The main event that overshadowed series 2 of Xena:Warrior
Princess was the unfortunate accident suffered by Lucy Lawless
while filming a skit for the Jay Leno show. A fractured pelvis to
their star meant that creative reshuffles and unexpected
improvisation had to happen. However, like the alien abduction of
Dana Scully gave the X Files a strong direction, the stories
resulting from this accident strengthened the show. It also gave
the series and Lucy Lawless lots of exposure in America. The
ending of Intimate Stranger was re-shot
to leave Xena in Callisto's body and Hudson Leick was employed as
Xena for Ten Little Warlords. Also altered
was Destiny, where originally Xena
recovered from her wounds. In the new version, she died, and the
following episode, The Quest, is
largely Lucy-free. It was described by staff writer RJ Stewart as
a sort of All of Me- the film with Lily Tomlin trapped in
Steve Martin's body. In The Quest, it is Autolycus(Bruce
Campbell) who has the fun of having Xena trapped in his body.
After the accident, Lucy Lawless was -understandably- reluctant to ride a horse, so Argo is notable by her absence in later episodes. We have Xena and Gabrielle taking to the water for three episodes. Another feature of series 2 is the large number of episodes featuring Joxer- the comedy relief. He appears in about a third of the episodes, and has a big role in one- again to cover for Lucy Lawless' absence. The character was not well received by all fans of the show, possibly because he appeared so often.
Comedy has always been a feature of the series, and there were a number of excellent light-hearted episodes. Even The Quest, a highly dramatic and emotional episode which opens with Xena's dead body being taken home by Gabrielle has a lot of funny moment thanks largely to Autolycus. The comedy reached a peak with A Day in the Life which was a very different Xena episode but was a big hit with fans.
After a successful first series, Xena:Warrior Princess really hits its stride in this second series. The unexpected changes forced upon the producers merely showed how good the supporting actors are, and particularly Renee O'Connor. It also forced some quick improvisation upon the writers, but despite all this, the series was a huge success in America, where it became the number one syndicated show ahead of Hercules, Deep Space Nine and Baywatch. Hopes are high for an equally good series 3.
Orphan of War
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Return of Callisto
Ten Little Warlords
A Solstice Carol
The Xena Scrolls
Here She Comes..Miss Amphipolis
A Necessary Evil
A Day in the Life
For Him the Bell Tolls
Comedy of Eros
Guest stars: David Taylor (Solan), Mark Ferguson (Dagnine)
The series opened with a huge revelation; Xena has a son! We
meet Solan who has been raised by Centaurs after Xena and
Gabrielle go to help in a fight against an evil Centaur Dagnan.
Xena must join forces with Kalaipus, the Centaur she once fought,
but the one she gave her son to, to raise. This causes some
friction with Gabrielle who can't see how Xena can not tell the
boy she is his mother, and some touching scenes between Xena and
Solan- who believes she killed his father.
Watching the first series episode Hooves and Harlots recently, Xena is very disapproving of Centaurs-'they're no friends of mine', she says. Obviously this story hadn't been thought of then. You have to wonder how even Xena could hide a pregnancy from her army, deliver the baby herself and then give him away. Anyway, this episode give Lucy Lawless a chance to show a different side to Xena, and as usual she pulls it off well. Her conversations with Solan are very well written and she plays it with just the right degree of reserve. There are also the first signs of discord between Xena and Gabrielle as Gabrielle disapproves of Xena's decision not to tell Solan about her. The final scene between Xena and Solan is very touching and features some wonderful acting from Lucy Lawless as Xena is saying goodbye to Solan. We also hear for the first time about Borias, who would feature in series three and four.
The evil centaur Dagnine is played by Mark Fergusson, who appeared previously as Krykus and pops up again as Smythe in The Xena Scrolls. 7/10.
Guest stars: Aaron Devitt (Lyceus), Robert Harte (Maphias), Mark Ferguson (Krykus), Stephen Tozer (Mezentius)
Xena and Gabrielle visit a temple of the fates at the
anniversary of Lyceus' death. After the temple is attacked, Xena
instinctivly kills a soldier who turns out to be a young boy.
Disgusted with herself, she is not comforted by the Fates
themselves, who appear to her. When she wishes she had never
taken up the sword, the Fates grant her wish, and Xena is now a
village girl, and Lyceus is alive. However, there is a price for
this, and Xena realizes that it is not all that simple to live
without spilling blood, even in a just cause.
