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Ryan

Thought this was a really good episode. I don't know how to explain it, but it really felt like a "season ender." I can't wait for Part 2!

Loved Ares small part in the beginning, and the goodbye scene was very nicely done. Although these are the Shipper Seasons I think that its awesome that this episode dealt with Xena and Gabrielle specifically. Its really interesting to see Xena being so protective of Gabrielle, and even having Darion drag Gabrielle out of the way of danger. This episode really made Darion seem a lot older, which is pretty amazing considering we can only show is growth through dialogue and description and not through an actual actor growing up.

Absolutely loved when Xena told John about Bar-Giora pretending to be worshipers and attacking, then John criticizing how only an "outsider" would desecrate a temple like that taking an obvious hit at Xena. Then when she proved to be right, although it would have been out of character, I would have loved for Xena to mutter "I told you so."

Gabrielle's eagerness to stay and fight, despite being pregnant, was very noble of her. But I thought it was so intriguing to see Xena with her "haul @#%$ out of here" plan. Despite everything that has changed, its good to see that Xena is still willing to risk everything for Gabrielle. I think she is willing to do whatever she has to in order to make sure that Gabrielle and her child have the life they deserve, and thats really admirable. Obviously though, they can't get out of the sticky situation that easily.

It was great to see Sabina back once again. Its nice to have her character used sparingly throughout the season just because it is so good to see her show up. Its really interesting to look back and see how much her character has changed, and that now she is fighting with the Romans. Can't wait to see her and Xena's reunion.

Very interesting twist at the end. Josephus, who was already declared dead, shows up and it looks to be that he is siding with the Romans. Very interested to see how this plays out. I mean they said he ordered his men to kill themselves and it was presumed that he did the same. However, did his men kill themselves on his order and did he just join the Romans? It also made the scene where he was reading the scroll from The Price make a lot more sense. I was a bit confused at first at why that was there, but maybe it was to show the whole "in war there are no good choices -- only lesser degrees of evil" and this kind of helped persuade him to flip sides? I guess we will have to see.

Just wanted to congratulate LK and Sais on a fantastic story. I am so excited to see Part 2. Also looks like toxic64 was listed as a co-writer so excellent job on whatever additions you made to the episode. It turned out really nicely. Way to go guys!

And Aurora, once again fantastic job on the images. You keep amazing me! Even just simple things like the opening sunset picture and the disclaimer added so much to the episode. Loved that you gave the three main guys (Josephus, John, and Bar-Giora) pictures to help distinguish there characters. That really helped a lot. My favorite would have to be Xena and Ares on the dock with the dark skies and a little bit of rain. Those images looked fantastic and really gave a mood to the whole scene. The kiss was very nice too!

Anyway, fantastic work to everyone! I can't wait for Part 2!!!


Elfrieda

Fantastic work, everyone, as usual!

Great episode. I like how you worked in another real culture without making it seem like you were just doing it for the heck of it. Nice use of a real historical situation as the setting. And of course, Xena would be there!

I also liked the fact that X&G are having to deal with Gab's pregnancy in a fairly realistic way (as opposed to Super Pregnant Xena in S5). Of course Xena is going to put Gab & her baby first, while still trying to help the people of Jerusalem. Also, Ryan makes a great point about how you aged Darion through the story and not just by making him look older.

The graphics and the casting were great, also. I was pleasantly surprised to see Sir Guy of Gisborne on the Shipper Seasons! And Eric Bana & Angus McFayden were great choices, too.

Also, nice twist at the end with Josephus! Can't wait to find out what he's up to.


asere

This is amazing!! I'm half wondering though if Ares will also make an appearance. I love the culture and the way you tackled the issue at hand. Excellent episode, i can't wait for more!


Aurora

Well, this was definitely a very interesting episode. I love the inclusion of a different culture and placing Xena in historical events. That's always fascinating to see.

Seeing Darion growing up is really nice. He is getting older and, with Gabrielle pregnant, it's great to see him almost protective of Gabrielle and wanting to be there for her, in whatever comes their way. That does show a lot of maturity.

The setting is fascinating too, as well as the new characters. I felt bad for Xena when she was hurt by what John had said to her--about being an outsider. It just shows how much her culture is different from the one that the Israelites are a part of and it was nice to see Xena feeling affected by that. But I think John is a good man and he means well--it's just his views are different from Xena's.

