GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 BY Beboman
COMMENTARY 3 BY John Wignall
COMMENTARY 4 BY Philip Teo
WHERE HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Marie Matiko (Pao Ssu/K'ao Hsin)
Andy Choi (Go Kun)
William Kwan (Vendor)
(Kun's Warriors) - non-speaking
(Monks Guards) - non-speaking
(Monks) - non-speaking
(Spice Vendor) - non-speaking
(Jailer) - non-speaking
Written by Jeff Vlaming
Directed by Mark Beesley
ON AN ALL-NEW XENA....
Pao Tsu: You have something that belongs to me, Xena.
HUNTED BY AN INVINCIBLE ARMY......
(A soldier ignites a weapon, and projectiles fly)
Warlord: KILL HER!
(Xena stands immobile behind an explosion, soldiers charge forward.)
THE WARRIOR PRINCESS UNLEASHES THE POWER OF AN ANCIENT SECRET.....
(Xena and K'ao Hsin combine mystic powers and send Pao Tsu flying)
(Xena uses mystic powers, followed by Pao Tsu. There is a large explosion.)
AN ALL NEW XENA! COMING NEXT WEEK.
FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, IT HAS GUARDED THE MYSTERY OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL WARRIOR....
(Shots of K'ao Hsin, Xena, the Tao te Ching, and Lao Ma from 'The Debt')
A MYSTERY KEPT SAFE UNTIL NOW....
(Pao Szu and her army)
Pao Szu: You have something that belongs to me, Xena.
ON AN ALL NEW XENA, HUNTED BY AN INVINCIBLE ARMY....
(A soldier ignites a rocket and it flies)
Go Kun: KILL THEM!
THE WARRIOR PRINCESS SUMMONS THE POWER OF AN ANCIENT SECRET....
(Warriors charge, Xena fights, she and K'ao Hsin harness mystic powers)
Xena: This ends here.
(Xena blocks a mystic blast, Pao Szu fires, and the camp blows up)
AN ALL NEW XENA!
TV GUIDE PROMO
When Xena returns to Chin to recover Lao Ma's book of power, she must defeat one of Lao Ma's twin daughters, who wants to acquire the power for her own evil purposes.
Xena receives a message from her spiritual mentor, Lao Ma, that she must recover her book of power.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer are awakened by a monk from the Xo monastery, who dies moments after delivering a letter stating "the hawk and the dove must become one with wisdom". Xena realizes that her spiritual mentor, Lao Ma, must have written the letter before her death and that "wisdom" refers to her book which teaches ways to obtain special powers. To unravel the mystery, Xena decides to return to the land of Chin with Gabrielle and Joxer, expecting to find the book in the Xo monastery where she left it. They arrive in an abandoned Chinese village to fine the monastery being attacked by warriors using explosives. A tough and beautiful young Chinese woman, Pao Ssu, joins Xena and Gabrielle in their fight against the troops which retreat. Much to Xena's surprise, Pao Ssu introduces herself as Lao Ma's daughter and explains that the explosives are made from black powder -- and ancient Chin formula which was forbidden but which a vicious warlord, Go Kun, rediscovered. When Xena opens the cabinet that contained Lao Ma's book, she finds it empty. Xena sends Gabrielle and Joxer on a mission to discover a mysterious key ingredient in the black powder, while she and Pao Ssu follow the trail of the book thief.
While shopping for herbs and spices for the black powder recipe, Joxer gets caught with a sample and both he and Gabrielle are thrown in jail. Xena and Pao Ssu find the book in the hands of Pao Ssu's twin sister, K'ao Hsin. It becomes clear that Pao Ssu will stop at nothing to get her hands on the book and use its powers to annihilate her enemies. Knowing now that Pao Ssu is behind the black powder army and its atrocities, Xena challenges her to fight. Pao Ssu unleashes a cherry bomb and steals the book -- not realizing that it's a fake Xena planted. Meanwhile, Gabrielle, while locked in the stocks next to Joxer, manages to retrieve the black powder from his pants and blow open the locks.
On their way to meet up with Xena at Ming's Palace, they run into Pao Ssu who wishes to join them. As Xena and K'ao Hsin study the book, Pao Ssu arrives with Joxer and Gabrielle in tow. She has tied them to separate carts, which she has bobby-trapped with explosives. Not wanting any bloodshed, K'ao Hsin hands over the book to Pao Ssu, who ignites the two trails of powder anyway and rides off. Xena defuses the path to Gabrielle and frees Joxer just before his cart explodes.
Xena, Joxer and Gabrielle figure out the secret ingredient in the black powder and they use explosives to set a trap for Kun's army. While Gabrielle, Joxer and K'ao Hsin fight the army, Xena and Pao Ssu battle each other with their newfound powers. Both Pao Ssu and Xena are able to harness the special powers through their purity of thought and actions. Whereas Pao Ssu learns to master it with her pure hatred, Xena realizes that pure joy gives her access. Xena is able to weaken Pao Ssu's hatred by telling her that Lao Ma only gave her up to save her life, and thereby defeats her. In an attempt to save their leader from Xena, Kun's army mistakenly fires a rocket at the tent containing the black powder which explodes into flame. With neither Pao Ssu to lead them nor the black powder, Kun's army is rendered powerless and peace is restored.
