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Season 5, episode 03
Series 503
1st release: 10/11/99
2nd release:
Production number: V0902
Script number: Season 5, Script 2
Approximate shooting dates: Late April 1999
Last update: 12-18-00

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor
COMMENTARY 3 BY Jill Hayhurst
COMMENTARY 4 BY John Wignall

Kevin Smith (Ares)

Jenya Lano (Mavican)

Written by Steven L. Sears
Directed by Rick Jacobson

Ares: Let the game begin.
(Ares twirls a sword. A shot of Mavican. Xena throws her new chakram, there is an explosion and Mavican flips out of the way. Ares teleports in laughing. Xena kicks Mavican off a ledge.)
Xena: Who are you?!
Mavican: I'm your successor.
(Gabrielle sits up in shock, Mavican spin kicks Xena.)
Xena: Ares!
(Xena spin around. Ares throws a blast and sends Xena and Mavican flying apart.)

(Mavican flips down from above as Gabrielle watches, and lands holding a staff)
Xena: Who are you?!
Mavican: I'm your successor.
(Ares summons the portal; Mavican and Xena draw swords)
Ares: Let the game begin.
(Xena throws her new chakram which splits and ricochets; Mavican flips to avoid it.) ON AN ALL NEW XENA, THE GOD OF WAR HAS STARTED A FIGHT...
(Mavican charges Xena; Xena kicks Mavican off a ledge;
Ares twirls his sword; Xena and Mavican flip simultaneously)
Mavican: Just you, and me.
(Ares teleports in laughing)
(Xena has her hand around Mavican's neck)
Mavican: My destiny is to kill you.
(Gabrielle sits up in shock; Xena in the parellel realm; Ares goes flying; Xena and Gab try to fight the portal's vacuum; Mavican spin kicks Xena)
Xena: Ares!!!
(Ares throws a blast and sends Xena and Mavican flying apart)

Xena and Gabrielle must face Mavican , Ares' new right-hand woman, with some added complications.

Xena and Gabrielle, merged to the same body, fight Mavican.

Ares merges Xena and Gabrielle into the same body and force them to fight Mavican, Ares' potential right hand. Log Line

Xena takes the day shift and Gabrielle does night duty when they're merged into the same body, thanks to Ares. Entertainment Weekly

Release date: 10/11/99

1  WHEEL OF FORTUNE-SYN  KIN  10.9 10,980,000
2  JEOPARDY  KIN  9.2 9,230,000
3  JUDGE JUDY (AT)  PRM  7.5 7,543,000
5  OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (AT)  KIN  5.9 5,913,000
6  SEINFELD  CTS  5.4 5,433,000
7  FRASIER-SYN (AT)  PRM  4.5 4,501,000
8  ESPN NFL REGULAR SEASON 2  ESP  4.4 4,423,000
9  JERRY SPRINGER (AT)  STD  4.3 4,339,000
10  HOLLYWOOD SQUARES  KIN  4.2 4,220,000
11  X-FILES-SYN (AT)  2/T  4.2 4,204,000
12  WHEEL OF FORTUNE-WKND  KIN  4.1 4,119,000
13  ER-SYN (AT)  W/T  4.0 4,055,000
14  JUDGE JOE BROWN (AT)  PRM  3.9 3,977,000
15  XENA  STD  3.7 3,692,000
15  DREW CAREY (AT)  WB  3.6 3,599,000
17  EXTRA  WB  3.4 3,468,000
18  ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW  WB  3.3 3,320,000
19  MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW  PRM  3.2 3,196,000
19  LIVE-REGIS & KATHIE LEE  BV  3.2 3,194,000
22  HOME IMPROVEMENT-SYN (AT)  BV  3.1 3,148,000
23  SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL (AT)  STD  3.1 3,135,000
24  SEINFELD-WKND  CTS  3.1 3,079,000
25  HERCULES, JOURNEYS OF  STD  3.0 3,064,000

X-Files 4.2
Xena 3.7
3rd Rock 3.2
Hercules 3.0
Beastmaster 2.7
Stargate SG-1 2.5
Earth: Final Conflict 2.3
Profiler 2.2
Relic Hunter 1.9
Peter Benchley's Amazon 1.8


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Ares and Mavican do the nasty under the covers. Ares breathes out a chakram in a smoke ring. Mavican says she wants to be Ares chosen, the successor to Xena. Ares says no, Mavican isn't good enough. Mavican throws a sword at Ares as he starts to walk away. Mavican pouts a little and asks what Xena did to get the job. Ares says Xena never asked for the job.

Xena, off camera mostly, beats up an awful lot of guys while telling Gabrielle to stay back and out of the way. Gabrielle keeps insisting she can take care of herself. Back in town, Gabrielle gets water and mutters stuff about not being a kid anymore. Ares appears to Gabrielle. Gabrielle says Xena took on five bandits; she could have at least let Gabrielle have one of them. Gabrielle is upset because Xena doesn't notice her new skills. Ares is very sympathetic, and then he disappears. Mavican appears, throwing knives into Gabrielle's water skins. She tells Gabrielle that she wants to talk to Xena and knows that the best way to get the attention of the Warrior Princess is to kill Gabrielle.

Mavican throws something at Gabrielle, who moves to intercept but Xena steps in front of Gabrielle and stops the item. Gabrielle protests, saying she could have taken care of things. Mavican tells Xena she's going to kill and throws some sharp disc things at Xena, who deflects them. Xena throws her Super Chakram, which splits in two, and whirls around and bounces and flies all over the place, with Mavican doing lots of dancing and flipping to avoid it. Mavican and Xena cross swords, knocking over a statue and pillar. Ares shows up and throws a god-bolt, separating Xena and Mavican. He says they aren't supposed to be fighting in Demeter's temple, it isn't P.C. in godland. Ares and Mavican argue because Ares doesn't want Mavican to fight Xena; he says Mavican isn't what he's looking for and Mavican is determined to show him she is exactly what he needs. Mavican throws a sword toward Xena; Gabrielle diverts it with a sais, drawing a questioning glance from Xena.

