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Season 5, episode 7
Series 507
1st release: 11/15/99
2nd release: 03/27/00
Production number: V0909
Approximate shooting dates: Early July 1999
Last update: 11-06-00

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

Ted Raimi (Joxer)

Marie Matiko (Pao Ssu/K'ao Hsin)
George Kee Chung (Khan)
Daniel Sing (Ming Tien)
Anthony Wong (Lin Qi)
Helen Phung (Tei)
Lohsing Cheng (Peasant)

Story by Rob Tapert & Steven L. Sears
Teleplay by Buddy Williers [alias of Steven L. Sears]
Directed by Rick Jacobson

(Xena in her mein lop)
(Khan holding a torch. Lin Qi fights Khan's army)
Pao Szu: The formula for the black powder.
(Kahn gives a signal and his army ignites rockets.)
(Xena stands alone, in front of explosions)
(Gabrielle fights warriors.)
(Xena using mystic power from 'Purity')
Xena: I can channel powers but I can't seem to control them.
(Gabrielle fights on...)
Gabrielle: Xena!
(...and on.)
Xena: Gabrielle!
(Xena looking shocked)


More China, a very handsome young man, Joxer, explosions, a high-kicking Gabrielle and the return of someone unexpected. Creation Entertainment.

Xena must master Lao Ma's powers to save Gabrielle, Joxer and the people of Chin from a militia led by the evil spirits of Pao Ssu and her brother, Ming Tien. Log Line


While Xena (Lucy Lawless) is trying to master Lao Ma's powers, she has a vision of K'ao Hsin (Marie Matiko), Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) and a mysterious man being trapped by a group of soldiers armed with the explosive black powder. Xena decides to return to Chin with Gabrielle and Joxer (Ted Raimi) to find out who else knows the secret of the black powder recipe, which should have died with Pao Ssu (Marie Matiko). The trouble is that Pao Ssu has joined her equally evil brother, Ming Tien (Daniel Sing), in the spirit world and through him, was able to communicate to Khan (George Kee Chung) and his army of one hundred thousand men how to make the deadly powder. Khan and his army are now advancing on the people of Chin.

Meanwhile, the Chin refugees are heading for the hills, where K'ao Hsin insists they will be trapped by Khan's army. Xena suggests that they take refuge in a network of caves in Tau mountain near Lao Ma's palace. Joxer becomes fond of a child, Tei (Helen Phung), who has been separated from her family, and he gets into various predicaments as he tries to reunite her with them. Meanwhile, Lin Qi (Anthony Wong), a local who is in charge of protecting the refugees, falls for Gabrielle. Not wanting Xena to risk the life of her unborn baby, the two take it upon themselves to find out where the black powder is stored and blow it up. Just as Gabrielle sets the fuse, a huge net traps both her and Lin Qi. Xena has another vision and is able to use her powers to suck the air out of the storage shed and thereby extinguish the flame. Khan is temporarily foiled.

Pao Ssu and Ming Tien plan to absorb Xena's power in order to return to the physical world. In the final showdown, Xena wards off the army's advancing blows with her protective shield, but is physically unable to return the attack. Just as she is weakening, Xena has visions of her loved ones being defeated, which give her the strength to turn Khan, his army, Pao Ssu and Ming Tien into stone! With Chin now safe, Xena feels Lao Ma's powers leaving her, but not Lao Ma's spirit, which continues to live on in her. As kindred souls, Gabrielle is fond of Lin Qi, but decides that her place is with Xena so they part ways.

Xena: Lucy Lawless
Gabrielle: Renee O'Connor
Joxer: Ted Rami
Pao SSU/K'Ao Hsin: Marie Matiko
Khan: George Kee Chung
Ming Tien: Daniel Sing
Lin Qi: Anthony Wong
Tei: Helen Phung

Executive Producers: Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi, R.J. Stewart
Co-Executive Producer: Eric Gruendemann
Producers: Chris Manheim and Bernadette Joyce
Co-Producer: Michael Mcdonald
New Zealand Producer: Chloe Smith
Story By: Rob Tapert & Steven L. Sears
Directed By: Rick Jacobson

1st RELEASE: 11/15/99
An AA average of 3.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:

 X-Files                        4.2 
 3rd Rock                       4.0 
 Xena                           3.8 
 Stargate SG-1                  3.6 
 Hercules                       3.6 
 Earth: Final Conflict          3.2 
 Beastmaster                    2.8 
 Profiler                       2.4 
 Relic Hunter                   2.4 
 Peter Benchley's Amazon        1.9 

2nd RELEASE: 03-27-00
An AA average of 2.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
X-Files 4.5
ER 3.6
Stargate SG-1/VIP 2.9
Baywatch Hawaii 2.8
Xena 2.7
Back2Back/Earth:Final Conflict 2.5
Relic Hunter 2.1
Total Recall 1.2


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Previously on Xena: scenes from Purity.

Gabrielle appears before Xena, with a dead rabbit in hand. Xena tells Gabrielle she is trying for absolute stillness. She focuses on the rabbit, trying to cook it, maybe, and she turns it to stone. Xena says she's having a little trouble. Joxer arrives with a squirrel and fusses about the stone rabbit. He reaches in his pocket for some money and brings out some black powder. Xena holds the black powder and has a vision. She sees lots of explosions, and Gabrielle fighting with a staff, and men with swords, and a young man gets blown up by a rocket bomb. Gabrielle fights some more, and Joxer yells for Gabrielle. Then a bomb blows Joxer's head off. Then a bomb blows up Gabrielle.

