Whoosh! Issue20 - May 1998


IAXS project #274
By Elizabeth Boccin
Copyright © 1998 held by author
6281 words

A Dark Mean Chick (01-04)
Xena: A Warrior With A Code (05-12)
Xena: A Warrior In Search of Redemption (13-93)
Xena: Evil or Not? (94-95)

Evil Xena: Myth Or Fact?

A Dark Mean Chick

Waitaminute! Do these make my arms look

Xena's just hangin' around in DEATH MASK.

[1] After two and a half years of watching our favorite heroine and her sidekick battling warlords, pirates, and even themselves, I started wondering just how bad the old Xena really had been. We understand her reign as a warlord (or "warlady") lasted about ten to twelve years [from DEATH MASK (23/123), DESTINY (36/212), and THE DEBT (52/306)] and that it was ruthless. Her name was feared among warlords. The gods did not want to mingle with her either! The villages where her troops had been are still terrified at the mere mention of her name. Xena's own troops respected her and feared her at the same time.

[2] Lucy Lawless described her character in the following terms: "a dark mean chick", (Starlog 237); "She has done some extremely wicked things", (E! Special); and she was "fierce and fearless", "a woman tougher than tough", and "before she had no honor" ("Yearbook" Starlog 236). If I had to describe Xena in her worst days, I would have to say she was cunning, deceiving, fearless, manipulative, ruthless, violent, cold, heartless, confident, creative, imaginative, and authoritative.

[3] But, from what we have seen, even in her worst days, Xena seemed to have had a small dose of goodness in her. We all know that she became a protector of Amphipolis after Cortese raided her village [DEATH MASK (23/123)] and she became a vicious warlord as a consequence of her encounter with Julius Caesar [DESTINY (36/212) and THE DEBT (52/306)]. Hercules helped her see the errors of her ways and, with Gabrielle's friendship, she is making amends.

[4] It is my intention to explore Xena's relative levels of "badness" in a chronological or episode-order manner. This will make it easier for me write and for the reader to follow. It is my intention, however, to only mention those episodes which have some relevance to this discussion.

Xena: A Warrior With A Code

Iolaus discovers the location of the

Xena's first hot tub scene is with Iolaus in THE WARRIOR PRINCESS.

[5] We first meet Xena in the Hercules trilogy, in the episode THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109). Xena is out in the Arcadian region raiding villages and she wants to kill Hercules. We hear Petrakis describing Xena in these terms, "She wants to write her name across history with big, bloody letters", and "If we don't give her all our crops...she kills every man in sight ...she'll do anything to get what she wants, and she wants everything". We also see Xena tell one of her men, "A true warrior would understand: you demoralize and weaken before you destroy". She even kills one of her own men to prove a point, though she says she only kills "those that don't follow my code".

[6] Yet, in this episode, she didn't kill Iolaus or Hercules when her plan went wrong. She could have used her chakram to accomplish this. Why didn't she?

[7] In THE GAUNTLET (H12/112), we learn that Xena, though still in the business of raiding villages, has a code she lives by, and she insists that her troops live by the same code: not to kill women and children. Salmoneous tells Hercules, "[Xena]'s not as evil as you think... She allows them to surrender before massacring them. She's got some heart", and "She's not into that scorched earth policy".

[8] In this episode, however, this code is challenged by Darphus, her lieutenant. Xena seems to validate Salmoneous' words when she tells Darphus, "We are warriors, not barbarians"! When he wants to attack a village, she responds, "We'll give them the night to reconsider". But later, Xena comes back from the scouting party and sees that Darphus raided the village without her authorization. She questions him sternly, "What have you done? You killed women and children? You're a butcher! Your disobedience won't go unpunished". She even tells her lieutenant, "You defy me! I didn't order you to burn or slaughter every living thing"!

[9] Later on, when Xena hears a baby cry and Darphus orders a soldier to kill the baby, she says to the soldier, "Stop! You kill this baby, and you die next". She saves the baby, but loses her troops.

