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A Tale of Two Muses


Written by Gillian Horvath
Directed by Michael Hurst

Writers
Pursh
Tympany
Top back to TWO DINARS

Pursh on A Tale Of Two Muses:

THE SPIRIT MOVED ME

Having long been an advocate of naked dance under the pale moonlight as an antidote to most any ill of the spirit, I can freely say with an open heart that I love this episode. It's first string on the A team, right up there with The Bitter Suite, A Day in the Life, The Price, Destiny, The Quest, One Against An Army, The Debts, Sac II and The Sin Trades. It's cute and smart and funny and it's Xena Staff's best political tweak since Here She Comes...Miss Amphipolis.
 

REDEMPTION OF THE RAT

I admit that I've been a little unforgiving, ahem, with Turda in the past, mostly because the little rodent deserved every bit of scornful derision she got. But now as I sit here riding the unparalleled high created by two Joxer-free episodes in a row, I must say that seeing the rag insert rat girl again was fun. Of all the Xena hanger-on characters Tart-head has quickly evolved into one of the most pleasant to watch. And I'm glad there's a woman in the mix of the XWP rotating character brigade. She's a good addition to Autolycus, Sal and Brain-free boy. And when you throw a matured Tarta in an episode that includes Auto in drag, gABrielle's intelligent defiance, great music, fun dancing, fantastic soft-handed political commentary and a purposive Warrior Princess who has happily reunited with her flesh-tone lipstick, you've got a great episode. Brava!
 

GET 'EM UP AND PRASIE HER...ERRRR...HIM!

Michael Hurst gets it. Once again his direction displays his sharp sense about how the camera should read Xena and gABrielle individually, and as a couple. He knows Autolycus and knows how to get the most from the Thief, especially when the Thief is interacting with the Princess. He is brilliant at putting Lucy's range of facial expression and modes of delivery to work, and he knows the Xena and gABrielle characters well enough to inspire a smoothness in their interactions that is perfectly flawless when it comes to accenting the important themes here. And there are plenty of important themes here. Brava...errrr...o!

From the costumes to the rhetoric Muses' symbolic significance is rich. Autolycus wears an all black long sleeve, high collar burnoose that has a generously cut, modified flying nun habit instead of a loose fitting hood. His partner in constriction wears a tight black leather head condom and a full-length Uncle Fester gown that is accessorized with snugly applied friction tape. The youthful protagonists and their inclined to be free-thinking parents wear baggy natural fabric clothes in Earth tones that are complimented by splashes of delightful color. Cool.

Dance is the metaphor for creativity and freedom, and the ultimate flash point for the conflicted paradigms represented by free creative expression and its suppression. Cool again, and cheers to Xena Staff for giving us a new forum besides war and warlords to showcase ideological conflict.
 

GET 'EM UP AND PRAISE DYKES

And then there's our girls. gABrielle's refusal to join in and praise Calliope, even at Xena's urging, and her alarmed disbelief at the willingness of the gray masses to participate in the so-called "reform" effort without question, perfectly expresses an important part of her essential self. She is tuned to the pitch of higher purpose and as a result justice and fairness are never expendable for her. Deployed on this plot that trait manifests as her flat rejection of onerous fundamental oppression, as displayed by her refusal to refrain from dancing. Cool yet one more time.

And Xena gets a nice swipe at a layered double entendre that comports well with her essential character. When she's introducing Autolycus as Philipon the Flying Preacher she says, "People of Paleos may I present to you Philipon of Crete. Reformer of warlords, dancers and evil people" playfully emphasizing "evil people" while she looks beyond Autolycus and over gABrielle and Turda, who have already passed in front of the camera. Xena appears to be tipping her hand about Auto's real mission by tossing her gaze at Reverend Condom-head as she emphasizes "evil people." This is a great example of the wizardry in Hursts' direction and Lucy's skill in delivery. What a nifty visual metaphor about looking beyond the obvious to ferret out the true evil.

