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Heart of Darkness reviewed

"She`s just a devil woman, with evil on her mind..."

A terrifically enjoyable episode that follows straight on from The Haunting of Amphipolis, that reminds me of S5`s Antony and Cleopatra in some ways. Once again, we have a handsome male lead who makes a play for Xena`s affections, although this is a far less calculated Xena and Gabrielle than in Antony and Cleopatra. The portal to hell, opened in last week`s episode, causes everyone to get a bit of darkness into their hearts..something only the screamingly irritating Eve can see. Actually its a pretty cool device to let us see why the characters are acting the way they are, although it is a bit overused by the end. Anyway, poor Adrienne Wilkinson has to whine away for much of the episode as everyone else gets to have an absolute ball! Why is it that the devil and his followers are always portrayed as having such a great time! We get sex, food and more sex! OK, not actual on-screen sex, but this is a very sensual and steamy episode. Are they trying to say sexy things are bad? Only when your heart is dark do you feel tempted? On the other hand, Gabrielle and Virgil together *IS* bad! All those years poor old Joxer can`t get anywhere near her, and Virgil (ok so he is incredibly cute) gets to snog her in only his 4th episode!

In Antony and Cleopatra, Xena`s seduction of Antony was a ruse, (although she seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.) In this episode, it is less clear whether the seduction of Lucifer is that bad girl part of Xena responding to the ultimate bad boy, or whether even with the darkness beating in her heart Xena is focussed on achieving her goal at all times. Someone said about this episode that there was little real tension as we all know Lucifer will indeed end up taking on the role of the devil. Yes, that is true, but then you could say the same about every episode...we KNOW Xena will survive (apart from Ides of March) and win the day. I think the question that was still to be answered as we watched, was how far would Xena go?

Something that was very notable about the episode was the sexiness..and in an episode that saw Xena and Lucifer kiss several times, and Gabrielle get into some pretty hot clinches with Virgil, the sexiest scene of all (in my opinion) was a seductive little dance number as Xena and Gabrielle leave their boy-toys for a bit of a bop together. I have no idea how the subtext fans felt but there was some of the heaviest subtext we have seen for a while. The dance was a very sensual one, and both display very obvious signs of jealousy about the other and their male partners. Lucifer refers to Xena having "a blonde girlfriend" aswell. Yet along side this, we have Lucy in spiked heels and knee high leather boots, Gabrielle in a leather-look bra, even Virgil getting his shirt off (although not the dashing Lucifer unfortunately.) Really does swing both ways this episode!

I liked Alex Mendoza a lot. He got the mixture of pride and corruption just about right I think. It`s not easy to play an archangel who we all know is the ultimate Fallen Angel. I mean what does he actually do wrong? OK, he has some pride and ambition at the beginning, but he is just trying to do the right thing by casting Xena down. He gets manoeuvred into committing the 7 deadly sins (which is a fun thing to try and look out for: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, Lust) and then loses his looks and is chucked into hell for all eternity! Poor bloke! And it was all part of Michael and Raphael`s plan wasn`t it... On the other hand, for an angel, he didn`t take long to fall for Xena did he. Come to that, as Xena herself said, it was not a case of corrupting him, more like peeling the layers back to expose him. It was funny watching that dance scene when Lucy - who must have been about 6` 2" in those heels - leapt onto him and we all hoped he was a strong lad! Xena towers over Lucifer in most of the subsequent scenes...a sign of her dominance?

Eve continues to irritate, but poor Adrienne must have at least been happy that she got to fight for a few seconds at least. After a bit of New Testament preaching falls on deaf ears and dark hearts, she whines at Xena for a while before getting hit on the head with her own Christian fish statue by Gabrielle, (there is but one true Cod??) However, she does at least get to grab her swords, elbow Virgil, chuck Gabrielle over and fight with Lucifer. Xena stands by as she is beaten..we watch her closely as Lucifer kicks her across the floor, and I don`t think I spotted any regret on her face. However, she does stop him killing Eve. Part of Xena`s plan at this stage presumably. Thankfully, the monster SFX are fairly brief. I wondered whether we were going to have a re-staging of the Xena/Mephistopheles fight from last week, but all it took was a few well placed kicks and bye bye Lucie!!


Looooong list here!

Misses Huh?

Wonderful episode with a fascinating problem for a slightly out of control Xena and Gabrielle to solve. Devilishly good!

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