Let the Circle Be Unbroken
"Chakram" Plot Summary:
Ares goes to visit Kal, a Middle Eastern god of war from whom Ares once stole the chakram of darkness. Kal wants to track down Xena, but Ares tells the other god that she isn't his to take. Kal taunts that Xena is teamed now with a sanctimonious stooge who actually raised the dead. Kal believes that this frightens Ares. The Greek god disappears and Kal summons Brother Caleb, a frightened monk. Caleb is sent into a nearby temple where an altar in the shape of the yin-yang symbol holds one chakram on the light side; the dark chakram is missing. Brother Caleb picks up the light chakram, but it begins to burn and sets him aflame. The chakram falls back into its place on the altar as the monk is incinerated.
Xena and Gabrielle are hiding in the refuge where Eli brought them after they returned from the dead. Joxer fetches food and Amarys returns Xena's broken chakram. Suprisingly, Xena doesn't know what it is, commenting that it looks sharp. She feels that has misplaced something, though she promises Gabrielle that they will always end up back together. The group goes to a local market to get new clothes for the women, but Kal's thugs attack them. Gabrielle and Amarys fight, but Xena has no memory of having been a warrior. Instead, she rescues her friends behind a gate. One of the soldiers shouts, "Kal will have you!"
Back at their hideout, Xena tells Eli that she can't remember anything about violence. She doesn't know who Caesar is nor can she recall Alti or Callisto. "She's lost her fire," laments Gabrielle, while Amarys snaps, "She's lost her marbles." Eli fears that he made a mistake in bringing her back. That's when Joxer remembers the name of Kal and Eli recognizes it as the name of a god of war. The group quickly flees, with Ares following at a discreet distance. Kal's guards pursue them as well.
Eli recommends that they find his friend Caleb, a scholar that he studied scripture. While they walk, Joxer tells Eli that he wants to tell Gabrielle he loves her before he loses her again. "Do you have a poem or a parable?" the would-be-warrior asks. Eli advises him to keep it simple. "Love is the most powerful force on Earth," says the Avatar. Xena and Gabrielle walk ahead and the warrior princess questions her friend, trying to understand how she could have been a killer. Amarys grows angry at Xena's passivity and chooses to go hunting. Xena follows to demonstrate that she still has skills as a tracker.
Gabrielle goes to Eli, telling him that she now knows the way of love is not for her. She apologizes, but Eli says he understands. Gabrielle observes the irony that Xena has become everything she always wanted her friend to be - peaceful, innocent - but without her dark side, she is lost and off-balance. "My path is with Xena, helping her however I can. I'll do whatever I have to do to protect her," adds Gabrielle.
Xena finds Amarys, only to learn that she's a prisoner of Kal's men. The former Amazon fights well but cannot hold off an entire army of thugs. Xena refuses to participate in the violence until Amarys is faced with death at knifepoint. Stepping in the way of the blade, Xena agrees to go with Kal if he will spare Amarys. The god of war knocks the girl unconscious, so that Gabrielle and the others find her later. Gabrielle tracks the soldiers' footprints to follow Xena while Ares watches from a distance.
Kal snears at Xena's innocence, saying that the last pure soul he encountered is now dead. Ares arrives to free Xena and fight his rival. While the gods hurl axes and lightning bolts at each another, Xena discovers a chakram embedded in the wall and has flashbacks of having used such a weapon. Horrified, she flees, encountering her friends who have stopped to watch the pyrotechnics display within Kal's temple. The group rushes to Caleb's home, but when they cannot find the monk, Xena realizes that he must be the dead pure soul of whom Kal spoke. Eli settles in to read Caleb's scrolls, hoping to find the reason that for his friend's sacrefice.
Joxer stands guard as Xena gets into the bath, but overcomes his embarrassment at her nudity to ask her how he should tell Gabrielle of his love. "Flowers? Gifts?" he inquires, but Xena says those are all gifts with strings attached and expectations. "Just tell her. Don't worry about her response," comes the reply. When Joxer leaves the room, Xena snickers, "Or you could just kiss the girl." Ares pops in, announcing that that's an interesting offer, but Xena doesn't remember him. The god of war gives her a massage, enjoying the experience of her when she's free from old wounds and grudges. He also enjoys the view when Xena stands up naked to talk to him. Reiterating his old line that together they are destined to bring order to the world, Ares tries to kiss his former protegee. In a rage. Gabrielle interrupts and the war god vanishes.
While Joxer and Amarys puzzle over why two gods of war have become so interested in an innocent Xena, Eli comes in to tell them what he has learned from the scrolls. A nearby temple holds the chakram of light, one of the few objects on Earth with the power to kill a god. Only a pure soul can remove the chakram from the altar; someone as innocent as Xena is now. The warrior princess wants nothing to do with this struggle between the gods, but her friends convince her that only she can stop them from controlling the world. Perhaps in the process, she'll regain her memories as well.
Ares overhears the conversation and reports to Kal. They agree on a truce so they can work together to get the chakram of light from Xena. Holding her broken chakram, Xena prays to whatever power brought her back to life, begging for a sign that she is doing the right thing. Just then Gabrielle comes outside and tells her friend that one has to know the darkest part of oneself to be whole. She reminds Xena that in her present state, she can't defend her own best aspects, let alone help others.
