Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 4 Episode 3

A Family Affair

3
Aired Monday 8:00 PM Oct 12, 1998 on
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
79 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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When Xena and Joxer travel to Potidaea, they find Hope posing as Gabrielle living with the bard's family. In order to save them and the rest of mankind, they must kill her and her monstrous offspring. In the meantime, the real Gabrielle is making her way back to Potidaea.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Going against the grain I argue that "A Family Affair" does not live up to the praise it receives - an incredibly disappointing roundup to the brilliant Sacrifice story-arc.

    6.5
    After the brilliant intensity of "Adventures in the Sin Trade I and II", it was hard to imagine that any episode could live up to that standard, as is always the case after those particular episodes that fall into the "classics" category of the show. But that is not an excuse for the poor story line and gaping plot holes that make up "A Family Affair".



    Interestingly, this one seems to have a lot of fans. I would love to sit down one day with those fans, and discuss what exactly they find so impressive about this episode because, for the life of me, I have no clue what they see. This episode is meant to answer many questions fans had from the last season, but from start to finish this episode does nothing to answer any real questions posed to audiences since "Sacrifice", nor is the plot strong enough to carry the weak overall presentation. It is gappy throughout, and this alone is enough to weaken the episode beyond repair.



    The gaping plot hole of exactly HOW Gabrielle and Hope survived is one that bothers me far more than any plot hole that preceded or followed this story arc. I remember thinking at the time in "Sacrifice": 'they better have a good explanation for this', and yet it seems to be that almost no thought was put into explaining the bizarre story. "A Family Affair" proves that this plot line was one that they never had any real intention of providing a good explanation for.



    I was disappointed early on with the pitiful excuse for a reunion between Xena and Gabrielle. Given the scope of the emotions experienced by Xena during Gabrielle's absence and the pain that you would imagine Gabrielle would have suffered, I expected so much more. The fact that it is Hope masquerading as Gabrielle is beside the point; we are meant to believe it is Gabrielle, and by any standards the reunion does not come close to capturing any of the emotion we would expect. The later reunion between the real Gabrielle and Xena does a little to improve the reaction, but again it is just not what I expected.



    One interesting point was the reaction of Gabrielle's family to Xena's return. I thought it was very realistic and well presented as Gabrielle's family respond to the return of, what they see as, the woman who had corrupted their daughter and, ultimately, ruined her life. Given the absolute 180 degree change in Gabrielle and the life she leads, it was a reaction that you would expect from any family towards their child's lover who they thought was unsuitable, or not good enough, or had done irreparable damage, to their little girl.



    The Destroyer is a pretty bizarre concept; why the child of Hope and Ares should turn out to be a freakish dinosaur-like monster I'm not really sure. It was a rather silly enemy, and the tacky mother-child moments between it and Hope are just too cheesy for words. I'm not even sure why they even bothered to bring that part of the story into it – it served no real purpose and ended up being both pointless and silly.



    The whole Hope scenario really leaves a lot to be desired as well. I don't think that she would have convinced Xena for a second, and yet Xena seemed to buy it for the first half of the episode. I didn't buy the excuse for how Hope survived, nor did I accept the lack of reason for Gabrielle's survival. I really can't see the point of an episode designed to answer the questions posed, which actually doesn't provide any answers at all. In addition, it also seemed fairly bizarre that Gabrielle/Hope only really starts acting really weird after Xena arrives. You would have thought that if her plan was to kill Gabrielle's whole family, then she would have been much better off doing so long before Xena discovered where she was. This is just another of the plot holes that make this episode very weak in terms of plot, execution and overall acting.



    There was one slightly interesting theme of domestic violent brought up when Hope pretends that she is Gabrielle, and that Xena has beaten her up. Combined with Hope's comment that Xena "never gives up on anything, no matter the odds, the cost, the pain", I thought that these were a couple of very honest and telling comments, with clear implications of resentment, anger and bitterness. We only have to wonder if those could still truly be Gabrielle's feelings towards Xena; we would be naïve to think that they are not.



    So, clearly I am not a fan of this episode. I find it very frustrating, almost to the point of insult, for the writers to provide us with pointless and plot-less episodes such as this one. I feel like after the build up to Sacrifice, and the subsequent AITST, we deserved a lot more. Thank goodness that the Hope saga is over – I was never a fan and (I'm going to go against popular opinion now) I really feel like it was dragged on much longer than the plot device had the ability to carry it. Finally, we can now get back to the good storylines again..moreless
  • Sonic on steroids, oh dear.

    7.0
    After two episodes with no Gabrielle, we get one episode with two! It's clear from this episode that the writers desperately needed her back into the mix and they didn't care how they did it. We are given NO explanation whatsoever as to how Hope and Gabrielle survived.



    They do, at one point, allow for the audience to connect the dots. Hope-as-Gabby says she got knocked into a nitch(?), and we saw Xena climb out of the pit herself at the start, so all you had to do is connect that Gabrielle did that, too. But no: we find the real Gabrielle (with a bit of slap on her and almost-perfect hair) and she can't remember anything. Convenient. We also have a scene with Hope and Gabby and the resolution to the entire cliffhanger is Hope shrugging it off with 'I don't care' – uhm, but WE do.



