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Season 3, episode 8
Series 308
1st release: 11/17/97
2nd release: 05/25/98
1st strip release: 10/12/98
2nd strip release: 01/15/99
Production number: V0410
Approximate shooting dates: June 1997
Last update: 04-18-99

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY by Beth Gaynor

Ted Raimi (Joxer, Jett)
Gina Torres (Cleopatra)
Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)

Jonathon Hendry (Pontius)
Larry Keating (Warlord)
Christian Hodge (Prisoner)
Benjamin Banse (Prison guard)
(Guard #1) [non-speaking]
(Guard #2) [non-speaking]
Russell Raethel (Guard #3)
Nerida Nichols (Chambermaid)
(Cleopatra's guard)
Jeremy Birchall (The other Joxer/Jett)

Written by Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster
Edited by
Directed by Bruce Campbell

(Two Joxers, one strangles the other.)
Joxer: Like looking in a mirror, eh, brother?
Joxer: I can't let you do it.
Joxer: Mom!
Joxer: Where?
(Xena flips her sword.)

Gabrielle, Joxer and Autolycus sneak into a palace to thwart an assassination attempt by Joxer's evil lookalike brother, Jett. The intended victim: Cleopatra.

Joxer's twin brother's plan to assassinate the visiting Cleopatra is met with resistance from Gabrielle and Autolycus.

Gabrielle must keep Joxer's twin from assassinating Cleopatra.

1st RELEASE: 11/17/97
An AA average of 6.3
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 4th with 7.5
(2) HERCULES 8th with 6.4
(3) XENA 9th with 6.3
(4) STAR TREK DS9 18th with 5.2

2nd RELEASE: 05/25/98
An AA average of 4.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 8th with 5.2
(2) HERCULES 13th with 4.3
(3) XENA 14th with 4.2
(4) WALKER 18th with 3.8
(5) STAR TREK DS9 20th with 3.6
(6) NYPD BLUE 3.4
(7) BAYWATCH 3.1


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Xena has captured a thug and questions him about his leader. At first he doesn't want to give her information, but is quickly convinced to do otherwise. As Xena prepares to leave the dungeon where she puts the thug, she hears a very weak "Joxer the mighty" song. Joxer, in stocks, looks up at her. He has been arrested for stealing a chicken. Xena pays for the chicken and asks Joxer to go into the village to tell Gabrielle that Xena has left to go after the leader guy, leaving Gabrielle and Joxer behind.

A sword, delicately balanced, rests on a stone. Autolycus and an unknown man steal it, but the alarm goes off and they are separated. The unknown man shoots someone in cold blood, much to the alarm of the King of Thieves. The unknown man throws off his mask; he looks exactly like Joxer.

Later Autolycus bumps into the real Joxer, who has purchased himself new leather duds, and mistakes him for the murdering man who had hired him. Gabrielle exposes Joxer as the klutz he is.

Autolycus, Joxer and Gabrielle talk and decide that Joxer's brother, Jett, must be out to kill someone very important at the nearby castle, where Autolycus is supposed to take the sword he stole. Gabrielle wonders what Xena would do if she were there and comes up with a plan. She decides they should all go and stop Jett.

Autolycus gets into the castle, where he places the sword in a room and learns that Cleopatra is the person to be murdered. He gets a full view of the lovely woman. While he is watching Cleopatra undress, Joxer and Gabrielle are captured. Joxer tells Cleopatra's "captain of the guards" that there is to be an assassination attempt and he lets them go, thinking that Joxer is Jett. The Captain has hired Jett to kill Cleopatra.

The Captain thanks them for the warning and allows them to roam the castle, but Joxer locks Gabrielle back into the cell for her own protection. Autolycus meets Jett, who has found his way into the castle, and tells him the sword is in Cleopatra's room. They arrange a signal so Jett will know when the guards have left Cleopatra's room.