Ted Raimi (Joxer)
Marie Matiko (Pao Ssu/K'ao Hsin)
Andy Choi (Go Kun)
Written by Jeff Vlaming
Directed by Mark Beesley
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 11-08-99
An AA average of 3.9
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XFILES 4.6
(2) XENA 3.9
(3) ER 3.7
(4) STARGATE 3.3
(5) HERCULES 3.2
(6) BEASTMASTER 3.0
(7) EARTH FINAL CONTACT/BAYWATCH HAWAII 2.9
(8) VIP 2.8
(9) PROFILER 2.3
(10) PENSACOLA 2.4
(11) AMAZON/RELIC HUNTER/LOST WORLD 2.1
2nd RELEASE: 03-06-00
An AA average of <3.3
Top 20 Syndicated:RANK PROGRAM NAME DISTRIBUTOR RATING AUDIENCE 1 WHEEL OF FORTUNE-SYN KIN 10.8 10,868,000 2 JEOPARDY KIN 9.1 9,218,000 3 JUDGE JUDY (AT) PRM 6.9 6,928,000 4 OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (AT) KIN 6.3 6,340,000 5 FRIENDS-SYN (AT) WB 6.1 6,161,000 6 ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT PRM 6.0 5,999,000 7 SEINFELD CTS 5.4 5,404,000 8 FRASIER-SYN (AT) PRM 5.1 5,170,000 9 WARNER BROS VOLUME 32 WB 5.1 5,167,000 10 PARAMOUNT PLUS 3 PRM 4.9 4,973,000 11 WHEEL OF FORTUNE-WKND KIN 4.9 4,946,000 12 DREW CAREY (AT) WB 4.4 4,445,000 13 JUDGE JOE BROWN (AT) PRM 4.2 4,255,000 14 JERRY SPRINGER (AT) STD 4.1 4,175,000 15 HOLLYWOOD SQUARES KIN 4.1 4,105,000 15 ER-SYN (AT) W/T 3.9 3,927,000 17 LIVE-REGIS & KATHIE LEE BV 3.9 3,904,000 18 EXTRA WB 3.7 3,778,000 19 X-FILES-SYN (AT) 2/T 3.7 3,764,000 19 ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW WB 3.7 3,732,000 21 MAURY (AT) STD 3.5 3,574,000 22 SEINFELD-WKND CTS 3.4 3,466,000 23 DIVORCE COURT (AT) 2/T 3.4 3,464,000 24 ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT WKD PRM 3.4 3,432,000 25 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN(AT) BVC 3.3 3,323,000The X-Files 3.7 3rd Rock 3.7 Xena 3.3 Stargate SG-1 3.2 Back2Back Action 2.5 Profiler 2.4 Beastmaster 2.4 Earth: Final Conflict 2.4 The Lost World 2.0 Relic Hunter 1.9
This synopsis is by Bluesong.
Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer (who is snoring) are asleep by a fire in the daylight. Xena wakes up. Gabrielle wakes up. Xena looks like she hears something. A man comes and falls at her feet. Xena says someone cut out his tongue. The man, who Xena calls a monk, hands Xena a message and dies. The message says the hawk and the dove must be made one with the wisdom. Xena says the message is from Lao Ma. Nothing to do but go to Chin.
Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer make it to Chin quicker than a blink of an Ares. Xena says they have to go to the monastery. This is where Xena stashed Lao Ma's book of wisdom. They wander into a village below the monastery and find a huge crater and no villagers. The monastery, up above the village on a hill, is suddenly bombed with rockets. Xena heads for the monastery. Xena fights, looking pretty good for a pregnant warrior. Gabrielle fights and her impression of Xena, Jr., is quite good. Xena fights some more. More bombs/rockets come towrad the monastery. Xena throws her chakram and slices the rockets so they don't hit the monastery. Xena catches one rocket in her hands and tosses it back toward the invaders. A young woman leaps from the roof and joins in the fray. She fights. Everybody fights. The army backs off. The woman introduces herself as the daughter of Lao Ma, Pao Su.
Joxer comes into the monastery through a hole left by the blasting. Pao Su says the fireworks are caused by black powder, a forbidden item that an evil warlord is using. Xena goes into the monastery and finds that the book is gone. She asks Joxer to take a book from the monastery and put it in Argo's saddlebag. Then Xena sends Joxer and Gabrielle to the village to buy spices to mix up with sulfer and charcoal so they can discover the formula of the black powder. Xena and Pao Su track the person who stole the book. Xena and Pao Su talk; Pao Su is not happy with her mother, Lao Ma. They are being followed.
Gabrielle and Joxer buy spices. Xena and Pao Su walk through a stream to lose their followers. Xena sends the horses off in the other direction, but she carries a saddlebag with her.
Joxer gets arrested for having the forbidden black powder. Xena and Pao Su track the book thief to a cave. Inside a young girl who looks a lot like Pao Su sits with the book. She says "hello sister" to Pao Su. She is Kao Sing. The sisters talk and argue about who has the stronger will. Xena interrupts. Kao Sing gives Xena the book and Xena puts it in the saddle bag. Xena then tells Pao Su that she is a very naughty girl, and Xena knows that is really her army down there with all the black powder. Xena and Pao Su fight with swords and then kicks and punches and stuff. Pao Su throws some black powder at Xena and blows her back. Pao Su grabs the book from the saddle bag and runs away. Xena doesn't chase after her.
