Xena and Gabrielle are about to free some girls help captive by a slaver named Kirilus when an older man beats them to it. After helping him out he claims to be Atrius- Xena's father. As they make their way back to the girl's village Xena eventually accepts him and is enjoying getting to know him again, however, Atrius is not all he seems.
This episode sees the return of Ares, who manipulates Xena again to try and win her back- and comes pretty close to succeeding. The main point of interest in this episode is seeing Xena once againg fight for, and then with an army. She tries to stop Kirilus' army by beating him in combat and taking over. However, when she sees that Atrius has been badly beaten up by the villagers, she leads the army into a revenge attack, with Gabrielle stopping her just in time. This is our first glimpse of the 'old' Xena, albeit a brief one. While the sight of Xena yelling 'kill 'em all!' is a memorable one, it is a shame that it isn't in a better written episode. I felt that Xena was far too quick to switch to warlord after one quick look at her father, who she had previously disowned for many years. A few chats and she is ready to forget all her good deeds? I don't think so. Then there is Gabrielle's whack over the head. She knocks Xena over, and the great warrior is so slow to react it is untrue! Either turn and whack her Xena, or call for an attack! But she gets up super slow, still looking pretty aggressive. Then there is Ares plan. Disguising himself as her father is a good move, but he really gives it away at the end when Xena was so close to returning to her old ways. Would a god really be that daft?
I feel a lot of the problems with this episode is the script- Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster's script lacks cohesion and the characterisation is a bit off. It is also too heavy handed. One minute Xena is telling Gabrielle how her father used to ride with her and humming, the next he is reminding her how he used to take her riding and humming. However, there are some good points to all this. We are always keen to learn more about Xena's family background, although Atrius isn't that nice a character- not surprising given who he really is! I like the character of Ares a lot, and especially Kevin Smith. He would return again to taunt Xena. Director Charles Siebert does a wonderful rotating camera shot when they confront each other as Ares circles Xena. Also the closing scene between Xena and Gabrielle is a very touching one. Another episode with a good idea, but a bit disappointing. 6/10.
Possibly the best episode in series one, from probably the best staff writer Steven Sears. This episode has it all. Salmoneus, Gabrielle dressing up as Xena, Xena apparently dying, humour, high emotions, Xena in very skimpy clothes!
Xena and Gabrielle arrive at a small village where Salmoneus has pepped them up with carbonated water that the people believe is some sort of elixior. However, Salmoneus is in trouble with a local warlord, who he sold faulty goods to. Xena is hit by a dart and poisoned. After almost being killed in a fight, Gabrielle must pretend to be Xena to try and protect the villagers. After Xena apparently dies, things get desperate, and Salmoneus and Gabrielle must try and save them, for the greater good!
I am a mega-Salmoneus fan! I love the character, but even more, I think Robert Trebor is wonderful. In this episode he goes up even higher in my estimation, as he shows that he is far more than just a comedy actor. This is one of the most emotional episodes as Salmoneus and Gabrielle have to deal with Xena dying- as they think, and both Trebor and Renee O'Connor are so good that the episode is a real tear jerker.
It begins with much humour as we see Gabrielle practising her fighting skills- on Argo! We also meet up with Salmoneus, or Lord Seltzer as he is known in the village. The scene where Xena fights the warlord Talmadeus and is almost killed is a scary one- we have never seen Xena lose before, and thankfully Gabrielle's staff throwing skills save the day. This is an especially strong episode for Renee O'Connor and Gabrielle. She saves Xena, then gets into her armour and impersonates her, causing one soldier to comment, 'does she look smaller?' After Xena appears to die, there are two wonderful scenes that director Gary Jones should be praised for. Gabrielle's scene with Xena's body is full of long cuts, virtually no dialogue but wonderful, touching acting from O'Connor and Trebor. Then Gabrielle goes out and grabs her staff and vents her grief and fury on a nearby tree.(In my review of Return of Callisto I discuss Gab's tree whacking in three episodes, including this one. I also have an article in the June edition of Whoosh! on Gabrielle's Relationship with Trees)
These two scenes are beautifully written, directed and acted. They convey Gabrielle's grief very well indeed. Also in the good-Gab-ep section, she fights like never before or since, when she tries to stop Talmadeus mutilating Xena's dead body. She fights her way through countless soldiers, before holding the warlord at sword point. This incredible fighting skill was obviously a one off in response to Talmadeus' horrible scheme for Xena and Gab was inspired, as she is not too much of a fighter yet. Argo also has a strong episode. She has Gabrielle practising on her, gets to chat to Xena, has to put up with Gabrielle's attempts to whistle, saves Gabrielle from the soldiers, and talks the other horse into refusing to drag Xena's body around. There was to be another scene with Argo just after Gab attacks that tree, where Argo comes up and nuzzles Gab to give her comfort- but that was sadly edited.
