GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS 1 by Bluesong
SYNOPSIS 2 by Missy Good
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Beboman
COMMENTARY 3 by Philip Teo
COMMENTARY 4 by Videntur
WHERE HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
Darryl Brown (Kryton)
Mfundo Morrison (Arman)
Steve Wright (Magistrate)
Dennis Hally (Headmaster)
Nicholas Clark (Dying Acolyte)
Mary Wilson (Novitiate #2)
Stacey Edgar (Young Novitiate)
Kevin Alexander (Punk)
Susie Kleis (Novitiate)
Dan Sharkey (Townsman)
Written by Chris Manheim
Directed by Andrew Merrifield
XENA CATCHES UP WITH THE CRUSADER.
(Xena fights Najara on vines.)
Young Woman: She's not a criminal, she's a saint.
Xena: And I'm the queen of Egypt.
SHE CLAIMS TO HAVE CHANGED FOR GOOD.
(Najara touches Gabrielle's face.)
Xena: Tell me you're not buying this.
(Xena draws her sword on Najara.)
AN ALL NEW XENA!
XENA CATCHES UP WITH THE CRUSADER--
(Xena fights Najara on vines.)
Young Woman: She's not a criminal, she's a saint.
Xena: And I'm the queen of Egypt.
(Najara touches Gabrielle's face.)
AND SHE CLAIMS TO HAVE CHANGED FOR GOOD.
Xena: New outfit, new religion, same old wacko underneath.
Gabrielle: And how do you know that?
(Xena catches a spear just before it impales Joxer.)
NOW, WHO IS THE CRIMINAL--
(Xena uses the spear she just caught to catch ninja-like throwing stars.)
Najara: Gabrielle, no!
Xena: Tell me you're not buying this.
AND WHO IS THE CONVERT?
(Xena fights a band of thugs.)
Xena: She's won you over.
(Xena fights Najara, and pulls a sword on her.)
AN ALL NEW XENA!
TV GUIDE PROMO
Najara returns claiming a newfound mantra for nonviolence while Joxer wrestles with the guilt of his first kill.
Najara returns, claiming that she has renounced violence; Joxer deals with his first kill.
Xena's old foe Najara claims to be a convert to nonviolence, and Gabrielle believes her. Meanwhile, Joxer can't come to grips with the fact that he killed a man.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 04-19-99
An AA average of 3.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-Files 5.4
(2) Star Trek: DS9 3.8
(3) Xena 3.7
(4) Hercules 3.3
(5) Earth: Final Conflict 2.6
(6) Stargate SG-1 2.4
(7) Mortal Kombat 2.3
(8) Outer Limits 2.1
(9) Night Man 2.0
(10) The Crow 1.9
This synopsis is by Bluesong.
People die. Blood drips. Lots of fighting. The Xena scream, and the heroine enters. Xena fights. The bad guys run. Gabrielle and Joxer arrive. Gabrielle finds a young man dying of a stab wound. He tells them to save somebody. Outside, a woman screams. A man beats up someone. Xena intervenes. Xena fights the bad guys. Gabrielle sees that the person being beat up is Najara, who is badly hurt. Joxer turns around with a knife in his hands and stabs Criton, the leader of the bad men. The bad men run away.
Najara tells Gabrielle that she escaped from jail. Joxer stares at the body. Xena tells him they must take the body to the nearest village, and send for the prison guards to return Najara. At the village, the villagers exult Joxer and buy him drinks. Gabrielle nurses Najara, which Xena isn't very happy with. Joxer drinks while a man talks about Criton's son, who will want to avenge his father's death. Joxer decides to tell the kid how he killed his father. Joxer tells Xena to stay away while he deals with his grief, adding that she is always in everybody's business.
Gabrielle and Najara talk. Najara says she has given up fighting. The Djinn had stopped talking to her, but when she stopped fighting they came around and said "hi" again, so that's how she knew she was supposed to not fight. Najara tells Gabrielle that Eli (the prophet from the India episodes) visited her in jail and she transformed to follow the way of peace. And the Djinn told Najara that she would meet up with Gabrielle and they would share their reference for life, etc., etc.
Joxer, meanwhile, sits by a pool and talks to Criton's ghost. Xena talks to Joxer, telling him the first kill is always the worst. Gabrielle ties up Najara, apologizing all the while for Xena's caution which forces her to make loose knots. Gabrielle and Xena talk a bit by the fire. Gabrielle sort of takes up for Najara. Xena lies down and looks stricken in the darkness. Gabrielle tries to talk to Joxer about his kill and talking to the boy.
Najara talks to Xena, reminding her about the visions and how it's Xena's job to hurt Gabrielle. Najara says she has changed her whole life just for Gabrielle. The four go to an academy or someplace where Criton's son is. Joxer learns that the boy, Amand, thinks his father is some do-good hero, Criton the Courageous, and not an awful warlord. Joxer doesn't tell Amand the truth. Xena invites Amand to travel with them, since he's leaving to go avenge his father's death anyway, and Amand accepts. Najara tells Amand not to kill, and Gabrielle parrots this.
Gabrielle, Xena and Joxer talk. Xena tells Joxer to be a hero and be honest with the boy. Gabrielle nurses Najara (in the water). Najara talks about starting her hospice. Gabrielle says her place is with Xena. Najara says Gabrielle will stay with Xena until her actions get so bad Gabrielle won't be able to stand it.
