Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 4 Episode 8

Crusader

2
Aired Monday 8:00 PM Nov 16, 1998 on
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
74 votes
5

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Xena and Gabrielle meet a woman who preaches "the way of the light", which seems to strike a chord in Gabrielle. But when Xena learns about Najara's "reform or die" policy for prisoners, the warrior princess has to put a stop to her crusade.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Gabrielle: Xena only kills if its absolutely necessary. Najara: And I only kill evil people. Why is she so much better than me?

    7.0
    Crusader is a complex and fascinating episode that mostly deserves the praise it receives from fans.



    Najara is beautiful and fierce, with one of the most extravagant costumes we have seen. She is a refreshing addition to the season as she brings with her a more intricate and interesting foe than we have seen for some time. She is an intelligent woman, with a logic to her actions that makes her both exciting and frightening. I believe, however, that perhaps our most honest view of Najara is seen in the first few minutes during her fight with Xena and Gabrielle. Here we see a ruthlessness, and a love for fighting (and perhaps killing) tempered only by an obscure faith/conscience that she carries with her. In many ways, I'm amazed that this early impression didn't have Xena running for the hills. What if "The Jin" hadn't spoken when they did?



    Initially we get a fairly typical Xena/Gabrielle reaction, with Gabrielle immediately being drawn to a person who seems, on the surface, to live the kind of life that Gabrielle desires, and who seems to enjoy the kind of peace and happiness that she longs for. This is only natural given that Gabrielle is very much in a stage of her life where she truly does not know what she is seeking, and unless you try new things, you will never find the answer.



    Xena, as always, is wary, and rightly so. But for Gabrielle's sake she is will to put aside her doubts (and instincts) and give Najara a try, something she would never have done in a past life. And Najara certainly offers a confusing package; she is strong and capable, and yet somewhat eccentric in her blind faith. The catching of the arrow in the village, however, was certainly a sign that this is a woman with much more up her sleeve.



    It is interesting watching Xena's mixed reaction to the growing relationship and bond between Gabrielle and Najara. It is not a normal reaction anymore, that we have seen from Xena in the past. I feel that in the past any attention Gabrielle has received has been met with jealousy and possessiveness by Xena. Now, however, some new reactions have emerged, which we can attribute wholly to the existence of Xena's vision of their deaths. Now Xena is searching for a 'way out' for Gabrielle; a way to save her and change destiny, and in Najara Xena sees the possibility for that to occur. Certainly, she is still insanely jealous of another woman looking at her girl, but this is now mixed with the (misguided) belief that by abandoning Gabrielle, she is, in effect, saving her life.



    The episode moves along nicely with some effective fight scenes between the very evenly matched Xena and Najara. It is extremely rare that we see Xena lose a fight, and I think it is most interesting that it is women who are most evenly matched to Xena. It is a rare moment where a man kick's her butt, and yet we have seen a number of women do so. I have to say though, that Xena did seem somewhat distracted during her first fight with Najara, perhaps because she knew how much was at stake, but perhaps also because it is a catfight – and in catfights women fight with their hearts, not their heads.



    I thought Najara posed a very interesting theory to us as viewers; why IS she so much worse simply because she kills without a trial? Are these men not criminals? Would they not return to similar ways? Ultimately, while Gabrielle believes she is following what she believes is right, I think that in many ways she justifies Xena's actions to make them seem 'more right' than anyone else's. And of course, there is nothing wrong with this.



    Overall, while this episode didn't blow me away, it gave some food for thought. It is a solid addition to the fourth season.moreless
  • Will you join the light?

    9.0
    After a run of humdrum episodes, Xena: Warrior Princess returns to form with a truly exciting episode. I commented on the last episode that it failed to swing the right punches and hit the right notes; this hour does all of that and more. Perhaps not the most complicated of plotlines, the meat of the episode lies heavily on character development and it's a pure treat to watch.



