We finished our look at Xena‘s first season with an episode that’s so bleak that our son abandoned it halfway through. It’s set in a healing temple caught between two warring forces, Mitoans and Thessalonians. The temple is full of badly wounded people and staffed by incompetents who spend more time praying for celestial help than doing anything. Xena and Gabrielle have found their friend Ephiny (from episode ten), wounded, pregnant, and hiding in the woods after the death of her husband.
It is a dark episode, short on action but full of drama as Xena tries teaching medicine to these clods and tries teaching sense to a Mitoan general who has lost his moral compass. It is bloody and rough and full of people screaming and our son couldn’t take it and retreated, very unhappy with what he saw. He missed Xena amputating one guy’s leg and Xena giving Ephiny a C-section and he also missed the riveting, harrowing climax. Gabrielle went out into the battlefield searching for a lost child and came in badly wounded on a stretcher.
Obviously we know from our distance that Gabrielle recovers, but the audience that summer night in 1996 didn’t. (Had they even been renewed for a second season when they made this?) Xena works on her friend as much as she can before “it’s up to her now” (as it often is in medical dramas) and other patients need her. And then Gabrielle dies and Lucy Lawless gets a completely amazing scene begging her friend to come back and not listening to anyone telling her that she’s gone. I was just desperate for our favorite red-haired bard to cough herself back to life before I lost it, the scene was so good. It’s a completely terrific, powerful moment, and it’s a shame the kid missed it.
It wasn’t all drama and horror. Ephiny ends the episode gently playing with her baby, who is a centaur. Ancient Greeks, man, ancient Greeks.
That’s all for now from the world of Xena, but we will look at a selection of episodes from season two this summer, probably in June. Stay tuned!