26 November 2011

Xena Season 1 Episodes 1-5

Note: So I'm watching and reviewing Xena: Warrior Princess on netflix instant. I'll post however many I've done either in groups or at the end of the day (because we don't need 100 Xena posts now do we?). I'm typing these up based on my live notes, so some of it might seem like "You had to be there" moments. Cause really, you had to be there. There will be spoilers, because the show has been off the air for ten years now.

Episode 1: Sins of the Past
Our scene open on a beautiful woman (spoilers! it’s Xena) on horseback riding through a burned village. The flashback tells us that she was responsible for it’s burninantion. I’m not sure what it is about this one town, but Xena gives up her life of killing people, only to immediately change her mind and decide to kill only bad people when she sees some people being attacked.

Credits I'd forgotten how awesome the opening credits were. (And I want Lucy Lawless' body. Not like, in a trunk, but copied to my own. Pervs.)

[Do New Zealander's have, like, a Zealand accent? All these people sound American.]

Xena kicks ass through well-placed coincidental buried armor and a young woman, Gabrielle, steps up as what may be the world's first total fangirl. In an effort to ensure the village stays safe, Xena conquers her first barbarian warlord in the show through her awesome sexuality alone. You go girl. Gabrielle is not sexy, or sneaky. We are making many points of this throughout this episode.

Gabrielle: "I want to be a warrior."
Lilo [Gabrielle's sister]"Gabrielle, I can beat you up."

And here we have the first in what might be many of these instances, but I will only say it once (I’m lying): Trust your horse Xena, he's way smarter than you obviously. But despite the fact that Argo (the horse) had the since to run away from a cyclops who'd lost his eye, Xena does a good job getting rid of a him (the cyclops, not the horse) (Also, is a cyclops without an eye still a cyclops?) (The non-clops doesn't have bad CG for the record. Well, not awful anyway.) (I like parentheses)

Whoa whoa whoa, Draco (the barbarian who apparently has a name although I won’t remember it and why are they giving the awesome name to someone we won’t ever see gain? I ask you) is an asshole. He orders his men to pretend to be Xena’s and go on some pillaging and plundering and likely raping although it isn’t explicitly set out in the contract.

Gabrielle also encounters the non-clops, but manages to talk her way out of it by threatening to kill Xena and with that we have the Best line in the episode...

Gabrielle: "She'd never let a man get close enough to do her, at least not that kind of do her."

(And I see we've established Xena is feisty and Gabrielle is clever. Good use of show not tell, producers. Wooo! First use of the Xena nerve-pinch! Has that ever actually been allowed to run its course? Does it even work? Does anyone know?)

Xena continues her journey back to her homestead and comes across a group of women engaging in some annoying ass singing. Xena ignores my yelling at the screen: Kill 'em Xena. Kill! Kill! Kill! and instead rides straight by them. She arrives home and is slightly/ mostly ostracized by the people, up to and including her mother. I like how nobody comments on her outfit - like that little mini-skirt and bustier is totally the norm. Any hopes of reconciliation are dashed when “Xena’s” army comes through to rampage, pillage, and/or rape.

Xena goes out to meet the troops and Draco becomes the first in a long line of people to tell Xena to celebrate her dark side. Dude, that never ends well for the guy. Ever. They begin fighting on some conveniently places scaffolding, first person to touch the ground loses. And listen, I know it's her thing, but she can stop the yelling thing anytime.

In the course of the fight, they end up literally walking on people and I am flabbergasted by the townspeople allowing the bad guy to use them as stepping stones. Why don't these people knock the bad guy off, why are they just standing there letting him, literally, walk all over them? And WHY ARE YOU MAKING A DEAL WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS PROVED HIS WORD IS UNTRUSTWORTHY?!? Dammit Xena.

Xena let’s Draco go on the condition he not harm the village. So screw all the other villages out there I guess. Xena’s mom forgives her, she’s a hero(ine) to the townspeople and she and Gabrielle have and instant friendship. Awwww.

Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 1 (Fatal:0)

Episode 2: Chariots of War
This one was boring and I gtalked with someone instead of watching. Although there were scaffolding shenanig--- wait, nope. That was episode one. Never mind. Look, I didn't promise every episode did I? Some are just boring. Xena gets hurt, and the guy who nurses her back to health doesn't want her to fight. She resist for all of about ten seconds then kicks ass. It's forgettable. Easily.

Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 0 (probably) (Fatal:0)

[Wiki tells me the musical episode is in season 3 - I'm a little flabbergasted by the amount of things are going to have to happen between now and then.]

Episode 3: Dreamworker
The show opens on a little bait and switch, intending to emphasize that Gabrielle is in no way capable of defending herself. Which is true. Some Xena/Gabrielle discussion and we go into....

Credits Man, they got best use out of credits voiceover guy. He's amazing.

And when we get back, I notice Xena has lost her episode 1 headband, which is an awesome decision on her part. Some banter and discussion with local shopkeepers as we emphasize that Gabrielle wants to be as dangerous as Xena, but is totally incapable. Aaaand, the breast dagger makes it’s first appearance as Gabrielle buys it and proceeds to walk up to Xena breast first. Xena, rightly, takes it away from her for safe keeping in her own bustier of awesome.

And we have our Best line in the episode:

Gabrielle: "It's not like your breasts aren't dangerous enough."

As Xena discusses things with another local shopkeep, we find a blind magi and Gabrielle gets kidnapped by evil priests of the god Morpheus. In an attempt to make them release her, Gabrielle earnestly tells the priests, “I have lots of faults.” To save her, Xena goes into her own dreamworld and sweet baby Thor this show is already weirder than all 6 season of Hercules put together. Xena dreams of warriors chanting her names and crying women. But mostly of people accusing her of killing them or ruining their lives. Which, fair enough. Please note that this will be a running theme on Xena over the next 6 seasons.

Gabrielle is told she needs to pass tests in order to become bride of Morpheus and since the tests are pass or die, she steps up. [If universities operated on this principle we’d have a lot better calibre of graduates, I’m just saying.] In the other world, we’ve discovered that head priest lied, and that the point of the exercise is to get Gabrielle to kill someone for the first time so they can sacrifice her to Morpheus. And priest even sets Gabrielle up by handing her a sword. Bastard.

We cut back to Xena battling her demons in her dream world and frankly, I'm a little hazy on how what Xena's doing is going to help Gabrielle. In a magical moment, Xena passes on the “Do not kill” information to Gabrielle in a dream. And everytime someone says blood innocence I snerffle a little.

[We're three episodes in and haven't seen a god, I find that odd considering how prevalent they will become in later seasons. Anyway....]

The next challenge proves Gabrielle is clever - she gets the people to fight each other not her. But high priest has figured out Gabrielle knows - next time it’s kill or be killed.

Xena is still in dreamland fighting her inner demons. Of course she is. That’s all she ever does. Yet she doesn't recognize her own voice or silhouette (In all fairness, I wonder if I would recognize my own voice in that sort of situation?) Holy shitcakes, does evil-dream Xena have blacked out eyes? AHHHHH! She does! AHHHHH!

I want to note that this kill or be killed contraption for Gabrielle seems needlessly complicated. And while I am bouncing between two plots here, this show generally does have pretty good pacing, even in this episode. Xena defeats her demons and manages to teleport her body into the temple and fights the guardpeople. This show taught me that slicing someone across their chest with a sword kills them instantly. Xena wins, and frees Gabrielle. Huzzah!

Back in town, we have the second best line of the night by the storekeeper

Xena: How much do I owe you?

Storekeeper: Owe me? After taking care of the fear of the mystics, after making this valley a safe place to raise a family? Ten percent off everything
Xena and Gabrielle bond over what it means to kill people (I may be taking the wrong lesson from this) and then continue on into their adventures.

Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 0 (Fatal:0)

Episode 4: Cradle of Hope
This episode opens on a mystic woman giving the king of somewhere news that there will be a child in his future - it's not his child but will one day hold his throne, so I guess it's pretty bad news. This affects the king as you might expect. In his demense, his serving women are sending the child in question off in a reed basket. Did that really happen that much in ancient times? I mean, really? Off in their woodland encampment, Xena and Gabrielle wake up and discover the baby in the river - which Gabrielle somewhat hilariously thinks is a cat based on its crying. Bless.

Credits: Marry me voiceover guy?

When we return, Gabrielle wants to keep the baby, and Xena proves she's not really mother material several time over. Gabrielle wants to name the baby Gabriel, but Xena is all "Don't name anything you intend to eat."

