Whoosh! Issue 39 - December 1999


IAXS project #742
By Gur Arie Livni
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
2024 words

Editor's Note: This article only considers Callisto character development before IDES OF MARCH (89/421).

Introduction (01-04)
The Pre "Time-Warp Era" (05-07)
Communication is Futile (08-11)
If You Can't Join 'Em... (12-16)
It Was You All Along (17-19)
Summary (20-23)

Scene Close-Up:
Callisto Kills Her Parents

I like my meat well done!

Callisto embarks on a 'shake and bake' campaign in ARMAGGEDON NOW.


[1] From the very first episode with Callisto, many have been wondering about the Psycho-Barbie's soul. Is she simply evil? Is the destruction of her village the true cause for her madness? Can she ever change? Does she want to change?

[2] We have seen Callisto's monstrosity as she fights Xena, kills Perdicus, and sends Solan to his death. We have also had quick peeks into her soul and witnessed her yearning for revenge and for her own death in CALLISTO (22/122), her disregard for human life, and her mixed feelings towards Xena. All these left us puzzled, with one camp of fans insisting that she would be redeemed and the other classifying her as pure evil.

[3] Yet, it seems that as fascinating as this conflict is, we have all been ignoring one crucial scene. A scene which shows the most terrifying act of Callisto and, at the same time, gives us the perfect view into the mad blonde's soul. It is a scene in which Callisto tries to go back in time and prevent Xena from killing her family. This scene is ignored for several reasons, with the main reason being the fact that it happens in a time warp, never really effecting the Xenaverse.

[4] Although this is essentially true, I cannot dismiss it. The fact that a dream does not effect our reality has nothing to do with the dream's true reflection of our soul. Faced with a true problem and conflict, Callisto provides us with a closer look at her own soul, a look which just might answer some of our questions. Ladies and Gentlemen: Callisto Kills Her Parents.

The Pre "Time-Warp Era"

Shouldn't you be pestering Luke Skywalker or something?

Hope has plans for Callisto.

[5] In order to fully understand the various meanings in this crucial scene we have to look at Callisto just before it. At the beginning of ARMAGEDDON NOW (H72- 73/413-414), Hope releases Callisto from her prison-cave, yet Callisto is not her old self. Instead of her usual mad expression, we see despair in her eyes. She is no longer interested with revenge, and her own past is still haunting her. In the Xena episode before ARMAGEDDON NOW, she says to Xena:

"You don't seem to get it, do you? You've won. All these years I've spent living to destroy you. And then I do, and nothing changes. I don't feel better, just empty. So you let me go Xena. You can't win this battle and you've already won the war."
   -- Callisto, MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311)

[6] Callisto has given up her quest. She no longer wishes to hurt Xena or her friends, and with that passion gone she is left empty, with no goal in life, no hope for redemption. Her only link to this world is her past, the pictures of her family getting killed by Xena's army. Trapped in the cave, she has probably replayed that crucial moment over and over and over. However, before we observe 'our' scene, let us look inside Callisto's soul.

[7] Imagine a rope, a strong rope; this rope is Callisto's obsession, this is what she is grabbing onto. It is made out of several things, but mainly out of her wish for Xena's suffering. Since that wish is gone, the rope is cut, yet there is a thin thread which keeps her from falling. It is her family and the wish for their love. It is also Callisto's basic assumption that whatever happened, whatever she has done is all Xena's fault. Luckily, Hope is able to perceive this and uses it to her advantage. She offers Callisto the chance to go back in time and save her parents from the evil Xena.

Communication is Futile

Hudson sets the very lifelike Iolaus action figure aside

Cali just ain't in the mood for talkin'.

[8] From the time Callisto arrives in Cirra, it seems like nothing goes the way she wants. She is trying with all her heart (what is left of it), to convince her parents to run away, but unfortunately they are frightened of her. Her assumption that they will welcome her on sight is obviously wrong, just as Iolaus' identical assumption towards Alcmene. They both forget that they are strangers to their loved ones in this timeline, and their honesty and enthusiastic behavior is seen as aggressiveness. However, unlike Callisto, Iolaus is able to convince Hercules' mother that he is a friend, and although Callisto's parents know that they are in clear and present danger, she is unable to make them trust her.

[9] This is an important sign for Callisto's dark path as her hatred for human beings and her wish to stay detached from her emotions is taking its toll now.

"Love is a trick that nature plays on us to get us to reproduce. I want no part of it."
   -- Callisto, RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205)

[10] It is payback time. The same emotions Callisto has decided to condemn are the ones she needs so much in order to let her parents trust her. But, as she herself said "That sentimental side of yours is a real problem now, isn't it [Xena]? You fight with your heart. That gives me an advantage over you. I no longer seem to have one."

[11] Callisto has a heart (after all something made her risk her life in order to save her parents), but she can no longer reach it, and without her emotions she is unable to communicate with the villagers. More than that, Callisto is unable to communicate with her own past. After forgetting her parents' peaceful way of life, she is like a madwoman screaming in her own dream (or nightmare).