One of my favorite things about this episode--and something that I was really looking forward to--was seeing the real bond and friendship between Xena and Gabrielle strong and at the forefront of the story. With Gabrielle being pregnant, it makes a lot of sense that Xena wants to protect her from all harm. She feels she has a duty to stand by Gabrielle and, as Ryan said, give Gabrielle the life she deserves with her child. Their bond really is as strong as it ever has been and it is nice to see a story really focused on that.

The Xena/Ares moments were short in this episode but very effective and their parting scene was very sweet. She will miss him.

I also found something interesting in regards to Gabrielle and Ares. I think Ares really cares about Gabrielle and wants to be almost protective toward her. Oh, he would never actually admit this but just in this episode two things stand out that point toward this for me: Ares having Darion gather berries for Gabrielle because it's "good for the baby" and Ares coming up to Gabrielle (though in his usual smart-@ss way) asking her if she wants him to kick Haimon around for a while if he shows up. If I didn't know better, I would say that Ares wants to stand up for Gabrielle and ever since the incident in the jail last episode, not only experiencing Gabrielle's baby moment but also learning about what happened to Haimon, has really made him, I don't know, protective toward Gabrielle, in a way. It's sweet to see that coming from him. Mortality has affected him already since I don't think I could see him doing that as a god. This almost protective gesture was just something little I noticed coming from Ares toward Gabrielle.

All in all a wonderful episode. I'm excited for part II, the finale of season 9.


XenaAresGoddess

Great ep! I enjoed it very much) Xena and Ares moments in the begging were very nice and sweet) Can't wait for Part 2

The images of Xena and Ares were very all done.Nice work AG!


CasualFan

A daring setting for the SS9 finale – Judea in AD 69 was not a place for the faint of heart, and even a Xena might find her hands full here. It’s also a situation not conducive to happy endings, so I’ll be very interested to see how this all turns out.

Pretty unsparing look at the turmoil in Jerusalem – the Sicarii were vicious pieces of work, and I think that this ep portrays them accurately. Judean politics had some unsettling resemblances to the current Middle Eastern situation, and the ep’s authors give us an unsparing look at the self-destructive politico-religious factionalism of the Jewish community in the face of the Roman onslaught. Clever device to get Xena to Judea – she’s been involved with the Jews before (hey, she was on a first-name basis with King David!) and it’s believable that the Judeans would have heard something about her work in Legacy (presumably not the double-dealing part).

Aurora’s decision to use Angus Macfadyen’s portrayal of Robert Bruce in Braveheart as an illustration for Josephus is very appropriate, as the two historical characters have a lot in common, including a complete lack of scruples. Making Josephus a fan of Gabrielle’s scrolls is a nice touch, especially his reading of the The Price and Xena’s statement about war being a choice between lesser degrees of evil.

How did I know that Sabina would reappear somewhere? She and Titus make a good match – I liked Titus’s portrayal, intelligent but rather pompous and self-important, a far cry from his earthy father. Sabina is Sabina, playing her own game and keeping her cards close to her vest – it should be interesting to see how she plays them in Pt. II.

Good combat scenes – very well-written, and something I could easily imagine in a SLS Roman ep. One very minor quibble – by AD 69, Roman legions had long abandoned the hastatii-principes-triarii fighting formation of the early and middle Republic. After the Marian reforms of ~100 BC, Roman legionaries were long-service professionals, uniformly armed and equipped and trained in cohort tactics. Fortunately, this sort of thing only matters to utter pedants like me, plus the 3-line set-up makes for a dramatic conclusion to the battle between Josephus and Titus/Sabina, so by all means, keep it!

Good cliffhanger ending – for those who wonder if the Sicarii would have dared to violate the Temple precincts in the manner depicted here, I’d say the odds are pretty good that they would have. I like the fact that Xena wants to get out while the getting is good – no vainglorious heroics here, she knows that Jerusalem is doomed. The final appearance of Josephus is a good shocker for those who weren’t already aware that the guy was a weasel.

On a character note, I appreciate the way Gab’s pregnancy is being handled – she can still get around, but she doesn’t have superpowers, and Xena’s protectiveness is touching. The continued development of Darion is good, too – I wasn’t crazy about having a kid as a regular character when he first appeared, but he’s been handled very well, and Judea is a place where he’ll be growing up in a hurry.

Very good ep – compelling, with some solid history, and Sabina is always a good addition to any story. I eagerly await Pt. II!