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Season 5, episode 11
Series 511
1st release: 01-24-00
2nd release:
Production number: V0910
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 12-06-00

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor

Ted Raimi (Joxer)
Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite)

John Gadsby (Lachrymose)
Chris Ryan (Blutos)
Tony Forster (Solemnus)
Constance Talmadge (Joxer's mom)

Written by Chris Manheim
Directed by Andrew Merrifield

(Xena bursts into a tavern, and knocks a thug flat on his face)
(Gabby looks surprised: Xena pulls back her coat and exposes her pregnant belly)
(Xena looks down and gasps)
Xena: Gabrielle, I am in full control of my mood swings.
(Xena roars like a lion; Xena pulls Joxer against her and strokes his hair)
Xena: Joxer, have you ever seen me cranky?
(Xena kicks a thug into a table who lands his face in a pie; Xena picks up pies)
Gabrielle: Xena, now don't get mad. It's not good for the baby!
Xena: All right.
(Xena runs at Joxer with a pie, he ducks, and
Gabrielle winces as she takes it full in the face)
Xena: Never pie a pregnant woman.
(Xena pies Joxer who sneaks up behind her; Xena looks around and gets pied in the face)


Gabrielle and Argo are shrunken into miniature versions of themselves when they cross paths with Lachrymose, the god of despair. Log Line

Pie fights galore and a couple small surprises! Creation Entertainment

The doctor is in -- Dr. Aphrodite plays therapist to Gabrielle when Gabrielle suffers writer's block. This bit was added to the script at the time of filming. Creation Entertainment

The god of despair shrinks Gabrielle and Argo into miniature versions of themselves.


01-27-00. This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Gabrielle, via voice over, tries to write her scrolls. She is having a lot of problems. It is night, she is in her pajamas, and she makes airplanes out of her paper occasionally. Seems writer's block has become a major irritant to the bard.

Aphrodite pops in and wants to know what the problem is. Seems Gabrielle and Xena have bedded down in her temple. Gabrielle tells Aphrodite not to wake up Xena. Aphrodite pouts a bit when Gabrielle asks her why she is there. Aphrodite says she's immortal, she's got a lot of time on her hands. Gabrielle shows Aphrodite her scrolls. She says she doesn't know why she stopped writing, but she did, and now something tells her she should be writing again, but she can't do it. Aphrodite says so hey, tell me about your day today. Gabrielle begins to recall the day.

Xena, Joxer and Gabrielle were traveling along, trying to think up names for the baby. Joxer says he hopes the baby is a boy. They get into a discussion about Xena's moods and how hungry and cranky she is all the time. Xena says she never gets cranky. She asks Joxer to verify this. Joxer remembers all of these times, via clip shots, when Xena was cranky with him. But he says Xena has never been cranky. Xena says Gabrielle is patronizing her. Xena and Gabrielle make a bet that Xena can't not be cranky for day. The bet involves housekeeping and backrubs. Xena tells Gabrielle to take give Argo a bath when she takes the horses to the river. Xena and Joxer are going into town to eat. Gabrielle takes the horses to the river. She puts water on Argo, and Argo shrinks down into a miniature pony.

Gabrielle and Aphrodite talk some more. Aphrodite pretends to be a psychoanalyst. She spouts a lot of big words. Gabrielle continues her story. While she's looking at the shrunken Argo, a god materializes out of the water. He is Lacromos, God of Despair. The god says Gabrielle used his water to wash the horse, and that's why the horse shrank. Gabrielle says hey, this is Xena's horse, and the god says too bad. The god has never laughed in his whole life. Gabrielle says she could make him laugh. They make a deal. If Gabrielle makes the god laugh, he'll make Argo big again. Gabrielle tells Lacromos not to underestimate her; that is what Xena does. Gabrielle starts telling stories. Clips from ISAIH, where the rabbit attacks Gabrielle. Gabrielle's story does not get a laugh from Lacromos.

