ACT III, Part 1



[131] Hercules is now at rock bottom. He has given up on Iolaus and let Xena win. Xena also realizes this (SHE DID NOT WANT HIM TO LEAVE...SHE WANTED HIM TO KILL IOLAUS!) and is horrified, so she later induces Estrogon to stir the pot a bit later on. Ironically, Hercules by then had already decided to return for Iolaus due to his conversations with Petracus which begin in this scene. Estrogon really died for nothing. Sad, but true.

[132] Hercules is recognized in a tavern where he is drowning his sorrows no doubt in a non-alcoholic ancient beverage. A group of villagers approach him and ask him if he's going to take on Xena. Hercules basically ignores them. After they goad him more, he plaintively says, "I'm sorry. I just don't have the strength right now. Excuse me." As he leaves the table a villager is heard saying, "Don't desert us, Hercules."

[133] Hercules has lost his best friend and is in confusion as to what to do. He knows Iolaus has made his bed and Hercules should let him sleep in it. Hercules is respecting that but it plunges him into further despair.

[134] Hercules is in a big funk. Petracus perceives that Hercules has been more deeply affected by Xena than is obvious. Petracus draws that out of Hercules by focusing on not what Hercules can do to Xena, but what Xena has done to Hercules.

[135] Petracus is the solution to Hercules funk. He begins to educate Hercules about Xena.


[136] Xena's code was introduced by Theodorus' statement, "My commander says you attack from whatever side suits your purpose." This is further supported by Petracus' statement, "Xena doesn't care anything for the truth when she's trying to get someone into her clutches," and where he answers Hercules statement "Sounds like she'll do anything to get what she wants" with "And she wants everything."

[137] Xena, herself, exhibits some of her code when after she kills Estrogon in cold-blood and Hercules taunts her with "Is this what you do to all your warriors, Xena?" and she replies matter-of-factly, "Only those who don't follow my code."

[138] A severe code for a scary lady.

[139] Another interesting thought on this "code" is the later emphasis in THE GAUNTLET that Xena was somehow a more moral warlord because she refused to kill women and children. This has been stressed by her and others (e.g. Salmoneous) in defense of the later reformed Xena. However, it has been shown that armies under Xena's command had killed women and children or were willing to (THE GAUNTLET, CALLISTO, TIES THAT BIND, etc.). However, to the WARRIOR PRINCESS' great luck, there is a line in WARRIOR PRINCESS which vaguely supports this theory of the 'honorable' warlord within which the evil Xena carried within her. A villager while harassing Hercules states, "If we don't give her all our crops and our wares, she kills every man in sight." Perhaps the villager is using the patriarchal "man" which includes women and children or perhaps he just meant "man". We will never know.


[140] The wronged father who Xena decides to make up lies about is Petracus, who complains that Xena "takes my name and applies it to some imaginary madman who rose from Hades robbing shrines and murdering innocent people."

[141] Interesting enough, Xena is using Petracus in a grander scheme than just Hercules. She is making it part of her propaganda on a societal level. She has projected her own plans of world domination onto Petracus for popular consumption. She's quite her own spin doctor.

[142] In Act 2, Scene 4, Xena introduces Iolaus to her troops as the man who will help them defeat Petracus. Are some of her men not in on "the joke" about Petracus? Has she enlisted some of her army on the quest to defeat Petracus? It would explain some of her goofier men.

[143] However, how could she reconcile her plan of world domination with ridding the world of Petracus? The scene (Act 4, Scene 3) where she tells her men to let Hercules kill Iolaus and not to interfere, is that only the cadre of men who know the truth about Petracus and Xena's plan of conquest? If it is, it gives us more insight into the Warrior Princess.


