usual. I like Draco. I think Jay Laga'aia, who plays him is charismatic and Draco is a strong character. The tease scenes with Xena and Draco arm wrestling and Gabrielle and Joxer smooching and singing that awful song are a straight steal from the opening of Altared States, with giggling and suggestive dialogue as the camera pans over scattered clothing before revealing the couples. I enjoyed the scene with Xena taking a cold bath and Gabrielle revealing her love of Joxer to Xena.
I usually like the comedy episodes a lot, but I didn't really enjoy seeing Xena humiliated, and Gabrielle with the horrid Joxer. The producers seem determined to make us love him. The final scene with Joxer realizing Gabrielle finds the idea of them in love as laughable, and his sad face being the fade out just made me want to punch him! Here's how to make us like him; don't put him in so many episodes, or try to manipulate us into loving him! I also thought Karl Urban was hammy as Cupid, and the virgins running up and down the temple was silly. It is interesting that love turns Xena into soppy mush with low self esteem, while Gabrielle really flourishes and becomes quite fearless- even defending Xena.
Look out for the solo Hestian virgin in the temple- check out those shoulders and guess who it is! Great disguise Xena. Also listen out for Gabby's terrible tuneless singing- much worse than Joxer who can at least hold a tune. We also see Xena putting on her own armour- which I don't remember seeing before. Watch out for the funniest bit as those love arrows go into unsuspecting villagers at the start, causing a boy, a cow and an older man to go running from unlikely suitors. Not a favourite of mine, and a bit of a disappointing one to end the series on. In my opinion..Here's to series 3! 6/10.
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