GOD FEARING CHILD
Season 5, Episode 12
September 26, 2000
Reviewed by SLK
RATING: 6.5 chakrams
SCRIBES AND SCROLLS: Teleplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman.
Directed by Phil Sgriccia.
PASSING PARADE: Kevin Sorbo (Hercules); Kevin Smith (Ares); Charles Keating (Zeus); Meg Foster (Hera); Nicko Vella (Solan).
STORY SO FAR: Xena is due to give birth while Zeus plots out to kill her. Hercules plays protector for Xena.
DISCLAIMER: Zeus cashed in his chips during the production of this motion picture.
REWIND FOR: The stuffed toy Hercules brought as a gift for Xena's unborn. Nothing like a gruesome three-headed hydra for giving the kid nightmares.
The head scratch of the episode during the Hercules/Xena/Gabs/Proxidicae fight scene. Keep your eye on the background as a flying proxiwhatsit shoots up through the trees. What exactly is that other metal head behind him doing?! Waiting for a No.9 bus? He appears later (I suspect it's the earlier stunt, shot from a different camera angle), behind yet another flying metal head, again doing nothing.
Gabrielle's neat dagger twirl just before she steals Hades' helmet. Then in a later fight scene she skewers a Proxidicae cross-handed. Someone's been practising....
The bard does almost gets beheaded twice -- once, when she ducks as Xena hurls a chakram in the first fight scene, somehow knowing Gabs would do so, and thus killing the bad guy. (Lucky theyve been on the same Psi wavelength for awhile now...cos that would have been embarrassing.) Secondly, Gabrielle grabs for the helmet of invisibility. Its called invisibility not disappearance for a reason... So why wasnt she left with a big ole sword sticking out of her invisible head when she puts it on and nary a split second later an underworld goon slams his sword where she still would have been standing?
Another underworld moment -- Xena tells Solan (who, incidentally, is getting younger, shorter and cuter in Tartarus *g*) to put the helmet on and run when she tells him. Um, surely, with any fight hed be at risk if seen and so the most prudent measure would be for him to put it on immediately and then run when Xena says? No matter what she tells Ares, motherhood seems to be addling something...
Xena and Gabs entered Tartarus by water and exited via a cave. Huh? Remember the Marcus episode where she does the same journey to save her former lover? She emerges very wet and very depressed and plops down beside Gabrielle at the lakes edge. No cave exit signs there... Continuity, guys, just a little, I beg of you...
The 'all right, lets just shoot the continuity department' clanger in the final scene; Long shot shows Hercules far left, then Xena, then Gabrielle sitting under the shade of a tree. Very next shot, a close-up, reveals Gabrielle sitting on far left, then Xena, then Hercules far right.
QUOTABLE: "That was a drop kick. Just like Mom." Had to giggle at Gabrielle likening her nearest and dearest to a drop kick. Calling someone a drop kick in Oz, is a sure way of *not* making your next birthday.
"We were both giving birth to your baby. It was like it was coming from both of us." Gabrielle describes every contortionist's worst nightmare to Xena.
"Xena tell me we're not going to Tartarus." Er, 'fraid so Gabs, but think of the bonus frequent traveller points you'll earn on that trip.
"Xena, the Proxidicae are looking all over for us." Now there's a surprise Gabrielle, you're in Tartarus, you've just stolen Hades' helmet, and Xena is there, ready to hatch the instrument of the Twilight of the Gods. Who would have thought you'd end up on the Underworld's Most Wanted?
"It's not about you and me, it's about survival." Zeus, God of Everything but the Kitchen Sink, comes over all modest. Just between you and me, it was all about him saving his own skin.
Ares: "You have no idea how glad I am to see you again."
Hercules: "And you don't know how little I give a damn."
Ares: "Well, you've been lucky so far little brother. I've always gone kinda easy on you."
Hercules: "Oh, so like, all those other times, I knocked you flat on your ass, you were just pretending?
Ares: "In my brother's kingdom I have no powers."
Xena: "Oh good, then I can really wipe the floor with you."
Ares: "I thought in your present condition, you might be a little more gullible."
Xena: "I'm pregnant, not brain damaged."
More a Hercules episode than a Xena one, but it made sense to do God Fearing Child this way, as who better to witness the death of Zeus than his son? And who more suited to kill him than Hercules himself? Considering they needed a Lucy-light ep as the actress had just given birth, if youre going to bring in a guest star to take up the load, then may as well make it a really logical one, pivotal to the plot, whom everyone knows already. It was fitting that Xena should bear her child and simultaneously signal the death of the mighty Zeus. Nothing like a grand entrance, huh, Eve?
Alas, the plot of God Fearing Child had more holes in it than my pasta strainer so its probably best to look at it from some distance, with one eye closed tight. When you do, it aint half bad.
In its favor it had a nice epic proportions feel to it -- the this is bigger than Ben Hur sense, as gods are at it, left and right. The grand feel to the episode made it seem better than it was; however the annoying minutiae made it far less than it could have been, and a rather pivotal plot point almost gets lost -- so Ive marked it down for these reasons.
