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Written by Steven L. Sears
Directed by David Warry-Smith

Sacrifice II

Written by Paul Robert Coyle
Directed by Rick Jacobson


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deb7 on Sacrifice I & II:


While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel*, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and said to me, "Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding."

"After the sixty-two weeks, an annointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destory the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many, and...he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator."

Daniel 9:21-22, 26-27

[*Gabriel is a seraphim of the Judaeo-Christian God; announcer of the birth of Jesus.]


Okay, because this was the 1st of a 2-parter, I'm going to resist going anywhere near "depth", and instead just share various reactions.

First of all, I LOVED this episode. Good to excellent acting all around, fast-paced action, intrigue, and clear ties to earlier episodes.


David Warry-Smith's direction. Wonderful. This director is a *character* director -- what we needed for the entire Decon arc, IMO, not a "pretty picture" director. (There were a few goofs, but they're easily overlooked.)

Jim Prior's editing. This episode needed to be fast-paced and keep the viewer off balance, and Prior succeeded well on that count.

Hudson Leick's emotionally labile Callisto. I just love watching this woman boomerang from emotion to emotion.

The first fight scene between Xena and Calli. Talk about 2 very tweaked people! X&C get off on hating, taunting, and torturing one another. HL expresses Calli's perverse eroticism thru voice tone and slinky body movements, but watch LL's eyes during that exchange: Xena looks how I imagine vampires at the height of their predatory arousal would look.

The conversations between Gabrielle and Seraphin and between Gabrielle and Xena at the riverside. In the former, the parallels between G and S are brought into sharp relief, and it's oh-so bittersweet. What's more, the comparison between G and S reinforces the larger theme of "What is moral and Right, and what is misguided and Wrong? In the latter, X&G lay out all the difficulties they've faced in their relationship -- not just during this season, but over it's entire course. In both cases, the writing and acting were beautiful in their subtlety.

The character exploration of X, G, and X&G. Xena *remains* one of the most insensitive good guys in TV history. It's painful to watch how she continues to ignore Gabrielle's pain. It's painful to watch how Gabrielle continues to struggle through it all "for the greater good" and no longer seems willing to voice any pain or doubt. ROC and LL are both SUPERB in this episode.

Post-production sound. Bernie Joyce and her crew are damn good anyway, but they just seemed extra-good this time. Two things I especially loved: (1) the sound for Hope in the cocoon and (2) the restraint with the whooshes, scabbard-scraping, etc.

The 1st season Gab double amongst the Army of Dark Villagers. She even wields a scythe.

The amazing execution of juggling all those actors/characters and keeping each one of them important. Writing, direction, and editing all worked together to pull this off. (I only have one quibble about this -- described below.)

The Ares is Xena's father subtext. "I gave her that focus." "How long have you been watching me?"

LL's hair, ROC's makeup (doesn't Gab look tired and weary? ::sigh::), and Kevin Smith's hairy chest and abdomen.

Gabrielle's open-field tackle of Xena.

ROC as Hope. deb7 has this "thing" for dark.Gab.


That pig at the beginning. Was that supposed to be some silly reference to "Porkules"? Whateveh.

The person with the horse visible behind X and G during the producer credits. Thanks to James Davis for pointing out that blooper. BTW, there are 2 or so other *loose* horses in the background during the "ritual in the open field" scene (the one that ends with Calli and Ares trading energy discharges).

That no one noticed that Seraphin had grown approximately 7 inches and 2 breastplate sizes between 1 ceremony and the next.

Ares change of heart about handling Hope. I assume that Pillar Of Flame [hmmm..remind you of anything?] was Dahak. Is Ares in some way trying to protect Xena from Dahak? Is he pulling a double-cross? Will this be resolved adequately or will it be another one of those trademark confused plot elements (ala Solan creating Illusia)?


The preview for this episode. The preview gave away the ROC-as-Hope ending, as well as the fact that it was Xena on that cross during the 2nd attempted sacrifice. If you haven't looked at next week's preview too closely, do yourself a favour and DON'T!! I saw some things in it that I have a feeling I didn't want to know.

How the hell did Xena intuit that the "Goddess" was Hope?? I got the impression that somehow X and G didn't know about Hope's part in Armageddon Now -- else why wouldn't they have been concerned before? So, if they didn't know that Hope wasn't completely dead, how did Xena suddenly figure it out? Was it the yellow hair on the Priestess' mask? The horns on the scaffolding? I really don't like the cliche of the "hero" being ultra-cunning in a way that borders on psychic. Stupid.

The closing shot on Xena. Look, Gabrielle and Xena *both* have to deal with the fact that The Evil Messiah is Gab's daughter, as well as her spitting image. In other words, this just ain't about Xena, and making it so (with that tight closeup) reduces Gab and every horror she's suffered since "Deliverer" to a plot device. yuck.

KCPQ's broadcast. The sound went out 3 times during the 1st scene; the picture went out twice. Whoever the Saturday evening engineers are need to be shot becuase they've fucked up terribly several times this season. c. 1998 deb7
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deb7 on Sacrifice II:

I read some spoilers before I saw this episode -- mainly because of the damn preview in which it was pretty clear Gabrielle was going over into the pit of oblivion with Hope: I didn't wanna believe what I saw so I succumbed to temptation and the need to know. Nonetheless, nothing prepared me for the emotional impact of that final scene. I can still see Gabrielle's face as she says goodbye.

I must admit that I was a bit fearful when I learned who the writer and director were for this episode. I'm not quite sure why, but I get bad feelings when I think about Coyle scripts. He wrote "Ten Little Warlords", "A Necessary Evil", and "The Execution". With the exception of Warlords, which I can't bring myself to watch again (I think it's the combo of fake-Xena, pathetic Ares, and the now-hackneyed "Gab-saddled-with-Joxer" schtick that does it), those really aren't bad stories. Somehow, though, I associate Coyle with "not-quite-right Gabrielle"... she's too immature or emotional or something. And how come he gets the scripts where Xena and Gabrielle are at one another's throats?

What was even scarier was the erroneous information that Siebert was directing this ep. Coyle & Siebert together again? I thought. Ten Little Warlords II?? Yikes. I think I'm overly sensitive to recency effects (i.e., the newer information obscuring or supplanting old information), because when I look back, I recognise that I liked Siebert's first season work (Reckoning, Death in Chains, Ties that Bind) but, so sorry, wasn't happy with season 2 (Orphan, Warlords, Comedy of Eros).

Objectively speaking, though, when you look at Coyle's and Siebert's credits in tandem, bringing them together for SacII seems like a natural thing to do. You've got Coyle as the "clash of X&G worldviews" dude, and Siebert as the "strong Ares/pull of the darkside/I'll do what's best for Xena/ dysfunctional family Iss-Ewes" expert. What's more, Coyle wrote the extremely well-rated Nec. Evil, so it's no surprise they'd go back to him (though, in my mind, it was acting and directing that really made that ep an ass-kicker). Still, I wasn't objective, and when I heard that it was actually Rick Jacobson (of Dirty Half Dozen fame) who got the SacII gig, I wasn't all that heartened.

All of the previous was just a tangential way of saying, "preconceptions can be very misleading." Despite some often-illogical constraints set up by previous episodes and a tendency to re-hash story elements to the point of beating them to death (like Gab's debt to Ares), I found the story to be pretty good. The direction was very good, the editing was stand-out, and the acting was some of the best I've seen in the series.

I'm going to try something a little different. I'm going to structure this around examining each of the characters (and the actors behind them) in turn, and roughly in order of importance.

Seraphin (Jodie Rimmer).

I must say, I'm still confused by this chick. In SacI, I sometimes got the impression that Seraphin was a deluded and misled innocent, but not necessarily evil -- but I wasn't sure. Now, in SacII, she makes the leap from zealotry to homicidal mania. Was she evil the whole time and just running a scam? I really don't think that's the case. Was she misled and then sucked in by Dahak's dark power before she knew what hit her? I think that's what we're supposed to understand, based on a couple of things Xena and Gab said, but therein lies the problem with this character.

Seraphin went from being an ironic mirror of Gabrielle in SacI to a plot device in SacII. In the latter, she served little purpose other than to (1) delay G or X so that some other dramatic event could take place (e.g., G's chat with Ares in the village), or (2) demonstrate the strength of Hope-Dahak's will -- just in case we couldn't get that from all the other cues. In other words, all of the character's potential as an avenue for exploring moral themes got completely wasted in SacII. It's not even clear to me why she was left alive at the end of SacI: What kind of wimpy blood sacrifice requires only that one smear a palm print on the Goddess' cocoon?

I will say this for Jodie Rimmer: I think she did a good job with what she was given, and despite the confusion surrounding the purpose of her character. On a technical note: Good work in the continuity department with making sure that gut wound didn't disappear -- too bad the same can't be said for Xena's magic sword, which should have been buried under the rubble during the first fight scene.

Joxer (Ted Raimi).

Plot device #2. Yikes. You know, if I were TR, I'd be getting awfully tired of my character being a plot device all the damn time. Someone needed to get that dagger without Callisto, Hope (who could be Gab), or Gab (who everyone and their cousin is watching) knowing about it. So who shows up to play messenger boy and then spend every other scene flat on his back, in a water trough, or tied up? Joxer. The only other thing Joxer does is serve as a sounding board so that we can get a glimpse of Hope's confusion about her mother. Sorry to those fans who were disappointed that Gabrielle didn't even look at Joxer in the final scene -- much less call out his name as she descended into the fiery pit.

Ironically, Jacobson is pretty much forced into showing how flat Joxer's character is. That is, because of Joxer's dagger-snagging function, he *has* to appear in certain scenes, but because the character has been established to be so durned incompetent as a fighter, he also has to be essentially taken out of those scenes. I credit both Jacobson and Raimi with pulling this off while still preserving the character's dignity and staying within the mood of the episode. This hasn't been accomplished as well since Joxer's first appearance in "Callisto". With the spectre of 13 guest appearances in season 4 looming large, one can only hope this trend continues. I'm not at all bothered by the thought that I was being manipulated by the old "hook 'em with Noble Joxer" routine -- all I ask is that it continue.

