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Season 1, episode 18
Series 118
1st release: 03/04/96
2nd release: 06/10/96
1st strip release: 08/19/98
2nd strip release: 11/24/98
Production number: 76915
Script number: 118
Approximate shooting dates: December 1995
Last update: 01/31/99


Tim Thomerson (Meleager)
Willa O'Neill (Lila)

Alan Palmer (Pharis)
Steve Hall (Damon)
Kelly Greene (Derq)
Anton Bentley (Athol)
Barry Te Hira (Head Highwayman)
Wally Green (Elderly Driver)
Ashley Stansfield (Sentry)
Stephen Walker (Peasant)
Margaret Conquest (Villager)

Written by Chris Mannheim
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by John T. Kretchmer

coming soon!

Gabrielle returns to her home town, only to find it under attack by a greedy warlord, and under the protection of a faded warrior, who's lost his self-confidence.

1st RELEASE: 03/04/96
An AA average of 5.2
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 7th with 6.5
(2) HERCULES 12th with 5.7
(3) XENA 14th with 5.2

2nd RELEASE: 06/10/96
An AA average of Unavailable
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:


This synopsis is by Kym Taborn.

Xena and Gabrielle ambushed! Gabrielle freezes. She gets really weird and wants to go home, so she dumps Xena.

After hitchhiking home by using an "It Happened One Night" technique (which was more 'mature' than the method she used in 'Sins of the Past' to get a ride), she finds her village next on a hit list from a local warlord. Her village has hired Meleager the Mighty, an alcoholic and depressed ex-warlord to protect them. Turns out that Meleager had once froze in battle and took to drink to hide his shame. Gabrielle can relate.

The warlord tries to get Meleager to join him, and Meleager leads the warlord on when he discovers that they have captured Gabrielle. Meleager and Gabrielle then escape back together to the village.

The next day, Meleager is missing and the warlord begins his march to the village. Gabrielle organizes the villagers and they are successful for the first attack. However, they know they cannot keep it up. Just in the nick of time, however, Meleager returns with many spears and helps the villagers shish-kabob the warlord et alia.

Gabrielle then returns to the scene of the dump to presumably find Xena, but she is ambushed again. She fights and Xena joins her and they are pals again.


Commentary Kym Taborn.

This episode has been highly criticized among Xena fandom for the callousness of Gabrielle's behavior. For over half a year the show had been stressing that Gabrielle was Xena's new family. Xena had stated in a past episode that she considered Gabrielle so. Even Gabrielle had stated as much. However, suddenly, because she froze momentarily, Gabrielle was ready to pack it all in and go home. Ostensively, she did so in order to "work out her" confused feelings; in reality it was a quick fix to get Gabrielle where the writers wanted her to be: internally, they wanted to experiment with allowing Gabrielle some growth and independence from the overpowering Xena character; and, externally, they wanted to make a show without Lucy Lawless carrying the episode.

One of the more attractive aspects of XWP is that the writers so rarely use this technique (Gabrielle momentarily acting out of character). Because of it's infrequency, the use of it becomes especially glaring in this episode, and the episodes "Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards" (again used to explain Gabrielle's sudden separation with Xena so that she can come back to Xena more mature), and "Is There a Doctor in the House" (where Gabrielle abruptly leaves the safety of the temple in order to be nearly killed so that Xena can bring her back to life). There are many fans who would also argue that "The Titans" used an extended version of this technique.

In Craig Miller's SPECTRUM. Vol. 1 No. 6 (June 1996) episode guide to XWP, Mr. Miller complained mightily about the title of this episode. He wrote, "The title of this episode, by the way, doesn't make much sense. Many people think that a 'prodigal' means a person who returns home after a period of time (perhaps after some dramatic failure). This is incorrect. It refers to reckless, wasteful extravagance. Remember that in 'The Prodigal Son' parable, the son took his inheritance and quickly spent it on indulgent luxuries. Gabrielle -- the presumed title reference -- reveled in no such vices. (The title makes slightly more sense applied to Meleager, but even there it's a stretch.)"

This episode was Xena-lite in order to cover Ms. Lawless' absence due to her attendence at the 1996 Las Vegas NAPTE convention and a U.S. promotional tour.


01-31-99. Chris Manheim was interviewed by WHOOSH in the February 1999 issue. Here's what she said about HERE SHE COMES...

