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Meanwhile, Eve is opposing Caligula`s attacks on the followers of Eli. Can Xena fix things for the Gods she knows, save her daughter from the wrath of Caligula and keep on the right side of the archangel Michael?
That rare thing, an ensemble episode benefits hugely from the presence of Alexis Arquette as Caligula. He brings a touch of loopy menace and energy to the role, and his verbal sparring with Xena is very entertaining to watch. Guest stars of note are quite rare on XENA - probably because its hard to get them to fly down to New Zealand - but Arquette was apparently a fan beforehand, and a friend of director Garth Maxwell.
In many ways, Ares, Eve and Aphrodite are bit part players in this episode, as Xena once again poses as someone else to get close to the emperor. This time she is in a rather striking bronze mask as a charioteer, although Gabrielle`s brief turn as her agent (in what looks like Eli`s old hat...) is less believable. While it was very nice to see Gabrielle dance again, I was a touch confused why the agent of a charioteer would be prancing around with candles...
The hedonistic atmosphere of Caligula's court rivals that seen in Heart of Darkness` party scene, as Caligula`s twisted relationship with Aphrodite seems to make everyone highly flirtatious. Gabrielle`s personal magnetism seems to be at work again when the goddess of love herself swoops in for a snog! However, there IS an explanation...Caligula is draining her immortality away as Dite is already unbalanced by the loss of Ares godly influence. Can you have love without war? (Well, yes I should think you can.....)
What I liked a lot about this episode was the constantly twisting and turning plot. Who is the bad guy? Caligula is the obvious black hearted so and so, but then it turns out Archangel Michael has his own agenda. When Xena loses her power to kill gods, she then has to work out how to kill Caligula. Xena herself is not happy with the actions she is forced into. She HAS to kill Caligula to save Eve and to prevent him becoming a god, but she is unhappy at killing in this way. Lucy Lawless herself commented that this was something she considered to be quite a big deal for Xena - something she learnt about her character and that has not happened in a long time.
No really big criticisms of this episode, just a few niggles.
On the whole a very enjoyable episode, with a nicely twisting story and a great ensemble gang of actors.
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