Last week when I saw the spoilers for the Ring I said ‘WooHoo!’. This week let me amend that and say Woo FREAKIN’ Hoo !!!!!!!!!!(ROTFL). Great Aphrodite above!! If Tapert gives viewers a kiss next week I’ll retract every negative comment I’ve made about the man’s lack of ‘guts’(VBG).

Grant it this ep isn’t the best ‘plot’ driven episode but it’s up there folks. It took twists and turns I did NOT expect and that’s something I haven’t been able to say in a loooong time – either that or I’m just too damn unobservant lately (LOL). Not only that but the girls are ‘out’ folks…..We’re talking maintext – no wink, wink, nudge, nudge, she likes what I do, is that a hickey - subtext. After this ep I KNOW who put that hickey on Xena’s neck. It’s a certain little blonde and I’m not talking about Brimhilda here ladies and gents.

I think I’ll official change my title at this point – CN Winters, Queen of Maintext. J

Anyway enough of my babbling on to our tale:

Our terrific trio is walking through the woods searching for Xena. Brim and Beo think the warrior princess has met her maker (for what the 5th time?!?!) Gabs of course won’t hear that – Xena’s alive. They all split up to cover more ground and Gab heads toward some trees. She gets that goofy feeling that someone is watching her and calls out "Xena?"

Out of nowhere the warrior princess grabs her and drags her behind the tree with her hand over her mouth. Without words Xena points out the monster who’s wandering over the hill. When she’s out of sight the couple make up for lost time. Gabby has to jump on Xena’s case for leaving her in that bardly way she does. Xena says nothing, makes no promises she can’t keep. She hugs her tight relieved that despite what Beo said…yes she did see Gabby again.

Xena’s a mess and Gab quickly leads Xena to the ground to tend to a battered leg. Brim and Beo arrive. While Beo goes to scout out the monster, Brim beams at meeting her idol.

B: I’ve waited my entire life to meet you.

X: If I knew I had a fan coming I would have combed my hair (Gabby gives a sweet little grin)

B: I never should have doubted you’d be alive. Only the legendary Xena could survive against Grendel and the power of the ring.

X: I would have thought I wouldn’t be too welcome around here.

B: Weaklings don’t like you. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your philosophy. From the very 1st story I heard, I knew I wanted to be a warrior like you.

X: Well I’ve gotten a lot smarter since then. I’ve learned to respect life, love and peace.

B: Why? What happened?

X (looking at Gab grinning who returns the gesture) Lots of reasons.

(Now make sure you check out Brim’s eyes as she shifts between X and G ‘sizing up’ their relationship. It’s priceless but not as priceless as Xena’s later…but we’ll get to that<G>)

Beo returns from scouting and Brim deducts the monster has double back and has them trapped. Xena’s impressed with Brim’s perception. Xena turns to Gabby:

X: I know better than to talk you into leaving but you two should go.

Brim: I won’t leave Gabrielle.

Beo: Neither will I.

What makes this scene ‘tick’ is the unspoken interactions – Check out Xena watching Brim as Brim smiles at Gabby. Xena doesn’t look for Gabby’s reaction but Xena’s eye ‘unconsciously’ move toward Gabrielle. Last woman to look at Gabs like that is now in a coma with a bunch of nuns (VBG). Brim picked the wrooooooong gal to fall for (LOL). Before Xena can say, ‘Keep your skanky ho eyes off my bardly bitch’ to Brim the monster roars and they head to the lair.

The plan is to drop a big rock on Grendel while Xena leads her inside. But not before a little flashback time. Xena is making the ring but we see Grim show up and take it. Xena warns her that unless she’s forsaken love she’ll lose what she prizes most. Grim says that might be true but before that happens she’ll get a surge of Godlike power and kick the ever lovin’ crap outta Xena. Grim puts the ring on and they do battle but she can’t win before she starts to transform into the monster Grendel. Xena sees what’s happened. Grim loved humanity and her beauty more than anything and she lost them. Xena chops off Grim’s finger and takes the ring.

