Xena Saves Cleopatra In King of Assassins
By Alex Cranz
Good old fashioned Xena. Bad wigs? Check. Bad set production value? Check. Fuzzy Kiwi accents? Check. Bizarre farcical humor? Check times a million.
After two weeks of surprising ribeyes we’re back to a very solid meatloaf.
And Xena, after interrogating a dude finds Joxer in the stock. Because he tried to steal a chicken. She pays to get him out and sends him to tell Gabrielle she’s run off to battle villains.
In another part of town Bruce Campbell is doing a mix of the Dread Pirate Roberts and Mission Impossible and stealing shit with an evil assassin with a dreamy voice.
WHO LOOKS JUST LIKE JOXER BUT SEXY.
Titles. You can barely kill time. DELIGHTFUL.
The next morning Joxer does a fabulous makeover that just so happens to make him look just like SEXY ASSASSIN JOXER. He then runs into Autolycus who goes on a tirade about how fearsome Joxer is…because clearly he assumes he’s sexy assassin Joxer.
Joxer let’s his sort of power go to his head. Then Gabrielle shows up and beats the snot out of him because she hates Joxer in the most dangerous way possible. Autolycus tries to protect Gabrielle because he’s pretty much the best. Then Joxer is like, “Ooooh you guys confused me with my brother Jett. It happens all the time. He’s awesome. I never mentioned it before because he makes me feel inferior with his sexy assassin voice.”
The three of them head to a tavern to chat about Joxer’s brother. Turns out Joxer is the black sheep because he’s incompetent and also accidentally a very nice person.
Gabrielle, without Xena, figures that clearly they must capture Jett rather then just chill out and get loaded in a tavern with Bruce Campbell and Joxer in sexy leather. GABRIELLE WUT U DOIN’?
The three stooges watch the palace to work out the security. Autolycus hates Joxer. It is kind of adorable but just because these two guys have amazingly good chemistry…almost like the actors grew up together or something. Gabrielle, unswayed by the hotness and chemistry works out a plan based on a season one episode of Xena.
Somehow it ends with Joxer getting beaten on by a dude with a weird accent. It’s strangely…effective.
Autolycus changes into an even dreamier outfit and breaks in, then sends a rope down for Gabrielle and Joxer.
Pause a moment.
So the target for assassination gets naked in front of Autolycus and then bathes in milk because she’s Gina Torres as Cleopatra. YES. PERFECT.
So perfect Autolycus puts aside the plan so he can stare at her naked body. I mean it’s Gina Torres so I get it, but dude, that’s pervy and disrespectful. You deserve getting denied the chance to see bubbies.
During Autolycus’s attempts to see more naked Cleo she busts out some plot advancement with Pontius. She’s engaged in a battle of wills with her brother Ptolemy. Also she plans to lead an army and reclaim Egypt.
Because Cleo is not an idiot she notices Pervy McPerverson Autolycus and sticks a knife to his throat. Autolycus fast talks his way out of death by name dropping Xena.
Down in the jail Gabrielle is busy trying to sort out how to fix the problem she’s created. And also how to not murder Joxer. Pontius, who really has the WORST wig, comes to question them and reveal that he’s the one who hired Jett the assassin to kill Cleopatra.
If that and the wig didn’t mark him as evil him insulting Gabrielle’s brains certainly does. But he releases Joxer who immediately puts Gabrielle back in the jail cell–for her protection.
Dude she recently murdered a cultist and you can’t even kill a chicken. Who should be protecting who?
Because this is a major farce Jett shows up and Autolycus treats him like Joxer and regrets it. Now he’s stuck helping Jett murder Gina Torres, and guys, that just won’t float. Especially because Jett is kind of a dummy.
Back down in the jail Gabrielle tries to use a plate as a chakram. For those who are curious that scene is the very first gif I ever made. Here’s the improved version because it never gets old.
Gina Torres and Bruce Campbell get to double talking in the tub. It is beyond silly but damn it these two could trade super silly double entendres all day. And the pay off? With her saying kinky in a low voice? Worth it.
That one guard with the funny accent gets beaned in the head by Gabrielle after she fails at pressure points. Then she runs into Jett whom she assumes is Joxer. Jett? Jett is not a good actor but in his attempt to be the perfect Joxer he finds out that Gabrielle is actually pretty great and respects his brother more than him. It creates this look.
The two brothers then run into each other and just when you think we’re going to have an epic mirror skit Jett grabs Joxer and gives him a wet willy. NOT THAT ONE THAT IS GROSS THEY’RE BROTHERS.
Jett, despite being an awful murderer is still Joxer’s brother and teases him instead of murdering him. I kind of love their exchange. I mean it is goofy and all but there’s a throughline of solid emotion.
Hold the phones.
Gabrielle in a Xena wig is kind of fabulous. It distracted me. Why is she not in a Xena wig more often? Also why is her “servant” voice so high? Also how did Jett gets Joxer up on that wall without Joxer’s undies ripping?
