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GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 BY Josh Harrison
COMMENTARY 3 BY Shana
COMMENTARY 4 BY John Vasser
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Dean O'Gorman (Wiglaf)
Brittney Powell (Brunhilda)
Roger Morrissey (Monster Grinhilda)
Renato Bartolomei (Beowulf)
Alexander Petersons (Odin)
Victoria Hill (Waltraute)
Luanne Gordon (Grinhilda)
John Leigh (Hrothgar)
Written by Emily Skopov
Directed by John Fawcett
TV GUIDE PROMO
Xena battles to regain her memory and reverse the curse of the Rheingold ring. Logline.
Xena has amnesia as Hrothgar's bride, Wealthea, and must regain her memory in order to save Gabrielle.
Xena has amnesia as Hrothgar's bride, Wealthea, and must regain her memory in order to save Gabrielle. TVgrid
This synopsis is by Bluesong.
Some Previously on Xena shots.
ONE YEAR LATER
Lots of burly guys tromp through the bog. One of them is called "Lord Eric" and he has red hair. Beowulf is with them. They come before a wall of flames. Beowulf tells Eric to forget it, that only Gabrielle's soulmate can pass through the flames. Beowulf extends a very burned hand to show what happens to those who try to pass through the flames. Suddenly Grinhilda Monster appears, attacking all the men. They fight. Beowulf says call your men off, but Eric jumps into the fire, hoping to get through. Instead he special-effects fries to a crisp. Beowulf calls all the men off who aren't dead, and they go to the ship. He tells his young friend Wiglaf that they are going to Denmark to get help from Hrothgar. He promises Gabrielle he will return.
Beowulf and Wiglaf go to Denmark, where everyone is celebrating. Beowulf learns that Hrothgar is marrying Wealthea. Wealthea comes riding in on a cow. Beowulf sees the woman, and says it is Xena. He calls to her, but Xena doesn't answer. Beowulf tells Wiglaf he was sure there was no way she could have survived.
Hrothgar and Wealthea/Xena go before a minister. When Hrothgar puts a ring on Wealthea/Xena, she has some niggling little memory flashbacks. She looks distressed, but continues with her part of the ceremony. She has the same problem when she gives Hrothgar a ring. Beowulf realizes the ring has done something to Xena. Wealthea/Xena looks really distressed, but gets her "I do's" out and then, after looking distressed some more, pronounces herself the luckiest woman in Denmark. Hrothgar says yep, and goes and kills the cow.
The Valkyries carry away the dead men from the site of the flame. They don't understand why men risk their lives for Gabrielle. Waltraute calls Xena a bitch and says she is glad she is dead.
Hrothgar's sister tells him he shouldn't have married Wealthea/Xena, because she overheard Beowulf and Wiglaf talking. Hrothgar doesn't listen. He goes to Xena. He is ready to bed her. Xena says that shouldn't happen until the moon reaches some specific point in the sky. Hrothgar says he pulled Xena from the icy waters and saved her, and he's waited a long time for her. He begins to ravage her. Beowulf interrupts. He asks Xena if they haven't met before, but Xena doesn't know him. The sister seeks out Beowulf and asks to hear his story.
Xena combs her hair. She looks beat and very submissive. When the door knocks, she says come in, my lord. A guy in a mask comes in. Xena thinks it is Hrothgar playing some kinky game. However, it is Beowulf. He tells Xena she is in danger, especially if Odin finds her alive. Just then a raven lights on the window, and Beowulf says Odin knows now. Xena tosses Beowulf away, he lands on the bed. He says Xena has to help him save Gabrielle. About that time the sister and Hrothgar enter. Sis says, hey, see, she likes this guy, Beowulf, your old friend. Sis calls the guards and they get Xena and Beowulf. Hrothgar slaps Beowulf. He tells Xena he would have loved her until the end of his lifetime, but now he guesses it'll be a really short time. Sis tells the guards to haul the two to the dungeon. Xena asks Beowulf why he doesn't tell the truth to Hrothgar. Beowulf says he needs Xena. Beowulf fights off his captors. As he would have been stabbed, Xena's instincts kick in and she knocks the guy down. Xena is on the floor. Beowulf holds out his hand for Xena. Xena sees Gabrielle instead. "I'm lost without you, Xena," Gabrielle says. Xena takes Beowulf's hand and they run.
They are on a boat. Xena goes below. The men all stop, staring at the legendary Warrior Princess. Beowulf comes and takes her aside. She tells him she is uneasy. She was betrothed for life and condemned to death in the same day. Beowulf tries to remind Xena who she is. She doesn't believe him. Beowulf swings a sword at Xena and she stops it with her hands. He says her memories are inside her.
Valkyries spar. Odin walks in and tells them Xena is a live. He says she and Beowulf are going for the ring.
Xena stands on the shore. She has minor visions of Gabrielle. Beowulf sets up camp. Wiglaf offers Xena a drink of water, but another man interrupts and the two begin fighting. Xena cries out for them to stop, they shouldn't fight. Wiglaf says that is what they do. Beowulf tells Xena it is the Viking way and has been ever since Xena taught Odin about violence and bloodlust. In the distance, the Valkyries ride toward them. "They know who are you are and they want you dead," Beowulf says. The Valkyries ride in. The men all draw their swords. Xena tells Beowulf to tell the men to drop their weapons, she doesn't want blood shed. Xena goes to the Valkyries. Waltraute attacks Xena, who dodges and avoids the blows. Odin watches. He rides on shore. The men all drop down to their knees. He goes up to Xena. He realizes after some conversation that Xena doesn't know who he is. He sends the Valkyries away. "Leave these noble warriors to their mission," he says.
Odin and Waltraute talk. He says since Xena has no memory, she has no motivations, and doesn't remember she's a godslayer. When she has retrieved the ring from Gabrielle, he'll just take it from her, he says. Odin tells Waltraute that he doesn't love anybody, and with the ring, he will fear nothing. Odin tells Waltraute to make sure nothing gets in Xena's way as she goes toward the fire, not even Grinhilda Monster.
Xena looks at her wedding ring. She drops it on the ground. Gabrielle comes to Xena in a vision. "I am the truth of who you are. Our souls are united, Xena," Gabrielle says. Beowulf hears Xena making distressed sounds and goes to her. Xena says, this Gabrielle truly loved Xena. Beowulf gives Xena back her chakram. He says she'll know what to do with it when the time comes.
They reach the ring of fire. Xena sees Gabrielle, laying all covered up with vines and stuff. Beowulf says Brunhilda's flame will recognize Xena as Gabrielle's soulmate and let her through the flames. Xena goes to the flames. The flames take face and tells Xena that the love in her burns stronger than any flame, and that Xena and Gabrielle belong together.
Waltraute interrupts the flame and attacks Xena. They fight. Beowulf fights other Valkyries. Wiglaf throws Xena a sword. He gets stabbed. Xena gets mad. She fights off Waltraute, and finally kicks her into the circle of flame. Another special-effects fry-fest.
Beowulf tells Xena to go through the flames. Just then, Grinhilda Monster stabs Beowulf. Xena hesitates, Beowulf says, go! Xena dives through the flames. She goes to Gabrielle. She uses the chakram to cut away the vines surrounding Gabrielle.
Xena kisses Gabrielle. As their lips touch, a montage of friendship memories flashes through Xena's mind. Gabrielle wakes up. Magically, Xena is back in her old warrior outfit and Gabrielle is clad in Amazon war clothes (I think) and she has really long hair. They hug. Xena says a lot of stuff about losing her memory but feeling Gabrielle's presence, and Gabrielle says she knew Xena would come for her. Grinhilda monster, outside the flame, tosses Beowulf away. Brunhilda tells Xena to get the ring. Xena picks it up. Gabrielle asks Xena not to put the ring on again. Xena says no, she won't do that. The ring sucks up the flame. Xena says she put the evil into the ring.
Xena goes after Grinhilda Monster. They go into a cave. Grinhilda Monster gets Xena and raises her up to face level. Xena asks Grinhilda Monster to look into her heart and forgive Xena for what she did. The ring glows. Xena screams. Outside, Gabrielle sits with Beowulf. There is a big fire and an explosion. "Xena!" Gabrielle says.
Xena comes out of the cave, with the ring in her hand. Grinhilda, human now, comes out of the cave, too. Xena tells Beowulf that she will be indebted to him for a long time. Two horses appear. Gabrielle hugs Beowulf. Gabrielle thanks Brunhilda for keeping her safe. Xena gets on one horse, Grinhilda on the other. Gabrielle climbs up behind Xena on the horse. They ride off on the flying horses.
