After the previous episode, I thought it was odd that they made two Lucy-lite episodes so close together, with Xena wearing Callisto’s body in one and possessing Autolycus’s body in the other. Since I don’t know anything about the production of Xena beyond “it was made in New Zealand,” I did a little reading. During a break in production after finishing ten episodes, Lucy Lawless was in Los Angeles to do some promotion for the series, and was injured in a stunt for NBC’s The Tonight Show. That rings a distant bell. I’m sure I must have heard of that at the time.
So that’s why they did some episodes with the lead actress either barely present or sidelined and not doing all the high jumps, and full credit to the producers for doing it so well. It must have required an inhuman amount of shuffling and rewriting to make the next seven or eight episodes with the lead actress barely able to move. Their way around it this time is bringing Hudson Leick back as Callisto. Since we saw her in episode eight, she showed up in episode 3.12 of Hercules, somehow became immortal, and ended up locked in an underground prison. And since Velasca, who we met last time, has munched on enough of the cheat-death macguffin to become a “god,” with all the attendant powers of lightning bolts and weather manipulation, Xena reasons the only way to stop her is to sic Callisto on her.
I thought this was a much more entertaining hour than the last one, and piggybacking on what I said last time about Bruce Campbell bringing the only entertainment value to an episode that really shouldn’t have anything to do with men, this installment has exactly two speaking parts for men: two guards at Artemis’s temple get one line apiece before Velasca kills them. It’s certainly not just the fights and the special effects, although they had our son more wowed than any previous episode of the show, it’s watching Callisto just needle Gabrielle and be effortlessly mean. I winced when Callisto pointed out that Gabrielle just isn’t very good at Truth or Dare. Melinda Clarke doesn’t fare nearly as well as Velasca, who could have had a much more interesting objective. Damaging Artemis’s temple was a nice start. It’s a shame they didn’t do more along that line, but what they did was still really entertaining.