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Past Imperfect Reviewed

A wonderful episode that features the (presumably) final appearance of Borias, the story of the siege of Corinth and the birth of Solon. It opens with Xena and Gabrielle helping out a town that is about to be attacked. When catapaults start to rain down burning bombs, Xena is suddenly reminded of how she used this very tactic to attack Corinth many years before. She realises that someone is using the exact same tactics against this town and against her. The episode shifts between the past and present. In the past, we have a heavily pregnant Xena at odds with Borias over the centaurs and Xena`s attempts to capture the Ixion stone, while in the present, Xena has finally told Gabrielle about Alti`s prediction of their deaths by crucifixion. Xena`s fears for Gabrielle and her attempts to protect her friend while the town is under attack are another strong theme.

I love the flashbacks to Xena`s past, and Borias has proved to be a charismatic and convincing partner for Xena. I like the way his character has gradually altered to fit in with what we first heard about him way back in the opening Series Two episode, Orphan of War. That episode is the one that ties in with this one the most closely. The Borias of Orphan of War seemed to be a totally different character from the man we first met in The Debt, but by this episode, he has become an honourable warrior, and he does indeed prove to be a friend to the Centaurs. His death is inevitable. We know that from Orphan of War, but even so I thought it was done so well and was genuinely tragic. He proved to be such a strong character that when Xena finally captures the girl who is copying her attack tactics, her anger at her is for killing the father of her child - Borias. Xena acknowledges that he could have made all the difference to her and definitely to her child so that maybe Solon would have lived. A very powerful scene. It was good to see that someone who had an influence over Xena`s earlier life like Borias was not so easily forgotten.

Alongside this compelling storyline is the recurring one for this series of the crucifixion vision. The episode opens with Xena telling Gabrielle about it, but what was intriguing was her reaction. She was annoyed and angry at Xena for believing it, and I liked the way she refused to be swayed by it. Gabrielle is in denial. She does not believe in it and says to Xena that she cannot afford to. It is yet another shift in the dynamics of their partnership as Gabrielle is not the little tagalong who does exactly what Xena says any more.

The chief disappointment in this episode is the identity of the villain. Satrina is a weak and unconvincing baddie, and when surrounded by such realistic characters like Borais, Kaleipas and Dagnine, who we have met before and know something of, she comes across as even more two dimensional. She is played by the same actress who was Meridian, who Gabrielle killed to lose her blood innocence in The Deliverer, but she lacks any sparkle or charisma and is a disappointment.

Another feature of the episode that was a slight weakness in my opinion was the re-shot scene where Xena hands Solon over to Kaleipas. This was about the first flashback scene ever in the series, in Season 2`s opening episode, Orphan of War. I believe it was re-shot so that the costumes and the way Lucy Lawless portrays the early Xena fitted in, but the original scene was powerful and touching and nicely underplayed by Ms Lawless. Here, she rather overdoes the emotions I think. OK, so handing your son over to someone would be emotional, and maybe they WANTED Xena to be more broken up over it, but I preferred that original scene.

We have had a lot of flashbacks to Xena`s past now, and I do think the producers must beware not to over use this. However, this is one of my favourite episodes of the season so far. Wonderful storylines both in the present and the past. Themes and events that are important to the development of the series are dealt with. The birth of Xena`s son and the loss of Borias were clearly important to her, while the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle and the way they deal with problems are also in this episode. Lucy Lawless shines once again, particularly in the scene where she confronts Satrina, and she shows Xena`s anger at her for betraying her ten years before, incredibly well. Lucy Lawless can do the menacing and aggressive side of Xena so well - the main reason for the show`s success in my opinion, a fully convincing lead character. Yet she can also show Xena`s vulnerability, as in the final few shots of a teary eyed Xena remembering how she gave away her now dead son. Just wonderful...

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