Beowulf goes to Wiglaf, who lives, and tells him not to say a word.
Xena, Gabrielle and Grinhilda go to Valhalla. Xena tells Odin she has brought Grinhilda back. Grinhilda asks to lead the Valkyries again, to give them honor like before Xena first came and corrupted them. Odin says he'll think about it. Xena says, don't think long. Odin says, okay, welcome back Grinhilda. Odin and Grinhilda hug. Xena tells Gabrielle she is very ashamed of what she did, and one memory still troubles her.
Xena dives in the water. She swims up the Rheinmaidens, who are not at all happy to see her. Xena apologizes to them, and gives them back the ring. The maiden who loved Xena asks, "What magic was this that made you give up the power of the Rheingold?" Xena looks at Gabrielle, who is standing on the shore. "It wasn't magic," she says.
This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.
Not a bad wrapup to a really awesome trilogy of episodes! This episode didn't do quite as much for me as the first two, mainly because Xena and Gabrielle did nothing on their own - Beowulf was the main person moving the plot along - but it was still a darned decent show.
Shades of the episode Chakram: Xena has no memory of her violent past. This time she has no memory at all, apparently including that she woke up wearing armor and in the middle of a battleground.
Years are dropping like flies! Another one hits the dust. Everyone around Xena and Gabrielle have now aged 2*6* years since they saw Xena and Gab last. And all of Xena's past misdeeds are now 36 years ago.
Beowulf's past year: Beowulf did a pretty remarkable recovery from that fatal gut wound. He acquired a little buddy named Wiglaf, and has apparently just been hanging around Gabrielle's fire for the past year. His burned hand shows he, at least once, convinced himself that just maybe HE's Gabrielle's soulmate and could reach her. That must have been a scene to see. Beowulf had also given up Xena for dead again. Silly boy.
Grinnhilda's past year: Grinnhilda has apparently named herself Guardian of the Ring - she beats the crap out of anyone who comes around. Which kind of makes sense since it was attempts to protect the ring that got her in this mess in the first place.
Xena's past year: Xena somehow got from battlefield all the way across Germany and the Baltic Sea (?) to end up washed ashore in Denmark and Hrothgar's kingdom. Hrothgar adopts the poor little lost buxom beauty, gives her a name, and sets her up to be a pet wife. The pet wife has some vague ideas about helping the people around her, some disquieting feelings that she's forgetting something, but generally goes along with the plan.
Gabrielle's past year: Zzzzzzz.
Brunnhilda's past year: Crackle, sizzle. Familiar term!
NASTY, gruesome effect when Grinnhilda rips the arms off the warrior. Ewww!
Xena disses Hrothgar BIG time with her duck of his bridal smooch to just give him a hug. There's a big sign that the marriage is doomed.
The valkyries bemoan the loss of the great viking warriors Sven, Ingmar, and John Thomas. Which of those names doesn't belong?
Did Beowulf and Hrothgar's sister plan that surprise arrival at Xena's door? Or did Beowulf just make use of the sister's treachery? Either works perfectly well, but I'm curious.
Xena asks what's wrong with the sailors on the boat and says that they look as though they've seen a ghost. My first thought was that they looked like they had just seen a babe where they least expected one. And what a babe - that white fur look was incredible! I wonder if Xena kept that outfit around in whatever magic bag holds all of Xena and Gabrielle's changes of clothing?
Wiglaf seems like a nice enough guy, but was he putting the moves on Xena when he offered her water? ("Carry your books for you, Xena? Buy you a milkshake?") Keep dreaming, kid!
Another great XenaVerse tweak: the legendary violence of the Vikings is because of evilXena's love of warfare. Her influence on Odin and the Valkyries didn't surprise me that much, but I liked that touch!
By my count of both seen and heard swings, psychoValkyrie tried 12 times to kill Xena... and at the end Xena's standing healthy and barely winded. That should have been a clanging bell warning to psychoValkyrie that she was sorely outmatched.
I loved the delivery on Xena's line "I don't know you from your horse." But it brings up a good point - what the hell did Odin need a horse for? Odin was totally incomprehensible this episode. He lets Xena live so he can get the ring from her after she gets it from the fire. But then when the big moment comes and Xena claims the ring, Odin is apparently piddling around in Valhalla. And when Xena finally shows up there to remind him about that little ring he was obsessing about, he caves in to her like a house of cards. What a loser character.
And while we're on strange acts of the gods, psychoValkyrie says that Odin can't take the ring, because he loves her, and will give her the ring... who has forsaken love. What kind of deal is that? Even if he DID love her, why would he give her the thing that would ensure she'd never love him - not to mention be able to kick his butt? PsychoValkyrie's none too swift.
Once again in the big final fight, an unarmed and not- really-fighting Xena keeps psychoValkyrie at bay easily... and psychoValkyrie calls her "soft"?! Was she in the same fight we were watching?
Wiglaf takes a dagger through the gut very much like Beowulf's earlier sword stab. He should pick some better ways to follow in Beowulf's footsteps.
The shot of Beowulf being raised in the air to Grinnhilda's face by her claw like a meathook is in the "so-much-homage- it's-almost-copyright-infringement" category. I thought for a moment that my tv had inexplicably switched to a station playing Aliens. Good thing that Beowulf's injury wasn't quite as devastating as Bishop's was.
Xena: Warrior Princess Charming. The kiss was just as sweet as could be. And the "sub" part of subtext is still nowhere to be seen.
For the really obsessive like I apparently am, the flashbacks during the kiss are:Two shots of the end of Sins of the Past, the very first episode of the first seasonI could buy that since Xena made the ring, she could unmake it. But the writers totally lost me on how Grinnhilda's forgiveness did the unmaking. The ring changed Grinnhilda and destroyed Xena's memory. Xena's memory was already restored, even though the ring was still intact. But Grinnhilda's forgiveness, which had nothing to do with the ring at all, seemed to unmake it. And the ring's destruction SEEMED to also heal Beowulf and Wiglaf's wounds. I gave up on making any sense out of that whatsoever.
The comfort scene after the big fight in Between the Lines, fourth season, when this whole "soulmates forever connected" idea was really solidified
The end of The Abyss when Xena is complaining about the condition of her sword, three episodes ago
And then back to Sins of the Past again
When we return to outside the cave, Beowulf and Gabrielle seem to have already had a conversation. I would have liked to have listened in on that; what do you say to someone whose body you've been guarding for a year? Wiglaf seems to have a very appropriate "You've been watching the love of your life for a year and now you're just going to let her walk away?" reaction when Beowulf bids them goodbye. Bummer for Beowulf.
Brunnhilda (or what's left of her) tells Gabrielle "God speed" when Gab thanks her. Which is a very nice moment and a sweet sentiment, but since when does a Norse valkyrie from Odin's pantheon have any concept of "God"?
The flying horse effect in this episode was really reminding me of Harry Hamlin on Pegasus in Clash of the Titans. They were using the same trick of putting sky behind footage of a running horse, and of showing people rocking back and forth on a sky background as if they had a running horse beneath them.
The Gabrielle arc of episodes ends with a shot of her smiling face. This trilogy was amazing for how much it hinged on the bard. Xena was still the primary protagonist and the hero (while she had her memory, anyway), but most things happened because of Gabrielle, especially in the last two episodes. But even with that, Gabrielle slept through most of an episode. That's a mixed bag of blessings for Renee O'Connor.
Very sick - and very funny - humor as the valkyries methodically pick through the dead bodies as they talk. I nearly lost it when pschoValkyrie dropped a dead warrior like a sack of potatoes.
Beowulf really kicks b*tt in that last fight. He does well with the sword-swinging, and then he gets his hands on that big axe, and all bets are REALLY off.
Line of the episode goes right to Xena without even trying for "Wait longer!" Yah!
Xena seems to get back her memory in two stages: she gets back some pieces and parts when she dives through the fire (although it's hard to tell), and then the kiss gives her back the rest. Along with her armor and weapons. And Gabrielle's regular clothes, too. Now that's a POWERFUL kiss! Gabrielle's hair is still long, though... who braided her hair while it grew on that slab?
This commentary is by Josh Harrison.
The Ring Arc is brought to a conclusion, but is it a satisfactory one? I would have to say that it is, but this chapter is the weakest of the three. The reason for this feeling is not any inherent flaw in the episode itself, but rather it feels like there is another chapter missing from this saga.
The problems that were set up in "The Rheingold" and complicated further in "The Ring" are very neatly resolved. It's almost as if once Xena starts on the path of "setting things right" there are greater powers helping her along, removing all obstacles in her path.
