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Season 2, episode 10
Series 210
1st release: 01-13-97
2nd release: 06-16-97
1st strip release: 09-10-98
2nd strip release: 12-16-98
Production number: V0208
Script number: 207
Approximate shooting dates: June 1996
Last update: 07-25-01

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Carmen Carter

Ted Raimi (Jacques S'Er/Jack Kleinman/Ted Raimi)
Kevin Smith (Ares)
Renee O'Connor (Janis Covington)
Lucy Lawless (Melinda Pappas)

Mark Ferguson (John Smythe)
Ajay Vasisht (Nikos)
(Thug #1)
Robert Tapert (Robert Tapert, executive)

Written by Robert Sidney Mellette
Teleplay by Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Charlie Haskell

In 1940 Macedonia, a determined archaeologist and a visitor to her excavation site stumble upon the "Xena Scrolls," ancient manuscripts that chronicle the Warrior Princess's adventures.


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

The story opens in 1942, Macedonia. A demur young southern woman named Mel who looks very much like Xena goes into the tent of an archeological dig, where she is accosted. Suddenly she is rescued by a swashbuckling, Indiana-Jones type lass (named Janis) carrying a whip (who looks very much like Gabrielle).

After some conferring after the rescue, Mel explains she can translate ancient writings and had found a telegraph from Janis among her now-dead father's belongings. Janis has her doubts keeping Mel along, since she obviously is a weak southern belle. A "Frenchman" who looks like Joxer shows up, saying he is there to protect the scrolls. Janis suspects the scrolls are in a tomb she has found, but the tomb is reputed to be cursed.

A man named Smythe shows up; he has a tablet. Janis at first believes it to be a fake, but Mel reads it and turns the "key" panel according to the instructions, opening the tomb. There is a rockslide as the stairs give way; Smythe & company disappear. Janis, the Frenchman, and Mel go searching for the scrolls. Mel sits down to get out of the way, at Janis' orders, and uncovers the scrolls. She also uncovers half of the chakram. Janis tries to remove the chakram from the rock, but cannot; Mel easily pulls it out. Then the half of the chakram "leads" Mel into another chamber. Smythe has found the other half; eventually, they are drawn together and Mel is knocked unconscious. The shock opens up a tomb and Ares emerges. He strikes down Smythe & company.

Ares explains to Janis that he could only be released by a descendent of Xena's. Janis at first thinks she is the one, but Ares says no -- think irritating little blond. Janis is dismayed to think she is a descendent of Gabrielle. Mel wakes -- but now it's not Mel -- it is XENA, returned from the past, reincarnated in the body of her descendent, Mel. Xena and Ares fight; the chakram is the key to Ares entrapment. The door is opened, but Xena keeps Ares at bay; finally she manages to make the door close again, and she becomes "Mel" once more, and Janis pulls Mel to safety just before the door closes, trapping Ares forever. Janis blows up the area around the tomb, hiding it once more, but taking the scrolls with her.

Fifty years later, a man who looks like Joxer is sitting in a room trying to sell a screen play; the producer is not impressed. Finally, he hands the producer a box of things he found in his grandfather's attic, and executive producer Robert Tapert rolls his chair around to take a look ....

That, folks, is the basic story. However, it's full of many things, including lots of footage from first season shows -- as "Mel" reads the scrolls, they show episode takes from "Callisto." When Mel becomes Xena and Janis is dismayed to learn she's from Gabrielle's stock, Xena tells Janis that Gabrielle was the most wonderful of friends, and thought nothing of sacrificing herself for others (with footage from "Hooves & Harlots" and "Is There A Doctor In The House?"). This cheers Janis.


Commentary Beth Gaynor.

A clip show. I usually hate clip shows. I understand the use of them - they allow the crew to take five in the midst of a busy season, to only shoot 15 minutes out of a 40 minute episode. The problem is, clip shows are usually framed by simple excuses for reminiscings, which doesn't give us anything new to enjoy in between footage we've already seen. ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS, season 1's clip show for Xena, had your basic reminiscing premise - yawn.

XENA SCROLLS took a different tack. In addition to giving our star ladies a little less work to do for this episode, it let them get a major change of pace by cutting their teeth on wildly different characters. It was fun and worked into a decent excuse for some flashbacks. None too shabby for a clip show!

