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REVIEWS  805 - Curse of the Lake Demon

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Review: Episode 805: Curse of the Lake Demon
by: 41 Cyg

Rating:  7.7

Another good episode. My rating is a 7.7 (out of 10). I'm not sure why I'm putting it below last week's (Wampum), but I'm fairly certain of the relative ranking in my mind, even if I can't explain why.

Before I get to detailed comments on this week's episode, I want to mention something that I only recently noticed in the New World story arc. With the U.S. Thanksgiving coming up soon, I realized that many of the traditional holiday foods originated here in the Americas. Then I noticed while reading one of the earlier episodes this season, that our heroes seemed to be sticking to their usual diet of rabbit and fish, with maybe some venison thrown in, all of which are common on both sides of the Atlantic.

It's true Gabrielle did try a (very) hot pepper in Mayan Madness, there was apparently a roast tapir in War Cries and they found some guavas in Child's Play, but where are the most common New World foods? Corn (maize to British English speakers) was the dominant food grain from the southern tip of South America through southern Canada, but I believe it is not mentioned. Popcorn, too, was grown in what is now the U.S., and was a regular part of the meals in some areas. Potatoes are also absent, although maybe they will appear in the (as yet) undramatized Machu Pichu story. Sweet potatoes, too, are missing. Cranberries, another Thanksgiving staple, are, I believe, native to the northeast U.S. and could have appeared in any of the last three episodes.

I can overlook the absence of buffalo steaks, since none of the episodes were set in the Great Plains where the bison flourished, but surely Xena and Gabrielle would have encountered the traditional Thanksgiving main course - the turkey. They were common
form Mexico to the northeast U.S. and, while nowhere near the size of the farm bred monsters seen today, would have provided the two travelers with several days worth of meat. I can imagine the scene:

Xena and Gabrielle have been following the sound of an unusual bird call. Peeking through tall grass into a clearing, they see a magnificent Tom turkey with several good sized hens.


By the gods, Xena, look at the size of those chickens!

I don't think those are chickens, Gabrielle, though I'll bet they taste as good. Which one do you want?

She unhooks her chakram.

The big guy there?

We couldn't finish him in a week! one of those smaller ones will do fine.

Anyway, it would have been nice to see Xena and Gabrielle sampling more of the local specialties.

Now to my comments on Curse of the Lake Monster.

Teaser: The lake monster is an interesting looking creature. Did you use a particular legend or just put a specific face on the general `monster in the lake' story?

Act I: A fifty-foot waterfall seems a bit high for Xena and Gabrielle to go over with no injuries. I know they have survived a lot of dangers, but something like twenty feet would still be exciting, but believable (But, of course, Gabrielle does say `I can't believe we survived that!'.).

It took a second read-through to figure it out, but I think I've got the area straight now. Our heroes came down the river and encountered the lake monster. After going over the falls, they were in a canyon made by the falls eroding its way upstream where the lake monster had his trash dump. Below this the stream widened out into the lake where Naitaka lived and which held the island with the bottomless pool.

I liked Gabrielle's comment on the monster as `... the one that got away, ....'

Why does Gabrielle get a vision of Hawkeye's father from holding the tomahawk? She's not generally psychic and the tomahawk is not like the Chibchadah (Is it?).

It's interesting that Xena and Gabrielle don't have to resort to sign language to understand Owl Eyes. They must have picked up the language of the area at a previous stop.

Act II: I usually don't mention typos (We all make them.), but it is unusual that the wounded are placed on palettes (artist's paint boards). Some more appropriate accommodations must have been found later, since Gabrielle does rest on a pallet (a small or poor bed).

The warrior Black Elk - are you paying homage to the narrator of Black Elk Speaks?

Owl Eyes says Bellowing Snake wanted to command the spirits of the dead to fight for the living and the council objected to that, but couldn't he just have asked them instead, leaving the choice to them?

Owl Eyes tells Gabrielle the story of Bellowing Snake. Why then must he show it to her in a vision? I assume the dialogue heading, Bellowing Wing, is an error for Bellowing

Act III: When Owl Eyes says two of the warriors have already died, it seems Mahko, Black Elk and Ahote are dead.

Act IV: When Gabrielle suggests that she and Xena return to their home via the underworld, I'm surprised Owl Eyes doesn't put in an objection. Although the pair, particularly Xena, have had a good deal of experience in the underworld, it still is not a trip that should be undertaken without a good deal of serious thought and planning. Also, with all the underworlds Xena has been in, Hades (numerous episodes), the Amazon afterlife (Adventures in the Sin Trade), the Judeo-Christian Heaven and Hell (or at least a reasonably good facsimile of it) (Fallen Angel) and some sort of Oriental afterlife (Honor Bound), she has never noticed a connection between them (In fact, in Adventures in the Sin Trade I, she had to return from Hades to the regular world to get to the Amazon afterlife.), so why would she or Gabrielle be so certain that they could find their way to Charon, or would there even be a way?






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