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COMMENTARIES ON
IDES OF MARCH





COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Diane Silver
COMMENTARY 3 by Xorys
COMMENTARY 4 by JoJo
COMMENTARY 5 by Videntur
COMMENTARY 6 by Beboman
COMMENTARY 7 by Philip Teo

COMMENTARY 1:

Commentary Beth Gaynor.

Let me say this part right off the bat: I love Callisto. I think she's one of the best villains to gleefully trot across my TV screen, ever. That's partially thanks to a great character idea, partially thanks to some mighty fine writing, and mostly thanks to the way Hudson Leick took that character, ran into the endzone, and then danced for the next thirty plays. And she does it again this episode, ripping into every scene with astounding glee.

Now, with that said: Bringing Callisto back cheapens the character and cheapens the killing-off they gave her last season. I can't take her seriously in this episode. Her only purpose is as a Callisto ex machina. I can't take Xena and Gabrielle's "death" seriously, either, when proof is running around the screen that we can hit people with god-killers and still bring them back.

I liked the taunting-Xena-n-Gabrielle in hell. Vicious "right here" point at the throat from Gabrielle, LOVED the saucy wink from Xena with the "Gotta love the irony" line. It was a good excuse to see the gals looking smug as all get-out.

Now we're combining Hell, Heaven, Tartarus, Elysium, an Amazon paradise, AND reincarnation? The afterlife is getting ridiculously crowded. And who is this "Him" running Hell? Callisto's temptations of Xena ("invite me into your soul"), her acknowledgement of her "Lord" (there's a first!), sure sound Satanic. Or maybe this is Dahak still running around?

To bookend (pardon the phrase) with the season-opener Xena-under-the-bearskin scene, we have Xena playing cowboy with Caesar to wind things up. Nice hip action, Lucy and Karl! That must have been an interesting day on the set. ("More ice water, please!")

The "Because whatever Gabrielle wants, Gabrielle gets" line confused me. I couldn't tell from Xena and Gab's reactions if that was a joke, a tease, an old argument... I'm not sure WHAT it was supposed to be.

Amarice has the symbol for woman on the pommel of her sword, just like Ephiny did in Maternal Instincts. Is this something all the amazons have, or is Amarice toting Ephiny's sword now?

Caesar gets a chuckle award for his flip "take Xena with you" line as a would-be assassin is dragged out of the room.

Eli's beliefs continue to be a bizarre hodgepodge of ideas. He's still praying to Abba, but now he's talking about emptying yourself of everything in order to truly love? Where'd that come from? And how does it match to his prayers, talk of pure hearts, and unwitting demon exorcisms that started him on this whole gig?

Xena's assassination attempt is pretty smooth - she throws an awfully snappy Roman salute. If it just weren't for that darned Callisto ex machina...

Gabrielle and Brutus have a lot of similarities to each other. Brutus's passionate defenses of Caesar in Endgame reminded me of the way Gabrielle defends Xena. The parallels continued in this episode as Brutus continued to believe fearlessly in his hero. But he, like Gabrielle, had to decide how his beliefs matched up to Caesar's, and whether they could coexist. Poor Brutus doesn't end up with quite the happy conclusion that Gabrielle does.

Xena rides hell for leather right into her own death vision. But her only other option was to stay away - and most likely avoid the vision by letting Gabrielle die alone. Xena chose to die with her. She's believed the vision was going to happen from the moment she saw it; I don't think she really believed she could save Gabrielle. But she sure wasn't going to let her die alone.

Xena turns down Callisto's temptation with an amazing statement - that she's done with her guilt and is focused solely on her job as a do-gooder. It ranks right up there with her declaration in One Against an Army that she was done trying to atone for her sins and was now concentrating on Gabrielle. Callisto still got Xena's attention in a big way by promising her release from her past sins, so Xena is probably still reminding herself a lot that she's supposed be done with guilt. But I think the basic statement is true; Xena's come to terms with butt-kicking for goodness. That will be something new to bat around in the fifth season.

The camera work is wonderful when Xena wakes up with someone holding her... I was as unsure as Xena of who it was. It turns out to be Gabrielle, the person it should be, and Xena breathes a sigh of relief. Those scenes in the prison were amazing work by our two leading ladies - they had almost no physical action to go off of (other than the amazing sight of, for once, Gabrielle cradling Xena instead of the other way around). But with nothing but their lines and their faces they conveyed some pretty incredible deathbed emotions.

Xena's never read Gabrielle's scrolls? Ouch. Xena SHOULD apologize for that. She owes Gab a whole banquet of afterlife cookies for that one.

This Way of Non-Violence stuff had some serious problems. Now, the Way of Friendship? *That* fits Gabrielle in a heartbeat. That's my idea of a real Way of love, and that's the Way Gabrielle has been following since day one. So while it was brutal, vicious, and amazingly violent, I don't think Gabrielle's destruction of an entire Roman squad was an abandoning of her Way. I think it was her discovery of her real Way. Not that she's normally going to be slaughtering baddies left and right, but that in the name of protecting those she loves, the world should tremble.

Gabrielle's afterlife wind-blown appearance and the cloudy-sky background match her Alti vision with the trumpets. Alti seems to have nailed it all the way around.

Callisto's a three-time loser in this episode. Caesar's not emperor (he's not even alive), Xena's not corrupted (she's even tighter with her Way than ever, and her bard with her), and she broke rank and physically hurt Xena. She's in biiig trouble with this mysterious "Him"-dude.

