A Robin Hood type mystery figure who helps the oppressed is the subject of this episode. Xena meets an old friend who asks her to try and save her daughter Flora who has been jailed as a sympathizer. Xena gets herself in with the king Xerxes, and tells him she will uncover the Black Wolf for him. Meanwhile, Gabrielle arrives in town and tries to get herself jailed too so she can help Xena. She bumps into Salmoneus and his range of Black Wolf merchandise in the marketplace. Naturally Xena frees the people, and defeats the wicked King.
This is a competant enough episode, that has its good moments, but is not a real classic. It marks to first appearance of Salmoneus in X:WP, and as usual, he brightens up the whole episode. We also learn that Xena is a dab hand at embroidery! The girl seems a bit young to have been a childhood friend of Xena's, and the identity of the Black Wolf is not that surprising. The usual fun fight scenes, and a few laughs. 7/10.
The most famous Greek legends comes to Xena:Warrior Princess the show as Xena and Gabrielle get involoved in the Trojan War and meet Helen of Troy, who just happens to be an old friend of Xena's. Arriving at Troy, they are surprised to meet Perdicus, Gabrielle's former fiance who was memorably described as 'dull and stupid' by Gab. Here, whila Xena tries to help resolve the war, Gabrielle and Perdicus get reaquainted. The wooden horse is rolled in, and the story ends as expected with defeat for Troy, although there do seem to be a lot of people escaping quite easily at the end.
I am not a huge fan of these sorts of episodes based on well known stories. Of course we do get a slightly different perspective as the story is usually told from the Greek point of view, whereas Menalaus is not portrayed as a very good character either. Helen is not as beautiful as she should be- this was supposed to be the fairest woman in the world and while the actress is attractive enough, she doesn't completely convince. Perdicus was a non speaking bit part in Sins of the Past. Here he has been recast, and Scott Garrison is good and quite appealing- more than he would be in the later Return of Callisto. Another OK episode.7/10.
Gabrielle goes it alone as she decides to try out for the Academy and so leaves Xena and meets up with the other young bards. There is a competition on, and after bluffing her way in, she soon entrances everyone with her stories about Xena. After her deception is uncovered, Gabrielle is disqualified, but the other bards rally to her cause. Gabrielle realizes that while she loves telling stories, with Xena she is living them.
This rather thin story is padded out quite extensively but effectively with clips from earlier episodes and also from epic movies like Spartacus as the bards tell their stories. For a group of performers they are pretty imcompetant- a pompous boring one, a rowdy unintelligible one, a stutterer and a mumbling shy one. And these are supposed to be the best! No wonder Gabrielle is held in high esteem. Frankly, this one looks like they were running behind schedule and had to get an episode shot quickly. Apart from a nice little scene between Gabrielle and Xena as they prepare to separate, this episode has little of note. The idea of seeing Gabrielle as more than just Xena's sidekick is a good one, but this episode doesn't give Renee O'Connor enough to get her teeth into. It is a bit alarming to see a bottle show as episode 13. Were they running out of material already? Also, RJ Stewart and Steven Sears are two if the main, and best writers. You have to wonder if this was one they cobbled together over lunch. As with all Xena episodes, it is well made enough, and for once Gabrielle DOESN'T fall for one of the young men, but this isn't one of the series best hours. The chap who played Homer, Dean O'Gorman was Hercules' young cousin who chases Xena with him in The Gauntlet. 6/10.
Xena and Gabrielle join up with assassin Thersites and Xena's ex-fiance Petracles to hunt for treasure in this adventure story. Each holds a clue to the location of some Sumerian treasure, and must work together. What Xena isn't telling the men is that there is also a special key with the treasire that leads to ambrosia- food of the gods and a nibble of which can turn a person into a god. Along the way Petracles tries charming Gabrielle and the quartet have a few scrapes and fights to get through.
