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Season 1, episode 4
Series 104
1st release: 09-25-95
2nd release: 12-18-95
3rd release: 03-31-97
1st USA strip release: 08-10-98
2nd USA strip release: 11-04-98
Production number: 76906
Script number: 404
Xena Scroll number: 805-01-76906
Approximate shooting dates: July 1995
Last update: 09-16-99

SYNOPSIS by Kym Masera Taborn
SYNOPSIS by Kym Masera Taborn
COMMENTARY 1 by Kym Masera Taborn
COMMENTARY 2 by Beboman

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Pandora)
Edward Newborn (Gregor)
Simon Prast (Nemos)

Christine Bartlett (Philana)
Tony Bishop (Weasel)
Alan De Malmanche (Old Man)
Lathan Gains (Kastor)
Paul Minifie (Innkeeper)
Paul Norell (Street Vendor)
Kirstie O'Sullivan (Ophelia)
Carl Straker (Young Man)
Beryl Te Wiata (Cynara)
Susan Winter (Woman)

Written by Terence Winter.
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Michael Levine.

Xena: I want to make sure this little party was just between us.
Nemos: You're being seduced, it's a trick.
(Chakram cutting a rope that Pandora is hanging from)
(Xena spits fire)
Guard: Surrender now, and I'll spare your life.
Xena: You'll be dead in less than a second, or we can talk.
(Xena catching baby with Gabrielle covering her eyes)

Xena and Gabrielle set out to find the parents of an abandoned baby, and discover that the infants's been marked for death due to a prophecy declaring him a future threat to a local king.

Xena employs stealthy maneuvers to protect an infant who an oracle claims will one day usurp a king's throone.

1st RELEASE: 09-25-95
An AA average of 4.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 10th with 5.6
(2) XENA 11th with 5.5
(3) STAR TEK DS9 12th with 5.3
(4) BAYWATCH 16th with 4.8

2nd RELEASE: 12-18-85
An AA average of 4.9
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 9th with 5.9
(2) HERCULES 15th with 5.4
(3) XENA (did not make top 20) 4.9

3rd RELEASE: 03-31-97
An AA average of 5.6
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA 1oth with 5.6
(2) HERCULES 11th with 5.3
(3) STAR TREK DS9 12th with 5.2
(4) BAYWATCH 18th with 4.2


Pandora, who happens to be THE Pandora's granddaughter is traveling around neurotically guarding a box. Meanwhile, Xena and Gabrielle find a baby in the bulrushes (can you say Moses?). Turns out a king is out to kill the baby because of a prophecy saying that the child shall grow up and depose the king (can you say Jason?). Xena and Gabrielle protect the child from an evil captain of the guards who plots in secrecy to overturn the king (can you say Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the 1960's?). Xena figures out that the king was meant to adopt the baby since his own child died with its mother in childbirth. The evil captain of the guard does not like this, so Xena kabobs him. The king takes a liking to Pandora and he promises to guard her little box.


A just king who recently lost his wife and child was told that a child who was born in his kingdom would be the next king. The king had an evil advisor/commander of the army who had convinced the king that the child would become king by overthrowing him.

Servants at the palace fearful for the child, sent the baby floating in a basket down the river (they obviously never took a logic class). Xena and Gabrielle found the baby in the bulrushes. Then Xena and Gabrielle met up with Pandora the III (THE Pandora's granddaughter), and discovered Pandora had a severe neurosis about a box she carried. If the box opened, said Pandora, then HOPE would be denied to humans.

After many subterfuges, the evil guys stole the box and Xena, of course, was destined to kill them all. She did and somehow the king and Pandora got together and decided to raise the baby together. Afterwards, Xena and Gabrielle discovered that there was nothing in the box. Ha ha. The women hit the road and resumed their travels.


Commentary Kym Taborn.

CRADLE OF HOPE was the first overtly myth-fusion episode of Xena. The episode used bits and pieces of the story of Moses (sending the bassinet in the river), Jason (baby born which will supplant the King), and Pandora's box, of all things.