Emily Skopov's script picks up a year after Xena loses her memory at the conclusion of "The Ring". Gabrielle still sleeps in Brunhilda's protective ring of fire, and we learn that young warriors enchanted by her beauty have tried to rescue her (with predictable results). Even Beowulf tried, and was badly scarred for his trouble.
The monstrous Grinhilda continues to patrol the swamp, and Beowulf decides to recruit help from his friend King Hrothgar. He arrives to witness the marriage of Hrothgar and Xena.
This whole sequence is, in my opinion, the weakest part of the story. We learn that Hrothgar rescued Xena from an icy death - but we never knew she was in that danger to begin with. Not only that, in order to pry Xena loose from the good she can do as a Viking Queen there is a very lightly developed conflict with Hrothgar's sister, who envies Xena's role as Queen.
This sequence has no setup, and the resolution is decidedly rapid. Once Hrothgar's sister has a way of removing her rival (by creating the appearance of a tryst between Xena and Beowulf), she does so. She and Beowulf break free and are off like a shot for Gabrielle's fiery prison.
At this point, I wonder why the yearlong time skip was necessary. The only purpose it serves is allowing everybody involved to believe that Xena is dead, and the Ring lost forever. When Xena returns, the race is on again, and the end of the story is a foregone conclusion. After the wonderful setup of the first two parts, the pacing of the conclusion is a little fast.
Aside from the Hrothgar sequence, everything that happened in this episode could have taken place shortly after the events in "The Ring". And if they wanted to have the time skip, they could have at least shown Xena getting tossed into the ocean by the Valkyries. That plot point is extremely relevant in the setup for this episode, and referring to it in exposition is a bad storytelling move.
The way Xena resolves the problems she caused is right in line with the message of the series, and the curse of the Ring. If forsaking love allows someone to cause great evil with the Ring, then embracing it will allow that evil to be undone.
Xena regains her memory by embracing her love of Gabrielle (with a kiss that I am sure will live in memories for years). Grinhilda embraces love by forgiving Xena, and Odin doing the same restores Valahlla's honor.
This message (in case you missed the subtle clubbing earlier) is all summed up in the final scene of the episode. When Xena returns the Rheingold to its hiding place among the Rhein Maidens, one of them asks what magic turned the wicked monster Xena was into the kind warrior she is now. Xena says that it wasn't magic, and looks back at Gabrielle with a smile.
Some tidbits I noticed:
We have mysterious and unexplained costume transformations again when Xena enters the circle of fire and awakens Gabrielle. One moment they're both in flowing white dresses, the next they're back in their old duds.
Gabrielle's locks return. When her costume changes back to her battle costume, her hair stays long, looking a lot like it did back in the old days. In fact, the combination of the long hair and the new costume is a little unsettling. The long hair just doesn't seem to fit her anymore.
Odin looks ready to hold on to his anger when Xena tells him to restore Grinhilda to the Valkyries. Xena then gives him one of those looks that says, "Don't make me kick your b*tt."
Aside from the abrupt pacing, this was a fairly solid conclusion to the Ring Arc. I don't think it was as good as either of the first two parts, but it does neatly wrap up all the dangling plotlines (some may say it wraps them up a little too neatly). After a cliffhanger that (in my opinion) matches the edge-of-your-seat drama of "Sacrifice" and "The Ides of March" we don't get quite the resolution I feel we deserve.
Still, the quality of the series (which I thought was shaky early this season) has been solidly reaffirmed. I don't think this story will quite surpass "The Debt" as a fan favorite, but it certainly deserves respect and appreciation. Solid storytelling, fine acting, and a focus on the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle make this arc a winner.
But I have to mark points off for the abrupt resolution and left-field plot devices in this final chapter. I think Skopov did the best she could with the time she was given, but I have to give this episode a final grade of B. The entire Ring Arc earns an A-minus.
This commentary is by Shana.
Let me start by saying what is NOT in this episode. Brunhilda is NOT in this episode, at least not in the physical form. Yet she still rates as number one guest star. She must have had some kind of agent negotiating her contract! Also, Evil Xena is NOT in this episode. Say it with me now...aww....I love EX, and she's just plain gone...instead we have a kindler, gentler Xena, ashamed of her past actions. I think I'm like Ares....I'm MORE obsessed with the George Bush Xena than EX, anyway! Heh heh... And new material with Callisto, Autolycus, Ares, or any other past character are NOT in this episode either, as had been speculated. But never fear...you won't miss them! I promise!!
The episode starts with clips. Now I must confess, I'm an idiot. I missed the first part before the teaser, and came in during the first commercial break, so I had to rewind the tape to watch the beginning before I could begin my commentary. I was watching the clips thinking these are the longest most complete clips in the world, how long are they going to take, until I finally realized I had rewound too far, and was watching The Ring! Hey, told you I was an idiot....I'm going on four hours of sleep here.
So I fast forwarded and came to the right point on the tape, and these previews made a lot more sense! Still that's sixty seconds of Xena time that should have been new stuff!
Then come the words on the screen...One Year Later...Oh brother! If these girls haven't already lost enough time in the ice cave, now they've lost a whole year with Xena wandering around doing the-gods-know-what, while Gabbers gets caught up on her sleep. We don't even see Xena till the very end of the teaser. No, it starts out with some hairy looking Vikings traipsing through the forest. It doesn't take a genius to realize where they are headed.
I thought this whole trilogy was based on the Beowulf legend, but the third part has a definite switch to the Sleeping Beauty legend. Some of you had already picked up on this. Since Disney has made a movie about Sleeping Beauty, I am VERY familiar with this story. I can handle the Sleeping Beauty story a lot better than the strange names of people we come across in this one...
So anyway, these Vikings are travelling through the forest, until they come upon a burning ring of fire. You know, I kept excpecting Johnny Cash to start singing, but it never happened...darn! The leader of these Vikings is Lord Eric, and apparently, he's fallen in love with a legend...the peacefully sleeping Gabrielle. We don't see her clearly through the fire, but it's easy to see the thorns that have grown up around and over her.
The Vikings are being followed by two people...care to guess who one of them is? Yep, it's Beowulf, who still carries a flame of his own for the slumbering bard. He's with Dean O'Gorman, a familiar face in the Xenaverse, who now suffers from a very bad wig. Caesar anyone? Anyway, Eric calls Gabs "Lady of the Ring" and says he is there to save her. Beowulf says "Only Gabrielle's soulmate can pass through the flames. All other flesh is doomed." He should know. He pulls off his glove to reveal a badly burned hand. Apparently he tried and failed, so everyone can breathe a big sigh of relief. Beo knows he isn't destined to be with Gabbers. "A boar on a spit has a reason to fear the flame," replies Jerk...er...Lord Eric. "Not a Viking lord." I knew this idiot would be killed within seconds....if Beo didn't do it, I would have! Sheesh! He was definitely no Princess...er...Prince Charming. Beowulf is patient though, and tells Eric there's another reason he won't get through. And then Grendel is there. Apparently, Xena just sent her flying last week, but didn't kill her. Now she's hanging out at the fire ring, defending Gabs (of course, that's the theme here), and waiting on Xena (Xena, who's that?). Grendel is in a bad mood (isn't she always?), and makes mincemeat of the Vikings literally. There are body parts flying everywhere! She sends Eric flying into the flames, and through some nice special effects, makes him into toast. Note that Eric's eyes cross before he starts incinerating. Apparently, he wore the same kind of helmet as Beowulf...told you it would make them crosseyed!
Beo cries "To the ship," and the survivors take off running. Beo pauses long enough to tell Dean (I'll get his character's name in a minute) that they aren't giving up...they are seeking the help of an old friend. Dean asks "King Rothgar?" and Beo nods. They are going to Denmark to get him. Beo gives Gabs one last lingering look..."I will return Gabrielle...I promise you." I now realize, if I had paid attention, I could have seen Gabbers hair was already long, but it's subtly shown. Beo runs off screen.
We see some lovely scenery of big rocks in water, then the intrepid twosome arrive at a party. Some chick is juggling chakrams. That's how I knew it was a party! Beo asks a man that Dean just bumped into, "Excuse me...what conquest are you people celebrating?" to which he replies, "The conquest of King Rothgar's heart, Sir, He's marrying the noble and fair Welthea." Now, of course, we all know who Welthea is, but Dean questions the name...he says it isn't a Norse name. Beo says, "My guess would be it's a Celtic...or...." he trails off as he turns around. A door is open, and here it comes...you've all heard about this...here comes a slow moving cow, into the room, and perched on the top is our very own "Warrior Princess", as Beowulf manages to finish. Only Lucy could look that good on top of a cow, but she does look a little embarrassed. Sheesh...at least they could have let her walk in! She smiles at everyone in the room, looking gorgeous in a white dress, then "In a time of ancient gods..." That's the end of the teaser!
