I learned three things after watching Family Affair - #1)

Liz Friedman has a great way of keeping subtext 'sub' #2) ROC looks beautiful

without a headband and her hair unruly and #3) Daisies are Gabby's favorite

flowers.

With that said on to our tale. . .

Joxer is still all torn up over Gabs demise. He places fresh flowers at the

'former' lava pit. But he's not alone. Xena's there searching like a bloodhound

for any scent of Gabby's.

When she comes up empty she knows just where to go - Poteidaia. And just

like that they're in the market square. Joxer follows faithfully and he babbles

about Gabby telling stories to kids and making them laugh. Of course at that

moment they see an audience of laughing children (convenient huh?)

They both follow the sound, but instead of the bard it's a puppeteer. Joxer

stays to take in the show but Xena gets this strange look on her face and

starts sniffing the air (okay she doesn't sniff the air but she does get

a strange look). CUE THE SLOW MO GUY. (g). She turns around and who does

she see? Gabby!! Shopping. . .Of course.

That's all the bard ever does is shop. She's constantly spending Xena's hard

earned dinars on things that are impractical and never gets any good use

outta any of them - like that pink nighty that Joxer stole (okay, it wasn't

stolen. It was a gift - for him or the world I'm not sure but it was a gift

nonetheless). Anyway, they shoot the scene in slow motion. All they needed

was Xena and Gabby running through a daisy field and into each others arms(bg)

but that would be a little too trite. . .and too much 'maintext'.

Instead, as Xena steps closer, Joxer's big ole mug gets in the way. He beats

Xena to the 'hug' and gets an enthusiastic kiss from Gabby (Now right there

Xena should have known it meant trouble - you'll see what I mean later).

Upon receiving the kiss, Joxer does the manly thing and faints. With dimwit

out of the way, Xena and Gabby embrace. Joxer comes to and tells the girls

he'd let them 'catch up'. This proves that Joxer has some sense. (G)

Gabby explains how she fell into a nitch in the wall and climbed her way

out. She doesn't talk too much about it because Joxer is back. He returns

and leads the ladies to a dead body. Gabby said livestock have been mutilated

lately but never a man. Xena knows something is up and they all go back to

Gabby's house.

Ahhh!! The in-laws!! Anyone who's been married can attest to the torture

this moment is when at last you meet the 'family'. Gabby introduces Joxer

to her family (mom, dad, sis) and Lila (sis) seems a bit taken with Joxer

and even Gabby's mom remarks on how 'gallant' Joxer is as she leads them

all out of the room. All of them except for Dad and Warrior. I don't think

I've seen Xena (the woman of many skills) more uncomfortable in her life.

Xena finally asks how Gabby's doing since her return and Dad makes it a point

to show his disgust with the warrior. He tells her why by saying: ". . .Seducing

her away from home with your heroics. Filling her head with strange ideas.

. .She's changed forever because of you." Oh yes. . .Xena has created another

lesbian in the world(VBG).

He walks away but Xena doesn't follow. Soon Xena and Gabby are in the family

barn. They start playing a little game called 'evil warlord' and things get

pretty hot and heavy. What they don't know however, is that Lila is in the

loft watching all the action and . . .oh wait. . .that was an alt-story by

Charmer called 'Lila's Little Adventure'. My apologies(VBG).

Where was I? Oh yeah! The barn. So they are in the barn waiting for the monster,

leaving some fresh bait. The monster takes it and proceeds to beat the stuffin'

outta Xena but leaves Gabrielle alone. Xena pulls Gabby to the family house.

Lucky for them dawn is at hand (and comes pretty darn quick if you ask me(G))

and the monster leaves. Gabs mom notices Gabby skinned her knee and the whole

family leaves to tend to Gabby while Xena sits down in a bloodied heap. Typical

in-laws<G>. Anyway, Xena tells Joxer that the monster is Hopes little devil

and Gabby is not Gabby but the apple of Dahak's eye - Hope. After some convincing

Joxer believes Xena's reasons. Of course she left out the part about how

Gabby had a 'headache' earlier in the barn and that was soooo unlike the

bard to refuse a good roll in the . . .well, you get the point.(BG).

So Xena's gotta do what she thinks is best - lie<G>. She says she hit the

monster and cut him up, knowing that Hope would go looking for him. Gabby/Hope

tells Lila that she wants to do something special before she and Xena leave

together so they decide to have a 'picnic'. What Hope really plans to do

is fed her aunt to her son but Lila doesn't know any better.

Back at the house Gabby's folks have this exchange:

Dad - "I appreciate that she (Xena) saved our lives but that doesn't give

her the right to take our little girl." Mom - "Sweetheart, Gabrielle is not

a child. If she wants to go with Xena we just can't lock her in her room."

I noticed some things. #1) Gabby is a lot like her mother (Listen to the

tone of this exchange and the 'tude that she gives her husband. Sounds like

Xena and Gab when they bicker. Gabby even has her mom's mannerisms) and #2)

Gabby was daddy's little girl. I think her Dad loves Lila too but his concern

for Gabrielle and his need to make her 'young' is overpowering. I'd like

to do a psych work-up on this guy but he wasn't featured enough in the ep.

(G).

Now back to the story. . .Xena walks in when he mentions something about

Xena being a mistake. Xena doesn't back down and asked 'What mistake?'. He

doesn't force the issue and neither does she. But Gabby comes back up again

in the conversation. He says that she and Lila went to spend time alone without

her. Xena bolts away because she knows that Hope is up to no good.