Xena comes back to the present. Says she saw a vision of death, and she has to go back to Chin. There are lots of explosions and a map comes into view. It is a very long trip. They must have really fast horses.

A warlord chants and prays to the Green Dragon. Poof! Ming Tien appears. He says hi to Khan. Ming Tien turns his head around and his sister Pao Su is on his backside, and he's a strong ghost now because Pau Su has joined him. They want Xena dead. They give Khan the secret formula for the black powder.

The Great Wall. Rice fields. Lots of scenery shots. Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer walk through the fields. They meet refugees from Lao Ma's land. They find Kao Sing among the refugees. She tells them that Khan the warlord has come from the mountains with black powder and a big army. Xena decides all the little villagers need to hide out in caves under Lao Ma's palace. She sends Gabrielle ahead to the palace to check things out. Xena tells Kao Sing that Pao Su must be responsible for this latest mess.

Gabrielle rides to the palace where some fellows are making sandbags. She meets Lien Chi, the leader of the men, who is guarding the palace and making a stand here or something. Suddenly some guys burst in to the palace and there is fight. Gabrielle fights with her sais. Lien Chi fights. This is an advance guard of Khan's. Lien Chi turns to Gabrielle, and then turns to his men and says okay boys, you follow her.

Men Khan's army line up to get green dragon tatoos stamped on their bodies. Looks painful. The village people walk to the YMCA, I mean the tunnels under the palace.

Xena and Kao Sing discuss Xena's vision, because Kao Sing saw it too. Xena says she can channel the powers but she's not controlling them very well. But then she gets interrupted by a pressing need to get the people to safety.

There is the sound of a blast.

Xena goes out and finds Joxer in a mine field. Some guy in front of him stepped on a mine and blew up. Xena walks out across the mine field and gets to Joxer. She leaves footprints for everyone to follow back. But, a big wind comes up and blows the footprints away. Khan and his army appears. Ming Tien's ghost appears, too. He says he is trapped between worlds with his sister because Xena isn't dead yet. But Xena is going to die now, they say with evil laughter.

Xena creates a shield around herself and Joxer and the village people while bombs burst in the air all around her. More bombs. More shields. Xena pulls out the super chakram and it skids across the mine field, setting off explosions, and Xena and Joxer and the village people make a run for it. Gabrielle shows up with Lien Chi and they fight off a few of Khan's men before following Xena to safety. Lots of fighting, actually. Xena remembers her vision and recognizes Lien Chi from her vision. Everybody makes it safely back to the palace and tunnels.

Xena studies Lao Ma's book and focuses on a vase. The vase finally falls off the table and breaks. Kao Sing comes in, and she and Xena have a chat. Kao Sing says that Lao Ma said that the more a sibling uses the power, the more power the other siblings get, so Kao Sing isn't doing that brain drain stuff anymore.

Gabrielle and Lien Chi work together stuffing bags or something. They discuss the gift of the bard and telling stories. Joxer interrupts. Xena wants Gabrielle. Xena says Khan has a big load of black powder down the road aways, and she's going to go blow it up. Gabrielle says nope, she and Lien Chi will do it, because Xena is pregnant. Xena says thank you very much, Gabrielle, but I have a mother. Xena gets out voted, though, and Gabrielle and Lien Chi go to do the exploding. They sneak into the army camp. They take out a couple of men in the tent. A net falls on top of Lien Chi and Gabrielle. Khan comes in and says I got you, Babe, and one of his men lays out a line of powder, which Khan lights, and he goes away.

Xena senses Gabrielle's fear. Gabrielle struggles with the net. Xena concentrates and creates a wind. Then she sucks all the air out of the tent Gabrielle and Lien Chi are trapped in, and the fire goes out. Luckily, Gabrielle and Lien Chi were holding their breath at the time so this did not kill them. Gabrielle and Lien Chi get out of the net and blow up the tent. Ming Tien isn't very happy with this development.

Gabrielle and Lien Chi arrive back at the palace. Gabrielle is impressed that Xena saved her from so far away. Xena says the power uses her but she can't seem to use it, but it saves the people Xena loves. Kao Sing says the army must be defeated through the power of love and good, and through the power of Xena's love, but even Gabrielle says that ain't gonna work this time. Kao Sing says Xena always succeeds.

Joxer feeds the people. He takes a girl a bowl of food. They talk. Her name is Tae is she misses her family. He says he will help her find them.

Gabrielle and Lien Chi talk and make powder or something. Lien Chi asks Gabrielle if she thinks about settling down. Gabrielle says something like, "Sometimes people think a home is a place, but it can be a person." And Lien Chi says something like, hey, you are settled then, because you've got Xena.

Joxer runs in and says Khan's army is over the south ridge and he has villagers as hostages and human shields. Xena goes and has a look. The people are shields, yep. Xena says she is going to destroy 100,000 men because she doesn't have any choice.

It's a very big army. Xena tells Gabrielle to get everyone out of the way. She has to have complete focus and can't be worrying about anyone else, she says. Kao Sing tells Xena that while she has always walked the path of the warrior and always will, not every war is won with a sword.

The ghosts of Pao Su and Ming Tien stand beside Khan.