[10] Finally, Xena tells Hercules, "That wasn't my idea! (to attack and burn the village) I never murdered women and children". Xena admits that she helped Hercules because "[Her troops] weren't true warriors. They had to be stopped".

[11] In the last installment of the Hercules "Xena Trilogy", UNCHAINED HEART (H13/113), Hercules tells Iolaus, "She wouldn't let them murder women and children. She even saved a baby and for that he tried to kill her"! He even describes her as follows, "Xena is a warrior in the true sense of the word".

[12] But later, Xena admits to Hercules, "I have done terrible things. I've killed so many that I'll never wash the blood off my hands". In future Xena episodes, we have learned what some of those terrible things were.

Xena: A Warrior In Search of Redemption

Xena: The first Campfire girl.

Xena smiles as a village burns in SINS OF THE PAST.

[13] In SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), we meet Gabrielle and we learn of many different people's perceptions of the Warrior Princess. At the beginning of the episode, Xena learns from a child how she is perceived by villagers: "[My parents], they are on the other side. They were killed by Xena, the Warrior Princess. She came out of the sky in a chariot throwing down thunderbolts and breathing fire". Gabrielle's father, after learning who Xena is, tells the Warrior Princess, "Xena, we'd like you to move on. We don't want any trouble with you. We know your reputation. We just want you to leave". Gabrielle's father fears the Warrior Princess. We also meet Draco, a fellow warlord, and learn of his admiration for our heroine, "I dreamt of being with you in love or in battle". We also meet Xena's mother, Cyrene, and she tells Xena, "I don't think anything ever could take away the shame and sorrow you brought on your kinsmen".

[14] Later, during a private meeting with Draco, Xena says, "If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead", meaning she had superior skills. Yet, Xena could have killed Draco in the final fight but she didn't. Why?

[15] In CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102), Xena finds herself haunted by her old ways. She tells Darius, "What [your fellow villager] said, it's true. I've done some horrible things in my past. ... I know these people Darius, I was these people"! The people in the village know of her reputation and are not willing to take any chances, but Darius is. Perhaps he sees that there is more to this woman than the sum of her past acts.

[16] In DREAMWORKER (03/103), Xena confronts her dark past and even a personification of her dark side. She sees a former soldier who says, "Xena, we've taken another village. They are all dead ... you are a warrior to be feared, not baited...". Xena hears one of her victims say, "This was my village, all gone now. Your people came and wiped it out as you commanded ... you attacked our village. Friends of mine, people I grew up with died under your sword". Finally, we see Xena's dark side confronting her directly,

We were so happy all those years, don't you remember? Putting fear into all, pushing aside those who stood against us, and taking what we wanted ... You take for granted all your gifts and talents... The strength that made men tremble at your name, it all came from me!

[17] For Xena to realize that her dark side is part of who she still is was quite a discovery for her and for us.

[18] In CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104), the Warrior Princess learns how her name is feared in the land. King Gregor describes her this way, "Xena? You were lucky to escape with your life. I fear the day I may have to go against her army. She conquered larger kingdoms with less weapons than this". King Gregor tells Xena, "What would a flag of truce mean to a cold-blooded murderer? I know who you are and you disgust me. You swept across countless nations and saw all the world tremble at your feet". Xena tells King Gregor, "Don't be alarmed. If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead already". So, we learn that her bad reputation spreads across several kingdoms.

[19] In THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105), Marcus says to Xena, "You never killed defenseless people". We also see some of the low-lifes and how they respect and fear Xena at the same time.

[20] In THE RECKONING (06/106), we meet one of our favorite gods, Ares, and we learn of his admiration for the Warrior Princess. Ares tries to lure Xena back:

We were once a great match ... Your destiny is to rule the world with me. Fulfill your destiny ... Danger excites you, and as you know, I'm somewhat dangerous. Action and power draw you like a moth to a flame... Xena would never be answerable to these pathetic creatures. Not the Xena whose army scorched the earth at will.

