BETWEEN THE LINES
Review by: Lord Nelson
I hardly know where to begin. I believe it is impossible to review the episode, Between The Lines. To analyze it would, to me, cheapen the achievement of the Xenastaff. It would render this tale into simple words, pictures, and gestures. Television isn't supposed to do what Renaissance pictures did in this episode. It's only entertainment. Between The Lines was a real spiritual experience for me. As such I can't be technical at all about it. All I can do is try to come to terms with this episode's effect on me, which was very great.
It's television. All right, this is mostly me here. The Gods and everybody on the internet know that I'm an extremely sensitive and emotional man and that when it comes to Xena: Warrior Princess, I've totally lost perspective. I don't expect others to experience what I experienced in watching this episode. What can I say? It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen or heard on television or in any medium. Between The Lines found the place in my heart that I save for my spiritual practice. It was that uplifting to me. I have never seen or heard of ANYTHING on television that could do that before. At the end I was both shaking with intense excitement, and crying from pleasure and joy. Between The Lines was more than entertainment for me. It was important to me.
I'm a Buddhist. Although the events in this wonderful episode were derived from the Hindu tradition, the similarites to my own beliefs are very strong. I believe that everything has its exact opposite implied with it. I believe profoundly in karma and reincarnation. I believe that everything that exists is in some way sacred and a manifestation of the grand intelligence that lay behind the illusion in which I must live. I believe that intelligence can be manifested by what is created by sentient beings. I believe in the existence of profound spiritual energies that only the extremely well trained and talented can perceive. I believe in spiritual enlightenment and I believe that anyone can gain that enlightenment if they try.
Now Steve Sears and his creative partners at Renaissance Pictures have presented all of these tenets of faith in a manner that was beautiful, exciting, sensitive, and perhaps to some, like me, even meaningful. I was placed in situation after situation that filled me with wonder, pleasure and apprieciation, and at the end we, and Xena and Gabrielle were taught what their roles in eternity will be. Can any belief be more beautiful than close friendship and loving support for all eternity? You could see how great this story was by the performances of the actors and crew on screen. EVERYBODY gave their absolute all for this project. The script must have had the same effect on them as it has to most viewers. That is simply amazing.
Between The Lines begins with a precious scene where, for the first time in the show, Xena gets new fighting garb. It's a gorgeous blue pants suit with lots of gold jewelry and a red sash. Immediately thereafter, they are presented with a funeral. While the body is cremated, the dead man's wife Naijma, voluntarily, is about to allow herself to be thrown onto the fire. When Xena intervenes to save the woman's life, this sets in train a series of profound events that literally swept me out of my living room and into a higher plane. IT WAS ALL SO INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL! I was swept away by the experience of opposites. When Xena was swept into a future life she became the "Mother of Peace!" Gabrielle, when she was sent Naijima in pursuit comes back as a warrior A MAN! When both arrive in their new lives, to their mutual horror, Xena and Gabrielle have to take on ALTI in the life of a brutal woman warrior!
By this time, my mind was totally blown, and it nearly became impossible for me to make rational sense of it all. I didn't want to make sense of it. I did what Naijima told Gabrielle to do when the Darsham (we buddhists call a person like her an Arhat, or perhaps even a Buddha) demonstrated the Mendhi designs to the Bard. I gave up thinking; I FELT every moment thereafter. (A slight divergence here. I am not familiar with Mendhi painting. However, the Tibetan Buddhists have a very similar art. It is called the Mendala, or sand painting. Like the Mendhi, the Mendala is truth, and the Mendala has the exact same power as the Mendhi. Wow!)
I can't go on explaining things. I'll just lay out what got to me. Steve Sears script was beauty made up of pure power, and somehow for all that he kept sweetness and comedy. His dialog was never better. The episode ROARED ahead with wonder after wonder. My senses could barely keep up. One line of dialog I will never ever forget because it touches a subject I deal with every day. Xena: "Fear is a flaw---a subtle flaw given us by the gods so that they can exploit us." My oh MY how that line rings to me! It is Steve's greatest script. How can he keep masterpieces like this coming?
When the Darsham sent Xena to her next life, and when she demonstrated the Mendhi to Gabrielle were almost inexpressibly beautiful. The final fight was almost unbearably terrifying, and the effect of the spiritual chakrams wonderful beyond belief. How can I just thank Flat Earth for their effects? I have no words for them! I had feelings like this scene after scene after scene! That has never happened to me before!
The actress that played Naijima, the Darsham, Tharini Mudiliar was etherially beautiful, and I knew immediately that her character wasn't quite of this reality. From the moment I saw her eyes I knew she was a person of incredible power. Fabulous casting. Of course, there is Claire Stansfield. As in Sin Trade, she plays Alti with a malicious joy that is marvellous to behold. She LOVES Alti, and seeing her love Alti in performance doubles her statement at the Convention that Alti was one of the best parts she'd ever played.
Lucy and Renee were awesome together. The mendhi painting scene was so beautiful and sensitive. You could almost see the power flowing between Xena and Gabrielle with every stroke of the pen. At the end, I never saw Xena so relaxed and happy. The same with Gabrielle. They now know that their deaths are irrelevent. They will be together loving each other and stopping Alti's evil for all eternity. I could see that realization on their faces, such was their performances.
I can't go on. Between The Lines is now my favorite Xena Episode. Its wonders are too deep and many to enumerate. Somehow Xenastaff found the direct path to my heart and paved it with gold and precious jewels.
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