Ares says well, if you ladies want to fight, fine, but do it someplace else. He creates one of those dimension holes like in Hercules in the eps with the altar ego Hercules (I forget the names of the eps, sorry). He says if Mavican kills Xena, she can come back. But Xena can't kill Mavican. Mavican jumps through the dimension hole, but Xena says she isn't playing the game. Ares makes a wind and Gabrielle is eventually sucked up; Xena lets go of the rock she's hanging on to and follows her friend.

Gabrielle is alone in a room, with just a spotlight shining on her. "Xena?" she asks. But she receives no answer.

Xena is in a field. "Gabrielle?" she asks. But she receives no answer. Xena realizes she has no Gabrielle and no weapons. Mavican appears. They fight. Xena knocks Mavican over an embankment and goes off in search of Gabrielle. The sun begins to set.

Gabrielle is in the woods now. Xena is in the spotlight room. Xena is shown a vision of Gabrielle in the woods, prowling about looking for Xena. Gabrielle sees a fire. She is doing something on the ground, and Xena watches, wondering what Gabrielle is doing. Gabrielle trails a vine to the fire. Mavican jumps down from the trees. Gabrielle tells Mavican she left too much a trail; Gabrielle knew she was in the trees. Gabrielle yanks on the vine and wraps it around Mavican and they fight. Gabrielle knocks Mavican down and tells her she needs to watch it, because Ares said nothing about Gabrielle killing Mavican. Mavican overcomes Gabrielle, though, and knocks her cold. Xena watches all this happen. She whispers to Gabrielle that the bard will be okay.

Gabrielle wakes up in a big cage. Mavican wonders why Xena hasn't come for Gabrielle in the night. She talks to Gabrielle and asks what it is like to follow after Xena. She says she's read some of Gabrielle's scrolls; she should write more. Mavican wants to go down in history as the woman who went toe-to-toe with Xena and won. Gabrielle tells Mavican she needs some mental help. Mavican says it is her Destiny to win. Xena says, "Destiny." The sun rises.

Gabrielle morphs into Xena.

Turns out Ares has put Xena and Gabrielle into one being, with Xena being on duty during the day and Gabrielle on duty at night. So if Mavican kills Xena she'll kill Gabrielle. Mavican figures all this out after watching the morph.

Xena talks to Mavican about Destiny, and suggests they work together against Ares because the God of War is really bad news. Mavican attacks Xena, throwing spears at her through the holes in the cage. Xena dodges the spears, but then she is impaled! Mavican moves closer; it is a trick. Xena whacks Mavican with the stick, gets the cage to fall from the tree it's hanging from, breaks open the cage. Mavican leaves, saying she'll just wait for sundown and Gabrielle.

Xena goes to a stream. Ares appears. Ares says he wants to watch his old girlfriend fight because he's missed it. He and Xena talk. Gabrielle is in the little room with the spotlight, but she doesn't get to see everything like Xena does. Ares says Gabrielle has gotten good at fighting; he is impressed with Gabrielle.

Xena works to set a trap with vines and thorns. Mavican makes weapons. Xena breaks rocks. Xena stirs up a fire. Xena leaves a trail for Mavican to follow. When Mavican finds Xena, Mavican says she hates to kill Xena, because she could learn so much from her, like how to know when someone's sneaking up on you. Xena and Mavican fight and Xena gets Mavican all wrapped up on a thorny vine. The sun sets.

Xena morphs into Gabrielle. Mavican takes advantage of Gabrielle's confusion and knocks Gabrielle away, and gets free. Mavican goes after Gabrielle with a stake. Mavican explains to Gabrielle that Ares put Xena and Gabrielle in the same body, one during the day, the other at night. Gabrielle looks behind her and sees a good looking staff stick. She picks it up, releasing a trap Xena had set with a big log swinging. Gabrielle ducks; Mavican is hit in the stomach. Mavican throws a really sharp rock into Gabrielle's shoulder. Gabrielle runs.

Ares talks to the watching Xena, and brings her to his throne room. Ares tells Xena this little drama is really about Gabrielle. Ares is after Gabrielle, he says, because who better to be Xena's heir than the one person Xena has trained? Ares says Xena hasn't been paying attention to Gabrielle. He tells Xena he has an offer to make to Gabrielle, and that Xena doesn't know her friend anymore.

Gabrielle finds a cave with a really deep hole at the end (think The Convert.). Mavican tracks Gabrielle by looking at her blood on the plants. Gabrielle builds a fire and waits with her staff in her hands. She finds a note written on bark wrapped around the staff. It is from Xena. Xena explains about the body day/night thing. Xena tells Gabrielle not to kill Mavican, but that is what Ares wants her to do, only Xena doesn't know why. Xena watches from the little room.

Ares appears to Gabrielle. He tells her she has lots of potential and can be the heir to Xena's former place by his side. Ares says he's learned a few things from Xena. He says he has changed. He asks Gabrielle to hear him out honestly. He says he needs someone strong enough to fight -- or not to fight -- who uses discretion. He thinks Gabrielle is this person. He tells Gabrielle to look beyond their past and not be close-minded about him like Xena. Gabrielle asks what happens to Xena if she takes Ares up on his offer. Ares says Xena goes home to her mother, safe in the knowledge that the world is in Gabrielle's hands. Ares gives Gabrielle a sais. He tells her to kill Mavican.

Mavican appears. Xena, in her little room, cries out for Gabrielle not to kill. Gabrielle tells Mavican to back off. Mavican comes after Gabrielle. Mavican and Gabrielle fight. Xena watches. Gabrielle beats the crap out of Mavican. Xena, watching, tells Gabrielle not to kill Mavican. Gabrielle backs off, saying she won't kill Mavican. Gabrielle throws down the sais. The sun begins to rise. Gabrielle goes to the rear of the cave and sees Xena trying to reach her in a reflection in a handy pool of water. Xena and Gabrielle morph again.

