Season 5, Episode 17
September 29, 2000
Reviewed by Sheryl-Lee Kerr
RATING: 6.5 chakrams
SCRIBES AND SCROLLS: Written by George Strayton and Tom O'Neill.
Directed by Josh Becker.
PASSING PARADE: Ted Raimi (Joxer); Morgan Reese Fairhead (Eris),
Joy Van Uden (Rhea), Shelley Edwards (Cyane).
STORY SO FAR: Gabrielle and Xena decide to separate for awhile, as the bard takes a liking to being Amazon Queen. Meanwhile Joxer violates Amazon law.
DISCLAIMER: Many cinnamon swirls lost their lives during the making of Gabrielle's head dress.
REWIND FOR: The warrior girls beating up on the peeping tom in the bush. Judging by the lame kicks and punches being thrown, these 'Amazons' couldn't knock the skin off a rice pudding...Although, they would make excellent shrub ticklers...
The bored look on Xena's face as Eris, the sidekick wannabe, tried to dazzle her with kicks, jumps and 30 'of these things'. Funny, she never looked that bored when Gabrielle tried to impress her..... *g*
Xena's half-assed attempts at rehearsing a dance for Gabrielle's coronation. Had to laugh at her finger twirls. To be fair, it must be hard to get excited about someone becoming queen of a bunch of shrub ticklers, when you've not long turned an army of 100,000 warriors to stone. Still, a little humility, would go a long way.....
Gabrielle caught dozing in her throne when Cyane called "Queen Gabrielle!" What was the bard turning down when she replied in an exhausted tone, "Not tonight...." Cribbage? Cyane's resultant startled expression, then suspicious frown, spoke volumes...
Gabrielle dusting her throne with a vividly coloured feather duster. Wonder how many electric pink flamingos died to make that immodest little number?
Joxer's triple knuckle sandwich on the Warrior Princess during his wrestling match with her. Normally, even Joxer isn't that suicidal, but survival instincts kicked in after Xena had repeatedly bounced the rope into his nutbreads. A mans gotta draw the line somewhere...
"I see this place as our domestic bliss." Gabrielle talks up Amazon real estate. Whereas some might see a muddy little backwater with Hannibal Lecters dressed like Kiss concert rejects for neighbours, the bard sees 'a renovator's delight'.
"Hello, name's Joxer. Spelt J-O-X-E-Rrrrrrr." No. 102 of Joxer's pickup lines. As cute as it sounded, it still went the way of his other 101 gems -- nowhere.
"Hey, Xena's a lot older than us, she's probably tired." Eris shows how *not* to suck up to the Warrior Princess.
"Hey, make that yourself?" Xena speaks diplomacy to Gabrielle on her new queenie headgear complete with antlers. While her rolling eyes scream, "Whoa...roadkill."
"This is just not me, all right. This whole place, the shared meals, communal bathing, group laundry. All this togetherness is making me sick, I can hardly breathe!" Well! Now we know who *didn't* invent the YWCA. Gabrielle, on the other hand, is a definite culprit, er -- candidate.
"If you want me for a couple of weeks, I can live with that." Eris, desperate not to come off as desperate (er a little late for that, sweetie), applies for the job of Xena's sidekick. "It'll be a great experience and who knows what'll develop?". And fishes for a few 'fringe benefits' while she's at it. *g*
"I had in mind a cruise down the Nile." Gabrielle, ever the innocent, thinks romantic interlude. Xena however secretly plots revenge on Cleo for sending her Royal Guard to side with Athena in Amphipolis Under Siege.
Gabrielle: "Do you deny spying on these women?"
Joxer: "I resent that."
Gabrielle: "Do you deny it?"
Joxer: "No, I just resent it."
Xena: "What am I supposed to do around here all day, while you're off queening?"
Xena: "Yeah, that's me."
Gabrielle: "Xena, Joxer's going to be blinded."
Xena: "Nah, that's just a myth. Guys don't really go blind from doing that."
Joxer: "Whatever you do, do it quick. Dinner tonight is spaghetti and eyeballs -- mine.
