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This is an odd Xena episode in that it feels more like a Hercules episode. Naturally enough, having persuaded Kevin Sorbo to get back into the leather trousers, he had to have a good meaty role, and the story is really half Xena, half Hercules rather than Xena WITH Hercules guest starring. Anyway, this does alter the focus of the episode somewhat. The other slight problem is that if you did not see the last few eps of the 6th series of Hercules, you might find this episode confusing. I know I was puzzled about both Zeus and Hera`s actions as I hadn`t watched the end Herc episodes. I think this was a bit of a problem.
However, to my mind a bigger problem was the casting. The god Hades and Xena`s son Solon (not to mention Zeus), were all played by different actors. I didn`t realise it was Hades when Stephan Lovatt appeared. The costume was similar and I got there in the end. A bigger error in my opinion was having a different young man play Solon. Just before Xena meets him, we see a vision of Xena and Solon together in a clip from Orphan of War. It is David Taylor playing him, yet the camera swings round to a totally different child. I felt that because of this the whole scene lost an awful lot of emotional impact. The child was younger and smaller. Maybe David Taylor has got too tall now or perhaps he was just not available, but Lucy Lawless` impressive acting in the scene was less effective when we are all yelling at the screen, "that`s not Solon!"
Also thrown into this busy episode is a little encounter between Xena and Ares, where Ares declares that he loves Xena. This is new, especially as for once he is shown as being honest. The declaration will have repercussions and consequences in later episodes.
The exchanges between Hercules and his immortal family are OK, but if I wanted to watch Hercules that is the show I would be sitting in front of. I have always found Hercules to be a slightly dull character. Even having him go through the events that he does in this episode, I still would rather see Xena fighting. However, as that wasn`t going to happen too much, Hercules was quite well used I suppose. Interestingly, Lucy Lawless had always said she was not going to film the birth scene until after she had her own baby, and actually, you can see she is a little freeer in her fight movements. A pillow up your tunic is a bit more pliable than a baby! I also did enjoy the birth sequence. Not too much yelling by Xena and it was nicely intercut with the Hercules/Zeus fight. A funny little moment too when Gabrielle is trying to tell Xena to breathe and relax and she asks her to please shut up! There speaks a woman who has given birth recently!
The baby story arc has been the major feature of series 5, and obviously there is more to come. Some nice cute baby moments in a flawed but interesting episode.
An episode overflowing with characters and ideas, but a bit of a mess and too HERC-heavy.
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