This season keeps getting better and better. Sorry to all the naysayers out there the suspected a second poorly scripted rift to rip apart. Far from it actually. But I’ll get into the reasons why in a moment. First up however I think I should tell you about the two separate tales that Tapert and Co. are pulling together to make one Xena story or should I say bastardizing in that special X:WP way (VBG).

First story Beowulf which is set in Denmark – seems Beowulf has a pesky monster problem. One of his soldiers is eaten in the ‘great hall’ one night. When the beast, named Grendel who can’t be killed by weapons, returns Beowulf manages to rip its arm off. It goes back to the marsh where it was born but ends up bleeding to death. All is well until the monster’s momma shows up. Beowulf slays her too in the lake with a magic weapon (similar to King Arthur’s Excaliber). Beowulf lives to be an old man. During a fight with a dragon, he is mortal wounded but not before destroying the beast.

Now the second story – Sigurd and Brynhild. Brynhild was a Valkyrie (who defied Odin in regards to warfare) banished to earth, imprisoned in a ring of fire which only the bravest and fearless warrior could break. When Sigurd braved the fire he broke the spell of a charmed sleep as well, they fell in love. He gave her his ring he got for slaying a dragon, unaware of its curse. During his travels he betrayed Brynhild when he was bewitched by Grimhild and lost his memory due to drinking magic mead. He married Gudrun and then helped Gunner win Brynhild, who was his true love unbenounsted to him. On finding out about Sigurd’s betrayal Brynhild planned to kill him. Sigurd’s memory did return and his guilt and grief over his betrayal was great. The Nibelung brothers slew him, urged by Brynhild who was seeking revenge. As Sigurd died the last name he called out was Brunhild. Brynhild in her grief over losing Sigurd killed herself.

Now that the history lesson is over boys and girls (VBG) On to our subtext report. Now make sure you pay close attention and look to the top if you need a recap now and then.

The story opens with Xena looking at a shinny ring while she’s wearing some goofy head wear. A monster creeps up behind her and she says it’s about time. She leads him down toward a cage. She tells him as long as she has the ring she’ll win so he might as well give up. She manages to trap him in the cage with a lock with two ravens on it. The monster however manages to snatch the ring off her finger. But Xena’s not worried. He’ll never know how to use it so it’s not over by a long shot.

Enter opening credits

Xena and Gabby are eating in Joxer’s tavern…okay it’s not JOXER’s Tavern just the same building – kinda like that ship Rob’s Folly. I wonder if that place is called Raimi’s Pad (VBG). Anyway they are eating dinner and Xena is eyeing Gabby’s food asking if she’s going to finish it. Gabby tells her she’s not getting her food – like the bardly one would ever give up food (VBG). Xena complains about the portion size and whines to Gabby that she’s not eating the food she’s playing with it so she might as well give it to her (LOL). (I like watching these two characters ‘play’ with each other. It’s a very nice opening scene – very Day In the Lifeish). Gabby says she’s not playing with her food she’s savoring it so back off. From behind them a man is watching them Xena asks if he’s got a problem. He asks if she’s Xena. She says yes and he throws down the raven lock on the table. Uh oh….Something’s rotten in ole Denmark (VBG). Xena says she’s gotta speak to the guy. They walk to the corner and have an unheard conversation while Gabby examines the lock. Xena comes back not looking too happy. She won’t tell Gabby what’s up. Gabby offers Xena her food (which she firmly denied her moments earlier (VBG)Ahhhh isn’t that sweet. Gabby’s the best. I love Gabby. Have I mentioned that? (VBG)) . Xena says thanks but she’s lost her appetite.

They get ready for bed and have this conversation:

G: Still keeping secrets from me – after all these years.

X:Look, it’s something I did a long time ago before I met you. . .I just don’t feel like talking about it right now.

G: . . . Alright.

X: I’m not trying to shut you out. You know our friendship’s the most important thing in my life. . .In this case-

G:Xena you don’t have to tell me. Part of being a friend is letting people keep secrets. I respect that.

X: Okay

They go to sleep (separate beds) and gabby wakes to find this ‘Dear Jane’ Letter: Gabrielle, I’ve gone to take care of some unfinished business. This mission is so dangerous I’m afraid I won’t survive and I can’t ask you to die with me once again. Whatever happens know that my love for you is endless. Xena.