[21] At the end, Ares accepts defeat by saying, "Ha ha ha. Marvelously manipulated, my dear. Well played, my dear, ...but even as an adversary you are one of a kind".

[22] Ares also mentions that Xena did in fact "scorch" villages. The viewers have yet to learn whether or not this is true.

Xena and Gabrielle argue over the definition of

Xena and Gabrielle have a disagreement in THE TITANS.

[23] In THE TITANS (07/107), a renegade tries to enrage Xena by saying, "The old Xena would know what to do. The Titans will need an ally amongst humans. They already know how formidable you are". We can see that Xena's reputation is well-known amongst most warriors and low-lifes of those times.

[24] In DEATH IN CHAINS (09/109), another God, Hades, asks for Xena's help to help free his sister, Celesta. A warrior named Toxeus meets Xena and he says, "Well, well, if it isn't the legendary Xena ...I saw you fight in Essan a while back. My army could do with a warrior like you". We see that both gods and foes respect the Warrior Princess for her abilities.

[25] In HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), we learn that Xena fought the Centaurs in a great battle, but that no side won. Xena tells the Bard, "A long time ago, my army fought the Centaurs...... I fought them, I never defeated them". And Tyldus, the Centaur leader, tells Xena, "You killed half of my Centaur army, my friends".

[26] We also learned that the Amazons really admire Xena. (We still do not know how Xena knows the Amazon ways, however.) This is demonstrated in the exchange between Xena and Queen Melosa:

Xena: I fought the Centaurs. I know what they can do.

Melosa: The famous battle of Corinth. Yes, we heard of it and we heard of you, Xena. To some of us, you are a hero -- a true Amazon at the head of the mightiest army the world has ever known.

Xena: And yet the Centaurs fought my army to a standstill.

[27] Xena admits to Tyldus that she learned from him which battles to chose, meaning that she always tried to learn from the outcome of her victories and her defeats.

[28] In THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), we meet Flora who lived in the same village as Xena. Flora mentions that Xena always seemed to have a special talent for reading people. This is the exchange that occurs between them:

Xena: The times change people.

Flora: And people change the times.

Xena: You remembered.

Flora: I can hardly forget. You said that a lot when our village was attacked.

Xena: I just didn't want people thinking they had no choice.

Flora: Even back then you could read people.

People still fear the old Xena, and a lot of others do not know that our Warrior Princess has changed.

[29] In BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (12/112), we meet Helen of Troy, who considers Xena a true friend; even though we don't know how they met or why they had left on bad terms. (We later learn that Xena was Greek and that they were at war with the Trojans. Xena seemed not to pledge allegiance to her native land, but to her own interests).

I'd like to thank the

Bard to the bone.

[30] In ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (13/113), Gabrielle goes to the academy and we hear a story of the Warrior Princess. Euripides describes our heroine in this manner,

There are stories of the Warrior Princess that are so cold as to chill the heart. I relate such a tale as told to me by a witness. She was merciless using her feminine wiles in her unscrupulous treachery... and Xena succeeded in her masterly scheme to turn the two comrades against each other (Hercules and Iolaus). That is the story of the killer known as Xena.

The stories of the old Xena are still being spread amongst the villages.

[31] In MORTAL BELOVED (16/116), we revisit Marcus in Tartarus, which is in total disarray. At the end of the episode, Xena kills Marcus in cold blood, even though it is for Marcus' sake. She still has the guts to do these bloody acts.

[32] In A ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117), we see Autolycus and Sinteres. Xena tells Autolycus,

There was a time when I was young and wounded in battle and those people found me, dressed my wounds and fed me, though they had nothing to spare. And then when the enemy came to find me, one of them died protecting me.

[33] We don't know exactly when this happened, or if this somehow affected Xena when she became a warlord. This could logically be a reason why she had that policy of not killing women and children, and why she gave villages the chance to surrender before conquering them.

[34] Later in the episode, through this exchange between Xena and Gabrielle, we learn about the 'Xena touch'.

