Season three of Xena: Warrior Princess ended on a tragic note, with Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor), friend and chronicler of reformed warrior Xena (Lucy Lawless), sacrificing her life so that her daughter, Hope -- the incarnation of pure evil -- would not be resurrected. Given the series' mythological zeitgeist, however, viewers could take comfort in the fact that Gabrielle would ultimately be restored to life thanks to the diligence of the faithful Xena, thereby launching a fourth season of fanciful sword-and-sorcery adventures. As usual, quite a lot was packed into the season's 22 hour-long episodes. The death of Amazon Queen Ephiny placed the wide-eyed Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) on her predecessor's throne, thereby introducing a new character: rebellious teenaged Amazon Amarice (Jennifer Sky), whose relationship with Gabrielle was nearly a carbon copy of Gabrielle's relationship with Xena. Also seen for the first time during season four is Eli (Timothy Omundson), a Messianic shaman whom the ladies met during a journey to India. Eli will ultimately emerge as Gabrielle's spiritual mentor -- not to mention the figurehead in a pacifistic, monotheistic cult that will in later seasons bring down the literal wrath of the Gods. And just as Amarice and Eli were making themselves at home, the series bade farewell to Bruce Campbell as Autolycus, self-proclaimed King of Thieves. The more suspenseful and terrifying episodes of season four were offset with excursions into pure comedy. One of the more noteworthy lighter installments was the season's final episode, in which we were introduced to mixed-up modern-day incarnations of Xena, Gabrielle, and warrior wannabe Joxer (Ted Raimi). Withal, however, an ominous pall hung over the entire season, thanks to the grim prognostications of Xena's old nemesis, the evil shamaness Alti (Claire Stansfield). With her dying breath, Alti conjured up a horrific vision of Xena and Gabrielle's grisly execution and the hands of the hated Romans -- a prediction that not only came true, but also provided the "cliffhanger" which assured that loyal (and very worried) Xena fans would return for season five.
by Hal Erickson synopsis