|3.6 The Debt Part 1
1st Airdate: November 3rd, 1997
3.7 The Debt Part 2
1st Airdate: November 10th, 1997
Lao Ma ~ Jacqueline Kim
|Part 1 -This story takes back after the background events
of Destiny which give us some history on Xena. Destiny left us with a Xena
who had been double crossed by Julius Caeser. Her mentor had been killed
and Xena took to the path of death and destruction. A still crippled Xena
met up with Boralis in Japan and attempted to take over the Min Su and Mah
territories. After ruining several attempts at a peacefull agreement by
kidnapping Min Su's son, he turns Xena over to Min Su and he hunts her. She
is saved by Mah and taught to have self respect and honor. She is healed
and taught the philosophy of her mind powers. Xena never gets it and returns
to her former life. This story is told by Xena to Gabrielle on their way
to Japan again after receiving news that the Green Dragon has become too
big. Xena explains she owes too much to Mah and must kill the Green Dragon.
Gabrielle tries to persuade her otherwise, but she doesn't and stays behind
while Xena attempts to kill the Green Dragon, or in other words, Min Su's
son, the one she had kidnapped. Instead of finding him in his bed, she finds
Gabrielle, who went ahead to warn the Emperor so that Xena wouldn't do something
|"To conquer others is to have power. To conquer yourself
is to know the way" Lao Ma
Reviewed by Kelly and Tony
This is one of our favorite two-part episodes! It is philosophically, cinematically, and spiritually beautiful. In the eternal struggle of Xena to remedy her past wrongs, she often encounters morally challenging situations. Continuing the theme of the rift and betrayal in the third season, we see fierce loyalty to the people Xena loves, both to Gabrielle for her goodness, and to Lao Ma for showing her a better way to live her life. She must hurt one to fulfill the wishes of the other. When Gabrielle betrays her, she is deeply hurt that someone she loves so much could thwart her plans. Gabrielle is hurt that Xena would throw away three years of friendship to kill someone. Xena also realizes, though, that Gabrielle must be true to herself, and Xena wouldn't want her to be any other way. Gabrielle, on the other hand, does not accept Xena's past, or her method of righting past wrongs. We would have liked to have seen Gabrielle a little less naive at this point, especially after Gabrielle's encounter with Dahak. However, it is important to the continuing story that Xena and Gabrielle become further alienated with one another (otherwise, there wouldn't have been that other masterpiece, "The Bitter Suite").
We also see Xena come full circle through the mentoring of Lao Ma. She goes from completely remorseless, to trusting and caring about Lao Ma, to giving in to her atavistic nature, and finally realizing what Lao Ma's lesson was. The dualism of trust and betrayal, love and hate, peace and anger are extremely prominent in these two episodes.
Some things we especially think the viewer should watch for:
The "bathtub kiss" between Xena and Lao Ma. This scene, recreated from a Hong Kong action film, is the most gorgeous and erotic scene in the episode.
The floating scene. Captures the lightness Xena feels when she frees herself from anger.
Xena sneaking into the castle to assassinate Ming Tien. The light and shadows, empty cages, and tattered rice paper lamps blowing in the wind lend a true sense of suspense, loneliness, and sorrow to the scene.
Lao Ma's death. I just love the fact that she is stretched out on the Chinese character for wood, rather than the traditional Christian cross we often see. Also, the fact that she refuses to harm her son, no matter what evil he commits.
These are definitely two of the most pivotal and powerful episodes of the series. Two thumbs up from these critics!!!