Xena faces Mavican. Mavican tells Xena that Gabrielle is Xena's fatal flaw. Xena says Mavican's fatal flaw is her belief that she has a destiny. Xena tells Mavican her destiny is to be forgotten, not to kill the Warrior Princess. Mavican and Xena fight some more. Xena leaps, and creates a cave in. She traps them both inside. Xena tells Mavican her destiny is finished; she'll die in this cave with no one knowing anything about her. Xena beats the crap out of Mavican. Xena pushes Mavican back to the deep hole, which happens to have lots of vines hanging down into it, and they cling to one of the vines. Mavican yells for Ares and asks for his help. Ares appears. He creates the dimensional hole, and Xena is sucked through the hole. Ares leaves Mavican hanging and trapped.

Xena and Gabrielle fall through the dimensional hole. Ares appears. He tells them they won. Xena tells Gabrielle she is very proud of her. Xena tells Gabrielle that Ares once told her that anyone who asks for help doesn't deserve it, so Mavican made a fatal error in yelling for Ares. Ares told Gabrielle the offer to be his right hand woman is still good.

Xena tells Gabrielle she is a little surprised Gabrielle didn't consider the offer. Xena tells Gabrielle she'll try harder to see Gabrielle's abilities, although it is hard for her to see her little bard growing up. Xena tells Gabrielle that the next seven little bad guys are all hers.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

This episode failed to thrill me. It had waaayyyyy too many plot holes and problems to make enough sense to be compelling. But I liked the kernel of an idea it was based on. The show's finally asking the same question a lot of us have been asking for a while now: so is Gabrielle a bard, or a warrior? Even Mavican reminds Gabrielle that she should write scrolls more often, although Gab seems to have forgotten that totally.

And the episode takes the question one step further: IF Gabrielle is a warrior, how good of a warrior would she be? Good enough to, say, garner the personal attention of Ares? Good enough, given one little nudge to the Dark Side of the force, to be the next Destroyer of Nations? I like the question a lot. This episode takes a goofy way of exploring it, but I like the question. This could make future Ares interactions VERY interesting: who's he really trying to trap now, Xena or Gab? (Or would he settle for either, since it gives him more chances to win?)

Figures that Ares is a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am type. And holy cow, he's the fastest dresser on the face of the earth. In three seconds he's back into his leathers. Firefighters should get suited up so quick.

So Xena's a bit reluctant to let Gabrielle return to her butt-kicking ways. An understandable problem, although it was still very weird to hear Gab grousing that she didn't get to pummel more guys. But it gave Ares some very good fodder to try to get persuasive with Gabrielle. I'm so glad they're letting Ares get back to his smooth-talkin' ways this season.

When did Ares say that Xena can't kill Mavican? Everyone seemed to have gotten that message, but when I heard Ares say that Xena would stay where she is if she killed Mav, I assumed he meant as his prime #1 mortal. Judging by everyone's reactions on the show, I guess that meant that he'd keep her stuck in whatever that place was that they went to fight.

I liked it when Gabrielle got tricky as she prepared to go into the camp that she wasn't sure yet was Xena's or Mavican's. Even Xena couldn't figure out what Gabrielle was up to.

Ares seems to set himself up for a sure win: If Gabrielle kills Mavican, he gains a new follower. If Xena kills Mavican, he leaves 'em all in wherever-it-was to rot. He doesn't care two whits about what happens to Mavican - she wasn't a serious contender for his favor, anyway. So why did he let Xena and Gabrielle go when Mavican called for help? Maybe Xena was calling Ares' bluff about whether he really would abandon her and Gabrielle to an a-la-Ladyhawke isolated half-life.

Xena trapping them in the cave made NO sense, not a bit. Mavican was horrified at being trapped, Xena taunted her that they'd never get out... except that Ares had said that he'd release Mavican if she managed to kill Xena. It shouldn't have mattered to Mavican one bit. Given this and the "who says Xena can't kill Mavican" question, I wonder if Ares' rules were rewritten at some point in the script process and never quite made to match the rest of the episode. A lot of the problems seem to revolve around it.

The final banter between Xena and Gabrielle is cute: the new strategy plan is that Gabrielle gets to fight the little bad guys. Now I can see the next episode starting with an argument about the height requirements for "little." "Look, if he's under my shoulders, you can have him!" "That guy WAS under your shoulders!" "Only because you hit him in the gut with your foot!"


The scene in Ares' throne room between Xena and Ares was spiffy on a lot of levels. I loved the whole conversation about bringing in Gabrielle as Xena's successor, Xena's rather physical reaction to it, and how much Ares enjoyed it. I liked the dark lighting of the scene. I enjoyed how intensely Lucy played Xena's reactions and how slick and sly Kevin Smith played Ares' nastiness. Best scene of the episode.


This commentary is by Beboman.

The first thing I did as I walked into my house after arriving from the San Francisco Convention was to go to the VCR and see if it had taped. I was relieved; it had taped. So I sat down to watch the episode.

Oh, oh and double oh!! What an episode. By the Gods, this was a true Xena episode from beginning to end. Everything that I have loved about Xena episodes was there. It kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end. This was one of the few times in a long time I have really hated commercials. But I was grateful for them because they gave me an opportunity to catch my breath and get ready for the rest. I have to say the story line was great, the acting was at its best by all the actors, the music, the lighting, directing and photography; in other words, everything was just right. It seemed like they had found the formula for a marvelous Xena episode and they followed the recipe step by step. The chemistry I thought was lost between Xena and Aries was there 100% and it felt so good. I have missed this type of Xena; the fights, the interactions, the strength in the fights and the strength of the characters. So, welcome back all you all, I have missed you. And following in that same line of thought, another thing that made me very happy was to see Xena back in a dark outfit. People remember, Xena likes dark; lets keep it that way. Please no more fluffy pink stuff.

I laughed my head off at the beginning when Xena (off camera) takes all the bad guys and then Gabrielle's reactions to the whole situation were just priceless. It brought back memories of times long gone. But, in defense of Xena, I have to say, remember that before they died, Gabrielle was on the path of peace and love; no fighting, no hurting others. Well, it's hard for Xena, after struggling hard for one entire season to keep Gabrielle from fighting, to sit back and let her fight. Yo, Gabrielle, you have to make up your mind. "To Fight or not to Fight; That is the question".

