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EPISODE NO. 52
GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITSGUEST STARS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
COMMENTARY 1 by Beth Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 by Carmen Carter
COMMENTARY 3 by Deanna Hardrath
WHIMPERS, MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR
ACTING CHOICES by Joanna Sandsmark
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
THE TAO TE CHING Part 1
Daniel Lim (Ming T'ien, 12 years)
Tai Hadfield (Chuang)
Blair Fraser (Messenger)
Peter Mason (Shopkeeper)
William Kwan (Soldier)
Teleplay by R. J. Stewart
Story by Robert Tapert and R. J. Stewart
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Oley Sassone
Lao Ma: They say you're a dangerous woman.
Xena: Well they're right.
LOOK BACK TO HER PAST. A VERY DIFFERENT XENA IN A VERY DIFFERENT WORLD.
(Xena is in a cage.)
Ming Tzu: She has to die.
Lao Ma: Come with me if you wish your freedom.
NOW XENA RETURNS TO SETTLE A DEBT
Gabrielle: Who's the Green Dragon?
BY TAKING A LIFE
Xena: The one I'm going to kill
BATTLE ON, XENA!
TV GUIDE PROMO
As Xena and Gabrielle travel toward the Eastern kingdom of Chin, Xena recalls a kidnapping episode from her dark past involving two rival Chin clans. Part 1 of 2.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 11/03/97
An AA average of 6.2
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 6th with 7.0
(2) STAR TREK: DS9 8th with 6.4 ("Sacrifice of Angels")
(3) XENA 9th with 6.2
(4) HERCULES 11th with 5.9 ("Two Men and a Baby")
2nd release: 03-30-98
An AA average of 4.6
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 7th with 6.0
(2) STAR TREK: DS9 13th with 4.8
(3) XENA 13th with 4.6
(4) HERCULES 15th with 4.5
3rd release: 12-07-98
An AA average of 4.1
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 12th with 5.2
(2) ER 15th with 4.4
(3) XENA 18th with 4.1
(4) STAR TREK DS9 3.7
(5) HERCULES 3.4
(6) Stargate: SG-1 3.0
(7) Earth: Final Conflict 2.8
(8) The Crow 2.7
(9) Mortal Kombat 2.6
(10) Honey, I Shrunk the Kids 2.3
(11) Night Man 2.3
This synopsis is by Bluesong.
The show opens with Xena at a campsite. She reaches over for Gabrielle; she is missing. She finds her sitting and thinking. Gabrielle thanks Xena for helping her. Then a man appears looking for Xena. He is wounded. Suddenly several ninja-types come after Xena, and she fends them off. The wounded man tells Xena the Green Dragon has grown too strong, and dies. Xena tells Gabrielle she has to go far east, to the land of Chin, and Gabrielle probably shouldn't go. Gabrielle understands that Xena is going to kill someone, but doesn't understand why. She begs Xena for an explanation. Xena tells Gabrielle that if she is to understand, she must "understand what was left undone." There are some flashbacks to Xena on the cross with Ceasar destroying her legs. She says after that, with shattered legs and a crippled soul, she went east, set on vengence against the entire human race.
In flashback we see Xena's story. She meets up with Borias, a "thief" trying to gain the riches of the Ming and/or Lao dynasty. He wants to form an allegiance with one or the other, but Xena ultimately blows his chances with both. During this time Xena is using a crutch but remains a very capable fighter (she is called a cripple by some, however). She and Borias are lovers but they are using each other, Xena tells Gabrielle. When Lao Ma, a beautiful woman, shows up to make a deal for the House of Lao, Xena is jealous and tries to kill her. Lao Ma, however, has great fighting skills and mighty powers. She leaves and Borias tells Xena that she must leave too or he will kill her. So Xena decides to kidnap Ming Tien, the son of the emperor of the Ming House. She does, and then Borias sets up an exchange. But he double crosses Xena and turns her over to Ming Tzu, Ming Tien's father.
Gabrielle can't believe Xena was so ruthless. She says she can't go with Xena to help her kill someone, and Xena understands. They say goodbye. Xena gets on a ship, leaving Gabrielle with Argo.
Ming Tzu takes Xena out and lets her loose, where she is hunted with dogs. Lao Ma finds her and takes her to her home. Ming Tzu confronts Lao Ma, who denies having anything to do with Xena. Xena, however, is hiding in the spa right in front of Ming Tzu, holding her breath. She is ready to burst up for air when Lao Ma bends down as if she is washing her face and breathes into Xena's mouth. Ming Tzu leaves. Lao Ma then tenderly cares for Xena, washing her hair, combing it, and dressing her.