[144] (Cut to Tavern. Hercules sits at a table.)
VILLAGER 1: It's him, I tell you. I can tell from behind. Why don't you go ask him. What are you afraid of? Ask him.
VILLAGER 2: Have you taken care of her yet?
HERCULES: I don't know who you're talking about.
VILLAGER 2: Xena: The Warrior Princess, who else?
VILLAGER 1: She just wants to write her name across history in big bloody letters. She won't rest until she's wiped out everybody and everything that's stopping her from conquering Arcadia.
VILLAGER 2: If we don't give her all our crops and our wares, she kills every man in sight.
VILLAGER 1: We're ordinary people, farmers and millhands, not warriors. You have to help us, Hercules.
VILLAGER 2: Come on, what do you say?
VILLAGER: Help us, Hercules. Don't go. We need your help.
HERCULES: I'm sorry. I just don't have the strength right now. Excuse me.
VILLAGER: Don't desert us, Hercules.
PETRACUS: Hercules, wait.
HERCULES: Look there's nothing more to talk about.
PETRACUS: Oh, yes it is. Why don't we start with whatever it is you lost? You want to tell me what it was?
HERCULES: It wasn't a 'what', it was a 'who'. Best friend I ever had. Xena got him to fall in love with her and now she's turned him against me.
PETRACUS: If your friend took the trouble to look into her past, he'd know that she was using him to get you here. Once she has your head hanging on her wall, she doesn't expect anybody to stand in her way.
HERCULES: Well, somebody else will have to be her trophy. I'm going home.
PETRACUS: I see. A night's rest would do you good. I could put you up at my place, if you'd like.
HERCULES: Are you sure it's no trouble?
PETRACUS: If it was, I wouldn't have invited you. The name's Petracus.
HERCULES: The warlord?
PETRACUS: Take a closer look at me, son. Do I look like a warlord to you?
HERCULES: No, you don't.
PETRACUS: Of course not. I'm a farmer. An old one at that. Xena doesn't care anything for the truth when she's trying to get someone into her clutches. She takes my name and applies it to some imaginary madman who rose from Hades robbing shrines and murdering innocent people.
HERCULES: Sounds like she'll do anything to get what she wants.
PETRACUS: And she wants everything. And if she kills you, there will be nothing to stop her.



[145] Xena still finds time to work in some more mind games on Iolaus. Artfully manipulating the conversation to build up Iolaus' false notions of being a "true" warrior, Xena reaffirms Iolaus' stand against Hercules, and diverts Iolaus attention from the fact that Hercules and Iolaus have absolutely nothing rational to fight about. Xena especially draws Iolaus in further by her statements, "You've turned out to be everything I thought Hercules would be. But Hercules -- I can be fierce and violent, Iolaus, you've seen that for yourself. But to hear Hercules say what he said -- it was like having a dagger plunged through my heart."

[146] "I can be fierce and violent"? No kidding! That's the understatement of the year! She's trying to confuse the what little is left of Iolaus' rational mind. And she succeeds! Admirably!


[147] Iolaus is sharpening his blade, pensive due to his last encounter with Hercules. Where's is his gift knife from Hercules? Is he starting to feel a twinge of guilt over his betrayal? Does Xena sense this in her feral way? Is this why she is always offering sex whenever Iolaus turns into a "whimpering dog"?


[148] (Cut to Iolaus sharpening his blade.)
XENA: If he was really your friend, he wouldn't have come here and tried to interfere.
IOLAUS: Well I guess you're right, Xena. It's just -- I've never been on a different side to Hercules before.
XENA: You didn't let that stop from you standing up to him. You were a true warrior.
IOLAUS: If I was anything less, you wouldn't want me here.
XENA: You've turned out to be everything I thought Hercules would be. But Hercules -- I can be fierce and violent, Iolaus, you've seen that for yourself. But to hear Hercules say what he said -- it was like having a dagger plunged through my heart.
IOLAUS: I've ended my friendship with him.
XENA: Then you must be in pain too.
IOLAUS: Not as long as I'm with you.
XENA: Come to bed when you're finished with your sword. I'll be waiting.



[149] Xena clues Estrogon into her plans for expediting Hercules death. The rocket scientist that he is, Estrogon notes that Hercules is not there. Xena, without the knowledge that Hercules is being worked on by THE Petracus, tells Estrogon to join her in retrieving Hercules.

[150] Lucky for Estrogon, Xena's not sending him alone to Hercules; unlucky for Estrogon, it will still result in his death. That's the breaks, Estrogon.

[151] When Estrogon dares to doubt Xena's strategy, Xena informs him, "A true warrior would understand that you demoralize and weaken before you destroy. When Hercules realizes that he's killed his best friend, he'll be ripe for slaughter." Perhaps she's starting to lose her faith in Estrogon (as if she had any to begin with!), which will culminate when he accidently makes a noise while stalking Hercules.

[152] When Estrogon intimates to Xena he wants to mate, Xena tells him, "Save your strength." Servicing Iolaus must be making her grumpy or she already has decided that Estrogon will soon become dead meat.


[153] (Cut to Xena and Estrogon.)
XENA: He turns into a whimpering dog every time I mention Hercules.
ESTROGON: Then he must die.
XENA: Not by your hand, Estrogon. And not by mine. It's Hercules who must kill him.
ESTROGON: But Hercules is gone.
XENA: Then it's our job to bring him back. That is if you think you're brave enough to ride with me?
ESTROGON: You know I am. But your strategy --
XENA: A true warrior would understand that you demoralize and weaken before you destroy. When Hercules realizes that he's killed his best friend, he'll be ripe for slaughter.
ESTROGON: When do we go after him?
XENA: At dawn.
ESTROGON: And until then?
XENA: Save your strength.



