This review contains spoilers.
I found this a mostly (if not altogether) reasonable episode, but with it being placed before the final two-parter, I was expecting some big lead up to the finale. This episode's biggest problem, in my opinion, is that it feels very awkwardly placed in the running order of the season.
After the previous episode, 'Many Happy Returns', was the final all-out comedy (if you can call it that), this episode is half comedy, half drama.
It is another modern-based episode this season, coming after 'Send in the Clones', and the rather bizarre 'You Are There' before it. I can't help but feel they were over-playing the modern card this season somewhat; I think it works better limited to once a season.
Half of the episode is told in flashback, to the period after the third season finale 'Sacrifice II', when Gabrielle had fallen into the lava pit with Hope and was presumed dead.
What happened to Gabrielle at that time and how she survived was never fully explained, and this episode tries to bridge some of the gaps. It's a noble effort, but I can't help but wonder if after all this time it's really worth it.
Being told in flashback, we see the return of Joxer, who was still alive back then of course. It took me a little while to warm to the character when he was first introduced into the series, but I grew over time to really like him, and it's great to have him back.
Ares' proposed marriage to Xena seems very sudden and forced, and doesn't really fit in with anything we had seen after the time in which it was supposedly set. The only really good scene is as Xena is preparing for her wedding and comforts Joxer who is missing Gabrielle.
The modern day sections are much more comical, and feature Annie, Harry and Mattie from the fourth season's 'Déjà vu All Over Again'. As with 'Send In The Clones', there are some paradoxes as Xena is presented as a historical figure and the television series that we are watching is based upon it (it's kind of hard to explain).
The modern sections have much more in-jokes that the shaky 'Send in the Clones', with many nods to the show's fandom.
I did wonder why the nerds (I mean, 'fans') from 'Clones' weren't used though, instead of two new actresses.
This episode contains the last appearance of Kevin Smith as Ares; sometimes foe, sometimes uneasy ally, but always entertaining. Sadly, Smith was killed in an accident on a film set less than a year after this episode.
This is quite a hard episode to sum up. The flashback scenes deal with a subject that, after all this time, doesn't really need doing, and doesn't seem to fit in with surrounding events very well. The modern set moments are more satisfying, but the episode as a whole feels awkwardly placed before the two-part finale. I think this sort of episode would have been much better placed mid-season.