Ares (Kevin Smith). [Note: In *my* scheme of things, Kevin Smith gets billing over TR in this episode. I don't even want to contemplate the politics behind how it could possibly be otherwise.]

THIS was Ares: Strong, ruthless, opportunistic, mayhem-loving Ares. Welcome back. Yet Ares still has that desire for Xena. He wants her to come back to him. Is he trying to save her life? Consider the line, "So for me it's... win-win." Basically, Ares is saying that if Hope wins he gets to be part of a new world order that's closer to his liking, but if Hope loses Xena gets snipped. Was this an attempt at reverse-psychology? That is, was Ares hoping that Xena would try to save her skin? Perhaps Ares was protecting his own heart by washing his hands of Xena? I'm still wrestling with this line, but the bottom line is that the characterisation of Ares -- both in terms of writing and acting -- was nicely textured.

Callisto (Hudson Leick).

I think the reality of Calli's death hasn't truly sunk in with me. Oh how I wish they hadn't made her a god in "A Necessary Evil". What a corner they worked themselves into with that one. Now she's gone -- I'm thinking forever. I don't feel so well.

Claims that there's not much more that can be done with Callisto notwithstanding, the transformation of Callisto's motivation from getting back at Xena to desiring oblivion was clever and deftly-handled. Leick reflected this in her acting choices in that, over the course of Maternal Instincts, SacI, and SacII, she has Calli react to Xena less-and-less as an adversary and more-and-more as an impediment to reaching her goal. By SacII, Callisto is practically begging Xena to help her *without* dropping out of character.

The masterstroke comes in that final scene. Callisto's status as a "bad guy" had to be re-established, else she would have seemed pathetic. That would have been the ultimate betrayal of the character. Picking up on a thread running throughout the episode, Calli breaks out into a rather hebephrenic laughing fit at Gabrielle's and Xena's suffering -- thereby quashing any notions of Callisto simply being tortured, emotionally-stunted, and misunderstood. Calli is psychotic and Leick is brilliant at showing it. (Allowing HL to have wild hair helps, too!) And leave it to Hudson to die oh-so melodramatically and have it work.

Thank you, Hudson Leick. You will be missed.

Hope (Renee O'Connor).

Was Hope supposed to be that sexy or is this my own iss-ewe? I am somewhat fearful for myself because Ares and Calli seemed to be the ones most sensitive to Hope's heat. What's scariest is that Hope was at her most erotic not when she was pawing on Ares and not when she was trying to seduce Calli to stay the course, but in that scene when she was talking to Mommy. Triple-yikes.

I'm still trying to work out why, in both SacI and SacII, the idear that Hope has some bond or need for her mother is so pointedly examined. In "Gabrielle's Hope", "Armageddon Now", and "Maternal Instincts", a case is built up that Hope's connection to Gabrielle is tenuous at best -- with Dahak's 'genetic' influence being so strong as to make Gabrielle's contribution inconsequential. Then, in Sac I and II, we have Seraphin espousing Gabrielle's original "nurture over nature" argument, Hope taking on her mother's form, Hope being susceptible to injury and having power limitations ("she's still half-human"), Hope trying to figure out why her apparently-beloved mother would abandon her, Hope seeking out her mother and asking for her support, and Hope wincing at Ares' remark that X and G will show up and get fried. At the same time, however, Gabrielle becomes increasingly estranged from Hope. Thus, when G and H finally meet in the clearing, *Gabrielle* comes across as the crueler of the two. hmm... More on this later.

ROC did a fabulous job portraying evil Hope. Watching the Hope scenes without the sound is enlightening: You can tell exactly who she is just thru body posture and facial expression. A lot of the work was done just with the eyes, and not only when Hope was exercising telekinesis. I get shivers just thinking about it. Hope's carrying of the staff with the top end pointed downward was a nice touch as well. I'd like to see ROC give this another go when there aren't so many guest stars taking up screen time. The vocal effects were a tad on the distracting side, but I liked the touch of taking them away to indicate when Hope was diguising her voice to fool people into thinking she was Gabrielle. I worried about vocal stress, though.

Xena, Gabrielle, and X&G. For some reason, I found Xena's character to be the least interesting of all the major players (i.e., X, G, C, A, and H). Hope killed her son, Calli helped her, Gabrielle stopped her from offing Hope, therefore she's pissed at the lot of them. End of story. Yeah, she throws in a line about "all the children of the world", but that line rang hollow. Xena seemed just as rabid as the Dahakians, and distastefully self-righteous. Perhaps I was just pissed off because she gave Gabrielle so little credit -- jumping to the worst possible conclusion about G's intervention without first listening or trying to ascertain what was up. By the time she calmed down and explained to Gab that she's willing to die to stop Hope, I was over her. Hmm... It's not that I don't understand, empathise, and identify with Xena's character. I do. I suppose it could be said that Lucy Lawless did her job *too* well.

In contrast to Xena, Gabrielle's motivation is multi-faceted. She has to deal with a daughter who looks just like her but who is becoming irrevocably evil, with the knowledge that she started the chain of apocalyptic events by taking a life, with the knowledge that she owes a debt to Ares, and with her love for Xena. Because of this, Gabrielle makes a number of difficult choices. And despite the fact that she argues for allowing Calli to join them, does Ares' bidding, rebuffs her own daughter, and kills again, Gabrielle comes out on the side of Good -- making of herself a sacrifice. This isn't about stereotypes of women, this is about Gabrielle as an archetype -- a mortal archetype, but an archetype nonetheless.


The many goodbyes in this episode were remarkable. In Ares' goodbye to Xena, I detected regret but a hardening of the heart against the pain. From Xena I detected feelings of betrayal and abandonment. Such mixture of feeling was also apparent in the looks exchanged between Xena and Callisto upon Calli's death. The shared memory of Gabrielle's death was poignant. But what does it portend that Xena kills the very person who sparked the infamous campfire conversation in which Gabrielle expressed her wish that Xena not give in to the rage if anything were to happen to Gabrielle?

Fittingly, the goodbyes exchanged between Xena and Gabrielle were the strongest and most focussed upon. I'm including here both the scene outside Dahak's temple (featuring an uncharacteristically eloquent speech by Xena which, nonetheless, sounded like something out of the annals of alt.fanfic... no kissing, but at least the hug worked this time!), and the scene when Gabrielle falls to her death. ROC displays a richness and depth of emotion in the latter [fear, regret, apology, acceptance, and love] that was frankly amazing, and LL outdoes herself. Gabrielle's final look toward Xena and Xena's breakdown into tears still flash in my mind's eye.

The Last Hoorah

Sacrifice I and II featured what is arguably the most understated treatment of the tension within X&G this season. I appreciated The Great Deconstruction, even though I felt at times that too much emphasis was placed on protecting Xena: If you're gonna do something, just go all out on it, I say (excessiveness in the likes of the Horrible Drag excepted). If any character needed protecting, it was Gabrielle because Xena, by virtue of being the title character, has a built-in protection factor.

I'd like to share something I wrote back in Februrary, 1997, in hopes that this will illuminate why I didn't see X&G as out of character this season. In Feb 97, I described Xena and Gabrielle in this way:

X: brash, arrogant, domineering, often self-centered, socially insensitive and awkward, authoriarian

G: impestuous, headstrong, willful, other-centered, has a passive-aggressive and somewhat manipulative problem-solving style, uses deceitful means to get her way with Xena [when X's being a butt]

I went on to say about Gabrielle:

"Yes, she continues to stay with Xena but what is the alternative? That is, if Gabrielle is deeply committed to their relationship and to standing by Xena's side, isn't it likely that she might put up with all manner of Xena's crap while trying to get her way using the only means that seem to work? Xena is clearly unresponsive to many of Gabrielle's direct attempts at persuasion (see Sins, Titans, and A Necessary Evil for a few examples) but when Gab plays her little tricks she often gets her way. So she stays...."

Finally, I suggested that Xena and Gabrielle were making progress in terms of being more egalitarian and less dysfunctional in their relationship, but that I also thought they had a long way to go.

The way I understand the term, "deconstruction" refers to taking apart a characterisation (or argument) to illuminate its fundamentals. Because nothing in the non-comedy episodes of Season 3 contradicted how I saw the characters, I found the season's story generally fascinating and compelling. Gabrielle ultimately sides with Xena regarding Hope's nature -- just when it's being hinted that Gabrielle may NOT have been wrong. And sadly, but true to form, because X&G continue to have problems seeing eye-to-eye and communicating in these Big Situations, Gabrielle has to run the in-around and make the ultimate sacrifice.

Wrapping it up then, I guess I just want to say that I found Sacrifice I and II to be a solid ending to the season. Although I might have liked a bit more focus on X&G, I can't say I'm disappointed. This has not been an easy season to endure... for most everyone involved, I think. ROC and LL had to take their characters to some very dark places. Xenastaff had to endure some very harsh criticism -- some of it, I must say in all honesty, not undeserved. Ratings have declined, more than a few well-respected Xenites have all but disappeared from online activities. I've become estranged from or outright lost quite a few online friends. Because of all this, enjoyment of XWP has been bittersweet. I don't know, of course, what Season 4 will bring, and I try to dampen the fears I have because of news such as "Key to the Kingdom" being the season opener (a notion I find completely mind-boggling). One can only hope for the best.

c. 1998 deb7
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DebR on Sacrifice :

WOW! GREAT acting, directing, writing. Sears did not disappoint! This script is so layered that it will take a pick ax to mine. Our blessed trinity, Lucy, Renee and Hudson, is at its best and Kevin Smith has never been a better Ares. The new director basically slung me over his shoulder and took me for a cruise. I want Sacrifice 2, and I want it NOW! If my station screws up the airing of the second half, you'll all hear my scream around the world. Be prepared to send tapes! :)

From the very first moments I was sucked into the depth of this ep. Callisto is re-birthed from the SKY. (My Blue.... Vagina) A pig, a traditional sacrifice, awaits her, the re-newed psycho-goddess, arrival. At first I thought, 'what the hell is a pig doing there?' All I could think of was Alexandra Tydings playing a Babe on Hercules. (They do love their puns.) Later, on my first repeat viewing (There will be infinite more.), all the birth and rebirth themes were available to gel. The pig is the sacrifice made to Demeter by new initiates to her mysteries, so when Callisto (uncharacteristically) does not kill the pig, make the sacrifice, but instead shoos the pig away as beneath her, an annoyance, is she making a direct comment to Demeter? She appears the petulent child for a moment, about to say, "I hate you, Mother." A child who cannot get her way. She does not wish to be reborn, she wishes for oblivion. Oh my, we are in for a RIDE!