This is a wonderful story, that may sound a bit corny- a real take off of Its A Wonderful Life, but it works very well indeed. Lucy Lawless gets out of the leather for a change, and is a village girl with her younger brother alive and well, and a slightly weedy fiance. She again handles the emotional scenes, as Xena talks to her dead mother, very well. Renee O'Connor is the gloomy one in this story, as she is now a slave girl who Xena helps. This story gives Xena some justification for her actions. We all have regrets, but Xena is shown that life isn't as simple as one or two choices. Her life as a warlord may have had terrible consequences, but life would not necessarily be better with her as a simple village girl. It also seemes to give Xena some peace of mind. In the early part of the episode she is very much down on herself and her part in her brother's death. By the end, Xena is more at ease with her decisions it appears. This sort of episode can't be done too often or it will become jaded and tired, but this one works really well. 9/10.
Guest stars: Todd Ripon (Goliath), Anthony Star (David)
Xena and Gabrielle go to meet an old friend of Xena's-Goliath,
and yes it IS that Goliath, the giant! They get involved in the
fight between the Israelites including the future King David, and
the Philistines, aided by Goliath. Along the way Gabrielle almost
falls for David, and Xena must fight against her old friend.
This story mixes Xena with Biblical characters semi-successfully. The story is reasonable, although I was a bit sorry Xena couldn't find any other way out than killing her old and valued friend. Gabrielle's relationship with David was a bit reminiscent of all the young men she seemed to fall for in the first half of series one, but at least he didn't die like most of her men! The giant effects are convincing, the fights OK, but this isn't the most memorable of episodes. Todd Rippon who played Goliath was in the Hercules tv movie that Renee O'Connor was in as the local thug, and he wasn't THAT tall. 7/10.
Guest stars: Ted Raimi (Joxer), Matthew Chamberlain (Orpheus), Anthony Ray Parker (Bacchus)
Xena and Gabrielle go up against the evil god Baccus(Although
the Greeks named him Dionysus and he wasn't so evil) in this
vampire romp that went out around Halloween in America. Joxer
arrives with Orpheus to ask for Xena's help. Orpheus' singing
tames the Baccae- female followers of Baccus, but Orpheus' lyre
has been stolen, and the Baccae are recruiting young local girls.
Gabrielle goes to a groovy girls disco while Xena searches for
the lyre. After an encounter with strange flying beasts in a
graveyard, Gabrielle turns into a baccae. Xena must save her and
This action packed episode is quite rare in that Xena rarely fights monsters- that is usually Hercules' job. The flying Driads SFX are very good, as is the headless Orpheus. (Although according to Greek myths, the driads were beautiful nymphs rather than rotting flying skeletons. I think they mixed driads with harpies!)
The vampire-like Baccae are very seductive, and the bit where Gabrielle bites Xena to turn HER into a Baccae is quite a suggestive one. Indeed this is quite a subtext heavy episode. Gabrielle goes dancing with some girls who may of may not be Bacchae, and that bite scene was certainly memorable. There has been some discussion as to when Gabrielle was actually bitten- we don't see any bite marks on her as opposed to Xena who DOES get nipped.
Joxer appears, but is used well. He is the comic relief as always, but at least his character has a proper purpose. However, the most notable thing about this episode is the style injected by director TJ Scott. The dazzling camera work, especially in the climactic battle with Bacchus is dizzyingly stylish. Special mention should also go to the music - although I am not sure of the Bacchae Rap was written by Joe LoDuca as it has never featured on the soundtrack CDs.
Matthew Chamberlain who plays Orpheus is completely unrecognizable from his previous appearence is the wicked Darphus in The Gauntlet and Unchained Heart. I really liked the tone of this episode- very modern, with rap music and vampires, but then who bothers about chrolnolgical authenticity! 8/10
Guest stars: Hudson Leick (Callisto), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Scott Garrison (Perdicas)
One of the real high points of series 2 is this story that
sees Xena's arch-foe Callisto return, and also the return of
Gabrielle's former fiance Perdicus. He turns up asking Gab to
marry him as he wants to give up the life of a soldier. At first
Gabrielle is going to turn him down, but after he breaks down
during a battle, she decides to marry him. After a brief ceremony
and a touching goodbye with Xena, the happy couple leave.
Naturally the bliss can't last and Callisto arrives intending to
kill Xena's best friend Gabrielle, but after Xena arrives in the
nick of time she sticks the sword in poor old Perdicus
instead.(Hooray!) This has an extreme effect on Gabrielle who
becomes obssessed with revenge and persudes Xena to show her how
to use a sword and is intent on killing Callisto, but when the
opportunity arises, she cannot kill. Insteasd Callisto captures
her and Xena must save her.