So... our heroes are dead. Deadski. In the afterlife. Which, as we know from this show, means zilch for whether they'll be back. The only question is HOW they'll be back. Will the cosmic referees decide that Callisto mucked with things too much and call a do-over? Will Eli and Amarice return to the scene and Eli will pull some of his mojo to save them? Will the XenaStaff do something REALLY bizarre like reincarnating our stars as instant adults in their next life? Only four short months to find out. (Har de har.)

HIGHLIGHTS

This episode gave some of the best examples I've seen yet of Gabrielle's strength with this Way of Non-Violence (before Gabrielle ends up pitching it out the window). She succeeds in really taking someone out of a fight without hurting them, by dumping them in a river. She uses her importance and quick thinking to save Amarice. She gives Brutus a lot to think about. Very nice. Of course, then she vaults to the other side of the pendulum with a jump that would make Olympians envious.

Honestly, this episode hadn't grabbed me all that much. Until the moment the chakram broke across Xena's back, ending it and Xena's fighting at the same time. And I realized that the reason Xena was being dragged in that darned vision was because her legs were paralyzed. And Gabrielle grabbed that staff. And I started to cheer like crazy because our Gab had her Gabwhacker again. Until the Gabwhacker turned out to be pointy, Gabrielle skewered a guy with it, picked up Xena's own sword, and turned into the Energizer killing bunny. My jaw hit the floor, and it didn't make it back up for a good ten minutes or so. I had to get up and walk around during the commercial break. What a scene. After six episodes of refusing to swing a fist, after a day or so of staring Xena's death vision in the face, Gabrielle finally snaps in a BIG ol' way and decides that no Way of Non-Violence is worth watching Xena die. Gabrielle gets medieval on seven guys by my count, each death more brutal than the next, as Gab urges Xena to get up and escape with each kill. Xena, meanwhile, who can barely move, seems to be dying by inches as she watches Gabrielle destroy everything around her and, to Xena's eyes, everything she's put her faith in. Wow. Gripping scene, fantastically played.

(My neighbors must have loved me during this scene. What the heck does "YEAH, Gab! Wha'.. no, wait! Hold on! WHOOAAAHHH! Too far, back up, backup, BACKUP! GEEZ!" mean?)

Great imagery: Callisto catches snowflakes while Xena and Gabrielle head for the cross.



COMMENTARY 2:

Commentary Diane Silver.

Summary review -- Ides of March was a terrible idea that should not have worked, but did, at least for me. It was harrowing TV viewing, quite gut wrenching in places, but also quite amazing. It ranks up with my top 5 all time favorite XWP episodes. These are, of course, only my very humble opinions. And yes, I cried when I saw it.

The Acting

Before all else, I want to praise the acting in this episode, particularly the work of Lucy Lawless, Hudson Leick and Renee O'Connor. I thought they were all incredible. I didn't see a thing that looked like a false note to me among the three of them. When Hudson first appeared on the screen, I just smiled. It was like seeing an old friend again that I hadn't even realized I had missed until she shows up again. Hudson seems now to be such an incredible pro and very comfortable in the role of Callisto. I love the gusto with which she goes after the role of Callisto, the animal way she moves, reacts, the pure and total guilt-free way she makes Callisto interact with the world. And oh my, some of her touches of business were incredible. When Xena and Gabrielle are being taken to be crucified and Callisto stands there, tilts her head back and catches snowflakes on her tongue like a child playing in the snow, I shivered. Incredible! What a wonderful way to show total delight in what was happening and disdain for the welfare of Xena and Gabrielle.

I thought Renee was also incredible. She has put so much dignity into Gabrielle in the last couple of episodes. I loved her in Endgame and loved her work again in Ides. This is Gabrielle at her most queenly, at least to my eyes. She is dignified, smart, strong and above all couragous. And oh my, that scene with Xena and Gabrielle in the cell awaiting their execution, that was remarkable! Great work by Renee. Watching it, I had the sense that both characters were totally wrapped up in themselves; they were the whole world for each other, ignoring the Roman guards. And, Lucy and Renee had to do this while ignoring the camera and crew. With just a few words, acting in very tight shots that gave her little opportunity to use any kind of gesture except the looks on her face, Renee did marvelous. She conveyed an incredible depth of love and respect for Xena. Wonderful!

Ah, and Lucy. Wow! She was marvelous in this episode. I was particularly impressed with her work when Xena is hit by the chakram, during the scene in the cell and at the crucifiction. For me, some of her most incredible work comes in the scene in the cell. As with Renee, Lucy did a marvelous job of conveying the incredible love Xena has for Gabrielle, the love of that particular moment and the respect Xena has for her partner. I was most impressed by how Lucy played Xena's injury, the difficulty in speaking, the slackness she put in Xena's expression, the look of utter helplessness, and such subtle things as when Gabrielle gently turns her face and Xena sees that Gabrielle is holding her, Xena gets such a look of relief on her face -- as if everything is OK now that she knows Gabrielle is with her. Lucy even has Xena sigh when her eyes meet Gabrielle's. Very nicely done! Lucy conveys so much for Xena by expression and very few words. Again, this is merely my opinion, but I think Lucy did an incredible job of portraying someone who was dying. Her body language, her speech certainly matched what I have seen with terminally-ill people, who are so weak that even the simpliest things -- like facial expression -- are hard.

The Story

Honestly, I want to start this section with a tirade because the idea of killing off the main characters, yet again, seems to me to be tired, cliched and utterly ridiculous, especially given XWP's history of killing off Xena and Gabrielle in the past. This should not work on any level, yet it does for me.