Salmoneus' reactions and action to Xena's death show what a hero his character really is beneath that money making exterior. Lucy Lawless gets to look poorly a lot, but she does it very convincingly, and don't we all give a big cheer when she comes back.
We get our first glimpse of Callisto in this episode as it is she that fires the dart at Xena, but it ISN'T Hudson Leick- its a body double.
One little query, Xena obviously knew the effects of the poison but she didn't prepare Gabrielle. Wasn't this cruel? She could have told her that she might appear to die. What if they had buried her or cremated her! Also, how did they get Xena's outfit to fit Gabrielle, who is a lot smaller? And how *does* Xena get herself untied from the horses in time to stop that soldier from stabbing Argo without being seen to be alive?
An outstanding episode(and the first one I ever saw by the way- good start), great script, wonderful acting and just excellent! 10/10
THE main villain of the series finally shows her face. Callisto(Hudson Leick)
is a terrific baddie. This episode also saw the debut of Joxer- the bumbling pain in the neck crap warrior played by Ted Raimi. Both of these characters would feature heavily in series two.
Callisto is terrorizing villages and killing many people, then claiming to be Xena. Our intrepid duo pursue her, but Xena finds a warrior almost her equal, and certainly the only other person we've seen able to handle the chakram. Callisto plans to murder the Oracle at Delphi and put the blame on Xena. What is really interesting though, are her motives. Xena's army was responsible for the death of her family. Meanwhile Joxer is trying to capture Gabrielle in an effort to prove himself to Callisto, but failing miserably. Callisto then kidnaps Gabrielle and she and Xena engage in a memorable ladder fight in which Gab's life is at stake.
While we caught a glimpse of the Callisto outfit in The Greater Good, here the character really gets going. Hudson Leick plays her as a demented but cunning psycho, all cackles and evil smiles. The character is especially strong because of her history. We rarely see Xena having to answer for her crimes. She is able to move on and only seems to get the benefits of people being a bit afraid or in awe of her. Callisto is like a cross between Jiminy Cricket and a harpy - her taunting of Xena, that she is responsible for Callisto's actions, are a common theme for the character.
This guilt of Xena's gives rise to a lovely campfire scene between Xena and Gabrielle that sees Xena really opening up about her past and her guilt for about the first time. It is a wonderful scene that both actresses handle very well.
The climactic ladder fight sequence is apparently similar to some seen in Japanese martial arts films. I haven't seen any of those, but I certainly enjoyed this one even if it is ridiculously improbable.
Joxer is a character that has provoked much discussion amongst fans. He was supposed to take over from Salmoneus as the comic relief, but many fans found his character tedious. The problems arose in the second series because he was in a third of the episodes, possibly due to Lucy Lawless' accident. I think there was a bit of Joxer overkill. In this episode, his character is funny, but already shows that he has a good heart. I liked the scenes where Gabrielle repeatedly beat him up. He's no Salmoneus though. Another slight criticism I have is that Hudson Leick is just so skinny! She doesn't look as if she could swing that sword with much power. A super fit and strong fighter should surely have a bit more muscle.
Look out for Ian Hughes as the bereaved Melas. He was Diomedes, Flora's boyfriend in The Black Wolf.
An important episode in the development of the series and the growth of the characters, this is also a precursor to the second series in its introduction of regular characters and its themes of guilt and revenge. 9/10.
Well, we seem to have met most of Xena's family now. This episode features Xena's older brother Toris, and also the warlord who first started Xena off on her path of destruction, Cortese. It was his army that are supposed to have attacked Xena's home town Amphipolis and the resulting battle saw her beloved younger brother Lyceus killed. It was the attack and Lyceus' death that started Xena off in the army business. When she and Gabrielle are attacked on the road, Xena recognises the mask of Cortese that the solidiers are wearing. They stumble across a town being raided and upon assisting, they discover Cortese's raiders are a problem for the kingdom. One of the raiders has a familiar look to him, and turns out to be Toris, who is trying to get close to Cortese to kill him. Xena naturally gets involved and soon makes the connection that the king and Cortese are one and the same. She must expose him and try and prevent another brother being killed in the process.