This is a particularly good episode for Renee O'Connor, who has spent most of the series being the happy, talkative sidekick. Gabrielle has always been the hopeful one, the one who saw the best in a person or a situation, but here she is almost pushed over the edge by Callisto's callous and murderous brutality. For us fans, Callisto did us a big favour. Perdicus was a drippy character, and Gabrielle couldn't possibly stay with him. Her gleeful killings show once again what a horribly brilliant baddie she is- a necessary ingredient of a series like this. Hudson Leick overacts at times, but that is perfect for the manic Callisto. She makes a perfect foil for Xena, especially as her motivation is almost just- her family were killed by Xena's army when she was a child. However, I still think Hudson Leick is too skinny looking to be such a great fighter. She looks just a bit too weedy to defeat big strong Xena.
My favourite scene is the one with Gabrielle and the sword. She is practising against a tree as Xena approaches. This evokes the memory of two other Gab and tree scenes that show her development as a character. Back in Dreamworker she was playing with Xena's sword against pretend enemies in a jokey child-like way. In The Greater Good, Gabrielle worked out her grief over Xena's apparent death by giving a nearby tree a good whacking in a very emotional scene. Here we see a much calmer, but more disturbed Gabrielle, planning on taking a life and laying into another tree. It says a lot about the way Gabrielle has changed, and the thoughtful way her character has been handled.
Perdicus first appeared in Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts. However, his character is a bit of a pain here. He virtually forces Gabrielle to take pity on him after he decides he can't go on. We fans didn't want to see Xena and Gabrielle split up. Quite a relief to see him go!
A strong episode that has lots happening, the fiendish Callisto and more excellent acting. 9/10
Guest stars: Ted Raimi (Joxer), Norman Forsey (King Lias)
This follow up to the first series episode Warrior..Princess, feaures Lucy Lawless in three roles-or even more! She plays, Xena, the princess Diana, the tramp Meg, Xena pretending to be Meg, Diana pretending to be Xena, Meg pretending to be Diana and Meg pretending to be Xena! This inevitably has lots of slapstick stuff, involving Meg having the hots for Joxer(!), Meg being nasty to Gabrielle, a fight between Gabrielle and Meg, all three having a fight with the baddies etc etc. The amazing thing is it works thanks to Lucy Lawless' slightly different portrayal of each. You can tell who she is supposed to be quite easily (apart from an early scene with Xena and Joxer where Lucy Lawless' Xena doesn't speak quite correctly.) Look out for Lucy Lawless finally getting something different to sing-although the lullaby she chooses certainly shocks the nanny! Other noteworthy scenes, Xena's entrance into the bar where Meg has been hanging out, Meg's scene with Joxer at the castle featuring the filthiest line so far-"I want your sword in my service RIGHT NOW!"- Gabrielle's jail scenes, Xena's chakram display to prove she is Xena, and a very funny finale as first Diana, then Meg appear as Xena, before our hero appears to save the day. For my money this one isn't as good as the original episode, which had the advantage of originality, and had a funnier script. This one relies on Ms Lawless' acting skills more than good writing- and thanks to her it works very well. However, there were some very well written scenes, and when Lucy can carry an episode so well, this lookalike formula will run and run..8/10
Guest stars: Hudson Leick (Callisto), Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer)
The episode that really follows on from Return
of Callisto, this is a dark story as we see Xena's guilt over
her killing of Callisto result in Callisto trapping Xena in the
underworld while Callisto takes over Xena's body.
The episode begins with a nasty recurring dream for Xena as she and Gabrielle are on the trail of Theodorus, Callisto's second in command. Callisto tricks Xena and with Ares help swaps bodies with her. We then have the wonderful sight of Lucy Lawless as Callisto in Xena's body, taunting Gabrielle and Argo and threatening to kill her own mother, while Hudson Leick plays Xena trapped in Callisto's body, with one day to regain her own. Even Ares is surprised by Callisto's psychotic behaviour as Lucy Lawless has a ball as Callisto. A lot of the enjoyment of this episode is to see Lucy copy Huson Leick's mannerisms as Callisto. Hudson has the harder job of convincing as Xena as much of Lucy Lawless' style is done with little movement, more with facial expressions. Hudson Leick can't do her sneer, or the hard stare, or that Look. She flattens out her voice and does quite a good job of it. On the other hand, Lucy Lawless is wonderfully nasty, she makes a great baddie, and does a pretty convincing, Callisto crossed with the snake from the Jungle Book!-(it's the eyes. Sign her up to be the next Bond Baddie!) We are never in any doubt that it is Callisto, and it seems strange that Gabrielle can't spot the difference.
