Season 2, Episode 19: Ulysses
There's not really much to do with Xena here, it's much more the story of the titular hero, on his way back from Troy to his wife Penelope - though a good deal quicker here than the ten years it supposedly took. Most of the adventures are skipped: here, all the god of the sea really bothers to throw at him are the Sirens, bypassed by his "crew" of X+G, by tying him up, and when that fails, by Xena singing to him, which is even more lureful (is that a word?) than the Sirens, who look like a 60's girl group more than anything.
On his arrival in Ithaca, he decides he doesn't want Penelope any more, but has fallen for Xena, persisting despite her attempts to dissuade him, by appealing to his sense of patriotism. This sudden switch, dumping the woman he's been trying to reach for a lengthy period and through so many trials, makes even less sense than G's falling for Perdicus, though before they discover Penelope is not dead as feared, X is clearly giving is serious consideration (until G starts whining, again, at least).
The problem is, it's another story far too obviously ripped straight from the pages of classical mythology, shoehorning Xena in as if she was the Grecian equivalent of the Purple Rose of Cairo. We know how this is going to work out, and the swift gallop through the aspects we know e.g. mentioning the blinded Cyclops, Ulysses's dog, is unsatisfying both as an adaptation of The Iliad and as a Xena episode. However, it was nice finally to complete the set of opening credit clips, in episode #43.Rating: D
[Note vexed-looking irritating blonde in background...
]Season 2, Episode 20: The Price
Xena and Gabrielle find themselves cut off and pursued by an uber-badass tribe, called 'The Horde', with whom Xena has previously crossed paths before - not a nice bunch, to say the least. They end up inside an Athenian fort, where a beleaguered bunch of soldiers have to hold off the Horde. However, it requires the ruthless side of Xena, hitherto suppressed quite well, to be unleashed, to deal with an enemy that is not lacking in this area. It's a change which concerns Gabrielle, as X appears to be enjoying the killing a bit too much...
I liked the concept here, but the execution left something to be desired, though as ever, Lawless kicks considerable ass in her role, portraying both sides of the character. I always say - or, at least, I do now - you can't make a Warrior Princess without cracking heads, and when you need someone to step up and do what's necessary for survival, you can't be all wussy and complain about it. Not that this stops Gabrielle, of course, from doing just that, in one of her more irritating performances. Of course, there's a clumsily-laboured moral, with the Horde not quite
as bad as they seem, which is a shame, because they are actually an intimidating bunch, in both appearance and deed.
No shortage of action here, with Xena and the Athenias going all Zulu
against the hordes of the...er, Horde, but G's moral stance here is just so completely wrong-headed, the episode left me feeling more annoyed than enthralled, which is a bit of a shame. Rating: C+