One thing I saw was the power of love, in particular Xena and Gabrielle's love for each other, which in this episode comes across to me as a very mature love. Each had a chance to save herself and yet, neither did, instead chosing to stay with her partner. (BTW, I use the word "partner" because Callisto used it in this episode. Kinda like the ring of it, you know? ) Gabrielle could have run when Eli, Amorice and the others did. She could have run when Xena fell, but of course, she didn't. Xena went to the prison knowing that she was walking into the same setting that her vision had warned her against. She even knew it was snowing, yet she went to save Gabrielle. I saw their love for each other in the cell. I saw their respect for each other. (This is one of the ways that I think X and G are now showing mature love. They respect and celebrate their differences.) This is shown so well in the cell when Xena says she wished she'd read Gabrielle's scrolls. Gabrielle replies that she would have liked them. Xena says with a look of total sincerity on her face: "I know." I also think Xena's incredible respect for Gabrielle is shown right after the chakram breaks her back. As she is lying helpless, she watches Gabrielle kill and shouts for Gabrielle to stop, to not step off her way. For me that shows a remarkable level of respect, given that if Gabrielle had stopped any sooner than she did, Xena could easily have been killed.

Finally, I saw triumph. I hadn't expected that in this ep. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay spoiler free and had learned that both characters would die in this ep. I went into my viewing of the show worried that I'd leave it with the feeling that Xena and Gabrielle had been utterly defeated. Funny thing is that I didn't get that feeling at all. In fact, I really did see triumph for them in what happened.

Although they were physically defeated, they won every other battle they fought. I think they won the most important battles because sometimes it is better to die then to live. The obvious example is the fact that Xena did not take Callisto's offer of salvation. To do that, Xena would have had to stepped off her path as a warrior and she would have had to accept Callisto, and probably Callisto's lord, into her heart. To do that, Xena would have saved both of their lives, but lost her soul. Xena's actions helped lead to their deaths, but still stands as a triumph in my mind.

Xena and Gabrielle also triumphed over Caeser in this episode, actually with a little help from Gabrielle's actions in Endgame. By showing Brutus mercy in Endgame, Gabrielle planted a seed, she showed herself to be different than the usual leaders Brutus knew. In a very real sense, she got Brutus' sympathy. In Ides, Gabrielle continues to work on Brutus, as Xena did in Endgame, to try to get him to think about Caesar's real motives. Her words, along with her actions in Endgame helped prepare Brutus to respond the right way when he learned that Caesar intended to crucify Xena and Gabrielle. That was, ummm, the last straw for Brutus, or at least, one of the biggest of the last straws. It showed Brutus that Caesar wasn't to be trusted and pushed him over the edge to organize Caesar's assassination. By dying, Xena and Gabrielle helped create the conditions that led directly to Caesar's death.

Finally, I saw courage. Such a wonderful thing to see on TV and so seldom shown by female characters. The most remarkable instance of this comes after Xena is hurt, particularly when Xena and Gabrielle are on the way to their torture and execution and during those horrific scenes when the nails are being pounded in and then the crosses raised. I saw pain, but no hysterics; sadness, but no fear. In that sense, Xena and Gabrielle again triumphed. Their bodies were defeated, but not their souls. They gave their tormentors nothing to delight in, nothing to mock.

This was amazing TV, particularly amazing since I doubt if this will win XWP fans. It might even turn away fans because it's not comforting TV, and it certainly isn't easy to watch. No escapism here, just hard realities: Sometimes you win the war by dying.

Yup, this was an incredibly, stupid idea for an episode. It shouldn't have worked at all, except that it did, at least for me.



COMMENTARY 3:

Commentary Xorys.

Disclaimer: I absolutely *LOATHED* this episode, and I have really nothing positive to say about it, and two days after watching it, I'm still pretty much incoherent with rage and depression, so if you don't want to listen to me ranting and raving and fuming, then you'd probably best read no further.

There is no way that I can do my usual kind of commentary on Ides Of March... that demands an attachment to, an affection for the ep, which I certainly don't have in this case. I have never been made so *ANGRY* and *UPSET* by a fictional television presentation. Being a serious fan of a television show has much in common with entering into a relationship with a person, or with subscribing to a religion. Note, I'm not saying that it's a substitute for those things - just that it has much in common with them. And when you become attached to a show, just as when you give your heart to a person, you naturally make yourself vulnerable. I guess, really, I'm just trying to rationalise why I feel so violated and betrayed by Ides Of March. I mean, I think it was a pile of crap, but then there's a lot of crap on TV, and generally I don't get upset about it...

To say that I hated this episode is a massive understatement... I loathed it, I despised it, I abhorred it. I could not *BELIEVE* they would do something like this. And presumably they actually planned it, and did it deliberately. All season I've put up with endless foreshadowings of that bloody crucifixion scene... and for WHAT? For this pile of horse doo-doo??!!

