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Season 2, episode 13
Series 213
1st release: 02/03/97
2nd release: 07/07/97
3rd release: 12/29/97
1st strip release: 12/21/98
2nd strip release:
Production number: V0221
Script number: 213
Approximate shooting dates: November 1996
Last update: 03/20/01

COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Carmen Carter

Bruce Campbell (Autolycus/Xena)
Melinda Clarke (Velasca)
Danielle Cormack (Ephiny)
Michael Hurst (Iolaus)

Jodie Dorday (Solari)
Alexander Tant (Xenan) [scenes cut]
Kirstie O'Sullivan (Woman)
Christian Hodge (Man)
David Fitchew (Vendor)
Michael Dwyer (Ruffian #1)

Teleplay by Steven L. Sears
Story by Chris Manheim, Steven L. Sears, and R. J. Stewart
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Michael Levine

Conclusion. Xena's spirit puts into action a plan that may allow her to return to the land of the living and reclaim her body. And Gabrielle is faced with a big decision after meeting up with her old friends---the Amazons.

Gabrielle is sidetracked while transporting Xena's body back to her birthplace.


1st RELEASE: 02/03/97
An AA average of 7.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA ranked 7th with 7.7
(2) HERCULES ranked 10th with 6.9 ["Encounter" 50/313]
(3) ST: DEEP SPACE NINE ranked 12th with 6.0 ["For the Uniform" 111/513]
(4) BAYWATCH ranked 18th with 4.7
(5) SINBAD with 3.3 ["The Rescue" 14/114]
(6) FX with 3.2 ["Gemini" 15/115]

2nd RELEASE: 07/07/97
An AA average of 4.9
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA 9th with 4.9
(2) HERCULES 10th with 4.7
(3) STAR TREK DS9 with 4.3
(4) BAYWATCH 21st with 3.8

3rd RELEASE: 12/29/97
An AA average of 5.6
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 7th with 7.0
(2) XENA 12th with 5.6
(3) HERCULES 13th with 5.1
(4) STAR TREK DS9 14th with 5.0
(5) WALKER TEXAS RANGER 17th with 4.7
(6) NYPD BLUE 20th with 4.5


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Our story opens with Gabrielle waking from a nightmare. She has a sarcophagus with Xena's body in it attached to Argo (on a litter). She is taking Xena's body to Amphipolis. Gabrielle is attacked by some thugs; she beats most of them up and then suddenly Iolaus appears and helps her finish them up. He does not know Xena is dead, and Gabrielle cries. She says she wishes she had told Xena some things she did not get a chance to while they were together, like how empty her life was in Poteidaia before Xena came ... and that she loves her. Iolaus tells Gabrielle she just told Xena those things.

Gabrielle continues her travel; she hears noises and then Amazons falls from the trees. Gabrielle puts her hands up in the Amazon sign for peace, and the Amazons all salute Xena's coffin. Ephiny pulls up her mask and hugs Gabrielle. She tells Gabrielle that Xena should have an Amazon funeral, on a pyre, and that Gabrielle should take her rightful place as Queen of the Amazons. Queen Melosa is dead, having been challenged and killed by the current ruler, Velasca, who of course must turn the title over to Gabrielle as soon as Gabrielle accepts it. Gabrielle agrees to go to the Amazon camp to at least think things over.

Meanwhile, Autolycus, King of Thieves, steals the knife of Helios from a temple. Xena's spirit inhabits his body; when he finds some clear water he can see her. She can control his body and talk to him. She tells Autolycus she needs him to steal her body from the Amazons before they burn it.

He goes to the Amazon village, where Gabrielle has decided to allow the Amazons to give Xena a funeral (with a pyre) and then she will take Xena's ashes to Amphipolis -- and return to rule the Amazons, because Velasca does not like the centaurs and she is a bit power hungry (think Callisto with brown hair). The Amazons prepare for the funeral, and then Autolycus is caught. He tries to explain to Gabrielle that Xena's spirit is inside him.