On arriving back on earth to resume her quest for non-existance, she has a few words for the place, the container of her life, in the sky (as opposed to parallel to earth in the Herc eps), that held her, "Just weren't built to hold a real god, were you." You? A mother? A father? hmmm....

Everything from that point on is a moving current we, as the audience, are drawn along. This is another of those episodes that, on first viewing, is a breath holder, edge of the seat rides and on repeat viewings is certain to reveal layer after layer. This is what I like so much about the best of Sears' writing. It is smart, and never a word is thrown away. Every exchange in this ep is LOADED. I was especially taken by the newly ripened exchanges between Xena and Ares. Ares knows better than to taunt too much. Xena is comfortable yelling at him, and seems to ACT more as his EQUAL. Though the decision is not expressly made, Xena and Ares behave like a team, reluctant though Xena may be. She will be willing to use him, and is already calling on his *philosophy* to gain the necessary 'focus.'

I particularly like that Ares motives are so muddled. In the Deliverer we are told that Ares fears this god, and that he is not alone. There is more at stake than just his pride or existance. At stake we were told is philosophic supremacy. Ares is in the odd, for him, position of defense. Xena/Athena is better at that than he is. He REALLY needs her. It is also very evident that he loves her. interpret that as you will; it boils down to the fact that he does not want her to die. Then when it comes to Callisto she is a threat in two ways to Ares. One, which he can handle and would even enjoy (Armageddon I), as a rival for the temple space within the Olympian way of... life. Secondly as helper to Hope. She is much more dangerous there it seems. More to lose. So all this adds up to Ares revelling in what he loves best, carnage, but also defending others, other gods, as well as protecting Xena(?) and asking her help. I love that we are still pointed out his cowardice when he takes an unexpected fire ball while thinking himself safe behind Xena. (Ares cowardice is very deliberately limned in this story line. Check out the end of Armageddon Part I) OR is Ares in cahoots with Dahok fromthe very beginning? It appears that the Priest of the Blood was chummy with Ares BEFORE at least teh second sacrifice attempt.

Another thing that I love about this script is that no one is completely right and no one is completely wrong. Those that take the worst beating are the blind followers, (Cool nod to Night of the Living Dead. Watch it again. The themes are similar.) and even those are given compassion. Poor, ignorant. And Haley Mills, I mean Seraphin, is not depicted without blurring her edges either. I don't know what is to come in Sacrifice II, so I won't dive into the thread of the squandered possibilities of Hope yet. The casting for the Mitzi Gaynor, I mean Seraphin, role is PERFECT. The actress allows intelligence to show through the fanatical wonder. She was just great. More on this theme when it is all over.

The motherhood stuff is a great twisted heap. Callisto feeding her cocoon the required nutrients of Flesh and Blood. Communion. "Take, eat. This is my body. Drink. This is my blood." The cocoon womb takes the next step in the divorce of female from creation. Hope built her cocoon from the flesh of the male priest and required only care and a taste of blood from the female. Yet she is still Gabrielle's child. She wears her face. The removal of the egg from the Cave of the Sister Peaks womb to the Halls of War. The umbilical rope of life threads spun by the fates. The reminder of Solon's death. All the references to re-birth, yet the mother is missing. The spoken idea that Hope might have been different with Mama Gabs' guidance. Out of the mouths of babes, or rationalization? I'm obviously not the one to ask! ;) The Parent Trap! (Am I the only one who couldn't get Haley Mills out of my mind everytime I saw Seraphin?)

Points of Interest:

The Amazon looking women dancing, what looks very like the death dance of the Amazons, for the observational priests.

The Hope-like blonde straw hair of Linda Blair, I mean Seraphin's sacrifice mask. A wink at fans?

Xena and Gabrielle as deprogrammers.

Every time the priest would get close to the 'sacrifice' that eerie, discordant music from the temple of Apollo would play.

Xena and Callisto doin' it with their eyes.

The unspoken communication between Gabs and Xena. What they have worked through is evident, as is their awareness of the frailness of their wills.

The shot of the 'solar disc' within the horns (sacrifice scafold) ala Xena's costume in The Bitter Suite. Another point toward Egypt and glaring (ow!) reminder of the sun god. Anybody familiar with the symbol that the scaffold represents? It looks like a rework of tree of life symbols.

The Egyptian sarcophagus in the background of the Halls of War.

The abandoned look of Ares' temple as Callisto drops from the sky.

The overt attacks on religion. Thank... the universe... that the fundies don't watch.

3s. Three times Xena stays the sacrifice. Her third attempt to kill Hope.

Does Vicki Lawrence, I mean Seraphin = Serapis? That, Serapis was an Egyptian goddess is about all that I know. Seraphim are angels that have 6(?) wings. Wings on the shields.

Four angels supporting Ahura Mazda. Four wings on shield? Is that a thunderbolt symbol on the shields as well?

Actor who played priesty guy same as one who played thief in The Dirty Half Dozen.

Cave of the Sister Peaks. Yowsa. Hope to be born of the earth? ? Recalls the conception in Stonehenge and goddess traditions. Demeter overthrown? ? ?

If Hope dies, Xena dies. Xena says, "Hope must die." Now there's some fodder for bellybutton contemplation.

Seraphin calls Gabrielle AND Hope the Savior of the World. So did the Banshees in GH.

c. 1998 DebR
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dumblonde on Sacrifice :

I loved this episode. Xena and Gabrielle working together, no questions asked. Gabrielle is sent to find an old friend of hers from childhood who has 'obviously' been influenced into leaving sweet, dear Poteaida. And she is a lunatic. And not just any lunatic, as they first thought: "Can you imagine, temples raised and people worshipping Callisto?" no, they are worshipping the daughter of the eternally good one, Gab. I loved the scene where Seraphin is telling Gabrielle that they will forgive her if she accepts her daughter now, "forgive the betrayer?". But for the moment, we believe that Gabrielle has fallen for it. For a moment our hearts sink, has she forgotten all that she has learned in the last year? She still doesn't believe what has been proven to her? The scene between her and Xena (for Seraphin's benefit): "She killed my son...don't you dare defend her to me." It gave me chills.

If you say that you weren't moved by Seraphin's words, and didn't believe that Gabrielle was thinking she could be right, that maybe there was hope, for Hope after all, you lie. But, faith restored, it was just a ruse to gain Seraphin's trust.

Gabrielle has learned her lessons, harsh though they were. Hope would have been evil, no matter who had influenced her. After all, Gabrielle was there for her formative years (hours?), and she still murdered someone. And with Auntie Callisto (who couldn't love that turn of events?) there to guide her, how could she have possibly gone wrong? And Ares? He steals Hope's cocoon. He wants to crush her himself I guess. Then he calls in his little "got you to Chin before Xena marker" and did we expect Gabrielle to choose Hope over Xena again...I think not. So at least that wasn't a surprise, at least not to me. And I can't really say it was a surprise, but it was, who did the newly formed Hope look like? None other than our sweet little bard.

Now, here is something that has been disturbing me. I am a lesbian. I think that the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is the most honest and believable relationship on tv today. It is more believable than the hundreds of heterosexual relationships, more believable than the two-dimensional homosexual relationships on such shows as Friends, NYPD Blue and others. TPTB are not, and I emphasize, ARE NOT, going to say that Xena and Gabrielle are homosexual, but they give us our due. And Lucy and Renee take full advantage of this. They know that they have a great offscreen friendship, which translates into a great onscreen relationship, even though neither of them are lesbians. So does that make their relationship any less believable? Does that make any two straight actors onscreen relationship's any more believable? Herein lies my rant. I am tired of seeing posts about the latest three episodes, Tsunami, Vanishing Act, and Sacrifice which say "I liked (or disliked) the episode, but there wasn't much subtext." Am I a dumblonde? Is subtext only the lines that the actors speak? Is it the looks they give each other? Is it the actions they perform? Plenty of people saw subtext in ADITL because they bathed together, but didn't see it in Tsunami. They didn't tell each other "I love you" in either episode, but they saw subtext in one and not the other? Why? I did. I saw subtext in both. Maybe I'm stupid, but then again, they don't call me the dumblonde for nothing. In ADITL I saw it not in the bath scene, but in the way they related to each other over little things. The teasing and playfulness. And in Tsunami, I saw it in the way that they have grown to trust each other. Xena was worried until she realized that Gabrielle was unharmed, and when she did, Gabrielle wasn't just shoved into the background for once, no, Xena needed her help. And Gabrielle gave it, and didn't flinch. In Vanishing Act, I saw it at the beginning when Xena was badgering the "old woman". Clearly Gabrielle was uncomfortable, but didn't meddle as she would normally do. She trusted Xena. Just as Xena trusted Gabrielle at the end. Instead of standing slightly behind Xena during the fight, Gabrielle was standing right next to her, where Xena wanted her. And she kicked ass, without killing. So did Xena, she never once drew her sword during that fight.

