The Debt 3.6 The Debt Part 1
1st Airdate:
November 3rd, 1997
3.7 The Debt Part 2

1st Airdate:
November 10th, 1997
Writer:
Guest Appearances:
Lao Ma ~ Jacqueline Kim

Summary

Review

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 stupid.

Part 2
As Xena lie prisoner in the dungeons of the Green Dragon, she is told by another prisoner that Mahlin was killed by the Green Dragon, her son! Xena remembers all that she taught her and remembers how close she was then to turning sides. Gabrielle tries to get thru to Xena, but first she is sentenced to death. The two are reunited and they do make up for Gabrielles deception. As she is taken to the executioner, Xena recalls the words of Mahlin about inner peace. As she is tied down, she breaks free, uses some Xena moves to knock out the executioner, then uses her mind powers to destroy the temple. She then confronts the Green Dragon about the death of his mother and she is given a gift from Mahlin. Gabrielle takes Xena from the temple, but not before the camera zooms to the Green Dragon's head showing it stabbed by the hairpiece Mah left for her, unbeknownst to Gabby.

"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!!!