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Destiny Reviewed

A very dramatic and emotional episode that sets out to show how Xena went from warrior fighting for her village to ruthless and cruel warlord. The episode begins with Xena being very badly injured after a visit to Cirra - where Callisto once lived with her family before Xena`s army burned it to the ground. Trying to save a child, she is hit by a booby trap and Gabrielle tries to save her by taking her to a healer many miles away. As Xena hovers between life and death, she remembers what it was that changed her. We see her sailing with her band of pirates. She captures a young and cocky Roman soldier named Julius Caesar. Also, a girl named M`Lila stows away on Xena`s ship. These two shape her life in different ways. M`Lila teaches Xena about those pressure points she like so much, and her acrobatic fighting style looks familiar too. Xena falls for Ceasar and after ransoming him, looks forward to seeing him again. However, Caesar`s return is no lovers reunion. He betrays Xena and crucifies her and her crew - not the act of a friend! After being saved by M`Lila, Xena is taken to a healer - the same one Gabrielle takes her to. In her memories, Xena remembers Caesar`s men arriving and killing M`Lila, starting Xena on her life of cruelty and killing. In the present, she eventually gives up her fight for life...

This story was written and directed by executive producer Robert Tapert, and is an important one in explaining Xena`s past. History reports that Caesar WAS at one point kidnapped by Greek pirates, and he DID return to crucify them too, and having a ruthless historical figure like him appear makes Xena seem more like a real figure herself. The dual story of past and present is an effective device, and the final scenes are incredibly dramatic. This episode is another that was altered to allow for Lucy Lawless` accident. Originally Xena was to have recovered. I think this ending is far more effective - although returning from the dead is not something people really do. However, reality has little to do with the Xenaverse! Having a hilarious show like Miss Amphipolis followed by an emotionally draining one like this is what I love about the series. Both type of episodes work well, because it isn`t a series that can be categorized easily.

Here in the UK, this episode was very severely edited, including many important cruelties and actions such as that leg breaking scene - a rather important moment, but even so it is a terrific episode. Julius Caesar is played by Karl Urban, who appeared as Mael in Altared States and will be seen later as Cupid. Caesar would continue to be an important recurring figure over the next few seasons. This was a crucial episode in explaining the person that Xena became. It was the first to explore her past, and paved the way for other episodes that told her back story, such as The Debt.

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