The story jumps to Gabby writing in her scrolls as she rides on horseback and ‘scrolls’ by firelight alone (ahhhh~sniff~): I know Xena wouldn’t have done this if she didn’t feel this was something she had to do by herself. I debated whether to respect her wish but I can’t – her path is my path. I’ve been following her now for weeks. Her trail has taken me north, due north, farther north than I’ve ever been.

Next we see Gabby walking through a town. She catches the eye of a blonde woman who lingers behind her watching Gabrielle. Gabby sees a tapestry in the market square and asks the merchant if the pictures tell a story. He can tell she’s not from these parts and say yes. He then tells her this tale:

These woman that ride the flying horses are Valkyrie, Odin’s end (death) guards. Valkyrie are mortal but Odin teaches his favorite ones spells. Gabby notices that one looks different from the rest. The old man can’t remember her name but the woman who’s tailing Gabby says her name is Xena. Gabby asks if she knows about this Valkyrie named Xena. The blonde says studying her has been the passion of her life. Gabby asks if she’s seen her recently. The woman says no, her reign of terror ended over 35 years ago and walks away. Gabby chases after her and introduces herself saying she’s come a long way to find Xena and any info would be helpful. Blondie says Xena came from a land called Chin but her people call it the land that brought them a demon. Flashback time!!! Xena comes across Odin who’s crucified himself to a tree because he’s depressed over not bringing peace to earth. [In the ‘real’ tale Odin hung himself on Yggdrasil, the cosmic tree for nine days, to learn the secrets of the dead]. Xena tells him she lives for conflict. She’s always looking for someone to conquer. Odin warns that someday someone may conquer her (wink, wink, nudge nudge (VBG) Gee, I wonder who could ever conquer Xena, hmmm?(BG)) Xena tells him you can’t escape the struggle of life – you have to embrace it. With that Odin gets the will to live and made her Valkyrie . Xena did well but she butts heads with the Valkyrie leader and Odin’s lover, Grimhilda (See story two above).

Next we see Xena telling some Danish soldiers to go back into battle with Grimhilda telling them to wait and fight another day. In the name of Odin Xena rallies the troops and they get slaughtered. Xena is back at godly headquarters at a banquet table when Grim comes in. She chastised Xena for sending those men to their death but Xena says it was right because it was in Odin’s name. Odin sides with Xena and Grim says she’s gone – she’s leaving if Odin sides with Xena. After she’s gone Odin says, " I loved her once." Xena tells him, "Trust me sire, you can live without love."

"Poor Xena," Gabby says. Blonde says you weren’t listen real well (LOL). Gabby says it’s because Xena thought she could live without love. "I know that she can’t. She’s my friend." (Oh yeah just like Marcus is her friend, and Herc and …. You get the point. Xena’s had a LOT of ‘friends’ (VBG)). Blondie tells Gabby to set up camp there and she’ll return tonight to tell her more tales to help her quest to find Xena.

Later that night Gabby is doing her bard thing when Brimhilda attacks her. (Turns out Blondie has a name after all). They fight and Gabby makes Brim cut herself with her own sword – small gash in the leg. Brimhilda knocks Gabs to the ground and pauses. She tells her that she doesn’t know who’s the better fighter and the only way to tell is to fight to the death and that’s not what she wants. She offers her hand to Gabby but Gabby slaps it away. Brim says she just wanted to show that she was worth to follow Xena. Gabby thinks it over and takes her hand when it’s offered again.

By the fire Brim tells Gabby if Xena is still alive she’s on the verge of realizing a life long dream. She wants to help find Xena. Brim goes back into tell her story.

Xena won Odin from Grimhilda. Odin is showing Xena how to make a fire spell. Xena says she wants to know more. She wants to know about the Rhinegold. Odin says he can’t tell her that. And Xena starts to cry and says if he doesn’t trust her then….she trails off and he asks what. She tells him that she was wrong before. That love is possible because she loves him. Seems that the rhinegold can only be touched by those who have forsaken love. He thinks he has nothing to fear and tells Xena the secret of where it’s at. Grimhilda returns and tells Odin he’s been suckered. She asks him for permission to stop her. He gives his blessing and she and the Valkyrie go after her toward the Rhine River on flying horses. They battle and Grim and Xena end up falling to earth. Xena gets up first and goes to kill Grim but she stops and kicks her in the face. Xena finishes her journey and is frolicking in the water with the Rhinemaidens. She’s turning on the charm as the maidens begin to fight over who gets Xena. Seems two of them are in love with Xena and as the third points out, they both ‘fall in love too easily’. One maiden gooses Xena under the water and they have this conversation after Xena whispers something in her ear.