One of Criton's men confronts Joxer, who interrupts the man before he can give Joxer's secret away to Amand. Joxer slugs the man, who attacks him, and Amand defends Joxer. Xena finishes the fight, and the man flees. Xena combs Argo. Xena and Gabrielle talk. Gabrielle stands up for Najara, and says she doesn't want to take Najara back to jail. Xena tells Gabrielle to test Najara by saying "no" to her. "She's a fanatic; don't trust her," Xena says. Joxer talks to Amand, but still doesn't tell him the truth. Najara overhears them talking. She unties her feet and goes to Amand, telling him everything.
Joxer, meanwhile, tells Gabrielle and Xena his whole life is a lie. Amand approaches and says he's going to kill Joxer. Xena intervenes. Gabrielle tells Amand that Joxer will suffer more if he lives, because he feels so guilty about killing. Amand turns away. Joxer asks Najara why she told on him; Najara said everyone deserves to know the truth about someone they love. Najara looks right at Xena when she says this, and Xena walks away. Xena and Amand talk (they all talk a lot in this episode). Xena tells Amand that Joxer killed a dirt bag, not his father, and that Amand is a better man than his father ever was. Amand leaves.
Xena and Gabrielle talk. Xena says Najara is a zealot. Amand returns and says Criton's men are on their way. Gabrielle and Najara go hide. Xena fights. Xena tells Amand and Joxer to get on Argo and ride away. They run away while Xena fights. Xena gets a sword in the leg. Gabrielle starts to go to her but Najara stops her. Najara says the Djinn are talking to her. Gabrielle keeps trying to go to Xena and then Najara hits Gabrielle. Xena comes over and Najara hits Xena in her hurt leg. Xena and Najara fight. They fight up in the trees clinging to vines or something. Najara gets a short sword from the ground. She tries to stab Xena. Xena redirects the stab and Najara gets it in the stomach. Najara doesn't die. They take her back to prison, where she's chained up. But she is catatonic.
Gabrielle and Xena talk (surprised?). Xena says Gabrielle won't need to shove back as long as she's around to defend her.
This synopsis is by Missy Good.
It opens with a good fight... in some kind of temple, A warlord has made off with with some holy rollers and our fearless trio takes off after them...we see a person getting the crap kicked out of them but no face shot...then Xena takes on the warlord, Gabrielle blows smoke (eyes rolling) and Joxer accidentally kills the warlord by holding a knife while the idiot runs into it...we find out it is Najara who now had found the way and isn't hitting back anymore (puke)...Gabrielle is worried about her, Xena checks her out in a nice little scene where she causes her some pain and then smiles ( I love Xena like this)
Xena talks to Joxer to help him out of his funk and then they take the body into the village...Joxer is treated like a hero, gets drunk and decides to tell the warlord's son he killed his father (who cares)...Gabrielle is worrying about Najara who convinces her she has changed her way and Xena asks Gabrielle..."you aren't really buying this are you?" guess what??? she is once again :( Najara tells Gabrielle how she met a man who showed her a new Way...yeppers good old Eli strikes again , Najara snuck out of prison on the laundry wagon and has been doing good...she says the Ginn have told her she and Gabrille will be reunited with a common bond she doesn't share with Xena and they both now share the Way...
Joxer is getting visited by the dead warlord taunting him and Xena tries to explain to him about guilt.. Najara tells Gabrielle she won't leave her and if Xena thinks she will Xena is crazy
Campfire scene ...Xena finds out from Gabrielle Eli is the one who was teaching Najara then pretends to be sleeping cuz she don't want to talk about it to Gabrielle. Najara taunts Xena about hurting saying she is willing to change her whole life to be with Gabrielle but Xena only wants to share a violent death with her and Xena delivers the best line of the episode..."New outfit, new religion, same old wacko underneath" Xena tells her if she hurts Gabrielle she will change her in ways that are anything put peaceful
They get to the son...he wants revenge and Joxer has decided not to tell he killed the father..so the son takes off with them...Xena's idea Gabrielle and Xena want Joxer to tell the truth but he is afraid her will hurt the son who thinks the warlord was a hero Gabrielle is taking care of Najara's wounds and tells her she thinks she is doing the right thing and starting a hospice would be good...but Gabrielle says her place is with Xena...Najara tells Gabrielle she will have to choose one day between saving Xena and her own soul
One of the warlords men comes to kill Joxer and Xena ends up chasing him off cute little scene of Xena and Argo, then Gabrielle tries to convice Xena about Najara and Xena tells Gabrielle not to trust her Najara tells the son that J killed his father, the kid wants to kill J and Xena and Gabrielle convice him not to, the kid forgives J, the warlord's men attack them Najara and Gabrielle run and hide (I really hate this "Way" crap) Xena takes them on gets her leg cut and Gabrielle tries to go to her..Najara stops her then she snaps and knocks Gabrielle around a little bit but she gets loose blowin' smoke at Najara...Xena goes after Najara they have a major fight in the trees and Najara starts calling on the light... bye bye The Way :)and Xena stabs her with the knife Najara is trying to kill Xena with ...they take her to a convent and Gabrielle wonders if she will ever come to...(so I think we are going to see this loony again)...Gabrielle tells Xena that sometimes it seems when push comes to shove the only way to react is to shoved back but with her new way she can't and Xena says with me around you won't have to...thats it :)
I also think they were using some symbolic lighting in the last scene..you know light and dark...like I said I am not crazy about Gabrielle's way but at least Xena is focused and has both feet on the ground ...
