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Throwback Thursday - Xena Warrior Princess: When Fates Collide

24 Sept 2015

Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favourite TV episodes from over the years.

Throwback Thursday Review
Xena Warrior Princess
When Fates Collide

In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero
She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle.
The power, the passion, the danger
Her courage will change the world

Xena Warrior Princess first appeared in our screens in September 1995 a spin off from the series Hercules the Legendary Journeys. Rob Tapert has stated her character was originally supposed to die after the three episode arch but an idea was born and Xena was given her own show. Xena took us on the journey from her dark past towards redemption. Her help and at times her moral conscience was her Sidekick Gabrielle. Each week we were treated to them fighting darkness outside and within, battling warlords, demons and gods. Through it all they forged a relationship that the nature of was finally answered in the last episode.

Xena did change the world in a way, we had a woman lead character on television who didn't need a man to save her .Young girls and women looked up to her, books have been written how Xena changed people’s lives. Xena also arrived at the time the Internet was becoming more popular in households, this helped create a fandom that is still going strong. When it went in to syndication it overtook Baywatch as the most popular syndicated show. Joss Whedon’s Buffy TV series might not have seen the light of day if not for Xena and he even had some story lines that were parallel to those seen on the show.

After 6 seasons Xena left our screens in the summer of 2001 leaving a gap in strong female roles which until recently seems to be lacking.

Lucy Lawless returns to the small screens soon in Ash vs Evil Dead

Since Xena, Karl Urban (Caesar) has had quite the career and currently is known for playing Bones in the new Star Trek Movies.

Katherine Fugate (the writer of this episode) has gone on to being a writer and producer on Army Wives and writer of the movies Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
It was kind of her to speak to me via messenger and she directed me to a blog she had written about her Xena episode and what it meant to her.

When Fate Collides 618
Written by Katherine Fugate
Directed by John Fawcett

The reason I picked this episode is a lot of fans they believe this should have been the finale. It reflects back to a pinnacle moment in Xena’s life when she became the dark warlord after Caesar broke her legs (Destiny, Episode 212). What if Caesar hadn't betrayed Xena and she had gone on to be the ruler she dreamed of being.

This episode picks up towards the end of Season 6. Due to Xena killing some of the ancient gods in her protection of Eve, the underworld is in turmoil. Caesar (Karl Urban) sees his chance to escape and pay a visit to the fates. With a snip of the scissors’ he changes the timeline from the time he bedded Xena…

Xena (Lucy Lawless) is his wife and Empress of Rome, Brutus (David Franklin) hasn't betrayed him and Alti (Claire Stansfield) is his high priestess/mistress. Caesar thinks he has won but we all know you can’t escape fate or who you are.

Xena arrives back from battle, Caesar tells Xena he has a treat for her a play from Athens.
Xena: ‘more drivel from old men with tricky names that was very thoughtful of you’
Emissaries of Chin have arrived sent by Lao Ma (one of Xena’s mentors in the older timeline) Xena leaves along with Brutus. Caesar looks at the terms from Lao Ma calling them fair and agrees then Alti grabs them behind and kills them with her power of recalling pain. She is as dangerous in this timeline as she was in the previous one. Caesar says Xena is right she is ambitious.

Empress Xena is watching the play and it isn't how she predicted, she is enthralled, Caesar is bored and Alti looks unimpressed. It is clearly a love story. The writer is introduced and it’s none other than Gabrielle(Renee O'Connor) who appears in this timeline as a famous writer. The play is called Fallen Angel (a nod to episode 501 of the same name). Caesar is unimpressed but Xena throw’s a rose on the stage. Gabrielle bows at the box, Caesar looks worried when Xena and Gabrielle stare at each other. Alti also notices.

Xena and Gabrielle are chatting while Caesar looks on
Alti: “What do you think the Empress and the writer could be discussing, Horse-riding, Sword Play?”
Yes well, Caesar is far from impressed, Brutus approaches concerned about the Emissaries from Chin. He is unhappy that Caesar killed them and concerned about retribution from Lao Ma.
We learn Xena is admired in Rome; Gabrielle is impressed by her that much is obvious. I love this scene were Xena asks about the plays third act when the hero throws himself off a cliff just for her and asks Gabrielle if that type of love exists.