Autolycus agrees to all of this so Jett won't kill him. Autolycus tells Cleopatra he works for Xena and is concerned for her safety, but does not send the guards out of the room.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle gets out of the cell and meets up with Jett. She mistakes him for Joxer. Jett finds Joxer and they have a brotherly greeting. Jett tells Joxer to get out of his way. Gabrielle disguises herself as an egyptian slave girl so she can enter Cleopatra's room. She and Autolycus decide they need to tell the Captain of the guards about Jett. He has them locked up.

While they are trying to escape the chakram suddenly whizzes in and clips the lock. Xena learns of the "plan" Gabrielle had, which backfired on them all. Autolycus covers for Gabrielle, though. Joxer finds Jett in Cleopatra's room and threatens him. They begin to fight. Joxer does not fare too well. Xena comes in, tells Jett to "Be nice" and whacks him. They fight, but Xena eventually knocks him cold. Xena, Autolycus and Gabrielle then fight off the Captain's men, saving Cleopatra. The Queen tells Xena that if she ever comes to Egypt to send word, for she will have a large celebration in her honor.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

When Xena reappeared 40 minutes into this episode, I expected her to quote Ripley and mutter darkly "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?" Everyone's worst qualities were on parade. Gabrielle's ideas were near-incoherent, Autolycus was forgetting to steal while he traded paper-thin double-entendres with Cleopatra, and Joxer was at his most bewildered and ineffective.

The opening scene with Xena (and the guy with mop on his head) totally failed to tell me that Xena was leaving town. There's one quick line that gives the hint, but I was confused when Joxer, Autolycus, and Gabrielle started talking about what they're going to do without her. "Hey, we just saw her down in the dungeon - she's after some warlord who sleeps with his back to the door! Go ring her up!"

Judging by Autolycus's reactions, Jet was supposed to be a terrifying killer. I never got that impression. Jet seemed to me to be slightly crazed, but a poser and much more dangerous in his own mind than in reality. I didn't care much for the character. But although Jet's more serious moments didn't hit the target, some of the physical comedy worked. I loved the moment when Autolycus found Jet in the castle and went through "Joxer? Jet. Joxer?" guesses while Ted alternately slumped and puffed.

Joxer's suddenly eager to kill. At least, he was in the first scene. And Gabrielle's trying to imitate Xena's every move. What season are we in, again?

What WAS the reason for stealing a warlord's sword to kill Cleopatra? Why wouldn't any ol' sword do? Gabrielle's theory was that the warlord's sword would be "untraceable" - are swords registered in ancient Greece? Before buying a dirk at the market, do you have to go through a background check?

This episode set up a nice dilemma for Joxer: Would Joxer be able to stop Jet? Would he want to? Would he allow him to be imprisoned or executed? How do his values stack up against family? "It's brother against brother" Joxer declared worriedly. He got a brief chance to try - and fail - facing up to his brother. Jet wasn't having any of it - the dilemma was stronger than ever. Then when Jet stabs Pontius in the back, we get a good look at the relieved expressions of every single person in the room, as if the problem is solved and all is honky dory. What about the small remaining fact that this guy is an assassin for hire? Why wasn't Jet heading for a window to get outta there? The dilemma wasn't resolved so much as called for lack of time.

I've been harboring a suspicion that Joxer's father isn't nearly the warlord that Joxer thinks he is. Think about this for a minute: if Joxer were to have kids, what would he tell those kids? That he was the very feared and famous Joxer the Mighty, of course. Is Joxer's father really all that, or, as Ares put it in The Xena Scrolls, has his family's reputation for undiluted idiocy remained intact?

Not the best transition during Autolycus's entrance into the castle. He snuck his way past the guards and inside the walls, wearing a robe. The next shot we see is him swinging into an outside window minus the robe. Wha'? The Xena reality editor on my shoulder, upon reflection, says Autolycus must have gotten into the castle, but in order to reach Cleopatra's actual chambers, had to go all the way up to an unguarded parapet and swing down to her window from there.

Where were Autolycus's cool Spidey-spikes? We didn't get to see him swing a single grappling hook, darn it all.

