Crusader, or as I like to call it 'subtext-o-rama' (G), has been worth the subtext light eps. I have to take my hat off to the producers on this one. They certainly know how to 'walk the thin line'. But in all honesty, this is the most 'maintext' I've seen in an ep to date.
With that said, let's begin.
After getting their fannies kicked by a female warrior, Xena and Gabby find out she's the leader of a group of soldiers who mistakenly attacked them. She's got a little 'greater good' army who go around righting 'wrongs'.(G) Gabby likes her already.
The warrior, Najara, asks Xena and Gabrielle to come with her to fight against an evil slaver whose troops are going to take a village. Najara has some spirit friends. They are called the gin, or the jinn or the jynn - I don't know how to spell it (like so many other words (LOL)). Anyway, the jinn are part of the 'light' - her driving force in life. They give her the gift of insight into people and she can see the troubles the girls have faced recently. Xena and Gabrielle agree to go along for the ride. (G)
Next we see Najara looking at the water, Gabby comes up and asks if she's looking for the slavers men (like Xena would of course) and she said no, she's just enjoying the view. Gabby likes this. She's an a**kicker who takes time to smell the flowers. Her perfect warrior and it shows on her face.(VBG) Round one . . .Najara (G).
Later that night as the soldiers sing campfire songs Xena doesn't seem as enchanted with Najara. Najara talks about starting a hospice for all the unfortunates of the world. Gabby soaks this up big time. Xena thinks she's all talk so Najara offers Xena the chance to run her army which Xena takes. Najara warns Gabby that she's far too trusting and she should listen to Xena. Although Xena doesn't smile you can tell it pleases her. The whole scene plays like a strutting peacock competition between Xena and Najara(LOL). Round two goes to Xena(BG).
Xena goes to the captured village and Najara and her soldiers soon follow. They save the people but not before Najara saves Gabby's life first by catching an arrow meant for the bard. Najara just smirks triumphantly. Make sure as they fade to black you get a look at Xena's face. Our favorite warrior is not all too pleased that Najara got there first to be Gabby's hero. Round Three goes to Najara.(BG)
Najara lectures the slavers and tells them they can find the 'light'. Afterward, she kisses kids and hugs grateful people. Once more Gabby can't take her eyes off Najara and you can see the wheels turning. Najara is everything she's ever wanted Xena to be.
Later that night, Xena is thinking about her death. Najara senses it and asks if Gabrielle is part of the vision. When Xena says yes she asks Najara if she thinks it's possible to change the future. Najara says yes but usually it takes drastic measures. Gabby shows up and Najara asks them to travel with her to the slaver's center - where he 'moves merchandise'. Gabby looks to Xena for an answer but Xena doesn't say anything so Gabby gives a hearty yes. Xena says sure(BG). Najara couldn't look happier. Round Four - split decision.
While walking through the forest Xena asks Gabby if she's okay and Gabby says yes she's just thinking about Najara's powers. At that moment Gabby hears swans and faster than Xena can throw her chakram, Najara offers her arm to Gabby and says 'Lets go get a closer look'. Horse scared Gabby wastes no time hoping up behind Najara, holding her tight around the waist. Najara orders her troops ahead and then asks Xena if she'd like to join them - JOIN "THEM"! Now right about now I'm thinking, Xena. . . SAY SOMETHING!!!!!SHE'S STEALING YOUR BARD!!!!!AND RIGHT OUT FROM UNDER YOU!!!!!!(vbg) . But what does Xena say, "No. I'm not into bird watching." ARRGGHHH!!!!! Round five - Najara.
Oh no not bird watching. But she is into 'bard watching' because she follows and lurks in the shadows like a stalker. As we see Najara and Gabby, strolling by the shore I really FELT for Xena. She was watching her bard go and she didn't think there was anything she could do about it ~sniffle~.
Anyway, while walking along the beach (hand in hand - okay they didn't walk hand in hand but they could have with all the looks and gentle caresses so far. What's the difference?) Najara and the bard talk about the hospice and they have this exchange:
N - "Why don't you do that. . .I don't mind if you start without me."
