THE XENA SCROLLS: An Opinionated Episode Guide (613 & 614)

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.

 

125. Season 6, Episode 13: “You Are There” (Aired: 02/05/01 | Filmed: 11/08 – 11/10/00; 01/12/01)

In an ancient world meets modern-day satire, a tabloid TV reporter stalks Xena and Gabrielle, determined to get a juicy scoop on the Warrior Princess.

Written by Chris Black | Directed by John Laing | Production No. V1417

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JACKSON SAYS:

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.

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CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:

Michael Hurst (Actor, Nigel): “[This] was hilarious. It was a lot of fun. I really loved doing [this] episode. I just had a ball. [This one] broke the rule. Before we did [this] episode, the producers had always said, ‘Yes, we can do Hercules and Xena shows that are modern – where everything is looked on as an historical event,’ but they never had modern stuff in real episodes until that point. So I was there wandering around as a CNN reporter in the middle of the Ancient World and all that, and it was great. The thing that was really fun about [this] episode was at one point, you had Lucy [Lawless], Renee [O’Connor], myself, Kevin Smith [Ares], and Joel Tobeck [Lucifer] – all these people together. We have worked together for years – a lot of us have actually worked together before Xena – so we all knew the technique backwards and, honestly, it was a riot! It was the funniest, happiest wildest time on the set that I can recall. We would just stand around laughing all the time. We were professionals – we got the job done in record time – but it was also very loose, and everyone was being naughty. Lucy was; Renee was… So we all had a laugh.” (Titan: The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #23 – October 2001)

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Rob Tapert (Executive Producer/Writer/Director): “I remember exactly why [Michael Hurst] got the part – cause that reporter kind of drove everything forward and had to be funny, and I went, ‘Michael Hurst is just the person we should get for that!’… We had Eve blurt out all these obscenities and then we bleeped them. And actually I think that the director John Laing and the people on the day just thought they were going to add that and we could take it out if we wanted to… [The episode] defies logic, but we never tipped our hand that this was odd… We kind of broke the fourth wall and said, ‘This guy’s shamelessly there.’.. It was [written by] a writer named Chris Black, who[m] I really really love… Well written, funny script… [And] we thought it was the perfect chance in this episode to answer the question as to Xena and Gabrielle’s sexual relations, but of course we could never answer that question. We could pose the question and get them all ready for the answer, and then… “ (“You Are There” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Lucy Lawless (Actor, Xena): “I don’t know. It was a dot, dot, dot on the page… you can think what you like.” (The 2001 Pasadena Xena Convention)

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Adrienne Wilkinson (Actor, Eve): “My favorite episodes of all the episodes that [have] Eve in it, hands down, was [this one]. I love, love, loved being able to play [the cursing] scene. I thought it was hilarious; I thought it was especially funny that Eve would be the character to just randomly start cussing… The funniest part of that was that I was working, so I wasn’t able to get there for the table read. So I don’t know how they presented it at the table read, but the next day, I’m on set, and I show up to do this scene and of course in the script, none of the cursing is actually spelled out. It’s just, ‘Beep. Beep Beep.’ And you put in whatever seems appropriate. And it comes time for us to do this particular scene, they call action, I just start swearing up a storm with Michael [Hurst]… And all of the crew start freaking out, cause few of them have read the episode. They have no idea why I’m cussing or why I’m allowed to be cussing on TV. This doesn’t make any sense to them. And then couple that with the fact that everyone who did know, didn’t think I’d actually be cussing. I don’t know what they thought the alternative would be. I couldn’t figure out what they thought I was going to do. But they weren’t expecting it. And I got to tell you, everybody… would come up to me and tell me, ‘You are releasing so much energy for me. Anything I’m pissed off about, I’m not even pissed anymore.’ Which I loved; it was so fun for everybody. And the way they shot [this] episode was so fast. There were very few takes, very few angles we had to get because of course it was from the point of view of the news camera crew. And it was just brilliant. It was so fast, everybody was in such a good mood, it was such a great way to explore.” (“You Are There” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Michael Hurst (Actor, Nigel): “It was funny to do and I remember when I got asked to do it, I was like, ‘You’re having a reporter going back to Xena time and Xena isn’t coming back to the modern time – what?’… We thought it would be really funny for me to be interviewing myself [as Charon] and do a double thing, and we could have done it, but we just didn’t have the time. It was one of those mature calls you have to make. The guy who played it, Peter Rowley, is an old friend of mine, as it happens, and they wanted it to sort of be like the same character, and they had an old face piece left over from when I played it, so it kind of had me in that face cause it was built on my face. [It was] weird, really. He put that on and he’d say, ‘How do you say this?’ [And I showed him.] So he kind of looks and sounds like me.” (“You Are There” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Kevin Smith (Actor, Ares): “[This is] the one where Ares gets his powers back. And he says, ‘Wait a minute, I got something to do.’ He gets himself back to the farm, and he blows the sh– out of the dog. Just in case you thought he was getting sentimental! Just in case [you thought] up in Olympus it was only him and Aphrodite knocking around there, he’s got his dog with him. Just to show them old Ares is back, go back and kill the dog!… We used to watch that program here when I was a kid, You Are There. A reporter with a microphone; ‘I’m talking to Benjamin Franklin right now in his workshop.’ As a child I went, ‘Oh, of course. Naturally. Why would you not?’ So it was like, we could use up a lot of screen time trying to find some device for this. Screw it. Also, when people get interviewed, they speak specifically about their intentions, or what they’re feeling, and stuff like that, whereas before you have to pick that up yourself from their behaviors, what they say and the way that they say it, and what they’re doing. So it’s a good way of getting some things across, and it tidied up the whole Aphrodite and Ares getting their powers back gig as well. It actually was a fun device.” (Spectrum Magazine – June 2001)

