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More mystical happenings in India for Xena and Gabrielle. I know many fans just adored this one, but to be honest I found it a bit confused and jumbled. The chief problem for me was how and why the event of this episode happened. The Indian woman, Naima seems to have extraordinary powers herself, yet at the start she is about to be cremated alive with her husband - a not that ancient practice known as `suti`, I believe. Surely if she is the powerful woman she appears, she would not have just given up. Especially as moments later she is ushering Xena into her unknown future. The encounters in the future were about the best bits for me. I love Alti as a character and the woman playing the future incarnation of her captured the Alti nastiness well before Claire Stansfield returned. The irony of Xena being reincarnated as the Mother of Peace, Arminestra was quite nicely done, but the oh-so-noble men willing to die for her was a bit too good to be true. Meanwhile, Naima is telling Gabrielle about the power of the mendhi in a totally incomprehensible bit of dialogue that seems to be a McGuffin and a darn good excuse to get Renee O`Connor some nice mendhi tattoos and leads up to a really sensual sequence later when Xena and Gabrielle mendhi paint each other. Ooh-eer!
Gabrielle follows Xena and there is an amusing little scene as she is reincarnated as a young male warrior. However the climactic battle with Alti back in the regular Xenaverse is another oddity. Xena takes a beating once again and Gabrielle gets that haircut, but Alti is ultimately beaten only when Naima aids the floundering duo. Quite whizzy SFX incuding some cosmic chakrams finally do her in (hurrah!) only for Xena to discover she isn`t gone forever, just moved onto the next life!
This was an enjoyable episode but there were just so many plot holes that it annoyed me a bit. Why did Xena need to cut Gabrielle`s hair with her chakram? Why not chakram Alti`s hand? We have seen Xena in Tartarus in Destiny, yet it now appears neither Xena or Gabrielle is heading for Tartarus, the Elysian Fields or the Amazon Land of the Dead! How come the reincarnated pair are still in the very same town - they are travellers? I still don`t get that power of the mendhi deal - especially as I understand the mendhi is something to do with weddings rather than any other ceremony. However, worthy of mention are the dazzling special effects as they travel between time zones, and in that psychic battle with Alti; a very nice little closing scene where Xena invents the univeral symbol for women and an equally pleasant opening scene where Xena finally gets into India fashions. Looks good on you Lucy! Along with Paradise Found, just a touch pretentious in my opinion, but a facinating idea that merely lacked sufficient explanation.
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