Xena and Joxer eat. A baby cries a lot. Xena looks at the baby and scares it mute. Xena remembers stuff from Cradle of Hope (clips). Joxer says her methods of mothering are unorthodox, but they are full of love and concern. Gabrielle tells another story to the god. Clips from Comedy of Eros. The god doesn't laugh. Gabrielle tells more stories. Clips of slapstick things. Then clips of "action," i.e., Indrajit, etc. Then romantic comedy clips. A return to the present, where Gabrielle and Aphrodite discuss sex appeal, more clips.

Gabrielle and Aphrodite go into slumber party mode, complete with bubbles and pink nighties. Aphrodite asks Gabrielle if story telling isn't like writing. Gabrielle says it is and isn't. Writing is more like talking to yourself and trying to figure things out, but she knows who she is now. Aphrodite says well, then why write? Gabrielle says its a need to express yourself. Aphrodite compares her writing to accessorizing clothes. Gabrielle says she and Xena are best friends. But she stalled and couldn't go tell Xena she shrunk Argo.

Xena and Joxer want to leave the tavern, but they don't have any money. They get up to leave anyway. They run into a drunken brother of some warlord Xena offed or put in jail; Xena knocks him over. Gabrielle comes in the tavern. She tells Xena and Joxer to go get some supplies. Gabrielle goes back to the river, but Argo has escaped and is gone.

Gabrielle and Aphrodite talk some more. Gabrielle explains to Aphrodite, via more clips, how important Argo is to Xena. Aphrodite takes a bath because of all the talk about animals. Animals make her feel like taking a bath. She smells like white chocolate. Gabrielle says she went to look for the horse.

Joxer and Xena shop. Argo walks around the town. Gabrielle tries to find Argo. Xena and the warlord's brother fight over a bag of wheat. Xena knocks him out. Xena tells Joxer that her kid is going to encounter strange things. Clips of Titans, giants, and blind cyclops. Joxer says yeah, also, dryads (more clips), harpies (more clips), and bacchae (more clips). Joxer says, oh sure, the kid is going to encounter lots of problems, but the kid has Xena for a mother. Xena hugs Joxer and thanks him.

Gabrielle continues looking for Argo the pony. She finds him. Lacromos appears. Gabrielle says maybe Lacromos isn't god enough to return Argo to original size. Lacromos shrinks Gabrielle. Argo bolts and nearly stomps Gabrielle, but she calms her down. The god disappears as Gabrielle reigns Argo in. Joxer and Xena shop a little more and talk. Joxer says all pregnant women are cranky. Gabrielle leads Argo. Joxer hugs Xena, and sees a really tiny Gabrielle. He excuses himself and goes after Gabrielle. Joxer calls Gabrielle his new pint-sized partner. Then he suggests a circus act. Gabrielle asks Joxer to find the god and get her returned to normal.

Joxer goes to the spring and calls for Lacromos. The god appears. Clips in black and white of chariot races and babies and women getting pierced with arrows as Joxer tells Lacromos of his pathetic life, which includes his dad getting tanked and running off in the chariot. Joxer sobs.

Aphrodite and Gabrielle talk about Joxer. Gabrielle says Joxer has pulled them through several times. Clips of Joxer falling on his face. Gabrielle says okay, so he hasn't helped them much, but Joxer is a loyal friend.

Joxer and Lacromos talk some more. Joxer sobs. Xena sleeps, then gets up and goes to the tavern. The warlord's brother appears with a knife, Xena knocks him out. Xena enters the tavern and asks if anyone has seen a guy in a funny hat. There is a convention of funny hat men in the tavern. They are not amused. Xena says fine. Everyone has deserted her, but Argo is always there. She whistles for Argo. Argo is with the little Gabrielle, and the pony bolts, leaving Gabrielle watching Joxer and Lacromos. Lacromos sees Gabrielle and starts after her. Gabrielle runs. Joxer says Gabrielle would be easier to find if she were normal size, and Lacromos zaps her back to regular size. Xena sees the shrunken Argo. Clips of Xena turning into monsters and being really angry.