Pao Su opens the book to find she's been duped; Xena switched books. Pao Su is not a happy camper. Xena and Kao Sing talk about whether or not Pao Su will have to die.
Joxer-in-a-box. Well, not a box really. One of this big bulky board things that Xena had on in the debt. He is also getting dripped on. Gabrielle is in a box beside him. Gabrielle asks Joxer where the black powder is; he says it is down his pants. Gabrielle runs her foot down in his pants (no further comment necessary) and eventually emerges with the black powder. She flips it up and manages to blow her stocks open.
Xena and Kao Sing walk down a road. Xena remembers running from the dogs and how she met Lao Ma that way in scenes from The Debt. Xena and Kao Sing go to the temple where Lao Ma lived and died. Xena fingers a scarf.
Gabrielle and Joxer run into Pao Su, who says Xena sent her to get them. They follow her.
Kao Sing and Xena study the book. Pao Su interrupts by calling from outside. Pao Su says give me the book or Gabrielle and Joxer will both be blown up. Pao Su has them tied up with lines of black powder running to them. Xena chats with Pao Su a bit but then Kao Sing runs out and gives Pao Su the book. Pao Su drops her torch on the powder, and both Gabrielle and Joxer are facing imminent booms. But Xena runs over and stamps out the powder going toward Gabrielle. She throws her chakram and frees Joxer from his bonds, he runs away just before things blow up. He gets thrown to the ground but he is okay.
Joxer works in the kitchen and figures out the secret of the black powder. Kao Sing cries because she fears her sister's hatred. Xena gets some new clothes. Xena comforts Kao Sing and they decide to work together to defeat Pao Su, because they are the hawk and the dove, not the sisters. Xena and Kao Sing do tai chi and recite the passages from the book that Xena remembers.
Pao Su reads the book and learns its secrets, too. Xena and Kao Sing have a vision together. They see how Lao Ma saved the girls from the Green Dragon. Pao Su continues to study and she burns the arm of her general and then blows up rocks with her mind in front of him, causing him to bow before her superior powers. Joxer and Gabrielle make black powder.
Xena and Kao Sing do a lot of contemplating. Gabrielle comes and tells them the army is moving. Xena and Kao Sing walk through a bunch of tents or a village or something like that. Pao Su appears, all decked out and looking very majestic in the latest Chin fashions. She throws a brain bolt at Xena and Kao Sing, but they catch it and deflect the power. The three do a lot of talking. Every now and then Pao Su tosses a brain bolt and Xena and Kao Sing catch it.
Pao Su's army find Gabrielle and Joxer setting up black powder rockets and attack them. Gabrielle fights and once again Gabrielle does an excellent job. Pao Su's army starts sending rockets toward Xena and Kao Sing, but they don't flinch too much. Gabrielle and Joxer go and watch Xena.
More rockets land around Xena. Pao Su tosses more brain bolts. Xena and Kao Sing tell Pao Su about their vision, how Lao Ma loved them and had to protect them. Pao Su says she had a vision, too; she's supposed to follow in the footsteps of the Green Dragon. Xena pleads with Pao Su to stop hating and start loving, but Pao Su says she ain't having none of that. She tosses more brain bolts. Xena and Kao Sing toss some brain bolts of their own and Pao Su gets tossed backwards a good long way. Her army sends out its rockets and accidently blasts her and the rest of the town to little pieces. Gabrielle is looking a little anguished as she watches but Xena and Kao Sing walk out of the flames and then Gabrielle looks relieved.
Kao Sing tells Xena they are sisters and both are good legacies of Lao Ma. They all walk off through the rice fields.
This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.
This episode had the same problem that Debt II had; if you spend all your time talking about losing will, you're also talking about losing emotion. And without emotion on the screen, you don't have emotion in the viewers. Wake me in time for next week.
This episode opened just like The Debt - jumping up from sleep to find a messenger who hands over a cryptic missive from Lao Ma before dying. How many mysterious messages did Lao Ma send to Xena? Are they going to arrive every year? Will every messenger be signing up for a death march? Can Xena sue a dead person for stalking after four or five years of this?
Xena says she plans to keep Lao Ma's power this time, and says at the end that it can be called up at will. I sure hope that doesn't mean she's going to be turning into Serene Cardboard Woman and lobbing fireballs all over the show.
I liked the chakram scud! Grabbing the rocket in mid-flight and turning it around cracked me up with its craziness.
Not a good Gabrielle episode."Gabrielle, go disappear for a while. Stand around while the guests provide exposition. And whatever you do, don't let a warlord put a knife to your throat."
"How about tying me to a few kegs of gunpowder just to keep me in the story?"
"No, not that either."
A little Too Much Information about Joxer in the "Three feet in my pants" scene. (Although it was Gabrielle's best scene of the episode.) But now we know why he was so popular at Meg's brothel!
