Return of Callisto Reviewed
One of the real high points of series 2 is this story that sees Xena`s arch-foe Callisto return, and also the return of Gabrielle`s former fiance Perdicus. He turns up asking Gab to marry him as he wants to give up the life of a soldier. At first Gabrielle is going to turn him down, but after he breaks down during a battle, she decides to marry him. After a brief ceremony and a touching goodbye with Xena, the happy couple leave. Naturally the bliss can`t last and Callisto arrives intending to kill Xena`s best friend Gabrielle, but after Xena arrives in the nick of time she sticks the sword in poor old Perdicus instead.(Hooray!) This has an extreme effect on Gabrielle who becomes obsessed with revenge and persudes Xena to show her how to use a sword and is intent on killing Callisto, but when the opportunity arises, she cannot kill. Insteasd Callisto captures her and Xena must save her.
This is a particularly good episode for Renee O`Connor, who has spent most of the series being the happy, talkative sidekick. Gabrielle has always been the hopeful one, the one who saw the best in a person or a situation, but here she is almost pushed over the edge by Callisto`s callous and murderous brutality. For us fans, Callisto did us a big favour! Perdicus was a drippy character, and Gabrielle couldn`t possibly stay with him. Her gleeful killings show once again what a horribly brilliant baddie she is - a crucial ingredient of a series like this. Hudson Leick overacts a little at times, but that is perfect for the manic Callisto. She makes a perfect foil for Xena, especially as her motivation is almost just - her family were killed by Xena`s army when she was a child. However, I still think Hudson Leick is too skinny looking to be such a great fighter. She looks just a bit too weedy to defeat big strong Xena.
My favourite scene is the one with Gabrielle and the sword. She is practising against a tree as Xena approaches. This evokes the memory of two other Gab and tree scenes that show her development as a character. Back in Dreamworker she was playing with Xena`s sword against pretend enemies in a jokey child-like way. In The Greater Good, Gabrielle worked out her grief over Xena`s apparent death by giving a nearby tree a good whacking in a very emotional scene. Here we see a much calmer, but more disturbed Gabrielle, planning on taking a life and laying into another tree. It says a lot about the way Gabrielle has changed, and the thoughtful way her character has been handled.
(See my Whoosh Paper - "Gabrielle`s Relationship to Trees" in issue 21)
Perdicus first appeared in Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts. However, his character is a bit of a pain here. He virtually forces Gabrielle to take pity on him after he decides he can`t go on. We fans didn`t want to see Xena and Gabrielle split up. Quite a relief to see him go!
A strong episode that has lots happening, the fiendish Callisto and more excellent acting.
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