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The main debate about this episode has been because of the controversy. The way Hindus see it, Krishna appears fictional and so this is the blasphemy. I think this is a shame as this episode is probably the most important in the development of Xena and Gabrielle`s characters for a long, long time. The crucial question of what is the right way for each person to live their lives is addressed. Gabrielle in particular comes to re-evaluate what she wants to be doing with her life, and Xena too is uncertain. An intriguing pre-credits sequence raises issues about Gabrielle`s attemps at philosophising and the consequences of the reincarnation they were introduced to in Between the Lines. Naturally enough, seeing what your future self is like forces Xena in particular to re-evaluate her life. While some fans were a little unhappy with Gabrielle`s way of peace, personally I thought it was very appropriate and an overdue realisation in some ways. Gradually, Gabrielle has become a warrior, fighting just as many men as Xena usually, just whacking them rather than stabbing them. Gabrielle always was the bard, the optimist and the one who saw the best in people and wanted to help them. While I will be intrigued to see if Gabrielle can remain peace loving when Xena is threatened, I think that this development is interesting. Even more interesting is Xena`s attitude when talking to Krishna. She often has implied that being a warrior is not a good thing, yet Krishna helps her to see that she can use her talents in a different way to Gabrielle; use her talent for warfare to follow the way of the warrior, and that her way is as important as anyone elses.
Another plus point for me was the reappearance of Eli- a very good character who is looking distinctly haunted in this episode. Rather than bringing him peace, his mission seems to be a torment for him as he sees the sufferings of so many desperate people. In this epiosde, the parallels between Eli and Jesus Christ are even more marked. There is his comments about The Truth that he knows, and his attitude of non violence or turning the other cheek are also reminiscent of Jesus. He is called the avatar here- a representation of a god I believe.
Another god like creature seen here is Hanuman - the monkey god, well known from the story of Rama and Sita. He is certainly not portrayed in a godlike way, and gets punched around by Xena, but is wonderfully unaffected by her best shots! (Interestingly, Xena headbutting Hanuman is the one scene that got edites out in the revised version of this episode.) The other Hindu deity in this episode is the demon king, Indrajit who kidnaps Eli and Gabrielle. It is to get them back that Xena seeks Krishna`s help and indeed she certainly needs it as her confrontation with Indrajit is a violent and vicious one. Indeed, I think Xena`s initial beating from the 6 armed demon is as nasty as anything we have seen for a while. Certainly since the skewering of the Amazons in Adventures in the Sin Trade. It is all the more shocking as it is Xena rather than some red shirt who gets her limbs chopped off! (Affectionately known as the Xena de Milo in the Encyclopaedia Xenaica.) After calling on Krishna to help her, Xena takes on the form of the goddess Kali, black faced and multi-armed, she beats Indrajit in another brutal and bloody battle.
The violence was a little extreme in my opinion, but it ceratinly made for a memorable episode, but it is the decisions of the characters and the meetings with the gods that make this one of the better episodes. While devout Hindus may be unhappy, for us non-Hindu viewers, it made me have more interest and respect for the religion. Certainly, Xena took Krishna`s words very much to heart. After The Haircut last week, Gabrielle fans this week had to cope with The Throwing Away of the Staff! Yes, Gabrielle`s way of peace means no more Gabwhacking. For now. I hope Ephiny doesn`t get too annoyed after all, wasn`t that staff her mother`s?
An episode that managed to combine spirituality and philosophy with Xena`s usual brand of rough stuff, this India sequence of episodes has been marvellous in my opinion. It certainly has had a big effect on Gabrielle and Xena, and it is just a shame that Xena fans worldwide might not get to see this important episode. Good stuff.
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