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Dangerous Prey Reviewed

Renee's in charge...

For many fans, there were two main points of interest going into this episode. Firstly, it was Renee O`Connor`s second effort as a director after S4`s Deja Vu All Over Again. Secondly, Creation had splashed around that photo of Lucy in Amazonian garb looking pretty fabulous! As Renee was directing, she was not actually in it very much, the story dealing mainly with Xena and impetuous young Amazon, Varia(Tsianina Joelson) and their cat and mouse game with Prince Morloch - that rare thing a male warrior almost equal to Xena. Not too many of those.

After Queen Marga - who we met in Coming Home is killed, Xena and Varia go off to find who is hunting Amazons out of season. They come across Prince Morloch and his men, and he realises Xena is the sort of challenging foe he has been looking for. Of course, we could have told him he was asking for trouble - he might as well have kissed Gabrielle, as we know he a going to end up dead!

After a few skirmishes, Varia is captured and Xena is drawn into a duel with Varia tied up like a silent movies helpless heroine - only not on any railway track, but on top of a gigantic Jenga game. You know that game, loads of rectangular pieces of wood are stacked up on top of each other to make a tower and you have to remove the pieces one at a time. Well, Xena and Morloch play a big version. Morloch tried to make the tower collapse and bump off Varia, while Xena tries to save her. The fight ends badly for Morloch - but not quite in the way you might expect...

This was a pretty good effort from Renee O`Connor. She shows that she is very adept at drama as well as comedy. The main problem with this episode is that the second half of the story rather falls apart. It begins well, with some great chase sequences, Morloch`s face kept hidden, we get Xena and Varia having to come to an understanding about how to work together. Then we have that great sequence in the caves where Xena and Morloch begin their duel. Fabulous lighting and atmosphere. Funny one liners aswell. After that though, the story just runs out of steam and decent ideas. The final confrontation was quite exciting, and the way Xena wins it with cunning and coolness says a lot about her - Xena is no thrill seeker like Morloch, and his impaling on a log was lovely and bloody! However, there are just too many daft plot holes (which I will go into in the Huh? section below.)

I thought Prince Morloch was an intriguing character. He was quite similar to Xena in fighting style and even had a chakram like weapon - although it was like an inverted chakram - a sort of inside out circle.. He also made a nice change from the brainless thicko warlords who seem to be out for world domination with barely a brain cell between them. He is shown to be a fairly clever guy, who thinks and plans. His undoing is his motives: he hunts and kills for kicks. He seems to think Xena will want to fight him for the challenge and seriously misjudges her. Xena takes no pleasure from killing him, but put your hand up if you winced when Morloch got impaled on that sharp log! I know I did...

Varia gradually grew on me during this episode. Tsianina Joelson certainly looks the part, an athletic and strong looking girl - she does belligerant but tough, very well. The main mystery was quite why she would be so highly thought of by Marga to want her to be the next Amazon Queen. Her hostility towards Xena and gradual realisation that she could learn from her was believable. However, she doesn`t last long in a fight with Morloch, so I am not sure how great a warrior she really is...

Maybe she will learn from this, and the idea is that she will BECOME a great leader..stay tuned for later episodes.




Despite the plot holes and some weakness in the second half this was an enjoyable episode. In some ways it is hard to spearate it from its director. You tend to think of it as Renee`s work and make allowances for it being only her second episode as a director, but I think any weaknesses are in the writing - her direction was spot on. We got some good action sequences, and good performances all round.

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