Can I explain why I hated it so much? Well not very well, at this point. I just can't bear to focus on it enough to dissect it intellectually. I hated pretty much every minute of it. But I suppose some things in particular stand out. I suppose the main, underlying reason I just felt like vomiting all through it was that I found its essential premise absolutely abhorrent and terminally destructive to the whole basis of the Xenaverse as we've known it (well as I've known it, anyhow...) The idea that everything is going to be reduced to a stupid battle against the devil in hell just makes me want to puke! They completely lost my sympathy and my willingness to buy into their conceits as soon as they went there. The strength of the show was always its humanistic basis, its strong foundation in basic human truths, and its essential simplicity. To reduce the whole thing to some stupid game full of arbitrary rules against a bad abstract absolute in a nasty hole is an obscene insult. WHO CARES anymore, if that's the way they're going??!! If they expect me to care whether Xena should do this or should do that because it's the right move according to whatever arbitrary rules they dream up for this game against the devil... well I don't care, I just don't care at all in that context. It doesn't MATTER anymore whether Xena or Gabrielle live or die... it doesn't matter whether they kill or refrain from killing... it doesn't matter if they gouge each other's eyes out... because in the context of this STUPID PREMISE NOTHING MATTERS! This drivel has absolutely *nothing* *zero* *nada* to do with the world I live in. And drivel it certainly was. In the context of this ep Eli just seemed like a complete barking idiot. I've never heard pacifism expressed in a way which made me feel it was so utterly trivial and stupid. Even the beautiful Indian music seemed cheap and tawdry, used as a signature tune for a moron. (And BTW, I don't think that pacifism *is* trivial, stupid and moronic - I just think this ep made it seem that way.) In fact the character who came out of it best by a massive distance was Amarice. And why? Not because she's a tremendously fascinating character, or greatly admirable or anything. But just because she was actually *HUMAN*, which nothing and nobody else in this *STUPID* *STUPID* episode was!!

I probably wouldn't have been happy with any season-ending episode in which Xena and Gabrielle were killed, since it seems to me a cheap tactic, and disrespectful and sadistic towards the show's fans. But this went *way* beyond that! This wasn't just an injury, it was also a massive insult. They not only killed Xena - they chopped her up and shat on her grave! If we were going to see Xena defeated and dying it should have been in a way in which we could see the grandeur and the squalor of real death... something we could respond to with honest emotion... not in a piece of despicable, nonsensical, garbled, muddied-metaphysical, pseudo-transcendent horse-shit like this!!

I guess I'm getting close to the nub of why I am so *MASSIVELY* angry and depressed about this ep. It did the absolute *WORST* thing that the creators of the show could *POSSIBLY* have done, in that it combined an attempt to crank up the *MAXIMUM* emotions the show possibly could by tragically killing the heroes, and at the same time *COMPLETELY* trashed and trivialised and made garbage and nonsense of the whole premise of the show. To crank up the emotions that way would be dangerous in itself - it's pretty manipulative, and really quite nasty as a way to treat the show's fans to do that in a season ender. But if the core values and premises of the show had been maintained, it might have been tolerable... nasty, unpleasant, offensive, and manipulative, but acceptable. *BUT* they most certainly *DIDN'T* maintain the core values and premises of the show. Likewise, if they'd screwed around with the core values and premises of the show, but done it mid-season, and without cranking up the emotional threshold so high, they might have got away with it. Well they already did that, so far as I'm concerned - I always felt that The Deliverer / Gabrielle's Hope / Maternal Instincts basically trashed the core values and premises of the show, and I said so quite vehemently at the time, and repeatedly since. BUT, since they did it mid-season, and pulled out of it well, the show survived. Or I guess what I really mean is, my ability to hang in with the show survived, albeit that it had been severely wounded. But *THIS*! This is like the offence of Deliverer/GH/MI magnified off the scale, and cranked up with immense emotional demands. I *want* to respond to the emotional demands of this episode - I'm invested in the characters, and I feel the pull - but the script, the whole premise of the episode is such fatuous, offensive, insulting garbage that I'm just totally alienated from it.

So far as I can see, they really blew it this time. This ep was an utter, unmitigated disaster. Truly, both figuratively and literally, in this ep the show went to hell. Essentially they've just trashed all that they've done... they've filthied and besmirched everything they spent years building.

I mourn for the Warrior Princess and the Bard I knew, pointlessly thrown to worthless deaths by those who should have cared for them, all for a cheap and stupid idea.



COMMENTARY 4:

Commentary by JoJo.

I REALLY like Brutus. I like the new actor and I like his scenes. Especially the scene with the asassination of Caesar. Did anyone catch the, "And you, BRUTUS?" That's directly from Shakespeare! Only translated into English...

"Et tu, Brute?" the old bard wrote. Only, the Shakespeare productions I've seen focused more on his tone of betrayal rather than the fury Karl Urban puts into his Caesar. But for Xena's Caesar it works perfectly.

Amarice annoys me. I hope that she either leaves the show or grows a better character. Actually, I hope she stays on to see how badly she'd stand against Gabby in a: battle, match of wits, writing contest, etc.. Eli inspires my wrath and now onto the bulk of my commentary.

I really wrote this with only my previous commentary for Endgame in mind because after I railed on an on about wanting an end to the "Way of Love" I was quite shocked after seeing this episode. It was almost as if the writers heard my plea and said, "Alright, she wants the staff? We'll give her a sword." Perhaps I asked for a little too much when I said that I missed the kick-butt Gabrielle. She killed seven or eight people in this episode in less than five minutes which brings her kill icons up to eleven whopping victims. Try sticking that on her arm instead of that henna.

Still, I thought that Gabrielle's dramatic turn for the better/worse was highly appropriate and I applauded for several minutes. (Well, in my head) After all, it does seem much better to have her give up her Way for Xena than for the Amazons. She loves Xena and the Amazons are a part of her...but not nearly such a large one. This episode made that pretty clear.

I watched Gabrielle's battle with a shocked fascination. *Could this really be happening?!?* At first I was glad to see her pick up the spear. I was very pleased indeed to find her aim much more accurate than it was in A Good Day. (I now begin to wonder whether or not Gabrielle truly did throw away the spear in that episode...I always thought she had missed.) But as the fight continued I started wishing she'd stop killing because it just seemed odd. She didn't need to be quite so violent with her victims. Somewhere in the middle of the fight Gabrielle had gone from attempting an escape to blindly cold rage. So I watched the fight over again.

