IAXS Project # 043
By Kym Masera Taborn(
Copyright (c) 1996 held by author
Transcriptions by Julia Medina 16778 words

Web Coordinator's Note: Because the proportions of this project are truly "epic," the document has been separated into 7 sections for your browsing pleasure. You may access each of them from the links below or use the navigation links provided at the bottom of each section. It is recommended that you read them in order but if you want to get a little wacky and read them randomly, then go for it. --BB

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, episode no. 9.
First release: 03-13-95
Second release: 06-26-95
Third release: 10-09-95 (shown as a special encore
showing in XWP's timeslot).
Guest stars: Michael Hurst (Iolaus), Lucy Lawless
(Xena), and Elizabeth Hawthorne (Alcmene).
Written by John Schulian.
Directed by Bruce Seth Green.



[1] WARRIOR PRINCESS memorialized one of the most awkward moments in Hercules and Iolaus' friendship. Up to this point, Iolaus had been engaged and had many friends of the opposite sex and Hercules had been married. Their friendship was supportive of each other's life outside of the friendship, and there had never been a need for the other to be concerned about the other's relationships with the opposite sex. That was until Xena came around. The premise was what would happen to the two happy-go-lucky guys if a very canny and manipulative woman who wanted Hercules dead decided to use the good natured and easily fooled Iolaus to perpetrate the deed.


[2] The teaser's beginning introduced the knife, which was to represent Hercules and Iolaus' friendship throughout the episode. They forged it together, and although it was obvious that Hercules did most of the work, he gave it to Iolaus, with the caveat that he'd take the next one they'd make. The assumption was that there would be a next time, and all was happy in the Hercules and Iolaus friendship.


[3] I originally planned to do a detailed music analysis in this annotated review, however, time did not permit this to happen. However, I cannot help but mention the music in the teaser.

[4] As has been said by one more eloquent than I, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. You can do it, but an incredible amount of information is lost in the translation. However, this has never stopped me before.

[5] The use of music in the teaser reflected not only the story and the characters of the show, but also indicated the philosophy and playful anachronisms which are so common in HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS.

[6] The forge scene begins with the hearty sound of Hercules' hammer beating out on hot metal. Underneath, the strings start a punctuated mono-tonal (F, if you care) rhythm which moves into a dissonance (a major 2nd on F), and resolves itself haltingly on a major 3rd (on G). The phrase starts all over again, but comes to a final resolution of a perfect 5th over G (G-D). Then the tonality shifts abruptly to a mono-tonal C which climaxes into the most Wagnerian horn call this side of Siegfried! The theme, though, is a variation of a portion of the HERCULES title theme. It is done in perfect 5ths. It is an embellished downward scale passage of C-Bflat-A [C-(A-G-A)-Bflat-(G-F-G)-A]. THEN, if that weren't interesting enough, there is another change of tonality similar to the earlier one in mood, but this time it is an unprepared jump to an Eflat several octaves higher than the previous perfect 5th built on A. This melody is also another variation of the HERCULES' title music. When it finally settles on a C tonality, the dialogue starts with Iolaus' observation, "It sure is a beauty."

[7] The music clearly evokes the beginning of the Ring of the Nibelungen Cycle by Richard Wagner where the Ring was forged. Clever, but what is it doing in a show purportedly about ancient Greece? And while we're at it, why are they forging a steel blade? It is because, as Lucy Lawless stated on the David Letterman show, the producers and writers have no respect for chronology or history or even cultures! But it is okay, because it is a fantasy. They can do what they want. And do they ever! One of the many charms of this show is its clever use of pastiche. Nothing is sacred and even more amazingly, nothing is left out!

[8] While Hercules and Iolaus continue talking a synthesizer plays out more of the variations on the HERCULES' theme. Strings join in on a very nice, good old fashioned F major chord.