The final scene was originally Xena returning with her own body, but this was one of the episodes that was altered after Lucy Lawless' accident. So she is still in Callisto's body at the end. Look out for the creepy opening with Xena's dream within a dream within a dream, poor old Argo getting a hard time, and Xena(with Callisto inside) getting Gabrielle to attack her with her staff. For a really hammy moment, check out the bit after Xena and Callisto's fight in the woods where Gabrielle turns to Hudson Leick(as Xena) and says, Is it really you? Hudson tries to be really Xena-like and puts her hand on Gab's shoulder, but her 'Yaah' is excruciating! However, this is another good episode with more high quality acting and writing-good old Steven Sears!8/10.
Guest stars: Hudson Leick (Xena in Callisto's body), Kevin Smith (Ares), Ted Raimi (Joxer), Charles Siebert (Sisyphus)
Hudson Leick plays Xena stuck in Callisto's body in this story
that has Ares losing his Godhood after his sword is stolen by the
sneaky- but dead -King Sisyphis, played by director Charles
Siebert. Strange things happen with no God of war;peaceful
people, inluding Gabrielle can't control their tempers while a
large group of the nastiest warlords seem to be all pals. Xena
and Gabrielle get an invitation meant for Callisto to a special
event. Sisyphis is holding a contest and the winner can become
the new god of war. Xena teams up with the now mortal Ares to try
and regain his sword and his godhood.
This story was originally written for Lucy Lawless, but was adapted so that Hudson Leick could play it, and she makes a pretty good job of it, although interestingly, she says she really hated it as it was just too dull to play the good girl! The delectable Kevin Smith goes all scruffy and even takes his shirt off girls! Gabrielle and Joxer argue and fight their way to help in this Agatha Christie type tale. The setting is reminiscent of 10 Little Indians, with the remote island and the mysterious host, and the guests being killed one by one. It is strange seeing Hudson Leick as Xena- Gabrielle jumps when the new Xena wakes her up at the start. 'Couldn't you dye your hair?' she asks. Leick and Kevin Smith make a good pair. Smith shows the usual dark charm, but with a touch of seediness about him as the mortal Ares. He needs Xena's help, and admits he isn't enjoying himself, but Xena correctly scoffs when he suggests the experience may change him. However, he does return Xena to her own body at the end, although Lucy Lawless doesn't actually appear. The shots at the end are the credits sequence and a body double, which makes Gabrielle's cry of,'It is you!' rather amusing. Look out for the flying lobster near the beginning!7/10
Guest stars: Joe Berryman (Senticles), Peter Vere-Jones(King Silvus)
A slightly sentimental Christmas episode sees Xena and
Gabrielle in the kingdom of a mean old Scrooge-like King named
Silvus, who has made celebrating the Solstice a crime and is
planning on tossing a bunch of orphans out of their orphanage on
Solstice eve. Xena and Gabrielle decide to try and help. The plan
is Gabrielle's and for once doesn't involve cracking heads.
Instead, Xena gets to dress up as the three fates and try out a
few accents. Gabrielle gets a donkey, and there are lots of toys
and children around.
This is a very light episode. There is a fair bit of physical comedy as Xena fights with toy swords and swings a Hercules puppet as a weapon. She also has fun doing yet more accents- although the last one slips a bit. The end of the episode has Gabrielle giving her donkey to a Jewish looking Joseph and Mary couple with a new baby. So that's where they got the donkey! I wasn't a huge fan of the carols and orphans, just a bit too twee. Derivative but mildly amusing. 6/10
Guest stars: Ted Raimi (Jaques S'er), Kevin Smith (Ares), Mark Ferguson (Smythe), Rob Tapert (Himself)
A real change of pace for the team as we have an Indiana Jones
style 1940s tale. Renee O'Connor is the action woman Dr Janice
Covington, the cigar smoking archaeologist complete with whip,
hat and leather jacket. Lucy Lawless gets to do YET ANOTHER
accent as Southern Belle Mel Pappas, a translator of ancient
Greek come to help Janice find the Xena Scrolls. They meet up
with Ted Raimi as an Inspector Clouseau type policeman and Mark
Fergusson back again as the baddie (guess what, he's British!)