Gabrielle, Joxer and Autolycus all get together and rush to Pontius to let him know about the assassination plot. But because Pontius is an idiot he reveals HIS ENTIRE PLOT and puts Autolycus and Gabrielle back in jail while leaving Joxer to “kill Cleopatra.”
Things could get dire but that’s when Xena rolls in. Mainly because she’s dumbfounded by their stupid plan and horrified that the only thing standing between Cleopatra and death is Joxer.
Autolycus rushes to tell Cleopatra of the plot against her but finds Jett and Cleopatra in a veil. He gets knocked unconscious so Joxer can arrive and be heroic and offer to fight Jett to protect Cleopatra, who just like walks away all bored.
That’s when Xena runs in and they throw down. XENA I HAVE MISSED YOU AND YOUR AFFECTION FOR VIOLENCE AND YOUR BARELY CONTAINED RAGE. She beats Jett but Gabrielle runs in being chased by Pontius and his goons and more fightin’ ensues and also Bruce Campbell’s butt.
Did anyone else notice Gabrielle is doing this fight in an ankle length dress with no slit? Daaang girl that’s talent.
Joxer gets taken hostage and Jett wakes up and saves him because d’aaaw. WHY IS THERE TINKLY MUSIC PLAYING. It is 80s Jemtastic.
Post fight Xena and Cleopatra talk and Cleo is all “let’s bang. It will be awesome.” and Xena’s all, “Heck yes.”
Jett says goodbye to Joxer before being sent to prison and makes everyone uncomfortable. Joxer breaks up the heavy emotion by doing a lame pratfall that is only saved by Lucy Lawless’s very dry reaction.
How This Episode Makes Historians Weep
GUYS GINA TORRES IS CLEOPATRA AND IS THE RARE INSTANCE WHERE A WOMAN OF COLOR ACTUALLY PLAYS A WOMAN OF COLOR LET US CELEBRATE.
Cleopatra is on the run from her brother/husband Ptolemy in this episode. That really happened. She went on a trip and he attempted a coup in her absence. He then tried to kill her and wanted the throne to himself because she’d kind of sort have already pushed him out and everyone loved her and hated her brother husband king. Only instead of hiring Joxer’s brother Ptolemy just waged a civil war that only ended when Caesar intervened and kicked him off the throne.
- Doesn’t thump Gabrielle after learning her idiotic plan.
- Only mildly abuses Joxer.
- Resists Cleopatra’s super major come ons with a smile.
Where It Stands In The Series
This is the first appearance of a Joxer sibling. Make note of the other one mentioned. He’ll show up later.
This is the first appearance of Cleopatra and the only appearance of her as played by Gina Torres, which was some of the most inspired casting ever.
Despite the last few episodes being incredibly dark and slowly tearing Xena and Gabrielle apart they’re awfully chummy here. Though I suppose if you wanted to fanwank it you could say they were a little distant.
Due to the infliction of a severe wedgie, Joxer was slightly uncomfortable but not seriously harmed during the production of this motion picture.
I love a good farce. Though the humor can often be low brow a successful farce is very hard to do and Xena: Warrior Princess always does it fairly well. But when you have a bunch of characters running around doing very broad comedy and acting kind of stupid there isn’t a lot of room for Xena, who in season three is still extremely reserved, cool, confident, and suffering no idiots.
Wisely they send her off for most of the episode and just let Renee O’Connor and childhood friends Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi play off each other. All three are very good at the broad stuff and sell the comedy despite the groan-worthy script from Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster (who are responsible for many of the broad comedy scripts on the show) and the sometimes too slapstick direction by Bruce Campbell.
Campbell is a big fan of the Three Stooges, Marx Brothers and other vaudeville style comedy teams and his love of the genre really shines in this episode–ramping up the subpar comedy and forcing you to laugh at jokes so old Cleopatra probably actually knew them in 51 BCE.
There’s a whole style of episodes of Xena that were all created to give Lucy Lawless time to do overseas press. Gabrielle and Joxer have comedic adventures and we all stare at our watches and wonder when Lawless will arrive as the deus ex machina to fix everything Gabrielle and Joxer have screwed up and dispense some cutting remarks with searingly good timing.
If I had to peg one episode of this genre to really praise it would be this one. Watching Raimi and Campbell play off each other is a lot of fun, and O’Connor, as always, is a tremendous sport. She’s not afraid to look silly or let Gabrielle act a little stupid. And you have Gina Torres! And Lucy Lawless! Those women do dry humor like nobody’s business and some of the biggest laughs of the episode are from their less then energetic responses to the mania all around them. It’s a study in good comedy acting and a style of humor that just isn’t employed nowadays.
There will be better farces, next week’s sex pun laden adventure comes to mind, but few will tap into the spirit of the slapstick farce quite as efficiently as this episode.
Episode 9, Warrior, Priestess, Tramp
Meg, the beloved slutty doppleganger is back! As is a virginal priestess…and a whole mess of sex jokes.