[9] The rather short and simple scene 1 of the teaser, perhaps only a minute or so in length, used 4 distinct musical parts each using it's own unique tonality, but using variations of the same melodic material. The tonality was shifting and the harmony was dependent not upon traditional triadic formations (except for the ending), but on unembellished perfect intervals (this was further emphasized in the beginning by centering around F and G tonalities, which create perfect fifth intervals above and below C). Along with the Wagnerian feel of heavy horns, the unembellished and exotic harmonies also delivered up a medieval sound which was effective in it's impact. It was a clever use of the HERCULES theme and still evoked a sense of wonder and awe and the mysteries ahead in the show.

[10] The first two parts of the music, through the horn fanfare, are used by the show pretty consistently whenever Hercules is working at a forge, thus tapping into the audience's unconscious Wagnerian mythic associations.

[11] I adamantly refuse to get into the use of leitmotifs.


[12](Hercules and Iolaus are working with fire and metal making a knife.)

IOLAUS: It sure is a beauty.
HERCULES: It's all yours, Iolaus.
IOLAUS: What are you talking about? We both worked on it.
HERCULES: No, I'll get the next one we make. How's that sound?
IOLAUS: Well to tell you the truth -- it's the best idea you ever had.


[13] For a little bit of dialogue (HERCULES and XENA are pretty sparse on the text), many subcontexts are introduced or developed. This is to be expected for a TV show since TV relies heavily upon visual action and reaction in order to express mood, emotion and thought.


[14] The end of the scene closes on Hercules' wish that his friend will find a woman. The foreshadowing is deafening. When Iolaus does in fact find a woman, Hercules is immediately suspicious. He's suspicious from the start even before he has any basis for it (listen closely to Hercules' first and second conversations with his mother -- only by the third conversation does he actually have anything resembling evidence against Xena). Why would Hercules be like that? The obvious answer is foreshadowing.

[15] Hercules is such a good and noble character that he alone could sense something wasn't right with Xena. Another view, though, would be that Hercules was just being possessive of his friend, Iolaus. One can argue the merits of both those positions until they are blue in the face, or even come up with a few more reasons unrelated to either!

[16] This brings us to yet another charm of the HERCULES and XENA shows: their constant use of double- entendres. Maybe because of the sparseness of dialogue and the great emphasis on the visual, or perhaps there really is a grand conspiracy of ambiguity purposely perpetrated by the creators to put secret and coded meanings into the show; whatever the reason, the double-entendres are there and many of the fans snatch them up and take them to whatever logical (and illogical) extremes they can.


[17] Regardless of the reasons Iolaus is unlucky in love (some insight was given in this scene -- his obvious lack of keeping up with Serena), Iolaus perceives himself, almost to self-pity ("Maybe I should use this knife to slit my wrists."), as a victim of that state. At the end of the show he demonstrates the same attitude ("Only next time, give me a woman who wants to kill me with kisses.") This shows that Iolaus as a character is meant to continue this characterization. No growth for Iolaus this week. However, to his credit, he does learn it's very stupid to try to kill Hercules.

[18] This paradox, that Iolaus actually is to blame for his "woman" problems, is clearly presented in the teaser, but in a subdued way. It is critical for the viewer to have some sympathy for Iolaus in this episode even though he acts like a total fool. One of the finer touches used is the use of Tremulous' whiny voice calling out for Serena. Anyone hearing Tremulus' whine would immediately assume that Iolaus was by far the better man, even though Iolaus got whiny himself (especially in his overreaction his belated news of 'losing' Serena to Tremulus). Although never seen, Tremulus is one of the more annoying characters in the show. Even his name, Tremulus, suggests trembling or timidness which are not the traditional male attributes which Iolaus is always trying to emulate in Hercules' shadow.


[19] The symbol of their friendship is the instrument which plunges Iolaus into his funk about not having found true love yet. Trying to bring his friend out of the funk, Hercules assures Iolaus that "There's plenty of fish in the sea....Somewhere the perfect woman is waiting for you." And there she is, in the next scene. How convenient.