In the castle, the king is convinced that he'll deal with an adult when the time comes - but his advisor/general wants to kill all the babies. Guys, I think the advisor might be the real bad guy here. Shhhh. Back on the road, Xena saves a young women from a mob. The woman is pretty blas
é about the whole thing, truth be told. Although she gets a little uptight when Gabrielle drops her bag and a box falls out. Oh, turns out the woman is Pandora (well, the Pandora's granddaughter), and the box is the one that still contain all the world’s hope.

Xena, Gabrielle, Pandora and the baby arrive in town and settle in at a tavern. Troops arrive, along with evil advisor, and try and take little baby Xenu – but Xena’s got this and kicks ass even without her sword. She even goes alcohol flamethrower of AWESOME on their asses which is a neat trick really. Xena goes a little postal on the tavern-keeper who had fetched the troops in.. She does the nerve pinch to the guy. And almost does it again in a pretty funny moment you'd just have to see. While their discussing why soldiers want a baby, Pandora discovers the soldiers stole her box.

Back at the castle, the advisor/general cannot act his way out of a paper bag. It makes taking all of his 'kill the child' shenanigans a little funny really. Thee king is a good guy, as he proves repeatedly, so much so that I'm doubting the validity of the prophecy. I’m calling it, he ends up adopting the baby. You guys got that? Oh, and it turns out the box will open itself by midnight if not reset by Pandora. This is the plot thickening.

The principal people meet up in the tavern again, where the king makes it very clear he thinks Xena is a blood-thirsty savage, I don't think Xena was prepared to be the bad guy in this. Also, everyone in ancient Greece had amazingly blue eyes. Back at their hideout, Gabrielle has found a way into the palace and for the record, I'm still not convinced that “put the baby in the river” is a valid contingency plan. I feel it has some deep and irreparable flaws to it.

Turns out that tonight is the “let's sex up the advisor” festival. That's not what they call it but that's what it is. Xena sneaks in to do a sexy dance, which for the record involves more clothing than she normally wears. She succeeds in seducing the advisor, but the king barges in and grabs the box before Xena can make off with it, party-pooper. In bed in his chambers, the advisor is trying to sex up Xena (without having seen her face) and gets the Best line of the episode...

Advisor: "You spoke of pleasure?"
Xena: *over her shoulder face punch* "And you spoke of pain."

Xena makes her way to the king’s chambers to hear him confessing about his lost wife and child. She steals the box from the king, then jumps out a window in a move that should have dislocated something, but whatever. She proceeds to run around the market and scream “Gabrielle”, which, in my honest opinion, seems like not the best way to do what she's doing. Pandora resets the box and Xena takes the baby back to the king so he can raise it as his heir. HA! Called it.

Wait, the advisor is there to kill the baby? And maybe the king? Okay, that makes sense, but Xena then proceeds to
grab the baby and run? That makes no sense whatsoever. Zany fight music ensues as they throw the baby around? WTF? That kid is totally getting shaking baby syndrome out of this.

Advisor is killed, the King and Pandora are getting married – and in the treasury Gabrielle knocks the box over, which turns out to be empty. Xena says it’s because Pandora is carrying hope, but I think that hope was invisible and it escaped but Xena and Gabrielle couldn’t see it.

Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 1 (Fatal:0)
Alcohol Flamethrower: 1

Episode 5: The Path not Taken

I tried to pay more attention to this episode because I actually feel a little bad for dropping the ball on the second episode, but man was this one forgettable. The best moment happen before the credits roll as Gabrielle nonchalantly strolls through a bar talking about how great everything is, while behind her, Xena kicks the ass of the random creepers making their move towards the two women. Also notable is her use of the alcohol flamethrower, prompting me post-adding a running total for that as well.

I don’t know, there’s a fairly interesting sidestory about one of Xena’s past loves, but given what we learn of her, I find it fairly unbelievable.

Although, this one does get a Best line of the episode because it is said without any shame or compunction by the baddie of the week.

“Have her bathed and perfumed and sent to my chambers.”


Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 0 (Fatal:0)
Alcohol Flamethrower: 1

Final Thoughts
Some good moments, some bizarre. I don't think I'd seen any of any of the episodes, except maybe some of 5 which was vaguely familiar in parts.I do want to continue watching, but Xena is at its best when they involve monsters and gods and weirdness. And I want me some Ares action like right now. Dammit.

Running total:
Gods seen: 0
Nerve Pinches: 2 (Fatal:0)
Alcohol Flamethrower: 2

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