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Sacrifice II Reviewed

This episode begins with a bang. Carrying straight on from Sacrifice I, we have the first fight between Xena and Hope, who is revealed as having telekinetic powers, as she hurls weapons at Xena. It`s an exciting opening, and has Callisto too. Hope might have these powers, but she still needs Callisto to transport her away. Xena and Gabrielle almost fall out as Xena is angry at Gab for preventing her from killing Hope. While Gabrielle`s explanation settles things - that Xena would die if she killed Hope - Xena makes Gab see that she is prepared to sacrifice herself. Meanwhile, Hope goes for the complete Mom-look - complete with staff and mini-BGSB. She bumps into Joxer - yes he`s back - but reneges on her promise to kill Callisto, and instead forms an alliance with Ares. Callisto then teams up with a reluctant Xena and Gabrielle as they make their way to the temple where Dahok can be brought into the world. Gabrielle has a little chat with Hope and there is a touching scene as she and Xena prepare for the battle that will probably mean Xena`s death. However, things in the temple don`t quite go as planned. Xena has the Hind`s blood dagger - the only thing that can kill a god, and Ares turns out to be less than faithful to Hope when confronted with it. Xena approaches Hope to kill her, but before she can, Gabrielle, unable to face losing Xena, leaps forward, hugging her daughter and the pair fall into a fiery pit!!! Callisto has a laugh at Gabrielle`s death and gets the death she had wanted as Xena stabs her with the dagger. A grief stricken Xena looks stunned, and a gob-smacked audience wonders how they will survive until series 4 starts! A stunning ending to a turbulent but brilliant season, that has been a real year of hell for Gabrielle. This episode was a fitting ending, and had a lot of great moments. One of the best things about it was the surprise of Gabrielle`s apparent death(don`t worry, she`ll be back - eventually). Most of the talk before this episode had been about Callisto. It was well known that she would finally die and consequently, we were caught on the hop. I loved the appropriateness of the title. It looked for so long that Xena would be making the ultimate sacrifice to save the world from Dahok`s evil. Then there were the sacrifices being made TO Dahok, and Seraphin`s readiness to die. I thought that Callisto might be the one to find some meaning to her existence by sacrificing herself.

Throughout these two episodes, Gabrielle was at about her most serious that we have ever seen her. Usually she is the light to Xena`s darkness. She smiles and quips and is ever optimistic. In this story, she looks haunted by the circumstances. The scene between Gabrielle and Xena at the start of Sac 2, when Gabrielle tells Xena that she couldn`t lose her is a strong one. Xena is so driven and determined, Gabrielle is not prepared to let her die. Ares` taunting of her in Sac 1 seems to have pricked her conscience. She is no mere sidekick anymore, and takes action herself.

Gabrielle`s eventual meeting with Hope was another well written scene. Renee O`Connor carried off the double role pretty well. Hope has a deep and growly voice that ROC sometimes struggled with, but she did a good menacing glare. After Lucy Lawless has had all these doubles, and even Joxer has a lookalike, I guess Gabrielle was due one.

In a recent interview in the UK magazine Dreamwatch, Hudson Leick expressed a bit of disappointment about the way Callisto finally died.

"I am dissatisfied with her ending. I thought it was very mild. There was no dramatic ending - it was very quiet", she said. (Dreamwatch no.47 p.44).

However, the time was right I think. Callisto had gone about as far as she could. She was NEVER going to kill Xena, after all the show is called "Xena". I liked the changes in the character for this story. Her desire for oblivion was believable, with much less screeching thankfully, and more of Callisto`s twisted sense of humour. To see her and Xena on the same side was weird, but as in A Necessary Evil, she wanted something. Then, it was ambrosia, here it is the Hind`s blood dagger and death. In the absence of Gabrielle`s sunnier side, we had Callisto`s black humour in this story, and while Hudson Leick might have been disappointed, her actual death at Xena`s hands was sort of appropriate. After Gabrielle and Hope falling into that pit, her awful cackle was guaranteed to get her what she wanted - Xena fulfilling her promise to kill her. I think she wanted Xena to kill her, and that her comments and laughter were designed to push Xena`s buttons. She did not want to be forgotten. Xena had already said that she was reluctant to give Callisto the death she wanted. Earlier in the episode, she had taunted Callisto by saying, "may you live forever"-(incidentally, LL delivered this line in a wonderfully sneering way), by laughing at this highly tragic moment, Callisto ensured that Xena would snap and kill her. Will Callisto ever return? Well, it isn`t impossible. Death seems very temporary in the Xenaverse.

This episode raised so many talking points that I could be here all day. Ares` treachery - is he that conniving? Joxer as hero, sort of. The scene when Xena tells him to get lost was an enjoyable one for Joxer-haters, but he saved the day in the end. What happens now with Dahok? Is that it or will he return? And the biggie - how will Gabrielle come back? Reports seem to indicate that it might take a few episodes and that Hope could also be around.

This was a great episode, so full of drama. Very strong performances all round, but especially from Lucy Lawless, Renee O`Connor and Hudson Leick. Well written although a bit bleak and of course the trauma of Gab`s swan dive into the pit.

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