Then we meet Mavican. Someone should have told her that making love with Aries is not a guarantee of anything, other than death, of course.

The interaction between Gabrielle and Mavican at the beginning of the show was just right. Loved Gabrielle's reaction when Mavican says she is going to kill Xena and to be able to kill Xena, she has to kill Gabrielle first. Great reaction from Gabrielle.

Well, Gabrielle has turned into some fighter. She is getting really good, her interception of those little flying things was marvelous, and Aries' and Xena's reactions were appropriate.

One thing that is interesting in this episode is the fact that Xena is still a great fighter and has an outstanding sense of focus. She has the ability to take any situation nd turn it to her advantage, which makes the character so interesting and appealing. Also, since they have returned from the dead, there is something special about the character as if she has attained some sense of enlightenment and inner peace. There is no rush about her anymore; now Gabrielle is the one in a rush.

I have to give Aries two thumbs up. He is still as manipulative as ever. Great idea to have Gabrielle be Xena's successor, but he still cannot control Xena's amazing power of deduction and her ability to see straight through Aries. It is that amazing sense that always turns Aries' plan sour and makes Xena a winner.

The idea of Xena and Gabrielle sharing the same body was well used in this episode, and it gave Xena the opportunity to show off how much of her deductive power she was able to use. It also gave Gabrielle the opportunity to put her new fighting skills to use and put to use some of her own deductive abilities.

Watching Xena analyze a situation and take advantage of what surrounds her is just fascinating. Her ability to leave a message for Gabrielle, develop the plan to do it, and figure out Aries' motive, all without losing a beat is some excellent work in the writing, directing and acting. At the same time, though, those senses show us how much Gabrielle has learned from Xena and how much Gabrielle has matured.

This episode shows how much in tune Xena and Gabrielle are; even when it seems like they are both working on their own, they are working as a perfect team. Xena and Gabrielle have learned to work together as partners and have learned to trust each other when the chips are really down. One thing that seems very obvious from the first episode in this season is that Gabrielle is sticking to Xena no matter what. There are no more second thoughts from Gabrielle. As she told Eli, she is going to do whatever it takes to help Xena; that is what she is doing.

It is so refreshing to see Xena again at the top of her deductive power and her handling of both Mavican and Aries was so smooth. She used both of their plans to her benefit. By using Aries' plan against him, she did not have to kill Mavican nor did Gabrielle. In the end, Mavican was forgotten in a cave and Xena and Gabrielle did not have to kill anyone to stay alive. The killing was left in Aries' hands.

At this point, I have to make a "side bar". I have found that when the cast of the show is small and the plot left to a single storyline, the program moves with ease and explodes with excitement. One thing I have to say: TPTB, please give us more of these types of episodes.

Another thing that was very well performed in this episode was the metamorphosis between Xena and Gabrielle.

There were many moments in this episode that touched my heart. One of the best ones was at the end, when Xena tells Gabrielle that she is proud of her and she will try to understand her more. At the same time, the ending lines where hilarious. They brought back memories of "Daughter of Pomedia". Great end to a great episode.

I know by now all of you might be wondering if I liked this episode. Well, the truth be told: No, I did not like it; I JUST PLAIN LOVED IT. If this is just a taste of what is in store for us in the future, please keep them coming.


This commentary is by Jill Hayhurst.

satin sheets to lie on, satin sheets to cry on, still, I'm not happy...

Oh, gosh, and they're black satin,too. The camera doesn't pull back far enough for me to tell if it's a round bed Ares and Trick O' the Week are wrestling on, or if there're any ceiling mirrors or even pompom ball fringe edging the medicine cabinet next to the Playboy magazine rack beside the _101 Bathroom Jokes_ bookshelf lining the wall above the toilet, but...

Am I wandering too far afield here? Moi? Well, maybe a little bitty bit, but for heaven's sake, wouldja get a load of the bazookas preceding Ares' latest tart's presence into a room! I do declare, that woman starts every fight she ever gets into with a topload handicap, no two ways about it.

And before anyone gets to wondering about my past history and how I spent my formative teen years, dammit, my big brother owned one of them there Chevy vans, and it had wall to wall and floor to ceiling and all round red (bright red, not any of that half-assed, get-to-know-you-first muted crimsons, but brick house red) carpets, with (in case you were a tad slow in getting the point) matching red pompom fringe around each and every side window.

I laughed my *ss off, I did, looking at this van, but I didn't do it where my brother could hear me, since he could beat me up, but by god! I did have one major revelation looking at it, and that was, straight boys need therapy, desperately.

Ares, to give him his due, is brutally honest with Mavican, the Roller Derby queen he's hanging with. Says she ain't the One, even while she's nibbling his ear like a hamster working its way through a brazil nut. He bounds out of bed, nude, well I think he's nude, okay, I'm extrapolating here, it's prime-time tv after all and we're not talking about showing off a chick, which would be cool for the kidlings, but a grown man, which would not, don't ask me why, I just work here, and Mav doesn't want to hear it, she and Alti have a lot in common when it comes to accepting limitations, and the next thing ya know, Ares is fully dressed.

He didn't even wriggle his nose. Of course, he is the God of War, maybe it's not his nose that wriggles. Maybe it's his heavy brass-plated Ankh pendant or something. No, I didn't see the Ankh, I just inferred it from the black satin sheets. Some things don't have to be seen, you know.

Which, to be quite honest, is a mercy. Back to the action (back2back action slot, ain't that a mental picture, given what we're given this season?), and Ares gives us our plot point line o' the ep, "It's not a job, and Xena didn't ask me for anything."

Okay, well, that would have been enough for me, but then I do tech support over the phone for a living. Snuggling the God of War and kicking butt across the Known World, not to mention wedging my jiggly bits into a very tight corset are simply not on my dance card this millenium.

