GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS by Kym Taborn
COMMENTARY by Kym Taborn
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
SHOOTING SCRIPT DIFFERENCES
Maggie Tarver (Hermia)
Ross Duncan (Parnassus)
John Dybvig (Brigand (Ox))
Jonathan Bell-Booth (Chief Guard)
John Pemberton (Arresting Guard)
Tim Hosking (Blacksmith)
Colin Francis (The Grump)
Adam Middleton (Black Wolf Sympathizer)
Jimmy Rawdon (Father)
Written by Alan Jay Glueckman
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Mario Di Leo
TV GUIDE PROMO
Xena fights her way into a dungeon (on purpose) in order to rescue the freedom-fighting daughter of an old friend.
Xena comes to the aid of imprisoned freedom fighters who refuse to reveal the identity of their mysterious leader.
Xena must infiltrate a tyrant's dungeon in order to save an old friend.
Xena goes under cover to help rebels against the evil Xerxes.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 01-08-96
An AA average of 5.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK: DS9 ranked 8th with 6.8
(2) HERCULES ranked 14th with 6.0
(3) XENA ranked 20th with 5.8
(4) BAYWATCH 18TH WITH 5.5
2nd RELEASE: 04-01-96
An AA average of 4.9
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 9TH WITH 5.6
(2) HERCULES 10th with 5.5
(3) XENA/BAYWATCH 14th with 4.9
This synopsis is by Kym Taborn.
The attack of the Ninja Robin Hoods: can't get more high concept than that. The young adults of a village are thrown into prison because the taxing authorities want them to divulge the identity of "the Black Wolf", the leader of the ninja-Robin Hoods. Unfortunately for the taxing authorities, Xena's girlhood pal, Flora, is among the imprisoned. As part of an intricate plan, Xena goes to Xerxes, the man behind the tax, and convinces him that she can find out who Black Wolf is. She offers to be a spy for him. Xerxes accepts even though his security advisor is against it (wouldn't you be if you were a security advisor?).
Xena is tossed into prison where Flora refuses to leave unless all the prisoners go. Xena then devises an escape plan but it is foiled by a traitor. Meanwhile, Gabrielle meets Salmoneous and in her vegetable-tossing attempt to get arrested gets Salmoneous arrested instead. Only later on does Gabrielle finally convince someone to arrest her by employing some pretty ugly looking oatmealoid substance.
Eventually the authorities wise up and threaten to kill Salmoneous if Black Wolf is not revealed. Flora 'fesses up and is then taken to be publicly executed. Since Gabrielle had hidden Xena's chakram in her dorky hat, Xena uses it to cut the executioner's axe and the chains of the watching prisoners (you had to have been there). Everybody joins in the fray and Xena is victorious, as usual.
This commentary is by Kym Taborn.
News surfaced at the end of the first season that the actor Robert Trebor (Salmoneous) would hitherforth concentrate on his HTLJ appearances. The character of Joxer was introduced to fill the void that would be created by Salmoneous' absence. Salmoneous will be sorely missed. The great void Joxer will fill was further underscored by the fact that Salmoneous appeared in only two episodes each of both HTLJ and XWP where Xena appeared as well. Joxer was slated to appear in a third of the XWP's 2nd season episodes, eight episodes in all. The creators had to balance Salmoneous' departure from the Xenaverse by quadrupling the replacement's appearances. What a compliment to Mr. Trebor.
Salmoneous first met Xena in HTLJ's two-parter "The Gauntlet" and "Unchained Heart". Salmoneous was critical to Xena's dramatic conversion from a ruthless warlord to a champion of the downtrodden and those who have met with injustice. Without Salmoneus' ability to see the good in Xena, past the veneer of a cold and calculating martial machine, Xena and Hercules could have never made the contact that began Xena's path to redemption. Salmoneus was the first to note that they were all on the same side, and he had to convince both doubting parties of that separately. He succeeded and the rest is history.
Salmoneous' next visit with Xena was in THE BLACK WOLF where he met Gabrielle for the first time. His all around willingness to help out in a pinch once again was emphasized. Although this episode marked the weakest of his Xena appearances, the character was still crucial in several regards. He helped organize the prisoners; he was loyal to Xena in every decision she made; and, he got to help out in the last big fight scene. Way to go, Sal!