Commentary Beth Gaynor.
Before the commentary, a song:I'm Gabby the First I am,
Gabby the First I am I am,
I got duped by the zealot next door,
She's tricked us seven times before...
Second verse! Same as the first!
Once again, when Gab gets near a religious zealot, she turns into Bart Simpson. (zap!) "Ow!" (zap!) "Ow!" (zap!) "Ow!" (zap!) "Ow!" Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't have Gab any other way but trusting, always willing to believe the best in people, and idealistic. But GEEZ, woman! Fool you once, shame on her, fool you twice, shame on you.
Very gory effect when the blood drips down the altar and onto the carpet. Yich. But then it quickly got outdone by the blood still pumping out of Kryton's chest wound. Which was a good touch to go with Joxer's horror over his first kill; appropriately nassssty.
Gabrielle has a new weapon, some kind of dustbuster harmonica. Gab says the purpose of it is to distract the enemy without hurting them. But isn't that just distracting them for two seconds until they swing again or meet Xena's sword? How is that "nobody getting hurt"? Is that really better than the staff? Thumbs down on the goofy-looking dustbuster.
Watch Najara curl up to Gab as Gabrielle and Xena start bickering about Najara in the town, like a baby needing protection from the big bad mean warlord. Wow, she really plays for Gab to the hilt from moment one.
"You know what, Xena? You're always in everybody's business." Joxer has a point there. But it doesn't stop her from doing it again.
Eli said he was going home to his people... and he shows up at a Greek prison? Does this mean that his people were Greek, or felons? And if they were Greek, wouldn't he have talked about that with Xena and Gab?
I still can't figure out Najara's damage. She hears voices. She follows radical philosophers at the drop of a hat. (OK, that one sounds familiar.) She forgets radical philosophers just as easily. And she obsesses over little blonde bards. Normalcy and this chick don't see much of each other.
Najara says she escaped by divine decree of the mysteriously-moving djinn, which is hiding and swimming like mad. That ain't so mysterious OR divine. Those are the kinds of moments that made me want to tap Gabrielle on the shoulder and mention "Ummm, Gab? She's a loony. Certifiable. Quit listening to her."
The djinn told Najara that she and Gab would meet again with their new common purpose. Does that mean Eli mentioned his first disciple to Najara? Maybe that's why she took up this banner in the first place.
Gabrielle does a LOUSY job of securing prisoners. One double-knot and some wrist wraps? A five-year-old can get out of that. Xena checks with Gabrielle that she tied her up, but sadly, she doesn't check that Gab tied her WELL. Personally, I think Najara was kind of getting a kick out of it. ("Let's go build a hospice. We can take those big ropes with us.")
When the gang meets Armon, Gabrielle has given her scarf to Najara to wrap around her wrists, so she's not so obviously a prisoner. A kind touch of sympathy.
What was that stuff that Gabrielle was putting on Najara's wound? It looked like brick mortar.
At the pond, Najara makes a play for Gabrielle that's about as subtle as an airhorn. And unlike the Crusader episode, Gabrielle turns her down with the same amount of subtlety. (What part of "no" don't you understand?") Not that it gives ol' stalker Najara a moment's pause.
Joxer's most brave and intelligent moment of the entire series so far came when he tried to turn away the boy who had come to challenge him. (Another sad consequence to taking up the sword.) He gets knocked on his butt for his troubles, but he stood his ground and tried to turn the boy away. I felt that he was trying to keep Armon from hearing the truth and to prevent a fight from breaking out, not just running from a fight out of fear. Points all around.
Beautiful scene with Argo. Somebody nominate that filly for an Emmy!
Xena gets seriously vehement in the campfire fight with Gabrielle about whether to let Najara go. I loved that passion, but Xena isn't giving Gabrielle enough credit. Yes, Gab believes that Najara is reforming. But despite Xena's protests, Gabrielle has already told Najara no, when Najara wanted them to build the hospice together. And Gab and Najara finally come to blows (kind of) when Xena is hanging in the balance. Xena gets very riled about Gabrielle trusting Najara at all (understandable, given Najara's intentions), but Xena never ends up realizing how many times Gab does stand her ground against Najara.
Other than to allow for cozier campfire chats and dirty dealings from imprisoned zealots, why are there two campfires for the gang?
Gabrielle's talking-down of Armon to get him to spare Joxer is the kind of thing I'm hoping we'll see more of from Gab while she's avoiding fighting. I also liked that Gabrielle was the first one to spot and approach the momentary survivor of the attack on the temple in the opening scene. When the fighting goes by the wayside, Gab's sense for emotions and focus on people should get kicked to the front of the line.
Najara and Gabrielle finally blow up, not because Gabrielle says no, but because Najara wants to let Xena die (and win Gabrielle in a forfeit), and Gabrielle is showing signs that this path of non-violence stuff just might get pitched again where Xena is involved. But instead, Xena beats the bad guys, Gabrielle stays non-violent (with a little help from the dustbuster), and Najara is the one who plays way hopscotch.