But lets start at the beginning -- and oh what a Shakespearean start it was too... three fates (like the witches of Macbeth), and the decree to Zeus (in Macbeth it was a king) that his time will come to an end when "a child not begotten by man is born". In Macbeth it was a "man not born of woman" (referring to a Caesarean section).
Xenas bundle of joy certainly matches the prophesy of a child not begotten by man -- no C-section loopholes for her. No sirree, all thanks to Callisto not paying attention in sex education class...
I wasnt entirely impressed by the little conversation between Gabrielle and Xena where the bard says she had a dream "that we were both giving birth to your baby". As forced a line as that was, and Renee might have delivered it better, the bard was still offering a very revealing insight into how much she loves Xenas baby. She feels it is hers too. And what does Xena do? Take the mickey... of course.
"Thats nice," she says with a tone indicating its anything but. "If I could give you half the labor pains Id gladly do it."
Grumble... a sweet interaction went a-begging here.
The only hint they were about to get into a proper conversation about any of these serious, far-reaching implications of the two becoming three is when Xena says: "This kids gonna change our life completely." No kidding.
And where did that conversation end up?
Noooo idea, cos Uncie Herc drops in with the three-headed Ioalus monster. (Um nice, but does it come in orange?)
So yet another conversation which needed to be had was brushed over and well never know how they think a bub will affect their relationship.
Okay, time for some of those many, many pesky quibbles that came so often it felt like being attacked by dozens of little mosquitos. That is, theyre barely worth noticing individually but all together you feel like saying: "Did someone get the licence of that speeding chariot?"
First up, why does Xena want the Hades helmet of invisibility?
Gabrielle tells her she "cant hide from Zeus".
Her reply: "I can if Im invisible."
Okay, so she wants to hide. Fine, a little extreme for Xena who has in fact been attacked by gods many a times and this is the first time shes ever decided her only solution is to exit Hollow Man style. Even if it does risk LOSING HER UNBORN CHILD! No small gamble that. But, still, this seems the only solution she can think of. Uh... er... right.
Now a little recap, 60 seconds later. Why do you want the helmet, Xena?
She tells Hercules, whos off to speak to Zeus: "If you cant stop him, Im going to use the helmet to get close to him."
She wants the helmet to kill Zeus now? The exact opposite of her earlier statement and nothing has changed since she made that first comment -- except her mindset and what appears to be an increasingly questionable memory.
So now she is going to put her unborn baby at risk by presenting herself before the all-powerful father of all the gods who has homicidal tendencies towards her and shoots lightning bolts out of his hands. Same risk, different approach. Still, thats Xena -- if theres an easy way and a hard way, she goes "oh, oh, hard way, hard way."
Niggle number two. Xena has expressed a desire to kill a god.
Hercs immediate response: "You know about the ribs of Kronos? No mortal has ever...yada yada yada."
Ah, hello, big guy... who mentioned anything about ribs?
Xena was more likely to be thinking about digging the Dagger of Helios out of the brickwork where Ares tossed it in Seeds of Faith in front of her very eyes. The same dagger she used to dispatch Callisto. Xena has never once mentioned ribs -- prime, spare or Titan.
But off Herc goes on a little backstory ramble during which you can almost imagine Xena thinking: "huh?, ribs?, wha?, whatever... yeah yeah... sounds good."
So exit Herc and us with him. We find Hera really is now good, miraculously transforming and seeing the light after an earlier Hercules good deed.
Well, if you say so...
We find Zeus would kill his own beloved wife because she helped Herc and double-crossed the old god? Again, if you say so.
Zeus would declare his love for Hercules could so easily be replaced by "loving memories" of him??? Er..
And Ares would give up Xena, the woman he admits to Zeus he loves, and who was almost certain to die in the deal -- just to get a bit of unprotected biffo in with Herc? Hmmm.
Are any of these plot points totally believable? No? Again, it felt a bit like those mozzies were taking a few chunks out of the leg. In isolation, you let things slide, together its like someone was forcing the characters to fit the script, not matching the script to the characters.
But enough of the Hercules legendary illogical journeys, lets talk Xena.
There were pinprick sized plot holes all over this adventure, too. Xena and Gabrielle are told by Hercules that to kill one of Hades stormtroopers is to make all of them stronger. What do they do when they get to the Underworld? Run around killing them all!
Next, Solan has chosen to stay in Tartarus so he can be with his mother... Im sorry, I soooo dont buy this. The living Solan didnt know Xena was his mother and so saw her as a good friend and nothing more. And he only found out she was Ma after he was dead. Thus one cant expect his feelings to magically shift to incredible overwhelming love that would keep this one boy begging for hell in Tartarus, so great was his yearning to see a woman he didnt really know.
Even if you do buy this, it was implied in Bitter Suite that Solan had arranged the whole Illusia scenario for Gabrielle and Xena to figuratively kiss and make up. I can not imagine any god of Tartarus allowing time out of the little meany cocoon to go off and do good deeds. It smacks as more an Elysian Fields join-hands-and-hug love-in moment. In short, none of this rang true, Solan being in Tartarus. Again, theyre forcing the characters into the plots, not the other way around.
