Messengers from Chin have about the shortest life expectancy in the Xenaverse! Another one dies before the opening credits as Xena receives a message again. They travel to Chin and are attacked by an army wielding an explosive black powder. After being helped out by a young woman, Xena realises it is Lao Ma's daughter! She is looking for her mother's book of wisdom to try and carry on her work, however, Pao Ssu is not all she appears. She has twin sister K'ao Hsin and it soon becomes clear that Pao Ssu controls the army with the black powder and wants her mother's powers too. Xena must team up with K'ao Sin to defeat her.
In an episode that is almost The Debt part 3, we return once again to the east in an entertaining episode. The Debt is probably my very favourite Xena episode. Partly because I felt Jacqueline Kim was fantastic as Lao Ma. I was a little disappointed with this episode as I did not like the actress playing the twin daughters. I seem to be alone on this as most people I know thought she was excellent, and indeed, she was good at playing two very different roles. You really do not believe it is the same actress. She doesn't even look like herself! However, I thought she was too manic and nutty as the bad daughter, and too sallow and wimpish as the nice one. I think this would have been the perfect opportunity to bring back Jaqueline Kim. She could have played both roles easily I think. Oh well.
Joxer is mostly very annoying in this episode, and he and Gabrielle are together quite a lot while Xena interacts with the twin daughters. I think we need to see more of Xena and Gabrielle together for the series to work at its best. Having said that, I thought the scene where Gabrielle and Joxer are captured and Gab uses Xena-like skills to free them was amusing. It is the incidental humour that has always been a big attraction of the show to many fans. It was also nice to see that Gab did not have to rely on Xena to save her. This season has seen Gabrielle do so much more fighting. I wonder what was originally planned for her character before the pregnancy storyline was developed.
The final sequence that sees Xena and K'ao Hsin use the powers that Lao Ma had against Pao Ssu was a touch gimmicky, with lots of explosions and arm waving. There were also a few errors that I noticed. Pao Ssu sets a trap with explosives and lights the fuse then rides away. We see it takes about 20-30 seconds to burn, yet when she turns to see the explosion she is miles away! Can she teleport? Also, Xena remembers when she first met Lao Ma in the woods (And we even get some flashbacks to The Debt), yet we Debt Fans know she met her out at Borias' camp on the plains. While this was an enjoyable episode, it was not as good as it could have been with more careful checking of the script.
DISCLAIMER: To obtain a copy of Joxer's recipe for Moo Suu sauce and other Chinese delicacies, visit your local bookstore or look for it at the tavern.
Another great Chin episode sees the evil Green Dragon, Ming Tien return, summoned by the warlord Khan(Ghengis?). The recently departed Pao Ssu (as seen in Purity) also makes a swift return to the show, as does her rather drippy twin sister Kao Hsin.
Gabrielle gets an admirer for the first time in ages while Xena works on her super powers.
The show opens with Xena trying to use those powers that we saw last week, but she seems to have lost it. However, Xena realises that all is not well in the state of Chin, and returns. Upon arrival, she finds that the people are under attack from a warlord named Khan. Not only does he have the secret of the black powder (given to him by the dead Pao Ssu), but also has the help of Ming Tien. Gabrielle meets up with a dashing young man named Lin Chi, and the pair work together to try and destroy Khan's supply of the black powder, however, it soon becomes apparent that he has an army of thousands and all looks grim for Xena and the team. Once again though, she discovers the secret to using the power of Lao Ma, and manages to destroy the army by turning them to stone.
For some reason, I enjoyed this one much more than Purity. Both are actually good stories, but I especially liked the images in this episode. Xena standing up to an army and turning them to stone was a delightful nod to the famous army of terra cotta warriors that date from ancient China. I was also struck by the odd image of Ming Tien and Pao Ssu as two sides of a single figure. I am told this kind of evil Siamese twins arrangement is taken directly from The Bride With White Hair, a film that has had quite an influence over the series, with a number of sequences copied from it and used for Xena. The ghostly figures were decidedly creepy and effective. Once again, it is Gabrielle who is the warrior. She and Lin Chi make a good team, and it was refreshing to see Gabrielle with a young man who admired her, yet didn't get killed for his red-shirted-ness! Gabrielle is a very attractive young woman and it is unbelievable that the only male admirer she has had in ages is Joxer! However, I also especially liked the way it was handled. Gabrielle has no interest in Lin Chi as a possible mate, and makes it clear that she knows where (or rather WHO) she belongs with. As with much of the fifth season, Lucy's pregnancy means she cannot do much fighting. I am repeatedly impressed with how they have got around Lucy's lack of physical abiblity to fight, and the promotion of Gabrielle to chief butt-kicker has been one of the best things about S5. Renee O'Connor has always been the more athletic of the two actresses, but her smaller stature makes her look less threatening than Lucy Lawless. However, Renee has thrown herself into the fight scenes this year and looks to be having a great time. Gabrielle does not always win, but her old way of peace is long gone now. In Back in the Bottle, Xena is always watching out for her, but it is Gabrielle and Lin Chi who fight. Xena uses her mental strength instead.
