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I am not a huge fan of the Roman stories, and of Karl Urban. However, these battle scenes were pretty good - although you would think the highly trained Roman army would be a bit more efficient, even with Xena`s tricks. The main problem I had with this episode is that I - unlike many fans who loved it - just couldn`t get involved in this episode. While I admired it, I didn`t really like it all that much. Why DID the Romans bring their battle to Greece? Was it really necessary to burn the village? Why didn`t Xena just kill Caesar and Pompey - apart for historical reasons of course. However, I did like Xena outwitting the great generals, and I also liked the way she recognised Gabrielle`s ability to lead. Can you imagine the young refugee from Little House on the Prairie that was the season 1 Gabrielle doing that? Gabrielle`s dilemma when Phlanagus is under threat was also intriguing. We see her hurling a spear for the first time, but missing hopelessly. Was she a bad shot, did she miss on purpose or what? The scenes between Gabrielle and Xena afterwards were slightly strange. Xena is more blunt and less reassuring than before - she doesn`t say `there, there, everything is going to be alright`, which is a further sign of Xena`s acknowledgement of Gabrielle`s role I suppose.
I did particularly like the final funeral pyre scene - one of the most beautifully photographed shots we have seen, using a lovely lakeside setting. Now is it me, or are there a few new locations this series? Maybe that well used castle/village set has been redesigned or something. I also think special mention should be made of the lady playing Phlanagus` wife, who scandalously can only be named by examining the end credits(which I haven`t done!). Here was another wonderful strong female character, as this series has so often given. The actress did well too, and made a strong impression as a determined woman who was prepared to suffer to help her family and her village.
I am probably in the minority in finding it strangely uninvolving,as many people have this on their top S4 eps list. Undoubtedly, this was a well made episode, with good acting, and lots of leather and helmets!
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