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Season 3, episode 21
Series 321
1st release: 05/04/98
2nd release: 09/14/98
1st strip release: 10/27/98
2nd strip release: 01/29/99
Production number: V0420
Script number: 319
Approximate shooting dates: February/March 1998
Last update: 01-31-99

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY by Beth Gaynor

Hudson Leick (Callisto)
Kevin Smith (Ares)
Stephen Ure (Werfner)
Jodie Rimmer (Seraphin)

Micaela Daniel (Lachesis)
Bret Rudnick (low paid worshiper)
Elizabeth Pendergrast (Atropos)
Samantha Adriaanse (Clotho)
Jeremy Curry (Warlord)

Written by Steve Sears
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by David Warry-Smith

[Ares stands firm. Women in masks kneel.]
Callisto: Such power its almost scary.
[Someone falls to their knees.]
Ares: She wants it all.
Xena: She's coming after you.
[Callisto moves rocks. Someone is covered with slime. Xena and Callisto fight.]
Ares: I am Ares God of War!
[Xena kicks a hooded figure.]
Callisto: Welcome to my world. Now get ready to leave it.
[Callisto throws Xena to the ground.]
[Ares grabs Gabrielle.]
Xena: It's about Hope.
[A grotesque masked figure.]
Voice: Xena will die.
Ares: We strike now!
[Someone jumps on Callisto. She turns and screams.]

Xena saves Gabrielle's friend Seraphin from being sacrificed, then learns that she's willing to die -- so that Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope can be reborn. Part 1 of 2.

Xena and Gabrielle vainly struggle to stop evil Hope's re-emergence from her cocoon.

Callisto returns to resurrect Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope and build an army to conquer the world.

1st RELEASE: 05/04/98
An AA average of 5.1
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 9th with 5.4
(2) XENA 11th with 5.1
(3) STAR TREK DS9 16th with 4.6
(4) HERCULES 17th with 4.5

1st RELEASE: 09/14/98
An AA average of 4.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 9th with 5.2
(2) ER 13th with 4.2
(3) XENA 16th with 4.0
(4) HERCULES 18th with 3.8
(5) BAYWATCH 20th with 3.6
(6) STARGATE 3.2
(7) STAR TREK DS9 3.1
(8) VIP 2.7


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Callisto emerges from the hole-between worlds where Hercules had trapped her in a previous episode. Xena and Gabrielle watch a ceremony from behind a rock, too far away to hear the words of the priest. Gabrielle is searching for a friend, Seraphin, who has joined this "cult." Seraphin appears; she is placed upon high and will soon be skewered as a sacrifice. Whoosh! The chakram saves the girl, slicing through the spear the priest holds. Xena and Gabrielle fight with the worshipers. Seraphin is taken away, and Xena gives chase. Callisto appears in front of her, holding a priest, whom she kills. She laughs, then disappears. Xena and Gabrielle track Seraphin. Xena has a little talk with Ares. They think the cult is worshiping Callisto. The cult group begins worshiping again, and the sacrifice girl comes out, only it's Xena dressed up. She attacks the worshipers. Callisto appears, and she and Xena cross swords. She throws a godly-fireball at Xena and Ares takes the impact, pushing Xena away. He and Callisto have words.

Gabrielle keeps Seraphin from returning to the priests. Xena realizes that the goddess they are worshiping, preparing for a "rebirth" of, is not Callisto, but Hope, the goddess of Dahak. Gabrielle talks to Seraphin, who convinces Gabrielle she was wrong about Hope because no child of Gabrielle's could be all evil. Callisto talks to this blob/cocoon, which is Hope. Ares goes to get warlords to raise an army. A flaming vision appears to him. A priest speaks to Hope for Callisto, and learns that Callisto wants oblivion as her reward for helping Hope. Xena goes to the cave where Aunty Callisto is watching over "her child" and Callisto and Xena fight. Xena runs outside and Callisto follows. She throws a fireball at Xena, and Xena bounces it around until it landslides on top of Callisto. Xena goes to kill Hope, but Ares stops her. He takes Hope to the Halls of War to protect her (I'm sorry, but I didn't quite understand this part and I "hope" somebody explains it to me.) He tells Hope he forgives her for killing Strife and then tells her to do something about Xena. Hope sends a bunch of villagers after Xena; they pummel her pretty good because she won't kill them, but she gets Gabrielle and Seraphin away.

