Classic Recap: The Execution
By Alex Cranz
Gabrielle is telling Xena a story about Meleager. Xena has heard this story. She is done with it. She would prefer stories about herself. They arrive in a town expecting to meet Meleager but find a bunch of sad sacks in dark clothes headed for court. Xena and Gabrielle follow because court is FUN.
I think Xena is still jealous of Meleager. Gabrielle says his name again and some drunk dudes attack. Woah nelly is it obvious that we’re looking at O’Connor’s stunt doubles on the reverses. I mean the hair isn’t even close to the same color. Anyways the fight ends and they head back to court. Whee Meleager is on trial. Er. Where he’s being sentenced. This guy, Judge Arbus, listens to Gabrielle talk about how awesome Meleager is. But just because a dude is awesome doesn’t mean he’s innocent of crimes. Arbus declares Meleager guilty of murder and sentences him to death.
TITLES. I love Xena’s facial reactions. Like she doesn’t talk she just REACTS.
Gabrielle and Meleager are both sure of his innocence. Xena? Not so much. Arbus is apparently an amazingly fair judge, and Gabrielle just has passion and love on her side. Still Xena decides to side with Gabrielle for now and go talk to Arbus. Gabrielle and Meleager chat. They work so well together.
Outside a dude is trying to sell replicas of Meleager’s murder weapon to Xena. A bunch of other people are gathering early to watch the execution. Gross. Arbus appears and tells them they should all be ashamed of themselves. Damn. Why does he have to be so classy?
Xena tries to chat with Arbus about the case. Arbus kind of threatens her almost? Then some lady gives a first hand account of the murder. Xena is now a little sad because Meleager may be guilty.
Gabrielle comes up and tells her there may be a guy who can get him off…who might be a cyclops. Xena asks that Gabrielle instead spend time with Meleager before his execution because he’s probably guilty. Gabrielle runs off all sad.
She goes to the prison with a huge cart of food and drugs all of the guards. Then she breaks Meleager out and sends him off to find the cyclops. She stays behind and gets caught. Ruh roh.
Xena goes to check on Argo and investigates some stuff? Then she hears a commotion and finds Gabrielle about to be torn apart by the townspeople. She uses Argo, of course, to flip into the middle of things and defend Gabrielle. Arbus arrives and puts the lynching to a stop. But insists that if Meleager is gone Gabrielle will take his place. Xena says no. She’ll find Meleager and she’ll take Gabrielle with her.
On the hunt for Meleager Gabrielle asks Xena to reconsider. She won’t. They find Meleager and Gabrielle tells him to haul it. He does. But this is Xena he’s running from. Gabrielle then steps in front of Xena and refuses to move. She begs Xena to just walk away. Xena’s kind of horrified at Gabrielle’s willingness to ignore the law for friendship. She then flips over Gabrielle and continues to chase. Gabrielle follows.
Xena catches up with Meleager and they both throw their swords away and set to fighting each other. Poor Meleager is too old for this shit. Finally Xena tells Meleager that if he doesn’t go back then Gabrielle will hang in his place. Gabrielle arrives and tries to defend Meleager, but he tells her to stop. He lied about the cyclops and he killed the man. He was drunk at the time. He won’t have Gabrielle be punished for his crime and agrees to go back.
Gabrielle is upset, but she’s more upset about the drinking then the murdering. Ouch.
That night Meleager and Xena talk about Gabrielle. Meleager is pretty upset about lying to Gabrielle. Xena then wonders how Meleager was cut in the first place. Turns out he gave himself up so that he’d wouldn’t hurt the villagers trying to arrest him. Honest dude. Xena goes and tells Gabrielle to talk to Meleager. She points out a significant flaw of Gabrielle’s; her tendency to put people on pedestals. She finally agrees to talk to Meleager so that they’ll part as friends and free of guilt.
The next morning Meleager mentions something about the murder that peaks Xena’s curiosity. But villagers attack with arrows. Xena catches ALL of them. She even catches some with her teeth. Then she catches the guy with a noose around the chest and tells him to tell Arbus that she’ll bring Meleager in when she’s ready. Xena. Is. A. Badass.
They head to the cave Meleager passed out in rather than to town. There they find a sword and Xena now knows Meleager is innocent…because she killed him. Apparently she ran into him attacking a dude. They fought. She stabbed him. He mounted his horse and rode back to the town where he ran into Meleager.
Xena leaves Gabrielle and Meleager at the cave and goes off to find the guy that she saved the year before. So many dudes with names I don’t know!
In town the executioner arrives. He’s like a creepier version of Billy Zane.
