Whoosh! Online Edition Click here to see an original XENA art collection!


EPISODE NO. 20/120
Season 1, episode 20
Series 120
1st release: 04/29/96
2nd release: 08/12/96
1st strip release: 09/01/98
2nd strip release: 11/27/98
Production number: 76923
Script number: 121
Approximate shooting dates: February 1996
Last update: 01-30-01


Tom Atkins (Atrius)
Kevin Smith (Ares)

Stephen Lovatt (Kirilus)
Sonia Gray (Rhea)
Lutz Halbhubner (Tarkis)
Jonathon Whittaker (Andrus)
Nancy Broadbent (Areliesa)
Heidi Anderson (Slave Girl)
John Manning (Ranch Hand #1)
Mark Perry (Warrior #1)
Tony Williams (Warrior #2)
James Marcum (Warrior #3)
Robin Kora (Village Elder)

Written by Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Charles Siebert

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.

As the god Ares schemes to make Xena lead his army, the warrior princess meets a man claiming to be her long-lost father.

Xena is extremely suspicious of an old warrior who claims to be her father.

1st RELEASE: 04-29-96
An AA average of 4.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) ST:DS9 ranked 8th at 5.3
(2) HTLJ ranked 13th at 5.0
(3) XWP ranked 16th at 4.7

2nd RELEASE: 08-12-96
An AA average of 4.4
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 6th with 5.2
(2) XENA 10th at 4.4
(3) STAR TREK DS9 13th at 4.2


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Xena and Gabrielle watch as a warlord puts many women and girls into a cage; his most recent pillage. Xena wants to save them, and hatches a plot, but before she can do anything a man with white hair runs from the woods and attacks the warlords. Xena goes and saves him; he says he is her father. Xena does not believe him. She and Gabrielle rescue the women and girls, and one runs away because she "went willingly" with the warlord's men in order to spare her sister.

Gabrielle goes after her, and the older man stops a thug from beating up Gabrielle. Xena thanks him, and then they take the women and girls away. While the women bath and ready themselves for the journey back to their village, Xena sits on a hill, watching, and humming a song. Suddenly the stillness is broken when the older man comes riding a horse through the creek, shouting for Xena. He has several men chasing him; Xena goes after them on Argo and once again saves the older man. The older man says the horse was owed to him; Xena does not believe this, so she checks out his story. Finding it to be true, she is confused about this person. Is he her father or not?

Xena is attacked by a dart-blower; Xena catches the dart, and the older man goes after the attacker. Gabrielle sees him kill the man while he was pleading for mercy. But when Xena checks out the story, the attacker had a hidden knife. The older man then tells Gabrielle in an offhanded manner that she should take a hike so he can spend some time with his daughter.

Gabrielle offers to lead the women and girls back to their village while Xena and the older man ride rear guard. Xena and the older man are attacked; together they fight them off. They reach the village, and the villagers take the old man prisoner, because he once led an attack on their village. Xena says she will stop the warlord if they leave her father alone.

Xena goes after the warlord. They have a fight, and Xena wins. She takes his army and leads them back to the village. She sees her father hung up to die; she screams "Take the village" and "Kill them all" to the men around her. She pulls her father down and he dies in her arms. The villagers are rounded up, and she walks toward them with her father in her arms. "Who killed my father?" she asks. She cannot even see Gabrielle; she has reverted to her old ways. Gabrielle stands up to her, and in fact hits her in upper back with a pitchfork. Then her father speaks, asking her where her anger is, and Xena realizes Ares has been playing games with her. She tells him to kill her, but he does not, and he vanishes.

As the show ends, Xena tells Gabrielle that some families are made, and they are closer than blood, and that is how she feels about Gabrielle.


Commentary Kym Taborn.

1. THE PITFALLS OF FATHERHOOD. Robert Tapert, one of the creators of XWP and an executive producer of the series, once stated "I believe, in the basest and crassest of ways, that there's a formula to stories about heroes, and no one had ever tried to do it before with a woman hero. Or if they did, they made excuses for her being a woman." (07-01-96, MS. Magazine, Vol 7, No. 1, July/August 1996, page 74, "Xena" She's Big, Tall, Strong--and Popular" by Donna Minkowitz).

1. One of the great formulas of the hero, or more appropriately macho male myth, was that of the great rift between the father and the son. In TIES THAT BIND, the audience was treated to Xena's version of her father angst. Her father abandoned her family when Xena was 4. As an adult, Xena felt unresolved and ambiguous feelings towards her father's memory. She was disgusted by his actions and yet fondly remembered the 'good times'. Too bad for Xena that psycho-therapy would not be invented for another couple of thousand years. However, the wily and wascally Ares used Xena's longing for a unified family and her unconsious and vague mourning for her father to his advantage.