So here's Welthea, riding through this room, with a genuine smile, checking out all her future subjects. She will be the queen, you know. At one point, she waves at someone, and I swear, she's got the queen wave downpat!! You know the one I'm talking about, the one she demonstrated at the end of Blind Faith. (Stick the hand straight up, hold it rigid, turn it from side to side). Hee hee! I'm laughing already. Beowulf is trying to get her attention, but she doesn't notice....she only has eyes for her future husband. Interesting thing is, at this wedding, the bride doesn't wear a veil, instead the groom wears a helmet. Now I had all kinds of pictures in my head of what Xena's husband would look like...everything from an Ares clone to an Antony clone to even a clean cut Hercules clone. The moment Rothgar revealed his mug, I knew he was doomed. He is one hairy, ugly, son of a Bacchae! Eeeeshhh! Xena...excuse me...Welthea...seems to like him though. At least she is giving him tender sweet smiles (Great acting on Lucy's part...trust me!) Everyone else at the wedding seems to be happy except for this one brooding woman. She looks very familiar...I'll bet she's been on Xena before and I just haven't placed her yet. Anyway, she's giving Welthea very dirty looks. Methinks there is trouble ahead! Beowulf is moving forward to talk to Xena, and Dean stops him. "This is not the time!" Beowulf responds with "This changes all of our plans. Now that I have Xena to help me to save Gabrielle, I need Rothgar for nothing." Brooding woman is listening to all of this. "Yeah, except his wife," Dean replies. "Whose name is Welthea." "Her name is Xena," Beo whispers back, "Trust me." Dean's retort made me laugh, "Xena, the mighty warrior princess. I don't think so." Cut to a shot of Welthea looking a little disturbed as if her supersonic hearing is picking up this talk. Meanwhile, the reliegious leader (priest?) is droning on and on with the vows. Rothgar makes the Viking pledge of love and devotion, and puts a ring on Welthea's finger. First flashback! Xena's making cherry lifesavers...err...the Ring of the Rheingold. She looks up at her betrothed with a very discomforting look. Uh oh...
"I'm sorry...I..." she stammers in a very soft voice. Rothgar smiles at her. "You're overcome with joy," he declares. "Yes, I'm overcome," she replies, her smile returning. Somehow, I don't think it's joy. Beowulf mutters to Dean, "It was the ring, it's the ring that changed her." Welthea is stammering again. How many times have we seen Xena stammer? Obviously, Welthea still hasn't a clue about her true persona. "I uh...I Welthea, promise to be a devoted wife to Rothgar and a ..." The priest is trying to help her and says "Mother" at same time as Welthea as she concludes " a mother to his people." Hmmm....Xena has suddenly inhererited a lot of children. Wouldn't you love to have HER as a stepmom! She puts a ring on Rothgar's finger, and flashes back again...some very coolly edited shots of her battle with Grendel and the different times she put on THE ring. One moment she's uncomfortable because she's making these public vows, then she's uncomfortable because of these rushing memories. Great acting on Lucy's part! Then she proclaims in a shaking voice, "Oh, I'm the luckiest woman in Denmark!" She smiles at all the people, but I could tell she was trying to convince herself of that, even then.
Rothgar laughs joyously, and then the crowd cheers. Get ready for a full fledged belly laugh here! Rothgar puckers up to get his wedding kiss, and Welthea pulls him to her, turns her head, and hugs him instead. Hee hee! I cracked up! The look on Rothgar's face is priceless!! Okay, it has to be said... apparently not all is right in the state Denmark! Whew! I feel better!
The priest wants to prepare a sacrifice to the Goddess (it sounds like Goddiess) Someone-or-other, and Rothgar butchers the cow. Why do I think they are going to be having a Rothgar-b-cue before long? But I digress, as usual. The author of this episode is Emily Skopov who is also the Supervising Producer. Just thought someone would like to know that.
The opening credits are over, and now we move to the dead Vikings. The Xena Wannabe Valkyries (there's a song in there somewhere....maybe the Octupus Garden song by the Beatles...I wannabe a...A Xena Valkyries...)...oh well, this snearing blonde is checking out the damage Grendel has done. She can't figure out why all these men would die trying to save an ordinary woman who lies trapped inside the ring. She mentions a few names, Sven the Lionhearted, Ingmar the Director...uh...I mean Valiant, the noble John Thomas. Okay, I giggled when she said John Thomas. I always thought that meant something else! The wannabe even looks inside the mouth of one of the dead guys. She must be wanting to take up dentistry on top of everything else. This girl has ambition! She is talking to another Valkyries who apparently decided to emulate another XWP character...this one was an Ephiny fan! Check out the curls on this one! She's even got Ephiny's wide eyed gaze. She's a bit more naive than the Xena wannabe , saying, "Our sister Brunhilder (none of the guest stars bothers trying to pronounce the ending "a" sound in this episode) turned herself to flame to protect that Gabrielle. Perhaps she's not so ordinary. And Xena...Xena seems to care for a great deal too." They had been carrying one of the dead Vikings, and Xena wannabe suddenly drops her end of the load, angry. "You speak the name of that conniving bitch in the presence of heroes?" Hee hee! Why do I love it when someone calls Xena a bitch? I do! Xena wannabe adds, "Thank the gods she's dead and fed to the fishes!" Huh? Xena's been fishing for a year? Xena wannabe says Odin wants the dead Vikes in Valhala by nightfall. She'd better stop talking and start moving.
Now we're back at the party. The wine is flowing freely, and a lot of it going down Rothgar's ugly throat. More of it is spilling out of his throat though. There is nothing more unattractive than a sweaty hairy man with wine dripping from the bottom half of his face. Brooding woman approaches, and Rothgar thinks it's to congratulate him. He calls her by name and it sounds like "Hildagiv" or something to that effect, but for me, she is "brooding woman" . "You've made a terrible mistake, Brother," she answers. "This Welthea will never care for you or our people the way I do." Uh...what kind of brother did she mean?" Rothgar doesn't like this and tells her not to speak like that again, unless she wants to be banished. Cut to Welthea walking across the dance floor looking absolutely miserable. She looks so unhappy. Rothgar spots her. "You look as if this is your funeral, not your wedding." Now at the ceremony, I got the impression that Rothgar might genuinely be enamored by his bride. His smile seems genuine. But one exchange of dialogue, I realized he was a jerk plain and simple, with no redeeming characteristics.
Xena (sounding confused and uncertain...): Rothgar...at the ceremony, I had such a strange sensation.Rothgar: As did I...It beseeches me whenever you are near...and I know only one cure for this malady...
His cure is trying to force a kiss on her, when obivously, she doesn't want it. She's pushing him away before his lips nearly touch him. Urgh! I hate him even more. She's trying to tell him something, and he's not listening.
Welthea is obviously not attracted to him, and from this point on, all the smiles from the earlier scenes are gone. "Rothgar," she says, stalling, " Rothgar, tradition says that we cannot be together (translation...uh...you know) until the moon is high. Otherwise you would jinx our union." She has a wee bit of fire in her eyes now. "I've waited so long to make you truely mine," he growls, and he grabs her again. She breaks free again, and backs away. Welthea then says, "You know that I have been devoted to you since you pulled me from the icy waters. Would it be so very hard to wait just a few more hours?" "I would wait even longer, if I thought I had your heart as well," he returns. Welthea has backed herself into a corner, and, remember that scene (hee hee, I just typed "xene") in Return of the Jedi, when Jabba the Hut sticks out that big old greasy Jabba tongue to lick Princess Leia? There is a fleeting Princess Leia look Welthea gives as Rothgar starts grunting and slobbering against her. I just realized he's even shorter than she is. Couldn't they have at least tried to cast a halfway attractive man in this role? Welthea keeps saying his name and "my husband" , fighting to break free, and finally she does, pushing him back one more time. Welthea tells him, "Our union has given me a new purpose. You've always known that my priorities are different than other women's." Hmmm....gotta think about that. I love Xena's dimples, by the way! I don't like this next part though...Rothgar's eyes flare and he grabs Welthea's chin. She struggles, but can't get away. "You are a Viking Queen," he hisses. "Youre priorities are as your master designs", and his mouth is on her neck as he presses that ugly body against her again. She can't fight him this time, and thank the gods for Beowulf! He approaches right then and boy were both Welthea and I relieved! Rothgar acts as if all is great...giving Welthea a chaste kiss on the check and introducing her to Beowulf. The music swells as Welthea composes herself and slowly looks up into Beowulf's eyes. "Perhaps we have met before," he says, searching her eyes. She searches him, and then says "I think not." Why do I have the feeling if he had been Gabbers, she would have known exactly who it was? Beowulf looks extremely disconcerted, but the sensitive Rothgar quips, "Women, huh?" and walks off grabbing Welthea none-too-gently. "Come on!" Eeesh. Brooding woman approaches Beowulf, commenting, "How intriguing. When you saw my sister-in-law earlier this evening, you looked like you saw a ghost. And now she just looked right through you, as though you were one." He tells her it's kind of a long story, and she says, "Perhaps if you told it to the right audience, you'll get the happy ending you seek." She speaks very slowly and very clearly, sending the same message to Beowulf and the viewer...yes...this is a fairy tale. Beo checks around, and looks as if he is going to confide in her, then the scene changes.
