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Season 1, episode 16
Series 116
1st release: 02-12-96
2nd release: 07-01-96
1st strip release: 08-25-98
2nd strip release: 11-20-98
Production number: 76919
Script number: 115
Approximate shooting dates: November 1995
Last update: 03-15-00

SYNOPSIS by Kym Taborn
COMMENTARY by Kym Taborn
MYTH NOTES by Cleanthes

Bobby Hosea (Marcus)
Paul Willis (Atyminius)

Erik Thomson (Hades)
Michael Hurst (Charon)
Chris Graham (Toxeus)
John Palmer (Traveler)
Michelle Armstrong (Young Woman)
Geoff Clendon (Brides Father)
Chantelle Brownlee (Bride)

Written by R.J. Stewart
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Garthy Maxwell

A visit from the ghost of her beloved Marcus prompts Xena to travel to the Underworld -- where a madman has stolen Hades' Helmet of Invisibility.

Xena crosses the river Styx to the Underworld to help her deceased lover stop a madman from destroying the heaven-like Elysian Fields.

A madman escapes from the underworld with Hades' helmet of invisibility.

1st RELEASE: 02-12-96
An AA average of 5.7
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 6th with 7.3
(2) HERCULES 7th with 6.7
(3) XENA 14th with 5.7
(4) BAYWATCH 15th with 5.5

2nd RELEASE: 07-01-96
An AA average of 4.9
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) HERCULES 8th with 5.6
(2) XENA 12th with 4.9
(3) STAR TREK DS9 14th with 4.5


This synopsis is by Kym Taborn.

You make your best friend sit next to a lake for 46 minutes while you and your reanimated deceased boyfriend roam around the earth in order to return to Tartarus a no-goodnik who stole Hades' Helmet of Invisibility and had a penchant for slicing and dicing young brides-to-be on their wedding night. Who are you? Xena, Warrior Princess, of course!

Marcus, Xena's redeemed but deceased past lover (see "The Path Not Taken"), makes an appearance to Xena telling her that all h*ll has broken loose in Hades (the place, not the god: TPNTG) because Atyminius has stolen Hades' (the god, not the place: TGNTP) Helmet of Invisibility and has used this power to force the good people to suffer in Tartarus and the bad ones to party down in the Elysium Fields. Marcus tells Xena he needs her help. Xena heeds the call, and enters Hades (TPNTG) through a lake. Gabrielle, ever so loyal, sits by the lake, waiting for Xena.

It's old home week for Xena when she meets Toxeus and a couple of others whom she expedited to Hades (TPNTG). But Atyminius appears and ruins the party. He can smell the scent of life on Xena! A fight breaks out (hey, this IS XWP), and Xena and Marcus hightail it out of there.

Xena and Marcus head for Hades' (TGNTP) high-rent district castle and are attacked by the Harpie security system. Xena cooks one and slices up another. Xena complains to Hades (TGNTP) that not only has Atyminius ruined Hades (TPNTG), but that he's gone above ground to wreck havoc on the mortals. Hades, the wimp (making it the god, not the place), just whines. However Hades does inform Xena that Atyminius, by taking the Helmet of Invisibility to the world of mortals, has become mortal again. This means he can be killed, be relieved of the Helmet, and returned securely to Tartarus. Xena cuts a deal with Hades (TGNTP) which includes making Marcus mortal again for 48 hours and requires Xena to bring in that evil guy, Atyminius.

Meanwhile, Atyminius pops out of the lake and asks Gabrielle whether, by any chance, she is about to be wed. Gabrielle says no, but Atyminius decides to terrorize her nevertheless. Gabrielle fights back but Atyminius finally wings her, but before he can do any permanent damage, Xena and Marcus run out of the lake and start to chase him.

Mid-pursuit, the gang decide to camp out for the rest of the night. In a scene reminiscent from most people's college days, Xena and Marcus "catch up" on old times while ignoring Gabrielle who is trying to sleep just a couple of feet away.

The next day Xena, Marcus, and Gabrielle wind up at a wedding party in a nearby village. Xena talks to the bride's father, brings him up to snuff, and agrees to masquerade as the bride during the ritual bathing, which just happens to be one of Atyminius' favorite times to slice and dice. But Atyminius, being the wily, wascally wabbit that he is, overhears the plan and decides to attack the bride as she sleeps in her room. But Atyminius has made his false move! Xena out- tricked him! She is actually masquerading as the bride sleeping while the real princess is doing the ritual bathing. Xena throws a blanket over Atyminius, skewers him, and takes his helmet.

On the way back to the lake, Marcus thinks about keeping the helmet for himself, but he realizes he was bitten by the good bug (or was that Xena last night?), and must return it even though it means his eternal condemnation in Tartarus. What a guy.

Gabrielle sits by the lake edge as Xena and Marcus return to Hades (TPNTG). Xena, though, once again manipulates Hades, the wimp, by demanding that he move Marcus from Tartarus to the Elysium Fields. Complaining and whining, Hades (TGNTP) agrees. He also winces, as does the entire audience, when Xena kills Marcus so that Marcus can return to Hades (TPNTG).

Xena then pops out of the lake looking like something the cat just dragged in. She walks over to the loyal and patient Gabrielle and plops down. The ladies stare out into the horizon in a scene and mood reminiscent of the conclusion of the infamous campfire scene from CALLISTO.


Commentary Kym Taborn.