When Xena does catch up to them Hope's plan of feeding Lila to her kid goes

array. She says she wants to take a shortcut. She knows that Xena knows that

she knows who she is. Got all that? (g) In other words, both the demon kid

and the warrior princess know who's who. Gabby/Hope goes out on a damaged

bridge and breaks it with her 'super' powers. She asks Lila - not Xena -

for help. Lila reacts and finds she's the one stuck on the bridge. As it

starts to give way, Xena grabs hold and Gabby says she's going home for help.

Xena knows better but she saves Lila and you can see that Gabby's sister

has a new respect for Xena and realizes, in some regard, just what Gabby

sees in her (besides the baby blues and the leather<G>). Xena sends Lila

back home and out of the way as she hunts Hope down.

Hope, on the other hand, takes off to the cave and meets junior. That's when

Hope sees she's been fooled but she's got a back up plan and gives that evil,

demonic 'I'm as twisted as Callisto' smile. At this time Joxer is done with

a simple task Xena gave him and he sees Hope. He decides to be a hero and

kill her. Xena also sees Hope and decides she's going to be a hero and kill

her since Ares canceled the debt (because he thinks Gabs is dead. Anyway.

. .). As the two warriors, okay one warrior and one baffoon, charge Joxer

trips and Hope captures him. As for Xena she rears back to strike but she

stops and looks into Hope's eyes. She isn't sure but the more she watches

the more she realizes it's the real Gabrielle. Here's the trick: Xena and

Joxer were in different locations, tracking different people.

Xena and Gabrielle both start to cry and hug one another as Xena drops her

sword. Xena also says something but try as I may I can't catch what she whispers.

She sits Gabby down on a rock and kneels before her holding Gabrielle's hand.

Gabrielle explains that she doesn't know how she got back but that she was

in a hospice for a long time. When she was well enough she sent a scroll.

As she tells Xena the story, tears literally roll from the warriors eyes.

Xena kisses Gabrielle's knuckles slowly and tells her she's going to be alright.

She also has to tell Gabby that Hope survived the fall as well. As they walk

back to the family farm they devise a plan. Gabby is mad as Tartarus and

is worried about her family. But Xena calms her down and tells her to stay

focused. As Gabby goes to the barn, Xena goes in to speak with the family.

As soon as Xena walks in, the family tells her to get out. We see 'Gabrielle'

sitting on a bench - cuts and bruises over her face and shoulder with Xena

to 'blame'. She tells Xena that she thinks she should leave, which makes

ax welding poppa very happy. Even Lila thinks Xena better get outta town.

'Gabrielle' so subtly tells her that Joxer is all alone to face the monster.

In the onset, the real Gabrielle sees her mom come to the porch to empty

a bowl, crying. The bard doesn't like to see her momma cry and decides to

do something about it. Gabrielle sneaks into the bedroom and corners Lila.

She tells her a story so Lila knows that it's really her and not her demon

child. As Lila goes to use some lame excuse to bring the folks into the room

as well, Hope shows up.

They have the usual mother/daughter debate. Hope still has 'Xena envy' and

Gabby still wishes Hope was dead. You know?. . . The usual mother/daughter

talk. At least it's not a corny 'I don't feel fresh' discussion we see for

feminine hygiene commercials. . . but it's not that far off.<G> Gabby ends

the conversation by flinging herself out the window. Lucky for her it's a

ranch and not a Cape Cod or a two story dwelling.

Anyway, Xena goes to the monster cave to save Joxer who's tied up for a dinner

engagement with Junior, courtesy of mommy dearest of course. Xena tells Joxer

to go to town and tell them to light the torches. He does. (Sidenote: For

a majority of the episode, Joxer is not a complete idiot. I actually admired

him for trying to be a voice of reason to Xena and helping without screwing

things up too much. Yes. He got captured but instead of being the usual goof,

he actually made sense now and then. Maybe TPTB got a clue in this respect.

Now I return you to my OTHER ramblings)

Xena gets Junior to chase her and they go back to the barn but when Xena

gets there her bard is missing. She fights the monster again and when things

look really grim we see 'Hope' calling for her baby. The monster drops Xena

from his choke hold and gets a hug from mom, who seems very limited with

her amount of affection. He'll take love from this chick whenever he can

get it; even if it's in the middle of a fight. Ares jr. just coos but Xena

takes the opportunity to stab him in the back. Gabby runs away to the back

of the barn with Xena. At that moment, junior sees mom walking toward him

again and gives her the claw - except this time it isn't Gabby, it's Hope

who's at the wrong place at the wrong time. They both fall to the floor in

one lump of evil.

A little later we see Xena sitting down as Gabrielle comes over. They have

a nice sweet 'life-partner' kinda heart to heart talk. I won't tell you what

they say but I will say it's sweet. And notice as the camera pulls back we

see Gabrielle resting her head on Xena's shoulder while her hand strokes

the other shoulder (much like the last scene of the Quest when Xena came

back from the dead). We know Gabby will, once again, leave Poteidaia for

the woman who 'seduced' her years before.

All and all it was a pretty good ep. But I still want to know how Gabby got

to the hospice. Could Ares have felt bad and helped her? Did Artemis look

out for her chosen? Or did Gabby crawl her way until someone found her lying

in the temple? I've got a feeling we may never know and on that side, it's

a downer ep. I've waited all summer damn it!!! I want to know!!!! Oh well,

I'm just glad Gabby's back. Like Xena said - she's nothin' without the bard(VBG).

Next week is the comedy ep, "In Sickness and In Hell". The girls have a real

hard time saving a village. Looks like 'zug-zug' is the last thing on their

minds since Gabby could use a can of athlete's foot spray for her entire

body. . .Confused? You'll just have to see it to understand. . .Actually

I saw it but I'm not sure I'll understand. Gabby does, however, puke yet

again. (No wonder she eats so much. She can't get anything down(G))