Let me interject a few things here, before I continue. First of all, as you can tell, virtually no explanation is given as to what Xena/ Welthea has been doing for the past year. From her actions and words in the early scenes, I got the impression she was convinced her name was Welthea and that she was in love with Rothgar. I don't think her feelings began to change until she put on the ring and started to flashback. With only a few episodes to go, are we ever going to learn what went on during that year? How did she end up in the icy waters? Last time we saw her, she was on her knees in the bog screaming "Who am I?" I am really curious about this!
And it was kind of hard watching Rothgar force himself on Welthea, but he never got very far, and it appeared to me that Welthea was repulsed by him, and would be capable of stopping him before he got too carried away. It's difficult to explain, but ever since she put the ring on, although she still appears amnesiac, there are still a few expressions slipping through that let us know the real Xena is lurking just below the surface. Hopefully, others will feel the same way when they see this episode.
Okay, back to the show, Welthea is alone in a room in a castle on a rock overlooking the sea. She is one angry woman! She grimaces at herself in a mirror, and picks up her hairbrush. Remember Callisto brushing Hope's hair in Maternal Instincts? Welthea must have been peeking in, because when that brush clunks against her own head, it made me cringe! Ouch! Come to think of it, it looks more like a scrub brush than a hair brush. Double ouch! For some odd reason, it looks like Welthea has chapstick on! Hmmm...Lucy's expression during these few seconds are really wild. They're difficult to describe. Somehow, she looks more disgusted with herself than anything else... Dunno....I'm going to have to give this one some thought. Anyway, there's a knock at the door, and Welthea looks as if she's resolving herself to her fate. Did I mention the moon was high in the sky? You know what that means, don't you? "Come in, My Lord" she says, and the door opens, revealing a figure in a helmet. Welthea turns and stands, and looks at the figure before her. "You wish to play a game...Master?" she asks, her face still angry. The figure removes the helmet, and it's Princess Leia, there to rescue Han! Whoops...flashback to Jedi again...sorry....I knew who it was and you can probably figure it out too. It's Beowulf. Somehow, I think Welthea would have rather seen Rothgar. She's whirls and picks up something sharp...I don't know what...from the dressing table and hisses (I love hisses!) "You're a lunatic. Stay away from me." She holds the object out toward him, but he approaches..."Xena, your life is in danger. When Odin learns you're alive, he will kill you, and Gabrielle will never be saved."
Now, I breathed a breath of relief here, because Xena looks side to side and whispers "Gabrielle?" in a voice that says she has at least an inkling of what Beo is talking about. Yeah...the name is starting to ring a bell!
"Please try to remember," Beo says, trying to take her arm, but she pitches him onto his backside. A raven flies to the windowsill, and Beo says "Odin's raven. He already knows you are here." Welthea is trying to absorb all this when Rothgar, brooding woman, and a couple of thugs walk in. "You see, Brother," brooding woman says, "it's as I've said. She cannot give you her heart because she's too busy giving it to your old friend." Welthea watches all this with very wide eyes and a shocked expression as we fade to commercial.
"Rothgar, this madman is mistaking me for-" Welthea is cut off by brooding woman's "Enough! My brother has had heard too many of your false words! Seize them!" Looks like brooding woman wears the pants in this family. Rothgar is hurt by Beowulf's betrayal. He asks his sis if she's absolutely certain, and when she affirms, he tells Beowulf, "We were almost as brothers" before he slugs him. Then he approaches Welthea, taking a lock of her hair and pulling it. "I would have loved you until the end of my lifetime. Now it seems it will be only till the end of yours. Dispose of them as you choose!" Rothgar turns and leaves, leaving Welthea crying out his name a couple times. She almost sounds desparate, but he's gone. Brooding women approaches her. "As if I would ever have allowed my brother to share our city with some foreign witch. (I like conniving bitch better) Take them to the dungeon!"
As they are being escorted, Welthea asks Beo why he didn't tell the truth, and he tells her he needs her to save Gabrielle. He wheels on the guards and begins to attack, while Welthea looks on seemingly helpless. Beowulf gets in trouble, and Welthea...well, she looks like Xena now, does a great sweeping leg kick (it's a good thing that dress is cut way up to there....I knew there was a good reason her thighs kept showing), and proceeds to pummel the attacking guard. Beowulf isn't surprised. "You see? I told you I needed you." He holds out his hand to her. "Please?" The camera pans up the arm slowly and there stands a short haired Gabs, with a tender look, "I'm lost without you, Xena." Xena gives a soft bemused smile, and takes the hand, looking up to see Beowulf again. They take off on a run out of the castle.
Now, I wonder, did brooding woman and Beowulf really stage all this? It certainly looked like Beowulf was going to tell brooding woman all at the party, and since BW seemed to have an unnatural attachment to Rothgar, perhaps it was all staged. If so, Beo was taking an awful chance!
Now there on Beowulf's ship. There is a horrible fake shot of Beowulf with the sea in the background, and then Welthea, who shall henceforth be called Xena again, has changed clothes. She is now wearing all white and is dressed like the ice princess in Batman Returns. Her cloak and hat are trimmed in white fur, and I never thought this look would work for anyone, but it does for Xena! Something about it makes that black hair and those blue eyes stand out even more. The men rowing the boat look up at her and lose their rhythm. They are just staring at her, mouths agape. "What's the matter with your men? They look like they've seen a ghost." Xena asks Dean, who is nearby. "No, not a ghost," he responds..."A legend. All these men can talk of is seeing you in action. To tell you the truth I was about to go..." Beo enters and cuts him off, "And polish your blade, isn't that right, Wigwam?" Okay, that's not his real name, but I couldn't tell what Beo called him. Beo accompanies that statement with a hand guesture which signifies that polishing your blade is a euphamism for another activity...uh....I think you know what I mean. Funny thing is, I was watching Xena "polish her blade" in A Family Affair the other day, and thought what a phallic symbolance it had! Someone's creeping into my head and stealing ideas again!
Dean takes off, and after a scathing look from Beo, the men begin to row again. Beo asks Xena if she's feeling seasick and she says no. "But I am uneasy. I was betrothed to life and condemned to death on the same day. By the same man." Beowulf says Rothgar has changed. "He rescued a beautiful woman, gave her a new name, then gave her some lame story about being the sole survivor of a shipwreck." Xena tears up. "I thought he loved me. And now you tell me this name Welthea is not even my own." "You are Xena," Beowulf tells her. "I could have done so much good for the Viking people" Xena muses. Beowulf won't have any of that. He tells her the Xena he knows does good with her sword. He calls Gabs the "most loyal friend in the world." More tears flow. "I know none of these things," Xena pleads. Beowulf starts to turn, then moves to strike Xena with the sword. Her instincts kick in and she bats it aside. "You may not remember them, " Beo says, "But they are inside you." Xena just stares at her reflection in the sword.
Meanwhile, back at Valhala, the Xena wannabe and the Ephiny wannabe are deuling. Odin approaches. Xena wannabe, who's name is somehing like Wailtial (I''m serious), starts bragging to Odin, and he tells her she'd better get ready to show off her stuff. Xena and Beowulf are crossing the great sea. Doh!