Back to the present day a remorseful looking Xena adds that after 35 years Grendel has finally forsaken love and has used the ring to escape. They hear the monster yell and everyone scrambles into position. Xena leads the monster through the mine but before they can put their plan in motion the monster looks up and knows what’s going on. She darts away and Xena gives chase. Gabrielle screams the preverbal ‘Xeeeenaaa!" and tries to stop her. The others follow and Gab finally catches up.

"I thought I told you not to come in here!" Xena yells.

"I never listen!" Gabby points out. Very true (LOL)

Suddenly the monster charges back at them scattering all of them to the ground. Gabby gets in a few good whacks before getting clobbered. Brim sees Gabby fall and yells ‘Noooo’ (She hasn’t yet learned how to give that Xena cry of ‘Gaaabriiiellle!’ so you know she’s not the woman for the Gabmeister). Brim lays into him too but none of them are getting close enough to do any real damage.

Xena sees the timbers of the mine giving way and orders everyone back. She strikes it with the chakram and the rocks and wood begin to fall. Everyone gets to the other side…except Xena who get clotheslined by the monster as she tries to make it to the others. As the rocks fall everyone is yelling for Gabrielle’s safety (LOL – Damn she’s a popular gal in this ep. Just once I’d love to see a gal fall for Xena and see Gab’s reaction. But then again that could get pretty blood. I mean all we’ve had is LaoMa and she was dead at the time!! And think about how well the bard took that relationship!! (ROTFL))

Of course, everyone is yelling for Gabby but Gabby is yelling for only one person (VBG). She scurries up the rock pile and starts to move the stones to get to Xena. On the other side Xena is battling the monster. She sees her chakram but can’t reach it. The monster works her back into the corner where he starts to put the bear hug on her, crushing her itty, bitty warrior bones. Gabby finally has a space give enough she can squeeze her body through and shimmies down to the other side with Brim and Beo both telling her to stop. But again, they weren’t paying attention earlier – Gabby never listens. She sees Xena’s chakram and picks it up. She runs to the back of the mine to see Grendel putting the big squeeze on Xena. She doesn’t think twice. She runs at full speed and jumps on the monsters back, striking it over and over until it drops Xena. For ONCE the bard saved the warrior!! Woo Freakin’ Hoo!!! Of course after losing it’s grip on Xena it’s able to toss Gabby like a rag doll. However the chakram falls at Xena’s feet and she picks it up and cuts Grendel like a fish.

Gabby gets back up and the two gals check on each other. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh luuuuvvvvvvv!!!!!!!!!! Gabs puts her arm around Xena while Xena cradles Gabs cheek in her palm. (VBG)

Brim and Beo arrive and Xena gets the ring off the monster's finger. It’s there that she realizes, "Wait!! This monster has all it’s fingers. Uh oh!!" Xena tells them they gotta get out this place….if it’s the last thing they ever do….they gotta get out of this place…girl there’s a better life for me and you….Okay well she doesn’t say that but she suggests that now would be a nice time to exit stage left. As they walk along Xena says that monster is not Grendel and reminds them why. She says they gotta get the ring back to the rheinmaidens as soon as possible. Brim looks up and sees a raven and she’s not too comfortable about it. Back at the lair there’s another unhappy monster to see the handy work Xena and Gabby just did. The raven Brim saw flies back to Odin’s castle, apparently tipping him off as to the ongoings. Xena and group have this conversation as they walk to the river.

Brim: (to Gab) She really is giving up the power of the ring. She’s is NOT the Xena of the legends.

G: She fights for good now

Brim: I don’t know I mean in battle she’s everything I imagined.

G: There’s more to being a warrior than skill. There’s fighting for what you believe in and people that you love.

Grim: Until you I never thought of a warrior having any love except the love of battle.

Grim gives her a flashy little grin and Gabby gives one in return. Xena watches all this from below as she adjusts her bandage. If looks could kill…..

X: I’m gonna tend to this (her leg). Brim will you scout ahead over that ridge. (Wordless and with a big smile to Gabby Brim leaves) . . .Thank you (Xena calls looking relieved to see the woman gone. She rises and has the oddest look on her face (LOL) – her shoulders are squared and her head cocks back) I don’t like her. (I tried to find a pic of this but I couldn’t – Moondog if you find it make sure you include it in your review. It’s just priceless (LOL)).

