XENA'S FAILURE TO SAVE PERDICUS IN
THE RETURN OF CALLISTO
IAXS Research Project #269
By Giana Sivertsen
Copyright © 1997 held by author
Callisto about to do the foul deed of murdering Perdicus
 After viewing THE RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) there is one question which haunts the viewer more so than any other: Why did Xena fail to save Perdicus. Xena saves people left and right in every episode, and yet she failed big time in RETURN. Was it because Callisto shocked Xena into inactivity? Or did Xena merely freeze? There are basically three explanations for Xena's actions: (1) Xena was shocked and did not have time to react; (2) Xena wanted Perdicus dead; or (3) the producers wanted to add some unpredictability into the show and shock the viewers with the intensity of the episode.
 As to explanation number one, that Xena was shocked by Callisto's move for Perdicus, it seemed that the look on Xena's face was saying, "Oh my gosh, she killed Perdicus. I thought she was after me and Gabrielle." It was a look that further said,"Hey, you broke the rules." This should have not been surprising to the canny Xena since this characteristic is what makes Callisto such a great villainess, her unpredictability. We never know what to expect from her. That is why Callisto has become the most popular villain among Xenites; she is the one we love to hate.
 As to theory number two, that Xena wanted Perdicus dead, this could be true because who would help Xena fight the bad guys? If Gabrielle settled down, who is Xena going to travel with? She would be fighting alone and who wants to be lonely? Also this theory is further supported by the Xenites who believe that Xena was jealous of Perdicus because she wanted Gabrielle for herself. Considering all the innuendo and subtext teasing done on the show, this might be true, but then again, have we ever seen Xena give in to jealousy? Of course, she might not have succumbed to jealousy but merely responded less quickly because of unconscious motives. We will never know.
Xena says her goodbye at Gabrielle's wedding
 This leads to the final theory and most likely the correct one, that the producers did it all on purpose to be spontaneous. Let's be honest, no one expected Gabrielle to go and leave Xena to get married. It would ruin the show. It was just a tactic to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. As for Xena letting Perdicus get killed, the writers needed to do it so they could get him out of the way. They created him as a problem, for Xena and the viewer at least, and they eliminated the problem. Of course, this then created a new problem of vengeance for Gabrielle and we find ourselves asking, "Will Gabrielle now lose her blood innocence?"
 The writers of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS are a clever bunch. You can read into the script as much as you want, and all of your theories will probably be right one way or another -- if you wait long enough. The show tries hard to satisfy its wide audience and achieves that goal more often than not.
Xena and Gabrielle at Perdicus' funeral pyre