Xena: You're lucky. Sinteres knows how to kill using pressure points.

Gabrielle: Is that the same stuff you do? Xena: Yeah, it depends on how you use it.

We don't know if Xena killed with this touch prior to or after the soldier in DESTINY (36/212), but obviously she knows how.

[35] In TIES THAT BIND (20/120), Ares devises a plan to get Xena back under his command by tricking her. Ares tells General Kirilus, "I found your replacement... It's more a question of desire, a fire in the eyes and quite frankly you just don't have it, but I know someone who does. Someone born for greatness". Kirilus responds, "No man can better lead this army"! Ares wittily retorts, "Perhaps. But sometimes the best man for a job is a... woman". Kirilus immediately knows who the war god means, "Xena"!

[36] Xena later tries to tells her supposed father about her dark past, but she doesn't get the chance to say what terrible things' she had done.

[37] Then Xena and General Kirilus have this exchange,

Xena: I'm going to beat you, Kirilus, and take your army.

Kirilus: Ha, ha. No you're not. You're going to die.

[38] After Xena defeats Kirilus, she yells this to the troops, "Now this army is mine. Anybody got any questions?" The troops are stunned and one of the lieutenants says, "Hail the new commander Xena!... Shall we commence the attack on Losia?" Xena responds, "No, we do things my way. Come on. ... Take the village!!!! ... Kill them all!". Xena seemed to have gained control of the general's troops without difficulty or objections.

[39] In THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), one of Lord Talmadeus's lieutenants describes why he came back empty handed, "When this, this woman showed up... she fought with the strength of Ares and the speed of Hermes...". Talmadeus immediately recognizes Xena from her description. Once again we see that Xena is well-known among the warlords, and that they still want to defeat her. [40] In CALLISTO (22/122), we meet our favorite evil character, Callisto. If Xena was as heartless and cold as they say, why did she have survivors in the village of Cirra?. I guess her code of not killing women and children held true in spite of the "accidental" fire. In the beginning of the episode, Xena tells Gabrielle, "See that look of fear and hatred on their faces? I used to want to see that look. It meant I was doing my job right". Later on when the bard questions Xena about Cirra, she says in that campfire scene,

It was just another village to conquer, nothing out of the ordinary. A fire broke out and I don't know if it was one of my men or an accident, but there was a strong wind and those flames just swept through that town like a wave of death. And the people were huddled in their houses because they were afraid of my army. That was one time that my army was responsible for the death of women and children. And there was just a handful of survivors. Obviously Callisto was one of them.

[41] The exchange between Xena and Callisto later went as follows,

Xena: It was you that shot me with that poisonous dart!

Callisto: Yes, you see it left me free to revive your reputation as a wanton killer of women and children.

Xena: I never killed women and children!

Callisto: Well you have now.

[42] And Callisto tells Xena, "As a villain you were awesome, as a hero you are a sentimental fool". Could this be true?

Oh, come on, Xena...You know mom always liked me

Toris, one of Xena's brothers, as seen in DEATH MASK.

[43] In DEATH MASK (23/123), we meet one of Xena's brothers, Toris. Gabrielle questions Xena when she reacts awkwardly to seeing a mask on a member of a band of raiders.

Xena: Cortese!

Gabrielle: Who's he, Xena?

Xena: The men who attacked and raided my village to the ground wore the mask of Cortese, this mask. I have never stopped looking for him.

Gabrielle: So .. he's the one who made you so.. you know... aggressive?

Xena: It was fighting him that twisted me into what I became. Now I have him.

[44] The exchange between Malik and Cortese confirms this notion:

Malik: A woman. I've never seen anyone like her, with the fighting skills and strength of....

Cortese: Xena! The Warrior Princess, Xena.

Malik: You already know of her?

Cortese: I created her!

[45] This is an exchange between Toris and his sister also speaks volumes about Xena's nature:

Toris: When I left our village, Xena wasn't something to be proud of. What did you see?

Xena: Someone had to step forward. Cortese would have slaughtered us all if we hadn't fought.