So I say to all of those so concerned with subtext as being "text" to look for it as we have looked for it in every relationship we get to see on tv. It is very rare, even these days that we get to see an honest to god, homosexual relationship. Because I've yet to see an honest to god homosexual relationship. Have you? But you know what? This is the closest I've come to one. And it doesn't hurt to know that TPTB are purposefully giving us those little inuendos that suggest it. I for one am satisfied and enjoy each episode for it's own merits, not just to hear Gabrielle say "I love you, Xena" though I don't mind that one bit. But if you expect to see that in every episode, or if you let yourself be disappointed by an episode because you don't hear it, then, I say, watch something else. You will get about as much out of it.

c. 1998 dumblonde
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MDKNIGHT on Sacrifice :

OH my God. I don't think I've felt it this hard to wait for part 2 of something in my life with the possibility of Debt 2.

In no particular order some observations. Callisto IMO came closer than ever to a frankly carnal exchange with Xena. If indeed she does achieve "oblivion" as she keeps refering to it in this ep, I think she certainly is going out on a high note esp subtextually. I even thought the "Honey I'm home" line and some of the subsequent fondling of the coccoon gave off subtext waves despite her refering to herself as aunty and to Hope as the daughter that should have been hers.

If you didn't catch it the first time be sure to look at the "Night of the Living Dead" scene when the zombies..ahem I mean religious zealots (and I do wonder if TPTB will get in trouble in some quarters for this dark parody....maybe not since people of similar mind set would probably not recognise themselves in this)are swarming the shack. There among them(from the back) is Gabrielle from first season!!! There is a young blonde woman, with Gab's outfit from Sins of the Past AND she has the SAME hairdo too. Talk about symoblism. That's one of the things I like about this ep... it makes some of it's points in several ways. Ex :symbol of old Gab being with the zombies who had previoulsy been described as well intentioned but easy to decieve, while in another scene present day Gab, when Xena states that for a moment even she thought that Gab really was buying Sarafin's Dahok party line, Gab explains that no, her eyes have been opened. Both scenes show that Gab who would have been susceptable to Dayhok's preaching by misunderstanding it as serving "the greater good" has changed.

Another thing I liked is that again we have writers who apparently wrote/know the show history. I've described here that sometimes the writers seem to have warped in from some other demension, perpetrated thier story, unleashed it on an unsuspecting public, then opened the jumpgait back to thier homeworld taking thier ill gotten gains (Yes I disagree with some of what has happened on the show...can you tell ?) Mercifully this didn't happen this time. We have a bitter Callisto wanting nothingness since she knows she can't win, can't get what she wants and doesn't want to go back to Tratarus. (NO pun intended but )she has lost hope. So much so that she actually threw a fire ball to hit this time. In the past Cal shot trails of fire between Xena's legs to get her to react but did not seem to ever really go for the kill. If Xena hadn't deflected the fireball this time Cal might actually have suceeded.

Next in the continuity brigade is the looks between X&G when Gab has said that she never would have figutred Sarafin for the type to become a vollunteer sacrifice and Xena says that even when you think you know someone very well they can suddenly turn on you and show you a defferent part of their personality. We, the audience know that right after the words leave Xena's lips both X&G flash back in thier minds to the events of Debt I and Bitter Suite. Furthermore, we know that they both know it. IMO a highpoint in acting as well.

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Ogami on Sacrifice I & II:

First, let me say I enjoyed Sacrifice II better than Sacrifice I. SacI felt like a Hercules episode. Xena and Gabrielle just went by the numbers, got through the plot, and then the episode was over. I didn't see any interaction between the two that made me feel warm and fuzzy. Their subtext was practically nonexistent. Xena treated her like a wayward lieutenant from her old army, and not as her best friend. In fact, at moments when Gabrielle needed comforting over the horrors they were enduring, Xena seemed callous and cold. I got the impression from SacI that Xena still laid the blame for all their problems at Gabrielle's feet. In this episode, Gabrielle seemed to be hammered again and again for her "mistakes" and "poor judgement" this season, while Xena just whistles her way through the episode with a halo over her head. Xena is always right, the writers seem to say, and Gabrielle should shut up and do what she's told.

Callisto's saucy dialogue with Xena in SacI is a nod, I think, to the Fan Fiction writers out there who felt a similar passion between them. At least, I've never seen Callisto be this direct with her on the show, only in Fan Fiction! Of course, Xena's 'tude is a cold shower on this line of thought, for her hatred of Callisto for the death of Solan kinda rules out any possible "interactions" between 'em. :(

Seraphin's bright white "Marilyn Monroe" hair was as big a distraction as Hope's Fright Wig in Maternal Instincts. Come on, casting! Since when do they have peroxide in ancient New Zealand, I mean Greece? Give us raven manes, give us browns, blonds, reds. But don't give us bleach-white frizzy disasters! Every time she came onscreen, I felt I was watching Madonna go through her "True Blue" phase.

And who is this Saraphin, anyway? Gabrielle's never mentioned her. How does Gabrielle know where she is? She hasn't seen her for years, she's never mentioned her in three seasons, yet she's her bosom friend? -Sigh-

The whole thing with Hope's Coccoon was hilarious to me. This is the writers nod to all of the "Pod Gabrielle" comments that angry fans had about Gabrielle's conduct earlier this season! Meet Pod Hope!

I was disappointed they decided to make Hope into a Gabrielle-double. I had always hoped that Hope was 100% percent of her father, and Gabrielle was just used as an evil incubator. To have Hope with Gabrielle's face may be a trick, of course. But it squelches the hope I had (pardon the pun) that if Hope did have a part of her mother's essence, some of her goodness, then maybe she could have had the chance for goodness like Gabrielle always believed, indeed... hoped for. What a waste for possible dramatic storywriting. Imagine if we had just been through a season charting Gabrielle & Xena raising a young girl with their ideals and love. Instead, we get an extremely lame, disposable plot device. Oooo, scary.

I guess what I'm really disappointed with is that this is the vehicle the writers chose to give us for a double-Gabrielle episode. Personally, I would have rather had one where she meets Princess Deinaira from "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom". :)

c. 1998 Ogami
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Ogami on Sacrifice II:

Well well... There are so many disappointments I have with this otherwise excellent episode, let me go over the good things first, so you don't think I didn't like this amazing finale, 'cause I did. :)

The Good: Renee O'Connor was wonderful as Hope. She must have been dying to play an evil character, and she does so here with gusto. Hope's deception and evil aside, I really liked her scenes where she truly longed for the gentle touch of her mother. (Where Gabrielle brushes her cheek.) It was enough to make me wonder whether things could have turned out different if Gabrielle had decided to leave Xena and raise Hope on her own. Oh well. Callisto's new role as "good guy" was funny to behold, although she had trouble containing those fire blasts! And Gabrielle's self-sacrifice for Xena at the end was truly an act of the bravest courage and love.

The Bad: We had the opportunity for some really good dialogue between Callisto, Xena & Gabrielle, but the opportunity was squandered. And I say squandered because there will be no more dialogue between them after this. The "psycho cheerleader" everyone loved from past seasons didn't really have any goods scenes this season. Dejected in Maternal Instincts and Armageddon Now, she seemed to be a goddess without direction or purpose. In Sac I&II, she is reduced to the role of a prospective patient for Dr. Kevorkian, begging to be put out of her misery. What misery? Was she forced to watch all those Joxer comedies this season like we were? :)

Ares. Well, he has certainly tarnished his image beyond repair on this show. I will not look forward to his 4th season appearances on Xena, as I did his appearances this season in The Furies and The Dirty Half-Dozen. In SacII, the writers eliminated whatever lingering appeal the character had, even though he was on shaky ground with the fans already for asking Xena to kill Gabrielle in The Bitter Suite. Here, he betrays all his fellow gods, dooms the human race to total genocidal extermination, and becomes a pedophile. That's right! You may have heard how the ancient Greeks started young with their sexual conquests. Well, Ares beat all the age records by having sex with an infant. How old is Hope anyway, seven months? Good grief.

And what is going on with the writing teams of Hercules and Xena? Do they ever get together and discuss their Season Finales? They didn't this time! Over on Hercules, Ares was doing Hera's bidding, beating Hercules through walls and slapping his father around. Yet over on Xena, he's betraying all the gods for a place underneath Dahak's supper table, and going at it with Hope like rabid weasels. (Did anyone else catch this little comment of Callisto's? It is homage by the writers to Fan Fiction author Bardwynna, whose comical 'Myth-Adventures' use this term to refer to Xena and Gabrielle's hilarious sex scenes. Well done, Bardwynna!)

Hercules viewers should be completely mystified by the lack of a final battle with Dahak and Hope on Hercules. The two-parter Armageddon Now ended with Hope standing on Ares' temple, with the Dahak chant going on in the background. I suppose this little scene was for Xena viewers only, as the Herc Season Finale comes and goes, and Hercules never had to bother with it. This is an even more glaring continuity gap, when you consider how Hope insisted removing Hercules was key to her Evil Plans. Not on Sacrifice I & II he wasn't! What gives? Poor writing between the shows, obviously. Not to stray from Sacrifice's review overly, but can someone tell me why Hera didn't decide to dump her philandering husband Zeus for Dahak? I think they'd make a great couple, and wonderful mutual enemies of Hercules and Xena for the forseeable run of both shows. (Sometimes the answer is so obvious, you wonder why the show's writers don't think of these things.)

Gabrielle. Her decision to sacrifice her own life to save Xena's (for the Greater Good, and all that), would have made perfect sense 1st or 2nd season. But we're in the 3rd season. In Bitter Suite, Xena clearly showed that she had no problem with beating Gabrielle to death if she irritated her. Gabrielle should know this. So why is she so keen on saving Xena's life in SacII? Why is Xena's life more important than hers? Because Gabrielle loves her, many would answer. Why? Why does she still love Xena more than her own life? What has Xena done this season to deserve such devotion? Xena makes an attempt in SacII to apologize for her treatment of Gabrielle this season, but it comes out as "We've both made confused decisions this season." Come on! Gabrielle's mistakes this season are: lying to Xena about killing her own baby, and sending her daughter to a hut for safety from Callisto. Xena's mistakes this season: trying to murder Gabrielle's baby, and attempted murder of Gabrielle in Bitter Suite. These are not equivalent, Xena!