Gabrielle and Joxer go to the tavern. The warlord's brother wakes up again and is quickly dispatched. Xena throws a pie at Joxer and Gabrielle and hits Gabrielle. Joxer throws a pie and hits one of the funny hat men. Everyone starts throwing pies. The whole tavern is full of pie-throwing people. Argo the pony watches. Lacromos appears and watches. Everyone has pie on them except Xena. Xena knocks a pie from the ceiling so it falls on Lacromos. Lacromos laughs. Everyone stops and watches Lacromos and then everyone laughs. Argo returns to normal size.

Gabrielle and Aphrodite talk. Gabrielle says she still has writer's block. Aphrodite makes a comment about her inner child. Gabrielle says that since Xena got pregnant, she's had no time to do things that make her happy, like write. She needs to write stuff down so it will help Xena's baby in the future. Gabrielle thanks Aphrodite. She picks up a scroll. Xena sleeps. Gabrielle starts writing

And so the day ended. Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer travel. Xena says she has no cooking or chores now for a month and she'll get plenty of backrubs because she was never cranky. A pie comes from nowhere and hits Xena in the face. They all walk off, with laughter in the distance.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

The XenaStaff continue to be some of the most creative folks of all time when it comes to clip episodes. I love the way they refuse to make clip episodes (read: "Breaks for the actors") into plain ol' "remember when" retrospectives. And this time, they even broke the "revisit the most dramatic moments of the show" rut by making this one spotlight the comedies. Overall, I think this episode was hit-and- miss, but I still give 'em lots of credit for keeping clip episodes fresh and interesting.

I think this whole episode idea came about because somebody found a pony that looked like Argo. "Hey, that gives me a GREAT idea..."

I'm glad the Aphrodite-substory took a long-overdue look at Gabrielle's forgotten bard-dom. Does this mean she's going to start telling stories again? Will we start seeing her scrolls around? Will Xena finally read them?

I guess now that Gabrielle has her own horse (he's back! hi, horsie!), there's more saddlebag room. Nice silk PJ's, Gab!

This whole episode goes down as further proof for my "Aphrodite is Gabrielle's god" theory. While all the other gods obsess over Xena, Aphrodite still takes special interest in the sometime-bardly-one.

Actually, Aphrodite doesn't make a bad therapist. When she stops with the goofy scrolls and slumber party tricks, that is.

Xena "hasn't been cranky in years"?!?! She spent the whole first two seasons cranky!

Cooking, cleaning, AND backrubs? When you're living on the road, what else is there? This is an all-or-nothing bet Xena and Gab lay out.

I liked the whole bet-making scene. Xena's getting very good at relaxing and having fun needling Gabrielle. It would have been nigh unto unbelievable a few seasons ago, but I liked the way it worked here.

Aphrodite wins the award for being the subject of the flimsiest excuse yet to stick someone in a hot tub. And around here, THAT'S an accomplishment.

Cute helium voice on Gabrielle. The miniature effect wasn't too bad, in general. And teeny Gab hanging by her teeth from Joxer's finger was the best sight gag of the episode.

OK, I'm easily amused: I liked Aphrodite's water-squirting.

I liked Xena being flip enough to make bets and get saucy with Gabrielle. I don't like Xena being coarse (munching and spitting on... a raw onion?) and a slob (sleeping in the middle of a store and stumbling out to find Joxer and Gabrielle). That's devolution, not evolution.

Joxer actually DID do a good job at getting Gabrielle big again. (And c'mon, Gabrielle, give the guy credit. I can think of at least two times he has come through.)

NICE sai throw from Gabrielle at Lachrymose's arms! In a nearly fight-free episode, that was mondo cool.

I don't get pie fights. I have never found them funny, I don't see why they're considered such classics of humor. Whatever. This one was totally in the old movie farce style, complete with every character from the studio lot getting tossed into the mix: a fat lady singing, a monkish/robed guy, and an Old West cowboy. And also in classic style, the hero in the middle of it all remains untouched (until Lachrymose's final revenge).