[154] After sharing with Hercules the story of his son's tragic close-encounter with Xena, Petracus finally convinces Hercules to take Xena on.

[155] Xena never killed Petracus' son; however it is implied that she sent him on a suicide mission akin to Theodorus'. Estrogon was actually somewhat unique in that he would be killed directly by the warrior princess.

[156] Petracus also coins that wonderful phrase "murdering harlot" for the evil Xena. Seeing how Xena did effect discipline and rewards, the description is accurate.

[157] After Petracus' great logical syllogism that (1) Hercules defeated the Hydra, the Nemian Lion and the Sympholium Bird, (2) That Xena is the match of the Hydra and the Nemian Lion and the Sympholium Bird, and (3) therefore Hercules must defeat Xena; Hercules buys into the halting logic. He jumps up to go find that evil woman.


[158] (Cut to Petracus and Hercules at a grave site.)
PETRACUS: Most painful thing a parent can do is bury a child. My only son lies in that grave. He was barely 20 when he died at the hands of a Spartan. But it was really Xena who killed him.
HERCULES: You mean he fell into the same trap my friend is in?
PETRACUS: I warned him. Begged, pleaded, argued. I even ran down the road after him the day he road off, begging him -- the one thing I didn't do was give up.
HERCULES: Is that what you think I'm doing, Petracus, giving up?
PETRACUS: You tell me?
HERCULES: Your son was a very young man. Iolaus is an adult, capable of living his own life and making his own decisions.
PETRACUS: And it's all right if those decisions kill him?
HERCULES: You know it's not.
PETRACUS: Then why are you letting him stay with that murdering harlot? She's a monster, just like the Hydra and the Nemian Lion and the Sympholium Bird. You didn't walk away from fighting them, Hercules, and you can't walk away from fighting her.
HERCULES: You're right; I can't. Thank you.



[159] This short scene shows how isolated Iolaus had become. It also captures Iolaus' sense of being an outsider. Heck, he'd never feel a part of these uneducated ruffians. However, I am sure the hottub was great.


[160] (Cut to Iolaus waking up in bed and looking out window to see Xena and Estrogon ride off.)
XENA: All right, Estrogon. Let's mount up. Open the gates!



[161] On my 532nd viewing of "Warrior Princess" I noticed something I had never noticed before. On the 533rd and 534th viewing, what I had merely just noticed in passing previously abruptly became a major plot point of the show. By the time I had reached my 537th viewing, I had calmed down, and was able to put the observation into proper perspective. However, it got me to thinking (uh-oh). I asked myself, what is going on?

[162] Before jumping into an analysis, I admit that there are at least three things wrong with my paragraph above. The first is what am I doing watching a show 538 times. The second is how can I be finding new things in it after admittedly EXCESSIVE repeated viewings (other than my mind numbing over, shouldn't I have a clue about what is happening on the screen after, say, four or five viewings? Also, is anyone impressed that I am now a self-avowed excessive Xena viewer?)? The third, and final (sigh), is why am I telling you about it?

[163] Fortunate for us all, these three quandaries answer my question of what is going on. How? Please bear with me.

[164] The ability to consistently watch a show over and over again is not just a sign of mental instability. It also is evidence that there might just be something in there to watch. I will rudely gloss over the points that escapism, stress, neurosis, compulsive disorders, and other such icky things may enter into the picture. I want to concentrate on quality here.

[165] During lookover #532, I noticed the balance between the characters Theodorus and Estrogon. I had noticed their symmetry before, but let's face it, there was enough happening in WARRIOR PRINCESS to dwell upon other than those two "losers". I didn't have the inkling to pursue it...until that 532nd time.

[166] Theodorus and Estrogon were Xena's last two warrior boy toys before her conversion. Xena set up Theodorus' death in order to get Hercules on her trail. Xena killed Estrogon when he begged Hercules for mercy after losing to Herc in a fight. They were her two henchmen. Or so I thought. Each time I watched the show after that, the relationship between the two men grew and grew, until about the 535th viewing, their relationship was deafening. If someone had asked me at that time what WARRIOR PRINCESS was about, I would have said, "It's about Theo and Estrogon." Fortunately, that obsession waned and I was able to see the show as it really was, "Xena takes over," or more precisely, "Xena takes (fill in the blank)."

