4.9 Past Imperfect
While I haven’t loved many of the episodes so far in Season 4, I do appreciate that there’s more of a sense of an ongoing arc than ever before – and not just over a couple episodes. At the very beginning of this one, we see Gabrielle and Xena actually have the conversation they need to have about the vision Xena had of their deaths (and has been keeping secret from Gabrielle since they were reunited).
The conversation doesn’t actually solve the problem, but discussing the issue makes their relationship feel more equal. Gabrielle is very much Xena’s partner now, not her junior sidekick.
“Xena is challenged by an opponent who represents a reflection of herself” is certainly looking like the main theme of this season, as the plot is once again about a female antagonist who once learned destructive lessons from Bad Hair Xena and now uses them against her present, Awesome Hair self. As Xena battles her past and people who represent that version of herself, over and over again, Gabrielle’s own theme for this season is her growing realisation that she might have learned all she can from Xena. It’s time she stepped up as an adult to figure what OTHER things she wants from the world.
Otherwise, this is another story which showcases Xena’s hardcore battle skills in between flashbacks to her Bad Hair past, a narrative trick that’s already getting a little old. Sure, we get some more progression in the epic yarn of Xena and Borias, seeing their relationship become more unstable as her pregnancy progressed and the toxic influence of Alti overwhelmed the already troubled Evil Xena, but I’m not sure we benefit from focusing so much on looking backward instead of forward. No wonder the season is taking a long time to get off the ground!
The twist (there’s always a twist!) is that Xena is actually experiencing these specific visions of her past, as she finds herself besieged in a city in the same manner that she once perpetrated herself. It still feels like an extended clip story, without the benefit of being able to save money on repeat footage. (this does describe all Xena clip episodes anyway)
From a ‘filling in the blanks’ point of view, Past Imperfect presents us with the death of Borias and the birth of Solan. There’s some interesting material here, particularly in the representation of pregnancy and maternity in fantasy – Xena’s refusal to let her pregnancy soften her or become a weakness is a major character development, and Borias’s own emotional vulnerability in the face of that same pregnancy makes for compelling and unusual viewing.
Also, the Xena tradition of combining birth scenes with battles continues! When it comes to gore, this show does at times give Game of Thrones a run for its money. Borias’ death scene is gruelling, heart-rending and horrific.
Borias’ goose was cooked during the production of this motion picture.
4.10 Key to the Kingdom
Of all the Xena lookalike characters, Meg the tavern wench is the one who proved to have the most narrative possibilities – the first thing I noticed about this one was they have dropped the “Warrior… Tramp” title format once and for all. This isn’t a story about many Xenas… it’s actually not a story about Xena at all.
I love the fact that they made a “Xena-lite” episode which requires Lucy Lawless to be on set the whole time – the story is actually a jewel-and-babynapping heist adventure featuring the first teamup of Joxer and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Meg with Autolycus, the king of thieves.
Autolycus doesn’t come off as particularly dashing here, largely because it’s his job to say snarky things about Meg and her sexual past while Joxer comes to her defence.
But this is Meg’s story – a woman craving a family of her own despite her inability to conceive (and surprisingly able to access extremely reliable medical knowledge about her fertility) she steals an enchanted baby that has been kept locked in a palace because it is the ‘key’ to the sacred missing crown of Athena. Meg’s motivation is to save the child from a lifetime of misery, and Autolycus convinces her that going after the crown will help set her up financially to raise the child.
Lucy Lawless has way too much fun playing Meg for laughs, but there are still a few genuinely emotional/touching moments here and there, and surprisingly little slut-shaming for a Meg episode. There’s a rather nice scene at the end where Xena (who turns up to save the day shortly after the baby has been transformed into the adult king he used to be) tells Meg to expect more for herself and her future – she will have a family of her own one day, a real one.
And oooh, that’s a bit of foreshadowing that makes me smile. I’ll tell you why in season six.
“You’ve got so much depth that it scares you when it comes out.”
4.11 Daughter of Pomira
Oh, the Horde. I hate the Horde so much. Savage warrior tribe stories are very, very dull. Not to mention, you know, racially problematic. But mostly, DULLLLLL.
Daughter of Pomira is about a cute little blonde girl who was stolen from her family by the Horde six years ago and is now strangely resistant to being returned to said family by Xena.She belongs to the Horde now, she’s all they’ve ever known.
I would have thought the premise of this one would resonate more with me considering I am a parent now but honestly the actual parents of the little girl are so boring and annoying that I totally wanted her to stay with the Horde.
Then of course there’s the obligatory “Xena and Gabrielle teach the lost little girl to be civilised again” scenes which… ugh.
The only good thing about the story is that it goes a long way towards humanising the Horde and showing that they’re not just soulless monsters but have an actual culture and morality from their own perspective.
But… yeah. Ugh. I would have preferred them to leave the Horde out of the Xena mythos altogether, considering it has no connection to any Greek mythology.
People who want romance with Xena: 13
People Xena allows to romance her: 7
Xena dead lovers: 4
Gabrielle dead boyfriends: 2/7
“Adorable” children: 38
Babies tossed humorously in the air during fight scenes: 6
Xena doppelgangers: 4
Xena sings a mourning song: 6
Gabrielle sprained ankles: 2
Xena dies: 3
Gabrielle dies: 4
Characters brought back from the dead (incl. ghosts and visits to the Underworld): 50
Ares loses his powers and goes all to pieces about it: 2
Xena or Gabrielle earns money: 2
Xena or Gabrielle spends money (or claims to have money to spend): 7
Out of the Pantheon: Morpheus, Ares, Hera, the Titans, Hades, Celesta, Charon, the Fates, Bacchus, Aphrodite, Cupid, Poseidon, the Furies, Discord,
The Celebrity Red Carpet of the Ancient World: Pandora, Prometheus, Hercules, Iolaus, Sisyphus, Helen of Troy, Paris, Deiphobus, Menelaus, Euripides, Homer, Autolycus, Meleager, Oracle of Delphi, David, Goliath, Orpheus, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Ulysses, Penelope, Cecrops, Boadicea, Cleopatra, Crassus, Pompey
Previous Xena Rewatch Posts:
Warlord is a Lady Tonight
I Don’t Work For Money
Amazon Wanna Take A Ride?
Go To Tartarus!
Swashbuckle and Shams
Death In A Chainmail Bikini
Full Moon It Must Be Xena
How Do You Mortals Get From Day to Day?
The Future is Archaeologists
Divide and Conquer
My Sword is Always Ready to Pleasure You
Hide the Hestian Virgins!
Lunatic with Lethal Combat Skills
Coping with Your First Kill
Sweet Hestia, I’m In a Den of Filth
The Bitter and Sweet of It
Because Caesar Was Taken
Rolling Around Like Weasels
You Killed Me?
My Fungus Is Spreading
Virtue is Its Own Reward