(Yes, I'm deliberately ignoring Gabrielle's admission that she had Ares send her ahead of Xena in The Debt. The reason is, this was obviously written after Bitter Suite, and after they read about five million posts on the NetForum, complaining how ridiculous it was that Gab got to Ch'in ahead of Xena. This Rift has more holes than swiss cheese, and each time they tried to patch it, it only came out worse. In this case, they tried to fix the Rift by saying "Hey, Gabrielle is just as bad as Xena!". Sorry folks. Two wrongs don't make a right.)

But wait, I've still got more to b**** about in this otherwise fast-paced and exciting finale! Did anyone notice that every temple Xena went in, there was a convenient object to sever with her Chakram and make fall to the floor? I could forgive this oversight being allowed in Ares' temple, but the ridiculous occurs when we go to Dahak's temple. His custom-designed (for the one true Darkness) special Dahak temple. And over the throneroom where the Flame of Dahak issues forth, what did the master Dahak architects install? A nice big hole-stopper, suspended right over their god's hole, so that should some meddling mortal come running in, she could sever it and plug up Dahak's hole with it. Uh huh. That stuff only works on Hercules, folks. I expect a higher level of writing on Xena. (Here's hoping we see a return to 2nd season's quality in the 4th season.)

Okay, I know I should say I liked this episode, and I guess I do. But what is the fallout from it? Callisto will make no more appearances. (Unless as Liz Friedman over on Hercules. ) Ares will no longer be welcome as a visitor on the show, at least by this fan. Xena got through the 3rd season by being protrayed as always right, and never having to apologize to Gabrielle for her horrifying abuse in Bitter Suite. And Gabrielle's dead. Well, as Renee O'Connor has the same thru-2000 contract as Lucy Lawless, we know she'll come back to life. But how long will that take? How will the 4th season start? With a five-episode Epic where Xena and Joxer go on a quest to bring her back to life? Oh joy! (He said sarcastically.) Expect a Gab-lite Premiere to the 4th season, which really bites. And of course, everyone's favorite news... That Ted Raimi has been signed for at least 11 episodes next season. Geez, weren't his 9 (10?) appearances this season enough to tell the writers to give him *fewer* appearances?

So was I disappointed in SacII? Only in that Joxer didn't jump down the lava hole in grief over Gabrielle. Now that would have been a *great* season finale! My Wish List for 4th Season: Xena takes Glaphyra from Dirty Half Dozen as her new partner, and Gabrielle gets *her own* spinoff series entitled "Gabrielle, Amazon Queen!"

c. 1998 Ogami
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Pursh on Sacrifice I and II:


This show makes me lose fluids.

My enthusiasm for these two episodes runneth over my Wal Mart flower pot. In a blubbering gush of email glee I even wrote to the beloved webmistress proclaiming that it was my deepest desire to marry the writer of Sac II (on the condition preceden t that said writer is a girl, of course). Being her ever prudent self, the beloved webmistress informed me that said writer is not a girl, and that in any case it's always best to at least smell someone before marrying them. Ah well reined in again, happi ly back down to Earth, just in the nick of time.

In any case, praise be to the eternal syndicate Goddesses for dawning a new day on the commercial belchin' fun box. Nothing else on the tuber even comes close to Xena.

Just when you think they can't top A Day In The Life,along comesThe Debts. Just when you think there's nothing they can cook up beyond The Debts, here comes The Bitter Suite. Just when you think there's no getting over The B itter Suite, they throw you a Sacrifice or two.

Just when you think Xena is the only vile garment wearing wanton strumpet princess for you, gABS grows up and her outfit shrinks again. Just when you think that a man with hair on his belly is the absolute lowest on your priority list, Autolycus goes on a Quest and shows up in a brown suede Amazon halter and mini, and you’re pounding the rewind button as if Xena and gABS are on screen, naked in the bedroll.

Just when you think Xena and gAB'S little post-din-din, pre-beddy-bye campfire chit-chat is the dearest thing that's ever been barfed out of the tube, and that this little lezzie moment will forever remain the queen of your rewind inspired world, here com es the big gal and her barefoot, red skeleton dress dance with the baby-blue cotton summer skirt bedecked god of war to completely redefine rewind inspiration.

Just when you think Xena's extra-long, poofy Debt II ethers dance hair is the fleece of the decade, here comes The Bitter Suite's "we would fight to death for you brave Xena" scene, with the Warrior Hair Queen sporting extra, extra, long, lo ng locks with a slight wave and an absolutely perfect mid-crown lift. And then, no doubt, you're quite certain that this is the ultimate TV 'do, and whack, you get a back shot of gAB'S long golden mane as she clocks Sockster by Lake Fins, Femmes and Ge ms. Hair-a-loo-ya! I love this show. The hair aesthetics alone blow my dress up with such velocity that Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grate looks like a prudish also ran in synthetic 1970's bell-bottom sweat pants.

Just when you think Xena The Good is totally the move, and you're all fired up to do some redeemin' in your own life, Callisto comes along, and zip, zap, zoop, you're gleefully dancing naked in the mire of your full-on female rage as if the culture around you will embrace you for it.

Just when you're certain that quasi-human devils and animals don't have the same hair DNA, here comes Hope. Just when you think Hope's coiffeur is doomed forever, she bounces across the box a la cocoon, lookin' as cute as gABrielle, save the crabby eyebro ws.

Count me among the happy minority, for I dost loveth the third season, King Conk and The River Feat notwithstanding. The truth is, more often than not, this show and the wizards that write it kick my butt with undeniable VENGEANCE!


Here the sacrificial recipe doesn't disappoint. We start out with the sideburn god at his craftiest, and then we add a twist o' Calli, and two large vegetarian slices of the Breastplate Babe and Our Lady Mavis at their allied best. Then we add a dash of A rgo, who has thankfully returned home from vacation. Next we sprinkle in the resurrection of Hope's childhood hair glued on a Gilligan's Island witch doctor mask that looks like my middle school PE teacher. Help! Xenites meet Hairy Spice, Ginger's replacement. Then we add a hearty pinch or two of Xena waxin' mean men in dresses. Finally we toss in a gAB double. Even with spice there's no marriage cooking, but I definitely smell a winner.


By the Goddesses I felt sorry for the Fin after the Femme went straight down the flambe well of loneliness with her divine devilness, daughter of the ever-pointed eyebrows in tow. There's no doubt that the great white Xena monkey has her shapely bum in t he hopper again, this time facing a long hot summer without her beloved bard, Our Lady gABrielle the Great Blondie of Troy, My Opium (she used to be good lookin') Mavis, the Marquessa Amazon Queen of the Four Seasons, mother of Hope, wanton strumpet of the swinging stick and widowed former wife of Percolator, and most ardent consort of the now, and formerly not, lonely Fish Princess.

Poor Xena-babe. Our princess is definitely going to have the worst of La Nina summers. Just think, while all us girly-girls are out watching the galy-gals play softball, the chakram sister is going to be roaming the woods trying to lose Joxer. That'll tak e up about three seconds and then she'll be back to missing gABrielle again. We'll be putzing in our gardens, joyfully smelling the roses and cultivating all the good herbies, while the Breastplate is flashing back to all the fun things she and gABby used to do in the fan fiction bedrolls. We'll be hitting the festivals, and she'll be baby-sitting Seraphin. That Xena has one hard life.

Well Xena may have a hard life, but by the Goddesses at least she still has her pretty hair, which is more than hAres can say during these episodes. I guess without Stryfe and his up to the minute fashion sense, there's no one around to tell the leather -boy god that his 'do has reached that tragic post-permanent wave stage where it's too straight on top and too curly on the bottom, with no continuity in between. I believe Kate Clinton calls this the "mud flap" style, and it's certainly not fit for a god . And what's up with the sideburn god turning into a Gray Sock flame licker? Get over it hAres! You and Gray Sock are not "partners." Big daddy fire penis is using you like he's using all of the other dough balls who are stupid enough to lumber onto the fundamental fire destruction band wagon o' non-stop rubbish.


And speaking of wagons, what gives with the police wagon thingy that Gray Sock's priesty freaks load up with formerly happy innocents? The back end shot of the pointy hat gang capturing and brutally tossing villagers onto the wagons gave me a chilling fla shback to my ACT UP toss-ola into the back of another police wagon AIDS activist days. Sheesh. Ya never know where this show is gonna take ya.

Happily that's a quick shot and we zippo flash right back to hAres, who is most definitely having a bad hair season-ending double feature. Ah well, at least the fate-dealin' hAre god got one thing right. The eyebrow cocoon devil who carries his apocalypti c lust child is truly "so not like her mother." Right on god of perm gone bad, perm gone sad. Not even you could miss the boundless antithesis between mother and child. See, mama is a dyke with normal eyebrows, morals, minimal hair trauma and a partner w ith gorgeous locks aplenty. And poor omniscient slime-cocoon child of the mountainous eyebrow range is stuck copulating with you. Once again devil daughter loses out in every respect. Also so not like mommy is cocoon daughter's tragic R2D2 puberty voice. Yikes.


Speaking of which, I thought that puberty whacked Solan in the genes with hyper-driven tenacity between Orphan of War and The Bitter Suite, but that kid's metamorphosis is anemic compared to Hope's transformation between Maternal Instinct s and the Sacs. Death by poison and the char-b-que were good for Hope. At least those death herbs and the funeral pyre fry-up whipped some sense into her hair. We can definitely praise Hestia that the little devil's re-born hair genetics and ge neral overall features favor mama, else her post-cocoon teen years could be quite troubled, although it's difficult to imagine a child more in crisis than Hope.

Let us recall gABrielle's abdominals...errr... I mean Hope, let us recall gABrielle's Hope, where within hours of birth, before her hair DNA had even asserted itself, and while still wearing her Pebbles and Bam Bam baby toga, the chil d of the flaming patriarch managed to murder Gowin, a kindly solider who had done her no disservice. She pulled that one off using the ol' strangulation by necklace modus operandi. Now that's cunning: Murder by Accessory. If Hope were my client we'd rais e the accessory defense. If Ming Tein was opposing counsel, the trial judge, the jury, and the sentencing judge, like he was in Xena's death penalty case, we'd probably win. Scary.

