Season 5, Episode 4
September 13, 2000
Reviewed by SLK
RATING: 6.5 chakrams
SCRIBES AND SCROLLS: Written by Chris Manheim. Directed by Rick Jacobson.
PASSING PARADE: Ted Raimi (Joxer); Jennifer Sky (Amarice); Alison Bruce (Talia); David Te Rare (Darcon); Mfundo Morrison (Arman); John Smith (Stablehand); Michael Howell (Deputy); Ric Chan (Healer); Norman Potts (Gang member); John Lawler (Barkeeper).
STORY SO FAR: Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and Amarice blow into a wild-west style town, help a friend of Xenas sort out a menacing thug and discover what loves all about. Meanwhile, Xena discovers shes pregnant.
DISCLAIMER: Although the rabbit died, no other animals were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
REWIND FOR: Ghosts revisited in the form of Spamona's 'gifted healer' all the way from the dungeons of Chin and Callisto's one-time lovesick lapdog, Theodorus, popping up as the 'scum-sucking' warlord Darcon. Throw in Talia, as the same woman who played the shows original amazon queen, Melosa, and we have a strong case for an expert in multiple personalities to attend the set...
Xena going into denial when the 'quack' pronounces her pregnant. A mere strangling to within an inch of his life was enough for him to quickly revise his diagnosis to 'mood swings'.
The market replete with flowers in full bloom. Hats off to the talented horticulturist for producing those in the midst of a northern winter.
The two Darcon bandits, who when confronted by Gabrielle and her two small daggers, drop their lethal cross bows and run at her with swords. I don't fancy their chances at scissors/rock/paper. *OR* I'm guessing they were employed for their looks.
Ares' powerful protege, Gabrielle, being rescued from a bandit by a 'little pony'. A lame one at that. The horse looked kinda proppy too. *g*
"What do you know about guys?! You're an Amazon." Well clearly those warrior women decided they knew enough about them to 'include them out', Joxer.
"I heard a horse once bit a man in half." Okay, Joxer, and a tree fell on my house causing my dog to eat my homework.
"Anybody would think I don't have any friends." Gabrielle reduced to doing a Dr Dolittle with her horsey pals.
"You want to know where my sense of humour is?! I'll tell you, you mother*&#%&*#!" Amarice showing off her Amazon finishing school polish.
"Women -- you can't live with 'em. You can't chain 'em up in the yard." Joxer explains why hes still single.
"So what makes Darcon different from every other scum-sucking warlord?" Um...his lisp? No wait... Captain Kirk acting ability?
Amarice: "If I ever go ga-ga like that over anyone, you have my permission to kill me."
Joxer: "Happy to oblige."
Xena: "I feel like some raspberry jelly...and some raw fish. What do say?
Joxer: "I just ate."
Amarice: "Yeah I wouldn't want to butt in."
Gabrielle: "I'm going to work with the horse."
Well after so much drama (life, death, demons and war gods) it makes a welcome change to see a bit of good old Xena comedy. Emphasis on old.
The wild west theme is a well-worn one and about as logical in ancient Greece as Joxer thinking he has a snowballs chance in Tartarus with Gabrielle.
But both persist to test us. And on that note, neither themes turn out as bad as one might expect ... although Joxer should get the hint and get his hands off Gabrielles apples already.
Starting at the very beginning, finally we see Gabrielle and Xena in practical, winter outfits -- long coats, looking nice and snug. And to me they looked fabulous -- if only because my sympathy pneumonia at watching Gabrielle in her amazing ever-shrinking outfits has been taking its toll. About time they gave that girl more fabric than I have on my tea cosy. Not that I dont love her new-look outfit but its not like the show is shot in summer... in, say, gee a country where the temperature gets above 12 degrees Celsius on a regular basis.
Somehow our motley crew is still on their way back to Greece, which is a little odd, for they have bumped into Armand (whos school is presumably in Greece) in the middle of nowhere. What a coincidence.
Eli has exited (praise the gods and pass the sauce) and Joxer and Amarice are suddenly back. Although where they both got to last episode is anyones guess.
This tale has many subplots, all surprisingly well interlinked. Its quite subtle. For instance, Gabrielle and Joxer have an apple fight; and it turns out it wasnt entirely a plot device -- next scene shes feeding apples to her new best friend, dubbed "Good Horse".
Example two, Joxer is lovestruck over Gabrielle -- for some reason more than usual in the opening scene and then its forgotten as the story unfolds -- and this turns out actually to be a counterpoint to contrast Amarices changed position on love.
Incidentally I wondered if the whole point to an Amarice love story wasnt little more than an excuse to get in the standard Xena shows Dont- Panic- Southern- Baptists, -She-Really-Is-Straight plot point. It smacked of shades of Dirty Half Dozen here where the man-hating tough babe also was suddenly converted to guys by episodes end, needing only to meet the right manly man. Personally, much as I like Armand, I wonder if it would really have killed the Xena bods to have left the ever edgy Amarice the way she was - ie. "as far as (us Amazons) are concerned, you guys are totally dispensible" -- if nothing else but to be consistent and, as a fun bonus, to continue totally needling Joxer...
On that note, Joxer and Amarices banter throughout the episode was priceless. And hes giving as good as he gets for once. But now the lioness has been de-toothed and shes all soppy on Armand, the banter lost a lot of bite.
Still on the subject of Joxer, lets talk apples here. Or rather the fact Gabrielle and Jox were not actually talking about apples, despite first appearances. Have another look at this dialogue and see how pointed the pair were getting:
Gabrielle: I can handle my own apples. (Translation, Joxer, thanks, but I dont want you.)