Xena faces the army of men and concentrates. The rockets red glare goes off all around Xena, and she stands firm. More rockets burst in the air, and she stands firm. The people cower in the caves. More rockets. Xena deflects some of the rockets back at Khan's army. Gabrielle appears and starts rescuing the trapped human hostage shields. Joxer and Lien Chi come and do this too. Then Gabrielle fights a lot. Xena blocks rockets. Gabrielle fights some more. Now she has a staff like in Xena's vision. Kao Sing cowers with the people in the caves. The bombs go off all over the place as Xena reflects them back to the army. Gabrielle fights. Xena reflects bombs. Lien Chi fights. Xena reflects bombs. Gabrielle fights. Lien Chi fights. Xena looks really tired. Lien Chi fights. Gabrielle fights. Xena stops reflecting rocket bombs and they explode all around her. Xena falls to the ground. Horseman from Khan's troops head toward Xena. Xena sees Gabrielle fighting. The horseman gallop toward Xena. Xena gets up and tosses a brain bolt at the horsemen. Xena mutters some cosmic truths and makes the green dragon symbol on all of Khan's men start to glow and burn them. The men stop fighting and start yelling. The men turn to stone. Khan turns to stone. Ming Tien and Pao Su look like they might turn to stone, too, but they explode instead. Now it's a big army of stone men. Xena and Gabrielle sort of look at each other.

Joxer talks to Tae and tells her how he took out Khan's army. Gabrielle comes by and says "tut tut" and Joxer changes the subject.

Gabrielle goes to Lien Chi. Lien Chi and Gabrielle kiss on the cheek and say goodbye.

Kao Sing and Xena talk. Xena says she doesn't feel the power any more. She says she was thinking about the people being hurt, not the army, when she turned all the men to stone. She says it was indeed love that won that war.

Gabrielle walks up to Xena. Xena touches Gabrielle on the arm. They walk away.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

I liked some parts of this episode. It had some cool moments. But Lord, it also had problems. Let's see...

The effects of people getting blown up were mostly pretty well done; certainly seeing Joxer get blown to bits and Gabrielle incinerated was pretty powerful. But there's one shot in the final battle of two obvious props that get the blast treatment. "NO! Not the MANNEQUINS!"

Another death vision of the future? Didn't we do that, like, the entire last season?

Intelligence-deprivation award of the day goes to Joxer for "That guy just blew up! What is it, sandworms?" There's so much black powder flying around that now Joxer thinks the local fauna are armed? In general, this was a horrible Joxer episode. His petulance when Gabrielle was talking with Lin Qi smacked of stalker-ville.

I'm not going to quibble with why Xena didn't use her chakram to clear a path through the mines in the first place; some things must be overlooked in the name of dramatic tension. But I draw the line when the opposing baddies charge and an entire battle is fought on the minefield without a single explosion. Th' hell?

Have I mentioned before that Lao Ma's power makes NO sense? Now it's not a loss of desire, not a focus... but a will of its own. I wish the writers would make up their minds.

Lao Ma's TEMPLE? Since when did Lao Ma have a temple? It's called her palace each time afterward - Lao Tsu might have a problem with that, but OK, no problem. But "temple"?

Lin Qi steps right to the front of the line with Talus from Death in Chains as my all-time favorite redshirt boys (and this one survives!). Doesn't mean I want Gabrielle to go packin' off with him, but this was a cool guy, a good fighter, nice fella... and a perfectly good actor. Thumbs up on the redshirt. Now buh-bye.

Holy cow, somebody told Xena she couldn't do something. And Xena took it! I'm too stunned to figure out if only Gabrielle would get away with that or if Xena needs to lie down until she feels more like herself again.

After Gabrielle's "You know what I'm looking forward to? The look on your face when Xena devastates your army!" line, I was kinda hoping that, at the end, Gabrielle would walk up to the stoned Khan, smirk, and say "Yep. That's the look." Ah well.

Smart-aleck line of the episode goes to the redshirt for "That's the sound of my dead ancestors making a place for me at their table." Joxer would have won for the line "If you would concentrate on making that thing stone, maybe it would cook!", except that he tanked it so badly.

It's only the seventh episode of the season, but I'm going to go ahead and nominate the following for Most Disturbing Lines of the Year:

Xena: I have never seen a war ended by love.
Gabrielle: I used to think that love was enough... I was wrong.
HELLO? Have we forgotten The Price? Sacrifice? Doctor in the House? I realize these lines were written so they can be disproved later, but that's just wildly wrong.

Is Joxer cooking the same soup that got an entire army sick in Sickness and Hell? No wonder they're all curled up on the floor during the final fight - it's not fear, it's flu!

Why on earth was Joxer so out of breath when he reported the arrival of Khan's army?

Did Gabrielle really ask Xena if she was prepared to destroy a hundred thousand men? The Destroyer of Nations has been there, done that.

I never would have thought, a few seasons ago, that the line "With her by my side, how can we lose?" would be spoken about Gabrielle, not about Xena. It's cheesy, but I like it.

The gang is about to do battle with an army of 100,000. Xena has seen a vision of the death of them all in this fight. She's going to face the enemy alone in battle. Xena:

Shoos Gabrielle away Wishes Lin Qi luck Doesn't say boo to Joxer Hugs Kao Hsin
WHAT?? It makes no sense for her to brush off her friends/loved ones and make nice-nice with the new folks.

Good spin consistency note: When Xena walks onto the battlefield, Pao Tsu is muttering insults. As we see Khan, we hear the switch sound effect, then Ming Tien is giving orders.

Joxer still does his best battle work when he's dodging madly.

Did Kao Hsin help Xena with the stoning? At first, I thought she did, and the ending made no sense to me because I couldn't figure out why, when she and Xena unleashed enough power to petrify 100,000 men, Pao Tsu and Ming Tien didn't become powerful enough to nuke the entire countryside. But after listening to Kao Hsin's lines again, I think the idea was that only the brother and sisters feed off each other's powers. Which means Kao Hsin didn't help and Xena was free to do all the blowing and blasting she wanted. But that begs the question: then why was Kao Hsin in this episode at all?

