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The Adventures of Aella the Amazon. Part 6: Season Five.

By Paul Leone.

Alexander the Great meets Diogenes (without his barrel), by Gaspar de Crayer.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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

The Adventures of Aella the Amazon.

Part Six: Season Five

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

Season five is, depending on which faction of fandom you belong to, either the beginning of the end or one of the highlights from start to finish.

This is the year Casta left both the show and television acting, at least until 2018’s La Reine en blue. Who and what you believe about her departure again depends on what faction you belong to. There’s one group that thinks Casta was forced out by behind the scenes drama and ugliness, as well as a growing dissatisfaction with her costume and characterisation. Another holds that she just wanted more money than the studio could afford, even for a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Most likely it was a combination of both (and don’t get me wrong, a pay raise was entirely justified). At any rate, Aella was in two more episodes and then sailed off into the sunset (literally). Menippe became the lead, and Agave stepped in as her partner in crime-stopping.

Season five would have a tighter focus, harkening back to the Scythia season, and was dominated by Vincent Cassel as Alexander the Great, steadily declining into madness as the season progresses. Cassel was easily the best villain the show had to offer, a far cry from the goofy miscreants that Aella and Menippe usually encountered.

Alexander the Great, descending into insanity. Played by Vincent Cassel.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The King of Macedon kicked things off with a bang, literally, as Alexander explodes the walls of Athens and the city falls to his armies despite the best efforts of Aella and company; Alexander’s triumphal march into the conquered polis is only slightly hobbled by the show having the budget to depict an army of dozens.

The second episode to air (at least in the United States, overseas stations aired them in the proper order) was one that lives in infamy in the hearts of almost every fan – Bitter Parting, where Aella is somewhat unceremoniously chosen (without her consultation or even awareness) as queen of the Iberian Amazons. Adding salt to the wound was the use of Dequenne’s stunt double, Sabine Collard, as a barely seen stand-in for Taoutou in the last shot of Aella sailing away. There have been less dignified ways to get rid of a main character – or so I assume. I can’t think of any. (An hour later, one did occur to me – Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Following up the departure of a beloved character is a thankless task, but The Last Riddle of Aristotle did as good a job as could be expected. Menippe and Agave reluctantly become partners and solve the titular riddle; Jacques Charrier brings a weary cynicism to the Greek philosopher. Alexander’s Alchemist employed the late Sir Christopher Lee to maximum effect as Polemon, the alchemist in question. He brought a mix of gravitas and mania to the part and it’s a pity he only appeared once.

Next was Perils and Promises in Persepolis, aka the second musical episode. A fluffy piece of fun, the last unalloyed joyful episode we’d see in a while. Sayid the Seeker! sees our favourite sailor trying to find the sword of al-Lat, Arabic goddess of war, before Alexander’s minions (lead by Colm Meaney as Cathair the mercenary) can get their evil hands on it.

This is Cathair, Alexander's minion, played by Colm Meaney.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

These are not Alexander's minions. Sorry, guys.

Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Agrippina’s Lament was the first of three appearances by Megan Gallagher as an unlucky Roman philosopher and antiquarian; in this episode, she teams up with Menippe and Agave to recover a map showing the location of an ancient Atlantean armoury. The Eye of the Sphinx likewise dealt with a quest to pre-empt Alexander and Cathair from claiming an ancient treasure, this one the death-ray beam/eye hidden deep below the Sphinx.

The Sea Queen made one last journey to Gaul in Fangs of the Fox before heading home to Greece for Sorcery in Sparta, which was a very dark episode, harking back to the Medea era. The same can’t be said for The Lion’s Shadow where the rascally Macedonians have freed Parhana from prison and are using him as a pawn of their own interests. It turns out that Idris Elba was nobody’s pawn and has experienced genuine repentance while locked up – the reveal is a huge ‘grinning like an idiot’ moment for me.

Flight of the Phoenix was another romp, this time introducing Amira, the gallant captain of a flying galley. Sparks instantly fly between Amira (played with steely resolve by Rose Abdoo) and Sayid. The next episode, The Nereid’s Cove, was a fairly tranquil one, heavy on dialogue and drama, light on action. It’s reportedly one of Dequenne’s favourites.

Agrippina the Roman returned in Agrippina’s Idol and the show once again taps the ‘find an ancient McGuffin before Cathair does’ well. The Daring Adventures of Dr Andrianopoulos mixed things up. Instead of the Macedonians racing the crew of the Sea Queen to find an artifact, we see Fascist Italy playing the same game against a Lara Croft-type played by Rachel Blakely. There’s a popular fan theory that this was a failed back-door pilot, but that doesn’t seem to be the case from what I’ve read.

The season entered the home stretch in Beyond the Caspian Gates, which saw the final return of Shihua and the notoriously goofy death-by-drowning of Cathair.

The next four episodes, The Savage Swords of Alexander, The Sinister Schemes of Alexander, The Devilish Desires of Alexander (despite the suggestive title, it’s not a titillation episode; the desires are instead to RULE THE WORLD) and The Fantastic Furies of Alexander are essentially a movie that steadily ramps up the stakes both for the crew of the Sea Queen and the entire world. By the end, we learn the full extent of Alexander’s ambition, which modestly include becoming the King of Olympus. The pace didn’t slacken in Alexander Against the Amazons, which features both a very long and well-done battle scene between Macedonian phalanxes and Amazonian cavalry and a cameo by British singer Katie Melua as the Muse Erato. Finally, with his enemies broken and scattered, Gog and Magog sees Alexander, on the cusp of ultimate victory and world conquest, undone by his own hubris... with a little help from Menippe’s quick thinking.

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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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