Salmoneous' final visit of the first season to Xenaland was THE GREATER GOOD. His presence again was critical to the further development of a relationship; this time between Xena and Gabrielle. He made some mistakes, but in the end, those same mistakes set up circumstances which allowed Xena and Gabrielle better to understand how much their friendship had grown.
Salmoneus appeared in the second season only once: HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS. This showcased Trebor's singing and intelligent comedy skills, although it did not reach the dramatic depths that the character reached in THE GREATER GOOD. Salmoneus did not appear in the third season, and it looks like he may not in the fourth season. Why the sparseness? In Robert Weisbrot's Official Guide to XENA, it is intimated that Lucy Lawless did not enjoy working with Trebor. Perhaps this is one of the reasons?
Gabrielle played for Xena the same function that Salmoneous and Iolaus played for Hercules. She was Xena's best friend, i.e., the person who guarded Xena's back, but also a soulmate who could look into Xena's heart when even Xena had trouble doing so.
On a trivia note, Robert Trebor played a supporting role in "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom" which guest starred Renee O'Connor.
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
12-22-98. At the Phoenix Com (05/31/98), Robert Trebor stated that one of his favorite Salmoneus lines was "Those boots, that leather, those legs, XENA!" from THE BLACK WOLF (11/111). Robert said that he rewrote the line with the writer's permission. He feels that comedy comes out of logic, so he felt it just made sense to say the line that way. He wanted to say, "those thighs," but he said he could not say that. The original line was "Those boots, that leather, XENA!" Another favorite Salmoneus line from a XENA episode is "Proud Warrioress... I will miss you." from THE GREATER GOOD. Robert said he wrote that line as well with the writer's blessings.
Changing Times is by Debbie White.
In THE BLACK WOLF (#11), Xena learns about how she affected some old friends and Gabrielle shows her courage and cleverness.
"The times change people, and people change the times.
--Xena, THE BLACK WOLF
The Changing Xena
Xena rides into a town on Argo, but Gabrielle is no where in sight. Xena hands her horse over to a horseshoer when suddenly she notices a woman being pushed down by a bunch of guards. What does Xena do? She takes on the guards and saves the woman, of course. The woman happens to be someone that lived in her village when she was young.
According to the opening, Xena sometimes rides ahead or without Gabrielle. In this instance, Xena is not just scouting, since she is handing Argo over to get her shoes changed which will take a bit of time. This seems to indicate Xena's confidence that Gabrielle can travel on her own safely, or at least catch up to her safely.
The next interesting thing to notice is that Xena takes on the guards in their own center of power (near the castle) without stopping to find out what is wrong: pushing a woman is crime enough. Then again, Xena did not kill any of them for it. Someday, though, this tendency to get into fights without knowing the cause might get her into trouble.
Also, in THE BLACK WOLF (#11), Xena runs into the mother of an old friend. Someone who was there when her village was attacked, in fact. Yet instead of treating Xena like she was a curse, the woman is happy to see her and starts chatting with her about her family. When Xena meets Flora and says that she has changed her ways, Flora said she had heard. Again, Flora treats her like a friend. This seems to show that Xena did not earn everyone's complete hatred when she led her village into battle, and her reputation as having changed is becoming widespread and is believed.
Xena promises to get Flora out of the dungeon, so she promptly breaks into the castle and walks in on the ruler's discussion. He wants to kill the Black Wolf, but he does not know which of the prisoners it is. Xena, in fine Xena form, says she will find the Black Wolf for him and sets a high price for her services. As always, greedy people understand money and since she demands such an exorbitant price, her intentions are believed. This still works, despite her growing reputation as a good-doer.
They arrange a fake arrest in public, then Xena is thrown into the dungeon and proceeds to find Flora. During the fake arrest, Xena kicks the stuffing out of the captain of the guards. She even gets away with it by saying they had to make it believable. Wounding his male pride almost gets her in trouble later, when she is thrown into the water pit. Still, she gets thrown into the dungeon like she wanted. While looking for Flora, several men get in her way. Xena goes tough, dispatching them (or about to) with no trouble. She earns a little wary respect from this, which is useful in a dungeon.