But back to the show... That Ares "I love you" scene was quite good -- a bit of karma there for the God of War. You cant lie, doublecross, manipulate and attempt seduction of a gal for years and then expect her to believe the truth when you say it. Xenas look of distaste was so palpable I really felt sorry for Ares... but that only lasted a second. He cooked his goose by pretending it was all an act and thus further confirming to her what she had always suspected: Ares loves only himself. In short, he did himself no favours by trying to save face there.
Xena makes it clear here that she was most unimpressed Ares went after Gabrielle in Seeds of Faith. (Mysteriously, she refers to Gabrielle vaguely as "my friend" and not by name -- which would have been more natural. Did anyone else notice how weird that sounded?)
But I digress. Heres where I feel cheated: Id have LOVED to have seen the scene where Gabrielle confesses to Xena how Ares chatted her up in Faith; how he tried to manipulate her to take his side in the Eli matter and how she had been tempted by the power. Xena would have been furious he was still after Gabs since her rejection of him in Succession. That would have made for a nice heated discussion.
Another nice, intense X&G scene gone begging. Sigh.
So anywho, Xena gets out of Tartarus, and is now having contractions. And somehow she manages to kick butt. Er, okay... and methinks she also flew to the moon to stock up on cheese. Can we spot a small credibility stretch here? Any mother I know who has seen this scene laughs hysterically at the very idea. Something to do with a little thing called tearing, gut-wrenching agony. Yeah, yeah, I know, but she is Xena....
On the subject of credibility, look at how Herc tosses Xena the Titan rib in the fight which they had already carefully explained could not be lifted by a mortal (or now they perhaps mean lifted from the sarcophagus??). The continuity is all over the place. Unless, of course, they wished to imply Xena is no mortal (see Furies for the Ares paternity suit question) -- in which case, thats one hell of a (presumably unintentional) can of worms. I prefer to buy it as a simple stuff up.
Moving right along, Xena is now on the ground about to give birth. Shes a canny gal and knows much about pain-removing pressure points. She used one on Gabrielle when the bard gave birth to Hope. I waited for her to do the same on herself... waiting... waiting.... I couldnt help but wonder if it wasnt like tickling yourself... Hmm.
Small question... Why did Xena want her arm greaves off? And since when would any woman who has just gone through the ordeal of go to the absurd effort of struggling back into her leggings immediately after? But there she is, looking adorably at bub, yakking to Herc and looking snug as a bug in her leggings.
And Im guessing she hasnt had a chance for a bit of a bath yet... in which case .... eeeeeewwwww. (Laundry day, we trust, will come sooner rather than later.)
Incidentally, I like the name Eve. When you think of it, that little girl heralds the eve of the destruction of the gods, and becomes the first child born to a new world, without Zeus. So she really is like the biblical Eve - she is the first. Very fitting.
But lastly, theres one other moment gone to waste. Gabrielle has in this episode proved shes willing to go to hell and back for Xena. Literally. Itd have been nice if the Warrior Princess thanked her for facing what must be a persons worst fears. Acknowledged her. Hell, Id settle for noticed her...
Just seemed it was all about Xena and Gabrielle was relegated to being the background fluff again, unappreciated, forgotten..
In summary -- there was a lot happening and the Hercules plot line tended to dominate, perhaps unfairly. But, in the shows defence, its not every day that the father of the gods bites the dust. That Zeus death scene was nice and presumably moving for Herc fans but it probably was a little lost on those Xena fans who dont follow/care for the brother show.
Meanwhile, on the Xena side, storylines seemed forced -- there really was no believable reason for Xena to go hunting for the helmet of invisibility (especially given the risk to Eve), and, besides, when she got it, Xena never re-acquired it for the purpose/s she said she wanted it for anyway. (Its not like Solan wouldnt have passed it over to her had she bothered to ask.)
Gabrielle, on the other hand, although the Warrior Princesss co-protector this episode (with Herc) was busily relegated to third-class status. That was a shame given shes pretty much told Xena about three times now that the birth of Eve will be like greeting her own child. And yet Xena hasnt been real good at acknowledging Gabrielles feelings on that score. So much so she actually completely forgets about the bard with her little post-birth pep-talk to Solan about how she (Xena), he and Eve would be together forever. Shes naming her family unit there and shes left out her partner in life and death... and that was inexcusable. Made me as mad as Najara without her Valium. Remember: this is the same bard that Solan himself ensured would be back in his mothers life by creating their Illusia visit -- so, hed have wanted to hear Gabs name in that list, Im sure.
In sum: could they have ignored Gabrielle and her feelings more if they tried?
As a whole, God Fearing Child was action packed, but lacking in high continuity/quality control and containing too much in the lazy-writing category to knock the warrior boots off. It did set the big plot arc in motion (the Twilight of the Gods etc) and so that will pique fan interest to see where its heading. But its just hard to really adore an episode where everythings happening on such a larger than life scale that no one seems to be noticing the human scale. Xena had life within her and she has now become a mother for the second time. Yes, youd be forgiven for almost missing that little plot point in the middle of everything else. Scary.
Grandeurs great, but bring it back down to the human level soon, huh.
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