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Intimate Stranger Reviewed

The episode that really follows on from Return of Callisto, this is a dark story as we see Xena`s guilt over her killing of Callisto result in Callisto trapping Xena in the underworld while Callisto takes over Xena`s body. However, it is most memorable for the episode that sees Lucy Lawless play Callisto and Hudson leick play Xena. The episode begins with a nasty recurring dream for Xena as she and Gabrielle are on the trail of Theodorus, Callisto`s second in command. Callisto tricks Xena and with Ares help swaps bodies with her. We then have the wonderful sight of Lucy Lawless as Callisto in Xena`s body, taunting Gabrielle and Argo and threatening to kill her own mother, while Hudson Leick plays Xena trapped in Callisto`s body, with one day to regain her own. Even Ares is surprised by Callisto`s psychotic behaviour as Lucy Lawless has a ball as Callisto.

A lot of the enjoyment of this episode is to see Lucy copy Huson Leick`s mannerisms as Callisto. Hudson has the harder job of convincing as Xena as much of Lucy Lawless` style is done with little movement, more with facial expressions. Hudson Leick can`t do her sneer, or the hard stare, or that `Look`. She flattens out her voice and does quite a good job of it. On the other hand, Lucy Lawless is wonderfully nasty, she makes a great baddie, and does a pretty convincing, Callisto crossed with the snake from the Jungle Book!-(it`s the eyes. Sign her up to be the next Bond Baddie!) We are never in any doubt that it is Callisto, and it seems strange that Gabrielle can`t spot the difference. Argo is the only astute one!

The final scene was originally Xena returning with her own body, but this was one of the episodes that was altered after Lucy Lawless` accident. So she is still in Callisto`s body at the end. Look out for the creepy opening with Xena`s dream within a dream within a dream, poor old Argo getting a hard time, and Xena (with Callisto inside) getting Gabrielle to attack her with her staff. For a really hammy moment, check out the bit after Xena and Callisto`s fight in the woods where Gabrielle turns to Hudson Leick(as Xena) and says, `Is it really you?` Hudson tries to be really Xena-like and puts her hand on Gab`s shoulder, but her `Yaah` is excruciating! However, this is another good episode with more high quality acting and writing-good old Steven Sears!

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