Joxer: Gabs, let me help, you might like it. (Translation, You just need the right man.)
Gabrielle: I dont think so. (Translation, When pigs fly.)
Joxer: Gimme (Translation, gimme.)
Gabrielle: Stop it (Translation, stop it, or Ill shove these apples where the sun dont shine.)
Joxer: I want to help you (Translation, I want to help *me*)
Gabrielle: Joxer, get your hands off my apples. (Translation, no means no... and just imagine this violently ripped bag as your head...)
Of course to be fair to Joxer, Gabrielle was very unkind not to have had that little talk with him at some point since he confessed his love to her two episodes back. Its sort of polite to say something when someone confesses undying love, not just ignore it. So Joxer has been hanging out here. And to be fair to Gabrielle, Joxer is the same swine who believes: "Women -- cant live with them, cant chain em in the yard." Hmmm ... no wonder Megs girls are the only ones in all of Greece who sing his praises (literally).
But on with the show... highlights were Xena discovering shes pregnant. I pity immensely the poor quac... er, doctor, revealing to the warrior princess she has had a miracle conception. Theres some excellent camera work there as Xena is told the news. The bug-eyed mum-to-be is zoomed dizzingly forward towards the camera as the news hits home. Awesome.
Xenas celibate status is also now revealed: "Getting pregnant involves certain physical requirements that I havent met in a long time and I mean a VERY long time. No one, zilch, zippo..."
Although subtexters will be shocked to discover Xena describes herself a "LOOOVE FREE ZONE" when Gabrielle and she seem nothing but adoring most of the time.
But I guess some could argue she meant love as a euphemism for sex. In which case, subtexters, I sympathise, but dont all kill yourselves at once -- people will talk.
On the other hand, Xena did admit Gabrielle would "freak" on news of her pregnancy... and she did. In her usual bardic way of swallow, open mouth, shut mouth, bug eyes, disbelieving look and cut to commercials... Chuckle.
Poor Gabrielle -- if you take the subtext line that Xena is her lover then it seems the Warrior Princess has been cheating on her; and if she isnt her lover and theyre just friends, Xenas still been off with some man for a tumble or two that Gabrielle knows nothing about. Either way youd feel more than a little put out that this is the first youve heard of it. So its no surprise Gabrielles wan "congratulations" seemed more than a little flat.
I did love the conversation between them later as Gabrielle tries to work out who the father could be:
Gabrielle: "How can you not know? I just find that hard to believe you know..."
Xena, rolling eyes: "Tell ME."
Gabrielle: "Ares -- maybe he did a god thing..."
Xenas finger comes up adamantly: "NO."
Gabrielle: "Okay fine. When was the last time we saw Hercules, I forget... "
Real subtle, Gabrielle! What a laugh.
Another absolute highlight was Xena getting in touch with her feminine side -- stopping to smell the flowers and admire the teddy bear: "awww, sooo liddle cutie", followed shortly by a look of horror I havent seen since Solan died.
Laughed so hard I fell off the couch.
And I love Xenas Brownie/Scout salute (not sure which it was) with her promise to Talia. I wonder if she invented this too?
I guess since Xena invented the technique in Is there a doctor in the house CPR is now common knowledge everywhere? How else could Amarice have known what to do when Armand was in the tub, bobbing for apples without the apples?
Love how Talia can get the ca-chink spur effect when she walks -- without spurs. Xena rewrites history yet again -- or is caught out in an old lie, hard to know which. She told Gabrielle in the very first episode that she travels alone. Yet in Dirty Half Dozen she is reacquainted with a woman she says she used to ride with. And now here she describes her relationship with Talia as "We rode together years ago". Uh huh -- methinks Xena told Gabrielle what she did to get rid of her -- highly ineffective technique, too, I note.
But one of my two biggest irks in this episode is that silly, silly bandaged-foot scene with Gabrielle and "nice horse". Lets just presume for one absurd second that "good horse" is smart enough to get what the bard was up to. If its that smart then it also knows shes scamming it with a bandage plot, so her line "were equals now ... you know that -- you can trust me now" is actually insulting its intelligence! Shes essentially saying "trust me because I am scamming you". Sigh -- now Im falling into Gabrielles delusions of horses with PHDs.
On this note - since when has Gabrielle liked getting up on horses? First episode aside, she made it quite clear to Xena that Argo is too high off the ground for her. Good Horse is the same height as Xenas.
I guess it must be like the dagger thing -- when you are reincarnated, you come back with a knowledge of knives and a desire to own your own pony. Ri-ight.
Last quibble - the actor who played Darcon -- what were they THINKING giving him dialogue??? I have never heard anyone pronounce every single syllable in a word before: Hi, honnn-neyyy, Im, hoo-oome. Shudder.
Aw hell, one more quibble. The wild west plot didnt really work but fortunately it was obscured by all the funny antics going on around it, so it didnt matter so much.
But I must guiltily admit to fast-forwarding through the final fight scene. Hell weve all seen that scenario (man on roof, man in saloon, cohorts crouching behind barrels) a million times. The only difference -- swords instead of guns -- was too small to make it any more interesting. Pzzt. Been there, seen it done all before.
Meanwhile, where did Talia go just before the fight on her trusty white steed shouting "Hi ho"? And where was Mr Let-Me-At-Em Joxer during the fight?
I should finish off on a cute little line from Xena:
"Congratulations -- it looks like were a two horse family.
Gabrielle: "Yeah family being the operative word."
Xena: "You know what I think, I think its the beginning of a beautiful relationship."
And you know what I think? Its a good thing Gabrielles horse turned out to be broken in or that classy exit could have been a mighty bumpy ride....
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