Joxer's story-telling ain't too shabby. I liked his spurting neck wound and beating heart. But for all that, Gabrielle's "amateur" look and "Tch" was even better.

Final thought of the night: What does this show have against rabbits? Sickness and Hell, Paradise Found, and now this episode all give gruesome ends to poor little bunnies. Did somebody in the production staff experience childhood bunny trauma?


I *like* the spinning twin effect! It's another page borrowed directly from the Bride with the White Hair playbook (which The Gauntlet is taken from almost shot-by-shot), in which the head baddies were Siamese twins. It was nifty here, pretty cool-looking.

Despite some problems, there were a couple messages in this episode I could have stood up and cheered for.

Cheer #1: Lin Qi's insistence that Gabrielle is selling herself short if she thinks she can't be a bard any more. Lin Qi wins instant cool points in my book for that conversation, and I like that we're at least paying lip service to that little side of Gabrielle.

Cheer #2: The refutation of the above Scariest Lines of the Season. Xena's love for Gabrielle is what ended the war, fueled the power to turn an entire army to stone. Hatred of the ones you're fighting isn't nearly as powerful as the love for who you're fighting for/with.

The stoning of the army was mighty cool. Everyone with the mark of the dragon turns to stone (guess those horses were branded, too). In the burial site of the first emperor of China, there was an army of stone warriors guarding him. Was this Xena's contribution to Chinese archeology? The poses are all wrong, but I still love it.


This commentary is by Beboman.

* This episode was fairly good, a tad bit on the slow side for me, but basically a good episode. It ties up the loose ends from the previous show and it gives Xena another way to fight without having to be physically involved. I'm not saying that using all your mental powers as a form of weapon is not an exhausting task.

I think Xena is getting very frustrated when she is reminded she is going to be a mother and she has to mellow out on the fighting. At the same time, I'm really enjoying the fact that Gabrielle is getting much better at her fighting. But I have to agree with Lin Qi. As much as I like the fighting Gabrielle, I also miss the Bard. Believe me, you can accomplish both, Gabrielle. On those nights or days that not a lot is going on, you can do some writing.

Another thing I found interesting this time around is the fact that Gabrielle is experimenting with her sexuality. She was flirting with Lin Qi, but it wasn't the same type of flirting as in the First and Second season. It wasn't that naive "I will fall in love with any man who talks to me" type of flirting, but a more mature type of flirting. A more "I'm in control of who and what I am" type of flirting. It was enjoyable to see Gabrielle becoming conscious of her sexuality.

Joxer is becoming more dependable and more atuned with what is going on around him. I was delighted to see his bit of jealousy when he found Gabrielle and Lin Qi talking. Hey, the guy has some really deep feelings.

Another thing I am enjoying are those isolated moments of family-type life. The shots at the beginning of the show that give us, the audience, a glimpse of the every day life of Xena and Gabrielle. This time it was Xena turning the rabbits into stone. Those moments allow the audience a sense of some kind of normality to this wandering trio. Especially when Gabrielle asked if anyone had some money so she could go and get some food, and when Joxer got mad because Xena kept turning the rabbits into stone. I had to agree with Joxer; if Xena thought the rabbits into stone, maybe she could get them cooked.

It was a delight to see Marie Matiko playing both roles again. She does such a good job. But it was really interesting how the unity of both Pao Tsu and Ming Tien was accomplished. Two very different entities in the body of one.

Also the special effects in this show were pretty good. My only problem was with the glow in the dark green dragon that Xena brought to life in her fight scene. One thing was established in that final confrontation between Khan and Xena: if she could not cook them, she definitely could turn them to stone. This was a very imaginative way for the writers to create the 6000 stone soldiers known as Qin Shi Huangdi.

It was interesting how Xena was able to suck up all the air in the tent from a distance in order to save Gabrielle. It is also very interesting that no matter what happens in Xena's life, her first concern has always and will always be Gabrielle. But at the same time, it was interesting to see that she was developing a conscious concern for Joxer.

When Xena was told that it was a vision of the future, her facial expression said it all. It was as if she was thinking, "Well, here we go again, another of those darn visions of the future were we all die."

Xena might have lost some of her physical fighting capability, but her concentration and her focus are sharper than ever. It is great to see Xena work under pressure. And believe me, K'ao Hsin definitely knew how to put a lot of pressure on the Warrior Princess. "You have been able to succeed where others have failed." Look lady, just because Xena defeated a whole Persian Army (well she took them when they were having a bad day), does not mean she can take Khan's army, especially since they were being helped by Ming Tien and Pao Hsu.

There were some very specific lines I enjoyed in this episode. When Lin Qi tells Gabrielle, "It's the voices of my ancestors setting a place at their table for me." And when Xena tells Gabrielle, "I have a mother." Also, when Xena asked, "What did Loa Ma have that I don't have," to which Gabriele responded "a full stomach." That whole interchange brought some good laughter.

Finally, there is something I have been dying to say. The costumes in this episode were just marvelous. Xena's outfit and especially Gabrielle's outfit were just fantastic. As a matter of fact, all the costumes were outstanding.

All in all, not a very bad episode.


05-11-00. This commentary is by John Wignall.

Back in the Bottle - Ya may want a bottle or two if you're gonna watch this.