But still, I lament poor Hope. She is innocent on this planet for only a precious few moments before she's summoned to start a life of bidding for Gray Sock. Nary an hour of her life has passed before she cranks out her first murder, and from that point she catches a life-time ride on the demon wave express, replete with an adult-free reed basket river rafting adventure to start the trip. For the love of Hecate, it's no wonder that she had hair trauma during her entire pre-pubescence.

And now it seems that the straw scalped adult cocoon child has at long last rid herself of her hair troubles. Sadly, this brush (deliberate pun) with good fortune has done little to help keep her off that flamin' train o' bad luck because less than 30 min utes after her cocoon emancipation, she's pregnant from the god of post-perm grow-out hair. Oh dear! Just imagine the potential hair configurations for little baby apocalypse.


And while we're on the topic of the inevitably unpleasant, what about those pointy-headed Hope-atarian priesties? Hmmmmmm. I just Kan't Kuite Konjure who they Kopy, Kopy, Kopied in order to Kreate Kostumes that Kreepy.


Speaking of which, am I just a significantly over-qualified candidate for the Night of the Living Brain Dead tribe, or is everyone else also at a loss as to why the primary pointy-head priest is always using the plural when the singular will do just fine, thanks. Is this an allusion to the mantra of group think? Or does this dope have the most severe case of boundary issues ever shown on TV? Or during my five billion viewings of these eps did I miss some super significant clue that would shed light on t his annoyance? Please inform. We would really like to know. We don't like it when we're too stupid to figure out Xena episodes. We begin to mumble alot and we resort to petty food thievery to make us feel important. We terrorize and torment our peaceful neighbors. We chew with our mouths open. We communicate with cocoons by fondling them. We can't stop sniffin' around the priestess of the blood. We annoy Callisto. We rant about blood sacrifice. We need to know if we missed that clue. We need to know bad .


Hudson Leike (yo, Alex Trebec, Mr. Jeopardy smart-fart, that's pronounced "Like" not "Lake"), anyway as I was saying, Hudson Leike is brilliant. The fluidity she brings to Callisto is enchanting to watch. She floats from tantrum tossing little girl , to enraged rage, to wheeling-dealing huckster, to hAres butt-kicker with the energy and intelligence of a frenetic triple Gemini who eats organic chocolate fudge sicles and coffee beans over water for breakfast. But instead of splintering her energy flo ws, and every face she presents is engaging and believable in the moment. They absolutely must figure out a way to keep Hudson on this show, and out from under cave debris. Hmmmmm, bartender, I'll have a double Calli on the rocks...

Maybe Callisto's sister(s) weren't all toasted in Xena's now famous Cirrah bake-off. Maybe Calli has a cousin, an identical cousin. Maybe Hopeful or the god of the grunting flame can bring her back to life. Maybe after Tara and Lilla get a divorce Callist o's sister/cousin/double/whoever can marry Lilla. Hmmmmm, I see some distinct possibilities here. That would free up Tara to date Seraphin, which would add an edgy juvenile delinquents in love element to the show. This might help fill the fey ways void th at is surely going to present itself in the absence of the Warrior Queen. And the whole lot of 'em, plus Xena and gABrielle, and the Amazons, and Xena's bar owning no-man-in-my-house mom, can all start a lesbian bowling league for the benefit of comic re lief, thereby nullifying the necessity of what's his face.

Well bowling league or not, Calli could teach the rest of the gals a thing or two about having rude fun. I love it when she indiscriminately pops priesty boy on the butt with a fire ball as he pillages his way through the once happy village. And the look on her face when the adult cocoon child of the gas grill god snags hAres by the ear to break up their fire ball fight is perfect. And the "yeah yeah, yeah, yeah glory hallelujah" scene where she dresses Hopeful in gAB-wear is an inspired genuflect to the rewind button. (Oh, and I love the spiral sacrifice staircase in the background during this scene. Good job set folks! Is this the same outdoor spiral staircase that leads to nowhere which appears in the Lysia Herc ep? Inquiring minds want to grow...errr ...know. Anyway, interesting architectural elements are always welcome). Yea Calli! Yea Hudson! Yea outdoor spiral staircase! Wheeeeee! I love this show!


Oooo! Architectural elements! Three big flaming cheers for strategically placed plano-convex ceiling ornamentation. When coupled with the fleeting kiss of the chakram this wanna-be light fixture allows Xena to put the loss of air hooey on the god of the eternal Bunsen Burner. And it's always such a distinct and unrivaled pleasure to watch the undoing of a rapist. Love our Warrior Babe. Hate that flicker boy. Oops I mean god.

And that chakram! Every gal needs one of these right this very instant! Purshy insists! Not only does it douse the eternal flame of the fire clod...oops I mean god...it's darn handy in a dodgeball game with telekinetically charged swords and hatchets, and shake, rattle and fly projectile knives.


I sense some wasted potential in the burlap clad priestess of the peroxide. Get this gal to Lao Ma quick! Maybe an LM ethereal scalp massage can stimulate some much needed growth on and in this girl's head. C'mon Hair-a-pin! That head o' yours isn't just a convenient place to wear your bottle blonde hair! Use those cranial nerve fibers like Gray Sock's using you!

By the way what's up with the sister of the untailored burlap bouncing between squirrely wide-eyed blood sacrifice hopeful, and sassy, Joxer whacking bossy girl? I realize that it's a Gray Sockian honor of great distinction to be selected for slaughter, b ut does this honor also carry the privilege of character continuity preclusion? Apparently so.

And Share-a-fin, how dare you state that gABS wasn't a good mother to Hope. Through all of the turmoil she managed to save Hope's baby hair and preserve it for all eternity by gluing it to your significantly less than congenial mean PE teacher sacrificial mask.

Dear, dear Spare-a-pin, you are a simple gal with very cute '90's uber hair, wearing an untailored rough hewn smock for the second week in a row. You've lost your mind to the gurgling, grunting, slurpee, cocoony baby sound that became Hope. Xena has been very patient, and even heroic, in relation to you. You didn't even thank her for the life saving, over the cliff game of toss the Seraphin. This is forgivable, considering that you've lost your mind and all, but going after the Warrior Babe with a knife is just plain beyond mindless. No wonder she put the choke-wad on you. But still, I'm glad she didn't kill you. I see great possibilities for you, and your hair. But girl, truth is, ya gotta lose the maker of your dress, who is clearly the same dress desi gner selected by Hope during her adolescent years. Let me keep this simple, like you: those burlap sacks ain't gettin' it.

And to think, for all of these years the world thought that Paul Poiret was the first to design the straight line dress in the 1920's. Obviously, you and Hope had the idea first. In any case we must give Poiret credit for making a vast improvement by upgr ading the fabric in his version. Having said that though, I have to admit that the untacked sleeveless burlap straight line never looked better than it did in the back shot we got of you as Xena followed you into the Halls of War in Sac I. Whew ba by!

A SACRIFICE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT So Sockster got the dagger to the fight. Are we now to believe that his mental pathways are no longer impoverished? I guess the Breastplate's flappin' tongue whuppin' and unambiguously unfriendly shove turned the other side of his brain on for a sec. Tha t's a welcome reprieve, but the simple facts remain intact. He ain't edible, and he ain't bed-a-ble. End o' story.


Well, the bad news is that we have many moons, far too many moons, to ponder the possible activities that could be occupying gABS and Hope during their summer stay deep inside Mother Earth. But I'm hopeful that this inner Earth respite might provide just the right atmosphere for some much needed mother-daughter healing between them. I absolutely refuse to buy into the hateful patriarchal christian notion that the core of the good Earth is hellish hell, while heaven above is reserved for the gods and non- sinners, far away and above her dirty Earthy self. Bullshit. It bums me out that XWP consistently replays this cheap, uncreative, Earth hating crap-a-doo-doo. Sigh. I must believe that in the fourth season, after a summer of rethinking her Gray Sockian tr aining at the Mother's core, under the tutelage of her good mama, Hope will emerge this time born good. Maybe the women, together, will be the key to creaming raper boy next season. In any event let's all pray for the renewal of Seraphin's mind. Our gals will need all the help they can get.

The good news is that the methods for recruiting converts to the god cause have changed for the better since Xena's days. Imagine if Mope and the pointy-headed priest of the plural had to build Gray Sock's forces in mid-century America...


In a previously unused room, the Bleary-eyed innocent sits on a comfy chair and initiates her nightly Bitter Suite ritual by pushing a series of minute rubber-like remote control buttons. With a reassuring poof of what sounds like static electricit y, the magic box does her duty and begins to roll a frightening image: Joxer in the Amazon village.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (fast forwarding): Bleah.

On the sill of the room's very large southern window sits Odessa, the world's only talking house plant, who like her roommate, also has a strong affinity for The Bitter Suite.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (greeting her green friend): Yo 'Dess.

ODESSA (blithely): Is it time?


ODESSA: Yipeeeee! Ya know The Bitter Suite has to be the best televised musical with lesbian characters since the Gilligan's Island production of Hamlet, starring Ginger and Maryanne.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: I think it stands as the century's best hour long television love story.

ODESSA: Ahh, the music, the costumes, the acting, the dyke protagonists, the singing, the tension, the layering, the tarot, the set design...


ODESSA: And Callisto in a funny hat.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: And hAres in a funny hat.

ODESSA: And Xena in many funny hats.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: And hAres in a dress.

ODESSA: And singing griffins.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: And a wise-cracking snake.

ODESSA: And that big pouch on a stick with a blinking eye.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Ahhh, 'Dess it just doesn't get much better.

ODESSA: Mmmmm. Is it time to watch yet?

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (still tickling the fast forward button): Just a sec. Lemme get to the water.

