Tuesday, May 10, 2016

31 Day Xena: Warrior Princess Challenge, Day 10: Favorite Episode

I cannot tell you how many times I have watched my favorite episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Seriously. And I'm not even going to hide it behind the break. "Hooves and Harlots" from Season One is amazing. You've got Amazons, a dude with a swirly beard (think even weirder than Wes Bentley's manscaped facial hair in The Hunger Games), war profiteering, centaurs, horse poop (I'm not kidding), and fights to the death. And Gabrielle is only kind of annoying!
Can you help me find this image's owner?
There is nothing about this episode that I do not love. Well, except for Lucy Lawless' makeup. They were going to natural, but that lipstick just looked terrible on her.

Ahem. Moving on.

"Hooves and Harlots" was actually when I started thinking, "Maybe this show is actually going to be really good." I loved the sisterhood between the Amazons and how much value they placed upon self-sacrifice, which was actually mirrored in the centaur community. Men and women are alike*! I mean, obviously, this was a play on how men (the centaurs) and women (the Amazons) are being played against each other for personal gain (um, capitalism??) when they are much stronger when they work together, but it's not presented as hamfistedly as that. It's not subtle, by any means, but at least it didn't have some sort of annoying after-school special feel to it.

The plot is pretty straight forward. They never hide the fact that Krykus, the above-mentioned guy with the unique goatee, is the real bad guy here, using the shared hatred of the hooves and harlots (this line is actually uttered in the episode, and it pleases me so) to gain more territory for his "empire." But they still don't paint either side as stupid; just blinded by their own prejudice. The real tension in the episode comes from whether or not Xena is going to be able to stop this seemingly inevitable war. Natch, she does because, who am I kidding, this is Xena: Warrior Princess. Herein lies its brilliance.

Then there's Gabrielle becoming an Amazon princess. That was not something I expected - Gabby had pretty much explicitly stated she was a pacifist and, at this point in the show, didn't have any real fighting skills - but it does reflect her selfless bravery that, in of itself, is a powerful virtue. In fact, it's enough to become royalty. What's so nice about this development, though, is that it isn't something that's swept under the rug. Gabrielle's rank within the Amazons is frequently brought back into the forefront of the show, sometimes for comedic purposes.

And, as a further plus for me, we first meet Ephiny!
Via Pixel 51
I love her so, so, so much. Trust me, you'll be seeing more of her later on this month.

Basically, if there's any episode of Xena: Warrior Princess to watch, it's this one. The CGI isn't that great, but if you are expecting anything more than what you get in this episode from 1995, you have no reason to be watching sci-fi/fantasy TV prior to, like, 2004. It's a good story, surprisingly good acting, and plenty of ass-kicking. Seriously. Do it now. It's on Netflix!

* I will note that we never see any centaur women in this episode, and as far as I know, in the entire series. I could be mistaken. And if my memory of Ancient Greek mythology is correct, centaurs were known for raping women, so ...
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