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Season 2, episode 3
Series 203
1st release: 10/14/96
2nd release: 06/02/97
1st strip release: 09/08/98
2nd strip release: 12/08/98
Production number: V0204
Script number: 204
Approximate shooting dates: April/May 1996
Last update: 12-16-98

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY by Carmen Carter
CHANGING TIMES by Debbie White

Todd Rippon (Goliath)
Anthony Starr (David)

Calvin Tuteao (Dagon)
Dale Corlett (Jonathan)
Dennis Hally (King Saul)
Emma Brunette (Sarah)
John Leonard (Soldier)
Brad Homan (Head Archer)

Story by Terence Winter
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Gary Jones

Xena is caught behind a rock and a hard place when she's pitted against her old friend Goliath (Todd Rippon) in a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines.

Gabrielle defends an Israelite named David; Xena proposes to fight Goliath.

1st RELEASE: 10-14-96
An AA average of 5.4
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 8th at 5.8
(2) STAR TREK DS9 9th at 5.7
(3) XENA 10th at 5.4
(4) BAYWATCH 14th at 4.4

2nd RELEASE: 06-02-97
An AA average of 5.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA 9th at 5.0
(2) HERCULES 10th at 4.7
(3) STAR TREK DS9 11th at 4.3
(4) BAYWATCH/BABLYON 5 25th at 3.2


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Xena and Gabrielle are walking around a graveyard; a giant's graveyard. Gabrielle asks why they aren't buried. Xena says that it's a sign of honor of death on the battlefield. Xena fought with the giants against someone named Gareth, and 10 years ago she made a pact with a friend to meet him back at this place. Then Gabrielle says, Xena, there are more giants here than dead ones. Xena says, Hello Goliath. "This is your friend?" Gabrielle says. Xena nods. Gabrielle says she's going to take a walk.

Gabrielle talks to the trees: you'd think she'd have told me her friend was a giant, why doesn't she tell me these things? And then she's confronted by an army, who has some people captive. They go to take Gabrielle, and one of the slaves (David) tries to protect her but is knocked down. Gabrielle says pick on somebody who can defend themselves -- "Who you?" the man laughs, "No, me!" Xena says, and a fight ensues. Gabrielle is getting good at this fighting stuff, btw. Anyway, once the Philistines find out that it is Xena they are fighting against, they stop, for they have hired Goliath to help them defeat the Israelites, and Xena is Goliath's friend. They invite Xena and Gabrielle to their camp. The Israelites are put in a dungeon. The Israelites aren't fond of Xena.

Xena and Gabrielle go dine with the commander; Gabrielle steals food to take to the prisoners. Xena goes to talk to Goliath, to tell him he's working for the wrong side. But Goliath only wants revenge against Gareth, because Goliath's family was killed in the fighting, and the money the Philistines are paying him will help him find Gareth.

Gabrielle goes to the prisoners, gives them food, but they are trying to dig their way out and they are found out. The guard orders them killed. Gabrielle tries to talk him out of it. He says he'll only kill one, and pulls out David. David is put on a stump and Gabrielle throws herself over him to keep his head from being chopped off, and the guard says OK, I'll chop your head off too. The chakram comes flying, knocking the axe from the head-chopper and setting free some captives, and Xena, astride Argo, takes on the Philistines. Another fight; the Israelites and Xena flee to the Israelite home/palace, back to King Saul.

The Philistines are on the march, however, and with Goliath the Israelites have no hope. Xena proposes a winner-take-all, with her fighting her friend Goliath, because she knows that giants have a soft spot between the eyes that will kill them instantly, and she only needs one shot.

Gabrielle goes to David, and they have a tender moment and almost kiss, but then David's fiancee interrupts; Gabrielle departs going "dumb, dumb, dumb," and smacking herself in the head. She finds Xena alone, standing, watching the storm outside in the darkness. "Is the thunder keeping you up?" Gabrielle slips an arm around Xena. No. Xena explains how Goliath saved her life and in so doing, lost his family. She is very sad about the entire turn of events; Gabrielle takes Xena's right hand in her left hand, and then covers her hand with her right; Xena returns the hand hold, tenuously at first, but then with a tight grip.

The next morning the Philistines and Israelites meet; the challenge has been accepted. Goliath goes after Xena, and the Philistines attack the Israelites in a sneak play. Jonathan, the elder son of King Saul, is killed, and the Israelites retreat. Goliath has on a special helmet, and can't be killed, so Xena finally throws salt in his eyes and runs with the Israelites to a cave.

