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Vanishing Act Reviewed

Writer Terrence Winter has produced one script per season so far Cradle of Hope, Giant Killer and now Vanishing Act. Giant Killer is a genuine contender for dullest ever episode, and while I love Cradle of Hope, it isn`t a huge favourite generally. Similarly, I don`t think Vanishing Act is going to be top of the pops for S3, however I really enjoyed this episode. Autolycus appears again but this time with more purpose. We also have more dressing up for Xena and Gabrielle and Lucy Lawless gets to do another of her accents. I`ve lost count of all the different ones.

We open with Gabrielle going on ahead to a festival while Xena takes care of some business. It is a celebration of peace, and the villagers have a large statue that is a symbol for them. When it is stolen, the peace is threatened and Xena arrives in time to spot Autolycus in the crowd. However the king of thieves pleads innocence. He didn`t do it and determines to find who did it as the culprit is clearly a better thief than him! Tracing the statue to an island, Gabrielle goes in disguise as Myopia the fence, and is soon joined by Xena dressed as Ezra who also seeks to bid for the stolen statue. The costumes and high jinks eventually turn nasty as the thief Tarsus, turns out to be the man who murdered Autolycus` brother. They manage to get their own back though, and perform a magic trick of their own to get the huge statue back for the villagers.

A sort of cross between Here She Comes Miss Amphipolis and The Royal Couple of Thieves, this episode has Lucy`s closest to an Over The Top performance, with a New York accent straight out of The Nanny - (Fran what`s-her-name). Mostly fun, she just about pulls it off although maybe Lucy was enjoying herself a bit too much. In contrast, Renee O`Connor does the exact same not-very-good accent she did in Miss Amphipolis as the Marquessa. The actresses look to be having a lot of fun, particularly as they really get into their characters. I reckon Lucy has done about eleven different accents so far (Xena, Diana, Meg, Callisto, Fate1&2 is Solstice Carol, Mel Pappas, Miss Amphipolis, Leah, the King Con blonde and Ezra in this episode-phew! What a talent, wonder of we will ever get a New Zealand accent?) The comedy scenes are fun, Autolycus is more himself and even the head baddie was pretty good.

My favourite bit was the attempt by Auto to interrogate the wharf master. After getting nowhere he asks Xena to put a little pressure on - "good centurion, bad centurion". She goes for the pinch and Gabrielle begins a countdown! Guess she takes the 30 second warning seriously. Also fun was the bidding war between Ezra and Myopia - Lucy manages to look very common and low class just by her stance and expression. She also gets into heels as Ezra while Renee O`Connor is in flatties - she hardly comes up to Lucy`s cleavage in this episode! It was also nice to hear Autolycus badgering Xena for a favour and using the time Xena took over his body in The Quest as his leverage. Not a classic, but a better Autolycus story, and more accents and dressing up fun.

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