What on earth was that split-second shot of a curtain between the scenes when Xena and Kao Hsin decide to study in Ming's palace and when Gab and Joxer walk in the woods?
Watch Xena pull Gabrielle back before Joxer can test the black powder in the fire. Heh.
Apparently, the secret to Lao Ma's mind pyrotechnics is to be purely focused on something. Anything. Pao Tsu had purity of hatred, which was threatened by finding out her mother sacrificed for her. Never mind all that conquering yourself and losing desire stuff. What were Xena and Kao Hsin focused on?
The final fight between Pao Tsu and Xena -n- Kao Hsin was darned repetitive. Pao Tsu launches a fireball. Xena and Kao Hsin strike-a-pose to block it. Pao Tsu tries again. They block again. They did this seven times. Another one of Lao Ma's lessons must have been "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
I think Go Kun deliberately blew up Pao Tsu - he seemed to know what he was ordering when he told them to blow up Xena. He was probably hoping they all three would go sky-high.
Pao Tsu and Kao Hsin are VERY different twins in everything from stance to voice to, of course, actions. Kudos to that actress! Pao Tsu was light years more interesting than Kao Hsin, though.
Gabrielle's now doing standing flip kicks and over-the-head kicks! As Xena gets less and less acrobatic (although Xena did quite a lot of flipping in this episode, AND gets kicked right in the stomach), Gabrielle's getting moreso.
This commentary is by Beboman.
Well, guys, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall. Another good episode; a bit on the slow side for me, but, all in all quite entertaining.
Considering that this was a sort of "Gabrielle light" episode, (I have to admit, I really enjoy this new feisty, kick-booty Gabrielle) the characters were very well distributed throughout the show.
It was good going back to Chin. This time things are very different, but in a familiar way. The introduction to the show was very close to "Debt I", with someone bringing a message from Loa Ma. But again (and I hate to repeat myself) this is where the similarities end. The first time we hear about Chin, it was on a dark night, with Xena saying that she had to go to Chin to kill someone. This was right after Gabrielle had lied to Xena about killing Hope. This time, Gabrielle and Xena are sleeping, their two horses are together, and Joxer (their new traveling companion, better than Americe) is also there. It is very light, the sun is shining brightly. We know that something is wrong when Xena wakes up. At the same time, however, the atmosphere is not one of darkness, but is very light.
When we see the town, it is a relatively normal scene. We do not see the multiple heads stuck on spikes, creating a wall of horror and death, which was our first glance of Chin in "Debt I". Yes, as we get closer, we see the devastation of the fight. But it is still not the morbid scene from "Debt I".
Talking about fights. I love the new Gab fights. She is getting really good, and Xena, for a pregnant woman, still has her touch and style. Pregnant or not, Xena knows how to kick booty very well. She can really "open a can of whoop-a**".
What was interesting was that the travel to Chin was much shorter this time. We have to assume that they were on their way to Chin when the monk found Xena and her party. At least that is what Xena led us to believe when she left Yukut and the Northern Amazons.
Finding out that Loa Ma had twin daughters was a bit on the surprising side. We knew she had a son, but when did she get the twins, before Mieng Tien or after.
I have to give two thumbs up to Marie Matiko, the actress who played both Pao Tsu and K'ao Hsin, the twins. She did an excellent job. They were as different as night and day. It was an outstanding job. Of course, I love Pao Tsu better. She was a bit feistier.
I do have a question. Is it me or is Xena getting more intuitive and more in tune with her surroundings since she got pregnant? It was so delightful to see that she had Pao Tsu's number from the beginning. Xena sensed from the start that there was something weird about Pao Tsu. She appreciated her joining in the fighting, but still felt there was something more to this character. And once again Xena was right. Pao Tsu ended up being Loa Ma's bad seed. Well, her second bad seed. There was the Green Dragon first. So Xena set up Pao Tsu from the beginning, when she took a book from the monastery and had Joxer hide it in her saddlebags. That was some really great work.
The images of Xena's memory as she remembered Loa Ma were a bit on the backwards side, but they were Xena's memories and I'm not going to be the one who challenges them. I did, however, enjoy every one of them. Especially when they get to Loa Ma's castle and Xena picks up the scarf, smells it and the memories just rush out. When K'ao Hsin stood by the same window that Xena had stood by years before, when Loa Ma was trying to teach Xena how to use her mind as a weapon. Those images were outstanding. It was so great to see Xena standing where Loa Ma had once stood and trying to teach Loa Ma's daughter in the same way as Loa Ma had taught Xena.
It was very interesting to see how K'ao Hsin and Xena were gradually melting into one; at the same time, Pao Tsu was gradually culling the darkness out of what Lao Ma had written. This whole concept was very interesting. Loa Ma had three natural children and one surrogate daughter. Of the three natural children two had dark hearts and minds and one had a clear and pure soul. Her surrogate daughter, Xena, was once a dark mind, but with a pure soul. In the end, Xena's job was to destroy all the darkness from Loa Ma's teaching and open room for all that is pure and beautiful. So, the task of this surrogate daughter was to make small the Green Dragon and unite the Hawk and the Dove. It was so amazing when Xena realized she was the Hawk at the same time she realized it was all in the great plan Loa Ma had for the future.