Warning: This ep p*ss*d me off, and I'm going to tell you exactly why. There were things in there I liked, but there was one very big thing that I didn't. Just so you're ready for it. At this point, I'm just glad Kurtzman and Orci are off my beloved show.

This week, Xena uses Serene Chick's powers against Genghis Khan. Good premise right? You'd think so.

Quick recap of last week, just so we don't get confused, and off we go.

Gabby is holding up a fairly obvious fake rabbit, (what? No rubber chickens?) while Xena stares at it. Gab just wants to have dinner, but Xena is trying to achieve absolute stillness. (Presumably trying to emulate the bunny) Ex-Hippie chick doesn't seem to appreciate the mumbo-jumbo nearly so much now that she's on the receiving end of it. All of a sudden, the rubber rabbit turns to stone. (Shades of Paradise found) Seems that this has been happening a lot lately. (If I were Gab, I would've stopped holding the damn things after the first one, ya just don't want the WP to miss with a hex like that.) Jox shows up, and Gab decides to just get some take out. She gets cash from Jox (what is it with getting money from Jox anyway? Just how long have these two been sponging off him? Is Joxer's trust fund the mysterious source of all of X&G's funding?) He hands her a bag, which turns out to be black powder instead of dinars. Xena grabs it, and has a vision. Rockets, explosions, and all her friends getting crucified-I-mean-blowed-up. Joxer haters will treasure the moment when his torso and right arm are blown off his lower body. The vision ends, and Lucy emotes at us. They head back to Chin, and over the traditional travelling map, we get footage of explosions. (Did the effects department get a deal on pyrotechnics or what?) In Chin, Genghis Khan is summoning the spirit of the Green Dragon with the power of pattycake. It works, and Offensive Racial Stereotype Boy shows up. (Is it just me or is Ming T'ien something out of a 40's movie? Their version of Ghengie isn't much better, but I'm surprised that the Chinese community has never kicked up a fuss over this character.) He rants for a bit about how he's gonna rule the world, then turns around, and there's Grasshopper! Didja miss her? Now, I know that Xena was heavily inspired by The Bride With the White Hair, but the back to back brother/sister thing is just carrying it a bit too far. (It didn't really make much sense in Bride either.) Anyhow, Grasshopper is gonna tell everybody in the army how to make the black powder. Roll opening credits.

Now at this point, my mind was going a mile a minute. (Or as close to it as I can manage) If every man (I didn't see any women in any of the Chin armies) in the army knows something that Xena is so desperate to not have known, she finds herself in the awkward position of trying to censor an idea. This is promising! Renpic can confront the ideas and values underlying censorship, and thought control. They might even have some sly references to their own censorship problems. I just settled back for an ep that I figured would soon be one of my favourites. (Hands up everyone who sees where this review is going.)

Montage of Chin landscape to fill a little time. Then Xena and friends wander along, talking about how nice the scenery is. (Just in case you missed the point) They meet up with some refugees, and Grasshopper 2. (I guess it's back to GH1 and GH2) Seems Khan has been raising a ruckus, and these folks are just trying to get out of the way. GH2 doesn't think that they're gonna make it. Xena remembers a bunch of tunnels and stuff in Serene Chick's house that we've never heard of before, and figures they can all hide out there. She sends Gabby ahead to scout things out, and tells Joxer to use his excellent people skills to sell these refugees on her plan. (Ummmm.. Okay) Xena tells GH2 that there's only one way Khan could've gotten the secret. (Assuming of course that he has a good cook) GH1 must've given it to him from beyond the grave. (Obviously this is before the invention of Occam's razor) Because people coming back from the dead are so rare in the Xenaverse, she must've had help. (Once again, those writer's meetings come in handy) Gabby gets to Serene Chick's place, and meets Studly Guy. (Who apparently went to school overseas, judging from his accent.) He wants to fortify, and fight Khan from there; she wants to hide the refugees there. Before they get into an argument, a bunch of Chinese ninjas show up. (Yeah, I know, but I went over that in the last review) Quick fight scene, in which Gabby does pretty well, and I was struck by the resemblance between Studly Guy and Useless-ees. They win the fight, and somehow Studly Guy has come around to Gabby's way of thinking. (Just go with it, there are bigger fish to fry in this ep.)

Now, we get a short scene just to show how evil Khan is. The guys in his army are all wearing big green dragons on their chests, and standing in line to have their hands branded. Is it just me, or would that make recruiting harder? Join the army, see the world, have your hand permanently disfigured under unsanitary conditions. [shrug]

The refugees are getting into the cave, and Xena and GH2 chat about her problems with the powers. GH2 mentions last ep, and Xena says that was just one woman, now she's facing an army of thousands. Clearly she hasn't been reading her Musashi. In his 'Book of Five Rings' he makes a point about how defeating one opponent is the same as defeating ten thousand. (He was good with a sword, but I hear he had trouble with math) There's a bang and screams from outside, and she runs out.

When she gets outside, she finds Jox standing in the middle of a minefield with a bunch of refugees. (Trust Jox) Xena walks out to them verrry carefully, and tells them to follow her back, stepping in her footprints. Naturally, a wind kicks up and her footprints are erased. Khan shows up with about half his army, (Xena didn't notice them before, and gloats a bit, but he's only the opening act. ORSB materialises, and does some gloating of his own, then introduces his sis, so she gets her turn at a gloat. After this triple gloat, we fade to commercial. We never did get a particularly good explanation of the wind, but I suppose it was ORSB and GH1. Dead people can do that kinda stuff.