Here that evil hides in the fertile dung heap of a worn out tradition that exclusively serves the interests of a few tight-assed control freaks. John Givins gets the actor of the week award for a brilliant performance as the mascot representing oppression. Reverend Condom-head is so insulated by the myopia attendant in his privilege as community behavior monitor that he sees only what he wants to see in Philipon, and remains impervious throughout the entire episode about Philipon's role in his demise. Givins conveyed this without a glitch.
 

GET 'EM UP AND PRAISE HER? HIM?

Is Gillian Horvath a girl or a boy? Who knows? Who cares. Let's just hope we see more of this writer in the XWP future. Here Horvath strings together a smooth story that is loaded with delightful, cerebral allusions to classical mythology. And even though some of the names and traits from antiquity get flipped around in the translation, the writer intelligently uses the classical Muses as the larger referent for the episode's exploration of oppressive religiosity and it's relationship to freedom and creative expression.

Our old pal Mnemosyne was the first Muse of the original triplicate. That triplicate later expanded to the nine Muses, who were led by Thalia, overseer of all things musical. And though it was Terpsichore who was responsible for dance (Calliope was charged with heroic poetry), collectively the Muses were know as the divine source of inspiration, ideas and creativity. The Alexandrian shrine of the Muses was of course known as the Museum, which according to A.E. deCamp was "the nearest thing to a modern university" in the ancient world. Sadly the shrine, like so many other pagan treasures, was destroyed by christians intolerant of learning that was inconsistent with their brand of monotheism. Horvath's story echo's this little explored history in a playful, palatable manner that gently nudges us into acknowledging its contemporary relevance.

Because dance encompasses movement and fluidity and is defined by the constant evolving expression of differing ideas through the presentation of new forms, it is a clever metaphor for freedom and creative expression, and works beautifully in this plot as Reverend Condom-head's most prominent and troublesome false evil.
 

HOLD THAT PRASIE FOR JUST ONE SECOND...

If this episode is to be faulted, weakness lies with the sterile dances between Xena and her lovely assistant, and the awkward coupling throughout the finale. Xena has her big moments (save the gorgeous and rewind worthy parting shot) with Auto, and gABS is alone but for the opening cut with Tara. But even these soft spots offer something to celebrate.
 

OKAY, GET 'EM UP AGAIN

The quick flash of Xena smiling gorgeously as she watches the merry maidens, represented by Tara and gABrielle, dancing in the opening moments of the finale shows us the positive side of one manifestation of the dominant elder archetype. Rev. Magistrate His Honor Condom-head is autocratic, authoritarian, obsessed with control and overly interested in the movement and life patterns of others. In the alternative Xena is the wise elder, fostering and enjoying the play, recalcitrance and fluidity of the youths. With this Xena Staff provides another symbolic juxtaposition and side-steps the all too easy ageist clich* that youth has the exclusive patent on all that is dynamic and good and free, and that by its terms age is static and therefore deserving of disregard. Xena is age and experience at its best here. She's wise, approving and generous in lending her support, brains and good plans to the natural healthy urges of youth, which are creativity, energy, exploration of new ways and a lack of fear in challenging skewed tradition. Conversely Rev. Condom-head represents the worst manifestations typically assigned to age. At his core he is fearful and as a result he clings to old ways, which although imbalanced and unhealthy, are a comfort to him because they render him in control. And control is the old familiar friend that enables him to project his static vision on the rest of the people who occupy the same sphere that he does.

TheMuses finale is exquisite in it's expression of free-spirited joy. From the guest appearance by Thing, my favorite member of the Addams Family cast, who starts the defiant dancing off with a nifty snap-snap-snap, to the final, laughing, loving embrace of the Fin and the Femme, this ending is a delightful display symbolizing the antithetical paradigms presented by religious fundamentalism and the naturally spirit-enriching joy that attends creativity born of the heart.

Whew-hooo! Dance or die baby.
 

HERE PIGGY PIGGY

After we learned that Rev. Condom-head is the town's chief magistrate, and that he's in charge of the militia, and that he has usurped the responsibility of ministering to the spiritual needs of the community, I found myself holding my breath waiting for more revelations about other possible expressions of his extreme testosterone imbalance. I mean just how many other areas of people's lives can this regimented, joyless, condom face stick his snout into?