Gabrielle gets one good idea to her credit during the entire episode - pretending to be unconscious so the guard with aspirations for captaincy opens the cell door. Unfortunately, she then almost ruins it by trying a few times to cut off his flow of blood. We haven't seen her try that since Ares lost his godhood in Ten Little Warlords when she - and everyone else - was going psycho. Isn't Gabrielle's first instinct usually to TALK her way through a problem?

That scene, though, did lead to a fine moment - the captain-wannabe wiggling his fingers and saying "Nope. Seem to be fine. Don't do that." I liked that guy - very funny delivery, both there and at the castle gate. I hope he stays in the rotation for supporting actors.

This whole episode kind of surprised me. This was a Xena-lite episode, which means the main reason we watch the show is gone. It was a Joxer-heavy episode, which ensures lots of controversy and mixed reactions. Given those two conditions, I'd have expected that the producers and writers would be polishing up their best efforts, throwing as many gags and fun fights our way as they could cook up, making each character shine their brightest. We saw that being done a bit in episodes like The Prodigal, where Gabrielle gets to stretch her wings and show off some competence, and For Him the Bell Tolls, with some of the most over-the-top slapstick we've seen and Joxer's character stretched to the limits. But King's story was simplistic and slow, the characters weren't given much new to do, Jet wasn't convincing, and the central tension was shorted out. It had it's funny moments, but in general, it was a shame to waste such an opportunity for supporting characters to really wack out. Miss Lawless to the set, please.


04-18-00. Ted Raimi did an interview with IGN.COM's Sarah Kuhn on April 14, 2000:

IGN Sci-Fi: You've now had the opportunity to play triplets: Joxer, Jet and Jace. Of the three, which one are you most like?
Ted: [laughs] I'd say it's equal thirds. What I wish I could tell you is that I am an expert assassin and a thief, 'cause that's cool. But I'm not. The truth of the matter is, I like to do everything that those characters like to do, except getting dressed in women's underwear. And even then I couldn't tell you the truth about that...no, I'm just kidding! I think I'm definitely like Joxer in that I'm often shy. And I'm like Jet in that I do have a lot of anger in me, I always have since I was in high school -- and it was fun to play him, to sort of vent that a little bit. And finally, like Jace, I guess...[laughs] I am rather flamboyant as well! I'm kind of loud and big and broad, so, yeah, I'm a little like all three of them.
IGN Sci-Fi: In that vein, I was wondering if you're going to be playing any more of Joxer's family members, like maybe his mom or maybe a wacky aunt...
Ted: [cackling at the idea] His mom! That's a really funny idea. Actually, I was hoping to have my mother play Joxer's mother. We tried to get her down for an episode, but it's in New Zealand and it's so far, but we still might do it. Although, I don't think my mother's very interested in acting at the moment, but I might be able to talk her into it.

12-17-97. From an interview with R.J. Stewart that took place on July 3, 1997:

WW: WW: Are you ever going to work in the Egyptians days?
RJ: We want to, but I understand that they're going to do that over on HERCULES. So we won't.
WW: Do you ever discuss story between HERCULES and XENA so the stories aren't similar?
RJ: Well Rob, of course, produces both shows, so if I pitch him an idea that they're doing on Herc already, he'll just tell me.

10-27-97. At the Valley Forge Con (10/05/97) Sharon Delaney talked about this episode as having Joxer, his evil twin brother Jett, and Autolycus. This episode apparently was based upon Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell's hamming it up at the Cons together.

At the same convention [Valley Forge, 10/05/97], Ted Raimi explained that Joxer's "evil brother" is named "Jet", and will wear a motorcycle-esque leather costume. Ted will also be playing the role of Joxer's sister. He also stated that in KING OF ASSASSINS he got to wear leather as his twin brother Jett and actually liked being in a different costume for a change. He mentioned that he thinks of his Joxer costume as being like a Fred Flintstone costume.

Looks like the gang go to Egypt in this one and Xena is reunited with her pal Cleopatra (hey! does Helen know???).