Gabrielle: "You're always overreacting."
Joxer: "Hey, are you aware that girl Rhea wants to have my baby?!"
Gabrielle: "And you're delusional." "
Gabrielle: "Next time you see me, you have to pledge your undying allegiance to me."
Joxer: "Hey, pledge this -- dear."
Gabrielle: "How long does Sister Wolf howl at Sister Moon?"
Cyane: "Until Sister Sun chases Sister Moon away."
Cyane: "Rhea! What are you doing?!"
Rhea: "It's called kissing, wanna try it?"
Joxer: "Hey! What was that for?!"
Gabrielle: "For being a peeping tom."
Joxer: "Hey, it's not my fault if a bunch of half naked women are bathing, and I just happen to be standing there watching them from the bushes, for a really long time."
Gabrielle: "What made me think I could be a good queen?
Xena: "Your heart."
Were back at Yakuts village and about to prove that nothing learned in the Xenaverse stays learnt for very long. Last episode, in the lifeless Lifeblood, the point was to teach these Amazons that cruel traditions could be -- and should be -- changed. Hey they even had a magic stick to rewind time to show them all the error of their ways. They seemed to get it.
Clearly they were faking it.
This episode, theyre back preaching and pouting about upholding their violent traditions because theyre, well, traditions dammit. Worse, Gabrielle is feeding the fire, running around telling them all that their traditions are very very important, no matter how much nekkid howling at Sister Moon or rams horn bugling or blood letting is required -- just days after her regal cautionary tale to them about the folly of excessive traditions.
Er, right. Suffice to say, the point of this episode is identical to the last and, surprise, surprise, these slow learning sistas get it -- again.... Although I am a little gobsmacked that the Amazons most sacred law would be to not make out with a man out of season. Killing your sister Amazons doesnt rate more highly than this? Odd....
There were quite a few threads going throughout this episode. Joxer before the courts, and being courted; Gabrielle as queen; Xena and Gabrielles split and Xenas sidekick wannabe.
First up, Joxer. Every time I start to think he mightnt be as bad as I used to think, they pull an episode like this out and portray him as a sleazy perve you so want to see stomped on from a great height by Xena. They have lowered his IQ by a few points, as befitting this role as a sleaze. If I was Ted Raimi, Id start to wonder what Id done to the writers to get a script like this. Talk about no character development...actually this is regressive development.
The angle of the Jox being pursued by a baby-mad Amazon was the most forced. Well it was up there with that awful, awful sauna girls talk thing for most unlikely...
For starters, this Amazon is probably the youngest woman ever to be this clucky; and if there really is an Amazon mating season, as the laws seem to dictate, then what IS her big rush, given this is her societys most sacred law. I cant imagine 99% of humans in any society simply disregarding their cultures MOST sacred law on a whim because, in this case, shes clapped eyes on Eve and thats it -- and all without any soul searching about the ramifications of breaking this monumental law.
Why didnt she just say to herself: Hey, next season, I want a kid, too.... The fact there is a season, also indicates there are ways and means for young Amazons and old to become impregnated, so her argument of not being able to meet men rings very hollow.
If it was just a case of teenage hormones and her wanting to get it on, on a curiousity whim, youd almost understand it more than her sudden absurd declaration of BABY TIME!!!
Perhaps most odd is her choice of dad -- being someone the whole village has declared a pervert, sleaze and loser! Not troubled by genetics, huh? Or is that the benefit of them not yet being discovered? *g*
I am also a little stunned by the low sex education level which seems prevalent among these Amazons.... the young woman after Joxer didnt have the first clue as to how to create a baby. I cant actually picture the Amazons dodging the truth about such things.
