"The Haunting of Amphipolis" Plot Summary:
The Archangels Michael and Raphael watch Xena come home to Amphipolis with Gabrielle and Eve. In her mother's house, Xena finds only cobwebs, rotting floorboards, and unnatural cold, while Eve has a vision of Cyrene dragged in terror from her home. Xena's daughter believes her grandmother is dead; her tortured soul still haunts the house. In the family mausoleum, Xena finds Cyrene's horribly blackened bones left to rot, with a pictograph in the shape of a devil in their midst. An old man seeking shelter tells Xena her mother was burned as a witch after being driven mad by Mephistopheles.
Back at the house, Eve sees worms crawling in Gabrielle's fruit. When Gabrielle throws down an apple and runs away to vomit, she sees more worms devouring her skin until her hands look skeletal. Eve prays for protection in the name of Eli; the worms vanish from the floor and from Gabrielle's flesh. But the devil's pictograph appears on the ground, and a bloody hand drags Gabrielle through the symbol into an upper layer of Hell, where demons try to drown her.
Xena and Eve manage to save Gabrielle from Mephistopheles, who tells the bard he really wants the blood of Eve -- the Messenger of Eli. As Gabrielle washes off the burning waters of the underworld, a torrent of blood overwhelms her, leaving her possessed by the ruler of Hell. Gabrielle attacks Xena, saying that since Xena killed the Olympians, the time has come for Mephistopheles' reign to begin. The demon wants to be made flesh through the Messenger. Showing Xena a vision of Cyrene's execution, Mephistopheles assures the warrior princess in Gabrielle's voice that her mother will suffer forever unless her daughter's blood is spilled.
Eve drives the demon from the house again and again, but Xena knows he will keep returning, and the girl appears to be dying from her efforts. Xena tells Gabrielle that she must fight Mephistopheles for her daughter in the spirit realm. She teaches her friend how to undo the Touch she then uses on herself so she will be near death. In Hell, Xena fights Mephistopheles, who points out that she can't win -- she has no power against him in the spirit world, and if she manages to kill him in the flesh, she will have to take his place as ruler of Hell. Meanwhile, Eve is tortured by visions of herself as Livia and the thousands she killed. Because they died without absolution, they can never be at peace, trapped forever in limbo like Cyrene.
Once Gabrielle wakes Xena, the warrior realizes she must give Mephistopheles life in order to save the souls of her mother and daughter. "Destiny comes to pass in strange ways," says Eve, agreeing to deliver the demon into the only mortal hands capable of defeating him. When Eve cuts her hand to spill blood into the chasm, Mephistopheles appears in the flesh, and is quickly dispatched by Xena. For a moment Xena sees Cyrene happy with Eve, but Cyrene disappears into the afterlife, and smoke rises from the ground from the spot where Mephistopheles came out of the earth. "It's not over," Xena says grimly.
"The Haunting of Amphipolis" would have made an excellent Halloween episode, given the imagery of the haunted house, the thunderbolts, the crypt, the rotting bones, the putrefying flesh, the nasty horned demons, the hot warrior chick in the skimpy clothes. . .whoops. It's highly effective as an hour of horror, getting shrieks in all the right places for the maggots in the food, the hands popping out of the ground, the blood dripping in the shower, the slow, tortured exorcism. Kudos to the director for the wonderful scene where a decapitated man talks to Eve with his head held under his arm, and for the cool underwater battle in the green slime of Hell.
This is the most disgusting episode of Xena I can recall, even counting Gabrielle's diarrhea and Aphrodite's body odor from seasons past. Xena picks up her mother's charred bones. Gabrielle eats worms, then pukes them out. Eve prays amid a sea of pestilence that rises from the ground. Corpses grope Gab, whose crucifixion wounds reopen, covering her with blood that she then licks off. Eve slices open her own hand. Ewwwww! Mephistopheles wasn't even that scary next to all these gross images; hot horn-sprouting hunk Lucifer, who shows up next week, looks more dangerous.
How serious is this episode? Some scenes packed real power. Xena witnesses her mother sobbing over her brother's body, blaming Xena for his death, then screaming in the eternal suffering of the afterlife. Eve sees the mangled faces of children she murdered without a thought when she had no conscience. Xena and Gabrielle are joined at the arms and legs like Siamese twins, and must be painfully separated by Eve, though they work well together even with attached body parts; it's an interesting commentary on how close they are, yet at the same time a grotesque image of the unnatural merging of two women, which could be interpreted in a couple of tantalizing ways.
And then there's Eve, driving out evil in Eli's name. After Christ beats the Devil, what's left? Maybe -- hopefully -- we find out that this was shadow-play all along, like C.S Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Or maybe we find out that the Archangel Michael is the real thing, and Xena can harrow Hell. The Norse gods will seem boring by comparison.