Xena's interaction with Flora tells us a great deal about Xena's youth. Flora says that Xena knew even back then how to read people and knew what they needed to hear. Xena taught Flora to use a sword, so she also taught her villager men and women to fight against Cortese. She also taught Flora how to embroider, so it would seem Xena did start of with a somewhat normal girl's life and learned the usual skills. Also, Xena would trick Flora by climbing into a tree, offering her hand, and saying "You've gotta have faith" then pulling her hand away from Flora. Xena was cruel in her lessons, never explaining them, even when she was young. Flora was like a sister to Xena, yet she still was hard in her lessons.
Some other things happen in Xena's relationship with Flora during this episode. Xena still considers Flora young. She calls her 'young Flora' to her mother, then plans to carry Flora out of the dungeon on her back, despite than fact Flora is grown up and a Black Wolf. Xena picks on how Flora is making a knot, when Flora has been doing that sort of thing for a while. Even when Xena starts respecting Flora, in the final fight, Xena throws Flora her sword and fights bare-handed so that Flora can have a weapon. Despite this, Xena is willing to risk her friends life when she quickly decides to hand Flora over to the captain.
Again, Xena shows how observant she is. She finds the escape tunnel the Black Wolves where making before the guards did. She knows when their escape is going bad because 'it was too easy.' She figures out that Flora is the Black Wolf when the Wolves worked so hard to hide that fact. Xena knows what to say and do to get the support of the Wolves and the belief of the ruler. Xena mixes or tells just enough of the truth to be believed and twists the rest to make herself believable to whoever she is talking to. Again, Xena's past makes her uniquely suited to using the evil people to help her rather than outright opposing them like Hercules does (and can, with his strength).
The Changing Gabrielle
Gabrielle is moving up in the world. She can travel by herself, or at least this time she is. Xena defends her as "my friend" to Salmoneus. She gets to help ferret out the dungeon spy. Gabrielle even gets to carry an important message to Diomedes about Xena's plan to free them. In the final fight, Gabrielle even manages to hold her own with her staff.
Gabrielle finds a way to help Xena, even though she did not know anything about why Xena got thrown in dungeon. She not only finds a way to get Xena her whip and chakram unnoticed, but finds a clever way to get thrown into the dungeon without getting hurt. She even manages to find a way to get free of Salmoneus, which is quite a feat. Still, she obviously needs to work on her bad girl image since the guards did not believe she threw the tomato.
The Changing Argo
We learn Argo likes to eat a lot of grain when she gets it, and that somehow she can make Xena think that perfectly trimmed hooves look like they need work.
Where after Diomedes asks Xena "You embroider?" Xena says "I have MANY skills."
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
These things are by Beth Gaynor.
SHOOTING SCRIPT DIFFERENCES
Prepared by SheWho.
This sets forth differences between a XWP shooting script and the televised version. There isn't much in the way of startling revelations in THE BLACK WOLF. There is an omitted scene of Gab trying to get arrested, and a line where Gab says that stories like this aren't meant to be written, they're meant to be recited, which I thought was a little odd. I mean, what's she been writing in her scrolls?
THE BLACK WOLF. Shooting Draft. October 18, 1995. Written by Alan Jay Glueckman. Directed by Mario Di Leo.
Diomedes is described as "a young man as magnetically courageous as he is courageous." Flora is described as "a finely-featured young woman, highborn and well-bred, ... radiating defiance and a fierce intelligence." Hermia is described as "Flora's kindly aristrocratic mother."
When Hermia tells Xena that Flora is in jail, Xena "is touched by an old friend's gallant pain."
In the script, Xena doesn't say anything when Parnassus asks if she likes his rock. (I like the fact that she says "No" on the screen version.) Also, when the big guy asks Xena if she's looking for the man of her dreams, in the script, Xena replies, "Nope. You're not him." Again, the screen version ("Yep. You're not him.") is funnier, I think.
When Flora first walks up to Xena in the dungeon, "she and Xena exchange looks that convey past history -- and present uncertainty." Flora tells Xena she's grown legendary, and "currents of old resentments mixed with hero-worship flicker across Flora's face." Xena says that she is different now, and, in a line cut from the televised version, Flora says, "So I've heard. You've returned to the Xena I admired as a child."