Whelp, it seems there's always room for the short snouted in the municipal art critic and censorship department. Fueled by Philipon's warning that the act of "two people holding hands" will most certainly lead to some unspeakable act, the good Reverend takes his traveling salvation show to Tara's boyfriend's place where Daddy-o gets a spanking for dabbling in oil renderings of the homeland. As if the annoyance of Rev. Condom-head's oft repeated doxology "get 'em up and praise her" weren't enough, he also has to subject the good citizens of Paleos to his purgatorial aesthetic that re-interprets the image of an obelisk as an obscene and evil phallus unworthy of bearing the banner of art. With this as a jumping off point it isn't difficult to believe that this narrow minded bean bag head would stage a murder in an attempt to prove that inspired, free-spirited happiness shares an intimate correlational relationship with disharmonious anarchy.

Ahhhh, he may be a sieve-brained tight-ass bent on controlling the dynamic urges of creativity, the courts, the army, the municipal endowment for the arts and the souls of his besieged flock, but he's out of his league when it comes to running the call-in confessional hot line of Xena inspired sin.
 

PWAD THE CONFESSOR'S
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY XENITIAN CONFESSIONAL

Where well meaning Xenites of all hair colors call to relieve guilt caused by covetous jealousy of gABrielle and other ills of the spirit.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Come all ye pig-bag sinners and gather round thy cordless and thy old fashioned phones and dial. Yes, dial and speak one on one with your PWAD. Come hither o' sin-bags and rid yourselves of your vile burdens by confessing your Xena related sins today. Come and wash thy hands of this extreme lezzieness that has infiltrated your misdirected lives. Come yes all ye homos and snap off that syndicated box and replace it's sordid teachings with the argot of a needle-head like me. Oh yes, come ye girly-girls and galy-gals alike and get that niggling Xena neurosis off your breastplate! Get it off your chest right here in front of all of your peers so the rest of the Xenaverse can compare themselves to you and feel morally superior!

PWAD has spoken and this is the word of PWAD!

SOME MORE WORDS OF PWAD: Look! PWAD'S confessional Xenitian hotline and phone bank of filth, is ringing! Praise Me! Praise Me, for I bring thee a veritable bin of whirling electronic sin. Praises be all to Me, for the sinning Xenites have come forth to purge their bad haircuts and other maladies that consistently haunt the lesbian nation!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Hello PWAD? Hello? Am I on? Is this thing working? Hello?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yesssssss...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: PWAD my name is Marsha Hades of the Hades Bunch and I have a Xenitian confession.

THE WORD OF PWAD: You've come to the right confessional filth hotline, sinner! Speak or be damned!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Well that's kind of a heavy handed way to address a sensitive gal like me...

THE WORD OF PWAD: Speak! The lines of Xenitian sin are ablaze with the thunder of pollution emitting white chariots of fire! Speak or get offa da blower!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Okay, okay. Sheesh. Well here goes. I confess that I've been having an affair on Xena with Miss Jane Hathaway since 1956. I don't want to hurt Xena, but I love Miss Jane, and she's promised to break up with Della, if I break up with Xena first.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Have you and this Hathaway ever held hands, sinner?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Dude, like, of course...

THE WORD OF PWAD: That proves it! All paintings must be burned! Go forth and burn all of the art in your house, neighborhood, office and local museum!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Yea, sure. But what about the intrigue of my ribald Xenitian love triangle?

A static-laced silence envelopes the line.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Hello? PWAD? Are you there?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Quiet! I'm doing the math...Yes! It's just as I suspected! This is no love triangle, it's a love square!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Huh?