So did Xena win the bet? Xena sure thinks so. And she's sure sleeping like a woman who's been well-fed and had her back well-rubbed. I think Gabrielle let her off easy, since she probably lost her temper a few different times when she wacked that revenge-seeking guy and found Argo. But Xena DOES get credit for venting her anger with the pies instead of getting really nasty, so maybe Gabrielle figured she deserved the credit. Heck, the woman's eight months pregnant, she's probably not doing much cooking or cleaning, anyway.

And now, for the truly... ahem... detail-oriented, the list of clips and their episodes. They used ALL five seasons in these clips, from the first episode to the beginning of this season. AND, while this episode took less time with clips than most of the others, they packed more of 'em into a shorter time span. This is getting tricky. OK, here we go:

Joxer's cranky list:
Monkey man: Fins, Femmes, and Gems
Being an uncle: Animal Attraction
Flat on his face: Intimate Stranger
Chakram to the chest: Been There, Done That

(But a continuity point of order: Joxer shouldn't have been able to remember this, since it happened in a day that got repeated over.)

Rabbit story: In Sickness and In Hell
Baby-tossing: Cradle of Hope
Baby Bliss: Comedy of Eros
Kite-flying (and bard tackling): A Day in the Life
Bucket on Joxer's foot: Takes One to Know One
Flying eel: A Day in the Life
Gab's rebounding plate chakram: King of Assassins
Flying carpet abduction: The Way

(Gabrielle's "I don't get that place" made me CRINGE. I'm excusing it as her attempt to make the story funny, but it still went right down my spine the wrong way.)

Cherries and Draco: Comedy of Eros
Suicidal Joxer: Warrior... Princess... Tramp
Attis's surprise: Fins, Femmes, and Gems
Velasca pummeling Autolycus: The Quest
Dancing naked Gabrielles: The Quill is Mightier
Nekkid Xena emerging from the lake: Altared States
(Nice added music to this one!)
"I paid for an hour!": The Quest
Argo-launch: The Execution
Strange and dangerous things list:

Giants: The Titans
Cyclops: Sins of the Past
Electrified giant: A Day in the Life
Dryads: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Harpies: Mortal Beloved
Bacchae: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Joxer "helping":

Thumb-smash: The Play's the Thing
Tree-swinging: Fins, Femmes, and Gems
Hanging from the riggings: The Play's the Thing
Window-smash: Warrior... Priestess... Tramp
Meeting and getting a beating from Gabrielle: Callisto

Nasty Xena:

Feral: Paradise Found
Bacchae: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Kali: The Way
Demon: Fallen Angel


This is Gabrielle's "What?" episode. She has the same line twice - once when Aphrodite shows off her impressive vocabulary skills, once when Xena lays the pie blame neatly at Gabrielle's feet with her "It was her" exit stage left - and I cracked up at it both times.

Favorite lines of the episode:

"I scared it mute!"
"Nah, just got lucky." (After asking if anyone's seen a guy in a pointy hat in some weird pointy-hatted priest convention.)
"She hit Bob!" (After the first pie throws.)


This commentary is by Beboman.

Well you guys, this week's commentary is going to be a short one. I mean, what is there to say about a clip show. Not much at all, but...

* Hey, I do sympathize with Gabrielle. There is nothing worse for a writer than "writers block" and I'm talking from personal experience here. There have been many times that I have sat in front of a blank page, had a head full of ideas and no way to put them on paper. That is just as bad as having a root canal done. You sit there and start over and over and nothing seems to be right. Talk about a waste of paper and ink (in the olden days that is how we used to do it; now you stare at a computer screen). But I never had anyone like Aphrodite come to my rescue. Oh well, some writers are luckier than others.

