Tuesday, 19 April 2016
Xena: Warrior Princess, Season 4 (1998)
Xena ran six seasons in all, but this is the last I bought on DVD. My reasons were pretty simple: I thought season five was bad, and that season six - while an improvement overall - had a pretty awful ending.
Season four, on the other hand, makes a very strong conclusion for the show. It has Xena and Gabrielle face off with two of the warrior princess's most bitter recurring enemies - Julius Caesar and Callisto - and gives all four characters a fitting and thematic farewell.
But that's the end of the season, and there are plenty of shenanigans to be had before we get there. The season begins, for instance, with Xena desperately trying to confirm that Gabrielle has passed over into a pleasant afterlife. Because - spoiler! - Gaby appeared to die at the end of season three (spoiler two: It turns out she is alive).
After kicking off with a trio of episodes in this pretty intense storyline, the show demonstrates its disregard for maintaining a consistent tone by going with extreme farce for the fourth. From there the season will merrily wend its way to a series of escapades in India; and also through pastiches of Footloose, Cinderella and Miss Marple. To give the show credit though, Xena's Cinderella doesn't rely on marrying a prince to get a happy ending - she goes looking for one of her own.
Interestingly, in watching these DVDs I was surprised by how things that my memory told me were major parts of the season - the trip to India, a new character named Amarice, and Gabrielle's dalliance with following the non-violent "Way of Love" - actually appear in only a few episodes. Goes to show how unreliable our brains can be.
So is it any good? Well I liked it a lot.
At the end of the day, this is season four of the show, and it delivers pretty much the same melange of mytho-historic nuttiness and adventure as the preceding 60-some episodes have given us. If you liked Xena in its first three outings, you should continue to enjoy it this time around as well.