Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 2 Episode 7

Intimate Stranger (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Nov 11, 1996 on

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
88 votes
  • Callisto choreographs a switch of bodies and it is executed in perfect Xena style - an fantastic episode which showcases the outstanding acting talents of Lucy and Hudson.

    Intimate Stranger is a very clever and well executed episode. Although the plot is a little shaky, it wins points for all of the same reasons that the previous episode did: as a tribute to the outstanding acting skills of Lucy, and in this case, Hudson.

    The switch was designed to serve a clear purpose: to replace Lucy while she was recovering from her riding accident, but this episode stands alone as a top episode of Xena. From start to finish, the whole episode works. In parts, it feels like it shouldn't (ie. Callisto's intention of burning the whole of Amphipolis) but the leading ladies are so outstanding playing each other, that those scenes overshadown any lesser parts to the episode.

    It is hard to decide who is more convincing playing the other, but for once I feel I have to give the award to Hudson - her Xena impersonation was absolutely spot on. Without even trying, I could see that she was Xena on the inside, and it is quite remarkable to watch. However, Lucy is outstanding also, and the only reason that she is slightly less convincing is because Callisto, as a character, is so much harder to play. Xena has a presence about her that is easy to see, but Callisto is so random and her mannerisms vary so much, that I think it would be almost impossible for anyone portray her perfectly other than Hudson. Having said that, Lucy is exceptional, and for most of the episode she really is Callisto.

    The episode starts so solidly, with the brilliant opening dream sequences. I like how they tied the themes of dreams into the episode, because it provided a solid backdrop to the episode. I felt that Joxer was a little out of place in this episode, and didn't really belong in such a serious and meaningful episode; Gabrielle, on the other hand, was perfect, and it is a shame that she wasn't used more.

    This episode, however, is about guilt. What I like about this episode, and about the guilt theme in general, is that Xena killed Callisto for Gabrielle. Xena had proved, in the past (ie. "Callisto"), that she wanted to give Callisto a chance to change. She wanted her tried for her crimes and punished, but still given the opportunity to change her ways. However, Xena's love for Gabrielle led her to allow Callisto to die, so that Gabrielle could feel that Perdicus had been avenged. Xena knew that Gabrielle was unable to do it herself, so Xena saw it as her duty to kill Callisto. Where the difficulty lies is in motive vs means. Did Xena actually execute Callisto? Was allowing Callisto to die the same as killing her with her own hands? And, of course, the most difficult question of all: could Callisto have changed?

    The answer is, of course, no. This however, does not make the guilt any easier to live with. Xena lives, and suffers, in a very difficult situation. She is torn between doing what she thinks (in her heart) is right, between what the code she now lives by calls for her to do, and the action that her love and loyalty to her best friend and soul mate expects of her. The beauty of Xena lies in managing this quandary so believably, and so heart wrenchingly. Callisto has provided the ultimate challenge to Xena: physically, mentally and emotionally, in essence, the ultimate foe. In this way, she can be compared to Ares.

    For an episode that I have given a 9 out of 10 to, I feel like I should have more to say. Instead I will wrap it up by saying that this episode should be appreciated for the sheer brilliance of the stars of the show - while this episode won't get picked as a favourite, it deserves a special mention as a highlight of season 2.
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