She didn't enjoy the killing; there was this horribly pained look on her face all through the fighting. And it didn't seem to hit her that Xena couldn't walk; even after Xena told her. Right before slashing one man's throat she paused to look back at her friend as if she wanted her to walk so she could just let this one man live. But the warrior didn't get up so Gabrielle whips around and slashed with a show of great effort. Maybe after that was when the anger set in. Hacking, screaming, stabbing... And Xena powerless to stop the monster of hate that the show so emphasized from day one. The irony! The irony was almost frightening. It makes me wonder what they'll do next season. Will Gabrielle return to the extremes of non-violence or head in the direction of hate and bloodshed? Or will the writers take pity on us and just put her back in the middle? Anything is possible on this show (what other series kills off it's entire contracted cast?) so...I don't think the drama with just subside with Gabby taking back her staff and being content with that.



COMMENTARY 5:

Commentary Videntur.

A beautiful love story unsurpassed by any in a television series. That's my description of the episode "Ides of March". I have waited a long time to see Gabrielle show Xena the care and affection mirroring that shown to her by Xena in the episode "One against an Army." I am pleased to say that my waiting was not in vain. The last 20 minutes of Xena was breathtaking and beautiful. In this commentary, I would like to explore the episode itself, explore the meaning behind the chakrum breaking in two and last I would like to offer my guess as to how the first episode of the fifth season will start - and I am happy to hear that there will be a sixth season (at least that is what I have seen on the internet).

In this episode we have a number of players. The first is my second most favorite "bad person", Callisto (my first favorite "bad person" is Alti played by Claire Stansfield). First it was very humorous to see how Callisto's hell was her being tormented by both Xena and Gabrielle. Compared to what some of the other people were going through around her (a man having dogs attack him, another being placed in flames, one man laying on nails) she should have considered her hell a paradise. This confirms just how great Callisto's hatred of both Xena and Gabrielle has grown. A great scene was when the man that was in love with Callisto told her how Xena's missions would probably not make her end up in paradise but would cause her to be born a little higher up on the kharmic ladder to which Callisto's replied "She cooks my family, destroys my life and I end up in hell while she gets another shot." You then see a cool Xena appear with the statement "You got to love the irony" and giving Callisto a wink that you knew was classic Xena. Callisto was let out of hell by questionably Dahok (the show never really stated the name) but I doubt it was Hades (lord of the underworld) so I tend to think its Dahok. She however was given certain conditions, she had to lead Xena away from the path of the Warrior without physically hurting her - her victory must instead be a spiritual one. She was to also help Caesar become emperor. Callisto did not accomplish either task. Caesar was killed before he became emperor and Xena was taken from the path of the Warrior by physical destruction of her body. It was also ironic how Callisto (like Caesar) wore white in this episode which is usually associated with goodness. Both would have looked truer to form in black robes more suggestive of their dark natures. However, again this is what I like about this show, it shows us that your enemy often disguises himself in an appearance that hides his true nature often gaining our trust. This is why one must look beyond physical appearance and get to know the true person. Xena knew Callisto and knew that Callisto would never do anything for the good of her (Xena), Gabrielle nor anyone - that is why she never took Callisto up on her offer of help in the avoidance of being crucified on the cross.

Caesar is (or should I say was) a very interesting character. I remember when the actor Karl Urban (Caesar) played the character Mael in the episode "Altared States". Karl Urban is an excellent actor because I certainly grew to greatly dislike the character Mael by the end of the episode in much the same way that he made me dislike the character of Caesar by the end of his "Caesar run of episodes." Again, we have an evil character robed in white trying to give an appearance different from his true nature. Caesar had to be pure evil or why else would he feel the need to dispose of Brutus. This was a man that truly trusted Caesar and would have gladly layed down his life for Caesar. Yet, Caesar constantly lied to Brutus by telling him he would not kill Gabrielle but was using her as bait to lure Xena. The justice of it all seemed to be that for every pain felt by Xena and Gabrielle, Caesar experienced that pain and more (at the same time of their crucifixion) at the hands of Brutus and other members of his government.

Blind Friendship - is it good or bad? If you looked it up in a dictionary, Brutus certainly would fit the definition. Xena warned him that Caesar was not a friend. Okay, I can see him having doubts that Xena would be telling him the truth considering her hatred for Caesar. However, he knew that Gabrielle did not hold hatred for people, and yet he did not believe her when she tried to warn him about Caesar. Friendship is wonderful and we all should realize that no one is perfect. Xena and Gabrielle's friendship is based on each one accepting the flaws of the other; however, one cannot be so blind as to not recognize one's enemies. Brutus loved Caesar so much that he refused to allow his mind to see how Caesar was lying to him. You could tell that he (Brutus) knew that the soldiers were lying to him in the prison when they stated that the crucifixes were being built for pirates. It wasn't until Caesar mentioned sending him to Gaul thus confirming the information that Xena had given to him regarding Caesar's plot to have him killed in Gaul, that Brutus had to accept the fact that Caesar's only friend was Caesar. I do feel that if Brutus could have killed Caesar and got back to Xena and Gabrielle in time, he would have stopped the crucifixion.