I understand that finding ways to fight without hurting the pregnant hero are hard, but I think the "brain bolts" war between Pao Tsu, her sister, and Xena was a bit on the long side. But I guess it served its purpose.
Now, there were some moments that were just exceptional in this show: When Xena pulls Gabrielle back as Joxer is about to try his concoction was just delightful. Definitely when Gabrielle and Joxer are in the dungeon was outstanding. I could not stop laughing at that scene. It was so well performed. ROC did an excellent job. And this is where I stop. No one is going to make me go down the path regarding Joxer's commentary on the 3 feet in his pants.
Finally, when Gabrielle sees the figures of Xena and K'ao Hsin coming out of the flames, the sigh of relief on her face is absolutely precious. I also liked when Xena changes her custom and comes up to K'ao Hsin and says "So, what do you think?" That was just great. Yes, it is true: maternity is giving Xena a more rounded look at life. I love it.
I'm really enjoying what the writers are doing with the characters this season. I really hope they continue on this path. So far this has been a very enjoyable and "must watch" season. We have had the opportunity to revisit old places and see old faces under a totally new light. By doing so, they have been able to give Xena the latitude to be pregnant without losing her essence. It has also kept us, the audience, interested on the show.
This commentary is by John Wignall.
Purity - Pure what??
Okay, we got a nice secluded riverside at 'dawn' (looks more like midafternoon to me, but X&G seem to think it's early) The campfire is smouldering. (Smokey the bear ain't gonna like that) and Gabby is snoring worse than a certain friend of mine on one of these here lists. [grin] Suddenly, the soundtrack strikes a dramatic chord, and Xena sits up.
Her keenly honed warrior senses have realised that something is amiss. (Good things the girrlz wore their coats to sleep instead of using bedrolls) A Hare Krishna stumbles up, and Xena catches him and lays him down. Seems his tongue has been cut out. But Xena knows that he's a monk, and what monastery he's from. (See? Comparative religions is good for something!) So anyway, he's dead. (I would've thought that if someone bled to death after having their tongue cut out it'd get all over their clothes and stuff, not just a little smidge on their chin. Heck, I've had more blood than that from a nosebleed, but I guess the note couldn't be covered in blood.) Where was I? Oh yeah, the note.
"The Hawk and the Dove must be made one with the Wisdom"
Now I *know* I've seen this ep before. Lao Ma wrote the note, and Gabby brings up an important point. Lao Ma has been dead for years. Xena kinda brushes her off, but I got to wondering. Did Lao Ma leave behind a note for every eventuality? Do the monks in this temple have a list of possible calamities, with an index of which note to send Xena?
"Hmmm, Looks like an evil warlord has the secret to gunpowder, we gotta send Xena note 47-B. Hey you, in the red shirt, you're going on a trip."
So Xena gets to Chin in record time. (I guess that wherever it is they've been lately is somewhere near there) Joxer has popped up from somewhere. (Maybe he sleeps in a separate camp to give the ladies some privacy.) He'd rather just stop by Coles for the book, but Xena wants the rare first edition or some such. So they go to Chin, and apparently to just the right village in chin. Pity the place is such a dump, actually they're about an hour too late. The place has been trashed, but it's okay, the villagers got to the monastery. I guess Xena figured that out 'cause there were no bodies, but how she ruled out slavers I don't know. The place was pulverised by some weapon that Xena doesn't know about. What she does figure out is that they're after the special edition of Serene-chick's memoirs too. (Must be nice to sit in on those writer's meetings)
Suddenly the monastery on the hill gets hit by one of those Darth Vader catapults that Xena's army used in Past Imperfect at least I think it's the same stock footage, but it turns out that they're firing rockets made by the professor from Gilligan's Island. Like all his inventions, they're bizarrely effective. I wanna talk for just a sec about these things. As a kid I, like many people, tried my hand at making gunpowder, using sulphur, charcoal, and saltpetre. Mostly it just sizzles and spits a bit when you burn it, but if you pack it just right, you can get a bang. Now these guys have filled a bamboo tube about 10cm by 80 or 90 cm, and lit one end. Somehow this contraption not only flies, but flies straight, and when it impacts, has enough bang to take down a wall of truly immense proportions. With that amount of black powder, you'd be lucky to get a good sized soot stain on a wall like that. Blowing it up like they did would take a couple blocks of C4. Yeah, yeah, I know suspension of bullsh*t detection.
Standard stuntman charge, this time they're wearing quasi-Chinese armour. Xena jumps off a wall, and the fight scene is on!! Pretty good fight, they managed to film it in such a way that Xena's pregnancy wasn't distracting, and the bard was whupping some serious butt. Suddenly a Chinese girl jumps in, in a classic HK action move. She does the Kung Fu thing, not bothering with a weapon, and pretty soon the stuntees run away. Grasshopper here is the daughter of Lao Ma, and roll opening credits.
Sheesh, all that before the credits. This is gonna be a long one.