Both XWP and HTLJ are fortunate that their subject matter allows them to mine the rich beds of traditional ancient stories found in world civilization. Both shows' anachronistic approach, along with their embedded cultural flexibility and diversity, create a new pool out of an old ocean of material which offers a revised and an albeit, often confused, reworking of old myths which beg the audience to rethink previously held views. It might not be incredibly profound, but it does inspire the viewer to expand their minds. Anything that expands a mind, even by a millimeter, is a worthwhile endeavor these days. XWP and HTLJ, in their strong mythological or biblical storylines, are clearly putting new wine into old bottles, and shaking it up so much that it's hard to figure out what is what. But it's darn entertaining what they pour out.


Commentary Beboman.

Let me see how I can put this in a nice way..(I'm thinking, I'm thinking). Well, I'll have to say that this episode is not one of my favorites of the first season or any season so far. But, like I have always said, "I'll try to be nice." Maybe if I focus on the few things I like and then gradually move into those I did not like, it might make things easier. I'll give it a try.

It was the first time we see the "Fire Breathing" trick. Like it. Loved the dance sequence. Enjoyed when Xena was at the market place after she got Pandora's box. The baby-tossing scene was not bad. However, I wouldn't want to see anyone's children try it.

There were also a few touching/interesting moments. I found the dialog between Gabrielle and Xena interesting when they find the baby:

X- He belongs with his mother.

G- Well, whoever she is, she obviously doesn't want him. I mean, imagine sending a baby down the river.

X- Maybe she had a reason. (Was Xena speaking from experience, about giving away a baby.)

When Gabrielle returns to the barn with Ophelia and Xena calls for Pandora, the look Pandora gave Ophelia was great. I also found it touching when, at the end, Xena asks the King and Pandora to name the baby Gabriel.

Now, with all that said, let's take a hard look at this episode. This was the first episode to try (and I use the term lightly) mixing both Christianity and Mythology. (I just wish they had picked one or the other.)

We have Pandora and Moses. What a combination (it might have worked if the script had been a little more solid and the interaction of the characters not so pulled by the hairs.) At the end, Pandora stays with the King and the baby. The idea is somewhat interesting.

In the arena of character development, we get a glimpse at a few of Xena's many talents. The talent to ascertain someone's need and be able to provide a satisfaction for that need without letting the person feel indebted to her.

Also, we see Xena's ability to come upon a problem, solve the problem and come out of the problem triumphant. We are able to see Xena think on her feet while still maintaining her focus. She is able to see both the trees and the forest, traits that made Xena a great warrior and leader.

Xena's problem in this episode was to find a home for the baby and Pandora and to fulfill the prophecy. In the end, all the problems were solved.

In this episode, Xena's past was something of a hinderance, but it was not the focus of the story. It was there to serve as a reminder.

I think one of the things that really bothered me about this episode was Gabrielle. After the three first episodes, seeing how she was growing, all of a sudden she sounded whiny, self-centered, and not very in tune with what is happening around her. To me, as a spectator, the character of Gabrielle is, at times, annoying.

Looking at the technical part of this episode, I found the script weak and bland. The directing also weak. With the exception of LL, ROC and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who played Pandora, the rest of the cast should have kept their day jobs a little longer.

At the end of the episode, I felt very annoyed. I had not gained any sympathy for any of the characters, except possibly for the baby, who was going to be stuck with the King as his father. I was glad when the King's advisor was killed. He should have been killed at the beginning of the show. For me, on a scale of "Must See TV", this episode was a "Must Not See TV" type of episode.


Click here to read a Music Guide to CRADLE OF HOPE by DJWP. If you like this feature, CLICK here to write to DJWP and tell her to start making more of these because the fans DEMAND IT!


05-30-98. Michael Levine, the director of CRADLE OF HOPE, on 01-18-98, was asked at the Burbank II Con what his favorite episode was that he had worked on, He said that he had a fondness for CRADLE OF HOPE since that was his first episode and it was a challenge to do the "baby tossing" scenes; but if pressed, he had to answer his faves were THE QUEST and STRANGER (a HERK episode from the 4th season)..

05-30-98. Brad Carpenter, the out-going Director of Marketing at Renaissance Pictures, on 01-18-98, stated at the Burbank II Con that in CRADLE, Lucy Lawless did her own fire-breathing stunts, but when a stunt-person got injured in a later episode, she stopped doing it by herself.


The physics problem: Xena tosses a baby straight upward. Seven seconds later, our warrior princess catches 'Air Infant'. How high did she throw him?

