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xena and gabrielle and donuts

XWP: Path of Vengeance

The long awaited return of my Xena reviews. (That was sarcastic, by the way.)

1) Okay, so the Amazon tribal council is convening. As it turns out (and I suppose we should all know this as faithful fans of the show), the Amazons are small groups under a large umbrella of lady-fierceness, and they're looking to combine their ranks to shore up their power, particularly as a way to fight against Roman invasion. This means that the Grecian Amazons, the Amazons of the Steppes (Cyane's tribe), and the other Amazons who are random and I don't know, are all together to figure this out.

2) They have a new queen: Varia. Varia is of Gabrielle's tribe (as far as I can tell) and is arrogant and buff. A dangerous combination? Perhaps.

3) So Eve is doing her peace thing and she's taking it to the Amazons. It would seem as though this has some reasonings behind it (well . . . duh). First, she's on a mission as an Elijan to spread his word. Second, she was a horrible douche to the Amazons when she was Livia, Bitch of Rome (TM) so she kind of owes them. As she's breaching Amazon lands, however, a random group of Roman soldiers find her and try to escort her for protection.

Uh. Huh? Dudes, she's been Eve now for a pretty decent chunk of time. More than half a season. Ya'll need to get over this Livia thing and let the lady live her Eve-ish life.

But, regardless, they don't, and because they aren't stupid, the Amazons figure out she's on their land with the Romans and, in true Xena fashion, there's a fight that comes from trying for peace. The Romans lose (of course) and Eve is taken back as a prisoner.

4) Meanwhile, in some random village, Xena and Gabrielle hear about all of this. I bet there's a confrontation a-brewin'! Because Xena, as always, looks super mad that anyone would pick on her spawn.

5) Varia orders the other Amazons to kill the Roman prisoners. She's just so angry. She reminds me of my students. I just want to sit her down and tell her to calm the fuck down. CALM THE FUCK DOWN, VARIA. Amazons don't kill prisoners (except for when they do) so you need to chillax.

6) Remember when Gabrielle was queen? Whatever happened to that? As it turns out, she kind of still is queen, even though Varia is also the queen. I suppose she never gave her right of throne (or whatever it's called), though I remember her leaving it to Eve. But she died but then was alive again, so the tribe kind of had to go on without her. And Ephiny was queen in her absence, right? And then Marga. And now Varia. So I think she's queen because she's still alive, but because she was absent so often and, also, dead/frozen for twenty plus years, her tribe has a different way of doing things.

She appeals to Cyan Jr. to take her to Varia so they can negotiate/break-out Eve.

7) Xena's all protective and shit over Eve. On the one hand, I get it. Xena was in a "coma" for about twenty years, so even though Eve grew up without a mother, Xena's not really missing that time herself, so Eve is . . . Eve. But, still. It's Eve but it's not. She's adapted really quickly from going from an infant to an adult in what must seem like the span of days. So I need her to be less protective because Eve is an adult who made some bat shit crazy choices, but I also sympathize with the fact that Eve, in her mind, is still kind of a baby.

8) So at Eve's (or should I say "Livia"?) trial, we learn that Varia's sister was killed by her during a slave raid. Seriously, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Those evil genes Xena's carrying sure are powerful.

9) Seriously, though, I hate Livia's war cry. In the flashbacks to the slave raid, whenever she does it, I want to hurl something at my TV screen. Or just hurl. I'm undecided.

10) Okay, so Varia wants justice for what was done to her sister and her fellow Amazons, but is it justice or vengeance? Certainly Xena is constantly grappling with the idea of where the line is between these two concepts. What is the difference, when all is said and done? Does the difference lie in intention and motivation?

11) Xena's allowed an hour to present a case for Eve, provided for her because she and Gabrielle have been such friends to the Amazons over the years (I guess they don't remember the whole slaughter of the tribe that took place forty years before). Xena notices that Varia is using a sword given to her by Ares (that rascal!) who is, of course, manipulating the whole thing. Dude gets around.

What do we make of this? Is the ultimate idea that men can't help build women up? That when men get involved, women are sucked of their power? Because as soon as Ares meddles, the Amazon nation kind of goes to hell. But is the point, then, that men are corrupting, and that women would be better off without them? Or is the point that women are weak and easily manipulated? Varia should know the consequences of aligning herself with Ares and yet she does so because she wants the power. It's a pattern constantly seen on the show. Xena did it, Callisto did it, that chick in the body merge episode did it, Livia did it . . . I'm sure there's more but it's late and I can't remember . . . Ares uses women easily. I know he's a god but still. They fall for it every time.

Learn from your mistakes, ladies!

12) Xena tries to make Varia see that she's being manipulated. She says Varia is "The One". Uh. No. Probably not.

13) Meanwhile, Gabrielle joins the deliberation council. She believes that she can be a force for saving Eve if she's working within. It kind of backfires on our favorite bard, though, when she ultimately has to vote for Livia's guilt in order to remain on the council.

Tricky one, that.

Xena is, understandably, pissy. But gods, seriously, I hate how her relationship to Eve makes her act. She's always so damn solemn and angry and morose and annoying and boring, honestly. I don't care for Mother!Xena.

14) Xena wants to simply break Eve out of jail, but ends up yelling at Ares. She's pissed that he keeps repeating his old cycle of corruption and chaos. But it's what he does, Ares argues. You can't really get mad at him for doing what he does.

15) Gabrielle ends up challenging Varia in order to free Eve, so they have to fight. Naturally, Varia kicks Gabrielle's ass in this fight.

What the fuck? Seriously. How in the hell does Gabrielle lose this fight? Or, if she was going to lose, why did she lose so quickly? The woman is a great warrior. Kick ass with her staff and her sais, and I don't think she'd suck at hand to hand combat. She's built. And she can't beat Varia? When she's apprenticed alongside XENA, THE MOTHER FUCKING WARRIOR PRINCESS, for six years? (Not to mention those twenty years in a coma.)

Plot hole.

16) So, of course, because she's Xena, she fights Varia to free Eve (and avenge Gabrielle? Fuck, someone should) and figures out a way to make Varia come to her senses (probably in that weird whisper voice she uses whenever she's talking about Eve and how she's all not that evil Bitch of Rome (TM)) and she's all like, "Kill me if you want true vengeance because I killed all those Amazons and I gave birth to Eve and it's all about me, me, me."

I guess that reverse psychology shit works because Varia gives up and, on top of that, sees Ares for what he really is: an asshole.

17) The Amazons end up sentencing Livia to death, anyway.

Well, fuck.

But guess what?! They sentence Livia to death so that Eve might live in peace! HORRAY!

God, what a fucking boring storyline. Will someone let it end already?

Oh! You will! Eve's going east to Chin to spread Eli's message? Thank the gods. Maybe Xena will become more interesting in the interim.

18) And on my last note, I don't like that Gabrielle is not considered Eve's mother as much as Xena. I get it. Xena's got the biology thing and the evil thing and the redemption thing and blah, blah, blah, but Gabrielle was there throughout the pregnancy, took care of Eve when she was an infant, sacrificed her safety for her time and again, and yeah, maybe she almost stabbed her in the back with her sais, but that was only one time and she was, like, possessed or something like that.

The writers had a great opportunity to redefine family values. In 1999, which would have been pretty cool. Instead, they decided to make Gabrielle . . . what? The cool aunt? Unacceptable. Xena and Gabrielle were co-parents.

Deal with it, conservative views of the nineties.
Overall, a rather meh episode, particularly as Xena's overprotective mothering instincts annoy me. Sue me. So I'm going to give this 2.5 out of 5 airlocks.

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