The Battle Royale between Xena and Najara was a classic, starting right at the beginning with Xena taking Najara into the trees via knees to the gut. I almost fell off the couch laughing. My one quibble: Najara's roll in the vines was a duplicate of Xena's fight with Ares in The Furies.
The clawed dagger gets dropped in a long, loving camera shot that screams to wait for it to reappear. I loved it when it showed up in Najara's teeth.
Like an addict falling off the wagon, Najara takes some serious delight in getting her hands (and her face) bloody. Cute move, psycho. (That blood stripe, by the way, does some serious shrinking later in the fight.)
An upside-down climb up a vine! Najara must have gotten all A's in gym class.
"When push comes to shove, sometimes the only choice is to shove back." Gabrielle is still questioning her path. Her searching isn't over.
So what happened to Armon and Joxer? Last we saw of them, they were riding bareback Argo away from Kryton's men. Are they still running?
The fight scenes in this episode in general were lots of fun. I knew we were in for a barn-burner in the very first fight, when Xena forcefully teaches a fellow how to do the splits. Yeeow! And once again, the bad guys show an amazing dearth of brains: "She's swinging on a whip! Quick! Everybody make a circle!" Joxer's reaction after his first kill was excellent. He couldn't stop staring at the body, his voice was shaky, his attention was somewhere roughly a world away. It was nice to see Joxer get some development and his best qualities get some attention. He's still far from a great mind, he's still incompetent, but his courage and soft heart got to enjoy a little limelight this episode. And no slapstick pratfalls - whew. Going to tell the son that he killed the father takes SERIOUS guts, and responsibility. The conversation in the woods between Xena and Najara is catfight-for-the-eyeballs vicious. Later, they go at it hand-to-hand. For now, they content themselves with going at where they live. And they both have each other's number. "New outfit, new religion, same old wacko underneath" (with marvelous gusto on the word "wacko" - I liked that). Hilarious "Ugggg" from Xena when Najara says that Gabrielle is both their inspirations. But final point goes to Najara for twisting the knife as deep as it'll go with "I want to share a life of peace with Gabrielle. You want to share a violent death." That'll leave a mark.
Before I start giving my opinions and commentaries about this episode, I want to make one thing very clear; I like the character of Gabrielle and I love the way that ROC portrays her. With this said I will proceed with what I have to say.
This is not the normal way in which I write commentaries; however, because of the way this episode was done I have had to divide my commentaries in two sections. Section one: Things I Liked and Enjoyed, Section Two: Things I Did Not Like.
Against popular consensus, I really liked Gabrielle's powder compact. It was a very innovative idea. With this powder compact, Gabrielle has a way of defending herself and can still stay true to her newfound way of life. By blowing smoke (no pun intended) Gabrielle can distract her attackers without creating great damage and give Xena the opportunity to defend both of them (of course it depends on what kind of powder Gabrielle is carrying in the compact). Just like most, however, I really do miss Gabrielle's staff. But with her new way of life, the staff had to go.
I loved the fight scene between Najara and Xena; it was awesome. The stunt people, director, writers and actors really did a great job. It was innovative and followed the lines of Adventures 2. It gave Xena and Najara a totally different fighting area, with Xena having the advantage (something I really like). Another thing I like about the fight between Najara and Xena was that even though the episode ended with Najara comatose, the door was left open for her to return. That was very good. Najara is a very good nemesis for Xena. Najara is right up there with Callisto. (I 'm still partial to Callisto; I would love to see her back. Maybe we can get both Najara and Callisto in the same episode.)
I loved Xena's sensitivity toward Joxer and his first kill. It shows once again that Xena does care for him. Remember in the episode "For Whom The Bell." at the end, Xena comforted Joxer when he felt he was a failure and a fraud. I really enjoy those "sensitive Xena" moments. Xena is definitely a woman of many talents.
I even loved the end of the episode because once again Xena shows Gabrielle that, no matter what, she will always be at Gabrielle's side to protect her and care for her. Now, with this said, I will merge into some really dark waters from where I might not come out alive. But before I submerge myself, I want to state very clearly that I do like the character of Gabrielle. With that said, here I go.
I am having a really hard time understanding some of Gabrielle's actions this season. When we last saw Gabrielle at the end of "The Way" (for those of us fortunate enough to see it before it was so rudely pulled), Gabrielle tells Xena that they are going to travel and stay together no matter what. This is a very admirable stand taken by Gabrielle when she realizes that their lives are heading in two totally different directions. My question is, why is it every time that Najara shows up, Gabrielle forgets the promises she has made to Xena, hurts Xena emotionally and goes as far as to treat her with disbelief.
After all the two of them have seen and done on the India journey, shouldn't it be obvious to Gabrielle that Xena will always be by her side and will lay down her life to save and protect her. By now, shouldn't Gabrielle have learned to trust Xena's instincts. I understand that the character of Gabrielle has made a vow not to fight or take a life, but she did not make a vow to distrust Xena. Also, shouldn't Gabrielle realize that Xena's way is the way of the warrior and that Xena's so called "dark side" has saved their lives on several occasions. If this is true, then why is Gabrielle so gullible when it comes to Najara. Can't she see that Najara has not changed. It is like Xena said, "Different clothes, but the same wacko."
