Path of Vengeance Reviewed
"No good deed goes unpunished", the saying goes. Well not five minutes after restoring Ares godhood in the previous episode, he is back and causing trouble once again for Xena and Gabrielle. This episode finds them in Amazon territory once again, and meeting up with Varia, the new Amazon Queen. However, Varia has become Ares latest protégé (where DID he get the time, he's only just become a god again!) When Eve makes the mistake of returning to Amazon lands, she finds herself sentenced to death for her crimes against the nation - at the insistance of Varia. While Gabrielle tried to talk the Amazon council out if it, Xena tracks down Ares. It turns out that Ares wants a nice big war with all the Amazons uniting under Varia against the Romans. Well, he is god of war. When Eve's death sentence is confirmed, Gabrielle tried to fight Varia to save her, but loses. It is left to Xena to have a spectacular battle with the headstrong young Amazon over some goey looking sulphur pits to try and save her daughter.
This was another strong episode, featuring a welcome return for the devious and godly Ares. It is good to see him back and as conniving as ever - although his stint as a mortal seems to have softened him just a touch. This episode sees Xena flouting Amazon law once again to save her daughter, while once again, it is Gabrielle caught in the middle, wanting to respect the Amazon way, yet save Eve. We get a little Xena/Gabrielle tension, Varia getting to beat up Gabrielle AND Xena, and more Amazons than you can shake a stick at!
The Amazons are finally getting themselves organised. We see tribes from all over the region come together in this episode. After some of the wussy Amazons of the past, it was refreshing to see a formidable bunch of women again. I have become quite a fan of Varia. While brash and headstrong - and hardly leadership material back in Coming Home, she is never going to be a reasonable negotiator like Gabrielle. She is more like Xena, and that similarity extends to having Ares patronage, and also how rude she is to him! I guess he sees something in her too. Tsianina Joelson does a wonderful job.
Eve really should have known better shouldn't she? Surely she must have known she was asking for trouble, returning to Amazon land. Sadly, the character of Eve has been one of the most irritating of the season. Apart from her repressed violence coming out in You Are There, she has been preachy and pious and a pain in the neck! We do get to see Adrienne Wilkinson have fun though, as she gets to play Livia again in a neat little flashback scene, that gives us some of the history between Varia and Eve. A very girlish looking Varia meets the super vixen Livia!
The main job of this episode was to deal with the consequences of Eve's past actions again the Amazons. As with Xena, the fact are brutal. She did indeed commit atrocities against Amazons. The question is how to deal with it. The resolution is a little neat and pat, but unless they decided to execute Eve (hey, now there's an idea!) they had to find a way for them to come to terms with her actions. Getting all to be Ares fault was a bit of a cop out though.
Ares return to plotting and planning is welcome, but I was a bit sorry that old, and overused fable of the scorpion got another airing. (Much better used in Star Trek Voyager's episode of the same name.) I like it when they push the boat out and try to be innovative and original, and many of the ideas in this episode - while well handled - were not the most original ever.
- The two main fight scenes were especially good. Firstly the one between Varia and Gabrielle, that was mainly Tsianina Joelson and Renee O'Connor, XWP's fitness freaks! This was a bare knuckly bruiser of a scrap, and poor Gab took a pounding. Of course, Varia has Ares help now. We also got to see Xena's anguish at standing by and watching.
The fight over the sulphur pits between Xena and Varia was a far more outlandish and adventurous tussle. Using all sorts of flips and acrobatics, this was reminiscent of the Sins of the Past staff fight. Notable in both these fights is that Varia wins! Of course, Xena kind of LET her win, but still...
- The farewell scene between Eve and Xena and Gab. This was a very touching scene, as Xena says goodbye to her daughter. There was still a lot that was never discussed or resolved with Eve, but the goodbyes were quite emotional.
- Xena/Gabrielle conflict! Xena arrives in the Amazon meeting hall in time to hear Gabrielle agree to the death sentence imposed on Eve. She is angry at Gab, and storms out. Gabrielle goes after her to try and explain herself. Does Xena whack her one? Does she drag her behind her horse? Thankfully no, but she is annoyed at her. Just occasionally it is good to see a bit of disagreement. Things are ALWAYS rosy in their relationship it seems. (Except during the S3 rift). People argue in real life, and I like to see it reflected in Xena and Gabrielle's interactions occasionally.
- Butch Amazons! This Amazon nation looks in reasonable shape, and Varia is just the girl to lead them...after all, Xena had Ares as a mentor, so that shouldn't be held against her.
Misses and Huh's?
Combining my two categories for this one
- Despite saying Varia looks like the girl to lead them, she has got to be head Amazon awfully quickly. Even allowing for the year Xena and Gabrielle missed during the Norse trilogy, she has gone from headstrong warrior to Amazong queen in a little over a year. A few of those other Amazon leaders looked more authoritative.
What WAS Eve doing going back to Amazon land? And with a Roman guard too! Adrienne Wilkinson commented that as Eve became more pious, her IQ dropped exponentially! She certainly seems pretty dense at times.
- Was it just me or was Kevin Smith was a bit underused in this episode?
A solid and entertaining episode.
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