Xena Loses The Most Important Women in Her Life
"Sacrifice II" Plot Summary:
As Hope finishes emerging from her cocoon, she calls Gabrielle "Mother." Xena attacks her but Hope uses mental powers to pull Xena's weapons away and hurl the knives and swords of Ares' temple at her. Xena wounds her with the chakram, momentarily freeing Seraphim and causing the roof to roof to drop on Callisto, but Hope turns the chakram on Xena . Callisto prepares to kill Xena and Gabrielle, but Hope says that Dahok has other things in mind, and has Callisto take her away in a burst of light instead. As she patches Seraphim's wounds, Xena is livid with Gabrielle for having stopping her attempt to kill Hope, even when Gabrielle explains that Ares told her Xena would die if she killed Hope; Xena informs Gabrielle that she would gladly have died to stop Hope's evil. She then comments on the irony of the fact that the face she loves most in the world and the one she most despises look the same.
Ares worships at a shrine to Dahok, saying he doesn't regret serving the deity if he will get rid of the old pantheon. He sees Xena fighting to save sacrifices from Dahok's priests and points out that she'll fight even when it's hopeless; Gabrielle asks him how he likes being a slave to Dahok, but Ares demurs that they have a partnership. Meanwhile, Callisto gives Hope the exact clothing and appearance of Gabrielle, but gets bored hearing about Dahok's plans for the world and asks Hope whether she can die yet. Hope says she still needs Callisto, and has the neophyte goddess take her to Ares' temple where Ares laughs about their being on the same side. Callisto gets disgusted and fights him until Hope stops her. The daughter of Dahok makes a pass at the god of war, and Callisto leaves in disgust.
Xena demands that Seraphim tell her what she knows, but Seraphim tries to kill herself by jumping over a cliff. Xena rescues her, but when she asks Gabrielle to pull her up by the vine she grabs, Callisto is waiting. Xena throws Seraphim over and leaps up herself as Gabrielle distracts Callisto. But Callisto hasn't come to fight: she is tired of doing Hope's bidding, waiting for her shot at oblivion, and wants to join forces with Xena in the hope that Xena knows where the knife with the hind's blood is, so that Xena can kill her instead. Xena says that if she wishes to die, Callisto deserves to live, because she doesn't ever deserve peace. But when Gabrielle points out that Xena is not thinking rationally - they have a much better chance of destroying hope with Callisto than without her - the warrior princess reluctantly agrees: if Callisto helps them, she'll kill her.
Meanwhile, Hope tries to remove the knife from the spot where Hercules hid it, but discovers that it's already missing. She meets up with Joxer, who mistakes her for Gabrielle and nearly confesses his love before Hope begins to wonder aloud why everyone loves Gabrielle, but Gabrielle couldn't love her own daughter enough to let her live. She enters the village where Xena and Gabrielle are fighting to free people from Dahok's priests, with the help of a gleeful, flame-shooting Callisto. Xena mistakes Hope for Gabrielle and nearly tells her where the knife is hidden before she realizes whom she's really dealing with after Hope announces that murder is the only solution. Hope threatens Xena, but Ares comes to take Hope to the temple for the bloodletting.
Joxer joins up with Xena, Gabrielle, and Callisto, but when he slows them down, Xena turns on him furiously, calls him a moron, and physically kicks him out of the group. Gabrielle is shocked by her behavior. That night, as Callisto speculates that it's the last full moon she or Xena will ever see, Xena goes for a walk and summons Ares, whom she feels watching her. Ares offers her a last chance to join him. But Xena has already guessed that Hope is pregnant with his child, which will be an incarnation of Dahok. Ares says that in fact it will be the first of six beings which will feed upon humans and overthrow the gods. Gabrielle wakes, overhearing, and is distressed, but the next morning, Hope appears to her and offers Gabrielle a last chance to be a mother to her. Gabrielle strokes Hope's cheek and says that she's sorry about the poison...sorry that it didn't finish her.
Xena asks Gabrielle to stay out of the temple so she doesn't interfere with what Xena has to do, even though Xena will die if she kills Hope, as Ares keeps reminding them both. Gabrielle insists on going with her, and Xena tells her friend that she is the best thing that ever happened to her. They enter the temple and fight their way past Dahok's priests. Xena tosses her chakram at the ceiling and brings down a brass plate that quenches the flame lit in honor of Dahok. Then she yells to Joxer, who has been taken there as a sacrifice, to give her the hind's blood knife, which he has hidden. He tosses it to her, and Ares dances around her trying to get it. Callisto hurls Ares out of the way, expecting Xena to kill Hope and then herself, but Hope slows Xena with her mental powers, turning the knife in Xena's hand upon Xena herself. The Fates prepare to cut her life string whether Xena kills herself or Hope, but Gabrielle hurls herself at Hope, pulling her daughter and herself into a deep pit of boiling lava. Xena and Ares both scream Gabrielle's name while Joxer looks over the side of the pit in a daze.
Callisto laughs aloud and announces that Gabrielle's sacrifice has given her life new meaning, but Xena whirls and stabs Callisto with the hind's blood knife, declaring that Callisto's life is over. Callisto caresses Xena's face as she falls, dying. The followers of Dahok are released. Ares vanishes, Joxer stares into the pit, Xena looks close to despair.
As cliffhangers go, this one was fantastic. I can't see how they're going to get Gabrielle out of this one...at least, not without getting Hope as well, and although I've despised the entire Hope storyline thus far, I've decided I want her to stick around because Renee O'Connor is more interesting as Hope than she is as Gabrielle. I wish the writers had thought of having Hope take on Gabrielle's appearance a lot sooner: not only does it create all sorts of interesting dramatic possibilities like having Xena and Joxer mistake the antichrist for their friend, but it creates an interesting contrast with simpering, all-loving Gabrielle.
I hate to have to say this, but Hope's more interesting. She's not a simple pawn for her father: she specifically tells Gabrielle that she knows she can make Dahok spare her mother's life, suggesting that she knows her father's will and doesn't always follow it. She also looked like she was having a very good time getting pregnant with Ares' infant of the apocalypse; his comment, "You are nothing like your mother," was quite amusing under the circumstances. I'm a little vague on the time frame for this episode, so Ares' role in general bears mention: on Hercules this week, he was helping Hera overthrow Zeus and trying to kill his own father, so it's disconcerting seeing him prostrate himself before a foreign deity. I wish the two series had stronger crossover ties than the hind's blood, because it would seem that a war on Olympus would create the perfect opportunity to take over: with a little more planning, both shows' season finales could have been interlinked, and spectacular.
This episode was exciting, but other than the very end, rather predictable. I am sorry to see Callisto gone, but I also think they'd exhausted her possibilities - other than rehabilitating her completely and having her found her own religion for truth, justice, and the American way, it's hard to imagine how they could have topped anything they've already tried with her character. It was nice to see Joxer come out a hero, and it's always fun to see what Ares will come up with. In a way, this was anticlimactic as a Xena episode: all the other characters experienced some major moment of growth, but she's in the same place she was at the start of the season.