Jeanne (xenite@inetdirect.com) offers this solution:

y = height of baby in air
y2 = maximum height of baby in air
v = velocity at max. height (constant at 0m/s)
vo = max. velocity (the point at which Xena either releases the baby or catches it)
a = acceleration due to gravity (constant on earth of 9.8m/(s[squared})
t = total time baby spent in the air (7s)

We wish to detirmine y2. We also have the unknown of vo. We must find vo to find y. The formula to find vo is:

y = (vo * t) + (1/2a(t[squared])

Since vo occures when y is 0, we will chose to calculate from the point at which she releases the baby which will make "a" negative. Trust me, doing this makes the calculating easier.

0 = (vo * 7s) + (1/2(-9.8m/(s[squared])(t[squared]))
0 = (vo * 7s) + (-240.1m)

240m = vo * 7s
240m/7s = vo
vo = 34.3 m/s

Now that we know vo, we can detirmine y2. Once again we will choose to calculate from the point which Xena releases the baby. Again this makes the calculations easier. The formula for finding y2 is:

y2 = ((v[squared]) - (vo[squared]))/(2a)

y2 = (0 - ((34.3 m/s)[squared])/(2(-9.8m/(s[squared])))
y2 = (-1176.49m )/(-19.6)
y2 = 60.025m

Therefore the maximum height that the baby reaches is 60.025m. Ummmm, I don't think even Xena can do that! Then again . . .


Changing Times is by Debbie White.

Xena and Gabrielle become more of a team in this episode. Xena learns to appreciate Gabrielle's help, deals with a baby again, and fixes three peoples lives. Gabrielle, well, she gets on Xena's nerves, has insatiable curiosity, but is ultimately invaluable help.

Changing Xena

Xena is full of surprises in this episode. Yet again, she is very uncomfortable around a baby. She seems ignorant about them, too, saying, "What, are you holding him wrong or something?" when the baby cries. However, she is very protective and makes sure the child is safe and has food. Since Gabrielle likes the baby so much, though, Xena mainly plays back-up in baby care.

Xena saves Pandora from a hanging by a mob. Pandora says she is cursed to live alone, watching over the box containing hope. Xena sees how lonely Pandora is and has her holding the baby in no time. Pandora has never held a baby and says she does not want to, yet Xena (who also does not want that honor), makes her. Xena shows her knack for emotional healing of others as the baby and Pandora immediately fall in love with each other.

Xena's bad reputation still is out there, however, and Nemos, an evil commander/advisor to King Gregor, uses that to further his plots. He wants the baby dead since a prophecy states the baby will one day take over King Gregor's throne. He probably wants that honor himself. King Gregor, however, lost his wife and son in childbirth and is not ready to kill a baby before he is a threat. Xena is surprised to see that the king is not the bad guy, so she has to solve the prophesy so the baby can live. She dances her way to the answer.

Yes, the warrior princess can dance seductively. Where did she learn it? She did not NEED it for leading an army. Why learn it when she turned good? It was not exactly just modifying village dances. Maybe she picked it up when learning the neck pinch.

Xena is after Pandora's Box, which is ready to open soon and let hope escape. When Xena finally has the box, she comes upon the king's room and the empty cradle and realizes that yet another lonely heart is out and about. The king gets a son (the baby), Pandora gets to stop wandering (becomes queen), and the baby gets a family.

Though she can heal others, Xena is still struggling to heal herself. Pandora proves there is hope for wandering souls to be happy one day, too.

The Warrior Princess was simply being the warrior princess, though she did learn that not all the bad guys are the leaders. Also, she learned that people can do an evil thing while trying to do the 'right thing,' since the king was willing to kill the baby to save his kingdom from civil war. This may lead to Xena realizing more about how she turned evil.

One major difference in Xena in this episode than in previous ones is that instead of directly attacking the castle ('fighting fixes all' mentality), she realizes it is better to sneak in and only fight when she is forced to. The ability to think this way shows she can also adopt other (new) methods of solving problems.

Interesting fact: Xena uses her whip for the first time.

