Classic Recap: For Him The Bell Tolls
By Alex Cranz
So ADR Xena leaves stunt double Gabrielle in the middle of nowhere. Then she becomes real Xena and not a double in a bad wig and really goes and Gabrielle decides to be a hero in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully she runs into Joxer who—I think—just did a Xena cry. She is being so polite and not beating him. Something is wrong. No not really. She’s a little sad that she’s just a sidekick and he’s delighted because now he can get a sidekick. They talk about, in very broad terms, the nature of heroism. It is all wonderful because their comedic interplay is spot on. Otherwise I would shoot my face.
Elsewhere Aphrodite is upset with KARL URBAN…I mean Cupid.
He put some chick in love with some dude and now Aphrodite might lose some temples. He refuses to undo things and suddenly this episode becomes She’s All That. Aphrodite makes a bet with Cupid. She’ll undo his work by turning Joxer into a badass. All it requires is a bell. She gives Joxer the bell and he races off.
Gabrielle then runs across a bunch of virgins being attacked and she runs in and starts kicking ass. Aphrodite watches and appreciates then she rings her bell and Joxer arrives is some Douglas Fairbanks level of awesomeness. He even gets a swanky shirt and a swashbuckling new score.
Gabrielle is pleased. As are all the virgins, including the princess that Cupid and Aphrodite were all crazy about.
TITLES. Joxer got HOT.
The ladies fawn, Gabrielle gets thrust to the side. Joxer continues to be hot. Then the bell disappears and Joxer the Stephan (remember THAT guy?) turns into Joxer the Urkel. The Kiwi princess invites Joxer and Gabrielle to go with her. Gabrielle, the best sidekick since Robin, starts to think things are awry.
Cut to some kings in turbans talking.
Aphrodite is awesome in this scene because she is ALWAYS awesome. Show me a time she sucks. Seriously. Never happens. I know I’ve already seen this entire series and vaguely remember her awesomeness from Hercules which I will only rewatch if you pay me. Some chicks show up and make the kings angry. People get pissed about Joxer but not for normal internet reasons.
The princess finds her prince. It’s that guy. You know. The guy who’s in everything shot in New Zealand? He’s attractive and has a huge sword and earrings and doesn’t look as crummy in a turban.
They leave and Gabrielle feels a little bad for a super sad Joxer. I just…wait…did Gabrielle’s top get smaller? I think it did!
Aphrodite appears and calls Joxer over and rings the bell turning him sexy again. He races off to break up a wedding.
Just before the wedding can occur Joxer shows up and starts hardcore wooing. Then Gabrielle catches up. The princess confesses her love for Joxer. Gabrielle is even MORE confused. The prince is ANGRY. Sexy Joxer and the prince fight. I like how sexy Joxer is also a massive dick. Then the prince rips the bell off the princess and it rings and Joxer turns back into himself and is more confused than Gabrielle. More bell back and forth and fighting. The prince leaves, heartbroken. Gabrielle refuses to believe Joxer can be that sexy.
Aphrodite and Cupid appear and discuss love and how it’s all about sex. Cupid is sad. :(
The prince goes and tells his dad about what happened. The king decides to send out search parties to find Joxer and kill him.
Gabrielle prepares food and the new lovers eat apples lustily. Gabrielle spends the scene trying to break them apart but Joxer just gets hotter? The wet hair doesn’t do it for me. Poor Gabrielle, stuck in the worst threesome ever.
The morning comes and Gabrielle, being Xena’s sidekick, hears the search parties before the others. Joxer is resolved to stay and fight. He goes out to meet the king. There are a LOT of turbans on display. Then Gabrielle and the princess run up and the bell rings and Joxer’s like WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? He faints. Gabrielle and Joxer are arrested. Why is Gabrielle arrested? For knowing the guy?
In the jail Gabrielle explains that Joxer is kind of two people at the moment and that it’s related to the bell. Then they figure out it’s Aphrodite’s doing. Gabrielle breaks out and goes off to fix it all. Joxer pens the Joxer the Mighty theme song.
MORE TURBANS. This guy with a hilarious voice breaks some news to the princess’s father.
Gabrielle arrives in Aphrodite’s temple. She nearly breaks a vase, which turns out to be the best way to bring Aphrodite out. Gabrielle is clearly pleased to meet Aphrodite and pleased to know that Aphrodite knows who she is. She thens sets off trying fix things. Cupid appears. Gabrielle wants to jump his BONES. Now Gabrielle has a mission, get Aphrodite to break the spell.
In town Joxer is being led to his death. People judge him. Crummy constipation joke. Distracted by princess’s handmaiden’s cleavage. Gabrielle arrives in the nick of time. She tries to use a rock to ring a bell but stuff gets in the way. Then she channels Xena and skips that rock around the entire village. A bell is finally rung and Joxer goes into SEXY mode. He pulls a scarf out of that handmaiden’s cleavage. I KNEW there was a reason it was so out of control! There is more fighting. Joxer battles the prince’s father. They use foils. And there’s the left/right hand gag. More fighting. This kind of swordplay is really not meant for this show.
Joxer smooches Gabrielle. Gabrielle is horrified by it.
The fight moves to Aphrodite’s temple. Joxer smashes the shit out of that temple. SO MUCH APHRODITE BOOBAGE.
Gabrielle again tells Aphrodite to drop the spell. She refuses. Another joke about love. Joxer starts swinging on a bell. Things break. Gabrielle threatens to take him on a tour of all Aphrodite’s temples. Aphrodite finally gives in and breaks the spell. All is restored. Happiness in the kingdom! Gabrielle is told she’s a hero. Aphrodite is not impressed. Cupid is.
Joxer is kind of sad that he was so pathetic. Gabrielle tries to make him feel better.
Then Xena, who looks a little cranky, meets up with Gabrielle. Then they’re followed by Joxer and his theme song. Also that is not Lucy Lawless walking along with that horse.
How this episode makes historians weep
Fencing of that style? Didn’t come along for another millennia or two.
Xena was extraordinarily human this episode.
Where it stands in the series
The introduction of Aphrodite and Cupid to the Xenaverse…though both were already introduced in Hercules.
The very, super early, beginning of the Gabrielle/Aphrodite friendship.
The first time we hear Joxer’s theme song.
The first appearance of Craig Parker!
The THIRD character played by Karl Urban!
The producers wish the acknowledge the inspiration of Danny Kaye and pay tribute to the classic motion picture ‘Court Jester.’
They essentially lifted the plot of Court Jester. Calling it “inspiration” is a tad wrong when you just straight up take a film’s plot and insert it into your mythos. But man, this was the third(?) episode written suddenly to deal with Lucy Lawless’s injury so I can’t judge too harshly because the other episodes written were all awesome.
This one hinges on the belief that Ted Raimi can play suave as well as he plays goofy. And he CAN play suave, but thanks to the direction by Josh Becker this goes from suave to over the top in no time. Becker REALLY likes taking Xena into farce territory and he embraces it with gusto this episode.
Renee O’Connor is stuck as the straight man to Joxer’s clown and she’s actually quite good at it. Just as good as Joxer is at playing a clown. Though again, Becker tends to have Raimi play Joxer as more obnoxious than clown-like. It makes the comedy suffer.
What doesn’t suffer? Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite. Seriously, one of my favorite character/portrayals of the entire series. She gives Aphrodite heart which is vitally important.
Karl Urban is Karl Urban. No more need be said.
Episode 17, The Execution.
The return of Meleager the Mighty. Things get intense between Xena and Gabrielle.