Whoosh! Issue 16 - January 1997

IAXS project #386
By mjac@sunlink.net
Copyright © 1997 held by author
1462 words

The Key to Xena's Redemption (01-02)
Mutual Growth (22)

Salmoneus' Role In Xena's Redemption

The Key to Xena's Redemption

small -- better
 throw it back!

Salmoneus finds himself at the wrong end of a cyclops

[01] At first glance, Salmoneus might be considered a fairly shallow individual. He is portrayed as an opportunist, a coward, and a less-than-completely honest businessman. However, his character runs much deeper than that. In fact, Salmoneus has played a key role in Xena's redemption, and, Xena, has in turn, brought out the best in Salmoneus.

[02] In our first encounter with Salmoneus, in the Hercules episode, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER (H02/102), we are quickly shown his role as an opportunist. He tries to convince Hercules to endorse a line of togas, with Salmoneus, naturally, taking the lion's share of the profits. Yet, later in that episode, we see evidence of his basic deep-down goodness, as he risks his own well-being to help Hercules and the villagers.


think of a
theme song, quick!

Salmoneus talks his way out of a fix
in THE GAUNTLET (H12/112).

[03] In fact, this is not the only time that Salmoneus assists Hercules, as indicated in the following dialogue from THE GAUNTLET (H12/112):

Spiros: You know him?
Hercules: Unfortunately.
Salmoneus: Does he know me?! I fought a Cyclops with this guy! And a lunatic Centaur."

[04] When Salmoneus first meets Xena, he appears as a coward, dressed in drag, striving for self-preservation [THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)]:

Salmoneus: Please, don't kill me! Please! I beg you!
Xena: Give me one good reason.
Salmoneus: It would be very unpleasant for me! We haven't even been introduced! My mother will cry?!
Xena: Take him away.
Salmoneus: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I'm not even supposed to be here! I'm a traveling salesman! I can get you a great deal on some clay dinnerware. I've got this walnut utensil, opens --
Darphus: Kill him!

[05] However, almost immediately, he strikes a chord with the Warrior Princess, he "amuses" her:

Salmoneus: Hold it! You're very quick with the 'Kill him!'. Wait a second -- please! I know people in high places! Uh, I -- I -- I know Hercules!
Xena: What do you know about Hercules?
Darphus: He knows nothing!
Salmoneus: I do too! I -- we -- oh, oh, we -- I'm his best friend! We're like this! Well, not like that -- kinda' -- kinda' like this -- Kind -- it's platonic. It -- we're like -- that!
Xena: Come here, little man. You amuse me.

[06] Why would a warrior allow a cowardly, cross-dressing man who merely "amuses" her, to live? It is because Xena realizes that Salmoneus sees her as more than just a ruthless warlord.

[07] The following exchange between Salmoneus and Hercules demonstrates this point:

Salmoneus: She's got some heart. She's not into that -- scorched-Earth policy like Darphus.
Hercules: You're serious -- that she's not a cold-hearted evil b*tch.
Salmoneus: Believe me. Compared with Darphus, she looks like the goddess of love and light.

[08] As a result of this conversation with Hercules, Salmoneus may actually have saved Xena's life. One can only imagine what Hercules might have done to Xena later in this episode, had Salmoneus not given him reason to believe that Xena had some good in her.

[09] When Xena saves the baby in the village decimated by Darphus, it is Salmoneus who recognizes that Darphus is after Xena's command. Xena brings the infant to a cave for refuge, and the following dialogue takes place:

Salmoneus: Oh, proud warrioress? Can I talk to you for a moment?
Xena: About what?
Salmoneus: It's Darphus. He scares me.
Xena: Everyone scares you.
Salmoneus: Very observant. But in this case, I don't think he's exactly in your corner, either.
Xena: You mean, his insubordination?
Salmoneus: That -- and he's been stirring up the men about saving the baby.

[10] Xena's response is that of a warrior: proud and to the point.

Xena: I've got no reason to doubt my soldiers' loyalty. And I'll deal with Darphus.

[11] Xena does go on to confront Darphus. However, she finds that he has betrayed her and taken command of the army. The scene which follows is the climax of the episode: Xena's running of the gauntlet. An entire essay could be written about the parallels between this scene and the corresponding scene in THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), which is discussed in more detail below. But, for now, suffice it to say that the two most obvious parallels in both scenes are (1) the depiction of Xena crawling and then collapsing; and (2) the use of THE GAUNTLET (H09/109) score.