John Smythe. On finding the underground chamber, they
inadvertently release Ares from a trap that Xena had placed him
in centuries before, as Mel is a descendent of Xena and Janice of
Gabrielle. Mel is transformed into Xena and they must once again
entrap the god of war before he can get out and meet up with
This episode is tremendous fun. The stars look as thought they really enjoyed themselves and the story is a good one. Janice and Mel are interesting characters in their own right, although you have to give a cheer when Mel takes off those glasses to become Xena. Mark Fergusson appears as his third character, and even Ted Raimi gets to do two roles as the episode ends with a modern day section with him pitching an idea to Executive Producer Robert Tapert for a show about Xena. As a one off this was a great idea, and a very inventive way to do a clip show.9/10.
Guest stars: Karen Dior/Geoff Gann (Miss Artifyce), Robert Trebor (Salmoneus)
A wonderfully funny comedy episode that sees the very welcome
return of Salmoneus. He is running a beauty contest, Miss Known
World. However, someone is trying to sabotage it, so Xena goes
undercover as Miss Amphipolis, with Gabrielle as her sponsor, the
I love comedy episodes, and this is probably one of my real favourites. Just the synopsis made me laugh; Salmoneus running a Miss Known World beauty pageant! Seeing the brilliant Robert Trebor again is great. Salmoneus is a wonderful character, and lifts just about every Hercules or Xena episode he is in. Remember his theme song for Xena in The Gauntlet? Here he sings a couple of times- surely they have to get him and Lucy Lawless to duet sometime. His comic timing is impeccable, as always, as he MCs the pageant and has to deal with the largely brainless and talentless contestants. Lucy Lawless is a former Mrs New Zealand herself and certainly seems to have fun sending it up, effecting a convincing brainless bimbo act. She dons a blonde wig here that is quite fetching on her. Also enjoying herself, Renee O'Connor finally gets to do an accent too- some sort of European I think. Look out for Miss Artyfice; the very funny no-talent show; Xena's impromtu dress redesigning; the contestants attempts at a choreographed number and a very 'The Graduate' scene with Lucy Lawless' legs doing a Mrs Robinson. About the only bit that doesn't ring true is when Xena and Gabrielle are getting desperate trying to think of what Xena can do in the talent show- after all, she has many skills!(Unless that was another joke.) 9/10.
Guest stars: Karl Urban (Caesar), Ebonie Smith (M'Lila), Nathaniel Lees (Nicklio)
A very dramatic and emotional episode that sets out to show
how Xena went from warrior fighting for her village to ruthless
and cruel warlord. The episode begins with Xena being very badly
injured after a visit to Cirra-where Callisto once lived with her
family before Xena's army burned it to the ground. Trying to save
a child, she is hit by a booby trap and Gabrielle tries to save
her by taking her to a healer many miles away. As Xena hovers
between life and death, she remembers what it was that changed
her. We see her sailing with her band of pirates. She captures a
young and cocky Roman soldier named Julius Caesar. Also, a girl
named M'Lila stows away on Xena's ship. These two shape her life
in different ways. M'Lila teaches Xena about those pressure
points she like so much, and her acrobatic fighting style looks
familiar too. Xena falls for Ceasar and after ransoming him,
looks forward to seeing him again. However, Caesar's return is no
lovers reunion. He betrays Xena and crucifies her and
her crew- not the act of a friend! After being saved by M'Lila,
Xena is taken to a healer- the same one Gabrielle takes her to.
In her memories, Xena remembers Caesar's men arriving and killing
M'Lila, starting Xena on her life of cruelty and killing. In the
present, she eventually gives up her fight for life...
This story was written and directed by executive producer Robert Tapert, and is an important one in explaining Xena's past. History reports that Caesar WAS at one point kidnapped by Greek pirates, and having a ruthless historical figure like him appear makes Xena seem more like a real figure herself. The dual story of past and present is an effective device, and the final scenes are incredibly dramatic. This episode is another that was altered to allow for Lucy Lawless' accident. Originally Xena was to have recovered. I think this ending is far more effective- although returning from the dead is not something people really do. However, reality has little to do with mythology! Having a hilarious show like Miss Amphipolis followed by an emotionally draining one like this is what I love about the series. Both type of episodes work well, because it isn't a series that can be categorized easily. Here in the UK, this episode was very severely edited, including many important cruelties and actions, but even so it is a terrific episode. Julius Caesar is played by Karl Urban, who appeared as Mael in Altared States and will be seen later as Cupid. Nathaniel Lees who plays the healer Nicklio was the nasty priest Mannus in Dreamworker, and has appeared in a couple of roles in Hercules. 9/10.
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