M: I can’t show you that!

X: Come on – just a peek (Okay LOLOLOL – even my husband thought this was funny (VBG))

M:It’s strickly forbidden.

X: Well how can I be a rhine maiden if I don’t see it.

M: You want to become a rhinemaiden?!

X: Sure…Then I can play with you all day.

M: (smiling and thinking it over) Follow me.

Unsuspecting rhinemaiden then takes Xena under water to a cave. Once inside she shows Xena a chest. Xena opens it up and reaches. The maiden warns her that the rhine gold will only bring about her destruction. Not if I’ve forsaken love, Xena tells her. Have you? The maiden asks. Xena answers by elbowing her in the face, giving her a bloody nose.

She dives back into the water and goes back to make her ring that makes her invincible. Back at the present Gabby and Brim have this exchange:

B: You love her very much don’t you?

G: She’s my best friend. I know her like I know my own heart.

B: A friendship like that is something to be envied.

G: It has a price – like anything.

B: A price you love paying.

G: Yeah

B: She feels the same?

G: I hope so

B: She must. She knows how dangerous this mission is and she left you behind.

G: That’s what her note said.

Now it’s Xena’s true time confessions<G> She’s walking with Beowulf and they have this exchange:

Beo: You miss your friend don’t you?

X: Sure

Beo: She’s very beautiful

X: Yeah she is.

Beo: I only saw her that one time but she seems special. Who knows HOW I’d feel if I got to know her.

X: Well you’d like her.

Beo: Of course neither one of us will live to see her again anyway. Well be there soon.

X: Good

Beo: The people up here think of you as a demon.

X: . . . .They should

Gabby and Brim are talking and Gabby mentions Beo and the lock. Now Brim sees what’s happening. Xena’s on a suicide mission. Xena and Beo end up at the outpost/great hall. Beo goes in and Xena whispers ‘Stay strong Gabrielle’ in prayer. Beo goes inside and is sharpening his sword. With night falling they know the monster will be arriving. Beo says they call the beast Grendel. Xena says it’s powerful but it’s slow. Beo says she knows this beast pretty well. Xena says she should because she made it. The monster then comes through the side of the building and starts to attack them. During the fight Xena sees that the monster still has the ring. She tries to get it but it beats the stuffing out of her and Beo. Beo gets buried under some wood and junk and the monster closes in on battered Xena. Xena tries to stand up but she can’t. The next morning, we see Gabby and Brim approach the outpost. Brim says she wishes she had a friend like Xena does. Gabby puts her hand on her shoulder and says she does and the two of them enter. They hear groaning and Gabby pulls the debree away to find Beowulf. Beo says he doesn’t know if Xena’s alive or dead. Gabby starts to call out for Xena but no answer. She looks in the corner and goes over. She picks up Xena’s breastplate and strokes it but no Xena is to be found.

To Be Continued.

Fade to Black

Next week: Here’s the full promo for ‘The Ring’ folks. I’m not sure how it all fits together with the ‘real’ story. It seems that no single Xena character is a character from Norse mythology but a complication of many different Norse characters. It’s very likely that Xena does get married in the ‘present day’ but she doesn’t know who the hell she is and gets tricked like Sig did. Here you go folks:

Announcer: The power is unbelievable

(Someone is holding the ring, a pic of the monster, Grim and Xena battling)

Grim (to a scared looking Odin): She has the ring!

(Odin throws a fireball at a soldier who’s next to ‘present’ Xena, he falls over, Grim is behind Odin at the time)

A: But the price unbearable.

Odin: It’s killing what she values the most (Shot of Gabby in flames, moving around as her outfit changes into a little hot white number (LOL))

(Batter Xena looking scared comes up behind Gabrielle who’s got a startled look on her face before Xena raises her finger)

A: On and all new Xena. A choice between true love (Xena hugs Gabby with her eyes closed tight. Gabby hugs Xena)

G: (sobbing) Don’t ever leave me again.

(Present Xena is taking off the ring when a blue light flashes over her, Odin does battle with Xena, a fire ball hits the monster, ‘blondie/Brim’ striking something or someone with a raised sword, Gabby laying down on a big rock to take a nap(G), one woman giving another woman the ‘ring’, )

A: and true self

X: It’s a mistake from a very long time ago.

A: And a consequence that’s unforgettable (Xena drops her chakram and sword)

X: (screaming in great angst) Who am I?!?!

A: Battle on Xena…Coming next week.

All I can say are two words….Woo…Hoo!!(LOL)