In "The Way" when Gabrielle she saw Xena mutilated and dying, she took up her staff and fought Injara to save Xena. In "Lock Up and Tie Down", at the end of the show, Gabrielle promised Xena she would always be with her, to help her fight that "dark side". Then what is Gabrielle's problem? I refuse to believe that Gabrielle could be so self-centered she forgets what she has promised Xena from one episode to the other. I have seen Gabrielle do some really heroic things for her friend. Why then do we have to visit this same attitude over and over again. (To the writers I plead, please stop with this issue and move on. Please let Gabrielle stop looking at Xena 's dark side as something so bad and move on.)
Both Gabrielle and Xena know the path they are walking in this life is the way that will take them to what they have already seen in the future. Gabrielle has no reason to keep dueling with Xena's dark side since she knows that, in a future life, Xena is going to be almost a saint. With this said and off my chest, I will move on.
One of the things that made this episode so hard to follow was that the writers wanted to do too much in too short a time and, by doing that, cheated the characters of the ability to act and react to things that were very important. First of all, Joxer's first kill. This was a very tough, sensitive issue. Throughout the show, we have seen Joxer as comic relief. But, for the very first time, something very traumatic and serious has taken place in his life. He faces his first kill as a very hard, eye-opening experience. Just as with Gabrielle, Joxer's first kill is accidental and he does not know how to handle it. He has nightmares about it, just as Gabrielle did. However, instead of Gabrielle being there for him as his friend, she is too busy listening to Najara put Xena down.
Joxer had to face the reality of his first kill and the fact that the son of the man he killed had idealized his father. How can you deal with killing the man twice? Not only had Joxer killed the man physically, now he was supposed to kill the image his son had of the father. This was very hard for a character like Joxer to do, and instead of Xena being able to focus her attention on helping Joxer and Criton's son, Amand, Xena has to divide her time between Joxer, Najara, Amand and Gabrielle's distrust. This is too much to deal with in one episode.
The other subject that was muddled in this episode is the reappearance of Najara. This in itself was a very import occurrence. Najara has a very strange control over Gabrielle, a control that makes Gabrielle doubt Xena. Once again, this was a very important issue and should have been dealt with in one episode and not mixed in with other issues, such as Joxer's first kill. By doing this, it took away from both issues.
Another thing that bothered me was that, once again, Xena gets hurt while fighting. I know this goes back to the fact that she was distracted when Najara was attacking Gabrielle, but this was not the first time Xena has been distracted in a fight as Gabrielle gets attack, but before she had never been injured. (Okay, I forgot Destiny, but there she was not distracted by Gabrielle being in trouble, but by something totally different.) What is going on? Is Xena losing her fighting skills? I don't think so, because shortly after she gets cut, she is able to take Najara and do some "serious butt whipping".
Also, I think that TPTB have decided that this season is the "Deconstruction of Xena" season. Let's hurt Xena physically and emotionally; she has no reason to feel guilty about anything, so let's hit her as hard as we can. They started with Aldi's image of Xena and Gabrielle's crucifixion and they have not stopped. How much farther are they going to take it before Xena totally cracks. (Although wouldn't that be a great show in which Xena goes totally postal. Just a thought and with no desire to offend anyone, least of all our esteemed postal workers.) Well, let's see what the next episode brings.
One thing is for sure: the acting and the chemistry between the two leads is so great and awesome. Loved the way that LL did the fake "I'm asleep" routine and the delivery of the lines at some of the crucial moments was just great. The same needs to be said about ROC. It is so great to see the compatibility that exists between these two actresses when it comes to their characters. These two ladies are very good and they do make the scenes come alive with their presence. I also have to give credit to both Ted Raimi and Kathryn Morris. Their acting in this episode was very good. Ted's portrayal of Joxer's troubles after his first kill was very good and to the point. Although I would not recommend that Joxer tell Xena to mind her own business again; that could be very deadly, even if Xena likes him. Kathryn does a great psycho, very different from Callisto, but just as good. Loved the way she heard her voices.
With all this said, I think I'm going to call it for the time being. However, here's hoping to see Najara and her voices once again.
05-11-00. Commentary by Philip Teo.
I was rather looking forward to this episode as it spelled the return of Najara, Xena's latest female foe in Season 4. It was rather strange that in the beginning that the guards all only attacked Xena and never touched Gabrielle and Joxer.
I was also wondering one thing. How did Najara know that Xena will come and rescue her? How did she even know that Xena would be in the area? This makes me suspect that Najara had already planned her moves from the beginning and made her escape from prison, planning a surprise run-in with Xena and gang. Was Najara really going to let herself be killed by the warlord? She must have known Xena would rescue her, and thus, put up a good show for the people.
I realised that Xena is always using that move to kick people. By now, this holding onto something and then going round and round kicking people move is rather lame. Why are there still so many foolish people enough to go near Xena? A sensible person would just wait for her to finish swinging around her whip. And I have just got to say, her whip is really long and clever. Every time Xena swings her whip, her whip would automatically tie itself around whatever object it lands on.
Gabrielle never seem to learn her lesson, doesn't she? Just because Najara appeared injured and said she gave up fighting, Gabrielle was all so ready to forgive for her past sins. Remember, this was the woman who beat Xena up so badly and almost killed her. Xena, on the other hand, was acting her usual skeptical self. Once bitten, twice shy, after all.