Toris: If our people would have followed me to the hills...

Xena: Cortese would have hunted us down like dogs. I had to make a stand and I wasn't the only one who believed it.

Toris: That's right, Lyceus stood by you to the end and it was his end, remember?

Xena: I said fight because it was our village. Lyceus believed in that and I would say it again.

From this exchange, we learn that Xena wanted to prevent another attack to her village. Perhaps, she just lost her way and became power hungry.

[46] Later on, Toris and Gabrielle have this conversation:

Toris: She's doing to you what she did to our village.

Gabrielle: Excuse me?

Toris: She turned our simple villagers into warriors and got them killed.

Toris obviously blames his sister for the deaths of friends and family members.

[47] Still later, Toris says to Xena, "At first I thought [Gabrielle] was just blindly following your lead and you were going to do the same thing to her you did to our village -- use their fear to manipulate them. But that's not it!"

[48] In another exchange, Toris asked, "What did it feel like, after you had beaten Cortese?" Xena responded,

Feel? I didn't have time to feel anything. Maybe that was the problem. I knew he would come back so I decided to form an army for defense and then I figured to take the surrounding villages for a buffer and then somewhere, I don't know where, I changed. I didn't have time to feel anything.

[49] Towards the end of the episode, this dialogue occurs:

Toris: I've seen you kill, Xena. What's the difference?

Xena: Maybe it's just a difference in my head. But the pure evil of murder is that it's premeditated; it's not in the heat of battle and it's not for self-defense.

[50] Did Xena differentiate between pre-meditated murder and cold murder when she was a warlord? I thinks so, as is evidenced by her aforementioned code.

[51] In IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124), General Marmax asks Xena, "Since when are you concerned about people's welfare?" This statement seems to imply that Xena did not care about the people she conquered, only what these villagers could do for her and her troops.

[52] In ORPHAN OF WAR (25/201), we learn of Xena's son, Solan. Xena tells Gabrielle, "We had the Centaurs surrounded. They fought bravely, but it was a matter of time". Gabrielle asks, "If you had them surrounded, why didn't you kill them?" Xena responds, "We reached an agreement. I pulled my army out and promised never to return".

[53] In a flashback, a centaur, Kaleipus, tells Xena, "Xena, destroyer of nations, isn't known to bargain". From this we learn more about the extent of Xena's reputation, and that Xena did not make agreements very easily.

[54] Later on, Xena tells the centaur, who has served as Solan's sole parent for nearly ten years, "[Solan]'ll become like me". She does not want her son to be like her, but why? Did she know what she was: a ruthless warlord? It would seem so.

[55] Still, this isn't the whole picture of the old' Xena. She says to Gabrielle, "I ordered [Borias] captured but unharmed". Why would she order the capture instead of the death of the person who had betrayed her?

[56] But then, Xena answers Solan honestly, "Yes, I would have killed them all (the Centaurs)". Does she mean to imply that she would have killed them in battle or afterwards?

[57] In general, this episode actually brings up more questions than answers with regard to Xena's relative "bad-ness".

Now...what did I do with my

Maphias, best friend to Lyceus, and the alternative Xena's fiancee, in REMEMBER NOTHING.

[58] In REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), Gabrielle wishes she had known Lyceus, Xena's younger brother. Xena guiltily responds, "If I didn't insist that we rallied against Cortese you might have." Xena feels responsible for her brother's death.

[59] We also learn that Xena was a tomboy of sorts in that she and Lyceus frequently engaged in sword play, but it is unknown who actually taught Lyceus or Xena to fight initially.

[60] In GIANT KILLER (27/203), David answers Gabrielle by saying, "Had I known you were with Xena, I wouldn't have bothered. She's a murderer. I know of her exploits. I've written about it". This seems to imply that Xena had either been to the land of the Israelites, or that tales of Xena traveled that far away.