Joxer is back to being as annoying as ever. He actually has a little subplot of his own where he helps a young Chinese girl, but it is a very thin storyline and we see little of it. However we do manage to hear him back to bragging about things he never did and battles he never fought. I quite liked his little spurts of jealously when he thinks Gabrielle and Lin Chi are getting just a bit TOO friendly.
While Marie Matiko is quite expert at playing two different roles - it is STILL hard to beleive it is the same actress - I still found Kao Hsin to be too drippy and uninteresting. Pao Ssu on the other hand is much more entertaining, even as a spirit.
I thought this two episode trip back to Chin was very enjoyable, and both stories were well written.
DISCLAIMER: Pao Ssu's split personality was not harmed during the production of this motion picture
Xena and Gabrielle beat off some two bit thugs from Aphrodite's temple. The goddess of love is grateful and shows them her new venture: using her temple as a hospice. Hey, Gabrielle, you've found your place! Oh no, that was the old Gab....
Anyway, while there, Xena and Gabrielle see a young girl who named Daphne who lies unconscious after the death of her mother. After a spell of Aphrodite's goes wrong, Xena becomes trapped inside the girl's body! While Xena and Daphne get used to sharing a body, Gabrielle and Aphrodite have to figure out a way to restore Xena. This involves a trip to the Gemini club - on twins night - and oil wrestling with Castor and Pollux.
Once again, and ingenious episode that lets Lucy Lawless out of the heavy action. Renee O'Connor and Alexandra Tydings carry things well, and the young girl playing Daphne is also very good. Having said that, the story is just a bit thin. The baddie of the week is a very poor character. I assume he was edited out a bit in favour of the Gab/Aphrodite stuff as Tharon and his pointless metal mask is barely worth the trouble. His warriors are about the biggest bunch of wimps we have seen who run away when Gabrielle hits them with a rope!
The main attraction of the episode is in the comedy. Gabrielle and Aphrodite's Swedish twins, Brun and Hilda are a hoot. There is a scene when they are trying to get into the Gemini club and their Viking horned helmets get tangles up and Aphrodite's helmet ends up over her eyes. This LOOKED like a genuine accident that they decided to keep in. Certainly Renee and Alexandra are very funny together. The actual oil wrestling and chat up with Castor and Pollux were rather smutty. All that gyrating on top of each other - supposedly wrestling - was a little gross, but funny I suppose. Perhaps indicative of the direction of the show the first half of this season. Hercules writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman were responsible for some of the more schoolboy humour episodes on Herc, and certainly the humour has lacked subtlety so far. Having said that, this episode is only the fifth out of nearly a hundred to be directed by a woman.
The young girl playing Daphne appeared in two of the original Hercules tv movies, and she shows her experience. It is not an easy role as she has to play a girl whose father won't tell her the truth. She is very good at playing Xena, and gets quite a menacing tone to her voice. It is amusing to see the stunts performed by her - as Xena of course. Also, look out for Colin Moy as Daphne's father. he is best known for playing Phantes in Hooves and Harlots, who went on to marry Ephiny.
Finally, I would like to praise the final scene, a beautiful sunset on a beach. We don't get that many picturesque Xena episodes. Usually the emphasis is on action and characters, but this was a lovely ending to a funny episode. Although I will be happy to see Lucy Lawless back and fighting.
DISCLAIMER: No pie tins were harmed in the making of Tharon's mask.
Advertised as the 100th episode, although it is the 99th to be broadcast, this is the one where we find out who the father of Xena's baby is! A dramatic episode featuring the death of a character and the twilight of the Greek Gods approaching...
A remarkable musical episode, quite different from The Bitter Suite! Joxer's brother Jace is a camp disco queen who is a real hoot, and the musical numbers are mainly well known songs rather than originals. Takes some getting used to, but a huge heap of fun!
DISCLAIMER: No Lyres were strung out during the production of this motion picture
A clip show that sees Gabrielle and Argo shrunk into mini versions of themselves by the god Lachrymose, this one is the pie fight one. Fun.
Xena gives birth in this one that is also notable for the return of Kevin Sorbo to the Xenaverse! However, all is not plain sailing as the gods are on the lookout.
DISCLAIMER: Zeus cashed in his chips during the production of this motion picture.
Joxer gets struck by a poisoned arrow when trying to help Xena and her child escape from more attackers out to kill the baby. While Gabrielle tries to get him to the antidote, Xena has some dream like encounters with Ares who makes her an interesting offer.
DISCLAIMER: Ares' virility was harmed during the production of this motion picture.
The goddess Athena try to destroy Xena's baby, and when they take shelter in Amphipolis, she builds an army determined to kill the child. Xena is forced to consider an alliance with Ares while Gabrielle marshalls the troops of villagers. A very dramatic and action packed episode.
DISCLAIMER: Post Production was under siege during the production of this motion picture.
Meighan Desmond (Discord)
Gabrielle is hit on the head and falls into the sea. She somehow enters a strange parallel universe under the sea where she appears to be married to Hagar - who looks exactly like Joxer - and Gabrielle is a mermaid with three half fish children! Loosely based on the Goldie Hawn movie Overboard, this comedy features very little Lucy Lawless.
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