Xena goes to scout ahead. Gabrielle tells Seraphin that she loves Hope, sending Seraphin to warn her daughter that Xena is trying to kill her. Xena reappears and says Gabrielle almost had her convinced that she still loves Hope, but Gabrielle says no, she realizes she is evil. They follow Seraphin to the Halls of War. Xena tells Gabrielle to wait outside. Ares takes Gabrielle to see the Three Fates. He says he is calling in the debt Gabrielle owes him from when he sent her to Chin ahead of Xena. If Xena kills Hope, Xena's lifeline will be cut and Xena will die.

Xena enters the Halls of War and fights with the hooded priest-dudes. Seraphin worships the cocoon. The head priest runs her through, and she pulls herself to the cocoon and wipes blood on Hope (apparently Hope needs her blood to finish metamorphosis). Xena is about to run Hope through when Gabrielle jumps and knocks her aside. Everybody stops and watches as Hope emerges from her cocoon. Callisto appears to watch. Hope looks exactly like Gabrielle. Callisto bursts out laughing.



This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Sacrifice is hard to render an opinion on without seeing Sacrifice II. Even more than the Debt, this episode was largely setup. Lots and lots of setup. Interesting setup, lots of dark plots and convoluted schemes and angst, but without any resolution yet. So I guess we get to hold on to our buttons and see what part II is going to deliver on this premise.

Xena: Sensitivity Princess she ain't. Xena and Gabrielle have learned a lot from the nasty Rift going-ons: despite all this reopening of old wounds, they don't fall into the same mistakes again. With one small exception: Xena and Gab both spent much of the Rift hurting so bad they weren't able to reach out to the other. This time, Gabrielle checks with Xena - we're revisiting the death of your son here, "Are you OK?" Xena never once checks on Gab. She treats her worlds better (and gentler) than before, but cripes, Xena, check on the bard once in a while, will ya? The poor woman's got a child's (non-)death to relive, too.

Ares gets the title of First President of Xena's Fan Club (sorry, Sharon!). "When Xena puts her mind to killing someone, they generally get killed." "When Xena starts to move, nothing is 'safe'." He is just TOO smitten with her, daddy or no.

Note to self: when someone climbs a scaffolding with a big empty bowl lying beneath it, it's a bad sign. I've heard of bloodbaths before, but that's going a little too close to the source.

Xena leaves Gabrielle to handle a whole pack of baddies... and she does. Handily. Sit back and watch the bard kick b*tt; she really does haul back and swing for the fences nowadays. I wonder if the stunties in Auckland are starting to get nervous?

Xena's skills come in handy in the darndest places: she uses her chakram banks to send back Callisto's firebolt on herself. But you know, if I was a god, the very first thing I'd be working on would be my rock-escaping powers. This is, what, the third time Xena has used rock piles to trap gods?

We now know the origins of the ku klux klan: judging by the costumes, they started out as numbskull Hope worshipers. How appropriate.

Xena lets us know that she and Gabrielle had heard about Callisto's latest imprisonment from Hercules and Iolaus. The big question: did they also know that Hope had returned from the dead after being poisoned and cremated? I can't tell for sure from their reactions.

How did Xena get her arms free of that sacrifice scaffolding? They had her pinned pretty tight, then suddenly the hooks were three feet away.

What's with the royal "we" from the priest? Time for a serious "get over yourself" check!

It's strange that Callisto can't hear Hope. Hope hears her, and hears Ares. Hope can talk to her royal-we-ness priest, the flaky priestess Seraphin, and the zombie villagers, including at great distances. Theoretically, you'd have to worship Hope to be able to hear her, and neither Callisto nor Ares fall in that category. I'd think that the godhood business would grant some privileges there, though.

That was a very sick conversation Seraphin had with Gabrielle by the riverside. Saying that Hope's rebirth was for the Greater Good was a nasty twist on one of Gabrielle and Xena's own favorite phrases, and her plea to "let the Goddess Hope touch your soul" must have been a dagger in Gabrielle's gut.

From the moment Gab tells Seraphin who she is, Serphin (and Hope's) recruitment plan changes bigtime. Dimes to dinars says that while Seraphin was sitting alone, Hope was whispering nasty nothings in her ear about the best way to try to coax Gab to betray Xena and help her get free. It seems that Hope still has something real personal against Xena. All the old "Hope could really be good" arguments come out, with lots of faith in Gabrielle's innate goodness and a nasty twist on the bard's guilt for abandoning Hope to the river. All of Gab's own arguments, when she and Xena fought over Hope, the ones that ended up with Solan dead, are coming back to haunt her.

I was fooled for a minute when Gab let Seraphin go; I couldn't believe we were about to go through all this again. But regardless of how much it hurt, Gabrielle wasn't falling for it a second time. That argument between Xena and Gabrielle was staged for Seraphin, but it must have skewered both of them to relive those old wounds again.