Najara mentioning Eli seemed to have struck a chord in Gabrielle. It was as though as long as anyone who knows Eli must mean they are good. I really feel Gabrielle was being too naïve. I mean, Gabrielle has been with Xena for so long, why does she constantly believe in someone as long as they act good and pitiful? Compassion is one thing, but being stupid is another thing.
In the camp fire scene where Xena and Gabrielle talk about Najara, I thought it was rather hurtful for Gabrielle to say things like it's better to have peaceful people around than have people around who fight. She was indirectly mentioning Xena. Usually, the truth is always in people's initial sentences. Though Gabrielle doesn't mean it, the words are said. Gabrielle was too taken in by Najara to see for herself who Najara was. And nobody seemed to question how did Najara free herself from the ropes that Gabrielle tied her up with?
For once, Joxer is treated seriously in this episode and Amand seems to hit if off with Joxer rather well. Guess they can become good buddies?
Up to till the last part, Xena was right in saying that Najara was more dangerous than ever. She got Gabrielle to believe her. I was wondering what did Gabrielle intended to do when she saw that Xena was injured. Gabrielle was no longer fighting, so what could she possibly do by rushing forward? Blow some more smoke? When Najara pulled Gabrielle's hair, I thought to myself: Ouch! If only Gabrielle could fight back, she could still land a punch in Najara'' face.
I saw that the wound on Xena's leg was rather deep, but surprinsgly, Xena could still fight it out rather well with Najara. It hurt from time to time, but Xena still appeared in top form to fight. Odd isn't it? Compared to her last fight with Najara in the tavern, Xena was more in tone in this episode.
And Najara seemed to be super woman too. Despite all those punches and kicks Xena gave her, it just took her less than a second to recover and resume fighting. Was she just crazed at the idea of killing Xena that all the pain seemed nothing? I could see that Xena was trying to get Najara to drop the knife by punching her repeatedly in the face, but Najara stood her ground and tried to stab Xena. Of course, our warrior princess won the fight this time. I must say, this was a much more fair fight scene that Xena won compared to her last battle with Najara. Xena defeated Najara herself fairly and never required any advantage.
And the part about Najara climbing up the vines upside down, is that really possible or just make believe? Xena seemed quite impressed with that move.
Why was Najara in a comatose state in the end? Was the dagger poisoned or something? Was it safe to actually leave her with all those nurses? And did anyone ask what happened to Joxer and Amand? They ran away with Argo but never came back. In the next episode however, Xena was seen riding with Argo in the teaser. I realised that they always like to leave certain things unexplained.
It was great seeing Najara back, wonder how they will bring her back again?
First and foremost - Xena's bangs are back and I'm very happy about that. This episode also had great Xena action and great conversational fireside chats.
In general, the episode was good, the fight scenes were excellent and we get to see our hero save the day quite a bit - and she does a fantastic job. However, mentally we see an anguished Joxer, a Gabrielle undergoing conflict with character judgment but most of all I see a Xena who is undergoing mental kicking from Najara, Joxer and Gabrielle.
Najara - definitely not a character I wish to see again. I do believe she hears voices but I tend to attribute them more to mental instability than to divine intervention. Najara speaks of a reverence for life, yet she never seems to have any problems trying to relieve Xena of her life whenever she get the chance. She definitely seems to know how to play the people she wants to affect. She somehow seems to know that by mentioning Eli to Gabrielle, she will be able to win her confidence. She also knows that reminding Xena about the crucifixion scene is like rubbing salt into an open wound. The fact that she told Amand the truth about Joxer and how his father (Criton) was killed was more so to impress Gabrielle and try to convince her that she had changed more than it was to help Amand - and she definitely knew that the truth would not at that particular moment be good for Joxer's health - but of course Najara didn't care. I only hope that the writers don't see a future need to bring her back into another episode.
Joxer - Some of the trouble that Joxer faced in this episode could have all been avoided if he just told the people the truth - Criton ran into a knife that he was holding in his hand. I don't consider this a first kill - more like a suicide run on the part of Criton. Considering that Criton was fighting Xena at the time, I attribute his death more to her than to Joxer. Joxer did show character by trying to face the consequences of Criton's death but was this because he was truly willing to face the consequences or because deep inside he wants to be a warrior and therefore even though he knows he really didn't actively kill Criton - he will let the people think that he did-even if this means facing the aftermath events that will occur because of Criton's death. Joxer still has a a need for more character development. It was Xena who had to tell Amand at the academy that his father was dead. It was Xena who had to stop Amand from killing Joxer when Najara had informed Amand about the true events surrounding his father's death. It was Xena who had to fight off Criton's remaining army while Amand, Joxer, Najara and Gabrielle went off to hide (per Xena's instructions). I think Joxer has come a long way and he certainly doesn't seem to be as naive as Gabrielle - I don't believe Joxer trusted Najara. I think that what Joxer has discovered in this episode, is that he would like to be a warrior but in all truthfulness, he is also a man of peace who doesn't have what it takes to be a warrior; however, I do believe that Joxer does have what it takes to be there for a friend if needed and in many situations - that can be a very important quality to have in a friend.
