Rome, Ares, and Xena All Try To Claim Livia
"Eve" Plot Summary:
Virgil and Joxer promise to help Xena find Eve, but Xena says they're tracking Livia, champion of Rome; she's not sure her daughter exists anymore. Gabrielle swears Eve will find herself with Xena's help. In a nearby village, Livia inspects her bloody sword with satisfaction as her soldiers crucify followers of Eli. "Don't forget to turn the other cheek," mocks Livia. A local man compares her to Callisto, which pleases Livia, though she says she's not Callisto. By the time Xena and her group arrive, virtually everyone in the village has been crucified. "Rome needs no mother," Eve has written in blood.
Ares appears and gloats about his new protegee's skills, then gets angry at Xena's contempt and warns her that if she doesn't give him what he wants, he'll bring all of Olympus down on Eve's head. Xena says the thought of having Ares' child sickens her. Ares goes to Livia, reminding her of their arrangement - he'll protect her as long as she'll destroy the cult of Eli. Livia asks whether he's afraid of the Twilight, and Ares replies that nothing has happened thus far that wasn't triggered by the gods' own fears. "Reclaim your destiny, Livia: kill Xena," says Ares.
When Livia's men attack another village, Xena, Gabrielle and Virgil fight while the aged Joxer tries to stay out of the action, but is taken hostage by Livia. Xena fights for her old friend as Ares watches. "She's all that stands between you and Rome," he advises Livia. Xena asks her daughter to listen to her heart, but Livia continues to fight, so Xena hurls her away to defend herself. A man traps Livia and is about to execute her, but Xena stops him. Then Livia calls in archers who slaughter the people of the village as she rides away. "Why did you stop me? She murdered my wife! What about the next family she butchers, and the next? Their blood is on your hands now!" the man tells Xena. Ares asks Xena how it feels to know that the person she loves despises her.
While Ares tells Livia he will make her Empress of Rome, Gabrielle tells Xena she was getting through to Eve. Virgil looks unsurprised when Joxer admits that it was Xena who was the hero, not himself. After Xena rides to the next town to beat Livia, Gabrielle wakes Virgil, telling the boy she has something she must do to stop Xena from doing something she would never forgive herself for. Soon after, a centurion tells Livia they have captured a prisoner. "Auntie Gabrielle, welcome," sneers Livia, who thinks Xena is as stupid as she is sentimental for saving her baby daughter from the gods. Since Livia fears Xena hasn't been "properly motivated" to fight to the death, she pulls a knife on Gabrielle.
The next morning, Joxer sees his onetime love bound for slaughter by the Romans. Disguising himself as a guard, he interrupts the execution. Just then Xena rides in. "Oh good, Mom's here. This will be much more effective with an audience," says Livia. Xena plans to chakram Gabrielle free but Joxer gets in the way, falling on Livia's knife as he tries to rescue Gabrielle. Xena tells Virgil she can't help his father, and Joxer dies. Virgil says his father's fight is now his own, and asks whether this is what it means to follow Eli. Ares appears, to announce that Virgil is one angry guy, and to remind Xena that Joxer is dead because Xena refused to give herself to Ares. "If I sicken your soul, stopping Livia will kill it," he warns.
Gabrielle says she talked to Livia, whom Xena is surprised Gabrielle doesn't refer to as "Eve." Gabrielle claims that Eve is dead: "She's not your daughter anymore, Xena, she's Rome's." Xena goes into an open field, where she prays to Eli. "I'm having a little trouble understanding your message. You told me to fight my enemies with compassion instead of the sword...well, now I find I have to kill my own daughter. Is this what you meant when you said I must love my enemy? Show me another way! Where is your infinite love?" The beautiful, clear sky is silent.
Livia brings an army to a temple where she finds Eli's followers at prayer. "Good, the sheep are all here. You think Eli's going to save you?" she demands. Throwing off a prayer robe, Xena stands, promising that she's finished with "excruciating mother-daughter platitudes." Eve is dead; her mother plans to avenge her. Ares pops in to watch the ensuing fight, in which Livia catches Xena's chakram and each woman ends up with half.
When Livia's soldiers step forward, the other "followers" throw off their robes to reveal a Roman garrison. Xena tells Livia that they're soldiers sent by Augustus to stop Livia from taking his throne. Ultimately Xena gets her half of the chakram to Livia's throat. "Come on, Mother, do it," the girl demands. But as Xena hesitates, Livia grabs her throat, telling her mother that she is weak. "I love you," Xena whispers, calling upon Eli as Virgil makes his first kill.
Light flows into room over Livia and Xena. They see visions of Callisto with Michael, then touching Xena's belly. They witness Xena giving birth to Eve, nursing her, and saving her from the gods. "What have I done?" asks Livia, dropping her half of the chakram. Virgil launches himself forward to kill Livia, but Xena stops him, following her daughter out of the temple. When Gabrielle races out after her, Xena says, "I think Eli's followers got their miracle." Her friend asks what Livia said to her. "She said her name was Eve," smiles Xena.
Well, that was fast. I mean, it's nice to see the mother/daughter reconciliation and all, but considering that Livia's been murdering and pillaging for her entire adult life, this series could have generated a lot more drama by having her continue her wrongful ways a bit longer before her conversion. That would have meant more pain-in-the-butt makeup jobs for Ted Raimi, who was extremely convincing as an older Joxer and whose death was very moving, but it would have been worth it to see Xena's own conversion come about more realistically.
Look, I like Eli, but watching Xena pray to him was a little much for me. His message is more overtly Christian than before; Livia's mocking quotations are pretty direct quotes from the New Testament. When he first appeared, Eli was a charlatan magician who believed in the power of love, and it was fascinating to watch how his gift as a faith healer transformed him. Moreover, it was fascinating to watch how his message of love transformed Rome. Now that the Archangel Michael and Angel Callisto pop up at every crisis, that message has lost some of its power. Eli's just another run of the mill Jesus-clone messiah. I was hoping Xena would learn that his mother Mary was the real miracle worker, or something.
Ares turned into a complete bastard this episode (hey, it's Xena's word, not mine). It wasn't entirely out of character, but it wasn't entirely convincing either - surely he knows that threats aren't the way to Xena's heart by now, and his pathetic protestations of love sound entirely phony. It'll be interesting to see whether he survives next week's twilight of the gods, and whether anyone mourns his passing.