ODESSA: Ya know, no other TV show has ever explored the Tarot with such depth, accuracy and intelligence.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Yeah. Although I wish they had used the Motherpeace deck instead of Ryder-Waite, but hey...

ODESSA: Well, Motherpeace or not it's still a lesbian love story told through magical matriarchal symbolism.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: That is so cool, isn't it! What vision! What creativity! What brilliance! What a gift!

ODESSA: Sure beats the Gong Show.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Just barely. But ya know Odessa, the truth is when I reach down inside myself and do things that I'm not capable of, it's because I've just watched The Bitter Suite. Doesn't the Gong Show know that by now?

ODESSA: Hey! The water! Roll 'em.

The Bleary-eyed innocent pushes play and the nightly ritual of the plant and her girl begins amidst great joy. Time passes as time is wont to do and the Bleary-eyed innocent finds herself in a state of illimitable emoting in response to the images provid ed by the hard working TV, which she has borrowed from one of her television rich friends for the sole purpose of watching Xena Lesbena Princess. The TV, who's very existence depends on its ability to bring Xena to life every night in this now utilitarian room, is interrupted by the rude and unsettling bing bong hiss of the door bell.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (leaping from the comfortable chair in the utilitarian room which houses Odessa and the wanna keep on livin' TV): 'Dess the door bell! Our girl scout cookies! They’re here! At last!

ODESSA: Well gather some cash and get that door, sister!

With concentrated haste the Bleary-eyed innocent forages through Odessa's undie drawer and her own jean jacket, brief case, back pack, checking account, bell bottoms, washing machine, and secret stash of for the bus only coinage, to come up with the $143. 59 required for the purchase of two boxes of thin mints and one box of the peanut butter kind. She runs to the door in an effort to catch the diminutive cookie huckster before the winsome urchin peddles on to the next house in pursuit of capitalistic sati sfaction. In her hustled rush the Bleary-eyed innocent fails to pop the life lovin' TV's little rubber-like pause button. As a result the black eyeballed and crucified Xena transforms into pretty Xena. With uninterrupted and marked enthusiasm pretty Xena begins to sing about returning again to love, so not a trace of hate remains, while the prone gABS attempts to harmonize in agreement, lamenting ever seeing the stranger in Xena's eyes. The Bleary-eyed innocent chokes back tears for the tenth time this vi ewing, and at Odessa's urging, with two fistfuls of dinars, she continues her front door bound cookie sprint. The door bell rings again. She answers the door, dropping her scavenged coin collection at the feet of a red robed stranger and his arched eyebro w companion.

THE EYEBROW MISTRESS: Hi! I'm Mope and this is the Priest of the Plural, perpetual wearer of phallus-inspired headgear.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Waaaa! What about the cookies?

MOPE (ignoring the snack food comment): We're talking to folks in your neighborhood about converting to Mope-atarianism, and all of the wonderful and beneficial merits of donating yourself to the cause of blood sacrifice.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Uhhhh. I'm busy right now. Could ya come back later?

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: We can see that you're busy. We can see everything. We know all. We kill all. We...

Mope stomps her gummy post-cocoon foot on the Priest of the Plural's instep and begins an allegedly private conversation with him acting as though the Bleary-eyed innocent can't hear them even though she's only two feet from them, much like the "private" conversations Ezra and My Opium had within inches of Tarsis in Varnishing Act.

MOPE: All right that's enough. I'm sick to death of you. The fate of the entire world rests on this mission and if you think I'm gonna let a bumbling fool like you mess it up, you've got another thing coming.


MOPE (as she shoves the Priest of the Plural): Oh ya don't hear to good, huh? I said I'm sick of you.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: We think you're jokin', right?

MOPE (slapping the Priest of the Plural): Need a little lesson, huh? Get lost and don't follow me. Now scram ya fool. Moron. Get outa here.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: Copy devil, copy devil. Can't you even think of your own insults, or do you always have to copy all of your mean dialogue from Xena?

MOPE: (exasperated): Ugh. How did I get stuck with you on solicitation detail?

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: We don't know! Just lucky, we guess!

MOPE: Idiot! I'm going to speak to Father about this.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: See if we care.

MOPE: Where, exactly, did you leave your brain stem?

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: If we knew that, well, we'd know a whole lot more than we do!

MOPE: Ugh! You, you...

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: Sticks and swords may break our bones, but Xena's words can never hurt us.

MOPE (with a defiant and confident tone of irritation): You know, Priest of the Plural, you could increase the annoyance quotient at a clones of Joxer convention.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: Mope, we don't think that's a very nice thing to say.

MOPE (in her crabby R2D2 voice, previously reserved exclusively for Callisto and gABrielle): Well, I'm not a very nice devil. Get used to it. Now shut up and let me do the talking or I'll stare at you so hard with my mean eyebrows that your pointy little hat will begin a perpetual orbit of Pluto with you stuffed irretrievably inside it.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL (meekly): Kay Mope. Gee its good to be on your team. We sure do like it. We...

MOPE: Enough!

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Uhhh. Look Miss...errrrr...Eyebrows I don't mean to interrupt but I really can't chat right now...And uhhhh I'm not quite ready to donate my physical body to any particular cause at the moment. In fact I find her to be a very functi onal and highly utilitarian part of my everyday living.

MOPE: But undeniable otherworldly benefits abound for those who donate.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (attempting to shut the door): I'm rather fond of this world, thanks.

MOPE (swiftly wedging her gummy foot between the door and the door jamb): Whoa there sister. I demand an audience. I can do that. I'm a Goddess.


BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (irritated):...Standing on my front porch, wearing a dunce cap, interrupting my nightly Bitter Suite ritual. Now please, scoot along. Why don't you go talk to my neighbors. They're more tolerant of your type than I am.

MOPE: What's that supposed to mean?

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Miss Eyebrow Goddess, here's some sage advice. Never trust a man wearing a dunce cap who doesn't appreciate the difference between plural and singular.

MOPE: Huh?!

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Believe me things will only get worse from this point.

The Bleary-eyed innocent leans in toward Mope conspiratorially.

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: Can you imagine what he'd do to a plural possessive? I'm telling you, I know his type. Next thing you know your life will be peppered with split infinitives and sentences ending in prepositions.

MOPE (having been convinced that it's definitely time to move on without a conversion to the ranks): Uh-huh. So tell me again, who are your neighbors?

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT (as she points around the bend): They're the Father Knows Best family. They live just beyond the cul de sac, over there.

MOPE: Oh I like the sound of that. There's only one Father and he certainly knows best, with the one possible glaring exception being his inability to schedule compatible teams on solicitation detail.

The Bleary-eyed innocent slams the door shut and runs back to the room with Odessa, the chair and the complicit TV.

ODESSA: Who was that?

BLEARY-EYED INNOCENT: A cone head and some gal with double jointed eyebrows and the worst case of athlete's foot I've ever seen. Care if I rewind a bit?

ODESSA: Fine with me. Damn I wish our cookies would get here.

The Bleary-eyed innocent pushes the tiny rewind button, putting The Bitter Suite back to "Solan! It was him!" Mope and nerd boy skip up the street toward the Father Knows Best residence. Upon arrival there Mope rings the bell, which is answered by an attractive, smartly dressed woman who has an entrenched perma-smile etched into her Stepford face.

MOPE: Hi! I'm Mope and this is...

PERMA-SMILE LADY (enthusiastically interrupting, which is the only rude thing she's ever done in her life): Hi! I'm Mother! Come on in and have some posh home-made desert and expensive coffee while you sit on my immaculate couch in my immaculate fr ont room.

Mope looks at the Priest of the Plural as her right eyebrow arches to gravity defying heights. They enter the room, and Mope immediately spies a portly little girl with a tail, pointy ears and whiskers, who sits in the far corner of the room slamming thin mints into her mouth with the velocity of a Xena thrown chakram. She is surrounded by cookie boxes and wrappings. Sitting to her left on the floor is a small pink Melmac bowl filled with organic milk.

MARCUS WELBY (entering the room and introducing cat girl, his youngest child): Hi I'm Father. I know best. This is Kitten.

Mope silently bristles at the lesser god's obvious challenge to Gray Sock's exclusive domain over knowing best. Using her great powers of telekinesis she swiftly and covertly incites a sharp upright tack to move itself into Father's chair. Satisfied that she has settled the score, she attempts to begin her spiel. Kitten, having seen the whole telekinesis maneuver, becomes tense and begins pacing as she twitches her whiskers.

MOPE (to Kitten): Greetings! I'm Mope and this is...

KITTEN (interrupting Mope as she slams a thin mint and slurps her milk): Meow. Burp.

MOPE: Charming.

MARCUS WELBY (to the cat child): Now Kitten, don't belch at the nice eyebrow lady and her pylon capped friend. You know that isn't nice.

KITTEN: Hissssss.

Mope and the Priest of the Plural exchange sideways glances, as Father Knows Best's two tailless children enter the room. Mother hands Father the third of his six nightly pre-dinner Martinis, and Father unkowingly positions himself atop the tack as he si ts down.

MARCUS WELBY (to Mope): These are our two legged children, Bud Vase and Princess.

Mope's skin begins to crawl, as it always does when she meets someone with Xena's surname.

BUD VASE (extending his hand): Pleased to meet you Miss Mope.

With her keen senses intact, as she takes Bud Vase's hand in ritual greeting, Mope notices that he suffers from teenage pattern baldness, and that the rug atop his head is not as adept as it could be at hiding this fact. Ever the opportunist, Mope files t his fact away to use as a bargaining chip for later. Silently she reasons that if he'll give it all up for blood sacrifice, she'll offer him everlasting Gray Sockian life with real hair.

PRINCESS (nodding in response to the introduction): Yes, nice to meet you.

Based on her name alone Mope turns a cold devil shoulder to Princess.

MARCUS WELBY: (fidgeting in his primo Father Knows Best chair as his alcohol numbed tush slowly begins to compute the annoying presence of sharpness): Now, how can we help you...

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: We! Now you're speaking our language!

