I’ve been out of it the last few days and watching Xena in the desperate hope that it’ll give me something to blog about, but even though it’s always a huge amount of fun, it rarely provides me good content for a critique.
So, just in order to write something, here’s a post about how much fun Xena has been recently!
First there was “Warrior…Priestess…Tramp” in which Lucy Lawless plays three characters: Xena; Meg, who runs a “tavern”; and Leah, a Hestian preistess, which is like a Vestal Virgin but Xena-ified. I love the episodes where Lawless plays several characters (there were a couple featuring Xena, Meg, and a princess named Diana a while back) since it always looks like she’s having so much fun. For an action hero, she really good at slapstick comedy; it’s great when she has less-serious characters to play with.
Actually, it feels a little like we’ve been taking a break since the highly painful (and totally serious) episodes about Gabrielle’s loss of blood innocence. A few episodes ago, we had Joxer’s actor playing two roles– Joxer and his successful assassin brother. It was another great romp, featuring a return of the King of Thieves (a hilarious character!) and Gina Torres (Zoe in Firefly/Serenity) as Cleopatra. (Yup, they cast an actual black woman as Cleopatra! I was pleased! Her assorted staff was pretty whitewashed, but she was perfect.) Also, many fantastic jokes at Joxer’s expense– my favourite kind!
Joxer: I’ve seen evil and I’ve changed my ways.
Jett (Joxer’s evil twin): Bro, if you saw evil, you’d have to change your PANTS.
Xena: Joxer, you can barely kill TIME.
So anyway, first we have two Joxers, then three Xenas– clearly it’s time for four Gabrielles!
And in “The Quill is Mightier,” that’s what we get! Well, sort of. Aphrodite charms Gabrielle’s scroll so that everything she writes come true, and you have the expected (and not-so-expected) consequences of that causing a great ruckus for the rest of the episode. Gabrielle started by writing Xena out of the story, “on a fishing trip,” so she could fight off five barbarians on her own, in a fantastic over-the-top sequence that culminates in her saving Joxer by doing eight back-flips over to him, then repelling the barbarian’s descending sword with her rock-hard abs. No, really– it goes flying into the air. (Joxer asks: “Are you wearing something under that?”) Joxer, of course, drives Gabrielle crazy, so why is he there? Simple: the scroll is frustratingly literal, and she began her story with “Gabrielle awoke with a jerk.”
Now, this is more of our one Gabrielle than we usually see, and it’s a great relief to see that she’s very much herself (there’s something fun about the Xena-free episodes, since every problem starts needing absurdly complex solutions.) But where are the other three Gabrielles?
They’re Joxer’s fault. He asks mortalized-Aphrodite (long story) about “his friend” who’s in love with a girl, and she brushes him off with the standard answer of “poetry, then presents.” So he writes her a limerick! On her magic scroll! About “love’s eyes seeing three times–what rhymes with ‘Aphrodite’?”
And lo, three naked, dancing Gabrielles appear behind him! I actually really enjoyed them– they made the most ridiculous faces and noises, and the dancing was more like spasmatic wriggling than an actual sexy dance, so that it was more of parody of objectification than actual objectification. They get hustled off “to the caves!” like everyone else that Gabrielle needs to get out of the way, but they add a delightful hint of the truly absurd to the slapstick running-around that ends the show.
Well, that’s not quite where it ends– after everybody’s run off, Xena returns from her fishing trip with an entire cart full of exotic sea life, which she uses to fight off an army as Gabrielle records her every action in order to break the spell. Xena uses an eel eating its tail as a chakram, pierces a soldier’s helmet with a swordfish, and blinds a man by throwing an octopus on his face. And all returns to normal.
Man, no wonder Xena always makes me happy.
(for more posts on Xena, look here!)