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The Adventures of Aella the Amazon. Part 4: Season 3.

By Paul Leone

The Centaur of Tymfi; that human/horse back junction is going to cause problems. Perhaps that's why there are so few centaur action adventure film stars remaining.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Continuing our review of the series. The first reviews can be found here, here and here.

The Adventures of Aella the Amazon.

Part Four: Season Three

Disclaimer. This is a work of fiction and fantasy; no such show exists... at least in our timeline.

The third season of many sci-fi and fantasy series is regarded as the best (see Buffy and Star Trek: The Next Generation, for instance). The initial stumbles and “What are we trying to do here?” are ironed out, the cast and writers have got used to each other, and desperate late-season gimmicks aren’t even on the horizon. The Adventures of Aella the Amazon is no exception. While it was never going to be regarded as deep drama, the third season was a lot darker and more mature than what came before (or would come after).

After saving the Hellenic world from an angry sea god, Aella and Menippe decided to decamp to greener pastures – the endless steppes of Scythia. Scythia has our heroes travel at the speed of plot, leaving Greece and arriving in what will eventually be Ukraine (or maybe Moldova or possibly southern Russia – geography, never the show’s strongest element, was especially fuzzy in season 3) in between shots; they get entangled in a local crisis and unmask the villain just in time. I said season three was a darker one, but you wouldn’t know it by the first two episodes.

Southern Alberta or Scythia? You decide.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Episode two, The Horse Lords, was the first and last appearance of centaurs on the show; given how they were depicted mostly in frontal close-ups of the actors’ upper bodies, otherwise with absurd CGI over actors on stilts or a few horribly framed rear shots of actual horses, this was probably a wise decision. It’s still one of my favourite episodes, and not just for the ironic glee of watching poor Èmille Dequenne trying to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a smitten centaur in a scene that even the likes of Neil Breen or Tommy Wiseau would have cringed at.

The Scythian adventures continued with The Furies of the North, which pitted Aella and Menippe against sorcerous triplets. Not a bad episode, but it and the next episode The Giant Ones (Bigfoot threatened by greedy hunters in a throwback to Very Special Episodes of the 1980s) are probably season three’s nadir.

The next two episodes, Warriors of the Steppe and Rulers of the Steppe, introduce the Scythian Amazons, the first time we’ve seen a different tribe of Amazons. It definitely won’t be the last time! Aside from that, the two-parter is most memorable for introducing Jennifer L Yen (of Power Rangers fame) as Shihua, an exiled warrior from the distant land of Seres (aka China). Yen would give Plummer’s Arete a run for the money as far as bug-eyed lunatics go, and one wishes she had been in more than just three episodes.

Next up was Whispers in the Wood, an episode with a typical plot about a nomadic clan under threat from outside, but notable for the show’s first mention of Alexander the Great, who would loom larger in later seasons, and the first appearance of Michael Shanks and Morena Baccarin as Jason and Medea, who would dominate the end of the season.

Arete’s Revenge is a delightful bit of lunacy where Arete and Shihua team up in a gloriously over-the-top attempt to bring down Aella and Menippe. Does their plot succeed? No. Does the episode entertain? Absolutely.

The remainder of the season is when things get dark. First up is Agave’s Agony (which barely includes Aella and Menippe at all) has the ‘evil sister’ forced to confront the consequences of her own actions. It’s a typical ‘villain on trial’ episode but does move Agave along on her heel-face turn.

The last three episodes, The Mystery of Medea, The Maledictions of Medea, and The Golden Fleece are what gives the season its reputation (indeed, one wishes there’d been less fluff about centaurs and Bigfoot and more room for the Fleece arc to breathe). Shanks’ Jason is a greedy thug while Baccarin’s Medea starts off as a put-upon sorceress who only gradually reveals just how bitter and dark she’s become. The casual murder of a Scythian servant girl in the chaos of Jason and Aella’s escape is a turning point for the character.

Released from Gotham and Firefly, Morena Baccarin takes on the role of Medea.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Or it would have been if Medea had, as originally planned, returned in season four. As it stands, swayed by the money and prestige attached to major network show Firefly, Medea was originally last seen promising fiery vengeance on Aella for “ruining everything I loved”. This scene was clumsily edited for repeats and home video and cuts Medea’s impassioned rant to just a couple of lines. Medea wouldn’t even be mentioned again. Nor would Jason, for that matter.

All in all, though, the Scythian season is very well regarded, and with good cause in my opinion. The two leads, along with recurring guests like Green, Shalhoub, Plumber, and Claudia Black as Lysippe, Queen of the Scythian Amazons, were at the top of their game, and the Golden Fleece plot was probably the show’s best.

Southern Alberta looked beautiful as the stand-in for Scythia, too. (1).

(1 ) Hat tips to the users Talwar, Senator Chickpea, and Charles EP M for respectively suggesting: Alberta as a filming location; Jason as a thuggish fool, Morena Baccarin as Medea, and the dark tone of the Golden Fleece arc; and the dodgy centaur effects and Firefly wooing Baccarin away.

Comment on this article Here.

Paul Leone is the author of the SLP book In and Out of the Reich.

His extensive list of books can be found Here.


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