At first Gabrielle does not believe him, but when the fire is set, Autolycus suddenly "becomes" Xena, complete with the ability to use the chakram and whistle for Argo. Gabrielle realizes that Xena IS somehow in Autolycus, and climbs on the coffin as they ride away.

The Amazons then divide into two camps; those who will follow Gabrielle as ruler, and those who will follow Velasca. Velasca goes after Gabrielle to kill her and has Ephiny and her friends locked up.

Autolycus and Gabrielle stop; they have to go to a specific place (a Helios temple) to find ambrosia so Xena can get her body back. Xena asks Autolycus to let her speak through him; she tells Gabrielle to close her eyes and think of her (Xena). Gabrielle does, and Xena appears before her. Gabrielle begins to cry; Xena says she's not back completely but she will be.

Gabrielle and Autolycus send the coffin floating down stream to retrieve later while they go to retrieve the ambrosia. Unfortunately, they are stopped by Velasca, who throws them in jail and then goes after the ambrosia herself. She says she is destined to be a god, not just a queen.

Autolycus and Gabrielle break away from the Amazons holding them. Ephiny goes to retrieve Xena's body, and Xena takes over Gabrielle's body. She fights Velasca up on some ropes above a fire and lots of spikes; the ambrosia falls from a hole onto Gabrielle (well, Xena in Gabrielle's body), and then Velasca falls onto the spikes and dies. However, a bit of ambrosia falls to the rocks and the camera cuts to Velasca's hand, creeping upwards and reaching for those colored marshmallows.

Gabrielle finds that a bit of ambrosia has fallen into her cleavage, and she puts it into Xena's mouth. After a few seconds Xena "wakes" and Gabrielle pulls her up.

The show ends with Xena and Gabrielle with the now-rogue band of Amazons, and Autolycus leaving.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Wow. Instantly one of my favorite episodes, hands down. Great drama, cool fights, wicked camp humor rolled up into a 40-minute package. All the reasons I love this show. 'Scuse me while I wax rhapsodic for a while...

Flashbacks to The Greater Good - once again, Gabrielle proves that she can swing a super-mean staff and that she and Argo can make nice when Xena's not there to handle those kinds of duties. Sad as it was to see our bard without our warrior, she proved that she can do all right on her own.

Velasca certainly has an interesting private life. Nice dog collar she's got there, cute kiss-n-kill interrogation of Autolycus. This lady is definitely your rough-n-tumble type. For all that, though, check out Velasca's Better Homes and Harems shack - quite the palatial spread she's got!

Gabrielle gives a whole new meaning to "body surfing" as she jumps on the sarcophagus being dragged away by Argo.

Ambrosia works on a sliding scale. If you're alive, you become a god. If you're recently dead, you come back to life. If you've been dead a while (or haven't been pulled back from death by determined bards and gaelic slaves), I guess you're outta luck.

Raimi & company like to make Bruce Campbell do the possession/All of Me routine. He did the same kind of things in Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. But he's so darned funny at it, they're excused for giving it to us again. Some great physical comedy and hysterical lines. ("Ohhh, there she is AGAIN!" "Does SHE want to buy an apple?" "Hello, ladies! I'm quite mad! Top o' the morning!")

The "destiny" theme has been carried over from the previous episode. This time, it's Velasca who harps on her destiny - funny how these take-over-the-world types always want to blame the fates for their ambitions.

What a fabulous fight sequence on the ropes! It's like everyone's worst gym class nightmares come to life. The fighting moves were great, and Gabrielle's blood lust and battle grin are a darned respectable Xena impersonation. ("Hey, Hudson, you ain't the only one who can copy a warrior princess!") Renee *can* do the "tough-as-nails" routine when she really wants to.

Great looks of surprise on Gabrielle's and Autolycus's faces when they break off from their kiss. Was Autolycus surprised that Xena was gone and he was the one kissing, or was he surprised to find himself kissing Gab at all? Was Gabrielle more surprised to find herself now kissing Autolycus, or that Xena had given her a kiss in the first place?