Xena is on the surf, gettting that white dress all wet. She's staring out at the sea, a few images flashing through her mind, the Rhine maidens, Grinhilda, Gabrielle. I like the flashbacks in this episode. They are very brief, and usually show over the characters. Beo watches Xena, as she turns and walks back to the other men. Dean offers her some water, and when she tries to accept, another man says he's gonna offer it to her. Xena's popularity is apparently going to be the one soaring this week. The two men break into a fight, which soon involves the whole bunch, while Xena tells them to stop it, "That's enough!" She sounds like my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Keneipp. We never listened to her, and the Vikings aren't listening to Xena. She finally steps in between them and breaks it up herself. "Stop this! This is madness! Must you seek the merest excuse to fight?" hee hee! Dean replies joyfully, "That's what Vikings do! Fighting gives your lives meaning!" Xena replies incredulous, " Fighting gives your lives meaning? Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds!" Beo steps in then saying, "Yeah, well, it didn't sound so stupid when it came from you?' "From me?" Xena echoes shocked. Beowulf tells her she taught Odin to embrace violence. "Well, if that is true, then I know I am not this Xena!" Xena declares. Hee hee...boy is she in for a shock!
Off in the horizon come the Valkyiries...they look great in the long shots, but the closer they get, the more fake they look. Beo says, "They know who you are, and they want you dead!" Hey, the Haunting of Amphipolis is on next week. It seems like MONTHS since I've seen that one!
Okay, commercials are over and the Valkyries have landed about a quarter mile up the beach. They have to give Xena and Beo time for more talk, don't they? Beo tells them to ready their weapons, but Xena doesn't want them to fight. Xena's sounding a little more confident now. "If you want me to have you help YOUR friend, Gabrielle, then you'll do as I say." Seems she knows Beo's weakness, and he orders his men to put down their weapons. Xena takes a deep breath, like she's just won a victory. "Right!" she says in a half whisper, and walks down the beach to meet the Valkyries. Xena wannabe draws her sword and jumps down from her horse. "They're be no bloodshed today!' Xena declares, sounding for the only time in this episode like her lookalike Diana. Wannabe wants to fight, but Xena doesn't want to. Wannabe lunges at Xena, at one point knocking her down, but Xena's just concentrating on dodging the sword thrusts. If the wannabe was really that good with a sword, she should have hacked Xena to pieces. But no, of course, not, they're circling, eyeing each other warily, when Odin approaches on his flying steed, crying "Enough!"
You know, I just realized Xena's rolling around in the wet sand, and her dress is immaculate! Gotta get the name of that detergent!
Anyway, Odin rides in and the Vikings all kneel. Dean starts to, but Beo pulls him back up. Hee hee! Beo knows who has the real power! Odin says, "Xena, this isn't much of a reunion." "You can kill me if you want," Xena replies, "But I'm not the warrior princess you seek." Wannabe says "You heard the woman, Odin. Kill her!" Odin silences her (her name really is Walltrial!) , and then says, "If you're not, Xena, who are you?" "I don't know." He asks, "Do you know who I am?" "She says your name is Odin," Xena replies, then adds definantly, "but I don't know you from your horse." LMAO! Come to think of it, Odin does have a horse face and enough hair for a mane! Odin tells his Valkyries to return to Valhalar (sic) to leave the noble warriors on their journey. Xena watches them ride off, feeling like she's won. "You see? We saw them off without violence." But Beo knows he'll be back...he values Xena as more valuable alive than dead.
Back in Valhala, the wannabe and Odin are talking. The plan is the same as last week. Letting Xena get the ring, and then getting it back from her. Sure, make Xena do the dirty work! Wannabe thinks Odin is going to give the ring to her, and doesn't like it when she realizes Odin wants the ring. He tells her the Valkyries will not let Grinhilda stop Xena from getting the ring. But wannabe isn't listening. "On my life, Xena will die before she gets close enough to those flames to singe an eyebrow," she sneers as Odin leaves her. I just pictured Xena with a singed eyebrow. This cannot happen! She has to have an eyebrow to cock upward for that quirky expression we all know and love!
Xena's sitting alone in a firelit room. She looks at her wedding ring, and slowly removes it. Guess who shows up! Yay! It's Gabbers!! Xena's a wee bit freaked though! "Are you a demon?" she whispers. "Or my own mind made mad?" Xena is sure obsessed with "madness" this episode! "I am the truth of who you are," Gabs replies, "Our souls are united, Xena." It almost sounds like she says, "Your souls are united, Xena." She reaches out to touch Xena's face, but Xena jerks away with a gasp. In walks Beowulf, and Gabs is gone. Nice talk coming...
Xena (realization slowly creeping in): This Gabrielle truly loved Xena, didn't she?Beo: And will till the end of time. Gabrielle saved you from what you were. As you must now save her.He holds out Xena's chakram.
X: I've heard the men talking. They say that Xena created this monster that awaits us.
B (nodding): Grinhilda.
X: It's true, then?
B: I have waited a long time to return these to you.X: What's it for?Xena takes the chakram. Now even though she's still referring to Xena in the third person, it's apparent she's no longer in denial. When she takes the chakram this time, she picks it up by the middle piece, instead of the blade she grabbed last week. I think there's some significance in that. Don't know why, just feel like being philosophical. She takes the chakram without hesistance and it feels comfortable in her hand.
B: You'll know...when the time comes, you'll know.
They approach the ring of fire, finally! Xena stares into it...Gab is jsut barely visible. "Beowulf, if I am not the one?" "You are," Beowulf assures her, "Brunhilda's fire will recongnize you as Gabrielle's soulmate." Hey, I just noticed the moon was high in the sky! Heh heh! Xena gets close enough to the fire to singe an eyebrow (but doesn't!) staring at Gabrielle. She has the same look at the beginning of Fallen Angel. I love her in white! A face forms in the flames...cool special effects! We hear Brun's voice (guess that's why she's in the credits!) "Xena, Xena, the love in your heart burn stronger than any flame. You belong together, Xena" Xena reaches out to touch the flame, and, oh brother, here comes the Xena wannabe. But you know what...Xena is back! Whoo hoo! Finally!! When I heard that warcry and saw her do that backflip, I cheered! Beowulf and Dean are in on the fight too, and it's another vicious one. Hey, Xena's got go-go boots under that dress! The wannabe gets a shot in at Xena's upper arm...of course, and sneers, "Makes me sick to see you've grown so soft." Huh? Xena is kicking her butt, and she isn't using a sword. Xena looks pissed that Wannabe has cut her and retorts, " Softness and weakness are two different things." I have no quarrel with you. I am here only for Gabrielle!" Yeah!! Heh heh, Wannabe knows how to push buttons..."You sound like one of those pathetic lovesick boys who burn themselves to a crisp." Uh, not exactly, Dean throws Xena a sword, finally!, and the Ephiny wannabe launches a dagger at him, stabbing him. Something about that really, REALLY makes Xena angry. She offers one mean sword thrust at the Xena wannabe, and then they circle each other. I swear, I thought of two roosters in a cockfight! Xena's look alone would be enough for me to raise a white flag!! The swordfight goes on, and Wannabe knocks Xena to her warrior butt. Their swords cross and Wannabe snarls, "I've waited a long time for this." Xena's response? A growled, made-me-laugh-hysterically "Wait longer," and she kicks the Wannabe into the flames! Toast anyone?
Beowulf tangles with Ephiny's number one fan, and wins, then tells Xena she has to go through the flames now, we can't wait any longer. No kidding! But Xena looks on in horror as Beowulf is stabbed from behind by, say it with me now, Grinhilda. Even as he's dying, Beo manages, "Xena go...Gabrielle needs you, Xena...goooo!!" Xena hesitates for oh, about a millisecond, and then makes an awesome dive into the ring of fire. Through the flames are a few still pictures of her and Gabs...nice touch. Xena somersaults to a landing and the carpet...uh...ground moves beneath her. She approaches Gab Van Winkle, and finds out what the chakram is for. Seems it slices, dices, and cuts through thorny vines. The look on Xena's face is very serious, but there is definitely recognition there. She bends in for the kiss. Sorry to say it's not a full on the mouth kiss. It's more of a on the mouth off center just a bit kiss, but it's very soft and tender. There are a few flashbacks of different moments, overvoiced with dialogue that doesn't necesarrily match that particular scene. All the dialogue was from "Sins of the Past". Well chosen clips though, and very brief. Xena slowly pulls back and Gabs' eyes flutter open. You know, I thought Cyane was a fast changer, but I never even saw Xena and Gabbers change clothes, but suddenly, Xena's in her leathers and Gabs is in her two piece ensemble. Oh my, Gabrielle has beautiful eyes. Her eyes focus on Xena's face, and she smiles brightly. "Xena!" This was the time I realized Gabbers had long hair. Now for everyone who is asking, it did NOT look like a wig, not to me. It was the same bright blonde Gabber's has had all season, only a lot longer. And it's cut differently than Gabs' hair of past seasons. I had gotten used to a short haired Gabs, but I like this way too.
