Xena: Warrior Princess: Season 4, Episode 8

Crusader (16 Nov. 1998)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Comedy
8.8
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Ratings: 8.8/10 from 271 users  
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Xena finds a heavy rival in her love to Gabrielle: the leader of a fundamentalist religion who seduces the blonde bard.

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In Phoenicia, Xena and Gabrielle meet Najara, a female warrior who claims she and her army are fighting against darkness and evil, following the Way of the Light with the help of the Jinn, spiritual guides whose voices are only heard by Najara. Written by Anonymous

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16 November 1998 (USA)  »

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Religion = refusal to reason things
15 June 2010 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

After the embarrassment that was the the Shark Island episode (I give it 2/10), Xena (the series) gives us a potentially great subject: religious fundamentalists that kill evildoers in the name of "The Light". There is so much that can be done with this subject if the writers are good...

It starts promisingly. The Servants of Light (or whatever they call themselves) fight evil slave traders, but one knows that there has to be a twist. And sure enough, there is: the Lightbringers (or whatever they call themselves) give prisoners *three* days to redeem themselves after which those who have not are executed. Over the time, they've executed hordes of unbelievers (like any proper religious fundamentalist would). Xena has a very nice-looking fight scene with the leader, and actually *loses* (a very impressive twist), at which point Gabrielle, who has chosen to follow the light, throws herself between Xena and the sword that's about to be used to finish her off. And then come the problems.

Religious fundamentalists are *by definition* unshakable in their beliefs. No matter how well you try to reason with them, they will *NEVER* accept that they are wrong (see Justin Theroux's excellent documentary about the most hated family in the USA to see what I mean). The westerner religious fundamentalists might not be suicide bombers or terrorists, but their *beliefs* are equally strong as their more "pro-active" eastern fellow believers. So, when Gabrielle just like that persuades the leader not to kill Xena, I don't buy it. It's *out of character*, especially for someone, come the episode's end, still sticks stubbornly to her beliefs (like any proper religious fundamentalist would). It can't be justified by a sudden crisis of faith - a fundamentalist religious leader does *not* have those - that's why *they* are the leaders. Again, it cannot be overstated that those people *CANNOT* be reasoned with.

However, it is rather interesting, that in the end, this episode's message seems to be that religious fundamentalism is wrong. And that is quite a brave statement in a TV series coming from a country that has its own "Bible Belt", general freedom of religion not withstanding. This episode is actually in line with what Richard Dawson wrote in his acclaimed (and *reasonably* so) book, The God Delusion (a must read for anyone who's not yet irrevocably in faith). We don't *need* religion to make the world a better place, or even a tolerable one. And it can be *proven*. Of course, a religious fundamentalist refuses to accept any evidence against their ideology's flaws, simply dismissing it - isn't it nice when they nearly always seem to dismiss things that they cannot argue against? There was more to explore in the subject of this episode, but I guess we have to be thankful that they managed at least this much. A 7/10.


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