Xena Warrior Princess Episode Reviews
Scribes & Scrolls
Written by R.J. Stewart. Edited by Jim Prior.
Ted Raimi (Joxer); Chris Bailey (Agis); Iain Rea (Philemon); Norman Forsey (King Lias) ;
Story So Far
A scheme to replace a princess and put her lookalike, the tramp Meg, on the throne, is foiled when their lookalike, Xena, intervenes.
Neither Xena nor her remarkably coincidental identical twin, Diana, were harmed during the production of this motion picture. Meg, however, suffered minor injuries while preparing Aardvark nuggets for King Lias.
The coolest chakram shot (well until Been There, Done That) as Xena proves her real identity.
The shamrock/round killing thing scene, which shows why it pays to do your research. (Although where everyone got the number for Xena’s tailor from on such short notice is a mystery.)
Xena pounding Joxer from here to eternity in a lesson on how to behave to a lady. Gabrielle losing the plot in the cell when Xena comes to spring her.
"Are you suicidal???" Gulp. If I was Joxer, I’d be very afraid of the woman who had just uttered that immortal line. And it doesn’t take three guesses as to who it was.
"I know what the plan is: you’re trying to drive me INSAAAAANE." Gabrielle to Xena. Given the information at hand it was a pretty reasonable conclusion.
"Yeah, a little more cleavage couldn’t hurt." Meg to herself. Frankly, if Meg showed any more cleavage Xena would have to be reclassified as adults-only.
"My father died in childbirth." Aahh that Meg. Again, needing a bit more in the research department.
"But wait! I still have my ... round killing thing." Not-Xena-#1 (Princess Diana) revealing the chakram’s hitherto little-known technical name. It’s Latin for Biggus ouchie.
"In the blink of an eye I can split the skull of anyone who moves with my trusty ... shamrock." Not-Xena-#2 (Meg) on the murderous properties of Irish clover.
"Guess which one I am." ... and needing no introduction....
Three might be a crowd but in Xena it’s a family reunion. Or more precisely, three is a showcase for Lucy Lawless’s many many skills. And make no mistake, that’s exactly why this episode was devised, as an acting vehicle for the star to show how diverse her talents really are. Lawless plays her triplet parts, brooding warrior, naive princess and petulant tramp, with such distinctiveness and credibility that there’s never much doubting who’s who at any given time - except at the times when you’re supposed to wonder.
The first time I saw this episode, and I wasn’t a fan then, I was utterly floored to the point of catatonic to discover the often-mocked, seemingly wooden Lucy Lawless -- who had seemed such the caricature of the stilted, lantern-jawed John Wayne-esque hero -- actually had some seriously good acting ability tucked under the hood. I did quite a few mea culpas that day and vowed in earnest penance to evermore be nice to Volvo drivers, furry woodland creatures and chocolates named Maltesers.
Lawless has said in interviews that she loves playing the tramp, Meg, because she is so different to Xena. Well if it’s sexual conquests they’re comparing I wouldn’t go that far…
Meg certainly is hard to hate, even when she’s thumping Gabrielle’s face into a table full of fruit shouting "Eat the fruit, baby"! This is quite curious in a way, since the same basic premise was also behind Forgiven, the episode which bombed so utterly that my offer still stands to send six burly lads over to anyone’s place, on request, to jump up and down on their copies of that tape.
In Forgiven, an off-the-rails young girl (Tara) with an equally dubious past and present, who also thinks she’s no good, is also getting stuck into Gabrielle at regular intervals and giving her no respect. Yet we liked Meg and despised Tara. It’s a tribute to Lawless that she could achieve that very difficult balance, and also sell us Meg’s sob story so we don’t just go "yeah, right, file it under fiction at the library," the way we did with Tara. Admittedly there was an element of viciousness to Tara that Meg lacks. And conversely, here the writers decided that the solution to helping a woman with lowered self esteem like Meg’s was not to calculatingly have Xena engineer a scene where she would be thumped to a pulp (as with Tara) to teach her a lesson; but instead be given a job and told she was believed in and worthwhile. It’s all in the writing and directing, but for what it’s worth, the team deserved full marks for getting this ep up so effectively where it could have (and has) failed abysmally elsewhere.
This episode started the trademark "Hi Xenas" which have popped up in every subsequent Xena doppelganger episode and it’s fun to see it where it began.
A downer was that Joxer was at his insufferable worst (he’s been toned down a lot since this episode, I note). He idiotically ruined Xena’s plan to get her hands on the baby by bursting in and, while she’s pretending to be Meg, shouting to her: "Xena, let’s take the baby" when Xena was but moments away from saving the day. (And for his next trick he will juggle Greek fire and hand axes…)
My bravery award goes to Xena who actually kissed the tin-headed neanderthal in the line of duty. Joxer was being an absolute sexist sleaze at the start of the episode, boasting of his exploits, which, frankly, earns him the title of tramp, far ahead of Meg. What Meg sees in him, I know not. Joxer also did himself no favours in impressing Gabrielle or Meg, by pinching women on the butt (and he deserved everything he got for it). Hey Jox, you can also impress women by wolf-whistling and repeatedly announcing the measurements of your codpiece … they really like that.
Now then, poor Gabrielle. What an unpleasant time she was having this episode - thinking she was finally being trusted by Xena only (seemingly) to find it wasn’t so... Frankly, it’s a miracle the bard didn’t garrotte the (real) warrior princess on sight when she finally arrives to spring her from her cell. No wonder she looked so relieved to discover it was Meg who was being a hissy hydra, not Xena. You’d kind of hope Gabs might have cottoned on this wasn’t even remotely like her warrior princess, but hey, unlike Gabrielle, we don’t know what Xena with PMS is like... (Lock up your chakrams and Joxers and run like Hades.)
I don’t know what to make of that catfight between the frustrated gals other than, gee, I’ll bet the nudge-nudge wink-wink blokes on set thought it was a giggle, and I wonder where on earth Gabrielle’s fighting nous got to?
To top off the ignominy of this episode for Gabrielle, everyone is calling her names like "idiot" (well, everyone’s calling everyone names - "slag" and "tramp" being but a few of the harsher, jarring ones). Yep, not a lot of fun for a bard, this episode. Time to put in a harassment and stress claim with the Amazon Warriors & Sidekicks Union officials.
All this aside, the episode wasn’t at all bad. It was pacey, well-edited and, in parts, a laugh - especially the shamrock/round killing thing schtick, which earned a chuckle. (Although I kept waiting for a disclaimer to scroll across the screen: "Don’t try this at home", when the baby was being hurled around, as there’s always some clueless fan whose cheese has slipped off their nutbread, who wants to be baby-negligent "just like Xena".)
In all, this episode was light-hearted fun, improved markedly if you watch through your fingers the bits when Joxer is attempting to save the day and/or seduce the babes. The best part is watching the real glee on Lucy Lawless’s face as she comes alive and has the time of her acting life.