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Crusader Reviewed

Mentioned in the previous episode was a comment by Xena about Gabrielle`s spiritual quest, which was odd as we haven`t seen much of that so far, but in this episode we meet a new and possibly recurring foe. Najara is an intriguing character who we initially meet as Xena and Gabrielle are drawn into a fight with her men by mistake. She realises they are on the same side thanks to some invisible Djinn - who speak to only her. This should have given Xena and Gabrielle a clue they were dealing with a whacko but...
She seems perfect to Gabrielle in particular. Najara fights for good and seeks to turn people towards the light. She speaks of opening a hospice for the sick and even has a sing song with her troops! After bird watching together, Gabrielle reveals that she is unsure whether her purpose in life is to fight like Xena does. Xena is equally torn as she is still having those visions about her and Gabrielle`s deaths by crucifixion. Najara somehow sees these too and Xena shares her thoughts that Gabrielle might be better off without her. However, as she rides off, planning to leave the bard, Xena discovers that Najara is not just a do-gooder, but more of an ethnic cleanser! The sinful must be sent to the light by being put to death. Xena returns to confront Najara, who also seems rather fond of Gabrielle. Najara even beats Xena up! Needless to say, it all ends happily, but the ending is VERY similar to the episode Callisto, where the blonde psycho is taken away in chains grinning. Will she be back?

Well I hope so as I thought Najara was an interesting character and the actress who played her was more convincing that some we have seen recently. She was fairly obviously too good to be true, and the speed with which Xena decided to leave Gabrielle with her was a bit much. I did like her dilemma though, and the scene in which Xena opens up to Najara about Gabrielle was beautifully done by Lucy Lawless. Equally improbable was the speed with which Gabrielle seemed to fall under Najara`s spell. Admittedly, she seemed to know all the right buttons to push - the helping people, a hospice, lack of violence. It was a bit of a shock to hear Gabrielle discuss NOT staying with Xena, and for her too I think, from the look on Xena`s face.

Another oddity was the affection Najara seemed to have for Gabrielle - again awfully quickly. After the big fight between Xena and Najara(one of the visions Xena had courtesy of Alti in Sin Trade 2 by the way), Xena grins rather strangely while saying that Najara has a weakness and it is the same one she has - namely Gabrielle. Heavy subtext I think...

It was facinating to see another female fighter with skills equal to Xena`s, although Kathryn Norris was not as totally convincing in the fight scenes as Lucy is, but then Lucy does sneer so beautifully! However, she did a good job as a xealot, a sort of nutty Joan of Arc. An intriguing opponent, although the episode had its inconsistancies.

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