...As you were doing THE PRODIGAL (19/119) and you were focusing in on the Gabrielle character, you also had the wonderful creation of the Meleager character as well.

[30] Tim Thomerson did a wonderful job.

[31] You also gave Gabrielle some of her idiosyncrasies we see for the first time. She's a bad pan pipe player, for one thing.

[32] That was funny, because the tune she was playing, if you go back and look at it real hard, was not the tune I was hearing when I wrote it. It's been so long since I've seen it. The tune was so much in contrast to what I had written her mood was supposed to be. To me, it was jarring. But as a freelancer, as I was at the time, you have no say as to what you're going to see on the screen.

[33] At the time, did you have any thoughts about the Xena/Gabrielle relationship?

[34] I saw the pilot. When I wrote THE PRODIGAL (19/119) only a couple of episodes had aired. Certainly there was a much more complex relationship as the season progressed. Back then I was so focused on who Gabrielle was, her relationship with her family, I didn't think much about Xena. I know the rest of the staff here was concerned with whether or not I could write Xena and I had similar concerns. I had never written a character as abrupt as Xena. Remember, I had last written the character Jessica Fletcher, who was the soul of discretion, putting things so politely. Xena struck me as incredibly abrupt and quite rude, to tell you the truth.

[35] The other thing I remember from that episode is that there's almost a mini-homage to It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) when Gabrielle is doing the hitch-hiking scene. In the film, showing the leg got the ride, but Gabrielle had to work a bit harder.

[36] You're absolutely right. I certainly had that in mind.

[37] She had to pretend to be "ten months" pregnant, which I thought was hilarious.

12-17-98. At the Burbank II Con (01/98), Director John Kretchmer claimed responsibility for several of the stupid jokes/gags. In PRODIGAL he did the rake between the man's legs. In SOLSTICE CAROL he did the toy fights including the horned Unicorn attack.

12-17-98. In a WHOOSH interview with Maggie Hickerson, the script coordinator for XWP [WHOOSH #18 (9803)], Ms. Hickerson shared this anecdote about the casting of Meleager:

Hickerson: Another funny thing about our office, the way it's set up, all the other offices in buildings up and down this street are all production offices. We have HIGHLANDER at the end and in the middle is Fred Dryer's production company. A couple of seasons ago he had a show shooting in Mexico, LAND'S END, maybe. The Xerox machine that we use is in the middle of the building and I was going down to use it one day and it was broken. I had to use the one at Fred Dryer's office. Here was an actor outside who a friend of mine was particularly a fan of. I asked him if he had any pictures I could get for my friend and he said "No, but I'll bring you one by tomorrow." I said "I'm down on the end, I work on XENA." He said, "Oh, I love that show! I'd love to go to New Zealand. Do you think you could get me on?" I said "Well, I don't really have anything to do with that but if you come in with your pictures tomorrow I'll introduce you to the producers." And of course that was Tim Thomerson who ended up playing Meleager.

Rudnick: That's wonderful!

Hickerson: So sometimes just being in the parking lot minding your own business can work out. My friend has been a fan of his for years and years, so when I saw him in the parking lot I couldn't let him go away without saying something. And it turned out he's a recurring character. So he got more than enough payment for a picture.


Highlights by Kym Taborn.

Another Renee O'Connor showcase: Gabrielle's varied attempts at getting a ride; Gabrielle's attempts to make Meleager appear conscious; and Gabrielle's attempts to apologize to Xena for being such a pain.


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

Coming soon


Coming soon


Prepared by SheWho.

In this one, we have an omitted hug (d*mn it), a mention of Gab's parents, an omitted admission from Xena at the end (a *big* d*mn it), and other little stuff. Again, no "Oh, gods, Xena, YESSS!!!", although I think it's quite obvious that Gabrielle is thinking of Xena when she lures the guards in Damons' camp to the tent...

THE PRODIGAL. By Chris Manheim. Directed by John Kretchmer. Shooting Draft dated December 27, 1995

When Gabrielle suggests that she play her pipe to bring down the wall, Argo says "Neigh--!" at the same time Xena says "No--!"

Argo is described as "him"

A slight wording change in the script, in which Xena admits that she's frozen up before: After Xena suggests that Gab is just a little burned out, it happens, Gab remarks that it didn't happen to Xena. Xena says, "No, but it has. That's why I always try to remember: *act* -- don't *re*act."

