Welcome to another Xena Thursday! Today, we’re continuing our chronological coverage of every single episode of Xena: Warrior Princess — both the episodes that I have previously highlighted AND the episodes I’ve yet to feature. Complementing my thoughts are the thoughts of those who worked on the series: mostly actors, writers, directors, and producers. I have done months of research for the acquisition of the quotes you’ll see over these next 67 weeks (as there are 134 episodes and I’ll be covering two episodes per week). They come from a variety of sources, including the original special feature-laden DVD releases, The Chakram Official Newsletters, both the Topps and Titans Official Xena Magazines, the fan kits, and other assorted print and video interviews. So in addition to sharing my thoughts, these posts will also contain information and musings from the Xenites that matter most — the ones who brought this exciting series to the small screen.
05. Season 1, Episode 5: “The Path Not Taken” (Aired: 10/02/95 | Filmed: 08/14 – 08/21/95)
Xena faces ghosts from the past when she visits one of her old haunts and ingratiates herself with murderous former “colleagues” in order to locate a kidnapped princess who is being hidden there.
Written by Julie Sherman | Directed by Stephen L. Posey | Production No. 876907
I featured this episode as one of the 18 honorable mentions that narrowly missed inclusion on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here.
CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “[The opening brawl in this episode] was the first action scene where I started to ‘get it.’… [But when recording Marcus’ ‘Burial’ song,] I just trotted out funny words.” (The Official Guide To The Xenaverse by Robert Weisbrot – 1998)
Joseph LoDuca (Composer): “Lucy’s very reticent about her vocal talents, but I said, ‘Oh, we have to use this song!’ And Rob [Tapert] found a place for it… The best performance we had was on a third-generation, poor quality, cassette. Yet there was something very moving about Lucy’s performance. So we took that cheesy audiocassette and beefed it up as much as we could, and I basically played the background for it.” (The Official Guide To The Xenaverse by Robert Weisbrot – 1998)
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “[Xena had] an African love interest, Marcus, played by Bobby Hosea, who’s this fantastic actor and man, and that was all new—that was pretty new stuff to television in the ‘90s. You know, still—interracial couplings [were not common on TV then].” (Archive of American Television Interview – 2013)
06. Season 1, Episode 6: “The Reckoning” (Aired: 10/16/95 | Filmed: 09/14 – 09/22/95)
Ares frames Xena with the murder of four innocent villagers in the hope that she will return to him and rule by his side.
Written by Peter Allan Fields | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. 876908
I featured this episode as #37 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here.
CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:
Kevin Smith (Actor, Ares): “One of the first things we did when we were doing [this episode] with Charles Siebert [as director], we sat down and Lucy [Lawless] and I had a good bit of a start on what they wanted, because we had a lot of one-on-one scenes together. It’s all about a seduction, so we tried to get a bit of sexual chemistry going on that. Each time we did a scene together, it was all about a seduction back to the dark side.” (Whoosh! Interview – January 1998)
Charles Siebert (Director): “[This is] the one where she’s chained, isn’t it? We went into shoot that, and the morning we went into shoot the first scene in the cell, they had a kind of a stock or something that was going to be put over her arms, and put over her neck and her arms were going to be in it and she was going to be chained to a wall or something like that. I looked at it and thought, ‘No, that’s ugly, that’s not attractive.’ This was very early in the series, and I said, ‘No, let’s hang her from the rafters and spread her out like that.’ And so, we set it up like that, [and it] took a little time to re-rig all the chains and that sort of thing. We did that without Lucy there, and Lucy walked in she said, ‘Wow, that looks like sexual fetishism.’ And jumped right in. You know, like, ‘Chain me up boys, let’s go.'” (What You Didn’t Know About Xena – Exclusive Bonus on Best Buy Season One DVD Release)
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “I was slightly afraid of what could be perceived as the S&M quotient in [this] episode…” (The Official Guide To The Xenaverse by Robert Weisbrot – 1998)
Renee O’Connor (Actor, Gabrielle): “I remember we filmed all [Lucy’s] fights and then we turned around [to get] my reaction and the hit… I remember saying to [her], ‘Lucy, um, just look at me.’ [She said,] ‘…I didn’t look at you on my reverse.’ I said, ‘No, it doesn’t matter. Just look at me.’ [Be]cause just seeing [Lucy’s] eyes… would create a reaction that was completely appropriate to… being that hurt…” (Coffee Talk #2 with Lucy & Renee)
Charles Siebert (Director): “My favorite scene – I liked that scene where we chained her up for that reason, we had a lot of fun with that. I also – I happen to like in that show – I love the dialogue between Ares and Xena. It’s very uncharacteristic of most of the Xena stuff. There is a lot of dialogue and it’s just the two of them in a room talking. We were under a pressure; Kevin Smith was doing a play at the time, and he had to get out at a certain time of the day. I only had him for a certain time to shoot. So I was restricted as to how we shot it; there were certain things I just didn’t have time for, so we kept it pretty simple. What I liked about it was it became an interesting scene between the two of them, just dialogue…. But the two of them were so terrific and looked so good that it worked out very well. That’s probably my favorite scene in the show.” (What You Didn’t Know About Xena – Exclusive Bonus on Best Buy Season One DVD Release)
Kevin Smith (Actor, Ares): “Lucy and I came in on a day she wasn’t filming, and they wrote scenes and re-wrote them. Basically, they wanted them to be sexy. I believe that was the word they used. They wanted to have some chemistry between [Ares and Xena]. That was on the page for a start. The director, Charlie Siebert, said, ‘Okay, here’s what they want to achieve in this scene. You can be all those things, but don’t be smarmy. Be sure, be seductive, and all the rest of it, but don’t be smarmy and cocksure.’” (Spectrum Magazine #26 – June 2001)
Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “Rob just saw [this episode] the other day and he says, ‘[You were] trying to do something with [your] voice, like, make it really deep.’ [Be]cause I thought I sounded like a chipmunk, you know? When you hear yourself on tape and you go, ‘I sound like a chipmunk.’ So I tried to make Xena’s voice really deep and manly [in these early episodes].” (Coffee Talk #1 with Lucy & Renee)
Come back next Thursday for the next two episodes! And tune in tomorrow to read about another 1929 film!