Gabrielle - What can I say. Is Gabrielle's search for peace making her too naive when it comes to knowing people. Will it be that whenever anyone wants to win Gabrielle's confidence, all they will have to do is say the name Eli. Gabrielle wants to truly believe that there is good in everyone and that everyone can change. If she didn't believe this, then she wouldn't believe in Xena and the change that has taken place in her. It's Gabrielle's forgiving nature that gives her the uniqueness of being Gabrielle. If we say, Gabrielle is definitely naive to the point of unnecessarily exposing herself and Xena to dangers just because she believes in giving people too many chances - then how can we justify her friendship with Xena. In the first season of Xena, in the episode "The Reckoning", Xena's "darkside" had taken over for just a few minutes, enough time however to severely deliver a slap to Gabrielle's face during one of the scenes - yet Gabrielle forgave her and continued to try to help set Xena free. If Gabrielle did not have a forgiving nature, she would have left Xena whenever Xena's darkside presented itself and we wouldn't have the great friendship that we have all grown to love that exist between the two characters. Therefore, as hard as I tried to be on Gabrielle's naiveness when it comes to judging people, I realize that its just her way. However, this is why I also feel that just like Xena places trust in Gabrielle's opinion, Gabrielle should realize that Xena has more experience when it comes to people. They both offer different perspectives and perhaps should sit down more and listen to what each other has to say before forming an opinion about a person.
I thought that Gabrielle's ingenuity in her creation of new weapons of distraction (powder compact) was pretty nifty; however, as even Gabrielle realized in the end of the episode, sometimes when pushed, you have to push back and with this "Way" that she is on, this will not be possible. Xena comforted her by saying that as long as she is around she won't have to but this tends to make me go back to what I mentioned in a previous commentary: what happens if Xena is seriously hurt or ill and is depending on Gabrielle to protect her until she is well and able to care for herself - what happens then?
I must admit that I found myself becoming irritated over the great care that Gabrielle was giving to Najara's wounds. I kept thinking of the taunting way that Gabrielle cared for Xena's leg in "Paradise Lost". I also found myself becoming irritated over some of the hurtful statements that Gabrielle and Joxer both delivered to Xena. In one scene by the fire when Xena states how she hates the thought of Gabrielle being in the thick of things without defending herself, Gabrielle states: "Xena that's the beauty of my new techniques. I can distract them without hurting anyone-best of all no killing." Another line I did not like was when Xena asked Gabrielle to speak with Joxer to help him cope with Criton's death, to which Gabrielle replied: " I keep remembering the first time that I killed - I know its strange - but it still hurts." Why would the fact that killing someone hurts, be strange to Xena - this is implying that it never hurts Xena when she has to kill someone. The last of Gabrielle's hurtful lines was when she and Xena were by the fire and Gabrielle was trying to convince Xena not to send Najara back to prison: "Isn't it better to have peaceful people around who do good rather than people who fight." All of these lines were hurtful to Xena and Gabrielle as a good friend should have known that. Joxer delivered his fair share by saying to Xena at the campfire: "What kind of warrior kills someone and has nightmares about it everynight." Thus insinuating that a good warrior like Xena is able to kill and never dream about the people that he or she has killed - we all know that for Xena this is far from the truth and that she has constantly had nightmares and anguish over the people she has killed in her past. Another hurtful Joxer line was when Joxer was intoxicated and Xena offers to go with him when he tells Amand that he killed his father, to which Joxer states: "No -No, I'm going to do it myself - you know what Xena - you're always into everyone's else's business."
Xena - Definitely a woman of patience, more than I would have had if it was me. Xena definitely shows that she has the confidence to perform the task that needs to be done - yet does not need nor desire the credit or praise that comes with the task. In the beginning, she comes into the temple and fights off Criton's men - by herself, yet who do the Novitiates attribute their saving to: Najara and Joxer. Criton's death, was really a result of Xena fighting him - yet who do the Townspeople attribute his death to: Joxer. When it comes to action Xena is consistent. It is Xena who fights off Criton's men, it is Xena who saves both Joxer and Amand from the young hoodlum who enters their camp. [To digress a moment here, when Xena runs this young hoodlum off, both Najara and Gabrielle give her a look of almost disgust. Why? Xena, did not kill this young man and she definitely had the opportunity and motive to do so. Again I found myself becoming irritated with Gabrielle.] However, back to Xena-I have mentioned before that Xena has had more experiences in her past to judge people with and therefore this may make her a better judge of character than Gabrielle. Certainly our hero, keeps her mind focused and centered at all times and most importantly, which Gabrielle needs to recognize, Xena does not let envy color her judgment of people. She makes those judgment based on her true gut feelings and of what she knows about the person.
One of many things I find neat about Xena is that she does care about everyone, and despite their flaws and shortcomings, once she believes in you, she is your friend and she tries to understand your way of thinking instead of being critical of it. Gabrielle has definitely showed that her judgment of people is not always based on sound rationing - yet Xena doesn't judge Gabrielle - she tries to understand her, this doesn't meant she doesn't become irritated, in fact, in this episode, we actually see an irate Xena when she states to Gabrielle: "Najara doesn't have a path-she follows whatever path her voices tell her to. You don't believe me -test her. Say no to her - she'll blow up in you face." Xena goes on to become even angrier. However, despite Xena's anger and disappointment in Gabrielle's lack of trust in her (Xena's) judgment, she still does not openly criticize Gabrielle or come out with hurtful lines (like the ones mentioned by Gabrielle and Joxer above). Even when Joxer told Xena that she was always in everyone else's business, she still went to the Academy with him and she still protected him against Amand when he was determined to kill Joxer. Xena is a very caring person, its nice when she receives some of that love and care back from people. The only time I saw that in this episode was at the end when Xena's leg was cut and Gabrielle tried to go to her; however, again the viewer is deprived of seeing Gabrielle help Xena by Najara holding her back.
