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Devi Reviewed

The first proper India episode sees Gabrielle and Xena meeting a street magician named Eli, charismatically played by Timothy Omundson. However his act goes wrong when his assisstant becomes possessed by a demon. Naturally Xena and Gabrielle are on hand to help, and after their combined efforts the demon is exorcised. The locals believe that Gabrielle healed her and that she is a devi - a healing deity. Indeed Gabrielle does seem to have gained the power to heal, but Xena is uneasy. She finds out about a demon named Tatarka who appears to be the one who has taken possession of her pal. Xena and Eli must team up to defeat Tatarka and save Gabrielle.

One of the best things about this episode is the way the production team have transformed New Zealand into India. Full of colour and atmosphere, they have done an excellent job. A fun and fast paced story that benefits from being fairly simple - little soul searching in this one - although it does show yet another test for the Xena/Gabrielle relationship. However seeing Renee O`Connor chew the scenery as the demoness and taunting and beating up on Xena is a hoot, and Xena`s dilemma about whether to kill the demon and so also kill her friend, was intriguing. There are also some wonderful scenes between Xena and Gabrielle when Xena is uncertain about Gabrielle`s new `gifts`. More good work from both actresses, and more layers of the relationship between the pair are uncovered.

Male guest stars are less common than female ones and often less successful, but Eli is a really likable character. He will return in The Way, but this introductory appearance is very good. The actor makes an immediate impression as an unusual and complex character. While Eli turns out to be a man of spiritual strength, he starts off as a bit if a coward. A charming charlatan but definitely not a warrior, warlord or king. Xena helps him out and he repays her by trying to hypnotise her! Not easy to catch out the warrior princess! Again, it is Xena who virtually forces him into accepting his fate - as the true devi.

There are plot holes - as always. A rather unnecessary dog chase to show off all the "Indian street" sets, a bit of over the top posing by Renee O`Connor as Tatarka,(if that is how you spell it, Lucy Lawless says it a few different ways!) and a slightly unconvincing fight, but on the whole I really enjoyed this episode. Excellent performances, wonderful production design and an enjoyable storyline gets the proper India episodes off to a great start. Loved that lick too..!

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