    To be honest, I'm just glad we have Gabrielle back. And, well, I dig Hope. In fact, it's safe to say I dig any lead character who is already a hottie even more so when they're evil. Hope's child, a hybrid of ET after hitting puberty and Sonic, while a bit on the laughable side, was different. And I like different. I enjoy when Xena's up against supernatural forces that look, well, supernatural. Those fight scenes were great, by the way!



    There are a few cases of the funnies (some intentional, some not so much), a few jumpy moments (nicely done) and the season continues with the gore factor. I enjoyed Hope's attempts at blending in as Gabrielle (who conveniently shows up just at just in the nick of time) and that image of Hope impaled by her son's spike was wonderfully staged, I have to admit. So we have all of our key layers back and pitless free. It was a matter of getting from column A to column C, while skipping the explanation as to how they arrived at B. As sidestepping goes, it's a frothy piece of fun, which is easily forgivable for its shortcomings due to a healthy dose of action, misleads and back togetherness.moreless
  • very intense...Gaby returns

    10
    Gabrielle makes her grand return in this corker of an episode.

    it is extremely intense throughout,plus it remains intriguing on many levels.

    another foe makes its presence in this episode...this episode is indeed very special and is definately one of the shows best.

    think of it as a third part of a trilogy after the stunning Sacrifice.

    it is just as dark,and is surprisingly claustrophobic on a few occaisons.

    the soundtrack is very eerie.

    and i love how it echoes Silence of the Lambs...a terrific film.

    A Family Affair is truely intense and is a recommended episode to watch over and over.

    an early triumph from the fab 4th season of the show.

    after this episode it never ever loses its pace.moreless
  • Gabrielle's return...

    8.5
    Xena and Joxer travel to the Gabrielle's village, Potidea thinking she must have returned there. Little do they realize if Gabrielle survived the fall then Hope must be alive too and that Gabrielle is not really Gabrielle.



    The look of realization on Xena's face when she turns around in the marketplace and the background imagery of the spinning pinwheels in slow motion are wonderful. Another part I liked was the scene of 'Gabrielle' kissing Joxer hello and then afterwards he promptly faints.



    The final scene of the Destroyer and Hope was extremely distressing to me when I first saw it and I find it still to be somewhat disturbing. This was a very good episode and I enjoyed it despite the ending but thankfully, this will be the last episode to feature Hope.moreless
  • Xena and Joxer find that Gabrielle is alive and well in Potidaea. Or is she? It turns out it is Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope posing as her, and her monstrous, spike-covered offspring is terrorizing the area. A top-notch episode...moreless

    10
    This review contains moderate spoilers.



    After the dirge that was 'Adventures in the Sin Trade' (I know some loved it, but I wasn't keen on it), here we get a great story that really ties up the threads from 'Sacrifice II' at the end of the third season.



    In my opinion, they should have skipped 'Adventures in the Sin Trade' entirety, and started the season with this excellent tale.



    The moment that we see 'Gabrielle' in the teaser comes as a great relief to most fans, as we find that everyone's favourite bard is alive and well. ...Or is she? There's something eerily different about this Gabrielle.



    We get to meet Gabrielle's parents for the very first time (we very briefly saw Gabby's in the first episode, 'Sins of the Past', but only for a brief second, and played by a completely different actor). They are not very happy about the danger that they consider Xena to have put her through, and this makes for some good scenes.



    Although being very monster-like, Hope's offspring (which I have dubbed 'Spikor', for his similarly to a 'Masters of the Universe' character) is a very sad character, in that he cannot even touch his beloved mother without harming her with his spikes.



    One of my favourite moments of the episode comes as Xena races back to warn Gabby's parents and Lila of Hope posing as Gabrielle, only to find Hope already there, claiming that Xena beat her up, and causing to ornamental swords to rise from the wall and hover threateningly behind Gabby's parents. A great scene. The moment when Xena finds the real Gabrielle, wandering through the forest, is a joy to watch, as finally the Warrior Princess is reunited with her best friend. To note though is that no explanation is given as to quite how Gabrielle survived falling into the lava pit. It is stated that Hope was rescued by the powers of Dahak, but as for Gabrielle... who knows. But in a way, it doesn't really matter, as Warrior Princess and bard are finally reunited.

    Gabrielle is hazy on what has happened, and mentions that she spent a time in a hospice – surely the perfect basis for some good fan fiction.



    Maybe rather surprisingly, the episode doesn't finish on an expected scene with Gabrielle's parents saying "Oh thank you Xena. We were wrong about you; you saved us", instead just finishing with a scene of Xena and Gabrielle saying how much they missed each other and love one another. Maybe that's all it needed.



    The episode is wonderfully shot, and has some great performances. I'll almost forgive them for 'Adventures in the Sin Trade' as this one was well worth waiting for.



    A brilliant episode.moreless
Renee O'Connor

Renee O'Connor

Hope

Guest Star

Mark Vinello

Mark Vinello

The Destroyer

Guest Star

Geoff Snell

Geoff Snell

Herodotus

Guest Star

Ted Raimi

Ted Raimi

Joxer

Recurring Role

Willa O'Neill

Willa O'Neill

Lila

Recurring Role

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