G: Why do you say that?

(Xena: Well for one thing she’s after you like a hungry dog with a bone…Oops sorry, Xena didn’t say that. She’s a ‘secure’ woman who knows her bardy wardy luvs her werry, werry much (VBG))

X: I don’t know. She’s just not who she says she is.

G: Xena, SHE doesn’t know what to believe in.

X: . . . I don’t trust her.

(That’s right Xena!! You made that mistake with Najara and you ain’t gonna make it again!! You go girl!! Woo Freakin’ Hoo!!)

While Brim scouts the area Odin appears to her with the Valkyrie with him. He wants to know why she didn’t kill Xena and get the ring like she was supposed to.

"There were complications," she tells him as she looks away guiltily.

"Complications? My ravens tell me you’ve fallen in love with her partner. Is it possible you thought killing Xena would kill any chance with Gabrielle?"

Brim doesn’t have an answer. She’s busted. Odin orders his Valkyrie to get Gabrielle. They will trade her for the ring because Odin’s gotten Xena’s number and he knows her weak spot. And if Xena doesn’t trade then they’ll kill Gabby. This doesn’t sit well with Brim to say the least.

Xena is looking around and tells the group that something’s up. Brim should have been back by now. Instead of gullible Gabby, arguing in Grim’s defense, she keeps her mouth shut. (Ha Haaaa! The bard CAN be taught!!(LOL)). Suddenly out of nowhere, Odin and the Valkyrie strike and they do battle with them. As the fight wears on Brim comes busting into the scene and swoops Gabby up into her arms and they fly away on her horse. Of course Gabby gives the ‘Xeeeenaaa’ cry that means save me and Xena has to give the heart angst ‘Gaaaabrielllle’ in response. (LOL)

Xena doesn’t ask - she ORDERS - Beo to go watch to see where they land – she’ll battle the Valkyrie. When the gals start getting their asses kicked pretty good Odin shouts ‘Enough!!’. He tells Xena that he wants the ring. Xena says she’s taking it back to the river where it belongs. He says he wants it for himself. Xena says no dice. He says he has Gabrielle and he’ll kill her. Xena says ‘Nah ah, Brim acted alone. You were just as shocked as I was when she flew in here’. He huffs and puffs and declares open season on Xena because he didn’t kill Grim – it was her son (she was ‘with child’ when she changed) and together they will be unstoppable.

Xena shrugs him off in that warrior princess way of hers. Besides she’s got more important things to do – she’s gotta bard to track down. Beo says they went thaddaway and off they head. Odin for his part goes to a mourning Grim and tells her they can take revenge together on Xena.

Back at the Marsh, Brim let’s Gabby down and the bardly one is not all that happy that she was taken, leaving Xena to fight alone. Brim and Gabby have this conversation.

G: What are you doing?!

B: Odin and the others were going to kill you for the ring.

G: We left Xena to fight them all

B: Is Xena all you ever think about?!

(Why yes Brim – yes she is (VBG))

G: She’s-Xena’s my family. She’s the most important thing in my life.

B: Gabrielle listen to me. I bring the bravest warrior to Mulhallen slain in battle-heroes- but your heart has more truth and courage than any that I’ve seen. The beauty inside you burns like a star Gabrielle. I was supposed to betray you and Xena but I couldn’t. Not now. You changed me. You’ve opened my eyes and you’ve changed me like the way you changed Xena.

G: I don’t know what to say. . . I’m sorry (starts to walk away)

B: (Grabbing Gab by the shoulder and spinning her around) I defied my GOD for you Gabrielle!

G: (no response – she just looks stunned)

Odin goes to Monster Grim and they zap away to get revenge on Xena.

Back to Gab and Brim:

G: Xena and I have a connection. It’s strong than either one of us. We’re soulmates.

B: My love is strong! I can feel it!

G: I’m trying to tell you that Xena and I are meant to be together. We didn’t – we didn’t make it that way it just is.

(Xena yells Gabby’s name from the marsh)

G: Xena! (Brim draws her sword)

B: I can see your heart lies with Xena but I’ll prove to you which one of us deserves your love.