Still on the nuts and bolts about sex.... back to the sauna. That young Amazon who declared shed remain a virgin until the day she died obviously has a lonely life all mapped out for herself. Or does she? Actually, Im guessing what she meant to imply was that she never intended to have sex with a man, as opposed to staying a virgin, fullstop. Those are two separate issues, pup. I cant imagine those red-blooded Amazon women are all just sitting about being chaste for the term of their natural lives because they choose not to take a male lover. And so -- and I apologise if I am being indelicate here -- those Amazons who sleep with each other dont exactly remain "virgins". Im just surprised an Amazon, of all people, would confuse those two pretty basic concepts. More likely the male writers did....
I had an awful cringe over Xena and Gabrielle talking about men they have slept with -- while Xena I could imagine not being shy on the topic, it seemed very out of character for the bard. It did cause a smile or two their different preferences in male characteristics. It was clear by the way they looked at each other, they have NEVER had this talk before. Nor would they, given how painful the subject is between them. I am guessing names like Perdicus and Ulysses dont come up very often between them, given they both threatened to end Xenas and Gabrielles happy twosome.
And this being the case, its most out of character theyd have this discussion now, not only in front of the other, but in front of complete strangers, too.
But I think I was cringing most that anyone would presume Amazons all just sit around talking wistfully about getting laid with men. In mens fantasies more like it.
Next thread -- Gabrielle as queen. As I said more fully in last episodes Lifeblood review, I still dont really understand why she is queen here, as shes out of her jurisdiction. Even with the temporary honor given to her in order to pass on her right of caste to Eve (a dubious plot point at best), she doesnt actually have the right to stay on; nor to even just assume she can make Eve the future queen of these Amazons, if thats what the point of the ritual was.
Meanwhile, the deal was always that once queen, Gabrielle could give Eve her right of caste and then appoint someone as acting queen. Gabrielle reneged on this and seemed intent to stay on, because one enthusiastic Amazon did ask her to. No wonder Cyane is getting antsy. I say again, WHO suddenly appointed Gabrielle queen without asking all the Amazons?
Even if it was somehow her Amazon right to govern this tribe, I am thinking the plotline is getting a little tired that every time she rocks up at a village to take the top job, theres always some power-hungry Amazon (ala Valesca) in the wings and wanting the job, too, and bad mouthing Gabs. A little obvious....
But on with this plot.... Id like to know what is Gabrielles motivation to stay on? Gabrielle keeps saying that a home can be a person. Her home is Xena. And her home doesnt want to stick around this accursed village! Why does she want to stay here when her home doesnt? To make a difference, she says. Well she makes a difference with Xena. And we thought she was happy with Xena. Now is she implying she isnt?
Surely Gabs cant be liking the power? Nah.... she cant even stand the ceremonies....
Well maybe she likes it a little...
But every time shes within cooee of an Amazon village Gabrielle starts what-if-ing. And she makes nesting noises that alarm Xena so obviously, Im surprised she still bothers asking!
If Gabrielles just worried about Eves life... well Id really expect that more from Xena.
Maybe the bard is burning out. In which case, would a holiday really kill them? But the bard should say thats all it is. Gabrielles motivation for staying needed to be better explained. Annoying plot point.
This leads me to Gabrielle and Xenas relationship split up. Well it sure sounded like they were a couple the way the Amazons were talking. I found this split hard to buy and harder to take -- mainly for the above reason; Gabrielles reason for staying isnt real clear, yet shes fine about waving bye bye to her beloved home for a period unknown. Dont like that. On the other hand, its sort of a believable thing to have a fight over, this where to live thing.
It was a sad fight to watch. Xena suggests going on an extended fishing trip for one. Gabrielle agrees it might be the best idea -- not realising Xena was waiting for her to say, no, please stay.... and then when Xena, in disappointment at hearing agreement, says "you think so?", Gabrielle realises shes given the wrong answer but she cant go back now.... and so she agrees again. But only half heartedly, as though shes willing Xena to change her mind. But thats the thing with pride -- no one changes their mind and people go through with things they dont necessarily want to do, just so they wont have to back down.
It really felt like thats what was happening here. Thats why it had both inevitability about it and realism.