Next we have Amarice and Eli. I like the fighting spirit of Amarice but I hope that she is only a character that pops up from time to time - Xena and Gabrielle do not need an extra traveling companion and at times I find Amarice to be irritating. In fact, I never thought I hear myself saying this but I rather see Joxer more times than Amarice. I was very surprised at the end that a person who is all amazon and loves to fight never turned to go back to see if Xena and Gabrielle had managed to get away safely. Eli on the other hand did what Eli does best -he ran very fast and managed to save his own backside. This is not to say that I do not believe in what Eli teaches, but I have to agree with the question that Amarice asked him that if someone threatened his mother would he not fight to save her. What Eli is saying is that if you totally love, then you can't protect the people that you love and I'm not sure that I agree with that way of thinking. I do feel that both Eli and Amarice will play a part in saving Xena and Gabrielle from the fate that Caesar planned for them.

I applaud you Gabrielle. As a true friend you definitely came through at the end. Everything within the last minutes of this episode was great, especially the way Gabrielle's eyes showed recognition that Xena had been severely injured. Also, Gabrielle truly showed that when it came to Xena she would kill anyone to protect her friend (and she didn't exactly kill these soldiers in a nice way). However, it was interesting when Gabrielle stated that she could have stood and did nothing or she could save her friend - she chose the way of friendship. Does this mean that Gabrielle's has decided that Eli's "way" which is the way of total love for your friends and enemies (making one unable to kill an enemy) is too passive and she has therefore decided to instead choose the "way" of friendship which also enables one to truly love but not to the extent that you cannot protect the ones that you love.

Xena was as always- great. Her concern for Gabrielle when she initially decided to set off and kill Caesar was consistent. It was also neat the way Xena told Amarice that whatever Gabrielle wants, Gabrielle gets. Definitely Xena would have been able to kill Caesar on the first try if Callisto had not interfered. Also, this episode showed how Gabrielle has become dependent on the consistency of her friend. When placed in prison, she knew that Xena would arrive in time to save her - and true to her beliefs, Xena did. I must say that it brought tears to my eyes to see our hero broken in body and barely able to speak and I could feel how it must have hurt to have the soldier jerk her into an upright position when she had a spine injury. Again, even when injured, our hero still thinks poorly of herself - despite all the caring she has shown for Gabrielle, she (Xena) still apologizes to Gabrielle for all the times she has mistreated her. Thank goodness Gabrielle pointed out to our hero, that before she met Xena she felt invisible.

This last scene between Xena and Gabrielle was beautiful. Gabrielle could have more than saved herself and ran away with Eli and Amarice but we know that thought never even entered her mind. The one who Amarice associated with timidness stayed and fought for her friend while the "strong" Amarice fled. Gabrielle showed Xena that nothing would ever separate them, not even death. The saying "There is no greater love than a friend who is willing to lay down their life for another friend" (or at least the saying is close to this) is very true. We have always known that Xena would kill and lay down her life for Gabrielle, this was consistent throughout all the episodes but this was the confirming episode for me that showed that Gabrielle would do the same for Xena. It was also nice to see Xena on the end of Gabrielle's nurturing nature. Usually we always see Xena caring for an injured Gabrielle or comforting an injured Gabrielle and we usually see Gabrielle caring and nurturing someone else besides Xena. Finally we see the true friendship between Xena and Gabrielle and it was nice to see Xena being cradled by Gabrielle. The kiss that Gabrielle gave to Xena on the forehead brought tears to my eyes. Xena looked very vulnerable and it was great to see that Gabrielle was there for her at the time that she needed her most. Best of all, I loved the fact that both Xena - yes Xena and Gabrielle end up in Paradise (Way to go Xena for doing good deeds! Way to go Gabrielle for keeping our hero on the straight and narrow path!) Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are superb in their acting and they have shown why Xena should be on television for a long time to come. No other show has ever shown such affection - and yes - Love between two characters. And let me just say right now, I am not gay, I am heterosexual but I find nothing wrong with the love that exists between these two characters, it is beautiful and it can be taken either way and either way is beautiful. I take it as a beautiful love relationship between two true friends. One of my favorite scenes was when Xena looked up at Gabrielle and said "You're crying? - don't cry." It mirrored the same concern that Xena showed in the episode "Devi:" when Gabrielle started to cry when accused by Xena of being evil to which Xena also said to Gabrielle "don't cry." Again this shows that Xena even when hurt always worries about Gabrielle. Lucy and Renee - words alone cannot state the great job you did with this episode.

In this episode we also see the chakrum break in two. We definitely know that this is very strange, this is a weapon that can break rock, knock the tips off of swords and in the episode "The Dirty Half Dozen" we saw Xena go up against the warlord Agathon whose weapon was made from the forge of Hephaestus and the chakrum won. Yet it hits the back of its owner and breaks into two. The last time we saw the chakrum broken in two pieces was in the "Xena Scrolls" - when the chakrum was joined, Xena's spirit came back. This leads me to my guess of how next season will start.

I believe that Brutus still thinking that he has time to stop the crucifixion will get word to the soldiers, who will immediately take the bodies off of the crosses. Through a set of events, Eli and Amarice will arrive at the bodies before the spirits of Xena and Gabrielle are completely gone. Let us not forget that Eli has the power to heal and also told Gabrielle that once she obtained the state of complete love (become love itself) she would also be able to heal (a state which Gabrielle and Xena have definitely experienced). I believe that Eli will be able to heal Gabrielle; however, we all know that Xena and her powers are not totally human and are in some way tied to the chakrum. I believe that Eli will be able to partially heal Xena - enough to keep her alive in her body and partially well but that the rest will depend upon Gabrielle and the chakrum. I believe that somehow, through Gabrielle's karma being tied with Xena and Gabrielle's total love for Xena, she will be able to join the pieces of the chakrum and heal Xena, bringing her back to the Warrior we have grown to love. Then hopefully, Amarice will decide she needs to learn more from Eli and go off traveling with him only visiting the show at sparse intervals. However, one of the main questions will be - where are the pieces of the chakrum? Can we be sure they are still laying where they originally broke?