Gabrielle: “It’s what we all dream about isn't it someone who looks so deeply into our souls they find something worth dying for”

Caesar breaks up their little bonding time, as Xena and Caesar walk away Gabrielle stares after them.

Xena soon turns Caesar’s advances down in the bedroom and he leaves to talk to Brutus. Xena seeks fresh air out on the balcony. Gabrielle comes out onto her balcony across the courtyard. While it might not be Romeo and Juliet the hiding and staring across the balcony tells the viewer of the feeling inside these two even though no words are being spoken.
Gabrielle goes back inside but Alti appears behind Xena telling her of an interesting vision between the writer and Xena. Alti wants Xena out the way and pretty soon there is a fight between the two but she gets hold of Xena and shows her pain but its pain that was inflected in the other timeline.
Caesar and Brutus stop her; Xena wishes to kill her in the forum later. As she is taken away Caesar holds Xena as Gabrielle once again comes out onto her balcony. Caesar sees her and doesn't look happy.

Next morning Xena wonders were Brutus and the guards are going, Caesar informs her Alti confessed that the playwright was working with her and assassins from Chin to destroy them.

Gabrielle is arrested and her hair cut off (back to short haired gabby) We also see Joxer (Ted Rami) as one of the guards. Seems the Empress did him a favour and helped save his daughters life, he is grateful.
The Empress confronts Gabrielle in the dungeon realising she isn't guilty of the crimes she is being accused of.

Her next visit is to Alti who she wants to give her the visions again in promise of setting her free. She learns what Caesar did to her in the alternate timeline, who Gabrielle is and that Caesar cut the thread. Alti is as shocked as she is when she pulls away. Joxer informs her they have taken the playwright, Gabrielle, to be crucified (Both Xena and Gabrielle were crucified in the season four finale, Ides of March. Xena had already been crucified by Caesar in Destiny. He had tired to Crucify Gabrielle in the Deliverer Episode 304).

Xena stops the crucifixion and confronts Caesar saying she knows everything, he tries to sweet talk her but she isn't having it, he has forces marching on Chin he tells her they will rule the world. She gives him an ultimatum, she will stay and help him conquer the world but he needs to let Gabrielle go or she will do everything in her power to put things back to the way they were.
He reluctantly agrees and releases Gabrielle, Xena rushes to Gabrielle smacking guards out the way for daring to put their hands on her. Gabrielle thanks her saying she in the Empress debt. Xena tells her she is not an Empress but her friend as she wraps her cloak round her and tells her to go home and write plays. Gabrielle calls out to her confessing she might write plays about love but she realised her life was empty, as she has never felt love. Xena tells her to go, as Rome isn’t safe. As she leaves Xena notices Caesar talking to some guards, she clearly doesn't trust him either.

Alti is in Caesar’s bedroom, Xena’s part of the bargain was freeing Alti if she showed her the visions again. She tells him the visions made her powers stronger. Caesar sends her after Gabrielle to kill her.

Alti catches up with Gabrielle and shows her what her life should have been like, she sees in the visions Xena and herself battling with Alti. Xena rides in to the rescue but Alti runs off, however Gabrielle is still in her thrall. We hear Alti taunting Xena before she comes back and attacks her but Xena was ready. She punches Alti who lets Gabrielle out of her clutches. Unable to finish her off Xena is attacked by a group of Roman guards, which she quickly dispenses. However the rest of the army arrives and Gabrielle is grabbed distracting Xena who gets hit by two arrows, one in the shoulder and the other in the leg. Interestingly Joxer shoves the other guards out the way and holds Gabrielle who is desperate to get to Xena, he says she can’t help the Empress but he can help her. Brutus and Caesar ride up in a chariot, he thinks he has won. Xena says he would always betray her. Unfortunately Xena is then dragged off behind a horse with Caesar smiling on and Alti laughing.

Brutus is not happy about Xena being captured saying how the troops admire her. Caesar kills him, Caesar’s ego and thirst for power coming through again.

Joxer sneaks Gabrielle into see Xena; she asks about what Alti showed her

Gabrielle; “When I am with you this emptiness I have felt my entire life is gone”

Xena explains how Caesar changed their fates
This scene we learn that Xena, like in the play Gabrielle wrote is willing to sacrifice it all for love. Xena learned her destiny was linked to Caesar and the cross but everything happened, as it should have. Xena begs Gabrielle to leave telling Gabrielle she will love her forever (In the original script they kiss in this scene). As Xena is dragged away she asks Joxer to get Gabrielle out alive.