If You Can't Join 'Em...

Your hair looks so familiar!

Callisto's mum and a young Callisto confront a blonde psycopath.

[12] As the siege goes on, Callisto starts to realize that she does not speak her parents' language. She does not give up though and is determined to protect them until the attack is over. In the barn, she is still trying to convince her mother to run, but without success. When Xena's warrior enters the barn, she kills him without a flinch, returning to her good old pure rage. This is the crucial moment, the turning point. Callisto is done talking; she is a war machine once again, and no one will stop her from protecting her family, not even her own father.

[13] We might say that there was no way for Callisto to see that it was her father at the doorway and not another of Xena's mercenaries. It is probably true and the Fates probably had a good laugh when they planned this event, but let us not forget that this is Psycho-Barbie. Once Callisto succumbs to her hatred, killing the first warrior, she is unable to withdraw, at least not until she realizes what she has done and her father falls down to the barn's floor.

[14] Seeing this, Callisto's mother attacks her with her husband's sword, unaware that Callisto did not kill him intentionally. Callisto's face, filled with bloodlust and lacking emotions, probably makes her mother feel that this blonde is an enemy and that her husband's death was more than an accident. Callisto is now faced with two choices: to let her mother destroy her or to kill her mother and save herself. She chooses her own life.

[15] This choice might be obvious at first, after all, who would not protect him or herself in the face of danger?! But, it is actually a lot more complicated, for once her mother dies, Callisto seeks nothing but oblivion. She could have let her mother do the work and, thereby, spared herself the following episodes [SACRIFICE (67-68/321-322)]. Furthermore, Callisto is a god, and her mother's attack is not a real threat to her.

[16] Still, the same instincts that made her kill her father, lead Callisto to the incineration of her mother. We witness the conflict on her face, as good and evil battle inside her, and we see the sorrow she feels when the fireball erupts from her hand, as her dark heart wins (the same heart she has carefully nurtured).

It Was You All Along

Devastated on not getting the JACK OF ALL TRADES role

Callisto realises she messed everything up after killing her parents.

[17] Once everything quiets down and Callisto has a chance to see her father's body and her mother's ashes, she suddenly realizes her doings. She has just burned her mother with her own godly powers, the ones she achieved through death and destruction. Furthermore, she has just eliminated her only excuse for her monstrosity: Xena's evil actions.

[18] Remember the rope? Callisto has been hanging on that thin thread for a long time, but now she can no longer blame Xena for her way of life. In this timeline, her parents were killed by her own hands. In a certain twisted way, she has created herself because the young Callisto sees a psychotic blonde goddess incinerate her family.

[19] The shattered Callisto no longer wishes to live, not for revenge and not for redemption. If she does continue to live, she will have to take responsibility for everything she has ever done, now that Xena is out of the picture. She chooses to end her younger self's life, failing however, due to Iolaus' intervention.


Tragically, the hernia-inducing scene took place after lunch

Iolaus is unaware he carries a young Callisto to safety.

[20] Like every good Greek tragedy, Callisto's scene ends with her inability to face her own crimes. Her pride and her excuses are shattered, and her only desire at that point is to leave this world. We can finally understand what makes this woman tick as her soul and ambitions are deconstructed in front of our eyes.

[21] We now see the woman who built her life on one single foundation: Xena. Her dependence on Xena's responsibility is strong even when it is not the Warrior Princess' suffering Callisto is after. We also see the warrior who fought so hard to make Xena suffer, that she forgot her original goal: to put her past behind her and move on with her life. She has been on the dark path for so long that she cannot go back and face her once peaceful life.

[22] There is no doubt that Callisto, the once innocent child, became a monster with Xena's "help". Yet, Callisto herself nurtured this monster by avoiding society and condemning the human soul. Once she follows the dark path for so long, she is unable or maybe unwilling to express love and compassion the way most people do, the way her parents did. This is why she can not change the past, and why she does not save her family. It is a vicious circle that can be only broken by Callisto herself.

[23] As the scene comes to its end, we witness the awakening of 16 year old Callisto. However, it is not the young, innocent Callisto we saw before, but the current merciless Callisto - the one who "will never cry".

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful -- hate me because I'm a nut!

Callisto lives to fight another day.


Gur Arie Livni Gur Arie Livni
I am 21 years old, and I live in Israel. Next March I am going to be discharged from the army after 3 years of service, and I am hoping to get a job, raise some money, and travel to Australia and New Zealand as soon as possible.

I fell in love with the show during my brief vacations while serving in South Lebanon. Right now, appending my discharge, I spend more time at home, and I am trying to catch up with all the re-runs, articles and interviews I have missed.

Favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404), THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)
Favorite line: Callisto: "Love is a trick that nature plays on us to get us to reproduce. I want no part of it." RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205); "You don't just kill me and walk away" A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)
First episode seen: BLIND FAITH (42/218)
Least favorite episode: Any episode with the Xena lookalikes, e.g. WARRIOR, PRINCESS, PRIESTESS (55/309), etc.

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