The exchange in which Gabrielle explains why she can't go with Xena has some additional lines and is in a slightly different order in the script, which reads:

Gabrielle: "*And I froze!* If you hadn't been there..."

Xena: "But I was."

Gabrielle: "Today, yes! But what about tomorrow? And the next day? Can you promise me you'll *always* be there?"

"Knowing she can't, Xena is silent. Point made, Gabrielle begins collecting her things."

Xena (after a beat): "Where will you go?"

Gabrielle: "The only place I know: home. Things are simpler there." (bundling her things) "But even more important, my sister Lila's there. She's just a kid. But when I think of how we used to share our plans and dreams..." (smiles; wistful) "Maybe it'll help, having someone to talk to about this."

Xena (a little hurt): "You can't talk to me?"

"Gabrielle eyes her, warmly."

Gabrielle: "I can't *endanger* you. Don't you see? Until I sort this thing out, I'm a liability."

Xena: "That's a risk I can take."

Gabrielle: "The question is, can I?" (unhappily) "And right now, the answer is no."

"Xena starts to protest. But Gabrielle preempts her with a hug."

Gabrielle: "Don't worry. I'll be fine. I've just gotta find out what's going on with me."

"And pulling back, she hoists her bundle."

Xena: "But you'll be back... right?"

Gabrielle (hesitates; then): "Guess that depends on what I learn."

"As Xena reacts, Gabrielle turns and hurries away so Xena won't see her tears as she strikes off...alone."

The heart-breaking little finger wave and Xena's devastated look are not in the script.

None of the discussion between the cart driver and Gabrielle regarding Sisyphus is in the script.

Meleager's line, "That's a very lovely hat, young woman," (to Pharis) "You should have her bathed and brought to my tent," is not in this version of the shooting script. Neither is his later exposition on how roadkill can be an effective weapon.

An unusually large portion of this script has rewrites. (So much so that the cover page says "Revised pages: FULL SCRIPT," rather than the usual specified page numbers.) Entire exchanges (Gabrielle and the villagers when she first arrives in Poteidaia; Gabrielle/Lila; Gabrielle/Meleager; Damon/Meleager; Gabrielle/Lila/Pharis), and the whole confrontation with Damon at the end are virtual rewrites. Wish I had the original. Another goal...

Gabrielle hugs Lila when trying to assure her that she never forgot about her. When Gabrielle says that Lila is the reason she came home for good, Lila "returns her hug, oblivious to Gabrielle's wistful face." Gabrielle dismisses her doubts and goes to where Meleager's shout came from.

Lila and Gabrielle observe each other as the town makes preparations for Damon's arrival. Lila notices "how naturally leadership suits Gabrielle."

Gabrielle's reaction when Pharis tells her the decision is for the whole village, not an outsider, is described: "*That* stings. Gabrielle is stunned."

Gabrielle's great use of a skillet (presaging ADITL?) isn't in this version of the script. (*Love* how she whacked the guy again when he wouldn't stay down.)

In the final exchange between Lila and Gabrielle, Lila tells Gabrielle that she belongs out in the world with Xena. Gabrielle says, "But Mother and Father--" Lila interrupts, "--have some oracle in them, too." (as Gabrielle takes the bundle) "They know you, Gabrielle, and they love you..." (holding back tears) "...almost as much as I do."

The reunion of Xena and Gabrielle includes an almost-admission from Xena that wasn't in the televised version:

"Gabrielle and Xena turn and start walking, just as they always do, as if nothing has interrupted their journey. A beat."

Gabrielle: "Kind of funny, don't you think? That we should *just* run into each other? Out here?"

Xena: "Not really." (then) "I was on my way to Poteidaia. Just to see how things were going."

"A long beat."

Gabrielle: "I missed you, too."

Xena (difficult): "I...I..." (finally) "Argo missed you. A lot."

Xena pats Argo on the neck. Gabrielle and Xena look at each other, then start laughing."

Gabrielle's offer to teach Xena her vault move isn't in this version of the script.


Click here to read a transcript of THE PRODIGAL.


Meleager the Mighty, the generally Tipsy and Carousing warrior-For-Hire, was not harmed during the production of this motion picture."


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