After the commercial, and a bit more gloating, Khan's men throw some grenades. (Why is it that when he talks to his men, it's not in English, but when he talks to ORSB or GH1 it is?) Anyway, Xena gasps and throws her head back like she's . um . stabbing some guy, and puts up a force field, which the grenades bounce off of. They keep throwing, she keeps . um . rolling her eyes back and hyperventilating. Joxer asks how long she can keep this up, and it ain't long. You'd think this would be a problem, but Xena just pulls out her chakram, and uses it to blow up a whole bunch of mines. (Now why didn't she do that in the first place?) Joxer and the refugees make a run for it, and there's Gabby to cover their retreat. (I guess she was sitting back, watching the show.) More sai work. I'm getting to like this new Gabby more and more. Studly Guy is there too, and Xena recognises him from her vision.

When they get back, Xena reads up a little more on crockery smashing. She manages to push the jar over, but can't quite get the kind of satisfying smash she did in The Debt. Am I the only one who's figured out at this point that she needs the pressure of combat to perform? GH2 stops by. Xena, warrior polygraph decides that there's something she's not sharing with the class. Seems that every time GH2 uses hoodoo, ORSB and GH1 get stronger. Looks like it's up to Xena. (Surprise, surprise)

Down in the tunnels, Gab and Studly Guy share a moment. She hasn't told stories for a while, and he encourages her to get back into it. (Hmmm, sounds like someone I know) Jox shows up and interrupts, just to make sure SG doesn't get anywhere with Gab. He also calls Gab and SG up for a meeting.

Xena has decided that they're going to send in commandos to blow the enemy's powder stores. (Where do Kurtzman and Orci get these creative strategic ideas??) Xena figures she and Gab will do it, but Gab would rather go with SG and Jox. (Oh, there's a good mix) For some reason the little bard doesn't think that a pregnant warrior should be going on dangerous commando missions. (Can't imagine why)

Over in the camp, the soldiers piling up the munitions are speaking Chinese again. (Or maybe not, it could be Swahili for all I know) Gabby and SG run in, kick some butt, and promptly get captured. Seems Khan was expecting something like this. (He's probably as impressed with the ole K&O creativity as I am) He gloats while one of his men pours a Bugs Bunny powder trail from the powder to the door. They light it and leave. Slam cut to Xena, who looks scared, somehow she knows that Gabrielle is scared. (Has somebody been reading Missy Good?) Fade to commercial.

Xena concentrates, and gets a look at the powder trail. Seems that somehow her lessons from Serene Chick have given her control over the weather, 'cause she somehow sucks all the air out of the tent (note, I said tent, not hyperbaric chamber) and extinguishes the powder. I'll leave the counting of the physical laws this violates as an exercise for the student. So Gabby and SG blow the powder, and the sibs tear a strip off Khan.

Back at the ranch, X&G reunite, in a scene remarkably devoid of subtext. There's some nattering about the nature of Love and Hate, and how impossible things look. In the meantime, Jox is serving dinner. They steal a gag from ISAIH, and he takes some soup over to a pretty Chinese girl. She's lost her family and he promises to help her find them. Not that K&O develop this plotline, they just cut to SG and Gabby. They're filling bags of rice to pass the time. This would be the obligatory sensitive chat. SG is coming on to the Gab-ster big time.

Next morning, Joxer runs in all out of breath. Khan's army is coming over the hill, and they've got hostages. Seems that Khan figures Xena can't hoodoo his army if they've got villagers with them.

Commercial break

Xena is gonna face the army down single-handed, while everybody else high-tails it. Touching goodbyes all around, and SG seems to figure that he and Gabby are a couple now. No reaction to that from Gab's soulmate. [shaking head] I really don't know what they're playing at here.

Xena walks into the middle of a field, looking about as menacing as a pregnant woman can. They fire a bunch of rockets at her, and she does the force field thing. Repeat as required to fill up the time you didn't have enough plot for. The rockets start bouncing back on the army, and doing some damage to the troops, but they keep firing, 'cause they're bad guys, and therefore stupid. Gabby Jox and SG run in to get the hostages out. Ted even gets to do a three stooges line. So lets see, the three of them, fighting a bunch of guys, while rockets fall all around. Yup, just like the vision. Ted does that stupid sword gag of his again, but this time actually manages to kick someone. With all the . um . force fields that Xena is having, she's getting kinda tired. There's actually a pretty good fight scene going on with Gab and SG.

When the army sends cavalry after Xena, she gets an idea. All these guys have Green Dragons. On their flags, on their chests, and burnt into their hands. She can just zap 'em all. It doesn't make any sense to me either, but somehow she manages to turn the whole army to stone, just like the rabbits.

This is where I have a problem. Renpic is saying that censorship can work. All you have to do is kill 'em all!! If someone has an idea, or knowledge that you don't want getting out, just kill them! For gods sake, never let the Taperts find out if you've got a videotape with the headbutt scene from The Way. Well, let me tell you all something. I've got a bit of knowledge, an idea, a thought, that parts of my society find objectionable, that my government doesn't like. It's called ohIG:OIUJPouihyfg]


This commentary is by Philip Teo.

Okay, now I am getting really curious about Xena's abilities. She can fight, do acrobats, have great strength, and in this season, we can see she can still fight well even when she is six months pregnant, and she has magical powers, she has premonitions, and she can sense danger. Aern't they making Xena a little too dramatic for a mortal? Simply by remembering a few phrases from Lao Ma's teachings, Xena can summon such great powers?