Changing Gabrielle

Gabrielle was...Gabrielle. She did prove her worth to Xena yet again. She found a palace maid, the one that saved the baby in the first place, to help take care of the baby. She also gets milk for the baby, delivers Xena's 'let's meet' message to the king without getting caught, and manages to keep the baby safe out in the open in the middle of a city-wide search. Xena needed Gabrielle's help and knowledge, and they now have started to work together as a team. Xena even asks that the baby be named Gabriel (a token of her appreciation for Gabrielle).

"We all carry hope around inside of us." --Xena, CRADLE OF HOPE


(1) The infamous fighting while juggling the baby scene which was used as the clip in almost every televised interview with Lucy Lawless during her 1996 February to March promotional tours; and

(2) Xena as an exotic dancer, part 1.


Prepared by SheWho.

These observations were made from the 00-00-00 ----- shooting draft (-th revision)

The opening scene with Xena and Gabrielle begins slightly differently, particularly in the sleeping arrangements:

"With her horse tied to a nearby tree, Xena straps on her sword and Chakram, then begins to fold up her bedroll. Gabrielle lays nearby, covered in a blanket, still sleeping. After a beat, she awakens and begins to rise, sleepy-eyed."

Minor dialogue difference in teaser: Gabrielle says she slept

"On a rock. And that cat kept waking me up."

"Xena shoots her a look as they cross to the water's edge."

Gabrielle: "Don't tell me you didn't hear it."

Xena: "We're in the woods, Gabrielle. There are no cats out here."

"Just then, we hear a noise from off camera. (It's actually a baby's cry, but we don't know that yet.)"

Gabrielle (concerned): "That's it. That's the noise."

"Xena draws her sword cautiously."

Gabrielle (re: sword): "I guess you're figuring it's a pretty big cat, huh?"

Xena: "You can't be too careful."

Next scene opens as:

"Gabrielle holds the smiling Baby in her arms. Xena looks at her like she's crazy."

After Gabrielle asks if they can keep him,

Xena says: "We're on the road, Gabrielle. This is no place for a baby."

"Gabrielle frowns as Xena takes another look at the child. It looks like she may be softening, but . . ."

Xena then says the baby belongs with his mother...

After Xena saves Pandora, thunder is heard.

Gabrielle says: "I don't really want to walk in the rain. The Baby doesn't want us walking in the rain."

The next scene opens in the cave.

Xena: "We can't stay here too long."

Gabrielle (to Pandora): "Even when we're not in a rush, we're in a hurry. See, we found this baby in a stream . . ."

Gabrielle puts down Pandora's bag, and the box falls out...

In the cave, Xena is checking Argo's hooves for rocks, rather than cleaning her chakram. After they discuss the contents of the box,

Xena says: "I'm done here. We can get going. Where are you headed?"

Pandora: "Calchinia. I'm going there to live--alone. Away from people who can only hate me. You don't know what it's like, being cursed with this Box."

Gabrielle: "It's not your fault your grandmother opened the Box."

Pandora: "I wish that were true. But, I'm stuck with it."
Pandora then talks about the Box being the most important thing in her life...

After Nemos orders that the child be turned over, the innkeeper says:

"Look, I just redecorated. Can you take this outside maybe?" (Off Nemos' look) "Just asking."

After the bar fight,

Xena turns to Gabrielle and Pandora: "Are you two okay?"

"They both nod ..." (I think her question is directed only at Gabrielle in the televised version.)

It is Gabrielle who tells Pandora she made the only choice in saving the baby rather than the Box during the brawl.

An omitted scene:

"A pair of figures in cloaks moves through the streets among the common folk. The common folk are having uncommon discussions tonight..."

Old man: "I don't care if it's a child or a man, he's a threat! He has to be found!"

Woman: "But I've heard he's not even a year old! Just a baby!"

Old man: "I think the king is right. Kill him now before we pay the price later."

Young man: "You remember the last uprising?"

"And talk of that ilk. The figures move toward a door."

The figures are Gabrielle and Ophelia.

A small but interesting slight change in the scene with Ophelia:

Ophelia asks if the child is safe.

"Xena gives a look at Gabrielle. Gabrielle nods.

Xena calls out to [Pandora]."

This suggests to me that Xena is 'asking' Gabrielle if Ophelia can be trusted, and accepting Gabrielle's opinion. In the televised version, that step is omitted as Xena goes ahead and calls to Pandora.

In another omitted (brief) scene, Ophelia gets a wagon full of dancers through the gate; Xena is among them.