Arbus gathers some villagers and rides off to find Meleager and bring him back.
Xena finds the guy that can resolve the whole thing. Turns out the guy is terrified of Arbus and can prove that Arbus isn’t as awesome as he claims to be. Again. Ruh roh.
In the cave Gabrielle and Meleager chat. He asks her to pen his will and testament. He leaves everything to Gabrielle. Tender moment! Shattered when Arbus and friends arrives and takes them both into custody.
Xena and the crazy dude arrive back at the cave, but they’re too late. They race back to town, but halfway there the guy freaks out and runs away. Xena’s on her own.
In the village jail Gabrielle begs Arbus to postpone the execution. He refuses and tells the guards to kill Xena if she shows up. Meleager and Gabrielle have another tender moment. Why was this relationship not used more often? It’s kind of great. The guards come and take Meleager away. Gabrielle cries. That’s her thing. She’s like Donna Noble in that respect. What’s with teary eyed red-headed sidekicks?
Elsewhere the Creepier Billy Zane dresses so he can head off for some killing. Xena grabs his extra robe. Meleager is escorted to the hangman’s noose. They clear the gate for the drop. It looks like Xena might be the executioner? Nice how they shot this. The noose is put around Meleager’s neck and he spies Gabrielle across the crowd. The executioner drops the gate. Gabrielle weeps. We see Meleager’s dead body. The executioner reveals that it was totally him and the show faked us all out.
Meleager’s body is brought to the courthouse where Arbus plans to try Gabrielle the next morning. Meleager rises out of his coffin and tells Arbus to confess his own sins. Then Xena shows up in the robe. Turns out she caught Meleager earlier when he was to be hanged, and he was smart enough to pretend to die. Arbus starts freaking out. The townspeople all walk in and watch the freak out. Shaaaame. Xena forces him to go pardon Gabrielle.
Weepy Gabrielle sees Meleager alive and cries even more. Then makes a Meleager/Xena sandwich.
Arbus goes to jail, Meleager ends the death penalty in the village and Xena and Gabrielle head out of town.
How this episode makes historians weep
As mentioned before, Meleager was in fact a bad ass hunter and Greek hero.
Arbus was not an actual person in pre-historic Greece.
Hanging was not referred to as such until the 1300s and it was not a usual form of execution in ancient times.
- Catches forty bajillion arrows.
- Catches and arrow with her TEETH.
- Leaps up into a tree in a single bound.
- Does some fancy rope work that manages NOT to kill the guy she is roping.
- Fights Meleager, who killed over 100 men at once.
- Saves Meleager.
- Owns Argo, the fanciest horse around.
Where it stands in the series
This is the last appearance of Meleager the Mighty and Tim Thomerson which is a damn shame because he’s pretty excellent in the roll and plays off Lucy Lawless pretty well and off of Renee O’Connor superbly.
Shout out to the clip show from last season.
The fight between Gabrielle and Xena? On the surface it was about Meleager, but really it was a war of wills that’s bound to happen between these two women and it will be revisited in Season 3. Particularly in the episode, Gabrielle’s Hope. I’d forgotten all about this episode and was kind of amazed at the similarities between their fight here and in the later episode. Gabrielle ALWAYS assumes the best of people and Xena always assumes the worst, but Gabrielle rarely tries to stand up to Xena and when she does whoo boy is it dramatic.
Xena’s last line of the episode? Totally foreshadowing.
By popular demand “The Executioner” will bring back his comfortable lightweight cotton-flax blend robe in a variety of spring colors.
The plot holes, they are enormous! They’re so massive they take away from an episode that had some pretty neat potential. In fact this episode was downright frustrating. It was like watching an episode of Voyager or No Ordinary Family. There were some neat concepts put forth and a solid cast, but the episode falls apart half way through, and in this case, the direction, just couldn’t bring it all together.
Tim Thomerson as Meleager? Always great, and his struggle with alcoholism? Surprisingly real for a show about monsters and chicks in leather. Gabrielle’s reaction to his relapse? Also surprisingly real. The conflict between Xena and Gabrielle? Fantastic and honest. And the highlight of the episode for its great thematic foreshadowing of season three.
The episode’s take on capital punishment and justice? All kinds of muddled. There are some moments of greatness. Arbus as an honest and fair man who will take on warlords and heroes in the name of justice is a good idea. But it’s executed poorly and loses it’s weight when he’s revealed to be crazy.
As awesome as thematic foreshadowing may be it can’t make up for a mess of an episode.
It’s a real shame.
Episode 18, Blind Faith.
Gabrielle becomes a queen…again. Xena gets blinded. Subtext fans exploded when this episode first premiered.