    Part of the reason of its success is down to the character of Najara, and some fantastic casting in the form of Cold Case's very own Kathryn Morris. It's the conflict that she brings to the table that really elevates this hour above and beyond, and the fact she manages to hand Xena's ass to her on a platter is just icing on the cake. Table, platter, icing, cake – yep, I've covered everything.



    Gabrielle sees a future in Najara, a future which would give her life the very meaning she's been searching for. Xena sees this. Xena knows this. Both Gabrielle and Najara carry a lot of similar qualities and, as we know from Xena's vision, bare a striking resemblance later on, as Gabby adapts a similar look. In fact, homicidal wackiness aside, Najara is a preview of the Gabrielle in years to come – a warrior woman of the light, only it's a different light she'll be fighting for.



    The old adage 'if something is too good to be true, it usually is' comes into play in a serious way, as the majority of the episode toys with the fact that Najara is this saint-like warrior, carrying all of Xena's trademark heroisms and none of her flaws. It's easy to see why Gabrielle would fall for her, and it's easy to see how Xena lost out to her.



    There are plenty of little fights tucked away in here, but the talking point has to be the massive showdown. It was magnificently choreographed and easily the best fight scene this season, possibly within the last two. There were plenty of homosexual undertones throughout and the fight scene carried a lot weight because of it – the lesbian subtext has never been as dominant, as these two women fight for the companionship of another woman. And the dialogue sizzled with animosity and jealousy between Lawless and Morris.



    This is one of my favourite episodes from the season. It's fast-paced, superbly acted by all and it dissects the relationship Gabrielle and Xena have without delving too far into it ('Xena's darkness scares me,' 'I would never hurt her. That's your job'). It's these little snippets which hint at the seemingly inevitable – Xena and Gabrielle's death. And once again we got a sneak-peek, and it still gives me shivers. Brilliant stuff.moreless
  • after a weak episode..leave it to Najara to crank up Xenas self esteem

    9.7
    Locked Up and Tied Down wasnt exactly a classic episode and nwither was a Tale of Two muses,but Crusader certainly cranks up the momentum for the rest of the season.

    Najara is evidently a creation that was needed to get under Xenas skin as Callisto met her maker in Sacrifice at the hands of Xena.

    writers used this opportunity to create a foe tht will be truely personal to Xena yet uses Gaby as a vessel for her actions.

    however,Najara to begin with is just your average person who hears voices in their head,who suddenly flips half way throughwhen Xena discovers her plans,this idea by the writers almost works very well,but it isnt exactly your perfect Xena episode.

    The thing that makes it great is the fantastic direction,and Lucy who gives us yet another fantastical performance.

    all in all Crusader is a very good episode but is lacking tht something to make it a genuine classic,like Najara is lacking that extra element that makes her the perfect foe.

    this nevertheless is a great episode that ups the momentum for season 4.

    this is followed by the amazing Past Imperfect.moreless
  • Xena and Gabrielle encounter a beautiful saviour called Najara who preaches "the way of the light". Gabrielle is instinctively drawn towards the woman, but Xena isn't so sure. Another episode that is a lot better than I had expected...moreless

    9.4
    This review contains spoilers.



    Like 'Locked Up and Tied Down' before it, I found myself enjoying this episode much more than I had expected.



    When I first saw it some years ago, it was after Channel 5 (UK) had pretty much abandoned showing the series, and this episode popped up on its own in the middle of the night. As they had stopped showing the series and it was just a one-off airing, I couldn't really get a feel for this episode. But watching it through since with the rest of the season, I've come to consider it a pretty interesting episode.



    Kathryn Morris is perfect as Najara, and really shines (no pun intended) in the role. She is very charismatic, and is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect pieces of casting in the series, certainly this season.



    Gabrielle, on the verge of her quest for spiritual enlightenment, is instinctively drawn towards Najara, and they start to spend a lot of time together.

    With Xena's visions of Gabrielle's impending doom (of which Najara knows about), Najara seems to be a much better companion than the Warrior Princes – we, the viewer, can see this as much as Xena herself. But, as can Xena, we just know Najara is too good to be true – there is something that just doesn't add up.