This episode is an important one in that we learn more of Xena's past. In this episode Xena and Toris discuss Xena's actions during Cortese's attack on their village and we find out what Xena and Lyceus to try and save their home. However, I found it a bit disappointing in that the character of Cortese was a manipulator, yes, but not terribly brilliant or a tremendous warrior. It seems odd that THIS is the man who was the instigator, the one to start Xena on her path of violence, as he isn't that impressive. His army are the usual thugs, and Cortese, while having a good way to keep his subjects happy as king, just isn't very fearsome. The actor playing Toris, Joseph Kell, was clearly chose for his resemblance to Lucy Lawless, (get me a blue eyes dark haired actor with good bones!) and while he is OK, the character of Toris is a bit of a mess. After all this time he is so desperate to get Cortese, and the one time he gets anywhere close is just the time when little sis appears. You would think that he would have come to terms in some way and built a life of his own. If he was as tormented as he claims during some of his chats with Xena, then how come he either hasn't attacked Cortese before and been killed or at least known to Cortese. We are supposed to believe that he has bided his time, for 10 years but now suddenly is out for vengeance. While his approach provides a lot of the drama in this episode as Toris and Xena work together, and get to know each other again, someone as impetuous as Toris surely wouldn't have lasted long as a warrior. This episode is a treat for Xena fans though, to see her and her brother together is very intriguing. It must be very hard to have a sister like Xena and not to be half the fighter she is. Poor Toris looks as though he has had a hard time, but consider their mother; Toris claims not to have been back, we know Xena has only returned once, and Lyceus was killed. If anyone has a reason to hate Cortese it would be Cyrene, their mum.
There are also some nice Xena/Gabrielle scenes where we see their friendship in action or when Gabrielle tells Toris why Xena is her friend. Xena displays another talent as she does a good trick involving her breast dagger! This episode has a lot of potential- a glimpse into Xena's past and a meeting with some of the people who shaped her life, but it doesn't quite come off despite a fairly good story. The script is a bit wooly, and the characterisations a bit unconvincing. 7/10.
The finale to the first season was one episode that had a difficult evolution, as it had to be severely edited due to the scenes of injury and death as Xena and Gabrielle become ER or MASH like medics. The episode opens with Xena and Gabrielle getting caught up in a civil war between the Thessalians and the Mitoans. They come across Ephiny, who is heavily pregnant and her husband Phantes- the centaur from Hooves and Harlots, is dead. Xena helps a passing soldier, and takes prisoner a Mitoan General named Marmax(Ray Woolf). The group then make their way to a Thessalonian healing temple where Xena demonstrates her skills to, amongst others, a young Hippocrates. Medical dramas unfold until Gabrielle is badly injured and a shaken Xena must try and save her while delivering Ephiny's baby and stopping a war! Well if anyone can do it all Xena can!
This episode is fondly remembered by fans, chiefly for the scene near the end when Xena invents CPR while bringing Gabrielle back to life. Lucy Lawless does brilliantly, showing Xena's grief and desperation to save her friend. We have never Xena acting like this, but then this whole episode is quite a departure from the standard Xena ep. For a start there is very little fighting, although there is a lot of blood. Once again Xena shows her versatility by being a better healer than anyone else. She brings her strength of character to a job that is a hard one, and is not afraid to make life or death decisions. The resuscitation scene is an emotional one, but this is a dramatic episode all round. For once the guest stars are excellent.
I am a big fan of the Amazons, and particularly Danielle Cormack who plays Ephiny, and Ray Wolf is a gruff but effective Marmax, who Xena gradually makes realize that the war is a destuctive and futile one.
I did think Gabrielle's injury, while providing the dramatic highlight, was unlikely, in that, why would a man, who looked OK ask a young girl to go out into a war zone to resue his son. Why her? She isn't your typical saviour of young children, unless that man thought she would ask Xena. I did like the idea that the great Hippocrates, father of medicine, was a student of Xena's. But it was amazing that no one had any clue how to treat injured people apart from praying to the gods.
I would love to know what this episode looked like before having the enforced edits imposed. Lucy Lawless has been quoted as saying it was one of the most exhausting episodes. I think there was quite a bit more of Ephiny's labour and I bet there was lot of extra blood and gore. Still, an atypical but highly dramatic episode that worked well, and showed once again the special bond between Xena and Gabrielle. 9/10.
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