Hilarious "whatever's necessary, I'm here for you both" offer from Autolycus. Way to give your body to the cause, you generous guy, you!

OK, here's MY big question about the kiss. The hand on Gabrielle's rear end - Autolycus's contribution, or not? Xena's knockdown of Autolycus suggests that it was his idea, but we don't see him move it there. Ahhh, mysteries. The kiss didn't surprise me: it fit in with the moment and the emotions perfectly. The hand on the butt made me fall off the couch. (And then laugh myself sick.)

What was up with Iolaus's cameo? He shows up to beat up some baddies (can't Gabrielle finish the job?), gives Gab a chance to avoid overusing monologs to express her feelings, then takes off. 'Sorry to see you're in such pain, and golly, you're getting attacked on the road, and have to cart the body of your best friend across the countryside... welp, gotta go!' Thanks for nothing, hunter boy.

Autolycus wins the award for the hairiest-stomached amazon of all time. Nice outfit, o King of Thieves and Duke of Cross-Dressers!

Speaking of outfits, Gabrielle's amazon queen leathers were rockin'! She still didn't fit in with the rest of the Amazons, though - when she and the parade were marching to the podium for the mask ceremony, I wanted to break into a "one of these things is not like the others" song. But she looked sharp, so maybe given time the other Amazons could have forgotten that Gab's four inches shorter, has twice as much muscle, and is more sweet-faced by a long sight than any of the rest of 'em.

Where did Gabrielle dig up (pardon the pun) that spiffy coffin? The crest on it even resembles Xena's breastplate. For all that neat bronzework, heavy-looking wood, and a fully-armed warrior body inside, this must be the lightest sarcophagus on record. Four scrawny amazon gals benchpress it easily, and it floats!

Didn't anyone worry that dropping Velasca onto the spikes might have been a wee problem for Gabrielle's blood innocence? Granted, Xena seemed to be pretty firmly in control at the time, but nobody even blinked about it. Well, OK, if they're not worried about it, I guess I'm not, either.

Here's a great "what if" question: When Gabrielle offered the mask and dagger to Velasca and told her to "take it," if Velasca had tried to take the mask first, would Gabrielle have let her? Was that a test to see what Velasca would choose? This is Gabrielle's coming of age episode: she learns that she can walk on her own and stand up for herself, makes some tough decisions with grace and thoughtfulness, handles enough grief and sorrow to bring hardened criminals to their knees, and even takes on noble leadership. As Gabrielle herself noted in amazement: "Me; the little girl you found in Poteidaia." So much for the little girl business.

From the "small touches are everything" category: listen to the sound effects when Autolycus gets the amazon to "hold it" so he can improvise a lock pick. Oh, my aching sides.


This commentary is by Carmen Carter.

What an incredibly interesting pair of episodes to compare and contrast: the sweeping epic scope of DESTINY followed by the intensely personal focus of THE QUEST. Making the transition from the dark, almost horrific, events at the conclusion of the first part to the lighter tone of the sequel is quite a challenge. Fortunately, Steven Sears has always excelled at mixing elements of humor with drama without shattering the tone of either. It was a delicate balance that he displayed to very good effect in THE GREATER GOOD last season. However, he has added yet another dimension to THE QUEST: a number of moving, lyrical soliliquies from Gabrielle as she mourns Xena.

The opening sequence of THE QUEST -- reminiscent of the surreal opening of INTIMATE STRANGERS -- provides the necessary starting point after DESTINY. Gabrielle is shaken by her own version of nightmares that are not dispelled by waking. And as she begins her journey toward Amphipolis, she also begins working through her incredible grief.

Along the way, some familar faces appear to keep her company. Gabrielle's encounter with Iolaus was quite touching, with a nicely understated performance from Michael Hurst; and the scenes between Gabrielle and Ephiny have developed a resonance from their continued friendship over the course of two seasons. Nonetheless, the appearance of these recurring characters was just a prelude to the return of Autolycus; Bruce Campbell shines in his dual role, and in his ability to introduce farce to the storyline without undermining the basic dramatic underpinnings of Xena's death.