THE WORD OF PWAD: See, there's you, Hathaway and Xena.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Right. That's three, which is a triangle in most communities here in the global village.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ahhhhh, but stupid sinner, we mustn't forget gABrielle! She's involved in this sin laden pig trough too.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Well if you're gonna get that technical we should also count Della, which makes it a ribald love quadrilateral. Oh and we should count June Cleavage who has been seeing Della for years on the sneak. And then there's Ginger and Maryanne who, in addition to seeing each other for decades, have also both periodically dated Xena. That's eight, so really I guess this is a ribald love stop sign.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ahhhhhh the chariots of flaming desire have come upon our humble streets and cursed all of us innocent road users forever! The four way traffic stop will never be the same!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Uhhhh right. So what about my l-u-v problem oh great PWAD of the filth line?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Well sinner as you know the omniscient, omnibeneficient PWAD does not get involved in matters of the heart because they almost always involve some sort of hand holding, which, like art, PWAD opposes on moral grounds. However, if PWAD were inclined to become involved in such affairs, PWAD might tend to advise a Hades-ite of your status that the answer to your choice quandary is so obvious that the Priest of the Plural, or any other cognitively limited rodent would realize it faster than Cyane accessorizing in a sweat lodge.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Wow! That's fast!

THE WORD OF PWAD: Tragically PWAD has no...errrr...I mean, thankfully. Thankfully, yes that's what I mean, thankfully, PWAD has no first hand knowledge in this area.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER ONE: Groovy PWAD. I mean sorry about your lack of experience with Cyane and all, but thanks for your advice. I'm not sure it helped at all, but it was compassionate and insightful, sorta.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yes, yes. Well that about exhausts...oh wait...the switch board has lit up again! We have another caller! Yes! PWAD'S free confessional filth line is aglow with sin! Glory! Get 'em up an praise Me! Praise Me!

Ring ring.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yesssss...Hello...PWAD'S filthy, ugly, vulgar, dirty sin trap. This is PWAD. May I help you?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER TWO: Hiya buddy boy or gal or whatever you are. Cackle, cackle. My name is Wicked Wanda and I confess that I like the go-go gABbies in The Quill is Mightier.It's the music. I swear. I just love the '60's. Especially all of those memorable hair styles like the Flip, and the Lift. I mean really it's just the '60's that I like, and that includes go-go dancing. The music and the dancing. That's what I like. And the hair. Yes, the hair. That's really the real attraction. The hair and the music. My love of the three naked dancing gABbies really has nothing to do with a naked gABrielle cubed. I mean cubed you know, times three. Nothing at all. Nope. It's the music. I swear. It is! It's the music. And the '60's. And the hair.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Nice try you rank dirty sinner. Your nattering justification in the name of an attraction to a certain type of cultural milieu, namely mid-twentieth century music and hair, is understandable, since you don't want your contemporaries to view you as a blathering sexist pig-bag. And while PWAD herself found the image in question most noteworthy...errrr...filthy, filthy, I mean filthy...it may be of some persuasive measure for you to ponder thusly: by injudiciously salivating over said image you have aligned yourself with Joxer, Warrior Prince.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER TWO: What the hell is that?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Never mind. Next call please.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER THREE: Hello PWAD. My name is Pursh. Inspired by the dire inertia that presents itself whenever we're in re-runs I recently re-attached When In Rome, and I need to confess that my decision to pan it in my Two Dinars review was both unintelligent and venal. Upon multiple viewings I have realized that it is a good episode worthy of praise, much like Hestia and Calliope.

THE WORD OF PWAD: And Me!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER THREE: Errrr...sure PWAD...and you. Anyway, Blessed PWAD, I am burdened by an ever-present feeling of guilt inspired nausea that tells me I should write a redaction, or at a minimum pay my Xena standee large sums of money to flog me into shamed obsolescence with the borrowed branches of Miss Twiggy Whipper.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Oh my, Mr. Purse...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER THREE: It's Pursh, and I'm a girl, which I very much enjoy by the way.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yes, well, as I was saying Miss Purge, clearly, like Xena, your vision was clouded by your hatred of Cheezer and his stinky hair. Your judgment was impaired by his profligate taste in brown leather miniskirts, overdone capes, red ostrich feathers, gold lame head leaves and antediluvian men's dresses. Go forth with a renewed heart my child, for only the noblest of women can withstand his aversion to bathing without reverting to snide sophomoric name calling.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER THREE: Uhhhh, does that mean that my Xena standee won't be flogging me with the help of Miss Twiggy Whipper and her firm friendly branches?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ahem! Okay, onto the next caller. Do we have another caller?

