Top positive review
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Great episodes, no extras!
on 21 October 2002
The first 11 episodes of Season 4 arrive in style; sounding and looking great!
The boxset kicks off with the fantastic two-parter 'Adventures in the Sin Trade', in which a desperate Xena searches frantically for (the missing, presumed dead) Gabrielle, who was last seen diving into a lava pit at the end of 'Sacrifice II.' Does she find her? Hmmmmm. Sort of! This episode also introduces the character of Alti; an old ally/nemesis of Xena's who reveals some interesting and disturbing information about the WP's future, or lack thereof...
The season continues with 'A Family Affair,' which sees the reunion we've all been waiting for, as well as the return of Hope to the Xena fold. Special mention here must go to Renee O'Connor, who dials down her performance from last season, making Hope a genuinely chilling adversary. The episode ends with the reaffirmation of our fave friendship and also sows the seeds for what will become the major theme of this season; what is the 'way' for the WP and the bard?
Episode 5, 'A Good Day,' also is worthy of special mention. The Xena-staff have always excelled at 'battle' episodes, and this one is no exception, with Xena, Pompey and Caesar in a thrilling head-to-head. This episode is also great in terms of the development of Gabrielle; we get to see how far the 'little girl from Potadeia' has come, and also what she has lost along the way. Again, great acting from ROC.
All the sub-texters out there will be happy bunnies indeed after viewing 'Crusader;' in which the sub-text rapidly becomes main-text! That's all I'm going to say; you'll have to watch it yourselves! Also, have the tissues handy, because LL turns in a fantastic performance that will more-likely-than-not make you cry at least once!
The only disappointments in this set come on Disc 3; 'The Key to the Kingdom' (A Joxer/Meg story) is DIRE and should only be viewed after several stiff drinks (I recommend vodka)! 'Daughter of Pomira' is also a let-down in terms of its portrayal of the Horde, last seen in the excellent Season 2 episode, 'The Price.' Rather like ST:TNG's treatment of the Borg in 'I, Hugh,' this episode strives to humanise the enemy, immediately making them far less interesting! I don't think that's quite the effect they were aiming for...(!)
Overall this boxset is a must for Xenite's everywhere. Season 4 is perhaps the most mature in theme thus far, and the search for identity undertaken by the WP and the bard makes for compelling viewing. Add to this the continually out-standing performances from both the lead actresses, and what more could you ask for?
Oh, apart from some extras. Shame on you, Playback!