I’m slipping into my flame-retardant jammies for this ep (LOL). I liked it. Xena and Gabby working TOGETHER for once. Xena and Gabby sharing their feelings of the situation before them . . . and despite the male/female…ahem…bonding, the subtext that piqued the curiosity of millions of viewers has returned.

This week opens with Cleo bathing in a tub with her handmaids around her. Now she must have that disease that Michael Jackson claims to have because suddenly she’s a Caucasian (LOL). Anyway, an advisor comes in and tells her that Marc Anthony and Brutus both want her navy. He adds that her life may be in danger. But she decides that her feminine wiles will determine how things play out – they both will come to court her for her fleet. After the advisor dude in the funny looking cap splits, a messenger brings a scroll from Rome. Cleo opens it in the bath. Suddenly she’s wide eyed. Blood drops in the water as a snake swims away. The fate of the Queen of the Nile is set but not before she tells her ‘right hand gal’ to fetch Xena.

Xena and Gabby are looking at the pyramids when Gabby says she wishes they could have brought Eve. Xena points out that Eve is better off with mom in Alexandria. It’s interesting that Xena doesn’t say ‘my mom’ but the term ‘mom’. Guess it’s official – Gabby is part of the family (VBG). Xena said their plan is to ‘become Egypt’ and then topple Rome.

Next we see Marc Anthony who is told he’s received a gift from Cleo. The soldiers bring in a carpet and lay it on the floor, handing him a scroll. He excuses the men and unrolls the carpet to reveal a very naked Cleo (AKA Xena) bound up in chains. Now I think Liz Taylor was always a beautiful woman but LL has her beat hands down in this scene. My GODS!! I love Xena. Have I mentioned that?! (And yes I am that shallow from time to time when it comes to beautiful women (VBG)). Xena tells him she’s the queen and Egypt, like her, is his for the taking. Antony grabs a robe or smock of some kind and drapes it over Xena after unchaining her. He says he wants an alliance built on trust. She agrees but tells him to come back to her palace – she’s sure she’ll be able to find him a bed.

Around this time Brutus busts into Cleo’s pad and says he must speak with the queen. Gabby comes out and Brutus recognizes her. He’s shocked she’s alive and Gabby told him he should have been there. Brutus says he has news that Cleo’s life is in danger and he must see her. Gabby puts her foot down and says Brutus isn’t calling the shots round there. By now Xena has returned with Anthony and the handmaid tells her of Brutus arrival in private. Cleo excuses herself and tells the handmaid to give Anthony a tour of the place. By now Brutus has worked his way to Cleo’s bedroom where Xena is in her old leathers. Brutus says he needs to see Cleo but Xena refuses. She tells him that she’ll pass along the message. Brutus in leaving apologizes to Xena and Gabby for the crucifixion.

Next Xena is back in her Cleo garb in the bathtub where Gabrielle and another woman are rubbing Xena with oil. Anthony comes in and Xena introduces Gabby as her companion. Antony makes a comment that he would feel lucky if he could be Gabby’s hands. Gabby gives a slight grin and a bashful look that kinda says ‘You don’t know the half of it pal’ (LOL). Xena instructs everyone to leave but Antony says no. They will discuss business in the morning. Gab is shocked he refused, as is Xena. Gabby asked how she knew Antony would say no. Xena replies she didn’t.

Later that night someone is creeping in Cleo’s bedroom while Xena sleeps. Xena, of course, grabs him but before she can ask anything the room gets firebombed. Xena and the young man escape. Xena thinks he’s an assassin but he says no he’s not. It was him the bombs were meant for because Antony is trying to kill him. Antony explains that the young man is Octavius, Caesar’s great nephew. He goes on to say that the boy is trying to claim the throne of Rome. Xena instructs her guards to lock him up. After he leaves Xena asks Antony why he’s there. He tells her he’s there to put out her fire. Xena seems very much in LUST with him – as opposed to love folks. He kisses her on the cheek and leaves. Gabby watches the exchange and Xena can tell something is on her ‘companions’ mind and asks what’s wrong. (Haven’t seen that in a while folks, have we?(BG)). Gabby warns Xena that he’s a bad boy – Xena’s type. But gone is the joking gestures from King Con. Gabby’s got a major case of ‘LaMao envy’ going on. Xena says not to worry. She’s gonna break Antony and have him on his knees, figuratively of course, Xena adds. Gabby grins and mutters ‘Of course’ in agreement.