However, for me the overpowering strength of this episode is Renee O'Connor's portrayal of Gabrielle as she wrestles with the need to let go of the past and struggles to find some way to fill the void created by Xena's death. The extent to which Gabrielle has matured and changed since first season is best evident in her confrontation with the Evil Amazon Queen. In a gesture worthy of Solomon, Gabrielle offers Velasca the knife and the mask. When Velasca betrays her violent nature by first reaching for the knife, Gabrielle chooses to lead the Amazons herself. Her poise and self-confidence in this role are in marked contrast to her almost puppy-like enthusiasm in HOOVES & HARLOTS.

Threaded throughout the story is Gabrielle's growing recognition of the depth of her love for Xena and the measure of what she owes the warrior as a result of their friendship. Her reaction to Xena's resurrection -- even in the body of Autolycus -- is one of the most memorable and touching scenes in the series. Together Lawless and O'Connor have crafted a wonderfully tender reunion that further develops the passionate nature of Xena & Gabrielle's relationship.

When I first heard the early spoilers about the "body sharing" aspect of this episode, I immediately thought of the opportunities such a situation would afford for playing around with the show's infamous "innuendo," so I was not entirely surprised by the idea of Autolycus and Gabrielle ending up in a kiss. But I had expected a comic, coy, and ambiguous kiss, rather than this frank and direct tribute to Xena & Gabrielle's love for each other. My admiration for the creative courage of this scene is exceeded only by my admiration for its sheer beauty. By the gods, I do love good writing!


In preparation

12-17-97. From Carmen Carter's report of the Renee O'Connor Q&A at the Valley Forge Con, 10/4/97: "One of the most amusing responses started with a question about what it was like to kiss Michael Hurst. ROC said she thought of him like a big brother, so kissing him just wasn't that kind of an experience...which led her to cataloging just who she had kissed on the series...at which point she suddenly realized just where this train of thought was going to end. As the audience began to break up laughing, she looked rather sheepish and explained 'we didn't...not exactly...you see...' Then she described how during The Kiss she had been crying and implied that she was rather a mess and '...Lucy didn't want to get near me.' Then someone in the audience asked how good a kisser Lucy was, and Renee, with admirable aplomb, said, 'I'll never tell.'"

PRE-COMMENTS: Prepare to have your socks knocked off!


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

Renee, Renee, Renee. The lady nailed every scene, from heartbreaking grief to kick-butt fighting to wry humor. Step back and give the sidekick some room!

The dream sequence, when Gabrielle finally gets to see Xena again, was amazing. There was no scenery, no props for the actors to play off of - it was just Lucy and Renee to react to each other, and they do it beautifully. Gabrielle's gasping relief when she sees Xena, and Xena's concern and sympathy in response, were stellar. Watch the importance of touch in this scene. Gabrielle immediately wants to touch Xena when she sees her, but Xena staves her off. Xena reaches out as if she'd like to hold on to Gabrielle, too, but keeps herself back like there's a shield around her. She somehow knows that physical touch will end their contact, and sure enough, when their lips meet (goood morning! if you're gonna break a spell, guess you might as well do it with style), the dream is gone, and Gabrielle's back in the real world with Autolycus.


03-20-01. On March 1, 2001, previous Co-Executive Producer Steven L. Sears posted this on the StudiosUSA Xena NetForum:

Didn't see this here. Someone else asked me this question just recently, I think in reference to this discussion here. Keep in mind, this was a while back for me, so memory will have to serve me as best as it can. But here is the response I sent in response to this question.