Xena asks Beo as they walk through the bog if he knows his way around this place. Beo says he’s never been there but he’s go through the fires of hell for Gabrielle. (Well guess what REDSHIRT?! Xena HAS GONE THROUGH THE FIRES OF HELL THANKYOUVERYMUCH! (LOL)). Jesus, just what Gabby needs now – ANOTHER ADMIRER. Don’t they know ‘I’ love Gabby? I’m sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice(VBG).

Odin and his pesky hunchwomen show up again. Beo gets knocked out by Odin’s fireball and Xena tells him to step aside or join the Olympians. Odin’s not buying it. He throws a ball at Xena which she dodges but suddenly a tree grabs her . . . But wait!! It’s not a tree! It’s Monster Grim.

Beo recovers and does battle with the babes on horseback but gets a sword in his side for his trouble. With him out of the way and Xena getting her WP fanny kicked all over the place, the group closes in on her. She realizes she only has one choice. She has to put on the ring. Like Grim before her she gets super strength and wipes the floor with the group but doesn’t kill Odin or Monster Grim. She retreats into the woods but Odin doesn’t give chase. He knows – ‘It’s killing what she values most’.

Gabby and Brim are still going round in circles as they walk toward where they heard Xena. She’s going to battle Xena for Gabby’s hand. And they have this exchange:

G: Brimhilda you can’t win. Listen to me - this is wrong. Can we – Let’s just talk about this?

They don’t get the chance to talk however because some Valkyries show up. Brim pushes Gabby back like that good ole season one Xena way. They take them out fairly quickly and continue their conversation but not before Gab hears Xena fighting in the background.

B: (frustrated) They’re going to kill her before I have a chance to prove my love for you.

G: What are you fighting for? You want to win my love?! You’re going to shed blood for what? For me? . . . You call that love? . . . You’re sick (Brim looks despondent as Gabby goes in search of her ‘soulmate’(VBG))

Gabby doesn’t find Xena first however. Brim does. Seems the curse is working because Xena doesn’t know who Brim is or even herself for that matter. Brim knows that Odin can’t get the ring and it’s the only bargaining tool she has to see that Gabby is spared. But Xena doesn’t seem to know this ‘Gabrielle’ woman. Brim convinces Xena that if she gives her the ring, people will leave her alone. Xena drops her sword and hands it over to her. Brim leaves and Xena plays with her chakram trying to figure it out and ends up cutting her hand. She drops it next to her sword and walks off.

Brim returns to Gabby and tells her that Xena won’t remember her. Gabby doesn’t buy it but Brim tells her, "She put on the ring." Gabby’s got the ‘Oh Sh*t’ look on her face and listens as Brim tells her Xena’s fate. The thing Xena prizes most was her memories of Gabrielle and the good woman she had become with Gabrielle’s guidance. Brim concedes that she could never compete with Xena and Odin and the Valkyrie will hunt her down. There’s only one thing she can do – leave her human form and become a flame for Gabrielle – an eternal flame so strong that only her soulmate can break the spell. She gives Gabby the ring and tells her that it’s safest with her. ‘It’s too powerful to fall into undeserving hands and are you [Gabby].’ Gabby takes it in her hand and Brim ‘lights up’ so to speak. She circles Gabby as Gabby gets some new sexy dudes that looks about two sizes too small for her bustline (LOL). Gabby gets sleepy and takes a nice nap on a big rock with the ring in her hand.

Beo stands up and tries to find Xena. He doesn’t find her but he finds her sword and her chakram. Xena is wandering in the woods – unsure of anything – where she is and who she is. She falls to her knees and screams ‘Who am I?!’ as we fade to black.

Hope it was worth the wait folks<G> BTW the disclaimer is "Gabrielle’s popularity surged in the making of this motion picture" – you ain’t just whislin’ Dixie.(VBG)

CN Winters

Queen of Maintext

Here’s next week’s TV log line:

Xena: Warrior Princess - Return of the Valkyrie

Xena (Lucy Lawless) has amnesia as Hrothgar's (guest star John Leigh) bride, Wealthea, and must regain her memory in order to save Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). Rated – PG-13.