* A flashback to days of activity is always a great way to get those creative juices going, especially when you happen to cause your best friend's horse to shrink, and your best friend is a very cranky, pregnant warrior princess, a person you have seen take on an entire army and clobber them. It makes for a lot of flowing juices. Then you not only get your friend's horse shrunk, but you get yourself turned into action figure size and have to ask the man who loves and lusts after you, the man who you have rejected so many times, to help you. Yeah, you are definitely going to have some major problems in the writing department. But while you are going through all those tribulations of life, your best friend creates a supermarket and the shopping cart. Not a bad days work for a cranky, pregnant warrior princess.

* So, as your day flashes before you, you tell your trials and tribulations to a psychiatrist who is taking a bath and has just created the first reclining chair. I can still sympathize with you when it comes to putting all those things that have happened to you down on paper.

* And as you recall a very long day where you tried as hard as you could to make a "very stuffy" God laugh by telling him some really weird stories that take you down memory lane, you are really hoping those stories help you get your very best friend's horse back to its normal size. Not to mention the fact that you would like to get yourself back to your regular size. Thanks to the help of none other than Joxer, you still have to face the wrath of Xena when she finds out about her horse. I would have to say, not a good day for writing.

* Man, no wonder Gabrielle has a writer's block, especially trying to remember some of the ways Joxer has been helpful to her and Xena. But I feel for Joxer; he is stuck with Xena, trying very hard to keep her cool (this for Xena is an effort under normal conditions, much less being pregnant) so she can win her bet with Gabrielle (we all know how much Xena hates to lose a bet and how much she loves to clean and cook.)

* Yeah, yeah, yeah, a very interesting concept. Gabrielle having problems with her writing is not like she has written anything since they left India. Come on Gabrielle, after a long time of not writing, getting back to staring at a blank page is a very intimidating thought. But one thing I'll have to give you; your choice of stories to make "what's his name" laugh were really good. Also, Joxer had some really good thoughts of his own when presented with the idea of Xena never losing her temper.

* But it was also very obvious that Xena found just the right catalyst for her to let out her frustrations without losing her bet. Fighting the warlord and starting the pie fight were strokes of genius and by doing so, she won the bet, let her frustrations out and made the "God" laugh, getting her horse back to normal. Not bad for the Warrior Princess.

* Like I said, not too much to comment on this week. I think I'm having a writer's block of my own, so I guess since I don't have a psychiatrist like Aphrodite, I might have to just go back and watch the show all over again.

* So, I really hope you all can excuse me while I head back to my living room and enjoy the show once again and see how my favorite bard gets out of her writing dilemma. Maybe I might use the same technique to get out of mine.


This commentary is by Philip Teo.

This was a good clip episode. For someone like me who hasn't watched much of the first season’s episodes, this episode gave me a good recap. However, my country has once again censored the episode, editing out clips from “The Way” which had me sighing.

Is there really a god of despair called Lachrymose? Why hasn't he laughed before? This was never really explained. It was nice seeing Gabrielle getting in touch with her bard self again. After all, this was what she started out as anyway.

I am just wondering. Why is Aphrodite so good to Gabrielle? It has been quite evident in this season that Aphrodite pays a lot of attention to Gabrielle. In fact, in the third season, Aphrodite enchanted Gabrielle's scroll in the episode, "The Quill Is Mightier". It is true that Gabrielle and Xena were camping in her temple, but Aphrodite seems to display a certain fondness to the bard. And why doesn’t Aphrodite show any signs of recognition at the mention of Lachrymose? Is he a greek God or something else?

The pie fight scene was amusing. But I just wonder how come there were so many pies for them to go around. Well, Xena finally got the pie she deserved. After all, she was the one who aimed the pie at Lachrymose, although that was what got Argo back.


10-28-99. Chris Manheim is on a major role during this 5th season of XENA. She has already written CHAKRAM, ANIMAL ATTRACTION, and now PUNCH LINE. Three out of the first eight is pretty good!


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

We've given up on the crazy Xenaverse variations on anachronisms and just gone straight to raging inconsistency for humor. We have a Grecian supermarket, complete with grocery carts, musak, "Slippery when wet" signs, and "cleanup" announcements over loudspeakers.

