Season 2, Episode 6

November 7 , 1998

Reviewed by SLK


RATING: 6.5 chakrams

Warrior Princess Tramp

SCRIBES & SCROLLS: Written by R.J. Stewart; Edited by Jim Prior; Directed by Josh Becker

PASSING PARADE: Ted Raimi (Joxer); Chris Bailey (Agis); Iain Rea (Philemon);
Norman Forsey (King Lias) ; Simon Fa'amoe (Alcibiades).

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, steps in.

DISCLAIMER: 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.

REWIND FOR: 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 showing her grit by allowing a soldier to pretend to hit her with a sword to see if she really is Meg. 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.

QUOTABLE: "Are you suicidal???" Gulp. I was Joxer, I’d have been 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, if you ask me.

"Yeah, a little more cleavage couldn’t hurt." Meg to herself. Frankly, if Meg showed any more cleavage Xena would have to be reclassified an adults-only rating.

"My father died in childbirth" ahh that Meg. Way to get a bard’s attention.

"But wait! I still have my ... round killing thing." Not Xena #1. (Princess Diana)

"In the blink of an eye I can split the skull of anyone who moves with my trusty ... shamrock." Not Xena #2 (Meg).

"Guess which one I am"... and needing no introduction....


It’s not a bad little romp, this episode, and it probably sticks forever in the mind of many a Xenite the first time they saw it, if only for the astonishment at discovering Lucy Lawless’s many skills. And make no mistake, that’s exactly why this episode was devised, as an acting showcase for their star. Lawless plays her characters very distinctly and credibly, and there’s never much doubting who’s who at any given time - except at the times you’re supposed to wonder.

Lawless has said in interviews she loves playing the tramp, Meg, because she is so different to Xena. 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 badly 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 sobstory so we don’t just go "yeah, right, pull the other one," 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 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 for me was Joxer was just so annoying (he’s been toned down a lot since this episode, I note). He 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". What an idiot! She was moments away from saving the day. My bravery award goes to Xena who actually kissed this buffoon in the line of duty. Speaking of which, he was being an absolute sexist sleaze at the start of the episode, boasting of his exploits, which, frankly, earns him the title of tramp in my book, ahead of Meg. What Meg sees in him, I know not. But perhaps they should stick with each other. Joxer also cemented his reputation as jerk of the universe by pinching women on the butt (and deserved everything he got for it) and uttering this closing line to Xena: "I know how much you need a real warrior to watch your back’’. Way to get on Gabrielle’s good side, Joxer!

Oh poor, Gabrielle. Red-haired Gabrielle, too! There’s a look we haven’t seen for awhile. What an unpleasant time she was having of it, 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 garrot the (real) warrior princess on sight when she appears to spring her from her cell. No wonder she looked so relieve to discover it was Meg who was being a cow, not Xena. I don’t know what to make of that catfight between them other than, gee, I’ll bet the nudge-nudge wink-wink blokes on set thought it was a giggle, and to wonder where on earth Gabrielle’s finely honed fighting skills got to? Or does she still have her L-Plate on at this stage...? To top off the ignominy of this episode for Gabrielle, everyone is calling her names (well everyone’s calling everyone names - "slag" and "tramp" being but a few harsher, jarring ones), like "idiot". Yep, not a lot of fun for a bard, this episode.

All this aside, it wasn’t bad. It was pacy, well-edited and, in parts, a laugh - especially the shamrock/round killing thing bit, which earned a chuckle or two. 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 I hear in the US this caused some angst and fears after it aired.

In all, some 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.