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Sacrifice I Reviewed

Series Three ends with an explosive two part episode that sees the return of some old foes. Xena and Gabrielle are trying to rescue an old friend of Gabrielle`s who has become involved with a strange sect. A sacrificial ceremony seems to indicate that they are worshippers of Callisto, and she soon makes an appearance. However it turns out to be even worse than Callisto - Hope is about to be reborn! Callisto is helping Hope, in return for her own death, while Ares tries to get Xena working for him to defeat Hope. Everything centres on a very large cocoon that is about to open... The return, yet again, of Callisto is a welcome one in my opinion. The writing for her has to be good for her constant reappearance with the same goal every time to be convincing. Maternal Instincts gave her what she wanted - Xena`s pain, but here she has a very different purpose, and it is an unexpected one; Callisto wants to die - a bit hard for a god! Her existence is pointless and she wants it to end. Hudson Leick thrives as she finally gets to do something other than shriek. Callisto is less nutty and more morbidly twisted here, and she has acquired the nasty habit of getting covered by rockslides! Is that the only way to stop a god?

The priestly cult seems a bit odd - rather pagan for the Greeks. You wonder if they are druid refugees from Britannia, seeing as that was Hope`s birthplace. Indeed, the ceremonial scenes are similar to the temple of Dahok where Khrafstar took Gabrielle in The Deliverer, although it is slightly less ominous to be sacrificing out in the open air - they obviously don`t have anything to match Stonehenge in Greece.

Seraphin is very irritating, I hope she wasn`t a good pal of Gabrielle`s. Ares appears once again, and causes yet more trouble for Xena and Gabrielle. His actions and motives are more mysterious than ever. Initially he appears to be trying to persuade Xena to help him defeat Hope and Dahok, however, he proves to be rather flexible in his alliegences... He is clearly trying to manipulate Gabrielle near the end of the episode by showing her Xena`s life thread about to be cut by the fates, and this carries on the story line from Forget Me Not, where it is revealed that Gabrielle owes Ares a favour.

Of course, the big feature of this episode is the final minute, when Hope emerges from the cocoon as an exact replica of Gabrielle. I loved the sly smile from Renee O`Connor as Hope to end the episode, one of the best cliffhangers ever, and I am just glad that I got to watch the next part straight after.

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