The next scene has

"Gabrielle and Pandora look up at the walls, then settle onto the ground."

Gabrielle: "This should be close enough. I'll bet old Nemos would have a fit knowing we were right outside his walls."

The baby cries, and Pandora comforts him. Gabrielle remarks on her knack for children, and Pandora says she can't afford to dream about things that never will be.

Gabrielle: "Can I ask you something" (off Pandora's nod) "Did your grandmother ever tell you why she opened the Box?"

Pandora: "She just gave in to the temptation, curious of what was inside. We all have curiosities. Wanting to know what's inside a closed Box. Wanting to know what it's like to be a King."

Gabrielle: "Wanting to know what it's like to have a child."

Pandora then says now she feels as if she knows too much...

As Xena sneaks up on the King in his chambers, she tells the dog "Good boy. Easy now. time to get some rest..." and uses the pinch to put the dog out. (Much better just to have her wave him off, as in the televised version.)

The final fight scene is a little different.

Xena explains the prophecy to the King, and they are walking with Gabrielle and Pandora among the populace. Nemos tells the King he's being seduced and attacks Xena. She grabs the baby and tosses it to Gabrielle, who catches it by pulling up the front of her long skirt.

During the fight, Ophelia uses a staff to disable one of Nemos's men, then grabs his sword. Xena tosses the baby a second time to Gabrielle, who "dives to the floor underneath her, barely managing to catch the Baby before he splats." (LOL!)

Xena later spots a soldier heading toward Gab and the baby, and

"runs, picking up the fallen sword, approaching Gabrielle from behind."

Xena: "Gabrielle. Behind you!"

"Just then, Gabrielle hands off the Baby to Xena and dives to the floor as the Soldier lunges - right into her extended sword. Xena turns holding the Baby. She looks up to see two soldiers coming at her at once. Gabrielle isn't around to catch the child, so in a flash, she tosses him high in the air, cuts both the Soldiers down, and catches the child inches from the ground on her foot! She flicks her foot and the Baby sails up and back into her arms."

After she kills Nemos, Xena takes the baby from Gabrielle and hands it to the king, to the cheers of the servants.

In the closing scene, Pandora can't bring herself to take the box into the guarded room, so Xena agrees to do it.

"She takes the Box from Pandora and starts up the steps. Gabrielle falls in line behind her. Xena gives her a look, then a smile. Xena places the Box on the altar. Gabrielle reaches in to straighten it and trips, knocking the Box to the floor!"

They then learn that it's empty...

There is no mention in this version of the script of Xena's request that Gregor name the baby Gabriel - one of my favorite lines of the first season.


The scroll which CRADLE OF HOPE is based upon was discussed in Pouch 2 of the Xena Restoration Society's dispatches, and concerned e-mails numbers 2:01 (04-01-94, from Dr. Costantakos), 2:02 (04-10-94, from Dr. Covington), and 2:03 (04-12-94, from Dr. Costantakos) specifically.

The scroll was translated by Dr. Evan Costantakos of the Oxford School of Antiquities on or about 04-01-94.

Excerpts from the translation released in the dispatches:

  • '...There is truth in your dreams,' reads Cynara from the golden stones, 'Your Lordship, there is indeed a child in your future.' But Gregor, the caring king; Gregor, blinded by the loss of his only son and wife, could not see with the ... eyes of the old woman. The only child for him was his infant son, dead these many [months]. 'But this child is not of your line,' spake the prophet, 'Born on the equinox, he is a child in your possession.'

  • 'The child will speak as you speak; will walk as you walk; will sit where you sit and will wear what you wear.' went the prophesy.

  • Her hair, as gold as the Sun, seemed to creat a light all it's own. her eyes matched that sun with the blue of the sky itself. Yet she carried a heavy load in her small wooden box. Light enough on the outside; inside, it weighed heavy on her heart.
  • Dr. Covington was impressed with Dr. Costantakos use of alliteration in his translation, although she was offended by his assertion that the author of the scrolls was tampering with the "established" myths (2:02). Dr. Costantakos was quite surprised by the compliment (2:03).


    Click here to read a transcript of CRADLE OF HOPE .


    No babies were harmed during the production of this motion picture. [First humorus XWP disclaimer]

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