Xena tells Gabrielle that with Jonathan dead, the Israelites need a leader, and if she kills Goliath they will not have anyone to proclaim a hero. David has been thinking the same thing; he tells Xena he has to be the one to kill the giant. Xena goes to the graveyard again and finds Goliath; she could have killed him then, but doesn't. They talk and part as friends, planning to meet as enemies. Gabrielle sees David, tells him she was a little upset by the financee' meeting, and David says they can be friends; they talk a bit about monotheism because Gabrielle says it is a new thing for her; a god greater than Zeus? a little talk, then he recites a psalm (Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd) and Gabrielle likes it.

Next morning, the Israelites have gold shields. The weather is cloudy. David is praying; Xena tells him to ask "him" to do something about the weather. The Philistines show up; Goliath comes forward in his helmet, and David walks out to face him. The Philistines laugh and call for Xena, at least, not a small guy. Goliath tries to slice up David; then the sun breaks forth, and Xena yells "now" and the soldiers shine their gold shields so that the sun is reflected into Goliath's eyes and off of his helmet. In anger, Goliath throws his helmet off and when he does, David throws a rock and hits him between the eyes. Goliath goes down; Xena looks pained. Xena walks over to the dying Goliath, and tells him his battle is over. Later, Xena walks through the giant graveyard, her thoughts heard out loud: "Goliath, I know you can hear me, I hope you're with your family. I'll always remember you as a loving husband, a great warrior, and my friend."


This commentary is by Carmen Carter.

Although GIANT KILLER probably ranks as my least favorite episode of the series, it offers an interesting case study in creative self-sabotage. In fact, analyzing the ways in which GK failed are altogether more interesting than the episode itself.

The thematic focus of the story was on friendship and divided loyalties. Xena was faced with a situation in which her loyalty to a friend was in direct conflict with her loyalty to a cause. This is certainly an intriguing premise, but it was one doomed to failure by the other elements inserted into this plot.

Belief in Xena's friendship with Goliath was crucial to the success of this story, but her relationship with the giant was undermined in many subtle ways. The first is that mixing fictional and Biblical/historical characters is by its very nature a contrived situation. Since the historical basis for Goliath is very difficult to ignore, viewers need to try harder than usual to suspend disbelief when inserting a fictional Xena into this "real" scenario.

Secondly, the camera angles used to encompass both Xena and Goliath in the same shot reduced the warrior princess to a small figure, thus creating yet another degree of distance from her interaction with Goliath. By removing all visual cues to emotional context, the unremarkable dialogue was dangerously flattened. Further distractions were offered by the standard "giant" voice distortion and the deliberately slow pacing of the giant's physical actions. Unfortunately, the actor who played Goliath was not able to project convincing emotion through all these filters. In the end, I never really believed in the friendship between Xena and Goliath, and thus was unmoved by its dissolution.

In ALTARED STATES, the Biblical allusions were indirect rather than literal, allowing for some creative flexibility in the storyline. However, rooting the events of GIANT KILLER in a literal historical context created serious problems in terms of plot structuring. Since everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, there was little suspense concerning the final outcome: David would kill Goliath. So the fight scene between Xena and Goliath in the middle of the episode was pre-determined to end without resolution, just as we knew that somehow Xena would have to allow David to take over. Given this foresight, it was difficult to be moved by Xena's agonizing over whether to kill Goliath. Her subsequent, and inevitable, decision to step aside so that David could be seen as a leader was a contrived action to meet the plot requirement rather than a convincing twist in the narrative's natural development.

Also, this fatal outcome for Goliath runs somewhat counter to Xena's usual interventions, where she finds some clever way to keep the peace. Given the historical contraints, this was never an option. At all times we as viewers were aware that Xena's actions would never seriously change the outcome of the story, thus rendering her attempts at involvement irrelevant.

Overall, this episode committed the worst sin in my book: it was predictable and boring.

As a personal aside, I was discomfitted with the concept of King David as yet another entry in the list of Gabrielle's sensitive young boys. Watching Gabrielle get moony-eyed over a rather prominent Biblical figure was jarring. And the immediate juxtaposition of this scene with one of Xena & Gabrielle together gave the impression, perhaps inadvertent, that Gabrielle's abortive pass at David was a counterbalance to her act of holding Xena's hand.

