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Adventures in the Sin trade II Reviewed

One of the characters who created a lot of interest before this series began was the character of Cyane, the queen of the Amazons - a different tribe to Gabrielle and Ephiny`s mind you. While we met her in part one, it is the second part is Sin Trade where we get to know Cyane a little better. Super-buff, as played by body builder Vicky Pratt, it wasn`t long before the producers had her stripped off in the steam hut - pleasing many fans! This second part tells of Xena and Borias` meeting with the Amazons. Borias is planning a treaty, but Alti has plans for Xena and her to interact with them in a different way. Cyane offers Xena a chance to join them, and bests Alti in a battle of wills. Will Xena take her up on the offer to become an Amazon? Meanwhile, back in the present, Xena and the young Amazons approach the place where their spiritual battle with Alti must take place. The cunning Alti can occupy the body of any living creature and in a really icky scene, a very large spider crawls over Xena`s face before Gabrielle`s head appears on it calling to Xena, and then Alti appears. Alti demands to know who this blonde person is, and Xena realises that Gabrielle could be the key. The source of Alti`s power is revealed by Xena when she explains how she slaughtered all of the leaders of the Amazon tribe, just because Alti asked her to, and promised her the chance to become the destroyer of nations if she did. Cyane and co become more of Xena`s victims, brutally killed by the cocky warrior princess in a disturbing scene. The episode reaches a climax as Xena uses the spirits of the young Amazons to strengthen her as she fights Alti on the spirit plane. Alti tries to disrupt Xena by showing her scenes from her future, including one that has her and Gabrielle being crucified. Rather than breaking Xena`s will, this rejuvenates her. If Gabrielle is dying in their future, she must be alive now! The power of love is the thing that can beat Alti, and with that Xena defeats the evil shamaness, before leaving her new friends to continue her search for Gabrielle.

While not quite as coherant as part one, this episode features THAT scene, the crucifixion, that has caught the imagination of the fans. We see a short haired Gabrielle and Renee O`Connor`s recent haircut has fans worried. Director TJ Scott clearly likes fancy camera moves. He directed the dizzying Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and the fight between Xena and Alti is another swirling and rather confusing scene. To be honest, I found all the spirit plane staff a bit unclear. I had to watch about 4 times before I really understood what was happening. Stylish and good looking as this episode is, the story telling side must not be neglected.

The other scene that sticks in the mind is the one where Xena kills all of the Amazon leaders. I would like to think that it is Alti`s influence as this is probably about the worst thing we have seen Xena do. She kills brutally and without mercy, and the worst thing of all is her attitude. She does it so casually, just leaning against a tree expresionless as Alti collects Cyane`s blood after she is skewered by a branch. Yuk. To kill in anger, or revenge, or in battle is one thing, but Cyane offered Xena friendship and was murdered for convenience. My view is that Alti had Xena so much under her spell, that Xena would do anything she asked. She also offered Xena something she very much wanted. Power - like Lao Ma had - that would make her almost invincible. Of course we don`t know quite what power Xena DID get and whether Alti was just using her, or whether it was just the confidence to think she was unbeatable that she gained.

Adventures in the Sin Trade was a great start to the series, but also a rather odd one. To put Xena is a completely unfamiliar enviroment, with new people and a powerful but intangible force to fight against meant that this story did not satisfy all fans. Also, many of us were hoping Gabrielle would return in part two. Renee O`Connor`s name was missing from the credits and she only appeared in those flashback sequences. Considering the story was about getting her back, it was a bit disappointing to have to wait. Yet again we saw someone who was willing to help Xena and be a friend to her - considering her ten winters ago character that is some feat, having so many `old friends`. I was a little disappointed with the Cyane character. I didn`t find her that interesting or that memorable. She had only one or two scenes and little real chance to establish herself. Just getting her stripped off isn`t enough, although that clothes stealing scene was hilarious!

The episode looked great. As I said at the beginning, it was filmed like a movie, and the stunning New Zealand locations were wonderful, but part 2 did lack a decent storyline. Stylish and very visual as he is, TJ Scott has not returned since this episode, and I know the producers were a little disappointed with it. Now the big question is how WILL Gabrielle return???

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