The pervasiveness of "The Friendship" between Xena and Gabrielle was illustrated in this episode. The "A" story concerned Xena and Atyminius and the "B" story concerned Xena and Marcus; so, logically, one would think that this left Gabrielle in the dust. Actually, it left her sitting out by a lake.

The metaphor of the lake and the images of Gabrielle patiently waiting by the lake were made even more poignant by the slow development of their friendship from the previous episodes. In a symbology which was as clear and apparent as it was left unspoken, Gabrielle's patient wait at the lake represented her unwaivering loyalty and love for her friend, Xena. Her reward for such devotion was the final scene.

It is no accident that many fans of XWP are attracted to the show because of "The Friendship". Although steeped in fantasy, the show tweaks a deep wish of many people who are too busy or too confined or otherwise unable to seek out a soulmate or close friend whom they could share their lives, their hopes, and their fears with. Xena and Gabrielle are not only set in mythic times, but they exhibit a mythical relationship which many people are attracted too.

On a superficial level, Mortal Beloved could be a goldmine for Freudian interpretation. You have sex, death, bloodletting, a lake which everyone and their brother are entering and emerging from after every commercial break, a return from the dead, a return from life, a walk among the dead, a walk among the living, a bride before her wedding, innocents endangered, etc. It's an episode which could easily support a research paper or two.

Michael Hurst, who plays Iolaus on HTLJ, played Charon, the boatman on the river Styx.


These notes are from Cleanthes.

O3-15-00. Xena swims to the underworld via the Alcyonian Lake. (the script misspells this Alconian Lake) In this case, R.J.Stewart has closely followed the classical sources. Here's the relevant section of Pausanias, a Greek writer who lived 243-276 AD,:

"2.37.5] I saw also what is called the Spring of Amphiaraus and the Alcyonian Lake, through which the Argives say Dionysus went down to Hell to bring up Semele, adding that the descent here was shown him by Palymnus."


The Alcyonian Lake is referenced a few more times by Pausanias, and other classical authors. It was said to be the deepest lake -- possibly to have no bottom at all.

Dionysus' visit to Hades also comes up in Aristophanes `The Frogs`, where Dionysus is said to visit the underworld by crossing "the bottomless lake". http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/text?lookup=aristoph.+frogs+116&vers=en glish&browse=1.

The mythical Alcyone is sometimes said to have been sister-in-law to Sisyphus, which may explain Sisyphus' frequent escapes from Hades on both the Hercules show and Xena.

In the show's mythology Gabrielle plays the part of Alcyone, waiting for her loves' return. From a symbolism standpoint, `Mortal Beloved` was all about Gabrielle by the Lake. XWP is an action show, and yet three scenes of Gabrielle doing nothing are included. In two of them, the background music is even absent, making for utter calm. The word Halcyon, meaning calm and happy, derives from the myth of Alcyone who was turned into a bird that brings good weather by the gods for her devotion.

In Mortal Beloved, Gabrielle did nothing except control the gate between eternity and the mundane. She was then: calm = Halcyon; or more than sempiternity, per the late Latin writer and philosopher, Boethius (475-524 AD). This explains the exquisite perfection of the Maxfield Parrish imagery as she stirred the lake water.

In pyramid numerology/astrology, Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades, is an important reference star for lining up the meaning of the passages on the walls of the pyramids.

Pooled water represents the occult realm, generally.

When Xena and Gabrielle went to India, the writers missed a chance to make an exquisite connection between the symbolism of `Mortal Beloved` and Hindu astrology: . "Krittika (Alcyone 2-Pleiades): Krittika types are fiery, full of creative energy, highly ambitious, dedicated to divine service, self-motivated and "think big." They stand out in a crowd and can become quite famous. They're prone to eating too much." http://hoohana.aloha.net/~htoday/nov98.html.

Krittika is the name of a Shakti, which is Hindu divine mother. Shakti was also the name of Gabrielle's future incarnation. It would have been so perfect had `Between The Lines` made reference to "the Shakti Krittika", for then Gabrielle would have retained her Halcyon image from Greek to Indian astrology.


12-17-98. On 09-23-98, Chris Weaver posted on the newsgroup alt.tx.xena:

"Today, USA showed the episode "Mortal Beloved." Was Raimi and Tapert using stuff from the _Evil Dead_ series or what? First off was the makeup. When I saw Michael Hurst as Charon, the first thing I thought is they pulled out the Evil Dead makeup and costumes. Later the the head bad guy, Antimedes?, had the same look. The big tip off, though was the "wicked and dead" remark. I almost fell to the floor laughing after that was said."

On the same day, NZJester responded:

The Steve Jackson Movie "The Frightners" staring Michael J Fox might have more to do with the look Of Michael Hurst's Charon than the Evil Dead movies. The New Zealand company "WETA" started by Steve Jackson to do all his movie special efects & costumes does a lot of the special costumes for Xena & Herc. I was watching the Discovery channel a few months back and they had a behind the scenes of the making of "The Frightners" and showed in the WETA workshop and Hanging on the wall at the back of one shot was the Dagnine Evil Centaur coustume used in "Orphan of War" and I've seen WETA credited in a lot of Xena eps.


Highlights by Kym Taborn.

When Xena comes out of the lake for the last time, you can tell she had an especially rough day at the office.

Gabrielle sitting by the lake. How many friends do you have that would wait a whole episode sitting by a lake hoping you would come back?

The scene where Xena kills Marcus is rather unsettling as it is so unexpected.


Click here to read a transcript of MORTAL BELOVED.


No Winged Harpies were harmed or sent to a fiery grave during the production of this motion picture.

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