Strange Transmissions
Warning! Major spoiler alert for readers outside the USA or Canada. Please note: The Xena episode below has been reviewed on its own merits, not for its controversial content which has caused it to be removed from syndication
selected from Xposé #34
XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS – Season Four
16: The Way
Directed by John Fawcett
Syndicated • February 15 1999
4-star rating

GabrielleFollowing on the heels of last week's glimpse of Xena as a saint, this episode explores the roles of Xena and Gabrielle as icons of Love and War in the greater Xena universe. Together with Eli from the episode Devi earlier this season, Xena and Gabrielle help take on the demon lord Indrajit.

Xena spends part of the episode trying to sort out her current self from the future self she has seen, toying with the idea of following a life of peace. Gabrielle ends up trying to follow that path as well, but fails in her first test. It seems that a bit too much of Xena's butt-kicking persona has infected the once virginal bard. In the end, Gabrielle throws away her staff and recommits herself to protecting life through non-violence. With the help of Hindu god Krishna, Xena reaffirms her commitment to her path, the way of the warrior.

This episode features one of the best examinations of the different worldviews that Xena and Gabrielle represent. The writing and direction keep this story moving. Although their performances are pretty stock, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor do a fine job of leading Xena and Gabrielle through their awakenings.

Sandy Clark

THE PRETENDER Season Three
12: Unsinkable
Directed by Chuck Bowman
NBC • February 13 1999
3-star rating

Jarod in ChainsThe producers and writers are flexing their creative muscles with Unsinkable: the A-story is told in flashback, divides into three sections (The Beginning, The Middle and The End) and is narrated by Jarod. Throughout the episode, Jarod is chained and drowning; the flashbacks depict how he was summoned to a meeting by his old acquaintance Argyle, who owes $5000. But Argyle is caught in a war between two loan sharks, and Jarod looks set to pay the ultimate price…

It's a highly successful comic caper, with director Chuck Bowman utilizing every trick in the book (frequent random freeze frames, retro incidental music) to capture the style of a 1950s gangster show. Yet, once more, the main plot is overshadowed by the irresistible B-story, in which Parker confides in Sydney (flashbacks again!) the developments in her relationship with Tommy.

While repairing damage to Miss Parker's house, Tommy has found a sealed room - her mother's studio. At last, the emotional floodgates begin to crumble, as the tearful Miss Parker allows someone to enter the closed off areas of her soul. As Tommy holds out his hand, and gently leads her into the room, we are left in no doubt that there is hope for redemption yet.

Brian Barratt

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