COMMENTARY 6:

Commentary Beboman.

What was it with this season; they left the best for last. By the gods, another great episode, and one that to watch you must have a box of tissues close by.

The elements in this episode were so closely interwoven that I find it hard to nitpick at it, so I'm not going to attempt it. From when we see Callisto for the first time to when our two leads enter the light, this was such a great and well done episode. So, I'm just going to mention what made this episode good to me.

The return of Callisto was so well done. She came back in the only way she could, as a spirit, a spirit sent by an evil force (not identified). Her mission was to make sure Caesar became the dictator of Rome so he could conquer the world and to make sure Xena did not interfere. The one thing this evil force did not count on was the hate Callisto still had for Xena and how this hate was going to be Callisto's downfall. It would be Callisto 's hate that would lead to Xena's and Gabrielle's death, something Callisto has been looking for her whole life. Finally, Callisto gets her wish to see Xena die. Loved that final scene between Callisto and Xena, with Xena on the cross dying. That scene, I believe, holds the key to next season's return of our leads. It was great to see the chemistry is still there between Xena and Callisto. Xena has never had a nemesis like Callisto. (And I thought she would never have another one.) It is so good to see how these two character feed from each other. HL's acting in this episode was just fabulous. She has not lost the touch for Callisto at all.

There is no other character on television today like Xena. She can make love and war like no other character I have ever seen. It was true what Callisto told Caesar; only Xena can mess up a dream the way she does.

I have to applaud LL for her portrayal of Xena in this episode. She had Xena under control at all times. This was an episode where it would have been so easy to overact, but LL kept Xena with that special edge. Xena treated the audience in this episode with a great range of emotions. We could feel all she was feeling; her rage against Caesar, her control and disdain of Callisto, and her great love for Gabrielle. I could only cry when her own Chakram hit Xena. LL did a great job in that scene when Xena gradually began to fall after being hit by the Chakram. The pain Xena suffered was so well reflected, those buckling knees, the surprise, and then, total pain. I felt every moment of it. The pain of not being able to walk was not as bad for Xena as the pain of seeing Gabrielle lose her control and become a killing machine (it seemed that those years watching Xena fight paid off). This was something Xena could not bear to see. It was one of the hardest things Xena had to endure and there was nothing she could do to save Gabrielle or even stop her. When Xena cried out, "Gabrielle don't", it was a cry of pain. The pain of seeing her friend lose in one moment all she had worked so hard to accomplish, the pain of seeing Gabrielle give up her "Way of Love". Xena felt a guilt greater than any guilt she had ever felt before. By this time, Xena's guilt was compounded with the guilt she had carried since she first had the vision. Also, when Xena gets into the prison to release Gabrielle, Eli and Americe, the knot in her throat when she tells Gabrielle that the vision is not going to happen was just great. We, the audience, knew by that time that there was nothing Xena could do to stop the vision from happening. As long as Callisto was around, the vision was going to happen. Then, when Xena and Gabrielle were in the prison cell, that scene could not have been better done. The love that came across between those two characters was majestically performed. It is amazing the amount of chemistry there is between ROC and LL. That scene was just perfect especially when Gabrielle tells Xena to rest and when Xena tells Gabrielle she should have read Gabrielle's scrolls and that she was sorry Gabrielle strayed from her way of love. Then Gabrielle tells Xena she has chosen the "way of friendship". (By this time, I just could not hold back the tears.)

The final crucifixion scene and the light was another moment with a great mixture of writing and acting. The scene of Caesar being killed, at the same time Xena and Gabrielle were nailed to the cross, was just so well done. The scene of Xena and Gabrielle being nail to the cross mixed with the stabbing of Caesar was a touch of genius by the director and editors of the show. We, the audience, could feel the pain of all three of the characters as they faced their death. It was so well done. Once again, I take my hat off to all the actors, especially LL and ROC.

Then there is Gabrielle and ROC, who deserves a great applause. She did a great job with Gabrielle in this episode. It was interesting to see her interaction with Americe, Eli and Brutus. Once Gabrielle entered the prison area, she knew Xena's vision was going to become a reality. When they were placed in the cell, she knew Xena was going to come, but what she did not know was how they were going to be captured and how they would end up on the crosses. Loved Gabrielle's reaction when Xena comes to her aid at the prison and Xena tells her the vision is not going to come true. What I found most interesting in Gabrielle was her reaction to Xena falling in battle. It was strange and hurtful to see Gabrielle pick up Xena's sword and go to town on the Romans. It was as if Gabrielle had turned into the killing monster she was afraid Xena would turn into. It broke my heart to see Gabrielle take the sword. Then came the reaction to the bloody dagger; it was, once again, a flashback to Gabrielle's loss of blood innocence. (Some really great acting.)

When Xena and Gabrielle were walking toward their death, it was obvious to see the pain in their eyes. Neither of them was afraid to die; it was seeing the other die that made the situation hard for them. When Xena gets the first nail, we see Gabrielle look away in pain.

Another great scene was when Xena's spirit goes for Gabrielle. What a touching moment, some really great acting by our leading ladies.