[61] But, in the same episode, Xena recalls,

About 10 years ago, when Goliath and I fought in a campaign against Gareth and his army, we were caught off guard one morning. Goliath was taking his wife and children to safety when I was surrounded and badly injured. I yelled at him to get back but he wouldn't. He refused to leave me while he was saving me. Gareth killed them all.

[62] If she was all bad, why is it that all the allies Xena had during her warlord days are still willing to help her out? Do they respect her for her current values or for things she possessed in small degrees even at her bad-est?

[63] In GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204), we met Orpheus who says to Xena, "Look, just because you agreed to help us out doesn't make us friends ... My wife died in your war camp and you did nothing to protect her". Xena tries to defend herself, "There was nothing I could do. Most of my men had already fallen. I tried my best to hold back Bacchus in hopes she would escape". It would seem that yet another god now holds a grudge for having been foiled by the Warrior Princess.

[64] In RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), Xena lets Callisto drown in the quick sand. It would seem that she still has her dark side with her, at least to a degree.

[65] In INTIMATE STRANGERS (31/207), Xena admits to Ares, "All right. I'm guilty of [Callisto's] murder". More importantly, Xena also tells Hades, "I stabbed Marcus in the heart because I loved him". Still, not everyone can perform such an act, regardless of the motivation.

[66] But, Theodorus says to Xena/Callisto, "You only kill when threatened -- some sort of code you have." It would seem that her code is still in force, and that it is still known amongst warlords and petty thieves.

[67] In DESTINY (36/212), we see Xena telling villagers,

People of Neopolitos, friends, you are free to go, but spread the word: my army will punish any village that allies itself with the enemies of Amphipolis. I will do anything to ensure the safety of my homeland. Those who don't heed my warning will pay a terrible price.

So, in this case, she did not kill ruthlessly, but she did burn houses, or so it seems.

[68] We also meet Julius Caesar and he concludes after talking to Xena, "So all your raiding and looting is about protecting your homeland". To which she responds,

That's right, it was once brutally attacked by a warlord, but I've made sure that will never happen again. ... Conquest, I love it! Pursuing the enemy, breaking down his defenses, cutting down his only path of retreat and then, closing for the kill.

She seemed to have fun conquering, but, at this point, the safety of Amphipolis was still her foremost motivation.

[69] At the end of the episode, after M'Lila is killed, Xena puts "the pinch" on a soldier and tells him, "You'll be dead in 30 seconds, but know this: you won't be the last. Tell Hades to prepare himself. A new Xena is born tonight with a new purpose in life -- DEATH"! It is with this dark exclamation that we see the transformation of a not-so-ruthless Xena into a cold-blooded warlord whose primary purpose is vengeance.

Really, Xena...did you HAVE to mention the chicken

Xena confesses her crimes to an indifferent public in A NECESSARY EVIL.

[70] In A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214), at Callisto's request, Xena delivers this monologue to the villagers,

My name is Xena. Some call me the Warrior Princess, some call me murderer. Many years ago, there was a village called Cirra... until the day my army came and destroyed it. Under my orders, my men sacked the village, burned the homes and killed every living thing. Everything was destroyed.

[71] Did Callisto really force Xena to say these things or did she, in an act of true repentance, freely admit these acts?

[72] In another Hercules episode, JUDGEMENT DAY (H52/315), Ares tells his nephew, Strife, "This is the site of one of my greatest triumphs, the Battle of Towen. 10,000 corpses littered the battleground. The stench was... invigorating". Strife inquires further, "So who was the general responsible for this... aroma"? Ares responds, "No general. It was a warrior, Xena. She led her army through the opponent infantry like flies. Limbs scattered everywhere"! We can see the brutality of the battle, but was it truly like that? When did this battle take place? Xena has never actually mentioned it to date.

[73] In BLIND FAITH (42/218), a warrior wannabe named Palaemon wants gain the reputation as the one who killed Xena. He tells the Warrior Princess,

I've studied your every battle conquest ... You were committed. You had power and nothing could stop you. People knew who you were; you commanded respect ... Fear, respect -- call it what you will, but you were the best! ... Setting the oil reserves on fire was a stroke of genius. They said you could hear men screaming all the way to Athens. Or how about the way you slaughtered those men in Corinth? ... You were brilliant.