Okay, so the commercials end, and Joxer is really impressed with the hole in the wall. He babbles on about greek fire, which I guess is renpic's way of explaining the grenades that Gab and Keebler used in Chakram. Xena says this is something different. (No kidding, it's ancient Chinese C4!!) Grasshopper explains the plot, the warlord of the week has gunpowder, and is causing trouble. Xena figures that an army with rockets isn't nearly as dangerous as the special edition book. (Um ... sure) So she rushes in to get it. I was really impressed with the security on this thing, a pretty red ribbon ties shut the display case for this hideously powerful book. Naturally, it's gone. Much consternation all around, "We must find it" yadda yadda, and Gabs and Grasshopper leave. Xena grabs a book off a table, and gives it to Joxer, she want's him to hide it in her saddlebag for her. (Insert magic saddlebag joke here) You can tell this is Xena being clever, 'cause she won't tell Joxer why he's doing this.
Cut to Xena and Grasshopper playing junior woodchucks. They figure that the guy with the book ran off into the mountains. .Xena wants Gabby and Jox to go figure out what's in gunpowder, 'cause legend has it that a cook stumbled across the secret. Do I even need to comment on this concept?????? Oh, and they let us know that Grasshopper's name is Pow Sue. (I'm sure it's not spelled that way, but I really doubt that I could get the spelling right if I tried, so I'm going with what it sounds like to me.) X and Grasshopper ride off, after the book, and have a sensitive chat about Lao Ma. For a minute there, Grasshopper sounded like Hope, resenting her mother like that. They're being followed, but they're not much worried about it, so we cut to Jox and Gabby.
They're buying spices and herbs and stuff. Jox screws up Gabby's bargaining, but they seem to be suggesting that he knows what he's doing with the herbs. Maybe this writer didn't see In Sickness and in Hell.
Xena and Grasshopper send their horses away to confuse the person/people following them.
Joxer's back on silly hat duty, and he gets to play obnoxious tourist too. (Exotic local spices? I like the way they did that one.) He shows someone the powder sample, and almost gets the two of them lynched.
Xena and Grasshopper track the person who may have the book to a cave, which looks an awful lot like the cave from Crusader. They go in, and find some chick reading who looks just like Grasshopper. Turns out they're sisters. [Fade to commercial]
We figure out pretty soon that this isn't a happy family reunion. The sisters square off and start calling each other a bunch of nasty names, in a very civilised and oblique manner. Springer this ain't. Xena steps in, and takes the book. She puts it in her saddlebag, (See the clever bit coming?) and confronts Grasshopper. Seems that she's known all along that Grasshopper was in fact a “bad person”. The two of them fight. Nice fight scene for a one on one without special circumstances. It ends when Grasshopper tosses a ninja flash ball (I know ninja's are Japanese, but that's what it looked like) and grabs a book out of Xena's saddlebags. Yup, you got it. She grabbed the wrong book.
Grasshopper is having trouble with her military leader. Seems he's been having fun blowing things up, and doesn't much take to the idea of running around the countryside looking for reading material when he could be looting villages. (I gotta say I'm with him on this one)
Meanwhile, Xena and Grasshopper 2 (GH2 from now on) are having a little heart to heart. Was it just me or was GH2 coming on to the ole WP? Anyway, they figure they gotta deal with GH1, but they aren't sure how.
Back to Gabby and Joxer. They're in traditional Chin stocks, just like the door that Xena wore in the Debt, but theirs are fixed in place, and Joxer's getting water dripped on his head. (Chinese water torture, read up on it, it's fun.) Gabby gets an idea, and by sticking her foot in Joxer's pants, gets hold of some of that black powder. I gotta admit, I was a little confused by the "what is that" line. She was after all married to Perdicus for a night, one would think she knew where everything is. So anyway, she gets the powder, sets it off next to her head, and escapes.
Xena and GH2 are strolling through pleasant woods, when Xena flashes back to being chased by dogs. Time for the mother chat with this sister. It's all very sappy, and doesn't advance the plot at all. So anyway, they swing by Lao Ma's old place, which could really use a cleaning staff. They decide it'd be really cool to read the spooky book in this creepy old place. Or something like that.
Back to Jox and Gabby. They're wandering through the woods, having somehow evaded the guards who didn't notice the explosion in the cell. GH1 shows up and convinces them to go with her.
Back at Ma's place, they're quoting The Debt, and doing montages and stuff. (Personally I think they found Ma's stash of opium.) GH1 shows up and she's got Gabby and Joxer tied to piles of gunpowder, each with a little trail of gunpowder along the ground as a fuse. As we went to commercial, I couldn't help wondering how Bugs Bunny would handle this.
I did notice that Jox was quite urgently yelling 'Save Gabrielle, Save Gabrielle!" While Gabby just batted her big green eyes at Xena. GH2 comes out with the book, and hands it over. Naturally, GH1 drops the torch, lighting both gunpowder trails, and scarpers. So what does the brave, noble Xena do? She saves Gabby. Then as an afterthought, she tosses her chakram over and cut's Joxer's wrists free. Apparently this somehow allowed him to survive being blown up kinda like Wyle E. Coyote. (Although the effect reminded me more of the second Die Hard movie) When Xena helps Jox up her line isn't, "By Zeus are you alright?", or "Thanks for sacrificing yourself Jox" it's "You weren't high enough to see the top of my socks dummy". [sigh]
In the next scene, Gabby is using a mortar and pestle industriously, while Jox tries spices at random. Xe wanders in to get a snack, and picks up the one container he hasn’t tried. Gosh, I wonder if it could be useful? Jox says that no good cook would ever use the stuff (I still don’t understand when he became a good cook) Big flash of inspiration, and one more cartoon gag … presto, they’ve got the recipe for gunpowder by trial and error. (What’d that take, a day? Maybe they'll do cold fusion next.)