I do understand that they had Xena use magic so as to avoid as little action scenes as possible because of her pregnancy. But Xena could do so much in such little time. Both she and Pao Su read the same book, but I don't see Pao Su mastering the kind of powers that Xena is doing? If what Xena said that she could call upon the power when threatened, then she should be using this in her future battles instead of fighting it out like a mortal, isn't it? Xena did say to Kao Sing before; they are like vessels, they could call upon the power anytime.

I am beginning to love Xena's new chakram. It's like two chakrams rolled into one, which is the case. She can only accomplish more feats with two chakrams instead of one and sure gives her an advantage.

Gabrielle is getting good with her fighting skills, and perhaps she and Lin Chi will make good partners. But too bad, that is the last we will see him for now.

Seeing Pao Su and Ming Tien merged together into one body reminded me of one Hong Kong movie I have seen, The Legend of the White Hair Bride. In that movie, there was also a pair of characters who are twin brother and sisters, and had their bodies merged into one. I wonder whether the idea was got from there.

I just wonder whether Lao Ma has anymore unfulfilled legacies for the warrior princess. I guess we will know in future episodes if there ever was.


By Xorys.

So who was who in Back In The Bottle?

Joxer was, of course, played by Ted Raimi. I won't go over Ted's *many* roles or current outside projects again, since I summarised the latest projects I'd heard about last week, and last did a full review of Ted's film and TV career when he appeared in If The Shoe Fits.

The special guest star of this episode was of course once more Marie Matiko in the dual roles of the sisters Pao Ssu and K'ao Hsin (and even though I knew the same actor was playing both this time, they still seemed *totally*distinct people to me...)

Marie has never appeared in the Xenaverse before. If you thought you had seen her before (and I did think Pao Ssu looked familiar, even if I didn't realise at first that she was played by the same person as K'ao Hsin) it was probably in the recent film The Corruptor (known as N.Y.P.D. 15 in Japan), starring Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg. Marie's role in this movie wasn't terribly inspiring - she played May, a prostitute who was protected by Chow Yun-Fat's cop character (or at least I believe so - I saw the movie, and thought it not too bad, but it was a while ago...)

The only other project I could find for Marie was the forthcoming action movie The Art Of War, to star Anne Archer, Wesley Snipes and Donald Sutherland - no idea what role Marie is playing in this one.

Daniel Sing returned as the evil Ming Tien, otherwise known as The Green Dragon. Daniel previously played this role in The Debt and The Bitter Suite. I don't know of any other credits for him.

Really I can't say much about the rest of the cast of this ep... George Kee Chung as Khan (presumably *not* Genghis), Anthony Wong as Lin Qi (the redshirt who knew his place and lived), Helen Phung as Tei (the distressed refugee comforted by Joxer), and Lohsing Cheng as a "Peasant" were all new to the Xenaverse, and I haven't been able to find anything else about any of them.

The ep's teleplay was credited to "Buddy Williers", who was also credited for writing Them Bones, Them Bones. We now know that "Buddy Williers" is an official alias of Stephen Sears, and that he used this rather than his own name on these scripts because they were changed quite a bit by other staff members when he wasn't available, and he no longer felt comfortable with his own name being on them. The story writing for this ep was credited to Rob Tapert and Steven L. Sears. Rob Tapert had story writing credits for Sins Of The Past, The Xena Scrolls, Destiny, The Debt, Fins Femmes & Gems, Adventures In The Sin Trade and Locked Up And Tied Down; he also directed Destiny and Paradise Found and played himself in The Xena Scrolls. Steven Sears is credited as "Writer" for Dreamworker, Hooves & Harlots, Athens City Academy Of The Performing Bards, A Fistful Of Dinars, The Royal Couple Of Thieves, The Greater Good, Orphan Of War, Intimate Stranger, The Price, Lost Mariner, The Dirty Half Dozen, The Deliverer, The Bitter Suite, When In Rome, Sacrifice 1, A Good Day, Past Imperfect, Between The Lines, Endgame, and Succession, and also credited as "Story Writer" on Remember Nothing and The Quest, and "Teleplay Writer" on Destiny and The Quest... to say nothing of his association with the "Buddy Williers" credit for writing Them Bones, Them Bones.

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

From Virginia V Kelly. The guy who played Khan played a villain in three eps of Martial Law last year. He played a childhood rival of Sammo's gone bad, really bad. He also played the father of the kidnapped girl in the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker(?) movie Rush Hour.

From Xorys. Well it turns out I really blew it in my "who was who" on Back In The Bottle when it came to George Kee Cheung, the actor who played (presumably *not* Genghis) Khan - I said I could find no other credits for him, whereas in fact, as Shelley Durocher pointed out to me, he has an *enormous* résumé of film and TV roles spanning over twenty years! He is variously credited as Kee Cheung, George Kee, George Chung, and George K. Cheung, as well as George Kee Cheung. I really can't list all his credits, but well known films he has appeared in include Rush Hour (driver), Lethal Weapon 4 (fan), Sneakers (restaurant singer), One Good Cop (waiter), Another 48 Hours (hotel guest) , Robocop 2, Weekend At Bernie's (gardener), Big Trouble In Little China, Rambo 2, Going Berserk, Kentucky Fried Movie, and The Killer Elite - mostly he seems to get supporting roles, as a waiter, henchman, driver, bystander etc. George also did stunt work on quite a number of movies, including Beverly Hills Ninja, Mars Attacks, and Escape From L.A. On TV George has appeared in episodes of Mortal Combat: Conquest, ER, Seinfeld (The Pothole), Walker Texas Ranger, NYPD Blue, L.A. Law, MacGuyver, Wiseguy, China Beach, T.J. Hooker, Magnum P.I., Wonder Woman, and The Streets Of San Francisco, amongst others. Wow! I wonder if George is the first and only person to have appeared on both Wonder Woman *and* Xena? I guess so...