We see more atrocities committed by our Warrior Princess.

[74] In ULYSSES (43/219), we meet yet another god, Poseidon, who says to Xena, "Xena stay out of this! My nephew Ares has a fondness for you. I won't be as patient with you meddling in my affairs". What do the gods actually think of Xena? If she is such thorn in their side, why not just kill her?

[75] In THE PRICE (44/220), we get a big glimpse of the degree to which the old, bad Xena was really bad. We see her cold heart, her confidence, authoritative demeanor, her charisma, her coolness under pressure and her imagination.

[76] A soldier, when he hears the name of the Warrior Princess, is aghast and says, "Xena of Corinth, the Warrior Princess of Karmai." His voice quakes with both respect and fear.

[77] This exchange between the Gabrielle and Xena evidences the cold nature of the old Xena and the fact that not all of "dark Xena" has been purged from the Warrior Princess:

Gabrielle: ...the walking wounded have all become nurses.

Xena: If they can do that, they can carry a weapon. ... No food or water for the seriously wounded, only for the men who can fight.

Gabrielle: You expect me to decide who lives and who dies?

Xena: I want men outside Gabrielle, you figure it out! And let Menticles know when they die. We need them out on the wall.

Gabrielle: You are letting these men die.

Even the new Xena was determined to see the battle won regardless of the cost.

[78] Later on, the bard says to the Warrior Princess in disbelief, "You axed that man in the back". Xena retorts, "He was inside our battlements. He saw our defenses; I couldn't risk it". The Warrior Princess was heartless about killing the Hordeman. When Gabrielle praises Xena for rescuing an enemy soldier, Xena sets her straight, "Gabrielle, I didn't rescue him. We need information. He's going to give it to us one way or the other". Was she actually willing to torture that man?

[79] Also, Xena angrily tells Gabrielle, "Don't you ever question my authority or methods in front of my troops. I told you I'll do whatever it takes and if that means killing him later, I'll do it". She wasn't afraid of admitting her willingness to kill.

[80] In LOST MARINER (45/221), a bounty hunter says to a comrade, "Xena is not crazy. She knows what she is doing". This would imply that Xena is known to do crazy things for a purpose, although his assumption is that Xena is currently acting out of a desire for monetary gain -- as the old Xena would have.

[81] In COMEDY OF EROS (46/222), we hear the story of the old Xena's knack for deception. Gregan says to Draco, "Wherever he is, she played that sort of mind game for Zagreus. She tricked him into losing his whole army". (What did she do? We are never actually told.)

[82] In the third season opener, THE FURIES (47/301), Ares wants Xena back and he tells the Furies that Xena did not avenge her father's murder. We learn that Cyrene killed her husband after he told Cyrene that Xena had "to be sacrificed to Ares". Cyrene explains, "Your father was very dedicated to the God of War". Once again, in the end, the Warrior Princess outmaneuvers Ares. But why would Ares wanted Xena dead when she was a child? After all, she would become the ultimate warrior to him.

[83] In THE DIRTY HALF DOZEN (49/303), we meet some of Xena's old allies. This is how she introduces them to Gabrielle,

Monlik, he was a master thief. He taught Autolycus a thing or two. ... Darnelle, I found him in a small village. Trained him up to be a gladiator. He was an unbeatable killer. ... Walsim was the finest assassin I ever trained, and Glaphyra. When I met her, she was eager to see the world. She ended up a slaver, selling men to the traders from the south.

[84] Gabrielle asks Xena, "These people, all of them, were they murderers before you met them?" Xena sadly responds, "Gabrielle it was me! I changed them. Before they met me, they were..." Gabrielle finishes the sentence for her, "They were like me, real people, maybe good people".

[85] So Xena changed people to meet her needs, but how? We also see Xena kill Monlik but, was it in self-defense? Was that necessary? Perhaps she could have just knocked some sense into him.