[20] (Outside.) HERCULES: That was pretty good.
IOLAUS: Thanks. You know all it takes is a little practice, nerves of steel, and a knife so perfectly forged.
(Iolaus tosses knife and it sticks in a house)
SERENA: What in the name of Hades do you think you're doing?
IOLAUS: Serena?
SERENA: Iolaus? Did you do that?
IOLAUS: Yeah, I was practicing with my new knife.
SERENA: This is my house.
IOLAUS: Your house? I thought it was abandoned.
SERENA: We moved in yesterday.
SERENA: You haven't heard? I'm married now.
IOLAUS: Oh, great. Who is the lucky guy?
SERENA: Tremulous.
TREMULOUS: Serena, are you going to help me or not?
SERENA: I got to go. He's so cute when he needs me. Bye, Iolaus. Just take it easy on my house, okay?
IOLAUS: Maybe I should use this knife to slit my wrists.
HERCULES: Come on. Haven't you heard the old saying? There's plenty of fish in the sea.
HERCULES: Somewhere the perfect woman is waiting for you.



[21] Yet another beloved technique used by the HERCULES and XENA creators is the cheap psychological trick. A cheap psychological trick can be defined as where the storytellers lead you down a rosy path which you think will end a different way than it does. It is the twin sibling of the "shaggy dog story".

[22] The scene opens with a pleasant enough peasant type woman humming to herself on her way to get some water. She becomes concerned as she spots two ruffians sizing her up. The ruffians then attack her. But midst attack, the woman overcomes not just her two original attackers, but EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CAMP! This is not your ordinary water girl. What we have come into was just one of many training sessions a woman warlord was having with her minions. They were training for the big game against Hercules.


[23] Scene 2 of the teaser ended with a C major feel. In the melt to scene 3, the music changed to a sinister b minor. As Xena walked to the well and hummed, the strings played a very moody abstract melody which basically consisted of a b minor arpeggio with a mono- tonal A-F-A-F-A-F etc. pattern played above it. The dissonances were striking but not jarring.

[24] As the fight started, the now famous Xena battle music was employed. Based in part on Bulgarian and central European folk traditions, the theme is hard to forget once heard. The relentless pounding of the beat, coupled with tight folk harmonies and unexpected accents, makes the simple melody appear threatening and energetic. Sounding like it should be pentatonic, but not quite, the tune which hovered around an ambiguous e tonality, ended with a full-bodied e minor chord which abruptly slid down a half step when Xena cried "Pathetic".

[25] The Xena "battle" theme sufficiently captures the ups and downs of the short but exhilarating fight. One can pick up that this women lives to beat up people. Her enthusiasm, not just reflected in the music, is captured by the athletic and zealous manner of the fight. After this teaser, you should know you are in a Sam Raimi production.


[26] Yet another beloved feature of HERCULES and XENA is their unique fight sequences. The fighting uses a hodge-podge of Hong Kong movie martial arts and kick boxing styles along with cartoon-like sensibilities. The fights in WARRIOR PRINCESS are actually pretty sober and realistic compared to what Xena would later achieve when her style added sound effect whooshes, gravity-defying maneuvers, and three stooges type choreography.


[27] It is heartwarming to note that Xena beats up both Theodorus (he's the guy whispering to his friend...'There she is...That's her' etc.) and Estrogon (he gets thumped on the back of the head by Xena when she pulls the well-balance around) in this scene. Now THAT's real foreshadowing!


[28] (Cut to village scene. Woman carrying water bucket goes towards a well)
SOLDIER: There she is. That's her. Let's go let's do it.

(They attack her and a fight ensues. It ends when she has successfully beaten up everyone in the camp).
XENA: Pathetic. If you can't learn to fight better than that, then you're never going to defeat Hercules. And I want him dead.



[29] If John Williams had never existed, a lot of television and motion picture theme music would be very different.


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