Cut to present day. Xena covers herself in mud and slips into a castle. As she heads toward the bedroom of Ming Tien, the Green Dragon she has to kill, she has flashbacks of Gabrielle. She remembers all the things Gabrielle has taught her; she thinks of the time she brought Gabrielle back to life. She shakes off the memories and goes into the bedroom. As she raises the knife the covers are thrown back, and Gabrielle, dressed up like royalty, lies there. "I'm sorry Xena, I couldn't let you do this," Gabrielle says. Xena says nothing. Ming Tien and his soldiers enter, and the emperor tells his men to lock Xena up. Xena and Gabrielle gaze into each other's eyes.
TO BE CONTINUED
This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.
'Scuse me while I go retrieve my socks; I think they blew off behind the stereo here, somewhere...
Whew. In a nutshell? Fabulous episode. The characters were rich, the acting was excellent all around, and the foray into Xena's past was chilling stuff. I *love* what this episode did with Xena. I *hate* what this episode did with Gabrielle.
Lao Ma is a great character, and she's going to do nothing but get more fascinating. From what we know of her so far, Xena probably learned her discipline and confidence, some of her swifter fighting skills, maybe even embroidery, from her. However, judging by the fact that Xena returned to Greece an even nastier, more dangerous warlord than when she left, she DIDN'T learn any kind of mercy or that Greater Good stuff from her. Add it all up, and Lao Ma is one marvelously bad momma.
Apparently, though, Xena never quite mastered this trick of making things fly through the air and Mortal Combat-style chi attacks [editor's note: Give the gal some time!]. Next episode: Xena stands on her head and makes rocks pile on top of each other with Lao Ma perched on her feet.
To rival the wall of China, Xena creates a wall of her own: the severed heads of Ming enemies. Yee-ipes. Pretty gruesome effect there, guys. And was that last head that she threw down the guy that Borias had made her let go? Looks like she went back and took care of unfinished business. Brrr.
Once again, the Xenaverse proves that there is no place that cannot have a hot tub. 'Nuff said.
My favorite part of Lucy's acting work in this episode is seeing Xena pre-discipline. Our stoic, repressed warrior woman is not to be found here. Instead, Xena is fidgety with energy and rage, frequently unsure of herself, and bursting with every emotion she feels plain across her face. This Xena can't sit still and has her head thrust forward most of the time in her intensity. It's a fascinating performance. It's much easier for an actor to create a whole new character than it is to do a different version of an existing character. You have to keep enough common threads in the character to make her recognizable, and yet show how different she is. I caught a couple of Meg moments during the episode, and her "Xena wins again" line sounded just like her Callisto - gave me a chill. But other than those, Lucy did a stunning job. It's fun to compare things like old Xena's growl (and pre-firebreathing drink-spitting) at Ming T'ien to the reformed Xena's "boo!" at the kids in CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102). Same reaction, same amusement, different intent.
Another fine touch by Lawless: when she's running from Ming's dogs and Lao Ma finds her, watch Xena flinch every time the dogs bark. She's at the end of her rope and reduced to being the hunted animal they've made her.
When Lao Ma calls Xena dangerous, she ain't kidding. This woman gets her kicks by severing heads, scaring little kids, and doing the wild thing on horseback (have mercy!), not to mention throwing daggers at anything that annoys her while enjoying the occasional opium pipe. Xena's more devastating crippled than most people could get near in their top form. (I guess Niklio's bone-setting in DESTINY got messed up when she stomped all over those Romans.)
OK, I'm going to ask the obvious question: How on EARTH did Gabrielle get to Ming's castle? The Xena reality editor who sits on my shoulder says this: Gabrielle managed to work out of Xena that she's headed for Ming. Xena had to take a ship close to Chin, then sneak into the country and to Ming's palace. Theoretically, I suppose, Gabrielle could have hopped another ship directly into Chin and marched up to the front door. What a shock when Xena found Gabrielle in the palace - at first, I thought she was having more flashbacks. It wasn't until she spoke that I realized she really was there. Which, I suppose, was exactly the effect they intended.