G - "If I did that then Xena and I have to go our separate ways. She's not the hospice type."
N - "Yes. I see. . .She's on a different path. Perhaps you need to commit totally to your life with Xena. (CN comment**Be still my beating heart. Did she just mention marriage? A bonding? Oh myyyyy goddddddssss!!(LOL)Now back to our dialog). You two do a lot of good."
G - "Yeah we do."
Gabby then asks if the killing bothers Najara because she would never get used to it. Najara says Gabby needs to find the 'light' because then she would understand and have a sense of purpose. Gabby confesses teary eyed that she needs something. The two find the swans and the shot goes back to Xena. Like I said Xena is angst but the upcoming shot is great. First you see Xena on the brink of tears and then they go to a setting sun shot. Very symbolic if you ask me. And nicely done.(VBG) Round six - Najara (Xena is really getting her butt kicked (G)).
Later that night at the campfire Xena said she's going to go up to the 'head slavers' lair while Najara and her crew free the camp of slaves. Gabby wants to go with Xena but Xena says there will be people at the camp who will need her and she can do more good. Gabby asks if she's sure and Xena says yes but you know something is up.
We now see Najara praying to the jinn and Xena comes up. Xena suggests that Najara start her hospice in the camp they are about to free. Najara can sense why - Xena is going to leave Gabby. Here's their exchange:
N - ". . .You want a place to leave Gabrielle."
X - "She'll die if she stays with me. You said it would take something drastic to change our destinies. Maybe this is it."
N - "As soon as she realizes you've left her you know she'll follow you."
X - "I see such joy in her eyes when she talks to you about your mission. She's been looking for meaning. . .I think you can give it to her. . .It hasn't always been good for her being with me. . .I seem to hurt her."
N - "I know she forgives you. . .I promise I'll do everything I can to justify your trust."
X - "You better. . ."
We've just witnessed the changing of the 'bard' (or should I say warrior(VBG))
Xena goes back to the camp and finds Gabby sleeping. She whispers good bye and leaves on Argo. Round seven - Najara.
Najara frees the camp as Xena goes to take out the lead slaver. Najara gives her little 'light' speech again and puts her arm around Gabby. I noticed at this point how much she likes to touch the bard. She can't keep her arms off the bard (like I blame her(G)). Gabby tells Najara that she wants to become part of 'the light' too.
Xena finds the slaver who thinks she's Najara. He tells Xena to go ahead and kill him; that he isn't going to wait three days for her to kill him when he doesn't reform or when she thinks he isn't being faithful to 'the light'. With this knowledge Xena races back to the bard. The bard, however has just taken the 'light' oath and when Xena does show up she finds them singing songs in the tavern.
Xena confronts Najara and Gabby comes to Najara's defense. Najara says she doesn't kill anyone - she liberates their souls and sends them to the light. Watch Gabby's expression drop with the look of 'Oh Sh*t! What have I gotten into this time!' That's my Gabby - always getting into trouble (vbg).
Xena tells Gabrielle to come along. But as Gabby tries to leave Najara puts her arm out, stopping Gabby. Najara says that Gabby now belongs to the light (ie - HER!) and she's her 'responsibility' (vbg). She tells Xena that she hurts Gabrielle and should basically go away. Check out how ROC played her reaction. She looks hurt by the fact Najara mentioned her pain to Xena. Gabby begs Najara not to battle Xena but both women draw their swords and Gabby, wisely, steps back. She knows she's first prize in this 'fishing derby' and watches the battle.
Xena does well. She knocks Najara into a table but Xena turns her back. Big mistake because Najara jumps back up and proceeds to open a can of whup a** on Xena, beating her with a stick. Once Xena is unconscious, Najara gets her sword and proclaims that she's sending Xena to the light.
Gabby, in 'old Gabby' fashion (G) rushes over and flings her body over Xena's.
G - "You'll have to kill us both."
N - "You don't understand Gabrielle. . .That darkness inside her will destroy you one day."