I also notice that Xena is becoming injured more - this is not surprising since I think she will continue to lose focus at times until the crucifixion event is over and therefore, I think we will continue to see more injuries. Best scenes: The fight scene at the beginning of the episode - Xena's whip is a really cool weapon; the scene where Xena brushes off Argo and then says: "you're welcome" to which it seems like Argo responds.
Best Lines: Criton to Najara: "Last chance - either you tell me - or tell it to Hades." Xena to Criton: "There's a thought - why don't you tell him yourself." Next best line: Najara to Xena: "I've changed Xena - I put down the sword." Xena to Najara: "and I'm the Queen of Egypt." Next best line: Xena to Najara: "New outfit - new religion-same old wacko underneath." Last best line: Gabrielle to Xena: "I know there's no excuse for what Najara did." Xena to Gabrielle: "Sure there is, she's a nut."
Kudos to all our actors and actresses for a show well done - special kudos always to Lucy lawless and ROC for giving a show that makes us think and yet delivers entertainment. Special giant kudos to Lucy Lawless - the fight scenes were awesome.
WHERE HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?
So who was who in The Convert?
* Najara herself was played by Kathryn Morris who first played the character in Crusader. Najara is Kathryn's only role in the Xenaverse. You might have caught sight of her as a psychiatric patient in As Good As It Gets, or an anxious mother in Prophecy II (saw the first Prophecy - Christopher Walken as a fallen angel... is that typecasting, or what?) She also played a featured role in the series Pensacola: Wings of Gold, and appeared in eps of Silk Stalkings and Poltergeist: The Legacy.
* Kryton's son Arman was played by Mfundo Morrison. The only previous appearance of his that I'm aware of is as Liardus in the pilot 'movie' for the Young Hercules series.
* The impressive but vertically challenged Magistrate was played by Steve Wright, who has previously only been seen on HTLJ, as a Mercenary in The Vanishing Dead, a Scarred Man in Prince Hercules, and the Head Peasant in One Fowl Day. (Can you imagine telling your grandchildren that one - "I played the Head Peasant in One Fowl Day? - Oh well, it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it!)
Unfortunately Steve Wright is a very common name... there are at least six 'Steve Wright's in the entertainment industry - but I don't *think* any of the various 'Steve Wright' credits I came up with are actually for this performer.
* The Headmaster of the academy was played by Dennis Hally, who may well have had a certain haunting familiarity - he was first seen in Giant Killer as King Saul, and then subsequently came down in the world rather to play a Bootmender in A Tale Of Two Muses.
* Nicholas Clark gave us his Dying Acolyte (the stabbed chap who managed to pass on various useful information before expiring). I believe he appeared in the HTLJ ep Ares as Kid #2 (credited as Nick Clark).
* Mary Wilson played Novitiate #2 (mind you I still say 'novitiate' is an office, like 'priesthood' and not a person at all). Now interestingly enough I found another credit for 'Mary Wilson' in a TV episode called 'The Convert'... however, since this was an episode of Tarzan made in 1968, I doubt it was the same person. Still, how's that for a coincidence?
* For the rest of the credited cast, Darryl Brown as Kryton the evil (and mostly dead) warlord, Stacey Edgar as the (talkative) Young Novitiate, Kevin Alexander as the (avenging) punk, Susie Kleis as the other Novitiate, and Dan Sharkey as the Townsman, I could find no prior credits at all.
* The ep was written by Chris Manheim, whose previous writing credits on XWP are for The Prodigal, Altared States, Remember Nothing (with Steven Sears), A Solstice Carol, Here She Comes...Miss Amphipolis, The Quest (with Steven Sears and R. J. Stewart), A Comedy Of Eros, Maternal Instincts, The Bitter Suite (with Steven Sears), King Con, Tsunami, A Family Affair (with Liz Friedman), Paradise Found, and Devi.
* The director was Andrew Merrifield, who previously directed Been There Done That, Gabrielle's Hope, The Quill Is Mightier and Vanishing Act.
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
03-26-99. According to information received at the NYC Xena Convention (02-27-99), THE CONVERT is where Joxer actually encounters something akin to CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Can it be after three plus years the character will finally get some respect? And it takes Najara to do it? Um, okay.
03-26-99. Scenes from this episode were aired on ET on February 18, 1999. They presented as a report on the set. A clacker from the filming was seen on screen and the date on it was "16-02-99" which is the non-US way of writing the date 2/16/99. Pretty good copy time, on the air in two days from ET filming at the set.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
These things are by Beth Gaynor.
When Gab defends Najara in the town square, her shawl is blowing around in the wind, except for the one shot when she kneels back down. Then her shawl is pinned behind her.
Joxer sure sobers up fast! One scene, he can't see straight, and the next, he's stone-soberly screaming at guilt visions.
Funny how vines in ancient Greece look like taped-up, green ropes.
Najara gives a twitch in her final shot. She could be back.
Click here to read a transcript of THE CONVERT.
Argo's gastronomical condition was cleared up upon the completion of this motion picture.