Xenas sidekick wannabe was the one absolute laugh of the episode and I give her full points. Loved it. Glad to see Xena doesnt want Gabrielle so easily replaced. Which reminds me, Gabrielle wont be replacing Xena so easily in her heart either. Witness how she overhears the Amazons calling out to Xena to show them how her weapons work... Gabrielle gives a half knowing smile. You can hear her thinking, yeah, that was me once; and Im not surprised they all want to hang off Xena, too.
I really liked that look.
The reconcilliation left a lot to be desired and that howl of disappointment you heard when this episode aired, was mine. The scrolls, the scrolls, -- all weve been hearing about before Kindred Spirits screened was how Xena would finally read the bards scrolls. Oh what they might have done with this episode. How they could have made it the fan favourite for the year, hell the whole show.
All they had to do was do it properly: With Xena reading the scrolls, as Renee did a voiceover, and reading something Xena had never heard or known before about the bard. Something personal, maybe emotionally intimate, (these scrolls are the bards diaries after all) but either way something which would show us how Gabrielle feels about Xena; and something which would show us the look on Xenas face and she finds it out. A thing that explains to us why the Warrior Princess, the most itchy-footed nomad ever to prowl ancient Greece, would suddenly decide to STAY in one place to be with Gabrielle. Obviously she read something... but we never got that emotional wham nor find out what it was.
The potential was so immense. And they wasted every bit of it. And for all time, too... you cant unread the scrolls and go back and fix it up later. Howwwwwwl.
So what did Xena read? Return of Callisto, she says.
A verrrry interesting choice. I will long recall the look on Xenas face when Gabrielle first tells Xena about Perdicuss marriage proposal and she virtually begs the Warrior Princess for a reason not to go ahead with it... Shes asking Xena to ask her to stay.
Xena -- and theres that pride again -- makes a huge mistake, IMO, by remaining silent and letting the bard waltz on out of her life. In a sense it was the ideal scroll for her to read -- it would bring back a lot of painful memories for Xena about how she felt when she lost Gabrielle to Perdicus and how she felt alone. And then there was that now classic tragic look on Xenas face on the wedding day.
But methinks there were some happier scribblings on that parchment too. Gabrielles subtitle was "The ineffable mystery of a friendship as immortal as the gods". So one gets the impression the scroll had a whole lot less to do with Perdicus than it did to do with Xena. The question I and every Xena fan wants to know is WHAT she said about this friendship that would be so powerful to keep Xena underfoot. This is sooo disappointing that they dont tell us. I am and remain, appalled.
And still on this resolution -- these two, dearest pals have just made up after facing a very uncertain future apart -- and they dont even touch. No hug, not even a blokey shoulder slap! Nada. What -- theyll get germs?! Un-be-lievable.
Lastly, theres the resolution of the Joxer thread with the slick "what is dead" dodge. I thought it was pretty funny how different Amazons kept commenting on Joxers undead status and Xena fixed the complaints one by one. Not that Joxer didnt deserve some comeuppance here...
One thing I detested and always will that WWF wrestling spoof which was so unfunny to me I can only watch it with the sound down and my shaking fingers over my eyes. Please stop it, Xenabods, stop with the goofy spoofs. It just makes the fans cringe...
I will never be able to look at Xenas "thighs of doom" the same way again, of course, but thats a whole other story...
In summary -- some lows and highs here. Most shocking was the lost opportunity in the scrolls department. Unexplained character developments were Gabrielles nesting urges and perve artist Joxer who had been on better form lately, regressing to Attus status just to serve this plot.
Some acting from too many of the Amazons was poor and obviously forced, chief among them the I WANT MY BABY girl.
On the pluses, Xena and Gabrielle seemed to be -- talking!! And having some time together -- even though they were spending their time talking about moving apart. Ah well, gods forbid they give us everything we want in one episode... the heart failures among Xenites would be in epidemic form.
My favourite scene will always be Xenas baby-pitched war cry for Eve in the final scene... pity they had to pan away and find Joxer on the bed roll too... but at least our grrls are together, again. Woohoo. And lets hope theres only one way to go from here....(Up, I meant UP, guys...)
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