<< Could you clear it up and tell us exactly when Gab became the actual Amazon Queen.>>

Well, as I understand it, there have been a few contradictory threads in the show about this since I left, so I can't comment on those. But I can tell you what was in my mind. Technically, Gabrielle was Queen after H&H, HOWEVER, an Amazon Tribe can't have a Queen who roams the world and only occasionally returns to the Tribe. So (and this is where it gets confusing) she passed her RITE OF OFFICE to Melosa so that Melosa, in effect, became her Regent. However, when Gabrielle would return to the Tribe, Melosa would defer her authority to Gab, since Gab was, in fact, the true Queen. So the simple way to look at it is that Gab was the Queen when she was with the tribe. Melosa had the Queen's powers during her absence. It was the only way, under the Amazon law of that Tribe, for Gab to return power to Melosa. After Melosa was killed, there was no one with the Queen's powers except, of course, Gab. That was the power vacuum that Velasca tried to exploit.

Adding to this, Gabrielle still didn't consider herself a true Queen and was uncomfortable refering to herself as such. But the tribe did.

Now to the question of who Velasca challenged back when Tereis was named heir, it was Melosa. Melosa defeated her. You ask how she could have defeated her one time and not the other. Two answers, actually. I would point to professional boxing to show that this happens quite a bit. But, more to the story, I can't remember if this ended up in the final edit or not, but Ephiny suspected that Velasca had somehow cheated. In my original outline, as I remember, I had that the challenge had happened and happened with only Velasca's followers present. That the absence of the total tribe was due to some emergency that had happened and they had to respond to. Ephiny was with that group and wasn't present. The Tribe law had stated that all challenges had to be witnessed by the entire tribe EXCEPT when there was a present danger that required a portion of the tribe to be absent for defense. Ephiny stated that they went out to respond to a reported danger (I can't remember what it was) but found nothing. When they retunred, Melosa was dead. Ephiny suspected the emergency was false and created only to separate her and her warriors from the challenge. So it was all TECHNICALLY legal, but filled with questions.

Anyway, you may wonder why all that wasn't in the episode. Well, take a look at how much I had to write to explain it. Couldn't do it in our time frame, so it got truncated.

Hope that helps.



12-26-00. Robert Tapert, in an interview with WHOOSH to be released January 1, 2001 (#52), stated the original airing order of the episodes after DESTINY (36/212) were to be EXECUTION (41/217), BLIND FAITH (42/218), and then A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215). Because of Lucy Lawless' accident on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the producers retooled or recast some shows in the can and wrote a couple more shows to cover for Ms. Lawless' incapacity. The resultant airing order was INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207) [retooled to keep Xena in Callisto's body], TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208) [retooled and re-cast Xena with Hudson Leick], SOLSTICE CAROL (33/209) [not changed], THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210) [not changed], HERE SHE COMES...MIS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211) [not changed], DESTINY (36/212) [retooled to have Xena remain dead], THE QUEST (37/213) [new show], A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214) [new show], A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) [not changed], FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216) [new show], EXECUTION (41/217) [no change], and BLIND FAITH (42/218) [no change].

01-31-99. Chris Manheim was interviewed by WHOOSH in the February 1999 issue. Here's what she said about HERE SHE COMES...

[84] The episode next on the list, THE QUEST (37/213), is hands down my favourite episode in the entire series. It's no secret among people I've talked to who were associated with it. I'm sorry it had to come about as the result of Lucy's accident, but the result that came out of it was just phenomenal.

[85] We did the best we could. Thank God this show is set up the way it is, because I don't know how many shows would survive such a thing. MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211) came about partly because of that because Lucy [Lawless] couldn't fight much. THE QUEST (37/213) is a great show, no doubt. I always think of the biggies like the China episodes [THE DEBT (52-53/306-307) as being people's favorites because visually they're sumptuous.

[86] They are, no question. They're like feature films. For THE QUEST (37/213), did you all have separate sections you worked on or did you all sit down and suss it out together?

[87] I remember that we sat down and worked out the story, then everyone took an act. Steve took it and conformed everything so it became one solid episode. I think I had the teaser and first act. I think Steve did an incredible job bringing it all together. But what do they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention." That certainly seemed to be the case in all those "Lucy Lite" shows.

