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Ides of March Reviewed

Yes, Callisto IS back!! This stunning episode is probably the most shocking ever. Stop right now if you haven`t seen it as the surprise element is a biggie.

Callisto talks her way out of hell on a mission for the devil - to install Caesar as Emperor and to get Xena to give up her way of the warrior. The episode opens with Xena heading for Rome to finally kill Caesar after he puts a bounty on her head. Because of that crucifixion vision, Gabrielle and Amarice stay in Greece looking for Eli. While Xena is losing her chakram to Callisto and failing to kill Caesar, Gabrielle and Amarice are getting to know Eli again. However, the evil Caesar has a plan to stop Xena. He has Gabrielle arrested and orders her crucifixion. Can Xena save her? Meanwhile, Brutus realises that Caesar must be stopped as the Ides of March approaches....

This is simply a brilliant episode. Combining history, Shakespeare and Greek tragedy, with a dash of mysticism and action, and a return of the wonderful taunting of Callisto, it is an fantastic episode. However, the final 10 minutes or so are about the most painful for fans. Callisto uses Xena`s chakram to cripple her in the middle of a fight, and Gabrielle must give up the way of peace and kill to save her friend. She does, with a vengeance. Gabrielle swings the sword and slices and dices like a true warrior in a shockingly violent sequences as a paralysed Xena can only watch in agony - as we are!

Then that crucifixion scene.

Despite all the flashes of it this season, it is still incredibly moving and painful. What makes it superb drama is that it is intercut with Brutus and the Roman senate planning and executing their assassination of Caesar. The nails being hammered in are seen alongside the stabbing of Caesar in a grippingly painful sequence. There are several Shakespearian lines. One of the more crucial lines in the play Julius Ceasar is the ironic repeat of "..but Brutus is an honorable man", really meaning the opposite. Xena speaks that line here. We also have the famous last words of Caesar, "Et tu Brutus?", translated to "..and you Brutus?" Unfortunately no one saw fit to tell Xena and Gabrielle to ".. beware the Ides of March."

The final scene sees Xena and Gabrielle`s spirits leave their bodies as they apparently pass over - indeed the episode disclaimer said it "Xena and Gabrielle were killed in the production of this motion picture." How they return for series 5 remains to be seen. Lets just hope they do give a good explanation. Maybe it will be reversed somehow. After all, Callisto was not supposed to harm Xena at all.

I am not sure about the return of Callisto. While she is a big favourite for some, I felt she had served her purpose. It looks like a ratings decision to bring her back. However, the scenes between her and Xena always crackle with tension, and that is that case again in this episode. I particularly liked her tempting of Xena, and Xena`s aceptance of her "way". However, fans who missed the episode "The Way" due to the protests might be a touch confused about what Xena is on about. I am also wondering how Gabrielle will be able to come to terms with what she has done. We saw her kill about 4 men in a minute or so. Many fans have expressed disquiet over the new peaceful Gabrielle, and I must admit to a cheer when she threw the spear at the guard about to kill Xena. This was a direct contrast to A Good Day, when she was unable to kill. In this case it was Xena, and Gabrielle realising that Xena was worth killing for was a big event. I am also wondering how they will explain the chakram being broken in two. Surely Xena doesn`t have a spare does she? Then there is that prison scene. A crippled Xena is cradled by Gabrielle as they prepare for their crucifixion. This is an incredibly moving scene, and brilliantly played by Lucy and Renee. Brings a tear to the eye!

A staggeringly shocking, but brilliantly dramatic episode that raises so many questions. How will we survive til next season! More importantly, what about Xena and Gabrielle!!

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