I *loved* the idea of the descendents of Xena and Gabrielle switching roles. This time, the short blonde was the grim leader with the less-than-stellar past. The tall, dark-haired one was the unlikely fish-out-of-water sidekick who chose to defend the hero and stick beside her. Despite the protests and frustration of the small fighter, she fiercely protected her blue-eyed tagalong. My biggest disappointment with this episode was when Xena showed up to switch the roles back into the place we normally see them. I was enjoying watching the tables get reversed.

Awesome knife-throwing from thin air by Ares. How studly can you get?

I know the role is designed to be cheesy, so maybe it's just the high camp getting in the way, but I have a hard time buying Renee as a tough-as-nails broad. The snarl just doesn't convince me most of the time. On the other hand, she handles those physical stunts with gusto! She throws straight-arm punches like she could knock a tank for a loop, and tosses around a pretty mean whip! (Compare it to the convenient cuts that are made for Lucy's whip use in GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN - of course, to give her the benefit of the doubt, that may have been because she had to worry about having Renee right behind her.)

In case you were wondering, here's the episodes that the clips are from. Interestingly, these are all first season episodes: despite being a second season clip show, we don't see any footage from this season.

  • The ladder fight: CALLISTO
  • Ares' come-hither speech: THE RECKONING
  • (THE MUMMY and WOLFMAN, a'course.)
  • Marcus's story: MORTAL BELOVED
  • Gabrielle beats the stuffing out of Joxer: CALLISTO, again
  • Callisto grabs the chakram: CALLISTO, a third time
  • Gab drugged. Still funny after all these episodes: ALTARED STATES
  • Gabrielle's protection of Terreis: HOOVES AND HARLOTS
  • Xena revives Gabrielle: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
  • "Closer than blood" speech: TIES THAT BIND
  • Quibble time: As the door to Ares' tomb is sliding shut, Jack Kleinman throws himself under the door and struggles without success to keep it open. Perfectly within Joxer's usual style. But then, when Mel and Janice hesitate, Jack turns and runs. Bzzzt, wrong guess, minus five. True, the descendents don't HAVE to act exactly like their ancestors, but in all the times we've seen him, Joxer has never run out on Xena and Gabrielle. He's frequently useless, sometimes causing more trouble than he solves, but he never turns his back on his friends. He's loyal that way. Kind of like a puppy.

    So, what does this actually tell us about Xena and Gabrielle's future? Not a whole heck of a lot. Ares is entombed in an elaborate place that's been set for him, including that Eye of Haephestus deal that suggests that the gods were involved in his imprisonment. Xena's chakram is broken and kept here, and Gabrielle's scrolls also find a resting place here. There's nothing that actually says that Xena was the one who imprisoned him, although if we follow typical curse logic, if a descendent must release him, she probably did the imprisoning. In short, we don't learn much at all. The writers haven't committed themselves to diddly.


    Commentary Carmen Carter.

    What a hoot! XENA SCROLLS was enormous good fun -- and I suspect the actors had just as good a time filming this episode as Xenites will have watching it. The Indiana Jones setting makes for an easy parody, but the twist is in having Renee play Indy and Lucy play the visiting femme.

    Janice Covington has the same spunk as Gabrielle, but in the 1940's she's the swaggering tough with a bullwhip; Renee infuses the character with cynicism and a jaded attitude toward life. In contrast, Lucy plays Mel as a ditzy archaelogical wannabe who doggedly tags after Covington, wanting to be taken seriously. The role reversal is a delight.

    Although this could be called a clip show, there are far fewer clips than were used in Academy of the Performing Bards. Same comic sensibility however, in the inclusion of some appropriate non-Xena footage. XWP has set a new standard for clip shows.

    "Sayonara, sucker!" [BOOOM!]--Janice Covington



    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].

    11-14-00. Kevin (Ares) Smith was at the Panathenaea Convention in London, England on September 3, 2000. He was asked about how Ares gets into the tomb in XENA SCROLLS if he is now a mortal. Smith responded that he asked executive producer Robert Tapert the very same thing and Tapert said that the events of that episode were just one possible future time line and that there could be lots of other possible futures. [SINCE the convention though, there have been murmurings afoot of an episode which would resolving the XENA SCROLLS paradox.]

