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In the online Xenaverse, expectation was even higher for this episode as it was written by one of us! Melissa Good is the best known writer on fanfiction, who in a 'dream come true' scenario, was invited by Rob Tapert to submit a script for the show. That script was "Legacy", which airs later. This script was another one Missy was asked to write - indicating they liked her writing we assume. Missy had a huge legion of fans herself even before we learnt she was writing for the show. As a firm believer in Xena and Gabrielle as soul mates, many subtext fans thought Missy could be the show`s saviour this season...but no pressure Missy!
So, does this episode live up to expectation? Well, nearly. It's a solid enough episode, with some good points, but a few weaknesses too, and to be honest, the dialogue doesn't seem to have Missy's usual authenticity to it. It is also not really a Xena/Gabrielle episode. There are precious few scenes between the pair in this one. It is much more of an Ares episode. A lot of season 5 dealt with Xena relationship with Ares, and how he genuinely loves her. This episode continues on from Motherhood, and there are a couple of scenes that really are add-ons to Motherhood. The much anticipated apology from Xena to Gabrielle about braining her with her chakram is nice to hear, but not terribly satisfying. It is tacked onto a scene where Xena asks Eve about her former actions towards the Amazons. I suppose the problem was that an apology scene was *always* going to slow down the action and indeed it does. There was also a scene cut from Motherhood I believe, where Xena thanks Ares for saving Eve and Gabrielle. In many ways, much of this episode is about the debt they owe him.
I did like the plot device of the furies disguising themselves as Xena, Gabrielle and Eve, and I fell for it totally! It wasn`t until Eve came in, all seductive that I got suspicious. I thought Xena and Gab were just tricking him. I also liked the way Lucy and Renee played the furies. Watching Renee be all flirtatious and silly was very amusing.
Portraying madness onscreen can be a bit dodgy. I am a big fan of the S3 episode, The Furies, and I thought Lucy did the mad Xena well. Here we get mad Kev! Kevin Smith is pretty much a comedy character in this episode. I`ll be honest, I prefer dangerous and seductive Ares, but after all, he is mortal now, and seeing Ares` adjustment problems is a legitimate storyline. He also gets pretty much all of the funniest lines. I loved the scene when the real Xena and Gabrielle show up in his tent, and he thinks they are there getting ready for battle. He brushes past Gabrielle and tells her "don`t touch me". Ares only has eyes for Xena - a one woman man! Love the way Kevin delivers his line though.
Slightly less successful generally were the Amazons. Although they are 1000% better than those drippy kids we met in Kindred Spirits. These Amazons are fighters. However, I didn`t really find the two main characters, Marga and Varia that appealing. Maybe they will grow on me - I believe Varia will be back. I`ll say one thing for her, the actress REALLY throws herself into the fight scenes. No wussy stuff here! However, there can never be another Ephiny! On the other hand, the scenes between Eve and Varia were interesting. The one where they compare scars is an exact take off of 'Lethal Weapon 3', where Mel Gibson and Rene Russo compare scars as a sort of foreplay! Listen to that music that accompanies this scene too...are they implying something? The way Varia tricks Eve into showing who she is, is OK, although I can see why Adrienne Wilkinson hates that Eve outfit. Totally impractical, and more like beach wear - a bikini and a sarong. Does she have flip flops on too? Maybe she needs some Amazon sun cream!
I didn`t like that final fight between Xena and Ares much. Since when have bare knuckle fist fights been a part of the show? Usually the fights are entertaining, acrobatic and highly improbable. I assume they wanted to have a brutal fight, as Xena had to lose and Ares couldn`t do flips as a mortal. However, I still found it over long and too bloody. Incidentally, was it just me, or did that opening Amazon vs Soldiers fight go on for a really loooong time! Maybe fights are cheaper to produce than anything else.
I am undecided about that final scene between Xena and Ares. Xena clearly does have a soft spot for him, but its not too long ago that she was talking about how the thought of being with him made her feel physically sick. OK, so he`s mortal now and saved the life of her daughter and best pal, but remember, he killed Eli, and has caused a lot of trouble. Having said that, I love Kevin Smith, and I do think Ares and Xena have a certain chemistry. So the little kiss - was that a goodbye kiss or a thank you kiss or a glad you`re OK kiss? - was nice enough. Wonder what they will do with Ares now though..
A solid but unspectacular opening episode.
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