by Michelle Erica Green

Under the Sea

"Tsunami" Plot Summary:

A fortuneteller reads Gabrielle's palm and tells her that she's going on a voyage with a tall, dark, handsome stranger. She warns of great danger, but Xena is scornful, saying that it's not what's in your palm but what you do with your hands that makes your destiny. Gabrielle says great danger could apply to her life every single day, and the two go off to find lunch. While Xena shops, Gabrielle sees Autolycus being taken onto a prison barge. She follows him to find out what's happening and is taken hostage by the men when the boat sails. Hearing Gabrielle's screams, Xena flips onto the ship to rescue her.

Thaddeus, who has bought the prisoners to use as slaves in his mines, demands to know what the women are doing on his ship and suspects they're trying to free the prisoners. Xena realizes that Autolycus isn't really a slave, just trying to get into the mines to steal diamonds. While the prisoner Macon, a hardened criminal, makes jibes at Petrides, a scared kid, Gabrielle learns that Thaddeus' wife Soraya is pregnant but she hasn't told him because his mother died in childbirth, and he made her promise never to have children. A bump rocks the ship, and Xena tries to persuade Thaddeus to turn back - she sees ash in the distance and suspects that Mt. Aetna has erupted. Xena orders everyone below deck, but there's no time before a giant tidal wave comes towards the ship - she drags Gabrielle below, but most of the crew and prisoners are lost.

After the tsunami, the ship is upside down in the sea, with the air trapped inside. Xena knows the oxygen will run out shortly, and searches frantically for Gabrielle, whom she finds unconscious and seemingly wounded, but the blood isn't hers; it belongs to the wounded slave beside her. Autolycus is fine, Petrides is unharmed but panicked, the captain has a broken leg which Gabrielle sets, Macon is furious and wants to swim for it. He opens a door, disturbing the equilibrium of the boat, which begins to sink. Xena decides that they need to turn the rudder to maneuver the ship in hopes of finding a reef they can surface onto. She throws a spear into the steering column and they manage to make it move, but are trapped on some underwater rocks just above the abyss, surrounded by underwater geysers.

Macon announces that he will kill all the injured to protect his own air, but Xena stops him, trying to calm the panicked Petrides who shoots at Macon with a crossbow, succeeding only in knocking the ballast and sending the ship deeper into the chasm. Autolycus, whom Xena insists is a good man despite his thieving ways, tries to get drunk and discovers that his wineskin is empty. This gives Xena an idea: they can fill the bags with air and use them as oxygen masks of sorts while they ride to the surface in the currents from one of the geysers. Macon points out that they could be boiled alive or crushed, but it's their only chance.

Thaddeus doesn't believe that he can make it and tells Soraya to go on without him, taking his oxygen, but she insists that she's not so fragile that she needs his air and furthermore that she is going to bear his child. While Autolycus helps him to the surface, Gabrielle helps the unconscious prisoner, aided by Petrides, who admits that his terror of water stems from having seen his brother drown as a child. Xena tries to help Macon, but he loses his air bag and tries to take hers, fighting her underwater. She saves him anyway. When everyone makes it to land safely, he asks her why: he's a killer, what did she expect? She says she expected nothing from him, and nothing less from herself. Then she and Gabrielle walk off with their arms around each other to Autolycus, who has given Thaddeus back his jewels so he can hire some honest men to work in his mines.


If you liked Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure, The Abyss, or submarine disaster flicks, you probably liked this episode, which didn't really contribute much to the mythos of Xena, Gabrielle, or Autolycus, but didn't detract from them either. "Tsunami" was surprisingly slow-moving for an action episode, possibly because of the claustrophobic scenes trapped on the ship which were aided little by the predictable behavior of the prison-movie reject characters. Macon was thoroughly dislikable - introduced as a would-be-child-abuser, he went on to demonstrate not one single admirable quality - and Petrides never got interesting enough for his whining to be justified. Soraya was a stronger character, but spent too much time panicked over her husband for us to learn her interests besides her family.

There were some nice Xena/Gabrielle bonding moments - Xena's panic when rescuing her first on the ship and then after the tidal wave, Gabrielle's taking Xena's hand when Xena thought she was out of options - but nothing which will rock subtext fandom. And Autolycus was rather under-used. More humor might have made this episode float better.

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