Y'know, for a non-violent pie fight, that priest looked like he broke his back across that table. Twice.

The slumber party, music, and "Want me to pierce your ear?" could have come right from Lucy Lawless's Broadway appearance in Grease.


03-25-00. From Michael Klossner. The silent film footage used for Joxer's sad life was from D.W. Griffth's major epic INTOLERANCE (1916). This film told four stories from different historical periods. The "Joxer" footage is from "The Ancient Story", also called "The Babylonian Story", about the Persian Conquest of Babylonia in the 6th century B.C. The character who is "Joxer's mom" in PUNCH LINES was called the Mountain Girl in the Griffith film. She was a fighter who killed several men before being killed. She was played by Constance Talmadge, a busy silent film actress and sister of the more famous Norma Talmadge.

03-06-00. From August Krickel.

"Dulcimera" had observed that the climactic pie fight was taken directly from "that old Tony Curtis/Jack Lemon one about a car race" (i.e. The Great Race") but in actuality its heritage is older.

Raimi, Campbell + Co. were inordinately fond of the Three Stooges as kids, so much so that they always refer to non-speaking doubles, extras, and stand-ins as "Fake Shemps" in a nod to the painfully obvious doubles who filled in for Shemp Howard after his death. They often sneak in references to the Stooges in their work, such as Xena poking the bad guys in the eyes and slapping them in "The Furies," and skeletal fingers doing the same to Ash in "Army of Darkness." Joxer's belief that he's goine blind when his helmet falls over his eyes in "In Sickness and in Hell" is another such moment.

The Stooges filmed many pie fight scenes (also fights with creme puffs, artists' clay, etc.) and re-used much of the same vaudeville schtick each time. One classic bit that we see re-used in "Punch Lines" was Joxer boastfully laughing and saying "Heh-heh! You forgot to duck! Heh-heh!" to which Gabrielle replies: "So did you" and clobbers him with a pie.

Another nod to the Stooges occurs at the episode's end, when we hear the whistle of an incoming pie which lands on Xena, followed by insane laughter and Xena's angry question "Who threw that pie?" There was a particular Stooges short in which a hysterically laughing (and unseen) pie-thrower was always waiting in the wings.

02-13-00. From Dulcimera. It is my opinion that the god Lacrymous was, in fact, the fans that are currently in despair. Note that he refused to like slapstick, puns, or jokes, and was not moved at all by "Joxer's pathetic life". Plus, it became Gab's task to make him respond..... or else!And, Argo represents the subtext. Note how she was made small and wandered away. Note that Xena was upset at her absence, but knew she would be there at a whistle. And Gab was frantic to find her, just brushing by in the market, and quite anxious to restore her to her rightful proportions.

02-13-00. From Dulcimera. In PUNCH LINES almost every situation and much of the dialogue are "punch lines", either reverse situations from previous eps (Gab is the *patient* on the couch rather than the *Dr*), nods to old movies (the pie fight was from that old Tony Curtis/Jack Lemon one about a car race), or even nods to us fans (Gab trying to reclaim her Bard skills).

02-13-00. From Dulcimera. I liked the three levels of action going on simultaneously and the "punch lines"/joke resolutions or reversals/nods to us fans or old movies happening on each level. (1) Gab attempting to reclaim bard skills, with a nod to the fans who have clamored for their return; (2) Gab describing the day, which was in the past, to *Dr.* Aphrodite, with the joke reversal that Gab was on the couch; and (3) Gab, during the day past, describing to Lacrymous event snippets from way past, with previous show clip jokes or unexpected actions. Even the background music was a punch line.

The only thing that annoyed me initially was the silent movie pics for Joxer's family, until I remembered that in "The Xena Scrolls" his character recalled "mummy scenes" from the old classics, and this was more of the same.


Click here to read a transcript of PUNCH LINES .


Gabrielle and Argo were Shrunk and Permanently Pressed during the production of this motion picture.


PUNCH LINES preview from the XWP Clip Vault.

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