Seraphin says that "the Destroyer [Hope?] will wash the land of its sins" - more Christian imagery and symbolism turned on its ear for the daughter of Dahak. In Christianity, people are "washed of their sins" by the lifeblood of God's son. Is a similar blood sacrifice going to wash the land with Dahak's daughter? (Besides Seraphin's blood?) Sacrifices have been the big theme of the episode: Seraphin's sacrifice of herself, Callisto's request to die, the sacrifices Xena and Gabrielle are making to protect the world and each other... and those will probably just get bigger in the second part. Seraphin's name, by the way, is a twist on the word seraphim, one of the orders of angels of the "God of the Israelites."

What was the flame that showed up behind Ares and made him look darned nervous? Was that when the Fates showed up to tell Ares about Xena's death? Why would they interfere in their own work like that?

"You're gonna love it... well, at least half of it." Callisto knows how Xena will feel about Hope being freed, but figures that she won't mind at all the return favor Callisto wants from Hope - her obliteration. Callisto seems to have some of her zest for life back, but apparently still finds things pretty empty now that she's done torturing Xena. Try a hobby first, Callisto!

Gabrielle's marker to Ares gets called in, and surprisingly, it's to save Xena. Not a tough task, except that it means the easiest way to serve the greater good - just let Xena shish-ka-bob Hope - is no longer an option. Part two is going to be plan beta.


03-17-00. From KSZoneW. Sloppy editing with the fade in from the last commercial to the final portion of the episode.


12-20-98. At Dragon Con in Atlanta (09/98), Steven Sears stated that the character of Werfner was based on Gollum, from LORD OF THE RINGS.

03-17-98. WHOOSH's very own Bret Rudnick appeared as a featured extra in this episode. He's a hooded worshiper for most the show but hopefully his unhooded scene will remain for all to see. Bret reports that this episode will knock the socks off of you.


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

Hope emerging from that cocoon (eeeyuk!) looking like the spittin' image of Gabrielle makes sick sense: all the soul of the father, all the body of the mother. ("Hey, Hope, you have your mommy's eyes... and biceps... wait a second, let's see your abs.") Plus, it's a dandy excuse to make Hope even creepier and give Renee O'Connor a chance to show off some range. I love Callisto's delightedly amused giggle when everyone realizes what/who Hope looks like. Note to XenaStaff, though: this does _not_ count as a Gab double episode. We've seen warriors, tramps, princesses and priestesses. I'd still love to see a bard double comedy episode.

NICE smokeout of Ares, Callisto! He likes to poo-poo Callisto as a newbie god, but she's certainly holding her own against him without problems. She may be new to being a god, Ares, but she's old hat at being a vicious psychotic. As always, Hudson Leick takes every line in her teeth and chews them up for all they're worth. I loved the beautiful sweep and half-bow with "But I'm a god now, Xena. Welcome to my world." Reminiscent of Illusia, but still fun.


From Beth Gaynor. Those dancers looked like they were in recycled amazon costumes, right down to their masks. I'm guessing they aren't actually renegade amazons, since that would probably have merited some manner of comment from Queen Gabrielle, so it must just be a remarkable coincidence (and a nice break for the costuming staff). But may I just say: ouch! Those studded bras do NOT look comfy.

From Beth Gaynor. The zombie villagers and their attack on the hut are a big-time page from the Night of the Living Dead playbook. Will we see the army of villagers return in part two to square off against Ares' army? That could make for an ugly massacre. It wasn't much of a slowdown for Xena and Gabrielle; if that was the best Hope could manage, color me unimpressed.

From Beth Gaynor. Where's Ares' army? He sends off the flunkie in the middle of nowhere to gather all the armies that follow Ares, which would pretty much cover most of Greece, especially all the warlords. But we don't see them at the Sister Peaks or the Halls of War. I'm sure this army will turn up in part II, but I was left wondering what happened to that thread.

From Penandswrd. Xena can read lips -- when she and Gabby see the ceremony from afar, Gabby can't hear them but Xena can read Werfner's lips to make out what he's saying.

From Penandswrd. In the second act, Ares disses mortals and says to Xena, "I don't know why you bother to continue to protect them." Perhaps Xena really *is* more than a mere mortal?

From Penandswrd. During the "Night of the Living Dead" zombie scene we see for a moment (from the back) what sure looks like a first-season Gabrielle. Skirt, blouse, and hair!


Click here to read a transcript of SACRIFICE I.


No Pulsing Cocoons were harmed during the production of this motion picture. What was witnessed was purely a re-enactment.

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