Some omitted dialogue: After Koulos has Xena tossed into the pit, he says, "This is just one example of what we do to members of the Wolf Pack. Or anyone who speaks up for them. Consider my demand as you listen to your friend scream for her life."
One of the funniest moments in XWP history -- Xena doing her battle cry under water -- isn't mentioned in the shooting script. [What a great underwater scene, evil grin and all.] After Xena escapes, Koulos tells the guards to repair the pit, using metal grating this time.
Some lines were cut from the initial exchange between Xena and Salmoneus. The scripted scene reads:
Xena: "Salmoneus! What are you doing here?"
Salmoneus: "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (off her look) No, really! This time it's true! I'm completely innocent! Hey! What are *you* doing here?"
Xena: "I'm here because I want to be."
Salmoneus: "Okay. I'm not sure I understand the allure of this little vacation spot, but, somehow, I'm sure you have reasons. But you are leaving here, aren't you? I mean, you aren't taking up a permanent residence. And, when you go, you'll take me with you. *Please* take me with you. I don't eat well when I'm in prison and you know my stomach condition."
"Xena looks around. Then:
Xena: "I might just have a use for your abilities. Think you can scrounge a few things for me?"
Salmoneus: "Certainly. You tell me where the hardware store is, and I'm there."
Xena: "The hardware store is all around you."
Salmoneus: "You mean... these people?"
Xena: "I'm afraid so. It's either that, or get used to the food. I have to go talk to the Black Wolves."
Salmoneus: "Wait, wait! The Black Wolf is here? In *this* dungeon? I have *got* to talk to him. You see, I've been selling a designer line of Black Wolf wear and his endorsement..."
"Parnassus wanders by, looks Salmoneus up and down, and holds up his stone:"
Parnassus: "*This* is my rock! He's mine!"
"And he wanders off."
Salmoneus: "What was that?"
Good old Salmoneus: After the big guy hands over his belt, "the Brigand picks up a rope and starts to use it as a belt, as Salmoneus notices:
Salmoneus: "Are you going to use that rope?"
An omitted exchange between Diomedes and Flora:
"Flora is using a rock to sand a homemade bow. Diomedes comes up to her and drops some wood next to her. He kneels, looks into her eyes, and gives her a kiss."
Diomedes: "I'm only going along with this because of you."
Flora: "We have to try something."
Diomedes: "I thought we were. (then) Do you think I'll ever actually meet your mother."
Flora: "I would like that. One day. When this is all over."
"A long beat. He takes her hand."
Diomedes: "It's hard to think there'll ever be a future sometimes."
Flora: "There will be. And not just for us, but for everyone."
"This time, she kisses him. They are interrupted by the approach of Xena," who has come to get help with the netting . . . .
The script contains a second attempt by Gabrielle to get arrested. Standing on the porch of a village house:
"Gabrielle leans over the railing, throwing rocks at the same group of Xerxes' guards down the street, but they land short. Suddenly the grumpy homeowner storms out of his house and yells at Gabrielle:"
The Grump: "Get off my porch!"
"She tosses the last rock and it hits the Arresting Guard. The Guards rush the porch and after giving Gabrielle a quick glance, grab The Grump."
Arresting Guard: "You're under arrest!"
Gabrielle: "What? Not again!"
"But they drag The Grump away, to Gabrielle's dismay. The Grump is tossed inside the Dungeon. He looks around, then up to the heavens."
The Grump: "But it was the girl!"
Another exchange between Xena and Flora occurs after Salmoneus walks off, which does not appear on the televised version:
Flora (to Xena): "I know you aren't doing it for this reason, but you're keeping the Black Wolf cause alive."
Xena: "And what does the Black Wolf think about all this?"
Flora: "The Black Wolf appreciates it. Though, he's still a bit suspicious."
Xena: "I don't disagree with what you and the rest of the Wolf Pack want, but it bothers me to believe that you're more concerned with the Black Wolf's struggle than you are with your own mother's tears."
Flora (tense): "I can't give up who I am or what I've become."
Xena: "You aren't expected to. But, in the process, don't forget where you came from or who gave you life. She deserves more than that."
"Xena starts to turn away."
Flora (angry): "You don't understand anything about my mother and me!"
Xena (simply): "Neither do you."
"And Xena walks away, leaving Flora to think."