    It turns out that Najara kills her victims if they don't agree to join her beliefs. Xena is sickened by this – although it does seem a very convenient way to win Gabrielle back on side!



    In the inevitable fight between Xena and Najara, Xena gets what is possibly her worst beating of the series, and even loses a tooth in the duel (thank goodness its not one that shows)!



    Xena verges on evil Xena in the final cave scene duel, as she becomes so determined to beat Najara. A slice of 'evil Xena' is always good value for money.



    Najara is very much based on Joan of Arc, who claimed to have visions from God.

    So is Najara crazy, or do 'the Jinn' really visit her spiritually? One point of debate is that she knows about Xena's visions of Gabrielle's fate – how on earth would Najara know about this? Either way, the character is really creepy – she has that same calm, sunny voice no matter what the circumstances. Creepy!



    All-in-all, I found this episode to be very interesting and thoughtful, and is one of my favourites thus far in this season.moreless
  • She hears voices....How could she not be crazy!?

    8.2
    Crusader-Xena meets a woman who preaches "the way of the light", but her practices leave something to be desired, when Xena learns of Najara's reform or die policy for prisoners.



    Isn't that Najara, a not job or what!!! I swear, this chick makes Callitso look normal. Xena and Gabrielle meet Najara, they join her on her mission to stop warlord from attaking a village. But soon they find out this girl in a real freak, she talks about so much goodness, helping people, and the light...hmmmm!! Yet, she fight like madman and kills people if they don't follow her "light". But the best part is she has spiritual guide called "The Jin", uhhhh...yeah, this chick needs to be stopped, like fast, LOL! But she did know about Xena's vision, maybe they were there...hmmmm! Kathyrn Morris does a great job with the bizarre character, and I don't think anyone could have done better. One thing that bothered me was how Gabrielle and Najara became little too close, but also how Najara kicked Xena's ass, WTF!!! She had a broken tooth and everything, damn, I know Xena can't win every fight, but losing to that freak was, WOW! Good thing they put her in prison, and locked her away...too bad she comes back later this season. All in All, a great episode which introduces a very bizarre villain.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Goof: Xena's Chakram appears and dissappears in the opening fight between Najara and Xena.

    • Watch when Najara saves Gabrielle. The sound and camera effects make it look like the arrow is headed straight for Xena's head while she is comically in mid-step running in front of Gabby. Of course, it is meant to be Xena ready to catch the arrow herself.

    • Did the bad guy Marat look familiar? He should. He was played by David Te Rare, Callisto's right hand man Theodorus.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Gabrielle: Xena only kills if it's absolutely necessary.
      Najara: And I only kill evil people. Why is she better than me?

    • Xena: (referring to Najara) She's a tough girl, but she's got a weakness... its the same one I've got.

    • Najara: Ah, there's so much good to be done - and so little time to do it.

    • Najara: These people are on journey; a quest. And they are our allies in our fight against darkness.

    • Gabrielle: Are you looking for Marat's men?
      Najara: No, I'm just enjoying the scenery.
      Gabrielle: You do that too.
      Najara: Yes, all the time.

    • Najara: You've suffered much, Gabrielle but you've retained your good heart. And you have chosen to fight the darkness within you. What courage that takes. Please forgive us.

    • Xena: (referring to the vision of Gabrielle's crucifixion) Did you tell her about the vision?
      Najara: No. That would hurt her and I don't ever want to do that. That's your job. (Xena walks away with Gabrielle) I forgive you, Gabrielle.

  • NOTES (4)

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • The Jinn/Djinn, are more commonly known as genies. They come from Arabian folklore, and can be both good and evil. Many stories feature evil jinn leading humans astray.

    • Character: Najara

      Najara was based on Joan of Arc. She claimed to have visions of God and used them as inspiration when going into battle. She was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake, but the judgement was overturned and she was sainted by the church.

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