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The episode opens with another tease as we see Xena getting a back rub from Gabrielle, but the fun doesn`t last as soon Xena is in chains and Gabrielle is doing her Perry Mason bit again, trying to defend her friend. As in The Reckoning, she fails(don`t take up the law Gab), and Xena is sentences to life on Shark Island Prison - the original title of thie episode. Once there, we get all those movie prison cliches. Sadistic guards, cruelty, bullying etc etc. The head guard is a dead ringer for Donald Pleasance. Meanwhile, Gabrielle cons her way in as the new healer and realises that the boss of the prison is the woman Xena was supposed to have murdered!
We get another glimpse of nasty Xena, although it is not too easy to work out whether this is the Destoyer of Nations or just the pirate. The costume is post Cirra(from Armaggedon Now), but she seems fairly reasonable, and even looks shocked that the girl, Thelassa was dead. Supposed eaten by flesh eating crabs! What is odd is Xena`s attitude. She has plenty of reason to feel guilt if we believe all that we have learnt over the past few years of her past misdeeds. Yet it is *this* crime, an accidental killing rather than cold blooded murder - a fairly tame one compared to some of the bloodthirsty acts that we have seen her commit. What is special about the young Thelassa, is that she acts almost exactly as Gabrielle did in Sins of the Past. She volunteers to sacrifice herself to save her village - just as Gab did to the slavers. Maybe it is this parallel that makes Xena so resigned to her fate.
The prison scenes are rather tedious and predictable, and the supposed rival inmate is a real wimp. One little fight and she is backing down. Of more interest is Gabrielle`s transformation into a sort of new age healer to infiltrate the prison. The outfit is very fetching, and Gabrielle has a nice scene with the scarred and crippled Thelassa. However, she is another character whose motives are less than clear. Did Xena`s treatment of her REALLY change an sweet natured girl like her to that extent that for all these years she has been so bitter? If so, then Gabrielle really does work miracles as she shows signs of softening after one session with healer Gab.
The climactic scenes are again a bit daft. Xena is in amongst the rats - again - and after Gabrielle tries to save her, she is due to be hanged, however Xena escapes from the chokey just in time for a huge punch up. Lucy has had a few nasty creatures to cope with - spiders and rats this season already. The scenes in the dungeon with the rats is about the best for her expressions and a suitable improbably rat toss using her teeth!
This is an enjoyable episode, with Lucy Lawless impressive once again, ably supported by Renee O`Connor, although apart from Katrina Browne as Thelassa who was OK, the guest stars are uninspiring.(Apart from the rats.)
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