Hormone-raging Gabrielle, boy-band clone, Bible class, and a big bad giant. Oh boy. Pass the Valium. And the chocolate. Oh, and some booze…
On a scale of Bog Awful to Xenalicious, The Giant Killer slots in at about Decaying Rat. Although that’s probably being unfair to decaying rats.
To put it another way, if you had a choice between having a colonic irrigation or watching this episode, I think flushing out your colon would be just ahead on points.
So, presumably like all good colonic irrigations, I’ll be brief.
Here’s how best to watch The Giant Killer.
Cue your Xena disc/tape at the 23 mins 30 seconds mark.
Watch diligently for 80 seconds.
Then hit Eject.
There. Now you’ll have enjoyed everything that is great about this episode.
That 80 seconds is the balcony scene where a tall, dark, moody Xena watches the gathering grey clouds and looks isolated, impenetrable and horribly alone. Enter her brow-puckered bard, virtually vibrating with empathy from every one of her well-displayed pores (which are now far more exposed thanks to her new rustic cheerleader costume).
Xena’s sad flat voice tells Gabrielle about her latest 10-seasons-ago recollections. As she does, a tiny hand slides under Xena’s and another slides on top. Gabrielle clasps Xena’s hand tightly, as though daring her to pull away. Or perhaps to stop her from running away.
And there, just for a moment we see it – after an uncertain pause, Xena’s fingers curl over and around Gabrielle’s, warmly accepting her timidly offered support.
To me this iconic moment is about a surrender on Xena’s part. An acknowledgement she doesn’t always want to have to carry her burdens alone. It’s a subtle moment, with beautiful atmospheric music, and from Xena’s point of view, it was as profound as if she had stripped off her clothes and run around shouting: "I NEED THIS WOMAN. I LEAN ON GABRIELLE".
As quickly as it was there, it was gone.
And just as suddenly we are back to this weird Bible class edutainment episode, with that same crappy, washed-out cheap-video look we probably all suffered through at school. It’s hard to imagine a vehicle less likely to contain overt Christian messages than the show that is Xena but yet, here it is, complete with lines like "Everything’s possible when you put your faith in the Lord".
I am sure many evangelicals would be equally astonished to learn The Lord Is My Shepherd was being wistfully intoned in this action/kick-ass fantasy. Well, I know I was.
And, hey, they even inserted a minor miracle, well aside from the other one of God parting the clouds to allow David to take his shot. Witness Gabrielle steal apples and a small knob of bread from the soldier’s table, yet when she gives her stolen goods to David and the other prisoners, her moveable feast has morphed into many large chunks of bread. Cool party trick, Gabs. Next stop, the wine and fishes.
But whatever the powers that be thought they were doing in all of this, or what they thought it was, I can tell you what it wasn’t – entertaining. Because besides the out-of-place sermonising, this episode also contained some great whacking lazy doses of stupidity.
Take those tunnelling prisoners. They filled up their buckets with dirt and tossed it out the window. By my calculation they’d have needed only a single bucket worth of dirt outside those bars to alert the authorities as to what they were up to. No wonder the guard burst in looking for a tunnel. D’oh.
Gabrielle also has a low-IQ episode. No, I am not talking (yet) about her lust for an engaged boy with poetic leanings. I am also not talking about her new bare midriff wardrobe in the gluggiest, coldest countryside.
I am referring to her blind belief that Xena can read minds.
Lucky for her she can. Watch as Gabrielle flings herself over David’s prone form and virtually dares the executioner to kill them both. Not a problem for the man with the shiny weapon it seems, and up goes his axe. What to do next? So many choices, so little time:
1. Run? After all, that rope "holding" her to the stump could easily be lifted up and over it. She’d be out of there before David could get his first close shave.
2. Scream for Xena to rescue her? Heaven knows that girl can scream. And holler. And it’s not like she’s never called out "Xenaaaaa" before…
3. Do nothing. Well, except flinch a little.
Um, yes, Gabrielle, the battling bard of Poteideia, chose option 3. What an embarrassing way it’d have been to die - ie from stupidity and inaction - if Xena didn’t have a sixth sense. Yep, Gabs might fight like a trooper these days, but she still hasn’t mastered the art of DIY-rescues.
Alright, alright I can hold my tongue no longer over David. Where to start? The Fabio-lous hair? That Zac Efron poses? The boy-band pout? The way he leads on and almost kisses Gabrielle, even though he’s also engaged and apparently madly in love with another woman (oh, the swine)…
None of the above. My beef is with the ardently astray, amorous Gabrielle. It’s time her doting Warrior Princess sat her down and had a little chat with her. There’s something really needy about the way Gabs is flinging herself at every unwed semi-washed lout under 30 she crosses paths with. Is it just a case of the Minyas (hormones raging) or is she so desperate for love and affection after hanging about with an emotionally aloof warrior princess, that this is all one big lusty cry for attention?
I am going to check both boxes A and B.
Not that any of this psychoanalysis helps Gabrielle in pursuing her latest himbo. Renee is such a fine actress I truly felt the poor bard’s embarrassment when she was not only knocked back by the "Oh I’m engaged and couldn’t possibly be interested in you" gist from David but also the "let’s just be friends" speech later on. Ouch.
Sigh… All this romantic angst, week after week … you know, sweetie, it would be so much simpler to grab the bird in the hand. Literally. *grin*
Next, Goliath. He was kind of hard to dislike despite his carpentry bent (he was pretty wooden), and lack of channelled go-getter spirit (ever thought of hunting for Goliath yourself? How many giants can there be!). But when it really counted, in the scene at the end, his eyes welling as he talks of his wife and family’s deaths, I bought it. I just can’t hate the big lug – even though he giggles like a reprobate at one point.
Probably the best of the rest was the chakram scenes – the zig-zag domino effect on the soldier’s helmets was great. Not so great was that fight where they recycled their footage showing the same man crashing backwards onto a table full of food, collapsing it and revealing to the world his big black undies. It was so memorable they just put it in again. Not three minutes after the first time. Oh dear.
As for the rest of the episode, it was all just blah-blah – a bit of revenge speechifying here and a few more battles between Xena and her jolly mean giant there.
Really, why you’d bother with any of this is beyond me, unless you like your Christian morality tales wedged between tangents on virginal lust and vengeful giants, or you only ever watch for those 80 golden seconds.
For everyone else, just give it a miss and congratulate yourself about how you dodged a nasty bullet as you wait for your colonic irrigation.