The top writing pair are together again, but once more I was disappointed, This is a better, if unoriginal story, but for me the characters just don't work. Particularly Xena's ex, Petracles, who is a charmless individual lacking in charisma. You can't for the life of you imagine how he and Xena got together. It just doesn't ring true and similarly his characters interactions with Gabrielle are poor. I don't know whether the blame lies with the script or the actor, but Petracles is a weak link for me. There are good scenes in the episode however. The attempt to steal a jewel from a temple by Gabrielle and Thersites is quite fun; Xena and Petracles' venture through the hall of silence is another good scene, and I did quite like Gabrielle and Petracles' attempts to outdo each other in boasting how persuasive they were. Petracles' trump card being that he persuaded Xena to marry him, to which Gabrielle has no reply. Peter Daube, who played Petracles was in The Gauntlet with Lucy Lawless as the father of the baby Xena saves. An OK but not shining episode-again. 7/10
After those mediocre episode come perhaps my favourite of all, and the broadest comedy episode so far. Going to the castle of King Lias, Xena discovers that she is an exact lookalike for the princess Diana. She is soon to be married and is also the subject of several assassination attempts. Xena and Diana swap places, so while Xena is curtseying and tring out the latest in dresses, Diana is being completely hopeless as the warrior princess.
Lucy Lawless gets a chance to do something a bit different and is brilliant. It is funny to watch as we the viewers know exactly who is who by Lucy Lawless' acting. I don't know which is funnier; Xena playing the helpless damsel while whacking a few baddies or Diana's hilariously drippy attempt to be Xena. Scenes to look out for include Xena's first stab at being Diana with her sevant girls, Diana's attempts to brighten up Xena's armour with a few ribbons, Xena and Philamon's fight with a gang of thugs where Xena has to pretend to be standing watching whenever Philamon turns around, Diana's first meeting with Gabrielle, Xena's harp playing, Diana's chakram toss. So many memorable moments in this very funny episode. Writer Brenda Lilly hasn't done any others. A shame on the basis of this one. The follow up to this, Warrior..Princess..Tramp featuring THREE roles for Lucy Lawless was written by RJ Stewart. A couple of other points worth mentioning. King Lias is the cousin of King Sysiphus. Iain Rea who played Philamon was a soldier beaten up by Xena in The Path Not Taken. What IS a pickled croasis when its at home?! 9/10
Xena's 'friend' from The Path Not Taken returns, but here Marcus is Xena's true love! He appears to her as a ghost to ask for her help to put right something terribly wrong in the underworld. Xena goes to a very deep lake that she must dive to the bottom of to get to the underworld. There she meets Marcus again and discovers that it has been turned upside down. The wicked are in the Elysian Fields and the good in Tartarus. The pair take a trip to see Hades himself and discover that his helmet of invisibility which gives him his power has been stolen by Atyminius. Xena gets Hades to give Marcus two days of mortality to help her retrieve the helmet. Returning to Gabrielle they discover her being attacked by an invisible Atyminius, and they track him before he can resume his killing spree. Returning to Hades, Xena persuades him to judge Marcus again to let him into the Elysian Fields.
This is a terrific episode for about two thirds of the time, but is let down by a saggy ending as Xena, Marcus and Gabrielle follow the invisible Atyminius to a wedding where he intends to kill the bride. After the underworld scenes and some very impressive Harpy SFX, Atyminius is just not interesting enough-especially as we don't even see him. Marcus' character is developed a bit here, although what does he REALLY do to help Xena? I liked the scenes in the Elysian Fields where Xena meets Toxeus from Death in Chains who assumes she is dead too. Xena wears a smart black bathing suit- with boots, and we get a heavily made up Michael Hurst as Charon, boatman to the underworld. Not perfect, but pretty good episode. 7/10.
One of my favourite episodes, mainly for the wonderful Bruce Campbell who appears as Autolycus, the King of Thieves. Xena and Gabrielle want his helpto steal back a precious object for some friends that is also the most powerful weapon in the world. To do this, Autolycus is disguised as Sinteres, a deadly warrior philosopher, and Xena goes along as his assistant. After a boat trip, they arrive at the castle of Lord Malthus, and see the chest, but before they can steal it, it is stolen and Lord Malthus murdered! Things get worse when the REAL Sinteres shows up.
The fun in this episode is to see Xena and Autolycus try to get the better of each other. Autolycus introduces Xena not as his assistant, but as his concubine, and forces her into another exotic dance of the three veils! The scenes between the two are all a joy and it would take too long to list them all, but I especially liked the toss up to see who got the bed and Xena's dancing. A good story and excellent script. Bruce Campbell is so funny and stylish as the King of Thieves. Even the real Sinteres is quite amusing with his prancing about. The weapon is a steal from Raiders of the Lost Ark- guess what it is and who it doesn't kill? A Gabrielle-lite episode, but a really good one. 9/10.