Even though I loved this episode, I still have some questions that maybe next season will answer. Why was Xena riding a horse other than Argo. She had taken Argo to Rome before, why not this time? Why did Americe keep running with Eli instead of staying behind and helping Xena and Gabrielle? She knew she was not part of Xena's vision. Why wasn't Gabrielle wearing any earrings or her shawl or the upper body mendhi. Finally, why did the light that surrounded Xena and Gabrielle all of a sudden disappear? If they both died, they should have gone up in the light just like Ioules did. Callisto was told that Xena's good deeds had paved the way for her soul to progress and move on. Then why did we end up with dark images of both Xena and Gabrielle on the crosses. Maybe the answers to my questions will be on the opening episode of next season. And lets hope that TPTB doesn't mess it up like they did the return of Gabrielle in "A Family Affair."

If the truth is to be told, this episode had some very good acting from all the actors who participated. The script was very good and there were very few holes in it. The direction was perfect and the editing and music were superb. I loved this episode and I can't wait until the summer is over to see the opening episode of the fifth season.

I'll have to say that for a cliffhanger, it could not have been a better-done episode.



COMMENTARY 7:

Commentary Philip Teo.

The very much-talked about episode has finally arrived. This is the very episode where our beloved warrior princess and her best friend dies! We also get to see Xena deal with two of her great foes. First, the Roman soldier who once betrayed her and turned her life around, Julius Caesar. And second, gasp! Callisto!

Here, we find out that Callisto did not really get oblivion after getting killed by Xena with the hind's blood dagger("Sacrifice II"). How did her hair get so short anyway? It was great to see the old Gabrielle, though it was only an illusion. We all know that Gabrielle has cut her hair and changed her outfit. So seeing the old Gabrielle was quite nice. I suppose that hair Gabrielle has is a wig?

In the teaser, it was great to see that Gabrielle was finally lending a hand in the fight, to help Amarice, unlike the way she acted in "Takes One To Know One". In the teaser, Gabrielle had told Amarice that they were looking for Eli. How on earth did she know where to find him? I cannot understand how people managed to track each other down so easily, based on the fact that it was miles to get from one place to another, furthermore, finding out where they are.

The scene where Caesar was dreaming of being in bed with Xena was cut in my edition. I was wondering why did Caesar trust Callisto so easily. I mean, Caesar did not even attempt to attack Callisto. He seemed to know that she was no mortal.

It certainly was easy for Xena to infiltrate Caesar's army and disguise as one of the soldiers. So much for the Roman army against our warrior princess! When Xena threw her chakram and Callisto caught it, I loved the phrase she said, "Brings back memories, doesn't it, Xena?" Avid viewers would understand that she was referring the first time when she first encountered Xena in "Callisto", where Callisto first caught her chakram Xena was aiming at her men.

I was wondering why Xena seemed hesitant to attack the men and seemed unsure of her moves. Was the Roman armor too heavy for her to move around? Xena took a few punches before she defeated those guards. When Callisto explained to Xena what happened to her after she died, Xena said, "Couldn't have happened to a nicer gal." Was the word, 'gal' invented then?

When Amarice tried to break her way free after being captured and Gabrielle defended her in front of Brutus, I loved it when Gabrielle used Brutus's goodness against himself. "And I remember a time when mercy was shown to you!" There was such power in Gabrielle's voice that Brutus faltered for a moment and decided that Gabrielle was right. Good going, Gabrielle!

Callisto could have done a better job of tempting Xena with peace. Callisto has been Xena's nemesis for a very long time. By now, she should have been able to know Xena's weak points and aim for that area. Instead, she sort of wanted to finish the job fast and rushed to her point. We could see that Xena's will was affected for a moment. Even our warrior princess is not perfect, she yearns for a peace with Gabrielle so much that she actually thought for a moment to give in to Callisto's offer. But thank goodness, Xena stood still to her way and turned Callisto flat down.

It was a bit amusing when Amarice questioned what Gabrielle and Eli had done and they told her nothing. I could understand how impatient Amarice was feeling. I mean, here they were about to be nailed to the cross, and Gabrielle and Eli were behaving as though they were in holiday camp!

The final fight scene at the prison was rather spectacular. Amarice seemed to have improved in her combat skills here as we saw her took care of quite a few Romans. Great work, Amarice! Xena wasn't lacking in any way either. After all, none of the Romans were a match for her. Now comes the exciting part. We all know that Callisto was planning to do something with Xena's chakram after she kept staring at it.

But considering how many battles Xena has fought in her life, you would think that she would have at least sensed Callisto's presence and be on her alert. After all, Xena was always able to sense Ares's presence. However, our Xena certainly showed no signs that she was aware of Callisto watching her fight. Speaking of which, how come Gabrielle could spot Callisto too? Did Callisto also allow Gabrielle to see her? After all, the Romans couldn't see Callisto.

Gabrielle was really good. She hacked away at so many guards, however, part of this scene was cut in my version, probably due to the violence. Gabrielle was really going into berserk mode. If those were the last guards around, Xena and Gabrielle might have escaped.

It was so sad to see Xena lie before Gabrielle. We seldom see Xena so weak, and knowing that they are awaiting death was certainly not a good picture. Once again, outside the prison, Gabrielle could spot Callisto. Why is this so?

I can imagine the pain Xena and Gabrielle were going through when the nails were being driven in. We will miss you, Xena and Gabrielle!!!

One thing bothered me about the whole episode was; why didn't Xena make an effort to get back her chakram? She seemed to accept that Callisto got it and could keep it. Weird, isn't it?




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