    11-24-98. Starlog Magazine #245 (November 1997) contains an interview with Robert Tapert, the executive producer of XWP. He mentioned regarding XENA SCROLLS where he appeared as himself, that it was his tribute to writer/producer/actor Stephen Cannell.

    10-15-96. This is apparently a "clip show" [lots of clips from previous shows] that takes place in the 1940's with the descendants of Xena and Gabrielle playing around as Indiana Jones and assistant (however, this time Renee O'Connor gets to play the (wannabe) hero and Lucy Lawless her comic foil). ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT did a brief interview of Renee O'Connor at the set of this episode and Ms. O'Connor was wearing Indy Jones type garb. I am besides myself with excitement in that this may become one of my favorite episodes. I hope I can wait.


    Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

    Janice Covington gets one of the great entrances of all time. To paraphrase Salmoneus: Those boots... that whip... that jacket... Indiana Jones meets Humphrey Bogart, with the cheese and camp turned up to 11 on the one-to-ten meter. Renee chewed her way through every piece of scenery like gangbusters, especially in that opening scene. Watch her glee when she gets to the gatling gun (and nice reflexes on the bad guy!).

    Lucy gives a great over-baked deep-fried southern accent. She even gets to wear near-normal clothes for a while. What a nice change of pace that must have been!

    My personal favorite joke: Mel sets off the flying knife trap in the tomb, to the shock of Janice, the screams of Jacques S'Er, and the quick cover of "oops" from Mel. Great reactions all around.


    These things are by Beth Gaynor.

    Nit-picking blooper: when Mel is knocked out by the chakram fusing, she falls to the ground with no sign of a sword anywhere near her, but a sword (maybe even Ares' sword, by the look of it) is right at hand when Xena crawls back up.

    The collapsing stairs at the entrance to Ares' tomb were the same ones used to Ares' detriment in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS.

    Very fun blooper: in the final 1940 scene, watch when Jack throws Janice's backpack on his shoulder. Several of the scrolls fly out and hit Lucy, who tries very studiously to ignore it so they can keep shooting.


    07-25-01. From Stephen. In the final 1940 scene, watch when Jack throws Janice's backpack on his shoulder. Several of the scrolls fly out and hit Mel, who tries very studiously to ignore it so they can keep shooting. Yeah, that's fun, but, sorry, Mel shouldn't have ignored it; Mel would have picked up the scrolls and handed them to Jack; Jack wouldn't have wanted to leave them behind.

    07-25-01. From Stephen. The scrolls would have been far too delicate to be handled casually like that. When they fell to the ground they would have crumbled. Sorry. Also, although it's possible they stayed in the attic a long time, the academic community is going to be awfully peeved he took them to a Hollywood producer instead of a museum. But, maybe the producer is looking at modern copies made to look like the originals, and some museum has the originals. That of ocurse doesn't explain why they didn't crumble when they fell to the ground. Maybe there was a magic spell on them?

    03-12-00. From Debbie Roche. If Xena merged both chakrams in CHALRAM, how come in THE XENA SCROLLS, which is in the future, the original, single chakram is there?

    11-24-98. The USA channel strip airings of XWP have cut the word "b*st*rd" from the original.

    11-24-98. From Jonathan Scott. Couldn't but help notice that all the cars in the episode at right-hand drive (eg UK, New Zealand). Unfortunately, Macedonia is part of mainland Europe, and therefore left-hand drive cars would be normal. Given that war was raging across northern Europe at this time, the chances of getting a RHD vehicle into Macedonia would almost nil, let alone 3.

    11-24-98. From Nicholas Nayko. The Eye of Hephaestus appears not only in XENA SCROLLS, but HTLJ ATLANTIS and ARMAGEDDON NOW I.

    11-24-98. From KSZoneW. HTLJ's "Atlantis": The Giant Eye that appeared in Ares Tomb during "Xena Scrolls" was used in Panthius' palace behind the throne [The eye of Hephaestus!]


    Click here to read a transcript of THE XENA SCROLLS .


    No Hollywood producers were harmed during the production of this motion picture.


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