After a fight in which she froze up, Gabrielle decides that she needs to leave Xena and return home to sort herself out. She arrives back in Poteidaia just as the town is about to be attacked by a warlord named Damon. The town has hired a warrior to help them; Meleager the Mighty. Gabrielle doesn't get a very warm reception from her sister Lila who is angry at her for leaving and annoyed at Xena. Meleager turns out to be a drunk, and Gabrielle must try and help him and her town.
It's not that long since Gabrielle left Xena to go the Academy in Athens, but she decides to leave again. We get to see Poteidaia and meet Lila again. She appeared very briefly in Sins of the Past and we know that she could beat Gab up then! Now, the scenes between the sisters are a bit different. And where WERE Gabrielle's parents through all this? Had they left town? Why didn't she ask after them? This episode was a bit different to the usual ones. Xena is only in it very briefly at the beginning and end, but Renee O'Connor is good enough to carry an episode alone, and she is well supported by Tim Thomerson who is a treat as Meleager, the well meaning warrior with a drink problem. It is interesting to see Gabrielle be the one who knows how to work with a warrior. She helps with the defences and, as usual, talks several people into things. I felt the scenes with Lila were less sucessful due to the limitations of the actress playing her. A whine is about all she could do.(Incidentally, she was the female Argonaut in the Hercules Episode, 'Once a Hero'.) Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy and soppy too.
This was Chris Manheim's first script. Future scripts are Altared States, Remember Nothing, A Solstice Carol, Miss Amphipolis and Comedy of Eros. These all are a good mix of humour and drama. In this episode there are funny moments too. The episode opens with Gabrielle playing her pan pipes- I wish we could see that again one day. I also enjoyed Gabrielle's attempts to get a lift back home.
On the minus side, Gabrielle's reasons for the sudden departure are pretty flimsy. One minute happy, and happy to fight, the next she's off! Soon afterwards she is telling Lila that she is home to stay. A bit abrupt. Also, those defences tactics were pretty pathetic, and how come Meleager was able to defeat them all. Must be one of the smallest armies around. Although I liked Gabrielle's pole vault escape, how come the truck didn't knock over her pole? And if there was room around the side why didn't she just flatten herself against the wall? This episode has a good concept- Gabrielle going home and helping out a legendary but washed up old warrior, but it doesn't really deliver. 7/10.
Featuring the memorable opening of Xena and Gabrielle skinny dipping, this is one of the best of the series. It mixes biblical themes with a lot of humour and the first serious tease of subtext. The plot is reminiscent of the Issac and Abraham story, as a man-Anteus, who believes in one true god, is about to sacrifice his young son, Icus because he thinks that is what his god wants. It isn't though, it is really the dastardly older brother Maell drugging their food and using a load talking thing to simulate the voice of god. Xena and Gabrielle help Icus, and along the way Gab gets high on henbane laced nutbread, sings with the rocks and has a knife held to her throat again. The pair also get thrown down a well for theor efforts.
Much of the enjoyment from this episode is in the humour. Xena's opening fight with the deadly weapon- a bunch of wet fish, is classic XWP humour. Gabrielle's drug induced state is also the root of a lot of laughs as Renee O'Connor has fun. The clamber up each other's bodies out of the well and the finishing playful scene between Xena and Gabrielle are also memorable moments. The story itself is a successful mixture. I don't always enjoy the bilical or mythical ones, but this story is not directly from the bible, merely very similar. Karl Urban makes his first appearance as Maell(also Caesar in Destiny and Cupid in For Him the Bell Tolls and A Comedy of Eros) If you are a fan of the subtext(see my Introduction if you aren't sure what it is.), then this is a memorable episode. The fishing scene, Gab telling Xena she is beautiful, and that climb up each other in the well all figure high on subtext fans evidence lists.
Another point of interest is the ending scene where Xena is more playful with a hung-over Gabrielle than we have seen her before. Some people saw this as a significant moment in Xena's development, but in a facinating interview at the outstanding Whoosh! site with director Michael Levine, he reveals that Lucy Lawless had been off for a while with a bad back, and this was her first scene back. She was in a good mood and consequently played it for fun. He also told how the voice of Icus was in fact dubbed by his own son due to some problem with the sound.
A good episode strong on story, performances and high on fun. 9/10.
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