The Last of Xena
All good things must come to an end. That means television’s Xena: Warrior Princess series couldn’t go on forever -- a difficult fact for Xena’s fans to accept. After becoming a fan myself, thanks to DVD technology, I understand their dismay. And I agree with those who were unhappy with the way the last season concluded. Although Xena: Warrior Princess – Season Six contains the usual excitement and thrills in numerous episodes, it left me a bit depressed and disappointed.
Nevertheless, the Season Six Deluxe Collector’s Edition 10-disc set is worth having for its entertaining adventures leading up to Xena’s dramatic curtain call. In this final season, Xena (Lucy Lawless) battles with the likes of Mephistopheles, Lucifer, Caligula, Odin, Julius Caesar, the Norse Valkyries, cannibals and her own demons as she tries to make up for her dark past and save her pal Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) as well as her daughter Eve/Livia (Adrienne Wilkinson). And Xena’s complicated relationship with Ares (Kevin Smith) provides a few delightful surprises.
Three episodes making up “The Ring Trilogy” emerge as the most ambitious and visually stunning exploits of the final season. The sight of Xena as one of the Valkyries, those beautiful Norse goddesses mounted on horses galloping across the sky, is something to behold. Her fights with Grindl, a monster she’s responsible for creating, are also quite amazing. And guess who makes an appearance in this trilogy? Beowulf! Don’t you love the way this series mixed myths and gods from different times and places?
“The Abyss,” the most frightening of these 22 episodes, had me on the edge of my seat until I breathed a sigh of relief as Xena rescued Gabrielle from a group of beastly cannibals. Unfortunately, I suffered with some gory nightmares after watching that episode.
On the lighter side, Michael Hurst evokes laughter as an investigative TV reporter in “You Are There,” an amusing romp showing Xena and Gabrielle reacting pricelessly to questions about their “special” relationship.
The disturbing “A Friend in Need” ends the season and the series. Although Xena’s selfless sacrifice to save countless innocent souls seems appropriate -- considering her long journey to redemption -- it’s tough to take. But I’m trying to deal with it.
Regarding the DVD bonus features, I wish Lawless and O’Connor appeared in more interviews here. However, it’s fun listening to producers, directors, writers, costumers and special effects people discuss their experiences working on Xena: Warrior Princess. This 10-disc collector’s set contains a lot of extras -- actually more than any other Xena box set. In addition to the interviews, the other items are: audio commentary by Lawless, O’Connor, Rob Tapert and Joel Metzger; five featurettes (“To Helicon and Back” dailies, “Bringing Monsters to Life,” “Xena Live -- Fan Convention,” “In the Beginning,” and “A Fond Farewell”); alternate director’s cut of “A Friend in Need;” the Season One promo; an extensive library of deleted and alternate scenes plus bloopers; production drawings; a photo gallery; and a CD-Rom with series trivia, biographies, original sketches and chronicles.
(Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment. For more information, visit www.xenacatalog.com.)