We are coming up to the final act of this Xena episode and you know Gabrielle will try and save Xena.

As Xena is placed on the cross they kiss,Alti and Caesar look on then go inside and Alti kills Caesar in the throes of passion. Each time we see the knife we see the hammer.Once again Caesar is betrayed by those close to him.
Gabrielle finds the fates tied up and the looms in a mess, She is angry at the fates.
Alti comes outside laughing at Xena on the cross
Gabrielle picks up a torch intent on burning the loom; the fates plead her not too. She throws the torch and it and Xena see’s Alti disappear before her and says I love you Gabrielle as it would seem the world implodes.

We see Gabrielle walking alone in a misty forest
Xena approaches on Argo as stoic as ever.

Xena: “You brought the world back to us”

Gabrielle: “I’m glad I like this one better”

Xena: “Even though you’re not a famous playwright”

Gabrielle: “Fame who needs it”

As Xena helps her get behind her and the ride off together Gabrielle asks if she liked her play

Xena: “It was alright could have done with a few more fight scenes”
(Guard Joxer said this line to Gabrielle in the dungeons thinking she was arrested for writing a bad play).

This episode has always been one of the fan favourites. Xena is softer here and Lucy Lawless plays it subtly. Gabrielle has everything in this episode she wanted when she first meets Xena but in the end her life is empty. Xena has the power she craved but like Gabrielle is empty inside.
Caesar, despite trying to change his fate still didn't change his nature, which is what lead to his demise and played brilliantly as always by Karl Urban. Alti was deliciously evil as always and a bit slutty.
The Xena and Gabrielle story was about love, some see it as a romantic love or others a love between two best friends. They will always risk everything for each other and have a connection, which binds them in all timelines. (This is not the first time we have seen an alternate reality). They are fated to be together (not by the fates, remember the loom was a mess and they were tied but Gabrielle still finds Xena). As they ride off together in the end scene a lot of fans won’t watch beyond this episode but prefer this to be how Xena Warrior Princess ended.

Katherine Fugate wrote ‘that is their destiny - their path together. It was my hope to portray the idea that every step we make in this lifetime is the right one - or we wouldn't be living it. We are the sum total of all our experiences, not just the ones we choose to like and accept as "good." I firmly believe the first commandment should have been Love Thyself. We find this so hard to do.’

About the ending which most said they didn't show very much emotion she had this to say:

'Xena too has no idea where she is or what Gabrielle has done to give them their lives back. after all, her last memory is dying on the cross. yet, the first thing they see in this world is each other. but at that first sight, they are in a fog, literally, and emotionally as they try to reconcile all that has happened. they are in shock, so they tread slowly, hi, hey, you gave us the world back... and they figure it out as they go. Imagine how you would feel after an earth-shattering event - such as an earthquake, a severe car accident, the death of loved one. You are usually in shock and respond in a numb manner, devoid of real emotion until after you process all that you've gone through. That, for me, was far more fitting than being overly emotional and joyous. The stunned looks, the deep voices, the shock - is exactly what I hoped for precisely and I wouldn't change a thing.'

(You can read the rest of the article at

Xena had an interesting mix of episodes, sometimes over the top comedy others were dramatic and held deeper meaning... 20 years after Xena first aired I can still watch it and love every minute.( well maybe not an odd one or two episodes. Fans will know the ones).
New fans still discover Xena and with talk from the studio of a Xena remake, Xena may entertain for years to come. For me the original format worked. I would love the original stars to be part of it (which I hope they are in some way) even if they are not it is ultimately about Xena and Gabrielle’s journey together that made the show.

What are your thoughts about Xena?

What is your favourite Xena episode?

Do you want a Xena remake?

Please post in comments below

About the Author - Zandarl
Zandarl a Writer and avid TV and film buff ,once described as a wilful hedonist, has travelled all over and lived in the states for a short time. Now based in the UK she attends cons when able and meets stars from her favourite shows .Her first start in fandom was Xena and since then has admired tv shows that portray strong women. Her current favorites being Rizzoli and Isles and Once Upon a Time as well as anything comic book related. A regular movie goer she watches most genres but never ask her to watch a horror movie.
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