Gabs whispers, "I dreamed you'd come back for me." "It's like I was in a dream too. I forgot everything." She puts a hand to Gabs' face. "Even though I didn't remember you, I felt your presence. I knew I would never be complete unless those shadows were brought into the light." I teared up at that. What a beautiful sentiment!
Why can't these girls get five minutes alone in this trilogy? This is the perfect time for some nice talk, but no, Grinhilda has to growl, and Xena has to fight...again. Brunhilda's voice whispers, "Xena...the ring...the ring." Gabrielle hods it out to Xena, and says, "Xena, don't put it on again." Hee hee...what's the matter, Gabs...all caught up on your sleep? Xena holds it up. "I forged this ring. Now I have to use it to undo all the evil it has caused." The ring of fire disappears. I love close ups of Xena's war cry! She jumps at Grinhilda who swats her away like some giant warrior-shaped mosquito. Grinhilda knocks her into a cave. Is it the lair they fought in last week? Maybe that's why Grinhilda hangs out around the ring of fire! Now the George Bush Xena speaks. Remember, Grin is trying to attack her during all this talk, so Xena is doing a lot of dodging....Evasive maneuvers! "Grinhilda, listen to me...You weren't always this way. It was MY actions that turned you into this beast!" Dodge..." Grinhilda, I put the evil into this ring, I can undo it to if only you-" Flip. Xena holds up the ring which begins to glow brightly. This distracts Xena and Grin pins her arms to her sides, and lifts her up by the upper arms. Where's Gabs with the chakram when you need her? Xena ain't done talking though. "Grinhilda, look inside your heart! Find the woman you once were. Forgive me....forgive meforgive me." Then Xena breaks into song from The Bitter Suite! Nah, just making sure you were still paying attention. Xena throws back her head and cries out in anguish as we cut to Gabrielle and Beowulf outside. "Xena?" cries Gabs, and she looks as she's going to move to the cave, but when the explosion starts, she pulls Beowulf in the opposite direction. Xena walks out of the cave, none the worse for the wear, and holds up the Rhinegold, formerly known as the Ring to show Gabrielle all is okay. Grinhilda walks out of the cave. "Grinhilda?" Gabs asks. "That's right," Xena repiles. She turns to Beo. "Beowulf, I'll always be indebted to you for bringing me back here." "I needed the best. The legends didn't lie, Xena, you are the greatest warrior I've ever known." Xena whispers back, "Thank you, Friend." She sees two horses waiting for them, and puts a hand on Grin's shoulder. "Let's take you home." Gabs hugs Beo and says, "Thank you." "I'll miss you," he says, with a fond smile. "You have a good heart, Beoulf," she responds. "If it hadn't been for you, I'd still be in Brunhilda's flames." She gives a tiny laugh. Beowulf answers, "I think we both know Xena would have found you eventually." I think that statement says a lot. He knew he didn't have a chance with Gabs, but was bent on saving her anyway. I like that. He kisses Gabs hand, and she walks toward Xena who is waiting patiently on one of the horses. Gabs turns and smiles at the air. "Thank you, Brunhilda," she says. Hey, Gabs has braids in her hair! "God's speed, Gabrielle," Brun's voice whispers back. Gabrielle climbs on a rock and takes Xena's offered hand to climb up behind her. Check out Xena's hand on Gabs butt! I guess she doesn't want Gabbers to go tumbling off backwards! Xena leads the flying horses into the sky as Beo and Dean watch. Dean starts to say something, but Beo cuts him off with a hand. "Not a word, Wigwaff (or whatever)...not a word".
Gabs was just dying to ride on one of those flying horses, you know she was! "You all right?" Xena asks her, to which she gets an emphatic, "Yeah!" This time, the close ups are good, but the long shot is very poorly done. Xena and Grin exchange...err...grins....and they ride to Valhala. Xena marches in by herself, and is stopped by some guards. Odin seems surprised to see Xena and to see she's "found herself again". Guess what he wants? The ring, of course. Xena says, "I have brought something back that belongs here yes." Odin expresses disbelief and Xena whispers in full Xena form, "Grinhilda is the best thing that happened to Valhala before it was poisoned with my bloodlust." Odin wants to know what she wants, and Grin wants to be head Valkyris again. Odin says "I'll think about it," and Xena approaches him. "Don't think too long." Love the delivery on that line! Odin knows she has the power to kill gods, but I think he doesn't hesitate just because Xena is...well...she's Xena. "Welcome back, Grinhilda," he says.
Xena turns to Gabs who had entered with Grin. "Thirty five years ago. The shame makes it feel like it was yesterday." Well, technically, it was thirty six years ago, but who am I to argue with the Warrior Princess? Gabs replies, "Memories are powerful, Xena. I'm just thankful that yours brought you back to me." They are walking out of the room. "There's one that's still troubling me," Xena replies.
Did someone say Rhine maidens? Boy, they weren't happy to see her! "Stay back, Xena! You took all we had years ago!" Seems like Rhine Maiden One bears a grudge! Can't blame her! This Xena isn't disguising her expression though. It's easy to tell she's being sincere when she holds up the Rhinegold, telling them she's there to apologize and return it. Gabriellle is watching all this from the edge of the river. Xena swims over to RM1 and hands the Rhinegold to her, causing her to say, "What magic has made Xena into such a noble creature that she would give up the power of the Rhinegold?" I knew the answer. So do you. "It wasn't magic," she replies, and looks over at Gabs with a love filled expression. Gabs just smiles back, her nose wrinkling. She looks so much younger with this hairstyle...it's a wonderful moment, even better than the exchange of Who's Gurkhan? We fade out on Gabs smile.
So that's it...a play by play call of the episode the way I saw it. The episode was a bit rushed, so many loose ties to finish up, but all in all, a terrific end to a fantastic trilogy. True, nothing was really answered in the Xena-Gabs relationship, but it's nice to see it reaffirmed in such strong style. Can't wait for the next episodes!
The disclaimer is "Any similarities between our story and the classic fairy tale is purely coincidental." Sure it is. But my question is...even though Xena didn't consumate her marriage, is she technically married to Rothgar?
By the gods, I hope not!
Any comments, questions, criticisms are welcome! I've got to go to work, but will be back later tonight!
This commentary is by John Vasser.
`REIM'ING THE VALKYRIE'S RETURN
This ep is sure to please you if you dabble in amnesia,
But even if you don't there's still much for you to ponder.
Remember that last week we saw "The Ring" was made of fire
And it looked as if our Gabster was entrapped and couldn't wander?
Alas and lack a day, the fire took its toll and then some
Of knightly men and manly knights besotted with our Bard.
And all the while our Warrior Princess, though we didn't know it,
Was finding out that life without her Xena-self was hard.
Help was needed and so Beowulf sailed off with friend most quickly,
All the way to Denmark to enlist Hrothgar on their side.
But sad to say, 'twas not to be for Hrothgar was too busy.
He had a cow, he had a kirk and he hoped to have a bride.
And all the while the brambles grew around the sleeping Gabby,
And all the while the fire burned, a formidable protection,
And all the while the monster lurked with hate and stoic patience,
Dreaming how she'd slash their bloody parts in all directions.
In Denmark, a cow walked down the isle with Wealthea aboard.
But Beowulf knowing better thought, "How could SHE survive?"
It was Xena! So he called her name and though she did not answer,
The name bestirred some teardrops in the memory of her eyes.
She now must talk with Beowulf and finds his tale way strange,
She sees a shadow of her real self, and a vision of her friend.
They raced their ship across the sea to rescue Gabrielle
But found Valkyries and Odin who would fight them to the end.
Now somewhere from down deep within, our Xena knew full well
That she must make them think that she had truly lost her will.
It worked. They set her free and thought. "Go find your sleeping love,
Go brave the fire, regain the ring, then let the monster kill!"
We'd never doubt that Xena would walk through that wall of fire,
Would cut the clinging vines that captured Gabbie in their fold.
We knew she'd 'waken with a kiss of love that friendship knows,
Regain the ring, and return it to the Maidens of the Reingold.
We knew she'd make both Odin and the monster turn to the greater good.
We knew she'd right the wrongs she caused no matter what the cost.
We've laughed and cried each time as Xena fought for love and friends.
Now saddened by the empty years ahead, we cannot bear OUR loss
As Season Six becomes the twilight where our Love, our Xena, ends.
By Shelley Sullivan.