The next day Xena and Antony are sharing some fruit dip and listening to Natalie Merchant sing "Carnival" – why this piece was chosen is beyond me. It felt so out of place. Perhaps our musical boy Joe was on vacation this week and they needed something handy. I’m not sure. In any regard, X and A do the dance of fruit while Gabby looks on licking her lips. Have I mentioned I love Gabby yet? Well I love Gabby dearly. I loved watching her, watching them and when she decides enough is enough she walks over, crawls on the floor and comes face to face with Xena and Antony to ‘remind’ Xena of her appointment with her advisors. (LOL). Antony says that’s all right adding that Rome wasn’t built in a day. After he leaves (and here’s the part I enjoy) Gabby takes his place on the fluffy pillows. She whips Xena’s lips and chin with her fingers and reminds Xena not to get too deep here, while she eats Antony’s strawberries (ROTFL). Sorry Antony. Xena’s strawberries in the end will ALWAYS be Gabrielle’s (VBG).

Later Anthony requests a secret meeting in the desert. The two talk and Antony says he doesn’t want Cleo’s fleet any longer. He wants her love. They do a little kissing until some men attack them from Brutus’ fleet. They spare one soldier and give him a message to take to Brutus. Antony and Egypt are now joined. At this time Gabby goes and talks with Octavius. He says his uncle Caesar was just power hungry and he wants to give the citizens of Rome protection and peace– not ruling them in fear. Gabby seems to believe him.

Gabby then reports back to Xena and tells her Octavius doesn’t seem like the murdering type and Xena lets Gabby know that Antony is in love with her and doesn’t want the fleet, just her love. Gabby doesn’t seem to happy by the news because it puts Xena in a tough spot now…that and the fact that Gabby is in love with her I’m sure (VBG) but again…that’s subtext.

Xena then finds Antony looking at a map on a carpet and they have a heart to heart talk. Antony says everything he does is for Rome. He’ll kill Brutus and he’ll kill Octavius, although he admits he might be a good man. I think at that point Xena realizes she has another Caesar on her hands here . . . but it was fun while it lasted. She tells Antony she’ll give him her fleet, which he refuses at first. She says she knows that he loves her. Anthony is grateful to be able to have the fleet to destroy Brutus’ forces.

Brutus then comes has an audience with Cleo. He realizes it’s really Xena. She tells him that she knows he’s the one who killed Cleo. He says he did it because in a battle of seduction he couldn’t beat Marc Antony and he needs those ships. Xena says she’ll give him those ships because Antony is an enemy to both of them. Brutus doesn’t buy it but Gabby says he’ll be taking her along at his side. He says he couldn’t ask for a better guarantee than that and leaves happy. This was a nice scene. I liked seeing Xena in the royal throne with Gabby sitting on the arm next to her ‘companion’ – kinda reminded me of those conqueror stories I’ve read (VBG).

Anyway, it’s soon night and they are all in the water – Xena is on Antony’s ship, Gabby is on Brutus’ ship and Octavius is on one of the Egyptian ships. Brutus' ship rams into Antony’s and the two groups do battle. Soon one of the soldiers tells Brutus that the Egyptians are attacking their fleet. He gets pretty P.O.ed because he realizes he’s been tricked. He goes after Gabby and gives her an old fashion ass kickin’ like nobody’s business – blood is all over her face. Brutus goes for the kill as Gabby lies on the deck but she manages to pick up a sword and slice his neck open. He falls back and as he’s dying he sees Xena and screams her name. Antony looks up and sees Brutus yelling at ‘Cleo’ – when he’s told the Egyptians are attacking HIS fleet he realizes that he too has been had by the warrior princess.

He menaces toward Xena feeling betrayed and tries to take his vengeance by killing her. Of course Xena blocks him at every turn and I wondered as I watched if she felt guilty – she had suckered him in much like Caesar had suckered her in years before. Antony doesn’t succeed of course. Xena guts him and he falls down the stairs. As the fighting dies down the only two left standing are Xena and Gabrielle.

The next day Octavius tells Xena that Rome is in her debt. She says she doesn’t want anything from Rome – she just hopes that he’ll be a just leader. She gives a touching speech about how Cleo died for her people and how she WAS Egypt. They shake hands and Xena walks off. He turns to Gabby and they too shake hands. Gabby walks up with a grin – it was a good day fighting (G) – but she soon turns stoic too as she and Xena look out on the pyramids in the distance. Now that’s the ‘light’ that’s been missing from Gabby. She smiled but she also realized the lives that were lost. Her and Xena however, are still together. And although not a single word passes between them so much was spoken in that final scene. Boy I hope TPTB continue this trend.

The next ep didn’t look TOO exciting based on the previews but the upcoming teaser for the last three eps looks pretty damn good. Dite is throwing a fireball and she doesn’t look too happy. Gabby is lying in a bloody heap with Xena trying to pick her up. Xena is by a fire screaming her lungs out. Ares is carrying a limp warrior princess in his arms. It might actually be pretty big like the stars have been saying but I’ll hold out until I see it to pass final judgement.

CN Winters