Next thing we know, there's bodies flying every which way and in voice over, Gab's expostulating with Xena to chill out, smell a rose or two, let her have a turn, you'd think she'd embraced the Way of the Warrior to the point of embroidering it on a lacy pillow. Must have been something in the soup she drank at the top of the last ep. Before that, she was so non-violent you'd'a thunk she was a plant. Then the soup and bang! first she buys the sais, then butt-kicking surpassing even the height of her staff-swinging days, back before AGD.

The scruffy-dude circus segues to Gabrielle, alone, in a deserted town (FALLEN ANGEL) used up the budget for townie extras), drawing water from the town well. Ares sparkles into being beside her and is nearly skewered for his pains. He does a little of the old soft shoe, if it were a kid brother, you'd think he was touching her for a loan till next race day, but she's not touchable right now and he pops off, happy with having sown a seed or two of discontent. Hard on his popoff comes a whirling, twirling, war-screeching dervish, bounding over the rooftops (they're not very tall), faster than a speeding bullet (well, if the rifling in the barrel's been jimmied with), more powerful than a... huh, it's Mavican, tits at full point, spear at parade rest, leather petticoat ruffles a-quiver, and a look of mild determination fighting its way through from under the spray-on coat of Mabelline Latex Spray-On Foundation. Given her druthers, she'd like to see Gab spinning on the pivot of her sword blade, since that would get her on the Warrior Princess' (remember Xena? This is a song about Xena.) calendar. Once there, apparently (this woman is a type A fer shure, she has her agenda to success all mapped out, five year plan be damned, she has it down to two minutes and counting) she figures to wrench the Princess crown from Xena's cold, dead fingers and sashay on to WarQueen glory.

After the titles, the giggly Coke drinkers, the mattress hawkers and the Ginsu knife weilders come and go, it's back to the action! Butt-kicking is the name of the game in this ep, we're gonna see a lot of it, Mav chucks the spear at Gab, who prepares to dodge, all business-like and in perfect control, when Xena steps in, grabs the spear and breaks it across her knee, brushing off Gabrielle's assertion that she was doing fine. Hm.

She and Mav have a little exchange of words and then throwing stars v. yinyang chakram, which ends up a draw, it's still way early in the ep, and somewhere in here we get our first look at the maternity leathers. Had my mama only known...

Ares pops in in the middle of all this and rings the bell for them to go to their corners. Apparently they've been fighting in the middle of Demeter's temple (well, it *looked* like a town square to me, maybe it did to them), which punches Ares' buttons, such as they are. He disclaims all involvment in Mavican's present quest, but then does a flipflop so quick I have to think he manipulated this whole confrontation thing from the get-go. He wriggles his fingers (that boy's a wriggling fool today) to create a vortex thingie to suck them into, well, if the next scene's any clue, the stage for an off-Broadway reprise of _Saint Joan_, Xena doesn't wanna go, neither does Gabrielle, but Ares twists the dial on the vortex and that sucks up Gabrielle, so of course Xena dives in after her ("Gabrielle! I'm coming!")

Next scene is Gabrielle getting to her feet on the deck, directly under the downlight of the Voices, and the camera pulls way back, this a visual clue, nothing happens here, no need to spend more'n ten NZ dollars on this puppy, cut to Xena stuck out in the middle of a clearing, no weapons, no Gab, oh, look, there's Mavican, all gung-ho to resume their little tete a tete. She natters on while they slap at each other, making sure we all understand the ground rules for this championship match-- she can try to kill Xena, but Xena can't kill her, and nobody's got any swords or anything, and check out that lovely sunset. As a fight, this is slightly less compelling than mud-wrestling for quarters, evidently I'm not the only one who thinks so, Xena does too, cos she kicks Mav's hinder into a ravine and starts looking around for Gabrielle.

That sunset remark was actually important after all (surprise!) since when it gets dark, Xena and Gabrielle switch places. Now it's Xena's turn to ponder on who in her right mind would want Charles on the throne of France, an argument if I ever heard one for Jeanne (and God, for that matter) being off her nut, but she's distracted by the appearance of the HercVortexViewCam shot of Gabrielle slinking through the kill zone in the moonlight.

Gabrielle finds Mavican's campfire sans Mav, and sets up a trap for her. Unfortunately, it doesn't work (it had potential, so did this ep, but that's life in a Chevy van) and Gabrielle ends up in a cage Mavican, in her copious spare time, built using only vines, precut saplings and the sharper bits of her Wonderbra. Either that or she borrowed it from the Cyclops in SoP. Now that she's got her bait set in her XenaTrap, Mavican whiles away the the rest of the night speechifying like C,JC-- it must be mindbogglingly boring, listening to her go on for hours about her Destiny, how she's gonna show them all, including Ares and how Gabrielle should write scrolls about her, and by the time the predawn light kisses a very haggard bard's features, you can tell that she, for one, is ready for the priests to light the fire under her, anything to make it stop.

What happens instead is that the sun comes up and Xena takes Gab's place in the cage. This cheers Mavican no end. It doesn't do a thing for Xena, who'd already heard the Song of Mavican via HercVortexViewCam and isn't looking forward to five hundredth verse, same as the first.

Mav finally finishes talking and starts chucking javelins (javelins occur naturally throughout most of New Xenaland. Some parts of them are edible.) at Xena, who dodges them and then pretends to take one just below her princess waistline, which fools Mav into approaching the cage, where Xena pummels her about and in a furious set-to, Xena ends up free. Mavican escapes to the treetops, from whence she taunts Xena, saying all she has to do is wait till dark, when she can whup up on Gab instead.

Sufficient unto the day is the trouble thereof, thinks Xena, and spends her time exploring the boundless resources of this natural wonderland for the raw materials she needs to move Mavican from starting lineup to injured reserve. She grinds rock into powder (with her bare hands, it's Special Rock), strips bark from trees, talks to Ares, cuts up yards of thorny vines, lays a trap with the powder and the bark and the vines, makes a fire to lure in Mavican... oh, wait. That chat with Ares was significant. He hints that it's not Mav that's being tested. And since it isn't Xena, either, it must be....