[12] The Xena who emerges at the end of the gauntlet is a new Xena. Just as the death of M'Lila in DESTINY (#36) gave birth to the evil Xena, the gauntlet gives rebirth to the inherently-good Xena. This rebirth, as we have seen time and again, is a long and difficult process, with numerous setbacks and detours. Salmoneus has no small role in Xena's rebirth, as it is his conversation with her in the cave which prompts her confrontation with Darphus.

[13] The rest of THE GAUNTLET (H12/112) builds upon Xena's rebirth. When Xena learns that Hercules is looking for her, she temporarily loses her focus.

Xena: If I can bring back the head of Hercules, I can get back my army!
Hercules: So you can murder more women and children?
Xena: That was not my idea! I never murdered women and children!
Salmoneus: You shouldn't be fighting each other! Darphus is the enemy! You should be on the same side fighting him!

[14] When Hercules spares Xena's life, she initially refuses to help him defeat Darphus. However, she soon regains her focus and helps bring about Darphus' downfall. This is covered in the remainder of THE GAUNTLET (H12/112) and in its sequel, UNCHAINED HEART (H13/113).


No, really! 
You two
should do an act together!  I could produce it!

Salmoneus tells Xena she's always got a friend
in THE BLACK WOLF (11/111).

[15] After Xena's heart is unchained, we next meet Salmoneus in THE BLACK WOLF (11/111). Again, it appears at first that all he is interested in is cashing in on the popularity of the infamous Black Wolf.

Salmoneus: Hello, little friend! Looking for some Black Wolf merchandise?! Look -- here's the Black Wolf seal. I call it -- my Black Wolf Pack. Wolf -- Pack. Get it?! You like that? Huh?

[16] However, after he is captured, Salmoneus plays an instrumental role in the escape of his fellow prisoners and in flushing out the spy among them.


But wait! 
Now how much
would you pay!

Salmoneus gives himself up to the bad guys
in THE GREATER GOOD (21/121).

[17] Our next encounter with Salmoneus, which will be the last for the purposes of this article, is in THE GREATER GOOD (21/121). As is usually the case, Salmoneus is in trouble because of some underhanded dealing, this time with the warlord, Talmadeus.

[18] When Salmoneus asks Xena for help, she responds, not by offering to help Salmoneus alone, but with concern for the villagers foremost on her mind. There is an implicit slight of Salmoneus here:

Salmoneus: He's not gonna stop until he has me drawn and quartered. You've gotta get me out of here, please.
Xena: We're not leaving these people at the mercy of Talmadeus. He'll kill them all.

[19] Just as the running the gauntlet is a type of rebirth for Xena, the "death" of Xena in THE GREATER GOOD (21/121) brings out the best in Salmoneus. When Salmoneus comes upon the motionless Xena, he checks to see if she is still alive. When it appears that she is dead, he lovingly grieves for the "proud warrioress". Following Gabrielle's mourning scene for the fallen Warrior Princess, we see Salmoneus at what is perhaps his finest moment. He selflessly sacrifices his own well-being, and offers himself in order to rescue the villagers from the evil Talmadeus.

[20] Seeing the "dead" Xena, he states:

Salmoneus: All right -- I know what I have to do.

[21] He then goes to Talmadeus' camp, where he says:

Salmoneus: Take me, take Xena, and, and let the people go.

Mutual Growth

If they
stuff dinars into
your outfit, I get ten percent!

Salmoneus manages a possible career change for Xena

[22] I have briefly touched upon the development of Xena and Salmoneus, and have tried to underscore the important role that each has played in the other's growth. Xena: Warrior Princess is a rich, multi-layered series. Salmoneus has been instrumental in Xena's redemption, as underscored in his role in THE GAUNTLET (H12/112). On the other hand, Xena has influenced the growth of Salmoneus, most notably in THE GREATER GOOD (21/121). Many people think of Salmoneus merely as comic relief, and he certainly serves that function. But his role is much more important than that. I, for one, hope to see his continued presence in the growth of the Warrior Princess.


Fan and Fanee mjac@sunlink.net
Greetings, fellow Xenites. I live in rural central PA, where I am self-employed. I also enjoy reading, playing with my cat, and SCUBA-diving. But mostly, I am proud to consider myself among the ranks of Hardcore Nutballs.
Favorite episode: THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)
Favorite line: Salmoneus: "Those boots...that leather...those legs...Xena!" THE BLACK WOLF (11/111)
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: I respectfully pass on this question.

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