Hm...all I need is a hat with

Boadicea, ally of necessity, in THE DELIVERER.

[86] In THE DELIVERER (50/304), we learn that Xena betrayed Boadicea for selfish reasons. This is what Xena tells the Bard,
Boadicea and I were allies a long time ago in Gaul ... In a sense, she thought I was a friend and I just needed an army. So I let her think what she wanted until I took control of her men ... I ordered her killed. She escaped and then she and Persuicus joined forces. They attacked me, but I defeated them and they retreated north to Britannia. So you see, I'm not the only one dealing with betrayal.

[87] In THE DEBT (52/306) and THE DEBT II (53/307), Xena painfully recalls to Gabrielle,

Eleven years ago, as you know, Caesar left his mark on me. ... With shattered legs and crippled soul I went east to lose myself in vengeance. Not against Caesar, but the entire human race.

[88] In a flashback, we meet Borias and Lao Ma, who describes Borias as "a great warrior.. also a man with great honor". Borias seems to be in charge of the army and he also seems to have some kind of code. Borias doesn't let Xena kill a few survivors of an attack. He asks her flippantly, "Who will be left to terrorize?" Also, Borias seems to make alliances to gain what he wants. Could what she learned from Borias be part of the reason why Xena offered the chance to surrender before attacking a village?

[89] But, obviously, Xena didn't learn much at the time. After chasing a few remaining soldiers, she asks Borias for the all dead bodies. She decapitates them so she can put the heads on stakes to make a point and to intimidate future would-be enemies. These were genuine atrocities of the highest magnitude.

[90] Lao Ma, when she first meets Xena, says, "You must be Xena. They say you are a dangerous woman", to which Xena glibly responds, "Well I am". Xena also admits to Gabrielle that she wanted to kill Lao Ma, "Because I knew in my heart that she would be a civilizing influence on [Borias]. I liked him wild, like I was, an animal living from one moment to the next, driven by desire alone".

[91] The Warrior Princess also admitted she was willing to kill Ming T'ien if his father had not paid the ransom.

[92] But, when Xena is chased by Ming Tzu, Lao Ma rescues her. Lao Ma tells Xena, "You don't know it yet, Xena, but you are a remarkable woman, capable of greatness". Later on, Lao Ma tells Borias, "Xena is capable of profound loyalty, Borias, she just doesn't know it yet".

[93] Still, the old Xena kills Ming Tzu in cold blood and at the end of the episode the new Xena kills the Green Dragon (though, at this writing, Gabrielle is unaware of this fact).

Days afterwards, that nasty cut still refused to

Xena is on a mission of murder in THE DEBT.

Xena: Evil or Not?

[94] So, was Xena really evil or not? We have seen how former enemies and allies are loyal to her -- even now, that she changed her ways, and so forth. We have seen how the gods ask for her help and, at times, fear her competence and her new sense of righteous purpose. And even the old Xena seemed to have a code that forbade the killing of innocents unless it was absolutely necessary.

[95] On the other hand, she committed great atrocities against her enemies, and her hunger for power and dominance is well-documented. The third season in particular has revealed much about the nature of the former Xena, Warrior Princess. It has done much to change my view about whether or not Xena had truly been evil. After careful consideration, I have to say, yes. Evil Xena is not myth, but fact.


Elizabeth Boccin Elizabeth Boccin
I was born in New York, but, because of my father's job, I was raised in South America. Currently I work for a company in New Jersey, where I live. I read a lot of sci-fi books and love to listen to pop music as well as some light rock. I graduated from college and speak two other languages. They come in handy when I travel around the world on my vacations! I also practice a martial art.
Favorite episode: ULYSSES (43/219), A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215), and THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117)
Favorite line: Xena to Ares: "If it is my head you want then take it, 'cause frankly it's driving me crazy." THE FURIES (47/301)
First episode seen: CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102)
Least favorite episode: KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308) and PROMETHEUS (08/108)

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