Gosh, how to save Gabrielle? Okay, for starters, let's get Mav trussed up in the thorny vines, this almost works, except Xena and Gabrielle do the shift before Xena ties that last knot, and Gab's still a bit woozy and so easy pickings for Mavican. Shucks. On to Plan B, which is for Gab to snatch up the staff Xena left leaning against a tree trunk, which triggers a trap Xena rigged while our backs were turned, a Destiny kind of trap, it's a swinging log-in-a-cradle that whaps Mav a good one in her belly, shutting her up for almost ten seconds. While Gab rushes in to finish her off, no wait... she just stands there, watching Mav writhe, until she gets her breath back (maybe those are spare air bladders?) and starts to sit up. Then Gab backs into the foliage. Mavican tosses a sharp rock at the bard that cuts her shoulder, but does sod all besides watch Gabrielle crash away in the underbrush. Oh, yeah, she talks. Like Velaska. "You can't hide from a Roller Derby Queen, Gabrielle!"

No wonder Ares wants to ditch her-- this makes two major confrontations each with both Xena and Gabrielle where she failed to do more than tire their ears. An unfortunate side effect, though, is that even I'm wondering when they're all gonna get down to business.

Gabrielle finds her way into a cave, complete with bottomless pit, firepit (with a fresh dry woodpile nearby), fresh water springpit and possibly a tiny, fully stocked icebox in the corner next to the barpit. While building up a fire, she notices that the staff she's been hanging onto has bark wrapped around it, which she pulls off and guess what? It's a note from Xena, saying she's working late and Gabrielle should just thaw out something for supper and not wait up, and by the way, Ares is trying to pull a fast one so don't kill Mavican.

Gab feels lots better after reading this, she's been wondering about the sudden and total lack of Xena in her life, and thus is ready when Ares sparkles in for a little chat. He appreciates her, he says, even if Xena doesn't, and all's she has to do is off Mavican and she can be his new girlfriend, wear his ring and his letter jacket and go to the prom in his limo, here's a sai-- think about it, and it's sparkly thing OUT; CUE Not Dark Nor Deadly--

Mavican has tracked Gabrielle to the cave, it's almost dawn, and they have another fight, this time Gab beats her to her knees and has the option to take her out entirely, but she won't play Ares' game, she decides (I was all atwitter, wondering if she would), and tosses the sai into the dust. Just then the sun comes up and Xena takes over, and before Mavican can do anything about it, Xena tugs on the vines in front of the cave mouth to trigger a rockslide tailor-made to block up the cave entrance. (You know, if Mavican had put as much effort into studying Xenaverse geology as she did into snuggling war gods, she'd have known about the rockslide/cave connection.)

Mavican is finally starting to clue in that Xena, up till now, has not been going all out, and that she, Mavican, might have a slightly different Destiny than she'd thought. Xena kicks her into a quivering dishrag of a warrior princess-wannabe, and they end up (after much wondrous, back-up-to-snuff buttkicking) both dangling on the vines hanging over the bottomless pit (that's another thing Mavican should have expected. I mean, *we* knew this was coming, why didn't she?) when Xena teases the tart into yelling for Ares.

He's pretty disgusted, especially with Xena giggling in the background over what a dip he picked this time, and without fooling around any longer he opens the vortex for Xena and shuts it behind her.

Mav is not believing this-- he'd *said* she could ask for his help, plain as day he'd said so. He didn't say she *should*, replies twinkletoes, winking out and leaving Mavican to repair her ignorance of geology at her leisure, starting with the bottom of that pit, wherever it may be. (Unless, of course, those things are more like swim bladders and she floats out of the pit.)

Xena apologizes to Gabrielle (Gab also came through the vortex with her) for smothering her, and Gab reassures Xena that no matter what braindead thing she, Xena, might do, she, Gab, still loves her. And they wander off together, Xena promising to let Gab have the next seven bad dudes that get in their way, if they're little ones, anyway.

Okay, so fairly cool ep. Not much X&G screentime, but still lots of subtext as Xena watched Gabrielle coping through the HercVortexViewCam, muttering advice, calling her name forlornly, biting her nails, punching Ares in the nose once for even thinking of suggesting he could lure Gab to the Dark Side. And there's Gabrielle, totally in the dark for most of the time, trying to find Xena and being very sad when she can't, and looking so all-out relieved to find them both safe and sound at the end that she doesn't even bury a sai in Ares' wriggly bits for playing fast and loose with the two of them when they have quite enough to worry about, thank you.

And all this, mind you, for approximately what my brother paid for that van.


This commentary is by John Wignall.

Succession (aka: Attack of the Evil Cleavage)

The ep opens with a bed, and some silk sheets with people under 'em. I gotta admit, for a fraction of a second there, I was hoping that it would be the girlz under there. But it was Kevin a' gruntin, and a' groaning under there, and some woman. The sheet flips back, and there's Ares, with his new improved 'do and a blonde chippie. (Interestingly enough, when Ares smokes after sex, he blows little smoke chakrams, I wonder who he was thinking of?) Seems she's trying to screw her way to the top of the warrior pile, but Ares doesn't think that a good roll in the hay, (and it did seem like a good one) is worth becoming his chosen. (Who'd a thunk Ares had ethics?) She gets all pissy and throws a dish, um no sorry, that was a sword. She wants the 'job' Ares gives her a bit of info that she really should've listened to more closely. "Xena never asked me for anything, that's how I knew she was the one"

Cut to X&G fighting baddies, well . actually cut to flying baddies, while X&G do a comedic voice over. It was kinda funny the once, but I really, really hope they don't decide this is the way to get around that little pregnancy thing. So Gabby wanders off to a temple to fetch some water. She's a little miffed that she got all these neat warrior duds and still doesn't get to play with the cool toys. Ares pops in and she goes for her sai. Now, check me on this, but didn't she try the stabbing a god thing last ep? It didn't work too well then did it? But she's talking tough anyway. Maybe if she went back to the red hair .