2. ARES. In Ares' first appearance in the Xenaverse, THE RECKONING (#06), he openly wooed Xena to the dark side by offers of worldly power to do good. In his second appearance in TIES THAT BIND, he went undercover to try to trick Xena into being his representative on earth. By INTIMATE STRANGER (#31) he had given up on making Xena his representative and attempted to give Callisto that honor. Ares apparently never quite made the connection that he failed in his first two attempts because of Xena's friendship with Gabrielle. Callisto had made that observation sometime between CALLISTO (#22) and RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) while she was in prison. In CALLISTO, Callisto's goal was to hurt Xena; she used Gabrielle as a means not an end, to harm Xena. However, in RETURN OF CALLISTO, she told Xena that she was going to kill Xena's soul first...which was Gabrielle. Callisto, of course, wound up killing Perdicas instead, but served the same purpose; by killing Perdicas in Gabrielle's presence Callisto effectively made Gabrielle a basketcase. Finally in INTIMATE STRANGER, Callisto inexplicitly gave up on Gabrielle and went after Xena's mother instead. (Uh- oh, maybe there is something to this lessening of the theme of Gabrielle symbolizing Xena's soul and will to do good???). But hey this is all a tangent...we can't let Callisto dominate in a section about Ares! Come on, Callisto (in Xena's body) showed how wimpy he was in INTIMATE STRANGER, only to have Xena (in Callisto's body) show how even moreso wimpy he was in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS. It looks like season two is not being nice to Ares. However, TIES THAT BIND still portrayed the honorable and respectful Ares that was the theme of the first season. It will be greatly remembered for that.

3. WRITERS. The team of Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster has given to us: CHARIOTS OF WAR (#02), DEATH IN CHAINS (#09), BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (#12), TIES THAT BIND, and GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (#28). Their first exploration of the father-child angst was in CHARIOTS OF WAR as between Cycnus and Sphaerus.

4. DIRECTOR. Charles Siebert's best work for the series thus far in his Ares trilogy: THE RECKONING (#06), TIES THAT BIND (#20), and TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (#32). The most mature, ironically, was his first, THE RECKONING. His direction of Ares was inspirational and showed that he understood the character. This theme was continued on through TIES THAT BIND. This time Ares attempted to seduce Xena in a radically different way than in THE RECKONING. However, Mr. Siebert lost his momentum in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS by abandoning any reference or continuity with the previous Ares shows. True, TEN LITTLE WARLORDS was a comedy relief piece that had to be re-shot and re- placed in the seasonal calendar after Ms. Lawless' injury. For that reason I shall still hope for the greatly anticipated Ares episode where it finally dawns on Ares that Gabrielle is the key to Xena's soul, not earthly powers or riches or even blood relatives. Since the producers of XWP tend to keep threads and themes with one director, I also anticipate that when this great episode is to be shot, Mr. Siebert will be chosen for the task.

Mr. Siebert's other episodes included the first part of his "Sisyphus" series: DEATH IN CHAINS (#09). TEN LITTLE WARLORDS served double duty, being his third Ares episode and second Sisyphus episode (Mr. Siebert even appeared as Sisyphus in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS). DEATH IN CHAINS was a quirky exploration into the necessity of death; just as TEN LITTLE WARLORDS was a quirky exploration into the necessity of a god of war, aka the general need for an outlet for humanity's warlike urges (was this guy sent by the Shadows, or what???). Mr. Siebert also directed ORPHAN OF WAR (#25) which took him out of his usual Ares/quirkiness explorations. I haven't figured out yet where that episode fits in the grand scheme of Siebert things, but I am working on it.

5. THE REDEMPTIVE FRIENDSHIP. Once again it is the pure at heart Gabrielle who has to beat some sense into Xena, both figuratively and literally.

In THE RECKONING, Xena went into a bloodlust and did not come out until she swatted Gabrielle across the room. Xena was shocked into sobriety by her deed. Xena's bond with Gabrielle was greater than the bloodlust Ares had induced. Fast forward to TIES THAT BIND. Ares sees Gabrielle as nothing more than a hinderance to his plans. While in his Atreus disguise, he convinces Gabrielle to leave Xena. Not good enough Ares. Gabrielle was at the village that he wanted Xena to attack. Xena dutifully attacked (hey!!! they are flaying dad down there!!! take the village!!), but Gabrielle stood up to Xena. Interestingly enough, Xena brushed off Gabrielle. Gabrielle then took the now legendary farm tool and slammed it against Xena's back. Gabrielle did perhaps her bravest deed. You can tell by Gabrielle's looks she did not expect to survive but was doing so to make a political statement. Luckily, Xena got the message.