Coming soon. This will be Bruce Campbell's freshman XWP directorial effort and the first time directing himself.

Looks like Joxer has an evil brother.

Looks like this is one of the :dark" episodes


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

There WERE some gems of jokes in this episode, usually at Joxer's expense. (Exception: I liked Joxer's "King Gregor was killed by a baby?" line - it brought up great mental pictures of baby Hope throttling Gregor.)

"There's a concept called personal space. Look into it."
"I find it very hard to believe that this is the improved you."
"No, I mean in a grander sense: why is he here?"
"Where does it hurt?"
"Right there."

Line of the episode goes to Gabrielle for "I've been grabbed more times than the Golden Fleece."


01-27-98. From Penandswrd@aol.com: The armoire that Autolycus hid in looks a lot like the one that was in Leah's bedchamber in WARRIOR...PRIESTESS...TRAMP.

From bgaynor@compuserve.com: Do you think Joxer's going to keep the black leather duds around? Maybe he'll store it in the same mysterious place that Gab keeps her amazon garb. I wasn't sorry to see the hat go, but I found myself missing that ol' aluminum chest protector.

From bgaynor@compuserve.com: Time to find a new stunt double for Ted! That guy's hair was about three inches longer than Ted's and his face was twice as broad. I was chanting along with the fight scene: "Stunt double... stunt double... stunt double..."

From bgaynor@compuserve.com: How long will it be before we get to meet the third brother, Jace (insert hand flap here)? If Joxer's the black sheep of the family for not causing enough mayhem, what will Jace's specialty turn out to be? And is this related to the rumors that we'll be seeing Ted in drag in the future?

From Penandswrd@aol.com: Look at the dagger that Cleopatra has to Autolycus' chin and chest. Does it look familiar? It should -- it is THE DAGGER OF HELIOS!


Bruce Campbell at the Origins Gaming Con (reported by Beth Gaynor) in July 1997 talked a good deal about this episode. He said it was called "The King of Assassins," and it was also his directing debut on XWP. He said directing Lucy Lawless was a strange and sometimes frightening experience; said that she could have a line as simple as "Hi, how are you," and gave his imitation of two takes she'd do of it - one perfectly nice and normal, the next as if she's going to rip your throat out. He said he never knew what she was going to do next.

KING OF ASSASSINS is a "Lucy-lite" episode - Lucy Lawless only had to shoot three days. The episode features Joxer and Joxer's evil twin brother Jed (the King of Assassins?). A third Joxer brother, Jace (Jayce? Short for Jason?), is hinted at in the episode, but not seen. According to Campbell, "You ain't lived until you've seen Ted in black leather."

Autolycus gets a little action with Cleopatra in the episode (which Campbell was quite proud of). Cleopatra also apparently invites Xena to come visit her in Egypt sometime. Bruce made a crack about shooting a line a la Spartacus, where Xena and Cleopatra discuss whether snails or oysters will be served. We're 95% sure he wasn't serious, although it was hard to tell.

At the same convention Bruce Campbell said that the character of Autolycus was created by the PRINCES OF THIEVES writer, Doug Leffel, without him in mind, but that Robert Tapert called him up for the part, saying he thought it was a good match.

At the same convention someone asked whether getting kissed by Lucy Lawless was as good as it looks. Bruce immediately replied that it was better, and REALLY hammed up his fake sorrow at having to do take after take after take - "Oh! Messed up again! Darn!"

At the same convention a couple of people asked him whether Autolycus might ever get a spinoff series of his own. One comment Bruce dropped sounded as if it has been considered, but Campbell said he doesn't have any interest in making Autolycus into a series hero - the character would have to become too boring, he says, and made into a Robin Hood-ish guy with a sad past who only steals from the rich. He said Autolycus is much more interesting as just a recurring character who, according to him, lives for tormenting Hercules and "trying to get into Xena's pants."


Click here to read a transcript of TH KING OF ASSASSINS .


"Due to the infliction of a severe wedgie, Joxer was slightly uncomfortable but not seriously harmed during the production of this motion picture."

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