Ares acts all understanding, and Gabby is sucked right in. Then he gets complimentary. I think I read about this technique in Hustler once. But he doesn't follow up, just disappears. Gabby starts to go, and her bags get punctured. The Evil Cleavage jumps in and introduces herself. Mava-something or other. If sleeping with Ares isn't going to get her what she wants, she's going to try killing Xena, for which she figures the best first step is killing Gabby. Um . yeah, None of this arrow from the rooftops stuff, let's make sure the WP knows who you are and really, really, really wants you dead before going after her. A tactical genius TEC ain't.

So it looks like we're going to get another look at just how good Gabs is with the sais, but Xe comes in outta nowhere. (Well actually from just outside the shot) and saves her again. Xe and TEC try to out-butch each other for a second, then the fight is on. I gotta say, I kinda like the maternity leathers. They hearken back to the Evil Xena armour. Xe is having no trouble at all controlling two flying chakram bits at once, although TEC seems to dodge pretty easily. And what kind of Battle Cry is Yaaa-ha??? It lacks style.

Just as things are getting interesting, Ares jumps in and breaks up the fight. Something about not wanting to piss off Demeter. Seems that Gab picked her temple to get water. What TEC was doing there, we don't know. While Ares is reigning in his little plaything, Xena gets this superior smirk on her face. TEC tries to wipe it off with a knife, and Gabby saves Xe. (Nice one Gab-ster) Ares decides that if they're going to fight to choose his successor, or Xena's successor, or whatever exactly it is they're fighting over, they should do it someplace where they can't do any harm. (Yeah right. This bunch?) He's got some slightly eccentric rules. If TEC kills Xe, she wins, and comes back. If Xe kills TEC, she wins, but she stays there. Gabby is going along as supercargo. Xe doesn't want to play, but when Gab gets sucked into the vortex, she follows. Was anyone else reminded of that Star Trek ep with the Gorn? No? Maybe I'm just weird.

Cut to Gabby, and Renee's just gotta be wondering if she screwed up her schedule. There's no set, no Lucy, just a stone floor and a spotlight on a big, dark, empty set.

Xena OTOH, is lying in a clearing. TEC shows up, they fight, they chat, TEC falls down a hill, and Xe wanders off.

Sunset, Gabby wakes up in the woods. Xe is in the empty set now, but she sprung for the TV option, so she's watching the Gabby show. On tonight's exciting episode, we discover that Gabrielle spent more time with the Amazons than we thought. She learned the subtleties of treetop combat, well enough to predict the exact point where TEC would land. However, she missed the class on hand to hand combat. I did like TEC's little rope trick. So once again Gabby is taken prisoner and menaced by the baddie of the week. She wakes at dawn, (ugh) and finds herself in a hanging cage. TPTB like that concept don't they? TEC wants to chat, and has a lovely line here. "So what's it like? Being with Xena?" Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. She wants Gabby to write of her adventures, and we learn of her obsession with history, and being remembered.

The sun comes up, and for anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, we find that this actually has much less to do with the Gorn than Ladyhawke. (A film I highly recommend if anyone out there actually hasn't seen it.) Gabby morphs into Xena, and TEC bursts out laughing. Xena tries to talk her into backstabbing Ares, but she throws a bunch of spears, which for some reason, all stick in the bars at the back of the cage. Think about this folks. Nothing hits the front bars, and nothing goes through. Weird, huh? The fifth spear catches Xena right in the stomach. (largest target available at this point.) and she grabs it and looks pained. Was anyone fooled? I mean other than TEC. So any wan Xe thwaps TEC, throws her around, and grabs the spear, but TEC makes a run for it.

So Xe's got a day to get stuff ready for Gabrielle. She finds a stream, takes a drink, and sniffs some crumbly rock. (Are we back to that Gorn thing?) Ares pops up, and taunts Xena while she's pulling the bark off a tree. Then Xena is playing with vines, gets stuck with a thorn, you know, a regular sort of day. TEC is making more traditional weapons, sticks, and arrowheads, that sort of thing. Xe uses the crumbly rock to send up a smoke signal, and TEC comes by for a visit. Xe picked up that rope trick she saw on the Gabby show, and puts it to good use, tying up TEC with a thorny vine. Then she morphs into Gabby, and TEC jumps her. Is this getting a little confusing? Gabby grabs a staff, which pulls a vine, which scares the chicken, so it lays an egg, which rolls down the chute, turning on the fan, which activates the log trap from Destiny. (At least that was the original version) Xe tries to tell her to run, but Gabby stands there looking confused. (wouldn't you?) TEC throws an arrowhead into Gab's shoulder, and Gab rabbits.

Meanwhile, Xena is in the dark place. She turns around, and the set crew has finally caught up. She's in yet another Ares throne room. (Does he have Vidalus doing interior design or what?) Turns out Ares still isn't interested in TEC, all this is just about Gabby. For some reason the God of War wants a bard as his successor. Is it just me or does that make no sense? Meanwhile, Gabby finds a cave, with a big hole. (what is it with her and holes anyway?) and a bunch of vines. Gosh, I wonder what's going to happen there. TEC is tracking Gabby by the blood from her wound. (Actually, Gabby is starting to look pretty beat up) And Gabby finds a note from Xena on her staff. Then Ares stops by to chat. He's talking about changing his whole outlook. No more of this peace through world conquest, this is a kinder, gentler God of War. He wants Gabby to conquer the world, and Xena to go home and settle down with mom. Yeah, Right. So, he gives Gabby a sai, and tells her to kill TEC, who conveniently shows up. Pretty cool fight scene here, with TEC and her stick against Gabby and her sai. Gabby wins, then hesitates. The sun comes up, and TEC tries to do her in before Xena makes her entrance. No such luck, and now it's TEC and the sai against the preggers princess. This time 'round Xena has her pretty obviously outclassed, but just for fun, she causes a rockslide and seals the cave. (Gee, a rockslide without Callisto under it.) TEC is much more concerned about being forgotten than being killed, and Xena has just hit her where it hurts. They fight some more, and end up on the vines over the pit. (big surprise) Xena's having a great time, but TEC is stressing pretty severely, so she asks for Ares' help. (BAD MOVE!!) Ares pops in, opens the vortex, and Xena jumps out. Ares makes one last snide parting shot, and TEC is left in the cave for eternity, or till she runs out of vines to eat, whichever comes first.

