Following XENA: The Anti-Hero (II)

Welcome to another Xena Thursday! Today we’re continuing our last series of posts on this iconic action series, looking at particular themes/arcs/elements through a handful of accompanying installments. My hope is that this can be a resource, like so many of the other entries here, for those who are just beginning their adventure with Xena. Last week we covered the episodes with most action; today we’re looking at the episodes that portray Xena as anti-heroic, engaging in behavior that is not expected (especially in the ’90s television landscape) of heroes. If these types of narrative (now not uncommon) strike your fancy, these are the Xena episodes to watch . . .

 

01. 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

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Chosen for the moment where Xena’s anger gets ahold of her and she beats Gabrielle, I featured this episode as #37 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

02. Season 1, Episode 20: “Ties That Bind” (Aired: 04/29/96 | Filmed: 02/21 – 03/01/96)

Xena saves a mysterious warrior who later professes to be her estranged father. But the reunion is anything but happy, as a suspicious Xena tries to find out if the man’s claims are true.

Written by Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. 876923

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Chosen for Xena’s return to evil as she leads an army against an innocent village, I featured this episode as #53 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

03. Season 2, Episode 1: “Orphan Of War” (Aired: 09/30/96 | Filmed: 05/29 – 06/07/96)

Xena comes to the aid of a community of centaurs menaced by a member of her former band, and upon her arrival is reunited with the young son whom she left in their care nine years earlier.

Written by Steven L. Sears | Directed by Charles Siebert | Production No. V0206

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Chosen for Xena’s long-held secret and its complex moral implications, I featured this episode as #42 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

04. Season 2, Episode 5: “Return Of Callisto” (Aired: 10/28/96 | Filmed: 07/05 – 07/16/96)

Gabrielle’s consumed by hatred and a desire for vengeance after an escaped Callisto murders her beloved, Perdicus, in an attempt to punish Xena.

Written by R.J. Stewart | Directed by T.J. Scott | Production No. V0210

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Chosen for Xena’s decision to let Callisto die in the quicksand, I featured this episode as #10 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

05. Season 2, Episode 20: “The Price” (Aired: 04/28/97 | Filmed: 02/10 – 02/19/97)  

Xena reverts to her old ways to whip a dispirited Athenian army into shape to take on a horrific foe known as the Horde. But her ruthlessness appalls Gabrielle.

Written by Steven L. Sears | Directed by Oley Sassone | Production No. V0217

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Chosen for Xena’s lust of power/battle when she leads the Athenians against the Horde, I featured this episode as #9 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

06. Season 3, Episode 4: “The Deliverer” (Aired: 10/20/97 | Filmed: 05/27 – 06/05/97)

Xena, Gabrielle and the first priest of a monotheistic cult head for Britannia to battle their common enemy Caesar — who promptly captures Gabrielle.

Written by Steven L. Sears | Directed by Oley Sassone | Production No. V0403

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Chosen for Xena’s questionable motivations for going against Caesar, I featured this episode as #17 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

07. Season 3, Episode 6: “The Debt (I)” (Aired: 11/03/97 | Filmed: 07/16 – 07/25/97)

As Xena and Gabrielle travel toward the Eastern kingdom of Chin, Xena recalls a kidnapping episode from her dark past involving two rival Chin clans.

Story by Robert Tapert & R.J. Stewart | Teleplay by R.J. Stewart | Directed by Oley Sassone | Production No. V0406

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Chosen for Xena’s mission to assassinate someone (and the glimpses of her horrible past), I featured this two-part episode as numbers 5 & 6 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts on this episode (and the next) here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

08. Season 3, Episode 7: “The Debt (II)” (Aired: 11/10/97 | Filmed: 07/28 – 08/06/97)

Flashbacks recall Xena’s spiritual reawakening at the hands of her mentor. But in the present, the “Green Dragon” has captured Xena, and is breathing fire at her.

Story by Robert Tapert & R.J. Stewart | Teleplay by R.J. Stewart | Directed by Oley Sassone | Production No. V0407

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Chosen for Xena’s murdering of Ming T’ien and her lie to Gabrielle, I featured this two-part episode as numbers 5 & 6 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts on this episode (and the prior) here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

09. Season 3, Episode 12: “The Bitter Suite” (Aired: 02/02/98 | Filmed: 11/05 – 11/19/97)

Xena and Gabrielle’s bitter conflict reaches its climax when both are transported to the dream world of Illusia to settle their mutual differences.

Written by Steven L. Sears and Chris Manheim | Lyrics by  Joseph LoDuca, Pamela Phillips Oland, and Dennis Spiegel | Directed by Oley Sassone | Production No. V0409

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Chosen for Xena’s attempt to kill Gabrielle during the infamous Gab-drag, I featured this episode as #2 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

10. Season 3, Episode 16: “When In Rome…” (Aired: 03/02/98 | Filmed: 01/08 – 01/16/98)

Efforts to engage in a prisoner exchange involving a Gaul warrior and a member of the Roman hierarchy are hindered by an uncooperative Caesar.

Written by Steven L. Sears | Directed by John Laing | Production No. V0416

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Chosen for the predicament in which Xena places Gabrielle, I featured this episode as #12 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

11. Season 4, Episode 7: “Locked Up And Tied Down” (Aired: 11/09/98 | Filmed: 08/18 – 08/27/98)

Xena is sentenced to life in prison for a crime she committed in her dark past.

Story by Robert Tapert & Josh Becker | Teleplay by Hilary J. Bader | Directed by Rick Jacobson | Production No. V0614

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This episode is chosen for Xena’s seeming abandonment of her quest to help others. Check out my thoughts on this episode, along with the opinions and recollections of the cast and crew here.

 

 

12. Season 4, Episode 13: “Paradise Found” (Aired: 02/01/99 | Filmed: 07/10 – 07/17/98)

Gabrielle finds inner calm, but Xena is plagued by violent images in a land ruled by a man who claims to know the true path to peace.

Written by Chris Manheim | Directed by Robert Tapert | Production No. V0611

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Chosen for Xena’s dark insanity (and the potential threat to Gabrielle), I featured this episode as #55 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

13. Season 5, Episode 1: “Fallen Angel” (Aired: 09/27/99 | Filmed: 05/10 – 05/24/99)

Xena and Gabrielle, now released from their mortal coils, join forces with the Archangel Michael to battle Callisto and the infernal forces of Hell.

Story by Robert Tapert & R.J. Stewart | Teleplay by R.J. Stewart | Directed by John Fawcett | Production No. V0903

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Chosen for Xena’s turn as a demon in Hell, I featured this episode as #43 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

14. Season 5, Episode 14: “Amphipolis Under Siege” (Aired: 02/14/00 | Filmed: 1/10 – 1/20/00)

Athena wages war on Xena’s hometown of Amphipolis in an effort to kill Eve and stop the Twilight of the Gods.

Written by Chris Black | Directed by Mark Beesley | Production No. V0919

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Chosen for Xena’s sexual and emotional manipulation of Ares (and the trouble she places upon the townspeople of Amphipolis), I featured this episode as #14 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

15. Season 5, Episode 18: “Antony & Cleopatra” (Aired: 04/24/00 | Filmed: 02/10 – 02/17; 03/01-03/03/00)

When Cleopatra is murdered, Xena assumes her identity to uncover the assassin and protect Egypt.

Written by Carl Ellsworth | Revision by R.J. Stewart | Directed by Michael Hurst | Production No. V0904

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Chosen for Xena’s cruel deception of Marc Antony, I featured this episode as #15 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

16. Season 5, Episode 22: “Motherhood” (Aired: 05/15/00 | Filmed: 03/17 – 03/29/00)

With the lives of Gabrielle and Eve hanging in the balance, Xena faces the gods in a final showdown.

Story by Robert Tapert | Teleplay by R.J. Stewart | Directed by Rick Jacobson | Production No. V0923

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Chosen for Xena’s split-second decision to strike Gabrielle in the head with the chakram, I featured this episode as #34 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

17. Season 6, Episode 3: “Heart Of Darkness” (Aired: 10/16/00 | Filmed: 05/10 – 05/19/00)

Xena fights to avoid inheriting the throne of Mephistopheles by devising a plan to turn the cocky archangel Lucifer into the King of Hell.

Written by Emily Skopov | Directed by Mark Beesley | Production No. V1402

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Chosen for Xena’s potentially corrupt manipulation of Lucifer, 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. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

18. Season 6, Episode 5: “Legacy” (Aired: 10/30/00 | Filmed: 06/12 – 06/22/00)

On their travels through the North African desert, Xena and Gabrielle intervene to help two tribes of warring nomads unite against their Roman enemies.

Written by Melissa Good | Directed by Chris Martin-Jones | Production No. V1405

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Chosen for Xena’s decision to put Gabrielle over the Greater Good, I featured this episode as #59 on my list of the 60 best episodes. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

19. Season 6, Episode 12: “The God You Know” (Aired: 01/29/01 | Filmed: 11/13 – 11/22/00)

The Archangel Michael summons Xena to kill the now immortal Roman emperor Caligula, who has been murdering innocents in his quest for absolute power.

Written by Emily Skopov | Directed by Garth Maxwell | Production No. V1415

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This episode is chosen for Xena’s skeevy exploitation of a man she recognizes as mentally ill (Caligula). Check out my thoughts on this episode, along with the opinions and recollections of the cast and crew here.

 

20. Season 6, Episode 17: “Last Of The Centaurs” (Aired: 04/30/01 | Filmed: 01/15 – 01/24/01)

A young centaur is being hunted down by Lord Belach, and Xena and Gabrielle must save him while preventing a war.

Written by Joel Metzger | Directed by Garth Maxwell | Production No. V1420

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Chosen for Xena’s emotionally clouded attempts to fix the collateral damage of her own past, perhaps at the expense of others’ safety, I featured this episode as one of the eight worst of the entire series. Read my thoughts here. Check out what the cast and crew had to say about the episode here.

 

 

Come back next week for another installment of Following Xena! And tune in tomorrow for another Joan Blondell Pre-Code Film Friday!

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