Women in BEOWULF don't show up a lot, and here's what BEOWULF has to say about Hrothgar's wife. (excerpted from the Breen translation)The giver of treasure, Hrothgar,This is pretty much it for Hrothgar's wife.
grey haired and brave in battle,
felt glad-the chief of the Danes
could count on help.
That guardian of the folk
heard in Beowulf firm resolution.
The men laughed, the din
resounding and the words
Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's queen,
came forth, mindful of kin,
adorned in gold to greet the men.
First she gave the cup
to the country's guardian,
that one dear to his people,
biding joy in his beer drinking.
That king famous for victories
happily took the feast cup.
Then that woman of the Helmlings
went round to each, young and old,
sharing the precious cup.
In proper time that ring-adorned
queen excellent in mind
brought the mead cup to Beowulf.
She greeted him, thanking
God that her wish had
been fufilled, that finally
a hero had come who
she could count on
to stop Grendel's crimes.
Beowulf, fierce in war,
received the cup from Wealhtheow
and spoke eagerly of battle.
"I resolved when I set to sea
in my boat with my warriors
that I, alone, will fufill
the wish of your people
or die in the foe's grasp.
I shall perform the deeds
of a hero or I have passed
my last day in this mead hall."
The woman liked these words,
this brave speech of the Geat,
the gold-adorned folk queen
went to sit by her lord.
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
02-26-01. 02/03/01, Renee O'Connor interview at Upbeat Magazine by Bridget Petrella with additional editing by Sonia Satra. Title: 'Xena' Star Renee O'Connor: Deeply Soulful And Subtly Engaging. Check it out at http://www.2upbeatmag.com/TUBE-FILE/tube_file_renee-oconnor-feature-intervie w.html. Here's some selections:
UPBEAT: Speaking of writing, the show's writers obviously spend a great deal of time researching storylines, case in point, the whole Norse trilogy, there was an interesting combination of several vastly different Norse myths, all incorporated into one rather captivating story arc. In order to accomplish something of that sort of magnitude, one would have to be somewhat well versed in mythological history... We noticed a plethora of literary references, sort of a Norse mythological buffet_ if you will_ Even the fairy tale `Sleeping Beauty' was tossed in for good measure... And it all works out, which is quite amazing_
Renee O'Connor: "I know Rob (Tapert) has shelves of books on mythology, Greece, I mean, every story that we've approached, he has several books, that he's actually read and been through as research in order to create these stories. So I think what happens is that he usually begins with the idea and then within the group of writers, they all add to it and it becomes something else, but Rob definitely does a lot of research. It's done so well_ he's (Rob Tapert) just been the most passionate man behind the show, even more so than Lucy and myself."
UPBEAT: Obviously, the outfits are designed to be much more flattering than overly practical, in terms of fighting off the elements... I mean, during the Norse story arc, Gabrielle had to have been freezing, but she had that whole "Shania Twain" look going on...
Renee O'Connor: "(laughs) Tell me about it. (laughs) That cracks me up. I mean, I just have to laugh about it sometimes, because all of the other actors will be dressed in these possum furs, with layers upon layers of clothing, with all of this cold and snow_ and then there's Gabrielle in her little `disco bikini' number (laughs)."
01-06-01. Renee O'Connor's role was was limited in this episode in order to allow her time to prep for her sophomore directoral project, DANGEROUS PREY.
11-14-00. Due to popular demand we reprint the entire Xena gets married and rides a cow newstory from the Waikato Times by Jeff Brass and Kristin Edge, entitled "Samantha van der Sande with Sooty who is set to become a television star. Black beauty a Xena star" and dated September 4, 2000.A Waikato cow once destined for the plate is now headed for fame and fortune. Sooty, a 5-year-old Angus-Friesian cross cow, put her best hoof forward when she stepped out in her recent television debut for an episode of the show Xena Warrior Princess.
Trainer Samantha van der Sande, a fifth former at Hamilton Girls High School, said Sooty was lucky to live to see success. "A neighbour found Sooty on the side of the road near Pirongia and gave her to us to rear. She was covered in cuts and was a tiny little calf. She must have been a bobby calf and fallen off the trailer," Miss van der Sande said.
Sooty soon learned to lead and developed into a people-loving cow.
The van der Sande family of Pirongia registered her with Auckland-based agency Animals on Q. The family had used the agency for their team of clydesdales that were promoted as the DB Clydesdales.
Sooty got the call to play a star role in the marriage episode of Xena which will screen in New Zealand early next year.
Even the birth of her second calf, days before the big performance in July, did not stop her.
Miss van der Sande said in the scene she led Sooty up the aisle with Xena - actor Lucy Lawless - aboard before she stepped off at the altar.
"I wasn't nervous but I was hoping Sooty wouldn't put the brakes on half way down the aisle."
After the wedding scene Sooty is "stabbed" by the newly wed husband, roasted and eaten.
During the filming in a Henderson warehouse Sooty was taken backstage to feed her calf and another adopted calf - appropriately named Xena and Lucy.
"She started to get sore feet on the concrete at the end of the day. We left Pirongia at 2am and we didn't finish filming until 5pm," Miss van der Sande said.
The black beauty loved the limelight and did not put a hoof wrong. There are no immediate auditions for Sooty but if this cow has her way it will not be long before she stars again.
11-12-00. Apparently, Gabrielle goes into a coma (ala Sleeping Beauty) and can only come out of it when kissed by her soulmate. Okay, everybody in unison, "Who's Gabrielle's soulmate?" If you do not know by now, then you should stop watching the show. Of course, there is the slight problem of Gabrielle's soulmate allegedly having amnesia and being a recent newly-wed...but then if death can't keep these two apart, then nothing can.
11-12-00. (a href="http://www.creationent.com" target="_blank">The Creation Entertainment fanclub site states, "There are some stunning photos coming out of this episode. Xena in a long white dress walking in the surf. Between the costume designer, Geoff Short (the photographer) and Lucy, this stuff is awesome."
10-13-00. At the UK Panathenaea Convention in September 1-3, in London, Dean O'Gorman mentioned that he just filmed this episode. He also mentioned that he played a Viking and got to fight a monster (Grendel, perchance?). He said the monster was played by a large 7 foot tall actor in a rubber suit with long tentacle-like rubber arms. (Yup, must be Grendel!). He also mentioned that there was some "hot stuff" between Xena and Gabrielle. Could this be the fabled kiss that RJ Stewart hinted at in his talk at University of Arizona last May?
10-13-00. This episode has been referred to as a "Sleeping Beauty" homage. Let's hope it means Xena gets her memory back, dumps the redshirt, and just gets it over with by giving Gabrielle a smooch that she will not soon forget (not to mention the fans).
07-16-00. The exciting conclusion of the Norse Trilogy.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
These things are by Beth Gaynor.
Literature lesson time again: Wiglaf and Hrothgar are both traditionally a part of the Beowulf story. Wiglaf seems pretty unchanged, as a young sidekick for Beowulf. Hrothgar is wildly different, though: in the classic tale, it's his land that's being ravaged by Grendel. Xena has progressed from Alberech, the maker of the ring, to Siegfried, the fearless hero who awakens the woman sleeping within the fire (who, according to Wagner, is Brunnhilda). Wagner's story ends less happily, though. The Rheinmaidens end up with the ring returned, but Siegfried dies and all of Valhalla is destroyed with... get this... the Twilight of the Gods.
The Viking priest/whatever starts the marriage ceremony by saying it will be a ritual of exchanging of blades... except then they just exchange rings and no blades. What's up with dat?
The valkyrie's flying horses land on the beach... and continue on with a long trail of horseprints behind them. Whoops!
Big-time dialog blooper: Beowulf says that "*Grinnhilda's* flame will recognize Xena as Gabrielle's soulmate." I listened to it about six times, thinking that he surely said BRUNNhilda, but it was GRINNhilda. Whoops!
What do stunties wear under their dresses? According to the one who does the Xenaflips during the fight outside the Brunnfire, they wear tan bicycle shorts.
Xena was able to tell that the monster she killed last episode wasn't Grinnhilda because it still had all its fingers and she chopped one of Grinnhilda's off. But when Grinnhilda clutches Xena to squeeze her, she seems to have all her fingers.
Click here to read a transcript of RETURN OF THE VALKYRIE
Any Similarity Between Our Story and The Classic Childrens Fairy Tale Is Purely Coincidental
From the CreationEntertainment photoclub promos:
How Xena wakes up Gabrielle.
Xena's clothing choices are always different when she had amnesia.
MaryD's Page's screen grabs of the episode
"Filming Wagner", a report on the filming of RETURN OF THE VALKYRIES.