Is there subtext in this ep? Little - very little. Was it still a good ep? Sure. Not great mind you (G) but good.
When we open this ep, we see Xena finally discussing the death vision with Gabrielle. Gabby just brushes it off - she just doesn't share Xena's acceptance that their destiny hangs on the cross. For someone who claims to be an oracle and having the 'gift of prophecy', I'm surprised by Gabrielle's reaction. I think it comes out of a fear that Xena maybe correct in her assumption.
Gabby says they must hurry to warn a city of an attack. When they get to the city the fire bombs begin to fall. While Xena rescues a small girl she gets a good whack to the head and she remembers how this happened in Corneth when she attack.
Later at the hospital Xena is talking with the commander who has never been in battle (go figure) and Xena is now in command of the city troops. While she's talking with Gabrielle she remembers how she poisoned Corneth's grain. Xena's female slave (I know there's an alt story somewhere in there just dying to get out (G)) gave her ideas on how to take Corneth. Xena dismisses the slaves ideas, except for the grain. Back in the present time Xena realize that the recent illness in the city is because the grain is poisoned. She also realizes that this person who's attacking the city is using all her old tactics and she tries to think of how she can defeat 'herself'.
Xena learns of dam that goes to the city. At the river, she remembers capturing some Corneth soldiers and some centaurs. Borias sets the centaurs free, asking for a peace treaty. As for the soldiers, Xena decides to send a message to Corneth by killing the prisoners and floating them down river. Borias doesn't seem too pleased with Xena's tactics and his woman's obsession STILL with Alti and her promises to make her the destroyer of nations. Xena wants to take on the centaurs so they are clear to take Athens without any problems. Borias says leave them be.
Back at the present day, Xena and the city soldiers go to burst the dam. A solider makes a comment about how amazing Xena is and Gabby give him a 'hands-off' kinda look or it could be a look of 'in your dreams solider boy'(G). Anyway, the advancing army attacks them and they fight them off. Xena looks up and sees a snow covered mountain and freezes up. Gabby beats up the bad guys and asks Xena if she's alright. She says yes and they leave going back to the city. At some point, Xena remembers how she had the centaurs captured who arrived with Borias to talk peace. Xena orders their death and Borias declares war on Xena, freeing the centaurs and leaving with them.
Inside the city (present day - well not PRESENT DAY but you get the point (G)) Xena says that she wants Gabby to leave because of the vision. Gabby once more tells Xena to shove it - she's staying and if that's her future so be it. Gabby's a little more defiant than usually. It takes Xena saying her name twice to get her to turn around and talk to her. Gabby says, more or less, that the vision is starting to cripple Xena and she's gotta get a grip. At this point I can't wait to see the ep where Gabby cuts her hair. Xena didn't mention the short hair and I'm sure she's gonna wig out (pun intended (G)) when she sees that Gabby shed her strawberry-blonde locks. But back to the story. . .
Xena remembers that they tried to tunnel into the Corneth years before and she finds that they are doing the same. She gets hit by a poison dart and she starts to remember Solan's birth. As the centaurs attack Xena's army, Xena goes into labor and Borias sneaks into the tent to see her. He says he's taking her and Solan so they could be together and start over.
As he gets the horse ready to take Xena away the slave comes out and stabs Borias in the leg, saying he can't take Xena because Xena has so much she could still teach her in the art of war. Daphine, Dalphine, ohhh I don't know his name - the bad guy from Orphan of War who wants that stupid stone so he can be an evil centaur - any way, that guy is called by the slave to stop Borias from 'killing Xena'. Good ole Dap' puts up a good fight and while he's beating the stuffing out of Borias, Xena is inside a tent having Solan.
Dap does kill Borias as Xena is leaving with the baby. The slave helps Xena to a wagon and Xena watches as Borias reaches for both of them - I think he says the name Solan but due to a bad dish feed that's debatable (G). He dies in the dirt and Xena watches him as she rides away.
In the present day, Xena meets the 'man' who's trying to take the city. It's actually the slave woman from years ago who helped her with labor, giving her a special herb to ease the pain. Thing is she also told Xena the antidote years before as well and Xena took it before she went to see the opposing army's digging process. In other words she tricks the female warrior into thinking she's been drugged. They fight and Gabby (with the city's army following) arrive from the other end of the tunnel to join the battle. The 'warrior slave' has plans to collapse the city wall and tries to use it.
It doesn't work the way she planned and she may or may not have been buried by the rockslide that followed.
At a campfire, Xena and Gabby discuss the vision again. This time Gabby is less critical of Xena's concern and curls up next to her, putting her arm around her (ahhhh...). Xena then tells the story of how she went to the centaurs and gave Solan to them. While Xena cries silent tears, Gabby runs her fingers through Xena's hair and rests her head against Xena's. We then fade to black. . .
Not a great ep like I said but a good one. Not much subtext just a few of those touchy, feely moments many subtexters love. I'm still waiting to see what Xena says about the hair cut though. . .some bard's gonna have Tartaris to pay (G). . .
Queen of Subtext