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A Family Affair Reviewed

A Family Affair sees the return of Renee O`Connor as Xena and Joxer travel back to Gabrielle`s home town of Poteidaia. The episode opens with Xena back at the temple where Gabrielle and Hope fell in Sacrifice II. On arriving in Poteidaia, they are delighted to meet Gabrielle in the market place and go back to her home where her family are not that pleased to see Xena. However, a monster has been attacking sheep in the area and after a man is killed, Xena tries to kill it. One encounter is enough for her to realise that it is the Destroyer, son of Hope. She also realises that the girl who they thought was Gabrielle is Hope! While her exact motives are unclear, Xena knows that she must be stopped. The real Gabrielle also turns up for a touching reunion with her friend and the pair work on a plan to stop Hope and her son the Destroyer while ensuring Gabrielle`s family are safe. This episode is filmed like a low budget horror film, a lot of shots of a tattered windmill turning, swinging gates on creaky hinges, thunder and lightning, and a rather ridiculous man in a giant hedgehog suit as the Destroyer. However,it is wonderful to have Renee O`Connor back, and she has got better and better at playing the evil Hope. There is a great scene between Hope and Gabrielle that she does really well.

Rather poorer is the explanation of how Gabrielle survived. In fact it is so lame I can`t believe the producers didn`t think of something better. Maybe they will return to it to resolve the story properly. I was also disappointed in the portrayal of Gabrielle`s mother - a different actress from the one in Sins of the Past, and ex-Prisoner Cell Block H star Lisa Crittenden gets possibly the worst role a guest star has ever had! A really drippy and stereotyped "Mom" role. Joxer appears, but is used well, thankfully. I think it is when he is an unneccessary character that he is annoying. When Joxer has a purpose, he is fine. I loved the assignment Xena gave him - calculating the flocks ie counting sheep! Joxer haters must have been steaming when he leapt in fromt of Xena to give Gabrielle a hug at the start, but as that was really Hope, I trust they recovered.

The actual reunion scene was beautifully done by both actresses. A shell shocked Gabrielle and an emotional Xena meet in the woods - but surely Xena would want a better explanation that the one Gabrielle gave?I suppose she was just happy to have her back...

The confrontation with the Destroyer was the climax of the episode, and despite the silly looking monster, it was quite nicely done. You have to wonder at the appearance of the Destroyer. Hope and Ares are his parents, he is supposed to be further evidence of the power of Dahak, yet he is more like a prickly Chewbacca! Have we really seen the last of Hope and the Destoyer? Hope has been the Captain Scarlett of XWP - definitely indestructible! Her demise this time was not one that looked impossible to return from. And is Xena`s sword really enough to kill the Destroyer?

A pretty good episode but with that poor explanation of Gabrielle`s survival and the unconvincing monster not an absolute classic, however, an overdue return for Renee O`Connor, some great acting from her as Hope, and that oh-so-sweet reunion scene...aahh!

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