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I liked this story, although it is flawed if you try and watch it as a serious episode. One of the main problems is Gabrielle`s role in this episode. She makes one feeble attempt to escape, and that`s it. She is far too passive. Why would she agree to marry a man she doesn`t know and has never met? Her role in this episode is mainly as comic relief, and if you see it as a comdey and don`t agonise over her behaviour it is enjoyable enough.
With Josh Becker directing and Armus & Foster writing, it was always going to be a comedic one. Gabrielle`s scenes with the fashion and etiquette guru Vidalis(Sydney Jackson) are very funny, and I loved her little chat with her husband to be about how all the men she gets serious with end up dead, and her comments about being, 'more of a redhead really' - a subtle nod to the fans who commented on her varying hair shades this season.
Meanwhile, Xena and Palaemon are having the dramatic stuff happen to them. The hand cuffing is reminiscent of Hitchcock`s 'The 39 Steps', where the hero handcuffs himself to a girl to get her to help him. Xena again shows her great humanity in being willing to give up her sight to save her friend, and then is willing to undo the chains and sacrifice herself rather than dragging Palaemon over a cliff with her. The puppyish enthusiasm of Palaemon for her more bloodthirsty victories prompt Xena to complain that 'those aren`t pleasant memories for me!' She sees through him, as he is not the killer he claims to be.
I loved the character of Vidalis - a clearly gay character who chases after Palaemon at the end! He is played by Sydney Jackson who was the storekeeper in Dreamworker. His criticism of Gabrielle for having 'the hand gestures of a wagon driver', and covering up 'that peasant muscle' are high points. He also popped up in the classic Aussie soap 'Prisoner Cell Block H' the other day. Is he an Aussie?
Lucy Lawless does a pretty convincing job of playing blind. No wandering about with arms outstetched for Xena. She stares blankly for the most part and makes Xena`s plight believable. The only wobble is when Xena runs to save Gabrielle from burning and runs neatly *around* some obstacles in a non-blind way.
This episode is another strong one for Xena and Gabrielle`s bond. Xena is prepared to sacrifice her eyesight for her friend. Nice little subtext moment that actually - a big hug and Palaemon turns away looking as if he is intruding during their reconciliation when Xena lifts Gab out of her coffin.
Forget about Gabrielle`s uncharacteristic behaviour and there is a lot to enjoy in this episode.
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