MARCUS WELBY: Oh gawds I'm too exhausted for this, which is weird since I don't really have a job.

MOPE (pushing the point, so to speak): We're here to spread the word about Mope-atariansim and the everlasting merits of blood sacrifice.

Kitten's ears perk up at this and she recalls the telekinetic tack trick from gracious few moments ago. She scampers out of the room, grabbing a box of thin mints and flicking her tail as she goes.

MARCUS WELBY: Yeow, I'm so tired I feel like there's a tack permanently embedded in my butt.

Mope goes into full-on devil mode and decides to secretly relish the fact that the lesser god is currently pained by her doing. She presses on without even a socially appropriate sympathetic facial gesture.

MOPE: Your neighbor sent us. She said you may be...

MARCUS WELBY (showing an obvious discomfort not related to the tack): Humph. That skirt chasin', butt bumpin', herb poppin', Moon lovin', Earth worshipin', den of sin, groove thing heathen lesbian TV show addict...

BUD VASE: Come, come now Father, I like Pursh.

PRINCESS (far to enthusiastically): Me too! Ahem.

KITTEN (from the other room): Purrrrrrrr.

Mother emerges from the kitchen with an extremely complex and detailed mound of handmade chocolate delicacies.

MOTHER (to Mope): Now, dear, why are you here?

MARCUS WELBY (to Mother): Puss next door sent them.

BUD VASE (adjusting his hair piece): Father it's Pursh. She's a nice girly-girl. Honestly Father, I really don't understand your hostility.

PRINCESS: Yes Father dearest, really, Bud Vase is right. She's worth getting to know...in fact...I better go borrow some flour from her right this instant!

BUD VASE: Good idea Princess!

As per normal, Mope's eyebrows stand on edge at the mention of Xena's surname, and her telekinesis has a momentary flare-up at the attendant fleeting thought that Princess may well be one of Xena's relatives.

MARCUS WELBY: Princess, I don't want you over there all night long watching lesbonic love stories, like last night.

Princess kisses Father Knows Best on the forehead as she freshens her breath with an expensive mint, flits toward the door and winks at Bud Vase and Mother, who both secretly wish that they too were headed for the cookieless, but still loads of fun, hot b ed of non-stop homosexual cinema.

MOTHER (to Mope): Sorry for the interruption dear. Have some cake. Now, your point?

MOPE: Yes, as I was saying, the benefits that derive from blood sacrifice are many and varied.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: It's something we believe in with all our hearts. It can bring you salvation.

MOPE (turning her arched eyebrow stare specifically on Bud Vase's imitation follicles): Yes, and true scalp sprouted hair.

The hint is lost on Bud Vase, who operates under the delusion that his hair cap imitates the real deal with wigged perfection of the highest order.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL (sensing that salvation and real hair isn't enough to move this crowd to conversion): And best of all, it will bring you life everlasting!

KITTEN (from the other room): Hisssssssss.

MARCUS WELBY: Oh you'll have to pardon Kitten. As a nine-lifer she feels like she has the exclusive on the life in perpetuity thing.

MOPE (plugging on like a good insurance salesperson): Oh. I see. But if I may, please allow me to explain in detail the benefits of life everlasting under the mighty Gray Sock.

MARCUS WELBY: Gray Sock? Who's that?

MOPE (momentarily demoralized and frustrated at Bud Vase's seeming lack of interest in the hair trade-off): Sigh. Just another rapist who wants to rule the world, truth be told...

MOTHER: So what's new, dear.

MARCUS WELBY (to Mope upon comprehending the term "rapist" after his usual ten second processing delay): Now, looky here young lady, no cursing in my home.

MOPE (to Bud Vase): Yo flower boy, who's he think he is?

BUD VASE: He's Father. He thinks he knows best.

MOPE (to the Priest of the Plural, as she once again invokes the Varnishing Act secret conversation modus operandi): Clearly these lackeys have even less axon dendrite activity than your basic Night of the Living Brain Dead Gray Sockian. Let's go.

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: We agree! We've never seen such a paucity of inter-cranial potential!

MOPE: Must be genetic.

MOTHER (to Mope): Oh dear! Sorry we couldn't be more helpful.

MARCUS WELBY: Well I'm not sorry and I know best. So there. Damn my butt hurts.

MOTHER (patting Father Knows Best on the head): Of course dear.

BUD VASE (reflecting on his Father's gruff rudeness as he and Mother begin to escort Mope and the Priest of the Plural to the front door): Mother, is Father related to Macon or what?

MOTHER (out of Father's earshot): Bud Vase! Who told you that! I've been keeping that a secret for years!

BUD VASE: Just a lucky guess, Mom.

MOTHER: Rats! So much for maintaining a healthy cadre of lies as an integral part of our nuclear bomb family values.

BUD VASE: Oh Mother! So sorry to wreck the facade!

MOTHER: No worry dear. I guess you may as well know the whole truth.

BUD VASE: It's OK Mom. I can just guess it, if it's easier for you!

MOTHER: That's Mama's boy, always thinking of your dear old mum, aren't you?

Bud Vase blushes. Being true to their snoopy zealot clan origins Mope and the Priest of the Plural listen to the conversation intently, though outwardly they pretend to be politely distracted.

MOTHER: The truth is...

BUD VASE: Oh, it's OK, Mom, really. Please feel free to spare or ignore any pertinent details that might upset me...errrrr...you.

MOTHER: Oh, never you mind, hon, divulging details now will give us something to talk about after Father dies!

BUD VASE: Oh good thinking Mother!

MOTHER: The truth is that your Father, who knows best, of course, is the off-spring of Macon and Virgilias.

BUD VASE: Good Goddess! Not Macon the human jock strap and Virgilias, the human wall!

MOTHER: I'm afraid so dear.

BUD VASE: Gawds! How on Earth...

MOTHER: Mutation. Major genetic mutation.

BUD VASE: Not to mention a significant biological aberration.

MOTHER: Oh, yes, well Macon and Virgilias wanted to try and one up the virgin birth crowd, and really there's not much more you can do beyond that, except a virginless birth, of course.

BUD VASE: Father was born of the flesh of two men. Amazing.

MOTHER: Oh it's not really that amazing dear. Patriarchs have been actively attempting to remove women from the birth process and it's attendant mythology for many moons now.

MOPE (unable to maintain her politely distracted subterfuge any longer): She's right! Why just look at my wombless cocoon birth!

PRIEST OF THE PLURAL: Ain't life grand!

MOTHER: Indeed!

Bud Vase opens the door and Mope and the Priest of the Plural exit without a loquacious exchange, which is a damn welcome change in this uber. Bud Vase nods his head in a manner suitable to a startled dapper fellow as he closes the door behind them. He su rveys his suit, tie and sock clad Father who snoozes in his Baroca lounger as cake drool dribbles out of his mouth while his left hand dangles in his martini glass, which sits on the floor at a precarious angle due to the varied height of the white nubby wall to wall carpet that covers what would otherwise be a pretty all natural tongue and groove hardwood floor.

BUD VASE: Sheesh. My Father, the only begotten son of a wall and a jock strap. Who 'da thunk it?

MOTHER (surveying the mess from the unexpected pre-evening meal snack): Sigh. More dirty laundry...errr...I mean dishes. A Mother's work is never done.

BUD VASE: I'll help you Mom.

MARCUS WELBY (rousing from his vodka induced snooze): Humph. Not me. I’m sittin' on my aching butt and waiting for dinner to be served. That's best, and I know it. I'm Father.

Bud Vase mutters to himself as he clears posh cake crumbs from intricately patterned Lenox China. He pauses to re-glue his hairpiece, which has begun to come undone as he processes the implications of the recently divulged genetic secrets.

BUD VASE: Good Goddess! Father is related to Macon. Oh my heavens! That means I'm related to Macon! This will never do. If the dandy fellows down at Cafe a la Male ever find out, why I'll be forever ostracized by my peer group. Oh poo! The ramifications a re too grand. I'll never be invited to another Tea Ball again. Gasp.

MOTHER (ignoring Bud Vase's rant, which is her typical response when any of her children display emotion): Oh Father, I forgot to tell you, dear, Bud Vase is teaching me how to drive tonight, and we have to practice for many extended hours by drivi ng up and down Pursh's driveway, so we'll be over there pretty much all night.

MARCUS WELBY: Mother! What are you saying?

BUD VASE: She's saying you have to fix your own meal tonight, Pop.

MARCUS WELBY: Oh! Is that all. No worry dear. I'll just share some of Kitten's milk and cookies.

KITTEN: Hissssssss.

MARCUS WELBY: I think it's a good idea for you to practice in what's her name's driveway. That way you can keep an eye on Princess.

BUD VASE (looking at Mother as he rolls his eyes): You're so smart Dad.

MARCUS WELBY (self satisfied): Yeah, I pretty much know what's best.

Bud Vase helps Mother on with her coat as they exist the house. On the way out he grabs the keys to Father's beauteous black '53 Chrysler. Outside Bud Vase revs the infallible V8 and they make a mad dash for Pursh's, arriving there with two minutes to spa re before the next hourly showing of The Bitter Suite begins again. The happy group sits in the single chair room enraptured as the magic box chugs through her necessary rewind. Outside Kitten snuggles up to Odessa on the window sill with a box of thin mi nts under her front paws. She tenderly places a thoughtfully crumbled cookie in the dirt filled pot that comprises her dear friend's home, while she swishes her tail and twitches her whiskers waiting for the big event to begin again.

PRINCESS: We're home.

BUD VASE: At last.

MOTHER: Ahhhh.

KITTEN: Purrrrr.


PURSH: Anybody got any spare cookies?

Kitten pushes the thin mints through the open window and they hit the floor with a reassuring thud. The automatic rewind stops and clicks off, and someone taps the tiny rubber play button. As the Universal Studios logo fills the darkened room with a lazy blue glow the thin mints make their rounds. The six Xenites all unconsciously lean slightly forward. Silently they watch and chew, patiently waiting for her courage to change the world.

c. 1998 Pursh
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