The guards outside the dungeon are playing "rock, sword, parchment."
After the escape is foiled and Salmoneus is dragged out of the latrine, he says he hardly knows Xena. "I mean, yes, we've met before. But that wasn't of my choosing! I never really liked her!" In the script, the brigand who is holding Salmoneus says he doesn't have a problem with Xena and starts to walk away, "then suddenly spins right back with a scream...right into Xena's fist. He drops," and Xena turns her attention to the crowd . . . .
Gabrielle's mention of Xena's "piercing blue eyes" when looking for Xena in the dungeon is not in the script.
Gabrielle shows Xena the chakram and whip, and some minor dialogue is cut:
Xena: "These will come in handy, I admit. You know that plan you mentioned...for getting out?"
Gabrielle: "Yes? What is it?"
Xena: "Abandoned. It didn't work."
Gabrielle: "Not good."
Xena: "And the prisoners here consider me their enemy. They want to kill me."
Gabrielle: "Even worse."
Then Salmoneus yells "You!"
[Btw, the little elbow caress Xena gives Gab when she leaves to talk to Flora isn't scripted.]
Flora tells Xena that she understands now that the point of the oak tree story was that Flora should have faith in herself. Xena says she has to, otherwise Flora would spend her life waiting for other people to offer their hand. Then a couple of lines of dialogue are cut:
Xena: "I knew that eventually you'd climb that tree without me."
Flora: "And I finally did. When it happened, I was sad that you weren't there to see it. Thank you. (then) I told Diomedes the story about the tree. He doesn't understand it."
Xena: "Maybe he just can't believe you ever didn't have confidence in yourself. (then) Diomedes is in love with you. . . ."
A scene in Koulos' office was omitted from the televised version after Parnassus is revealed to be the spy:
"Parnassus is slammed against the wall, his face a bloody mess. Koulos, wearing a metal glove, stands over him. The Chief Guard watches with mild amusement."
Koulos: "Why did you bother coming out? You should have let them beat you to death!"
Parnassus: "It wasn't ... my fault..."
Koulos: "And *I'm* supposed to take the blame? Is that what you're saying? (to Chief Guard) How much time do we have left?"
Chief Guard: "About an hour. Then Xerxes wants them all killed."
Koulos: "And us along with them, you can bet. (thinking) Of course, my threatened death does free my hands a bit. What do I have to lose now?"
As the guards are carrying Salmoneus over to throw him into the pit, he yells, "Wait! What are you doing? I can't swim!"
The cute little feature that Xena's chakram cuts Gabrielle's chains before everyone else's is not mentioned in the script.
A change in the final brawl: In the script, Xerxes is swinging a chain at Xena. She turns around and Koulos "tries to cleave Xena in half [with his sword], but she snaps the whip, wrapping it around the wrist of his sword hand. Yanking on the whip, she forces him off- balance; the momentum of his swing drags him off the platform and he falls on his own sword, shish-kebab."
Xerxes: "And you won't make a comeback this time."
"Then, the chain wraps around Xena's neck and pulls her upward. She grabs it, trying not to choke, as Xerxes uses all his might to suspend her in the air, hanging her. Xerxes hisses down at her."
Xerxes: "Look at me! I want to see into your eyes as you die!"
"Xena takes her chakram and throws it at the wall of the Square. It hits, it sparks, it ricochets, and comes right back to cut the chain! Xena drops to the ground. Xerxes, completely off balance, flies backward and lands on the jagged end of the ax handle. Dead on impact."
In the televised version, of course, Xena just kicks him over to the jagged ax handle.
In the post-fight discussion among Xena, Flora, and Diomedes, there are some cut lines of dialogue, including a rather odd (imo) statement by Gabrielle:
Flora: "You want to know something funny? All of this... you know what it means? It means you finally pulled me up into the tree."
"Salmoneus and Gabrielle walk up, talking."
Salmoneus: "It's a perfect match! You write it and I'll publish it!"
Gabrielle: "Stories like this aren't to be written, they're to be recited!"
Salmoneus: "That's the old school of thought . . . ."
The original title of the scrolls proposed by Salmoneus is "The Black Wolf Conflicts," rather than "The Black Wolf Chronicles."
Click here to read a transcript of THE BLACK WOLF.
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