In the morning, Amarys and Gabrielle storm the temple, throwing bombs and killing Kal's soldiers so that Xena can race into the building. Walking past the dead bodies on the floor, she goes to the altar, where she lifts the chakram of light out of the yin-yang carving. Outside, Kal and Ares have pinned down Xena's friends. She prepares to throw the chakram to kill the gods, but finds that she can't. "I can't kill," he laments. Eli pulls her into the temple as Amarys retrieves the weapon. With the army battering the doors, Joxer decides to tell Gabrielle he loves her before it's too late once again. She only has time to gape before Ares shouts a deal through the door. The gods of war only want the chakram. They will let Xena and her friends leave unharmed if she gives it to them.
Eli tells Xena that the offer is a trap. Thousands will suffer if she gives Ares the power to kill gods. But he says that there is a way to save everyone. If the chakrams of light and darkness are joined together, their power will balance one another and the weapon will be of no use to Ares or Kal. When Xena's broken chakram is placed upon the altar opposite the chakram of light, its broken halves are fused together. By this point the soldiers have broken down the doors. Kal fights Gabrielle while Ares starts to beat up Eli, but finds that he can't. The god of war stares in surprise and something akin to fear at the Avatar. When Xena sees Kal raise a weapon to kill Gabrielle, she takes the chakram of light from the altar and cuts Kal, who explodes and turns to dust.
The warrior princess is horrified, but Ares reassures her that it wasn't her fault. "Give me the chakram; let's make the killing stop," he suggests. But Xena grabs her old chakram from the altar, pressing the two circles together over her head, where they fuse into a single object with a central handle. As this transformation occurs, Xena regains her memories, flipping as she lets out her trademark whoop. The new chakram can be split in two, allowing Xena to save both Gabrielle and Amarys, about whom Joxer is concerned.
The remaining god of war asks Xena why she balanced the power of the chakrams. "No one deserves that kind of power," she replies. "Smart move. It brought you back," says Ares, almost approvingly. "With a vengeance," warns the warrior princess. Later, at Caleb's former home, Gabrielle says farewell to Eli, who has chosen to stay and study the monk's scriptures. "Compared to life with you, anything is dull," he tells Xena. Joxer tells Gabrielle she doesn't have to respond to his declaration of love: "I just wanted you to know."
The three and Amarys begin the trek back to Greece. Xena thanks Gabrielle for returning her to her "rotten old self," telling her friend that when she asked for a sign, Gabrielle appeared. She knew that meant they were doing the right thing. "Timing is everything," Gabrielle observes with some sarcasm.
It's a bird...it's a plane...it's SUPER-CHAKRAM!
Sorry, but with that big "s" handle in the middle, that's all I'm ever going to be able to think when Xena whips out her new weapon. Well, that and that the producers figured they'd sold all the $300 replicas of her old chakram they could, and needed a new one to market. It's gimmicky, but that doesn't really bother me. The warping of the yin-yang symbol as a chakram altar seemed a lot stranger, as did Gabrielle's sudden and mysterious ability to use all the weapons of violence she has spent years denouncing. Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to see her fighting rather than playing the passive princess Xena has had to defend in the past. I had a moment of worry when she told Eli that her place was at Xena's side helping her, which would drive me bananas if she were sidekick to a man and isn't much better with a woman. Yet Gabrielle had a very dark night of the soul the first time she ever had to kill anyone, and has abhorred violence for so long, that to see her sticking large knives into Kal's trained soldiers is rather disconcerting.
It appears that Amarys will be sticking around for awhile, which is nice for a number of reasons. For one, now that Joxer has gotten his declaration of love for Gabrielle out of the way (insert chorus of Michael Bolton song of your choice), I'm hoping Joxer can get over the bard and fall for someone more available. I have no idea whether Amarys IS available, but I wouldn't object if she fell for him. She met a different Joxer than the bumbling fool who first showed up on this series. It would be logical and rather sweet if the two of them got together, and there seems to be both chemistry and the beginnings of concern on both sides. I also like seeing a character who can talk back to Xena without seeming like an obnoxious brat or a suicidal maniac. She has a Fairuza Balk sort of tough-chick look and does a convincing impression of kicking butt. Although we don't know much about what she's about and I miss her Amazon dedication, there's definite potential for good recurring interaction.
I'm more bummed that Eli will apparently be leaving. Hopefully, that's only temporary. I admit that I'm fascinated by the twilight of the gods storyline. Ares is fascinating to watch in this episode, concerned about fellow war god Kal, but a lot more worried about this mysterious new power wielded by Eli. The avatar seems even stronger than Dahok (who thankfully appears to be gone forever). I've never before wondered about how the gods of Greece and Rome would have felt - had they been real - about the coming of Jesus and the gradual death of the ancient religions. Ares apparently sees Eli as a form of creeping imperialistic do-good-ism, something he's powerless against. It's rather hilarious!
So Xena's back, not yet pregnant from the looks of things--and didn't we get a good look at her in the tub! (My husband made a note of the counter number on the VCR.) Lovely that when Xena can't recall who or what she is, she can still remember that she and Gabrielle are destined to be together forever. It should be a wonderful sentiment, so why does it keep resembling a ball and chain?