And speaking of the Xena reality editor, I have to make one nitpick. I have no problems with everyone speaking English across the world. Greeks meet Britons meet Romans meet Chinese, and everyone has a Babel fish in their ear. Not a problem. But then why throw in ONE measly little guy to speak in Chinese? People only revert to their native languages when they're peons about to be skewered? Make a rule and stick to it, guys: either everyone's speaking the same language, or Gabrielle's still sitting at Ming's front door trying to pantomime "assassin warrior princess."
I have fallen in love with Oley Sassone's directing work. He's the fellow who did THE PRICE and, not as impressively, THE DELIVERER. He's in top form with this episode. Xena's head rising from the water was very reminiscent of the Horde's appearance in THE PRICE (so nice, had to do it twice). Xena's muddy form skulking through the hallway full of spinning globes and cages was stunning photography work. (I know, I know, it's hard to miss with THAT form skulking anywhere, but still, give the guy credit for good work.)
Nice Raiders of the Lost Ark moment when Xena chakrams the guy who's showing off with the two swords!
Interesting choice of flashbacks they showed as Xena hesitated outside of Ming T'ien's bedroom. Gabrielle and Callisto's deaths, I suppose, were Xena's most potent reminders of how much difference single lives can make and how precious they can be. She's not able to make her victims faceless and nameless any more. She even considers Gabrielle's old advice about choosing to act with grace instead of reacting with violence, but in the end, she decides that it's asking too much and keeps up with the assassination plan.
OK, let's talk about Gabrielle. What happened? Did the producers decide that everybody has been liking Gabrielle way too much lately? She had come too close to losing that "irritating blonde" label for good? Throughout the first 40 minutes, she pops in occasionally to accuse and express disbelief at Xena, which was tough enough to swallow. Usually, Gabrielle's first reaction to anything from Xena's past is to remind Xena of how different she is now, to support and encourage her. Not this time, maybe because Gabrielle thinks that Xena is intent on returning to finish whatever business was left behind. But ouch, couldn't Gabrielle have at least demanded the rest of the story before she decided what to do?
Speaking of which, of Xena's many skills, explanation is apparently not one of them. She leaves Gabrielle behind at the docks without even finishing her justification for heeding a call to kill? C'mon, Xena, you're usually a lot more succinct; giving the whole story to Gabrielle might have saved you both a lot of grief.
And now we know why The Debt Part 2 is called Betrayal. In the span of two episodes, Gabrielle has deceived Xena, then betrayed her. With malice and forethought. The shock on Xena's face when she found Gabrielle in Ming's palace was painful. I'm REALLY hoping that Debt 2 is going to give us some reasons for what Gabrielle's done. I can't believe she'd decide that turning Xena over to her enemies was preferable to allowing Xena to assassinate someone, but maybe Gabrielle's idealism is running away with her again.
When the episode closed, I remembered Renee O'Connor talking at Valley Forge about the Rift. She said that this season was the first time that she had to do things as Gabrielle that she didn't agree with. She said that Gabrielle's black-and-white ideals about killing were going to cause problems, and she needed to find some balance. When Lucy called during the appearance, she reminded the crowd that rough times were coming for our favorite duo, but things would work out and we weren't allowed to hate anyone in the meantime. Renee explained that Lucy was worried about her. After Gabrielle's Hope, I figured I knew what things they had been referring to. Turns out we hadn't even begun to scratch the surface. Yeee-owch.
Give Gabrielle credit, though: she's not afraid to stand by what she's done. She could have told Ming that Xena was coming and then ran. She could have stayed in the palace, but waited until Xena was captured before approaching her. Instead, she put herself right in front of Xena and told her what she was doing and why. Years of traveling together aside, she was still standing boldly in front of a very dangerous, armed woman while she handed her over. Even in this moment, Gabrielle is strong and brave, and cares enough about Xena to look her in the eyes. I think she's so off-base she's out circling Jupiter somewhere, but she's gutsy and true about it.
This commentary is by Carmen Carter.
Ms. Carter's commentary covers both THE DEBT and THE DEBT II, and is therefore located in the guide for THE DEBT II.
This commentary is by Deanna Hardrath.
Ms. Hardrath's commentary covers both THE DEBT and THE DEBT II, and this is therefore located in the guide for THE DEBT II.