Back at Lao Ma's place, Xena is trying on a new maternity outfit. (She sure gets around) and GH2 is stressing. Cue the sensitive chat scene. They were really pushing the Debt parallels here. Between them Xena and GH2 figure out that they are the Hawk and Dove from the letter. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, can we get on with the butt kicking please?) GH1 in the meantime is catching up on her reading. Cut back and forth for a bit, with much babbling of ancient wisdom. GH2 has a breakthrough in her therapy, and GH1 learns to burn people by grabbing their arms, and to break rocks.
Jox and Gab, meanwhile, are having fun with explosives! (The whole family can play) They’ve figured out how to make pipe bombs, and even what a fuse is!
After the commercial, we see GH2 and Xena on a hill, just kinda chillin. Gab and Jox have lured GH1’s army away to watch the fireworks, and Xena is on some serious drugs or something. When was the last time you saw someone with that look in their eye? Xena and her buddy wander down into the camp to get some Doritos, and find GH1 playing dress-up. She musta snuck off for some therapy too, cause she’s lost her dependence issues. In celebration, she shoots some CGI at X & GH2. They catch it, with some moves they learned in synchronised swimming class. Back on the hill, G&J are setting up their fireworks when the army finds them. Gabby shows off her sais some more, and the General guy (did we ever get his name?) orders an airstrike on the WP. (If it was anyone else I’d have said it was overkill) Between the laser Floyd tribute, and the explosions, I’m betting the effects guys were pumped for weeks after this show. Joxer demonstrates the ancient art of Klutz Fu, dropping rockets into a fire to defeat the soldiers who come after him. The sidekick squad retreats, and we rejoin the effects spectacular. Xena is using a technique beloved of mothers throughout the ages, the guilt trip. I kept waiting for them to tell GH1 how long Serene Chick was in labour. They smack her with a quote from The Debt (and a couple balls of CGI) knocking her on top of a pile of gunpowder, which just then gets hit by a pair of the rockets her men are firing at Xena. (I just knew the targeting on those was screwy.) Big climactic bang, and the villain is no more. It’s okay tho. Xena and GH2 were beamed out of the blast zone. (apparently by Captain Janeway)
Wrap up scene, evil army in retreat, black powder destroyed, yadda yadda. Our heroes wander off into the sunset.
This one will never make my favourite ep list, but it had some good stuff in it. It's really just a set up for the next one though.
This commentary is by Philip Teo.
First of all, I am just wondering. How come Lao Ma's messengers always manage to track down Xena so easily? And why come up with all the cryptic messages? Then, how on earth did Xena and party arrive at Chin so soon? And why on earth did Xena leave the book back in Chin? In The Debt II ending, Gabrielle was saying they were going to guard the book with their lives, so why was the book back there?
Xena put up an impressive fight at the monastery, and for a pregnant woman, she certainly showed no signs of it, other than her bulging stomach. I was amazed that Xena could catch the missile in her hands and fling it back! Gabrielle fought well too.
I could tell from the start Xena didn't trust Pao Su. Why then would she convince the party the book was stolen when the book was with her all along? But I think Xena never expected Lao Ma to have a set of twin daughters.
The fight scene in the cave between Xena and Pao Su once again impressed me. For a pregnant woman, Xena fought pretty well. Marie Makito is very convincing as both the evil Pao Su and the soft-hearted Kao Sing.
I thought that it was rather ridiculous that Xena and Kao Sing could harness the powers as well as Pao Su did. If they could do it without the book, then why guard it in the first place? To prevent Pao Su from learning it? It didn't do her much good anyway. Pao Su didn't seem to know how to deflect their attacks. And how did Lao Ma predict the sibling rivalry between her own son and her daughters?
It was kind of a pity they couldn't get back Jacqueline Kim to guest star in the episode, thus they have to use footages from "The Debt" to let viewers see who Lao Ma was. It would have been nice to see her again.
WHERE HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?
So who was who in Purity?
Joxer was, of course, played by Ted Raimi. I won't go over Ted's *many* roles again, since I went through them at length not so long ago, when he appeared in If The Shoe Fits, but I have come across a couple of new projects of Ted's...
Ted apparently co-wrote and starred in a TV production called Iggy Vile M.D. this year... I'm afraid I don't know anything else about this project, other than the fact that Ted's co-writer was Dan Bell.
Also this year Ted apparently appeared in a comedy called Freak Talks About Sex. I'm afraid I don't know anything much about this one either.
And Ted will be appearing (as a doctor, it seems) in a horror / thriller movie called The Attic Expeditions, which is currently in production.
The special guest star of this episode was of course Marie Matiko in the dual roles of the sisters Pao Tsu and K'ao Hsin (and I'll frankly admit that I didn't even realise they were being played by the same person until I got to scrutinising the credits...)
