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In Sickness And In Hell

Written by Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster
Directed by Josh Becker


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Pursh on In Sickness and in Hell:

IN SICKO AND IN SMELL (Or In Slickness and in Hair Hell)

This one stunk so bad that upon first whiff I mistook it for Cheezer's hair. Or was it Xena's hair? It's hard to tell now that she has apparently taken on his lack of enthusiasm for scalp health. Gawds.

Someone get me to Nematode's memory temple so I can spill my ceramic water bowl and clear this episode out o' the brain chamber. I thought things were bad in Las Vegas last season. Well, I guess that'll teach me. Ya never know what you've got 'til its gone, and whoopee there goes Sicko Smell, right off of my personal Xena home video collection shelf and right down into the bowels of that swirling, whirling ultimate ceramic bowl. Okay ceramic, porcelain, whatever. The point is that this abomination is a waste of radiation and celluloid.


Being the unapologetic Xena partisan that I am, it is difficult for me to say this, but I'd rather watch 44 minutes of wormy, pig-bag right wing political commercials than sit through this pointless, plotless, germinal, flush-ola puke fest again.

Of course derision of this sort does not gravitate toward insignificance. This episode is a let down, and let downs don't occur in a vacuum. They are borne of expectations. So perhaps this is a lesson in minimizing expectations. The truth is that nine times out of ten Nora Kay and Adam A. don't do it for me. Throw in Joxer, directionless direction, hair dwelling lower life forms that go "boing" when they locomote, and clunky Sins of the Past Draco music and those odds quickly move to ten times out of ten.


Color me barnyard fool but I don't get the rabbit. What the f***? Does this bunny have anything to do with anything? What is the point? I don't get it. I just don't get the whole thing. Why is Xena in denial about her hygiene problems? Why is that rabbit on crack? Why is Argo PMS?

Does Argo's problem have anything to do with those rapacious military men roping her around the neck? Or is her behavior the manifestation of three seasons of a heretofore unexpressed rage against Xena? Who knows? Who cares? And again I ask why. What is the point here? Is this entire foray just an excuse for Xena to run around with cave woman hair?

Ya know, I'm not a picky girl. I still date my life-sized Xena standee, even though she has card board hair and refuses to wear the leather Cyane butt thong that I recently got her. In the Xena realm, I, like all of you, have put up with pointless. And together we have put up with plotless.FFG was basically pointless, and about as richly plotted as that monotonous "See Dick run. Run Dick run" chronicle that inspired all of us to become lifetime readers. See Dick. Dick runs. See Xena. Xena pukes. Do they actually pay people to write this?


The Xena seeking rapprochement with Argo plot (or maybe this the sub-plot, who knows) is at least discernible as a thread with some direction, but again I ask why. Where did that come from? Our girl has left the noble pony for episodes on end before and it hasn't bothered Argo a bit. Recall that last season Argo was a no show in Femmes, Butches and Ape Men, Snooze on Me and Varnishing Act before she finally reappeared, without protest, for the Sacs. Argo choosing to stay with her neck roping captors instead of escaping with Xena simply isn't right. This plot or sub-plot, or whatever it is, doesn't fit. Nothing fits here.

Like what they did to gABrielle for instance. The doyenne of pure diction and versification is precluded from her communicative craft because of her impolitic application of linseed root? I don't think so. Which brings me to another point of irritation. This episode marks XWP's first pooch job on the correct portrayal of medicinal herb use.


For starters the medicinal part of Linum usitatissimum, or Flax, also known as Linseed, is the seed, not the root. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Xena made an honest mistake and said root when she really meant seed.

Linseed is a grand plant that has been cultivated in all temperate and tropical regions for so many centuries that its geographical origin has never been identified. So it's at least probable that this particular sweetie-pie occupies the unidentified marshland where our gals have followed the prodigal Argo. Though plenty of interesting traditions surround Flax, none of them have anything to do with numbness of the outer extremities. Folks in the middle ages, for example, believed that Flax precluded the effects of sorcery. Too bad for folks in this century that it doesn't assuage the irritation caused by sophomoric drivel.

Anyway, as I was saying, medicinally Flax seeds are mucilaginous, emollient and demulcent, making them a useful tonic for colds and coughs. The oil from the plant's seeds is also reputed as a laxative, so the question remains as to why gABrielle, who is vomiting with vigor and moving Joxer's radish stew with too much regularity, would ingest a purgative.

The second herb that Xena recommends to gABrielle is White Willow Bark, or Salix Alba. This hard working plant contains salicin, and is the plant behind the boyz' discovery and isolation of salicylic acid, the primary constituent in aspirin. Because White Willow is astringent gAB's use of it to curb diarrhea and any attendant head or body ache is appropriate, but on its own the plant is not at all helpful in fighting her primary skin infection, which would be best addressed with an external application of a strong anti-fungal tincture like black walnut, followed up with regular internal doses of that plant until the infection subsides.

But what's even more annoying than the misapplication of Linseed and the half-assed use of White Willow is Xena laughing at gABrielle's travails. Like so much else in this episode Xena's behavior here doesn't fit to the point of being jarring. Brave Xena has always been quick to render medical aid, even if the recipient of her help was someone personally unknown to her (she helps the anonymous soldiers on both sides in Is There a Doctor in the House); unliked by her (she helps sleazy spy boy in One Against an Army); or a constant source of annoyance to her (she helps Joxer in King Conk and Return of Callisto). The notion that she would laugh at gABrielle's suffering, especially given the recent backdrop provided by both Adventures in the Sin Trade, is ridiculous.

And that brings me to yet another unsettling aberration in this story, which is Xena's asperity toward gABrielle. When she's not laughing at gABrielle, she's right crabby toward her. Two weeks ago she was willing to don deer horns, murder a horse, drink its blood and enter the ethers in search of the remote, possible hope of maybe, perhaps seeing gABrielle one more time. Well that was then, and this is now, and ain't life grand after all. Then Xena would travel to H-E-double-tooth-picks to possibly see her girly-girl again, and now she won't stop laughing or snapping long enough to render her main Bard babe basic first aid. Yea, right.

And if anyone out there has ever heard of bathing while covered in animal feces as an antidote to an infection as troublesome as skin rot, please clue me in.


One thing they did get right in the continuity department was Joxer. His single brain cell remains as impenetrable as ever as witnessed by his puzzling over the rock slide quagmire, and his repeated reliance on sexism as the paradigm that informs every decision he makes in his pusillanimous life. Gawds I'd love to give that pointy headed flea-bag an unedited dose of puffy, bloated and irritable.

How many times must we watch his inevitable flights to the authority of his own stupidity? I am now officially impatient with this. Enough.

Yuck. Two thumbs and eight fingers down on Sicko. Flush this surfeit of stupidity fast before it gives your other tapes an infestation that belongs in Cheezer's hair, and not in your XWP video collection.

c. 1998 Pursh
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