Touchy feelie closing scene, short joke, and the ep is over.

I liked this one. Classic Xena, decent fights, and the bard's progress is highlighted. It may not be a stand out ep, but I'll give this one a thumbs up.


This commentary is by Philip Teo.

In the opening teaser, Singapore Censorship Board had already cut off the Ares-Mavican bed scene. Lucky for video clips of the series available on some Xena sites, or else I wouldn't have seen the original scene.

This episode never really explained to us where did Mavican came from. She just appeared out of nowhere, making herself Xena's latest female foe. Xena has had several formidable female foes before, and they all shared one thing in common.

There was Callisto, Velasca, Alti, Najara and now Mavican. All these women are excellent fighters and if brought to the side of goodness, they could contribute a lot of good and help balance out the evil. However, they all shared similar kind of weaknesses. Callisto was blind with her hatred for revenge, and thus never stood a chance against Xena. I never once felt that Callisto was a threat to Xena, rather, more of a reminder of her evil past. Velasca, though not directly Xena's enemy, was also intent on destroying Xena, but she was blinded by her power for conquest and thus was trapped in a lava pit, and till this day, we wonder where she really is, since Callisto got freed.

Then, there was Alti. Alti is one woman, other than Callisto, to know Xena inside out. However, Alti too, had a weakness. She was over-confident. She thought she was all powerful with her abilities, thinking that no one could ever defeat her, and thus under-estimated the warrior princess and thus, time and time again, was defeated by Xena. Then, there was Najara. Najara is an excellent fighter, but her weakness laid in her wrong perception of goodness. She kills and thinks this is good, she convinces herself she is doing right, and is so blind towards it that she appears like a nutcase, and this led to her downfall. Of course, Gabrielle helped contributed to the weakness.

Finally, comes Mavican. We can see that Mavican is also an excellent warrior. Watch how she dodged Xena's chakram attacks. However, even Mavican has her weakness. She want so badly to be known as some great woman like Xena that once the possibility of her ever forgotten in history, she lost all her focus in fighting and got trapped in limbo world.

And one thing that puzzles me is Xena over protecting Gabrielle. Even before Gabrielle came back to life, she has fought reasonably well with her staff and Xena has recognized her best friend's fighting skills. So, why then was she so protective in this episode?

Oh, and one final note; Xena's new warrior costume looks d*mn cool!


By Xorys.

Well... there's not really much to say about this ep. It shares the honours with Paradise Found for "XWP ep with the smallest cast" - both have only four speaking parts (and a few stuntees getting beaten up at the start).

Kevin Smith gave us his new spruced-up Ares again. I won't go over all Kevin's credits again, since I discussed them just last week, and I have nothing new to add.

Mavican, the would be successor with the overwhelming cleavage, was played by Jenya Lano. Jenya has never appeared in the Xenaverse before, and the only other credit I could find for her was as a "Russian Woman" in Blade, the neo-vampire movie with Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson.

The ep was written by Steven Sears, who still comes second, after R. J. Stewart, in number of XWP writing credits - he is credited as "Writer" for Dreamworker, H&H, ACAOTPB, AFOD, TRCOT, TGG, OOW, IS, The Price, Lost Mariner, TDHD, The Deliverer, The Bitter Suite, WIR, Sac 1, A Good Day, Past Imperfect, Between The Lines, and Endgame, and also credited as "Story Writer" on Remember Nothing and The Quest, and "Teleplay Writer" on Destiny and The Quest.

The ep was directed by Rick Jacobson, who did The Dirty Half Dozen, Sacrifice 2, A Good Day, Locked Up And Tied Down, and Between The Lines, and the HTLJ eps My Fair Cupcake and Love On The Rocks.


02-23-00. Steve Sears, a former co-executive producer of XENA, appeared on the NetForum on or around January 31, 2000, under his Tyldus rubrick, and shared the following:

[statement responding to]: <>

Opinions all, and I disagree with all of them. Though I will cop to the Star Trek idea in part. After I started working on the story, I looked at what I had done and said "This is like the Arena episode of the old Star Trek". But hardly hasty.

10-05-99. SUCCESSION is a Steve Sears script. He originally wrote DEM BONES and BACK IN THE BOTTLE as well, but they underwent such extensive re-writes by Orci and Kurtzman that they bear a small resemblance to the originals and they will might possibly be credited to a pseudonym.

08-25-99. Mavican is a new female rival for Xena.

04-29-99. For a time this was thought to be the new name for the LOVE AND DEATH ON ALEXANDRIA episode. But it is not. The name SUCCESSION is subject to change. It may or may not have Callisto and/or Alti in it but it is looking like it will not. It will have Ares in it and a new female rival for Xena.


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

I know we're all supposed to look away and whistle and pretend that that we don't notice that Lucy Lawless is pregnant, since the show isn't introducing Xena's pregnancy for another episode or so. But c'mon, how obvious can we get? It's a bit of a stretch to ignore that Xena's wearing a maternity battle dress and is being shown from the shoulders up a lot.

Nifty morphing effects between Xena and Gab as they shared the same body. But there was a consistency problem: in the final battle, Xena still had Gabrielle's shoulder wound. But then why didn't Gab have Xena's face scratches in the first night, or Xena have Gabrielle's cuts on her arms after the fight that wound her up in the cage?

Lots of weapon problems in this one:

Chakram blooper! In the first fight, we see legs kick with Xena's old chakram at the belt.

Sai blooper! In the final fight, Gabrielle tosses the sai to her right. But then Mavican runs ten feet behind herself to pick it up (I thought she was running away at first). Smart move by Gabrielle, though: drop whatever you don't want to have morphed back into the dark room.

Spear blooper! When Mavican throws the first spear at Xena in the cage, the shot from behind shows it embedding above Xena's right shoulder. When the camera changes to the front, the spear is under Xena's arm.


Click here to read a transcript of SUCCESSION .


Ares' Libido was not harmed during the production of this motion picture.

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