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126. Season 6, Episode 14: “Path Of Vengeance” (Aired: 02/12/01 | Filmed: 11/23 – 12/05/00)

Xena and Gabrielle fight to save Eve from execution when she returns to Amazon lands to make amends for her past.

Written by Joel Metzger | Directed by Chris Martin-Jones | Production No. V1418

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JACKSON SAYS:

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.

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CAST & CREW COMMENTARY:

Joel Metzger (Writer): “I think the story they wanted to tell was… that the Amazons were what the white man did to the American Indians…. Also we wanted to do the trial of Eve. We’d been talking about doing the trial of Eve all year. They were thinking about doing it in Rome, but we decided that if anyone was going to hold Eve on trial, it would be the Amazons. So we have her going back seeking either forgiveness or punishment, whichever one she wanted. But that was the impetus of [the episode]… I was asked to write the Amazons again. I think I became the go-to guy for the Amazons cause ‘Dangerous Prey’ turned out pretty well, and so they had me come back and write for the Amazons… How did Ares become a part of the mix? That was Rob Tapert again. Rob would sometimes be like a cook in the kitchen and he would try different things and mix different ingredients. And we hadn’t seen Ares in a while, and he wanted to put him in there. And I guess it became my job, because Ares is the God of War, I thought, ‘Well, he would be leading the Amazons astray. What would he like more than two armies clashing together, both sides worshipping him?’ So that became his uber-plan that he was going to have the Amazons and the Romans fighting, both sides worshipping him for victory, because Ares had lost his godhood earlier and he wasn’t feeling too much like a man I guess, and he had some catching up he needed to do. That was his plan I guess… [Gabrielle and Varia’s] bareknuckle boxing… was going to be hot oil wrestling… I’m not joking – early draft.” (“Path Of Vengeance” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Renee O’Connor (Actor, Gabrielle): “Tsianina [Joelson, Varia] and I did the entire fight ourselves. Because it was a standard fight with kicks and punches, we could both do it quite safely with each other… Tsianina is a controlled actress who can sell a fight and make it strong… [We] had a great time in our fight. It was quite funny because we were giggling between takes… I thought it was well choreographed and I was pleased to be able to work with Tsianina.” (The Chakram Newsletter: #15)