[167] Theodorus really liked Xena. I mean REALLY. He even chanced a fight with her right before she lamed her horse. He was willing to be skewered by an ambitious woman (who thought nothing of laming her horse) just to make sure she was safe. If only we all could have warrior boy toys like that!

[168] Xena depended upon Theo's loyalty and purposely cultivated it. Petracus, whose son had also fallen by the warrior princess' whims, complained to Hercules that this was one of Xena's major traits: to attract a man and then manipulate him to do her dirty deeds. Some would just think of it as wise delegation; and Xena knew how to delegate.

[169] Taking advantage of Theodorus' jealousy (by intimating to him that he could keep Xena from sleeping with Iolaus if Theo would bump off if!), Xena blessed Theodorus and scooted him off to certain death. When Theodorus caused his own death (falling on a pitch fork while fighting the Big Guy...oops!), Hercules asked him why he did it. Theo, of course, the young romantic he was, said, "Love." He then had a spasm, said, "Xena, I'm sorry I failed you," and then died.

[170] Other than giving you insight into why a warrior princess would want to have warrior boy toys, Theodorus represented the ideal warrior of Xena. When Theo was in the barn stalking Hercules, Hercules noticed his presence and they traded comments on what an honorable fight was:

Hercules: You know, a true warrior attacks from the front.
Theodorus: My commander says you attack from whatever side suits your purpose.
Hercules: So he's a coward too.

[171] Theo stated that his leader said that you take whatever advantage you can. Hercules then commented that Theo's leader was not honorable. Ooooo, foreshadowing. Hercules also assumed Theo's commander was a man. Bad move, Hercules.

[172] Estrogon, on the otherhand, although bigger and more physically imposing than Theodorus, was a card- carrying wimp. The first clue of this was that in Xena's introductory scene where she whupped the pants off of her army, Estrogon got it good when she flinged the well-balance around. When Xena whupped Theodorus, she actually directly made the blow and downed him with a right hook.

[173] Furthermore, I got the impression Estrogon was dumb. He made the noise that Hercules heard when he and Xena were supposedly secretly viewing Hercules. He wasn't the least bit nervous when Theo suddenly disappeared and he was instantly the stud of the camp and inherited Iolaus-angst. He should have been nervous. Very nervous.

[174] Estrogon's true colors were shown when he refused to give his life, unlike dear Theo, for Xena. This peeved the warrior princess so much, that she simply chakramized Estrogon's throat.

Hercules: Is this what you do to all your warriors, Xena?!
Xena: Only those who don't follow my code.

[175] Hercules, was of course, appalled. So was Xena, but obviously for different reasons. Just so the audience "got it"...even if it was for me on the 532nd viewing, Xena told Herc why she killed Estrogon: he didn't live by Xena's code.

[176] Xena's code. That was the key. It was the whole purpose of Theo and Estrogon (the guy who was named after a veiled reference to a substance that makes sex hormones). It was why THEY had to die.

[177] Well, let me tell you, making that connection was like receiving a sign from heaven.

[178] In essence, though, it was merely a detail. A teeny weeny detail. In fact, the entire show is almost wall-to-wall details. Some are humorous, some are satirical, some are dramatic, some are like little mandelbrot designs. And all of these details are put in there...on purpose.

[179] Is that what compels me to watch XWP over and over again until my eyes glaze over and my brain cells scream "No more?"

[180] Why do people climb Mt. Everest? Because it's there! Why do I watch Xena? Not only because it's there, but because there are all sorts of details and inner workings that are very difficult to appreciate until the viewer has merged their consciousness with the show.

[181] As to my original questions:

[182] 1. What am I doing watching a show 538 times?

[183] Easy. Not only it is chockful of innuendo, double entendres, in-jokes, out-jokes, social commentary, satire, parody, drama, melodrama, dumb jokes, and literate jokes; but it's extremely well constructed and is very, very easy to look at. The lush New Zealand scenery and the creative camera techniques alone invite at least the first 20 viewings.

[184] 2. How can I be finding new things in it after admittedly EXCESSIVE repeated viewings?

[185] Easy. It is show which is playfully constructed. It is presented to the viewer on many levels: Is it BabeWatch B.C? Is it parody? Is it satire? Is it just making a buck? Is it social commentary? Is it a pastiche? Is it a saga? Is it filled with hidden and deep meanings? Is it shallow and pointless? Or is it just a cigar?

[186] 3. Why am I telling you about it?

[187] Easy. It's my party and I'll cry if I want.


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