Tale of Two Muses 4.6 Tale of Two Muses
1st Airdate:
November 8th, 1998
Writer: Robert Tapert & R.J. Stewart
Director: Michael Hurst
Guest Appearances:
Autolycus/Philapon ~ Bruce Campbell
Tara ~ Shiri Appleby

Summary

Review

• The desert lays the background as Xena, Gabrielle and Argo journey on. After realizing both Argo and Gabrielle have worn their shoes out and need new ones, Xena decides to stop off at the next village to get reshoed.

• In a secluded area, Tara starts to dance gracefully to the crowds, until the Chief Magistrate Estefan shows up. Everyone runs, but Tara is caught, and will be punished to engaging in the one ritual that the Goddess Calliope has forbidden in this village, dancing.

• Xena and Gabrielle show up as Tara is tied to post about to be whipped. Unknown to them who is being whipped, Xena interferes. After realizing it's Tara and then that the 'big crime' was dancing, Xena fights off the villagers to protect Tara. The Magistrate exiles Tara from the village as her punishment instead.

• After reaching the outskirts of the village, Tara thanks them for their help and starts to head back. Xena & Gab stop her, but then decide to join her on her mission because she intends to free her friends from this tyrant Estefan.

• Tara is allowed to return if she learns the err of her ways and apologizes as her friend Tomel suggests to the Magistrate. Xena uses a 'toilet' refreshingly as Gabrielle expresses the need to dance simply because it isn't allowed. The next day Gabrielle gets her shoes resoled, but has to wear this proposterous shoes in the meantime.

• Xena's plan goes into action as she fills the town with rumors of Philopon the Refromer's arrival. When he does arrive, it's none other than Autolycus impersonating Philopon as per Xena's plan. Philopon begins by sermoning to the people about the glory of Calliope and how everything even remotely close to dancing is EVIL! Everyone is swept up in the gospel but Tomal.

• Later, Tara dances with the shadow from a light, but then is joined by Tomal's son, Andros, and they dance very well together. Andros tells Tara that he is leaving this place just like his brother did. Tara goes with him, but is stopped by Xena, who tells them that running from a problem won't help the people of this village.

• Xena's second part of the plan kicks into action when Philopon suggests that Xena teach the children discipline and focus through fighting skills taught by Xena.  Again Tomal is unhappy with this talk. Xena teaches the kids battle skills, but then turns the stances into choreography, or in other words, dancing.

• The next day when Xena is asked how the kids are progressing, she answers very well. Tomal speaks up and says that their kids shouldn't be taking up fighting instead of dancing. He plans to go into the election for Magistrate against Estefan. Estefan has a plan though. He attemps to kill Philopon in order to show that his way is correct, but Xena saves Philopon and she proves that Likiness, Estefan's bodyguard, was the assassin.

• Xena then calls out the kids who march out and follow a well choreographed dance number. Estefan has Likiness and his soldiers attack, but after Philopon joins Xena, they fend them off very easily. The scene ends with the villagers joining in dancing!

This is the first in a series of posts that will rate the episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess starting with the fourth season. Each episode will be graded on an A, B, C, D, or F scale. An example of an "A" story would be One Against an Army or A Day in the Life. An example of an "F" episode would be The Titans or A Tale of Two Muses.

Matt's Review: A Tale of Bad Writing

Grade: F+

Synopsis:

Xena and Gabrielle save a town from a restrictive dance ordinance with the help of Autolycus and Tara.

Continuity Errors:

Gabrielle has developed dancing skills (see Hooves and Harlots), which contradict earlier statements and demonstrations. Xena interupts local justice without reason, jumping head first into a public punishment. Tara has changed too dramatically since Forgiven. No mention was made of why Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo are traveling through the desert so far from Greece. Some of the editing during the final dance number was very shoddy, with cuts made very quickly (i.e. Xena standing alone and then surrounded by dancers.)

Review:

I expected better from Michael Hurst. A Day in the Life was excellent, but this episode was clearly a bottle show designed to save money. The desert backdrops in most of the scenes were painfully obvious, and the lighting was artificial and didn't simulate sunlight to a natural degree. Both Xena and Gabrielle were out of character. What was with the dancing urges? The steel toed boots were awful. Would Xena really lead a dance troupe of kids? She clearly has an aversion to children (see "A Solstice Carol"), however this could have mellowed since the death of her son. There was absolutly no plot in this episode. The cliffhangers between commercials were atrocious. The plot (what little there was) was completely predictable. The only redeeming quality of this episode was the inclusion of one very good song.  However, no credit was given to the singer. We can only hope it was our Lucy. Autolycus was totally unnecassary to the story. His firebrand preacher impersonation got old quick.

This has to be the worst episode of Xena's four seasons to date.

Quote of the ep:
"Save a piece for me!" Gabrielle out of character.

Chakram throws:
Zero

Argo present:
Yes, but only at the very beginning. Then she disappears as usual.