G - "Put the sword down. . .Najara, you and I, we'll walk outta here together."
N - "You're just saying that to protect her."
G - "Xena's darkside frightens me. . . I need to move on but I could never live with someone who killed her. . .There would be no going back from that."
Najara takes a moment to decide but she leaves with Gabrielle. Round eight - without a doubt, Najara.
Later we see Xena struggle to her feet. She goes to the bar and asks for water. When she swooshes it around she spits out a molar. "I got my butt whipped didn't I?" she asks a little girl atop the bar. The little three year old nods and says 'Ahhh Haaa'. Xena can't help but laugh even in her beat up condition. At the bar she says she this of Najara: "She's a tough girl but she's got a weakness. . .(the camera shows Xena looking at her beat up reflection) . . .it's the same one that I have." Ohhhh boyyyyy!!!! Xena admits that Gabby's her weakness - as if we didn't know. It's still nice to hear though.(vbg).
Back at the 'house of love' which is a cave, Najara walks in cheery and happy but Gabby isn't too pleased with Najara's approach to life. Najara uses the argument that Xena kills people. "Why is she better than me?" Gee. Is Najara already feeling the sting of competing with a past love (LOL)?
She hears a noise outside and goes to investigate. Xena sneaks in and devises a trap to get Najara. I won't tell you about the exchange between Xena and Gabby but let me say that it was quite humorous - old funny, not the new bathroom humor that people seem to despise.
When Najara returns we see Gabby strung up by a burning rope over a canyon in the cave. Gabby warns Najara that Xena has 'snapped'. Najara and Xena have this exchange:
N - "You expect me to believe you're going to let her die?"
X - ". . .I just asked her to come with me and you know what she said. . .She said she'd rather stay here and try to reform you. . .But if I can't have her, nobody's gonna have her. . ." (I swear I read that very line in an alt fan fic story someplace (G)).
N - (who's all red under the collar since Xena can't take no for an answer yells) "I knew you were no good for her!"
Xena battles Najara again and Xena taunts Najara with all the insecurities she has traveling with the bard - how she worries about Gabby, how seeing Gabby die would kill her, how Gabby's presence has Najara's focus off. (Like I said this ep is a subtexters dream come true. . .almost. . .I kiss at the end would have been nice (G)).
Of course Gabby helps Xena's efforts by yelling to Najara for help and to hurry.
Xena's plan works and she pushes Najara to the canyon. But Najara manages to snag the edge. It's there that Najara sees Gabrielle is safe and standing on a blank across the pit. Xena walks over slowly and starts to step on her fingers with a wicked look on her face. Xena's pissed now - this woman betrayed her trust, stole her bard and made her lose one of her best chewing teeth (VBG). But Gabby saves a second woman that day when she asks Xena to stop.
And the TKO (thanks to Gabby who could have let Xena kill Najara) goes to Xena. Reigning Champion of Queen Gabrielle!!!!!!
However Najara does get a final blow in as Xena 'leaves the ring'(VBG). When they are leaving Xena asks if Najara told Gabrielle about her 'death vision' . Najara says: "No, that would hurt her. And I don't ever want to do that. . .That's your job."
Ouuuchhh! That hurt! Probably worse than the tooth too.
Xena simple walks away and Najara, with her insight, says "I forgive you Gabrielle."
I think this is Xena's new villian for many reasons. TPTB said the new villain would be female, she wouldn't be totally bad and will haunt Xena for different reasons. I really think this is the one - besides the guy that played the slavers leader was none other than Callisto's former henchman Theodorus. Not THE Theodorus mind you - he's dead. It's the same actor. I think that's a clue however it could just be a coincidence. . . .Nahhhh (G). . .Najara's our new 'bad girl' on the block - - I can feel it (VBG). And I think she poses more of a threat than Calli ever did because Najara doesn't necessarily hate Xena - she just loves the bard (vbg) and the bard for the most of this ep was quite taken with Najara. I look forward to seeing what they do with this character in coming eps.
Queen of Subtext