WHIMPERS. MURMURS, AND A LOVE GONE TOO FAR:
12-16-99. At a convention in August 1999, Jacqueline Kim shared with fans:
That her take on the hairpin was that the hairpin was sent to Xena was a way of passing on the baton; saying as much, "Here. I've done as much as I've can, now you have to take over." That when she got the script to read before taking the part, the subtext was basically text. Apparently there was a scene (eventually cut) where Lao Ma and Xena were dancing and it was obvious that the attraction was there. That the actors who played her son and his father were doing Chinese accents during the first read through, and asked her when she was going to do *her* accent. Kim explained to the audience that Xena is Greek and doesn't have an accent, and said that she told the producers that it is demeaning to assume/ask for her to do the accent. She didn't do it, obviously. That she is a practising Buddhist. She does T'ai Chi which is how she got the flowing moves down. She also meditates. The boy who played her younger son asked her to show her the basics of T'ai Chi during the filming. That she credited RJ Stewart with a lot of the success of the episode. She mentioned that being a person of color she did not want to play a stereotype. But she felt Stewart wrote a very wonderful script. She said that he had had that character in his mind for over a year, and he did a great job.
09-25-99. In an interview in WHOOSH #33 (06/99), Morton Csokas stated that "R.J. Stewart wrote the script for my first appearance and that was to take place in Mongolia or thereabouts. I was trying to do a combination Russian/Chinese kind of accent which didn't quite work out. He was at a wardrobe fitting and mentioned that the character was based on Attila the Hun, and should be sort of Hungarian. Well, that's no problem for me, to do a Hungarian accent, but it turned out a little more generic than that. I liked the character. "
12-21-98. From R.J. Stewart's (the executive producer of XWP) RealHollywood 12-15-98 chat:
Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ Stewart, what is our favorite episode of Xena?"
R.J.Stewart says "...I've got a bunch of them so it's a tricky one. You know one that I respect a lot as a well designed story and I'm surprised that it's not mentioned more often .. "Remember Nothing" from the second episode, Chris Mannheim wrote it. I think it turned out well .. I watched it with a group of people and people who weren't Xena fans were impressed with it. I love the China two parter and anything with Callisto in it .. and shows that have a lot of things happening between X and G. It's a hard one to answer. I remember "I remember nothing" so well because I was watching it with non Xena fans and they were so impressed with the craft that went into it."
01-31-98. Robert Field, aka Avicus, on 01-18-98, at the Burbank II Con stated that while it usually takes two weeks to edit an episode of XWP (somethings including evenings and weekends), "THE DEBT Parts 1 and 2 took five weeks to edit. He also stated that most of the episodes have difficult sequences, and that THE DEBT have several one of them. There was one aerial shot that had seven versions, and it was very time consuming to edit it. And there also was a five minute dialogue section which was hard to cut.
01-30-98. At the Burbank 98 convention (01/17/98) someone asked Robert Tapert, executive producer and BIG CHEESE of XWP, how Gabrielle knew where to go in THE DEBT part 1. Tapert smiled and said "You think you've got me don't you? Well, I'm not gonna answer, but the answer is coming!" [And it was, how Gabrielle got to Chin was revealed in the episode FORGET ME NOT -- She hitchhiked a ride with Ares. Wink wink nudge nudge.]
01-07-98. Robert Field, aka Avicus, on 01-05-98, stated on the Xenaverse list that "THE DEBT Parts 1 and 2 was a total of 16 days of shooting by Main Unit. Second Unit probably did about two and a half weeks of shooting as well - including some pick up shots that I requested to correct some minor errors."
01-02-98. From an interview with R.J. Stewart that took place on July 3, 1997:
WW: No sneak previews?
RJ: No, but I will say that an important part of it takes place in China. We're doing XENA goes to China, and we got a great actress, Jacqueline Kim, to play her mentor....
11-16-97: Wonder what a "frock tart" is? Robert Field, an editor of XWP posted this explaination 11- 14-97: "Someone wrote (perhaps several people wrote) to ask about the disclaimer for THE DEBT - "No frock tarts were killed during the making of this motion picture, although they wished they had been." - and the general question was - what is a "frock tart"? "Frock tarts" are the women in New Zealand who make the costumes - aka seamstresses - for the show. Considering the large number of costumes needed for THE DEBT episodes, one begins to better understand the disclaimer. For what it is worth, this is what these women call themselves!"
11-16-97: In the same post, Mr. Field referred to an on-line controverary that had erupted. He wrote on 11-14-97: "Also, for those who are interested - Grant MacFarland - who plays Ming Tsu in THE DEBT episodes - is Malaysian according to Rob Tapert. I suggest to those who complained about the producer's using a 'non-Asian' actor to portray this character that they reassess their own assumptions about a persons heritage based only on their surname."