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Kirstie O’Sullivan (Actor, Gwyn-Tier): “I think one of my biggest memories was when on my first day on set we had a scene in the forest, which we were shooting outside, and because I am the Celtic Amazon Queen, I had my tribe of course with me made up of a fabulous bunch of stunties and I’d been made up and had my [costume] on and what have you, and got into the forest… and was talking to the director about where we were heading next, and he looked over my shoulder and he said, ‘Oh, my good lord. There are your tribespeople.’ And I looked around and there was about 40 people with really curly red hair… Earlier on that year I had auditioned for another episode of Xena, and I wasn’t successful… and so about six or eight months later, my agent rang me up and said, ‘Have you cut your hair?’ And I said, ‘No, no, no. It’s still longish…’ And she said, ‘And it’s still red, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Why, is there something in the pipeline?’ And she said, they’d actually gone through the tapes… and the look that I had really fitted Gwyn-Tier.” (“Path Of Vengeance” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Joel Metzger (Writer): “[W]e wanted to put Ares back in his nasty god role again, and I was told to make him more like the old Ares. It’s in his nature, after all – he’s the God of War; he wasn’t cut out to be a ncie guy mortal; leopards don’t change their spots. So that’s how I wrote him. I did go back and watch some Ares episodes, but he’s in so many, and Kevin Smith paints the character so well, that I had no trouble picking him up. He’s a very Machiavellian fellow. He’s out for himself and he’s hot for Xena, and that’s all you need to know.” (Titan: The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #22 – September 2001)

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Adrienne Wilkinson (Actor, Eve/Livia): “In [this episode], I got the delicious chance to play Livia again, which I loved. It was just like a gift, which I so embraced. Loved fighting again, love the costume and the make-up and the hair. Just, love her so much. Your whole posture changes when Livia’s on the scene. But I will say, that was a bit of a wakeup call for me, because the one thing that I hadn’t known until that episode – and it didn’t necessarily change how I played her, but it did change how I thought of her – in the episode, you found out that she’s done this horrible thing where she has essentially destroyed this whole village for absolutely no reason. And you also find out… where she’s just thrown all these people overboard for no reason. She just lets all of these people drown. It’s such a cold, callous, horrible thing, that I remember… Ares is the one that brings that up, and in the table read, I remember thinking, ‘Oh, he’s just lying. He’s exaggerating to make it worse.’ And I remember asking Rob [Tapert] specifically, ‘Wait, but did she really do this?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, yeah. Yeah, that was absolutely her.’ And I thought, ‘What a b**ch!’… At the end of [the episode], I do think that Eve is still searching, but I think she knows now what she’ searching for. And I think that makes a big difference, that she has an actual path that he’s trying to follow. So she’s found her calling and she’s embraced it and I think that’s a lot different than just arbitrarily looking. It was such a strange ending because we didn’t exactly know where she was going, or what she would do, what she would be fulfilling in the future. So it’s somewhat ambiguous but I think it’s comforting that at that point, she has truly embraced Eve fully… So she let’s her past go and is able to move into the future, which is fantastic I think… Well, I remember Lucy wasn’t particularly happy with the way the scene ended. For all of us, it just felt a little weak. So we all threw out lines as to what we thought would be better, although to be honest, we were completely joking about some of them (as you do on set)… and we all threw out some things. But I remember somewhere in there was the point of ‘Don’t get into trouble.’ And we couldn’t figure out what we wanted to say. And Lucy being a pro said, ‘You know what? Let’s just do it. It’ll come to me. It’ll be instinctual or something to that nature.’ And we did it – we did the scene and I’m walking off into my future and she does yell out something like, ‘And don’t get into any more trouble,’… I did not know [it] would be my last episode. I was initially supposed to be in the next-to-last episode, maybe the last two, but as you do, you just keep writing the story [and] trying to find what’s appropriate.’ And right at the last minute, they decided, both that the character wasn’t needed in the final episode, but when you look at [this episode], it was such a beautiful ending that you almost don’t want to mess with that. Because almost every single time that Eve showed up, invariably there’d be more issues brought up than put to rest. There would always be more things that we then had to deal with. And I think [this one] closed the door on so many of those. And it was just a nice ending, so it was a good way to end it.” (“Path Of Vengeance” Interviews w/ Cast & Crew – Season Six DVD Set)

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Here are scans of an interview that writer Joel Metzger gave on “Path Of Vengeance” for The Chakram Newsletter: #15.

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Here is an on-set report of the production of “Path Of Vengeance” from Titan: The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #19.

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Come back next Thursday for more Xena! And tune in tomorrow for another Pre-Code Film Friday!

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4 thoughts on “THE XENA SCROLLS: An Opinionated Episode Guide (613 & 614)

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