So what is the real message of this episode? Other than Ares is a pain in the proverbial rear end? It is that Gabrielle is more than just a comic foil, action buddy, or even student to Xena's teacher; Gabrielle, at least during this part of the series, represented to Xena all the good things in her life and the reasons why Xena was attempting redemption at all. This grand theme of the growing spiritual, emotional, and physical friendship between Xena and Gabrielle has reached its current apex in the episode REMEMBER NOTHING (#26) where the friendship between the two women are cast as being not only foretold and inevitable, but as unbreakable and consequently eternal.


Coming soon


Monty Pythonesque dartblower.

Chakram hovering in place while Xena fought, and then when she was free, the chakram flying back to her and re-attaching itself to her belt. Look ma! No hands!

Ares: "Sometimes the best man for a job is a woman"; tough break for Kirilus.

Every single scene with Rhea. Her approach, her style, her subtle use of melodrama is beyond my abilities for description. You got to see her, to believe her.


When Xena is holding her father/Ares while kneeling on the ground - Look at the top of your screen and you will notice what looks like a microphone speaker, just hanging there - Can we say "OOOPS"?

In the trailer for TIES, Xena catches the thrown dagger (army take-over scene) in her right hand and in the episode, she catches it in her left hand.


01-30-01. From Herv. Just before the title sequence when Xena is kneeling, tending to 'dad', a small amount of foliage hovers into view to spare our heroines blushes, as she is showing off rather a lot of upper, inner thigh

From Jen. 03-08-00. When Xena hops off Argo to fight Kirilus her Chakrams falls off and rolls along the grass. In the next scene, it's right there back at her side.

From KSZoneW. In HTLJ's Armageddon Now: There where many clips shown from past Xena episodes, during the little time travel scenes of Iolaus. Clips where shown from "Deliverer", "Ties that Bind", "Callisto", "Destiny", "The Price", and many others.


Prepared by SheWho.

Watching this reminded me very fondly of the first season, and three episodes in particular. Imagine, these three shows aired in a row: Altared States, Ties That Bind, and The Greater Good. I don't know if there's ever been a better triple punch. I remember being in Las Vegas when both AS and TTB aired, staying up til 2 a.m. while having to be up early the next day, but thrilled at getting to see them four days earlier than usual. Sigh. Those were the days...

Anyway, back to the subject. Again, nothing earth shattering in this one. There are some changes and omissions in lines, an admission from Xena that innocent people were killed during her reign of terror, an additional sad bit where Gabrielle wonders where she's going to go now that she's left Xena, some other little things, and pleasant memories.

TIES THAT BIND. By Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster. Directed by Charles Siebert. Shooting Draft February 22, 1996

Wow--an Armus & Foster script that's actually good! (Words I thought would never cross my lips.)

Not that it matters, but in the script, Xena and Gabrielle are first spying on the slavers while lying atop a grassy knoll. The treetop angle in the show is more fun.

Interestingly, in the script, when Gabrielle runs up to Xena attending to Atrius, she asks Xena if she's all right. As televised, Gabrielle runs up and asks if Atrius is all right.

As scripted, when Xena tells Gabrielle not to believe everything she hears (namely, Atrius' pronouncement that he's Xena's father), she "taps her head in a 'this guy must be crazy' gesture. Gabrielle nods in understanding." They omitted this little non-verbal exchange in the screened version.

When Atrius orders Xena not to walk away from him, "Xena stops. Did she recognize that tone?"

Gab's question (with that great forearm grab) "Is he your father?" and Xena's reply, "Give me a break," are part of a more extended and informative scene in the script. As originally written, Gabrielle follows Xena and catches up with her walking quickly through the woods:

Gabrielle: "What's going on?"

Xena: "Kirilus' men will be looking for us. We'll double back and strike from the south."

Gabrielle: "I meant with Atrius. (off her non-response) Is he your...?"

Xena (interrupting her): "I doubt it. Even if he is, I don't want anything to do with him."

Gabrielle: "But he was trying to help."

Xena (hesitating; then): "My father ran out on us when I was a young girl. I haven't seen him since and that's fine by me."

"Gabrielle looks at Xena thoughtfully. She knows when to be quiet. Just then, Xena hears a noise in the nearby brush. She draws her sword and spins to face--Atrius."

Atrius (puts his hands up): "You're fast."

Xena (sword still raised): "What do you want?"

Atrius: "To save those girls. (off Xena's silence) We can either join forces or get in each other's way. It's your choice."

Xena: "Get in my way, and you'll get hurt."

Atrius: "Right. Whatever you say. (then; sincerely) It was nice seeing you again."

"Xena glares at him, then sheathes her sword, turns and keeps walking. Gabrielle follows."

After Xena sees Atrius rescue Gabrielle and the worst guest actor in XWP history [yes, even worse than the guy who played Useless], the expression Atrius has as Xena is walking away with the others is described as "a 'What do I have to do to win?' look."

After Xena tells Atrius "No, you're not!" [her father], he "hesitates, then almost smiles. She's one tough cookie."

