A History of the Amazons
"Lifeblood" Plot Summary:
Gabrielle narrates the story of Eve's initiation and the Amazon nation's rebirth, explaining that bloodlust had perverted the history of the warrior women. Xena wants her daughter to be initiated so that she has a feeling of belonging - something Xena never had until she met Gabrielle. When they arrive at the Amazon village, however, they find a scene of devastation, and learn that both Amarys and Yakut have been killed in an attack by the Samites. Gabrielle reluctantly agrees to resume her role as Queen of the Amazons for the time being. While women dance by the pyres, Xena - who cannot be present at the initiation ceremony because she is not an Amazon - sees Yakut's spirit and follows the healer's summons to her hut.
As the Amazons prepare for a bloody initiation in which they plan to slaughter a horse in Eve's name, Xena learns that Yakut cannot enter the land of the dead until she completes her role on Earth. Yakut needs to remind the Amazons of their merciful history, but in order to do so, she needs a sacred dagger now lost in the Underworld. While Xena guides the spirit of her friend to the dagger, Gabrielle has a vision of the historical arrival of the Utma - a mysterious girl who appeared to be from the 20th century, yet who became the savior of the ancient Amazons by teaching them to domesticate horses. Although tribal leader Samsara didn't accept the Utma because Samsara wanted vengeance for her father's murder (and although the Utma herself fell in love with a wild man named Kor from an enemy tribe), the futuristic girl soon won the allegiance of the women through her selflessness. She bestowed upon then the name "Amazons."
When Yakut finds Samsara's dagger in the spirit realm, Xena risks her soul to draw it into the physical world. Then she uses it to give the present-day Amazons a vision of their own hidden history. Upon learning that the ancient Amazons chose peace over slaughter, current leader Cyane abandons her plans to attack the Samites, which would cost hundreds of Amazon lives and cause more grief. "How could we have strayed so far?" she wonders. Eve is made a princess by immersion in water instead of blood, establishing her as Gabrielle's heir among the Amazons. Afterwards, Xena sees the spirit of Yakut smile and float away. As Gabrielle narrates the Amazon legacy of might tempered with mercy, the warrior women dance, just as they did in the ancient time of Samsara and the Utma.
As one can see from the impressive guest cast list, "Lifeblood" was originally intended to be the premiere of Amazon High - a series which never got off the ground, but which featured many Xena regulars including Danielle Cormack (Ephiny) and Karl Urban (Caesar), plus Farscape's Claudia Black and Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane's Selma Blair. In the tradition of Star Trek's abortive pilot "The Cage," which became the great two-parter "The Menagerie," this episode took incongruous footage and made excellent use of it. I don't love the idea that the Amazons didn't bond until the arrival of a hip post-feminist chick in a tight sweater. But Blair was clever and charming, and the presence of Cormack and Black really made me think Amazon High might have been a terrific series.
Of course Amarys had to die since actress Jennifer Sky is off filming Cleopatra 2525, which is too bad because the prodigal Amazon daughter was a great character. Cleopatra is too violent for my tastes, and "Lifeblood" was extremely bloody as well, particularly in the flashback scenes, which is confusing considering the theme of choosing mercy over vengeance. Next week's Amazon episode looks to be a comic tale about Joxer sticking his nose and other body parts where they're not wanted, which will actually be a nice change.