05-11-00. From Eric. This is the movie info for Anthony Wong, the actor who played Lin Qi in BACK IN THE BOTTLE and whom Xorys was unable to find info for, because his full name is Anthony Wong chau-sang. His credit list is extensive, so look it up on the Internet Movie Database (http://us.imdb.com/Name?Wong+Chau-Sang,+Anthony).


06-11-00. In the June 2000 issue of Chakram, the newsletter of the Official Xena Fan Club, Robert Tapert was interviewed:

Interviewer: Do you have a more personal investment in Xena because this was a character you always wanted to do - a character you helped invent?
Robert Tapert: Yes. I love the bloody show! And no one is more disappointed that this season, for example, the two China episodes, which I felt should have been great, were disasters. They were done during a time of transition of the staff of the show and we tried to shore up the second one, but it didn't work. A pregnant Xena facing the decision that the only way she could protect herself is to kill 100,000 people is a great emotional moment. And nothing was made of it. That was the whole story. Xena saying, "Gabrielle, I can't kill all these people and bring somebody into this world and not have it affect my child." That was the story and it got lost and changed into things that didn't matter.
Interviewer: I was stunned when there wasn't any discussion about turning the army into stone. I realize it was based on that story about the archeologists finding the buried stone army, but that's something Evil Xena would have done. Not the Xena of today.
Tapert: I think if those two episodes had been better, it would have changed a lot. They were just two letdowns. "Back in the Bottle" was one of the weakest shows we've ever done. It's what Lucy and Renee have said. Even when you're fighting, you need to find the heart of the scene that protects the love between the characters. And that didn't happen this season. We had that in the third and fourth seasons.
Interviewer: Xena would never kill 100,000 people without blinking.
Tapert: Right.
Tappert also said, "There was no passion [between Gabrielle and Lin Qi]. Renee came to me and said, 'This is not going to work.' I told her to do her best and I'd try to rescue it in the editing room. But the story between Gabrielle and Lin was such a bad idea. It needed to be about Xena and Gabrielle and the weight on their shoulders."

11-21-99. According to ET, Lucy Lawless was 6 months pregnant when she filmed PURITY and BACK IN THE BOTTLE.

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.

09-15-99. Apparently Steven Sears mentioned that thiswas the hardest episode that he had ever written in terms of walking the line with subtext actually becoming maintext. This was the last script that Steven Sears worked on for XWP. Apparently it has been undergoing extensive rewrites. Also, it is looking like that this episode might be the China episode, the binge episode, the mermaid episode, or -- eek -- something totally different.


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

I MUST know if anyone else has this on their tape, or if it's only on mine (or was just my affiliate)! When Xena hugs Kao Hsin hello, listen closely when they part. I swear to God it sounds like the cameraman belched. Whatever it is, it may be the funniest blooper I've ever seen/heard in my life. [Post-note: it's been confirmed, that was NOT just me, that's some rogue sound running around in the episode. Oh, my aching sides.]

Khan puts his hand out for a torch, and his henchmen leave him hanging for three seconds. Watch the guy on the left look confused and glance offscreen for a split-second before he grabs the torch. I was laughing myself sick. Fire those flunkies, Khan!


From Eric C.. Khan also intones 'Luk Long San, Fai Yin Yeng'. Loosely translated, it means 'Green Dragon Spirit/God, Take real shape/Show your true form.'

From Nusi Dekker. I was watching a PBS show last night called "Nova" and it was about explosions. I was just about to switch channels again when they started talking about the origin of "black powder". Seems it was invented in the 9th century by a couple of Chinese alchemists who were trying to make a potion for people to ingest to make them live longer. It exploded while they were cooking it. This, according to an ancient Chinese book containing various "recipes", dated from the 9th cent. The ingredients were: sulfur, saltpeter, and honey. The Xenaverse timeline has just been stretched a little longer, eh?

From Sally Dye. Did anyone else notice a familiar face from Season Two in the episode "Back in the Bottle"? It was Tobias, the contrary donkey from "A Solstice Carol"! Toward the end, when Xena and K'ao Hsin are walking among the refugees, Tobias is standing with a pack on his back. You have to look quickly, or you'll miss him.

From Eric C.. Though the episode takes place in the middle of China, where the main dialect would be Mandarin, the words Khan speaks are in Cantonese, a dialect native to south China. Special thanks goes to my father for translations.

During his incantation to summon Ming T'ien he says the words 'T'ien Leng Leng, Te Leng Leng' pronounced (Teen layng layng, Tay layng layng). This is a traditional Chinese prayer/command for a wish to come true, and it loosely translates to 'Let Heaven and Earth come together'.

When Khan launches the rocket attack on Xena, he orders his men 'Ja Sei Koi!' pronounced (Jah Say Koy). These three words are 'Explode, Kill, Her' basically saying "Blow her up!"

From Eric C.. The transformation of the soldiers into stone resembles an actual truth. Qin Shi Huangdi (prononced Chin Shee Hwongdee, from where we get China), the first Emperor of China, built a large tomb housing thousands of life-size terra-cotta warriors, in the belief that he would remain a powerful man in the afterlife. No two soldiers have the same face - each is an individual portrait of a warrior from the Qin army.


Click here to read a transcript of BACK IN THE BOTTLE .


Pao Ssu's split personality was not harmed during the production of this motion picture.


Marie Matiko Official Website

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