Originally, when Gab and Xena are sitting on the grassy hill while the kidnapped girls bathe and Gabrielle wonders where Atrius went, Xena says "I don't know and I don't care." (As televised, it's just "I don't know.") Gabrielle says it must have been tough growing up without a father. As scripted, Xena says "We did all right"; in the televised version, she elaborates with some dialogue omitted in the earlier exchange: "My father left us when I was little. I haven't seen him since and that's fine by me."

When Xena is saving Atrius from the ranch hands chasing him for the horse Atrius obtained, Xena tumbles to the ground and catches her chakram. As televised, the chakram reattaches itself to her side while she's flipping in midair. Yeah, cornier, but kind of fun.

In the script, after Atrius tells Xena he's the same man she trusted with her life when she was a little girl, "Xena turns back to him, searching his eyes for the man she loved as a little girl." On screen, she refuses to turn around, and instead walks away.

When Gab asks Xena where's she been, the line "Seeing a man about a horse," is funnier than as originally scripted ("Talking to some men about a horse").

In the script, when Atrius hums the same song Xena was humming earlier, "Atrius continues to sing the melody. Xena joins him. They finish. Xena smiles, but Atrius seems troubled, guilty." He then tells her why he left . . . . As televised, Xena didn't join in with him. Also scripted a bit differently: Atrius prefaces his next comments to Xena with "I think I owe you an explanation...about why I left the family." Xena--"not wanting to hear it"--tells him he doesn't have to explain. He goes ahead and tells her about thinking he was missing out on something . . . .

As televised, when Gabrielle proposes her plan to Xena about going on ahead with the girls, Xena immediately asks her what's going on. Gabrielle says "Nothing. I'll see you soon," and Xena says, "OK. I'll see you soon," then takes Argo and walks away. Gabrielle says quietly, "Goodbye, Xena." The script had a few additional lines in between those points, and some other differences:

Gabrielle: "Xena, I've got a plan. I'm gonna take Rhea and the others the rest of the way. You and your father wait here and make sure Kirilus' men don't follow us."

"Xena is taken aback."

Xena: "You sure you'll be all right?"

Gabrielle: "Don't worry."

Xena: "Okay. I'll meet you in Lotia before nightfall."

Gabrielle: "No rush. You mentioned heading back to take care of Kirilus. Why don't you and your father do it together?"

Xena: "What about you?"

Gabrielle: "I'll be fine."

Xena: "What's going on, Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle: "Don't worry. We'll catch up to each other. (then; hiding her emotion) I'll see you soon."

"Gabrielle quickly motions to Rhea and the other Girls, and they all head out. Atrius joins Xena. Gabrielle watches father and daughter together."

Gabrielle (a tear in her eye; to herself): "Good-bye, Xena."

"She leaves."


As scripted, when Xena starts to tell Atrius about the terrible things in her past, there are a couple of omitted lines that are sort of significant:

Atrius: "We all have sins, Xena."

Xena: "I've never told anyone this, not even Gabrielle... (this is difficult) There were times... innocent people were killed..."

Atrius then tells her that she doesn't have to explain . . . .

A couple more interesting omitted lines: In the village, when Rhea thanks Gabrielle for talking her into returning, Rhea asks, "Will you stay a while?" Gabrielle replies, "No, I have to go." Rhea asks, "Where?" The script then reads: "Good question. Gabrielle stands there searching for the right answer."

When the village elder tells Xena it's impossible for her to stop an entire army, the original script has the line, "Watch me," without the additional "I have many skills."

The all-time fantastic XWP scream "TAKE THE VILLAAAAGE!" isn't in this version of the script, at least not in Xena's initial charge on Lotia. Instead, as scripted, Xena orders that more calmly after Atrius dies and they're all assembled in the square. [shudders at what almost wasn't . . . ]

The description of Xena when she cuts her father down from the posts: "She looks at her father, bloodied and bruised; he's the picture of a tortured man. Her face reveals a combination of horror and rage that we've never seen in her before." [Unsolicited by irresistible comment: Damn, LL is incredibly gorgeous when she's walking back to the square with Atrius in her arms. What a great shot.]

Some more detail on Gabrielle as Xena arrives in the square with her injured father: The camera focuses "on Gabrielle near the outer edge of the gathering. A Warrior guards her with a sword. Nearby, she notices Rhea struggling against the lustful arms of Another Warrior. Gabrielle feels hopeless -- until she spies a nearby blacksmith's shop. Leaning against the wall are a number of primitive farm tools. She glances at the warrior, waiting for the right opportunity--"

Rewrite marks indicate that the entire 'our friendship binds us closer than blood ever could' exchange is rewritten from the previous version of the script. (Darn it; I'd love to see the earlier version.)


Click here to read a transcript of TIES THAT BIND.


No Fathers, Spiritual or Biological, were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Guide Table of ContentsBack to Whoosh!