And speaking of apparent counterbalances, the previews for next week's episode revealed a comic, campy story with an obvious Satanic theme. The pairing of these two episodes is an uncharacteristic lapse of subtlety for X:WP.


12-16-98. At the Jauary Burbank Con II (January 1998), Brad Carpenter, the exiting Director of Merchanidising at RenPic gave a demonstration on how they do the Titan/Giant effects. It's done with camera work exploiting perspective, not special effects.

01-23-98. On July 5, 1998, Avicus (aka Robert Field, a film editor for XWP) stated that A DAY IN THE LIFE took only 5 days to shoot because it used a lot of footage that was cut from GIANT KILLER. Apparently GIANT KILLER shot the footage with Garek but cut it for later use, which was DAY.

01-23-98. In STARLOG #245 (December 1997) Robert Tapert, executive producer of XWP, stated, "I'll tell you an interesting thing that very few people know; the entire fourth act in A Day In The Life', where they battle the giant, was all footage left over from another episode, The Giant Killer', our David and Goliath episode that didn't quite work. Well, the cut was so long on it that we said, 'Let's just chop off the entire fourth act and bank it for something else, and have this episode end with the death of Goliath rather than them going and getting the giant'."


Changing Times is by Debbie White.

In GIANT KILLER (27/203) Xena has to fight against a friend she owes her live to. Gabrielle learns that her friendship to Xena will not always keep her alive.

The Changing Xena

"Your war is over now."
   -- Xena, GIANT KILLER

Xena has changed much in this episode. She owes Goliath her life, because he saved her while his family died. First Xena tries to talk him into fighting on the right side. When he will not give up his revenge, Xena stands against him, even though she owes him her life. As she says, "I owe you my life, Goliath, not the lives of others."

One interesting thing we see once again is that when Xena chooses a side, it becomes the 'right side.' This time she actually takes the time to talk and find out the Philistines are trying to enslave people, which she does not care for. Still, one day she might just jump in and protect the wrong side.

Another thing is that Xena, yet again, calmly takes over command of an army of people who hated her mere moments ago. She manages to change their opinion and is such a commander that people allow her to take over. Still, Xena knows when someone else needs to get the glory to be really helpful and is willing to hand it over.

Finally, despite the fact Xena owes Goliath and came up with the plans that caused his death, she refuses to take on his revenge debt. She has changed so much that now she refuses to take the path of revenge, even for someone she owes so much.

The Changing Gabrielle

"Stories are meant to be told. Stories tell us who we are."
   --Gabrielle, GIANT KILLER

Gabrielle is getting a rather overinflated confidence. First, she challenges a group of soldiers to take on "someone who can defend themselves", meaning herself. Then she steals the guy's food right out in front of him, then tries to talk the guy out of killing the prisoners when he catches them with the food (and trying to escape). When she nearly gets her head cut off trying to stop the execution, she finds out Xena's friendship to her and her innocence will not save her from a person with no morals, though.

Gabrielle's fighting skills are getting better. When Xena frees her hands when she is about to be executed, Gabrielle flips over David, grabs the axe, and frees David. She then manages to hold a soldier back without slicing him until he drops his staff in favor of the axe. Gabrielle, of course, takes the staff and beats him silly. She also mounts up behind Xena pretty quickly. Either they have been practicing that move or do it rather often.

Also, Gabrielle starts to fall for a gentle story-teller with a brave heart. She seems to like anyone who shares her passion for telling stories or shares her code of only fighting to defend themselves.

It rather seems to go against Gabrielle's code when she steals food. However, because David tried to help her, she seems to have already decided his side is the right side. It looks like stealing from the enemy is not against her code.

Finally, Gabrielle has the art of comforting down. When Xena is staring out into the stormy night, feeling guilt over fighting her friend, Gabrielle just holds her hand. Then again, fighting a friend who chooses the wrong side is not against her code of honor. She stood up to Xena in TIES THAT BIND (20/120). Still, Gabrielle is getting better at supporting Xena when she needs it.

The Changing Argo

Argo, she of many skills, shows off another one. At Xena's whistle, she charges down soldiers and chases them away from the fighting. She's done this in THE GREATER GOOD (21/221), but she did it without the whistle that time.


Goliath left Xena's army ten years ago.


Click here to read a transcript of THE GIANT KILLER.


No Bible myths or icons were irreparably mangled during the production of this motion picture.


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