[88] Of course it had Amazons...

[89] Never a ratings loser.

[90] Certainly not with me.

[91] [laughs]

[92] Also it had Bruce Campbell and Renee [O'Connor] stepped up as a very strong Gabrielle. It's one of the great crimes that we will be denied the naked Amazon hot tub scene that got cut out of the final version, but what can I say?

[93] [laughs]

12-16-98. At the Creation Burbank II Con (01/98), director John Kretchmer was slated to appear, but he had to cancel and sent director Mike Levine to cover for him. Levine opened up by saying that the directors are the only people who can tell a warrior princess and a half-god what to do. He told the crowd that it took him about 3 weeks of pre- and post-production on each episode, and that there were hundreds of people responsible for a successful episode. He showed us a missing piece from THE QUEST which was mostly dialogue that had to be cut because of time constraints. He had to cut about ten minutes. This was a scene with Autolycus and Gabrielle after they stole Xena's body from the Amazons. Xena wanted to talk to Gabrielle through Autolycus. "Yes, Gabrielle, it's me. Close your eyes." "Gabrielle, it's me, I'm not dead." "Why?" "I looked at all the destruction I caused and I wondered why. I couldn't come up with an answer. I gave up hope." "I know" "Now I know my past had a purpose, I could never make up for the evil, but I could move forward."

12-16-98. In February 1998, The Austin Chronicle published an interview with Renee O'Connor. Here are THE QUEST excerpts:

AC: Ahhhh... let's not beat around the bush. Were you and Lucy even in the same shot together at the same time for the big, controversial "Kiss" scene?

RO: Oh, yes, we were. Lucy had only just come back from her accident and she couldn't do a whole lot.

AC: Well, this frame-by-frame analysis betrays a lack of shadow on you when she's leaning into you. I am among a contingent of people who believe that it's entirely a matted shot. Which if it's true, is completely hysterical considering the...

RO: Debate! Right. [laughs] Did they kiss and why did they kiss, right? Well, we didn't actually smooch, but we had the shot and we came in very close together. We were definitely there. We were in front of a blue screen. They wanted to make it heaven-like. That's why there probably wasn't any shadow. But we were definitely there together.


12-17-97. The Dagger of Helios serves double duty. It is also the dagger that Cleopatra puts to Autolycus' throat in KING OF ASSASSINS. Autolycus and that dagger of Helios! What a couple of cut-ups!!!

The line "But hey, I paid for an hour!" in QUEST was an ad-lib by Bruce Campbell done in rehearsal that Mike Levine asked him to keep in when they shot.


Things by Beth Gaynor.

This episode is even more amazing when you consider the context it was made under. This is the script that was thrown together after Lucy was injured and fractured her pelvis. The producers and writers had to come up on the spot with an episode that was almost totally Xena-free. The actors had to pull together and work without their usual leader at her post. And Lucy, poor lady, had to shoot what scenes she did while still recovering. (Notice that her only scenes are head shots, lying down, standing very still, and sitting carefully. And lots of voice-overs.) I'm impressed that, instead of a throw-away episode of filler material, we ended up with this powerful and well-done show. Major kudos all around.

Autolycus uses the "old false floor routine" in the temple of Helios. Watch as the priests put the dagger away in the closet/vault that Autolycus just ducked into; you can see his paper being used to imitate the far wall.

Minor blooper alert from the same scene: When Autolycus bursts out of the dagger vault, one of the doors swings shut behind him. In the rest of the scene, the doors are still open.

For the obvious: Velasca's back next week (A Necessary Evil), and she has the god-ly jello marshmallow surprise! Take cover!


From L.N. James. The Amazon choker feather thing appears and disappears and appears again throughout the episode.


Click here to read a transcript of THE QUEST.


Xena's body was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, it took weeks for Autolycus to get his swagger back.


The following WHOOSH! articles discuss this episode:

Coming soon


The following links discuss this episode:

Mania.com review 01-02-98.

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