Marie has never appeared in the Xenaverse before. If you thought you had seen her before (and I did think Pao Tsu looked familiar, even if I didn't realise she was the same person as K'ao Hsin) it was probably in the recent film The Corruptor (known as N.Y.P.D. 15 in Japan), starring Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg. Marie's role in this movie wasn't terribly inspiring - she played May, a prostitute who was protected by Chow Yun-Fat's cop character (or at least I believe so - I saw the movie, and thought it not too bad, but it was a while ago...)
The only other project I could find for Marie was the forthcoming action movie The Art of War, to star Anne Archer, Wesley Snipes and Donald Sutherland - no idea what role Marie is playing in this one.
The evil warlord Go Kun was played Andy Choi, for whom I was able to find no other credits.
But we have seen the vendor who had a run in with Joxer before... he was played by William Kwan, who previously appeared in The Debt as a soldier.
The ep was written by Jeff Vlaming, whose only previous venture into the Xenaverse was to write the whodunit ep Takes One To Know One. Jeff has written for Weird Science and Northern Exposure, and worked as a story editor on The X Files.
The ep's director was Mark Beesley, who previously directed A Necessary Evil and Maternal Instincts. Mark also directed the HTLJ eps Armageddon Now (both parts), Once Upon A Future King and Be Deviled.
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
11-13-00. Ted Raimi at DragonCon 2000 in Atlanta on July 1, 2000 stated that his most embarrassing moment on set was during filming of the 5th season China arc. He was sitting in a chair on a hillside drinking coffee. He slipped, fell down the hill, the chair rolled after him and hit him, and then the coffee came tumbling down and spilled on him. The entire crew came over, saw that he was okay, shrugged, and merely walked away and left him there.
11-13-00. In the June 2000 issue of Chakram, the newsletter of the Official Xena Fan Club, Robert Tapert was interviewed:Interviewer: Do you have a more personal investment in Xena because this was a character you always wanted to do - a character you helped invent?
Robert Tapert:Yes. I love the bloody show! And no one is more disappointed that this season, for example, the two China episodes, which I felt should have been great, were disasters. They were done during a time of transition of the staff of the show and we tried to shore up the second one, but it didn't work.
A pregnant Xena facing the decision that the only way she could protect herself is to kill 100,000 people is a great emotional moment. And nothing was made of it. That was the whole story. Xena saying, "Gabrielle, I can't kill all these people and bring somebody into this world and not have it affect my child." That was the story and it got lost and changed into things that didn't matter.
Interviewer:: I was stunned when there wasn't any discussion about turning the army into stone. I realize it was based on that story about the archeologists finding the buried stone army, but that's something Evil Xena would have done. Not the Xena of today.
Robert Tapert: I think if those two episodes had been better, it would have changed a lot. They were just two letdowns. "Back in the Bottle" was one of the weakest shows we've ever done.
It's what Lucy and Renee have said. Even when you're fighting, you need to find the heart of the scene that protects the love between the characters. And that didn't happen this season. We had that in the third and fourth seasons.
Interviewer:: Xena would never kill 100,000 people without blinking.
11-21-99. According to ET, Lucy Lawless was 6 months pregnant when she filmed PURITY and BACK IN THE BOTTLE.
10/07/99. Xena and Gabrielle go back to Chin to retrieve Lao Ma's book which will apparently help them in some way.
07/16/99. ET tonight in a segmant about Lucy Lawless' pregnancy, showed her shooting a scene where Xena was obviously causing pyrotechnics with only her mind. Xena's rediscovered her spiritual power from The Debt.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
These things are by Beth Gaynor.
The writers of this episode REALLY needed to study their Debt source a little closer. Major whups #1: Xena says the woods were where she first met Lao Ma. Never mind that whole "that's my piece of meat you're reaching for" and wee assassination attempt in Borias's camp. Major whups #2: Xena blisses out over Lao Ma's floaty-scarf, says that Lao Ma hid her, AND that Lao Ma died in Ming's palace. But the first two were in Lao's palace, not Ming's.
The set designer, on the other hand, had no such problems with staying true to the Debt. It was neat to see the same sets now with dust and debris scattered in them, especially when Xena and Kao Hsin stood where Xena and Lao Ma stood before in that silhouetted room in front of the bonsai tree. Nifty!
It looks like Pao Tsu got about five miles away in the two seconds between dropping the torch on the gunpowder and the explosion. Even before getting the book, she knew how to teleport.
MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
From Nusi Dekker. I was watching a PBS show last night called "Nova" and it was about explosions. I was just about to switch channels again when they started talking about the origin of "black powder". Seems it was invented in the 9th century by a couple of Chinese alchemists who were trying to make a potion for people to ingest to make them live longer. It exploded while they were cooking it. This, according to an ancient Chinese book containing various "recipes", dated from the 9th cent. The ingredients were: sulfur, saltpeter, and honey. The Xenaverse timeline has just been stretched a little longer, eh?
Click here to read a transcript of PURITY .
To obtain a copy of Joxer's recipe for Moo Shu Sauce and other Chinese delicacies visit your local bookstore or look for it at the tavern.
Marie Matiko Official Website