11-09-97: From an interview with RJ Stewart at http://www.writerswebsite.com/interviews/intv_rjs.htm conducted on 07-03-97. "Interviewer: No sneak previews? RJ: No, but I will say that an important part of it takes place in China. We're doing XENA goes to China, and we got a great actress, Jacqueline Kim, to play her mentor."
10-26-97: Somewhere I heard that THE DEBT is where we find out how Xena got the title "warrior princess" and that the flashbacks start right after the flashbacks of THE DESTINY ended.
10-26-97: Sharon Delaney at Valley Forge (10-04-97) stated that THE DEBT takes place in China and is directed by Rob Tapert [apparently incorrectly reported. Sassone is the director] . It is like DESTINY in that they have flashbacks to when Xena was the 'Destroyer of Nations' and has a reference to THE PRICE where Xena has plans for the 10,000 dead. Xena is *one bad chick* in this one.
10-06-97: More Reported from the NYC Con 09-28-97: Lucy Lawless spoke very highly of The Debt, and described Xena stripping naked and covering herself in mud to enter China, actually Mongolia.
Reported from the NYC Con 09-28-97: DEBT picks up where DESTINY left off -- Xena on a very very bad hair day. She's a killing machine in this one. Will we get the coveted TV-14 for this one folks?
Reported in a magazine: Xena faces execution for attempting to kill the evil Chinese ruler who murdered her spiritual mentor.
TV Guide reports that Xena meets Lao Tzu while she's in China. What a busy gal! Let's hope she doesn't have a flash-back and think of Caesar, Julius Caesar and then snap his neck. That would be too rude, you know.
Xena goes to China! Scuttlebut is that this may be the best show of the season. Already rumors of the best action scenes yet with lots of extras riding horses and running amuck.
Supposedly this episode makes DESTINY look like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER in terms of intensity. Yup, we are talking the evil Xena...everyone is on the edge of their seats to see if THE DEBT too takes place ten years ago.
Just as Iolaus learned the martial arts from an eastern teacher, perhaps Xena picks up a few pointers in China. And just think, YOU will be there.
ACTING CHOICES :
This commentary is by Joanna Sandsmark.
Ms. Sandsmark's comments cover both THE DEBT and THE DEBT II, and is therefore located in the guide for THE DEBT II.
Highlights by Beth Gaynor.
So much for seeing that same ol' tree and cave week after week. The wide, cold plains and close, smoky tents of this episode were gorgeous, and a refreshing breath of scenery fresh air.
At last we know why Xena was dressed in oriental robes in DREAMWORKER! Mark off one more mystery of the universe solved.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Things by Beth Gaynor.
Watch for Lao Ma to show up in the present in Part 2. I don't know why I went through most of the episode assuming that Lao Ma was dead and gone, but it finally occurred to me that the message to Xena was from her. Also, anyone care to place bets that Ming T'ien is Lao Ma's son? She served as Ming Tzu's courtesan, she's sewing presents for the kid... it fits the XWP 'lost child' theme we've developed.
Nice meetin' ya, Borias. Crafty, vicious fella, and smart as a whip - what an interesting match for Xena. Makes you proud to be a ravaging warlord. I wonder if Debt 2 is going to explain how Borias ended up serving in Xena's army in Greece? His story's not done yet!
Check out the archway behind Xena when Lao Ma has dressed her in robes and put her hairpin back in her hair; the design matches the squared design on the chakram. Are we going to find out more about the round killing thing's origins in DEBT 2? Do Lao Ma's fancy tricks with the hairpin and daggers explain some of the tricky stunts that Xena pulls with the chakram? (Kudos to a few people with sharper eyes than mine for spottig that design!)
MORE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
From KSZoneW. The music used during XWP's "The Debt and the Debt II" for the "Evil Xena" intro, was also used in HTLJ's Armageddon Now II, also used for another evil Xena. It had a "Gothic Oriental" theme to it.
From KSZoneW. The dragon statue in the Dancing Hall in HTLJ "My Fair Cupcake" was seen in XWP's "The Debt".
From KSZoneW. The giant wheel from "The Debt" was seen in Georgas' throne room in HTLJ's "My Fair Cupcake". Infact they has the same setup in HTLJ's "Men in Pink" for Gekkus' throne room as they did in this episode for Georgas' throne room.