Ring ring.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Glory! It's a miracle! Praise Me! Praaaiiisssseee Me! Hello caller. This is PWAD. Do you have a name and a Xena related confession?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: My name is Bleary-eyed Innocent of Green Gables and I am burdened by a heavy confession that I'm afraid to admit for fear of reprisal from other Xenites.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Don't worry sinner, you're safe here. This confessional is secured by a well armed all voluntary militia!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Okay, whew! Here goes. I liked King of Assassins. Whew there I said it. Whew. Oh that feels better PWAD. I feel better already.

THE WORD OF PWAD: There, there filthy, dirty, stupid sinner. That wasn't so difficult now was it? Look, the switch board isn't even lighting up. See? No one cares.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Really? No one cares?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Clearly you're an honor graduate from the Richard Nixon school of misplaced paranoia. Your fears of rejection, reprisal and Berzerker's retro pain eye-balls are based on absolutely nothing tangible.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: No! That's not true! My concerns are based in reality and I can prove it.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Uh-huh.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: I'm serious PWAD.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Speak, speak moronic sinner.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: In a moment of abject weakness I admitted my fondness for KOA to my friend, the beloved webmistress, and she immediately responded by messing up her hair to make it really big and mean, and then she flexed all of her facial muscles at once, thereby completely re-composing her usually pleasant features into a sculpted mask of disheveled cruelty, replete with a steely gaze and sticky-outy teeth, remnant of my mean fourth hour middle school PE teacher on a hot day when the air fan in the gym was broken and one of the older girls forgot to take her gym clothes home over the weekend for washing and Vidalis, the 5th hour science teacher, complained about the stench of the older girls in fourth hour PE, and man did that make my PE teacher mad! Whoooo-weee! And Pwad?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yessssss...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: I have the strongest feeling that the beloved webmistress did this on purpose to scare me.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ya don't say. Sinner, PWAD is of the opinion that you should seek counseling to discuss your unresolved mean PE teacher issues.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: I can't!

THE WORD OF PWAD: Why not?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Because she's a major Hope-atarian and she's way high up in the flamin' ranks. But don't think I haven't tried to get help exorcising my post-middle school PE teacher demons, because I have. It's just that every time I try to go to counseling she does something real mean to me like make my kitchen knives chase me around the house.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Hmmmmmm, I see...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Once when I ran outside to hide from the peevish knives she made a whole bunch of mean grasshoppers with sharp teeth jump in my hair while a portly, drug addicted rabbit bit my neck real hard. Then when I ran to turn on the garden hose to spray the grasshoppers onto the bunny and out of my hair I found that the hose had been suspiciously constricted by the tenacious application of large amounts of black friction tape of the same type used by Rev. Condom-head on his Uncle Fester gown! That's all true PWAD! I swear!

THE WORD OF PWAD: Hmmmmm. Perhaps you should elicit the help of Xena on this one. I feel confident that she could escort you safely to and from counseling.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Oh PWAD! Praise you! That's a great idea! I've got Xena's number right here!

THE WORD OF PWAD: There you go! That's the post-confessional spirit, dirty sinner!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: I feel so stupid. I should have thought of calling Xena a long time ago.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Oh sinner, don't be too hard on your pathetic self. This is a simple case of your mean PE teacher interfering with your good senses and reason by jamming your brain with her telekinetic tendencies. You are absolved from lacking the ability to have an intelligent thought. This wasn't your fault. Go now, sin-head and call Xena right away.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Except...

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yesssssssss...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Well can I wait until Muses is over before I call? See I'm on a tenacious rewind jag here and I've just landed at the part right before Xena jumps high in the air and our girls embrace like they mean it and I love that part.

THE WORD OF PWAD: You sinners are always trying to take the joyful, easy, healthy way out of everything. No, sin-ball you cannot do something enjoyable...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: But PWAD I love this finale! I dance right along with it at least once every night. There are so many great dances in it! There's Xena doing the funky chicken, there's a line dance, a traditional barn dance, a tango, great folk dancing, some square dance moves, and major acrobatics that really aren't appropriate for replication by the home viewing audience. But everything else is easily imitated, and it makes me so happy to dance along with this episode...

There is a notable shift in the energy around PWAD, and suddenly a significant ZAP crackles across the phone line of confessional filth.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: PWAD! PWAD! Are you there? Is everything okay! PWAD?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Wait! I have seen the light! Cyane has spoken to me! The friction tape has fallen from around my heart! Go forth, Innocent and in every moment do what pleases you most!

CALLER CONFESSOR: Really, PWAD?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yes! Yes! Be joyful! If dancing ad infinitum in your living room with Xena and gABrielle to the Muses finale pleases you on a cellular level, then dance! Dance! Dance!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: Ad infinitum, what does that mean?

THE WORD OF PWAD: That means only slightly more than Pursh watches the I love you, forgive me TBS finale and The Quest's almost kiss.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: I don't know if I could watch anything that much.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Then go forth with joy in your heart and dance until you are overcome with the desire for good food.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FOUR: PWAD are you feeling okay?

THE WORD OF PWAD: I've never felt better! Let's dance!

Ring, ring.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Glory! The happy sin line is singing again! Hello this is PWAD! Let's dance!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Uhhh, PWAD I can't really dance because if I cause too much ruckus up here smoker girl will get all fired up and start blowin' cancer air on me...

THE WORD OF PWAD: This must be the beloved webmistress!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Yea, well it is. I'm calling to congratulate you on seeing the light, so to speak, and coming over to our side.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Let's dance!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Look PWADDY, I done told ya once, I got Gray Sock's smokin' girlfriend to deal with downstairs so dancin' ain't an option right now. But now that you've come to your senses, I'd like to ask you a favor.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yessss...

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Will you answer a few questions for my beloved webmistress Xena Awards Compendium? I figure helping me out by answering these few questions is the least you can do, since you've been such a 'phobed out loser all these years. I mean let's face it, at this early stage of your reformation you need to do something to show the community that your conversion is sincere. Oh and by the way, I didn't really mess up my hair and face over KOA.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Well that's mighty inappropriate of you, but I'm sure your friend appreciates your charity.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Okay, okay so I messed up my hair a little. Do you wanna help a webmistress in need and answer these questions or what?

THE WORD OF PWAD: As my first good deed as PHILA-PWAD the Reformed I would be honored to help you.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Goody. Okay, I've just got a few questions for ya. Keep in mind that the universe we're dealing with here is all third season Xena episodes. All you have to do is answer truthfully okay?

THE WORD OF PWAD: I'm ready!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: What, in your opinion, is the Xena episode that is most likely to change the world?

THE WORD OF PWAD: The Bitter Suite. With my new vision intact and the friction tape removed from my heart it is clear without a doubt that this delight has changed my world more than any other TV show ever, except for the documentary in the '80's on John Lennon's life, and that doesn't count because it just doesn't.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Great. Now, please tell me your favorite comedy writer or writing team; favorite dramatic writer or writing team; favorite action writer or writing team; favorite action director; favorite comedic director; and favorite dramatic director.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Tragically beloved webmistress, the friction tape remains tightly wrapped around my Joxerian brain so for this rather compound question I have to give a Reader's Digest condensed version answer. I've noticed a pattern and it is thus: I tend to like the eps with heavy involvement in some realm (production, writing, direction whatever) from any combination of the following folks: Rob Tapert, Oley Sassone, TJ Scott and RJ Stewart. Michael Hurst did a brilliant job directing ADITL and A Tale of Two Muses, but this is a third season award banquet, so never mind.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: And your favorite recurring guest star?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Why Joxer, of course!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: How about the best single appearance by a guest star?

THE WORD OF PWAD: I loved Minya's re-appearance in Quill and Bodecia is a fine gal worthy of many happy returns.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: How about your choice for favorite performance by a guest star in comedy, drama, action...

THE WORD OF PWAD: Comedy, drama, action, blah, blah, blah. You know I'm not smart enough for this type of categorical question, webmistress. Quit trying to confuse us simpletons, o' Galus de Webbus! What's a guest star? Is Callisto a guest star? I think so. I vote for her.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Very well PWAD. I'll try to be more gentle in my questioning.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Fine.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Does little PWADDY the Reformed have a favorite Goddess or God?

THE WORD OF PWAD: You mean besides me?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: I see that your reformation isn't quite as thorough as I had thought, but yes, that's what I mean.

THE WORD OF PWAD: In my mind Lao Ma is a Goddess. So I vote for her.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Kay. Now, how about your vote for the most subversive character, not counting Xena or gABrielle?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Lao Ma. I love this woman. She rules by any means necessary, girl style, the only way a woman could rule in the land of Chin.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: How about the character that was really you in disguise?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Oh this is a difficult answer for the newly reformed PWAD, because it means I have to reveal my human frailties to all of the happy filth line listeners.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Recall your debt to the community PWAD. This is all part of the process of removing yourself from your self created, control freakish, ego and greed driven pedestal.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Well since you put it like that. Sigh. The truth is webmissy I vacillate between Argo, Niklio, Vidalis, Callisto and gABrielle, depending on the state of my hormones, my in the moment tolerance level for patriarchy and what, or who, I had for breakfast.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Wow PWAD. Has gABrielle ever had Cyane for breakfast?

THE WORD OF PWAD: gABrielle wishes.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Now how about your Renee O'Connor votes. What's her best performance in comedy, action, drama...

THE WORD OF PWAD: There ya go again with all that category hooey. This reform gig certainly has its difficulties.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: I'm afraid so. But I think you'll soon discover that it's worth the effort.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Damn webmissy, I'm not so sure. I'm kind of pining for the days when all I really had to do was blabber on incessantly in the third person and insult people.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: But that was a danceless existence PWAD.

THE WORD OF PWAD: So essentially I've traded in my license to speak like Bob Dole for an occasional encounter with movement, beauty, breath and life?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Yes and I think you made a good trade PWAD.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Sigh. Life is complex.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: So it seems. Your O'Conner votes?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Well let's see. The Bard kicked butt and had good hair in the Sacs. As a former demi-diety that means a lot to me. I loved her in BTDT because though she said little, her facial expressions along with her hickey giving skills said plenty. Hmmmmm, and havin' that damn devil baby in GH was no small feat, so give her a point for that one too.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Okay PWAD, how about the gABrielle scene that makes you go thud?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ahhhhhh. The scene I'm thinking of is one of the most powerful exchanges I've ever seen acted on anything anywhere at any time.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Oh do tell...

THE WORD OF PWAD: The moment in The Deliverer when Xena asks gABS who killed Meridian and gABrielle says "I did." Xena responds by immediately supplying gABrielle with rationale saying "It was a mistake, you couldn't..." But our tearful little Bard cuts her off mid-sentence and says "I did." A lesser mortal would have wormed, but not our Bard. Both women are fully believable in this scene. I get goose bumps just writing...errrr...talking about it. Brilliant.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: How about La Lucy. Name her best performance.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Well I love her non-Xena characters. Ezra had me rolling when she asked Tarsis if the Sologian General was "good lookin'" in VA. And Meg is truly a delightful woman. Xena, of course, was delicious in TBS.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: And what Xena scene makes you go thud?

THE WORD OF PWAD: When Xena discovers the broken herb bottle that contained gAB'S poison arrow antidote in OAAA.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: What about Xena's butchest moment? Good Luck! Bwa ha ha ha!

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ha! That's easy you crafty missy. It's a four way tie. First in Tsunami when Xena shuts, with relative ease, the door which is letting in tons of water with the force of probably a million pounds of water pressure. Now that's classic butch.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Hmmmmmm, go on...

THE WORD OF PWAD: Second has got to be the hot oil drag and ladder climb in One Against An Army. Now that's precious butch.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Ahhhhhhhh, yes, please continue...

THE WORD OF PWAD: The third is Xena's "nice blade" comment in gABrielle's Hope, after she pulls Excalibur from the stone like it was as easy as shutting a door backed by a million tons of water pressure. Now that's just plain ol' cute butch.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Sigh. And...

THE WORD OF PWAD: Necessary Babe Fest when Xena attends to her dislocated arm by crashing it into a wall of solid rock. Now that's just flat butchy butch.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: And how about gABrielle's butchest moment?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Ah-ha! I thought you'd never ask! When she finally whacked Tara O'rag Haira in Forgiven after many minutes of very butch restraint.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: And the femme-est Xena moment?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Her hot air dance with Lao Ma, especially when the flying silk sheet spins her into LM's arms and it looks like she's going to kiss Ma, but instead she touches her cheek. Yeow!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: And the femme-est gABrielle moment?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Her "Oh where is my brush!" comment in FFG after she sets her fuzzy bag down in a huff.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Who's the character you'd most like to see in a threesome with X&G?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Good Goddess, webber! PWAD!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Hey! You're Bob Dole-ing again.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Drastic inquiries beget drastic syntax, dearie.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Sho' nuf. And the character most likely to have already been in a threesome with X&G?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Good Goddess web babe! You! You lucky beast!

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: How about this. Has any Xena scene made it into your dreams?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Yeow! I ain't tellin', no how, no way.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Not even on the happy sin line?

THE WORD OF PWAD: Nope. No way.

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Well that's it then. Thanks PWAD. I think you're well on your way to becoming truly reformed.

THE WORD OF PWAD: Really? Is that all? Is it really that simple? Isn't there something else I should do to seal this initial act of reformation?

CALLER CONFESSOR NUMBER FIVE: Well PWAD, now that the smoke has cleared, how about that dance?

THE WORD OF PWAD: How 'bout it sista!

c. 1998 Pursh
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Tympany on A Tale of Two Muses:

For me this episode shall always be about the "BREAST DRAG." The one true bright moment in this episode comes close to the begining.

THE SCENE: Xena has just finished "goin' potty," we know this because she has just farted loudly and flushed the toilet (apparently these ancient greeks had better plumbing than I do). Seems the food doesn't agree with the W.P. Interestingly enough Gabrielle doesn't react at all to Xena's flatulence, and the fact that Xena was not embarressed to let it go in front of Gabs, kinda' gives these two that old married couple vibe. X&G settle down for the night.

Gabs however can't settle, seems she's itchin' to dance. This has something to do with the plot or what there is of it (not much; I'll expain later).

Gabs attempts to get up to dance. Xena forces Gabs to lay back down by pressing on her chest. Gee...guess her shoulder was too high and her stomach was too low so she had no choice. GOSH no subtext here huh ;-) Anyways poor Xena couldn't reach any other part but Gabs chest. I'm thinking maybe she did'nt mind, 'cause her hand did a real slow drag across Gabs chest getting back to where it belonged (see no subtex at all ;-).

THE PLOT: If you've seen "FOOTLOOSE" then you've seen this ep. If you have not seen "Footloose" then LUCKY YOU!!! Tara, the bad actress from Forgiven, is back. She is living in a town that has banned dancing. They were gonna give her a whipping, but Xena shows up in the nick of time to save her (she had no choice it was in the script). O.K. I'm sorry! I just don't like the "rat haired one". X&G decide to help her by making the townfolk see the error of their ways.

HOW?!?!? You ask? BY DANCING OF COURSE!!! Xena manages to contact Autolycus, who was probably in the neighborhood already, 'cause he got there awful quick. Auto does his best Oral Roberts impersonation in the hopes of makiing the townfolk believe he's on their side. This allows X&G to stage a dance with the teenagers of the town. Auto can make a big show of seeing the error of his ways in front of the village folk,who imediately follow his lead 'cause they've been collectively braindead for years, and will follow whoever is loudest at the moment. Then everyone is happy, and they celebrate by DANCING and DANCING and DANCING and.... can you say filler boys and girls? Sure I knew you could . The "Breast Drag" and the hug between X&G at the very end are the best reasons for watching this episode.

Note #1. Xena and Gabrielle look real good in this ep. Kinda makes it worth watching in spite of the silly story.

Note #2. Did they hire a 14 year old boy to write this seasons comic scripts? The flatulence and body function jokes are wearing thin.

Note #3. In spite of the "rat haired one",the total lack of plot and the all around sillyness,I LIKED THIS ONE!! The music was fantastic, the dancing was good, and it was obvious the cast was having a good time.

c. 1998 Tympany
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