From KSZoneW. The bed in Autolycus room in HTLJ's "My Fair Cupcake" was also seen in XWP's "The Debt" and HTLJ's "Surprise".
THE TAO TE CHING Part 1
Things by Judith K. Parker.
When telling Gabrielle about her time in the land of Chin, Xena quotes the Tao Te Ching regarding desire. Here's the relevant passage, this one from the Stephen Mitchell translation, a non-traditional text I prefer (note: "HE" and "SHE" are interchangeable in this translation).
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness, The gateway to all understanding.
In other words, when we are "caught in desire," that is, see things through our emotions and our own needs, we see things as we wish to see them. We see the particular things, the manifestations of what is real, but we cannot see the truth, the mystery of existence.
As a long-time Taoist, I find interesting any hint that Xena might be or might have been a believer in this philosophy. Why? (I'm so glad I asked that.) Because Xena's actions are the polar opposite of what would be suggested by a Taoist frame of mind.
Taoism is a philosophy that minimizes the importance of ego and competition and condones fighting as a last resort. Leadership and governance are to be accomplished unobtrusively. This is true whether you are leading an army or a nation or raising a child. A final goal of the Taoist is to be "unattached to all things." This does not mean detached or uncaring. It means a separation of one's self-interest (desire) from one's understanding of the universe. It means the realization that all things are a part of the Tao, with the non-preferred making the preferred possible (or recognizable.)
Here are a few examples of how far Xena is from practicing Taoism. (I use the word "practicing," but that is really not the right word. It is hard to find English words that convey the concepts of the Tao because we have such an ACTIVE language. One doesn't really "believe in" Taoism or "practice" Taoism.)
1) Xena is the woman of many skills. She cannot stand to lose a competition, whether it is against mortals or immortals. All she needs to do is "get her timing down," and she'll win the next fight. Of course, she always DOES, but that's beside the point. Let's be honest here; Xena IS often self-centered, and she has an ego as big as the known world. Contrast Xena's desire to WIN with:
The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself And don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
WELL: Xena DOES live close to the ground.....and she seems to enjoy her work.
2) Xena is the fixer of what is broken, the protector of those who are weaker, the leader of those who lack direction. If things aren't going as she plans, she will MAKE people and events conform to her expectations. This is not in accord with such Taoist sentiments as:
Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn't try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. For every force there is a counterforce. Violence, even well-intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.
The Master does her job and then stops. She understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. Because she believes in herself, she doesn't try to convince others. Because she is content with herself, she doesn't need others' approval. Because she accepts herself, the whole world accepts her.
3) Xena, even the reformed warlord, loves her weapons. She is a warlover and exults in battle. But Lao-tzu taught:
Weapons are the tools of violence; all decent people detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent person will avoid them except in the direst necessity and, if compelled, will use them only with the utmost restraint. Peace is her highest value. If peace is shattered, how can she be content? Her enemies are not demons, but human beings like herself. She doesn't wish them personal harm. Nor does she rejoice in victory. How could she rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?
She enters a battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion, as if she were attending a funeral.
Xena: KILL THEM ALL!!
4) Xena divides the world into the good and the evil. One is what must be protected, and the other is what must be destroyed. Anyone who is not known to be good is considered evil until proven otherwise.
The Master has no mind of her own. She works with the mind of the people.
She is good to people who are good. She is also good to people who aren't good. That is true goodness.
She trusts people who are trustworthy. She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy. This is true trust.
The Master's mind is like space. People don't understand her. They look to her and wait. She treats them like her own children.
HMMM....That doesn't sound much like Xena, but it sounds like someone else on the show. I wonder who that might be....
5) Inside Xena is a storm of hate and anger that is always ready to explode. As revealed by her story of the stone thrown into the lake, she may sometimes be calm on the surface, but inside she is forever changed. . . .
She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes, without danger. She perceives the universal harmony, even amid great pain, because she has found peace in her heart.
I am looking forward to the next installment of THE DEBT to see how Xena is influenced by the philosophy of her rescuer--and what, if anything, of this philosophy she carried with her out of the land of Chin.
BTW, I am not saying that Xena Warrior Princess SHOULD embody the Tao. THAT might be a very boring show.
Click here to read a transcript of THE DEBT I .
No frock tarts were killed during the production of this motion picture although they wish they had been.
The following WHOOSH! articles discuss this episode: