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Season 3, episode 10
Series 310
1st release: 01-19-98
2nd release: 06-08-98
1st strip release: 10-14-98
2nd strip release: 01/19/99
Production number: V0408
Script number: 309
Approximate shooting dates: October/November 1997
Last update: 11-13-00

COMMENTARY by Beth Gaynor

Ted Raimi (Joxer)
Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite)
Kevin Smith (Ares)

Allison Wall (Minya)
(Barbarian leader)
(Priestess #1)
(Priestess #2)
(Village woman)
(Man #2)

Written by Hilary J. Bader
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Andrew Merrifield

(Aphrodite appears. Gabrielle does a flip and pounces a man on the chest.)
Gabrielle: I can write anything and it comes true.
(Gabrielle writes on a scroll, using Joxer's back as a desk as he bends over.)
Ares: My powers. What's happened to my powers?
(Xena pulls out her chakram; it's rubber or made of vines or something.)

Aphrodite casts an odd spell on Gabrielle: everything she writes comes to pass. Of course, what Gabrielle writes isn't always precisely what she means.

Aphrodite casts a spell on Gabrielle's scroll, making her words reality.

A jealous Aphrodite casts a hex on Gabrielle's scroll, which causes everything she writes to come true.

1st RELEASE: 01-19-98
An AA average of 6.1
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 8th with 6.6
(2) XENA 11th with 6.1
(3) HERCULES (69/410 "Hercules on Trial") 13th with 5.3
(4) WALKER 18th with 4.5
(5) STAR TREK DS9 (603R "Sons and Daughters") not on top 20

2nd RELEASE: 06-08-98
An AA average of 4.2
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 6th with 5.6
(2) XENA 12th with 4.2
(3) STAR TREK DS9 14th with 4.1
(4) HERCULES 15th with 4.0
(5) WALKER 19th with 3.9
(6) NYPD BLUE with 3.8


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Graffiti in the ancient world sets the stage for this show. Vandals paint such things as "Xena rules" and Xena should be a god all over Aphrodite's temple. Ares appears and tells his sister that it's all Gabrielle's fault, because she is the bard who spreads Xena's name all over the land, making the warrior famous. Aphrodite then visits Xena and Gabrielle at their campsite, where Gabrielle is preparing a new scroll. Xena suggests Gabrielle try fiction, and make someone else the hero for a change. So Gabrielle begins to write, and sends Xena fishing. She declares herself to be the "warrior Gabrielle" who "wakes with a jerk" to find herself under attack by five barbarians. Aphrodite finds this amusing and puts a spell on the scroll so that the words will come true. Gabrielle does awaken to the sounds of an attack; she defeats the five men, performing a Russian-type dance on top of her staff, no less. She finds that Joxer is with her now, not Xena, and realizes that the words on the scroll have come true. Now she believes she can do great good with the scroll.

She and Joxer meet some "sisters" who keep an orphanage, and Gabrielle makes a man appear and offer them a sword, something of great value. Then the bard and "the jerk" venture on to a tavern, where Gabrielle learns that "drinks on the house" means just that as ale rains through the roof.

Meanwhile, Ares has an army ready to attack the valley, but the leader won't attack unless he is sure Xena is out of the way. Ares says he will send the leader a signal so he will know when to attack. Aphrodite tells the barbarians to go back after Gabrielle, which they do. Gabrielle then sends them to a cave to go to sleep. She decides then to end all war. When she writes that, Ares falls from the sky. He has lost his powers. Gabrielle then writes that the enchantment of the scroll will end, and that causes Aphrodite to lose her powers. (Wording is everything, Joxer opines.) Gabrielle decides she has to reconstruct everything from the beginning, which means getting Xena back. She writes that the leather-clad warrior woman with the whip of Xena appears -- and Minya (from "A Day in the Life") shows up. The army continues to wait for the signal.

A man appears to reclaim the sword the orphanage people sold. Gabrielle sends him to the caves. Joxer asks Aphrodite's advice on love; she tells him to write poetry and give presents. Joxer writes on the scroll; three naked Gabrielles begin dancing on the wall behind him. Gabrielle sends them to the caves. During the night, Joxer goes to town to sell his scabbord so he can buy Gabrielle a necklace. He loses the scroll because Gabrielle had hidden it in there. The peddler who bought the scabbord found the scroll and went to the caves. Gabrielle and Ares have "a moment" of sorts where they get along. Everyone except Xena eventually winds up in the caves.

Gabrielle finally writes that the scrolls find their way to Xena since she had been unable to bring Xena back to her. Xena appears with a cart of fish and the scrolls. Gabrielle had sent her many places; she had written that Xena returned to her #1 friend (Xena saw a girl she knew when she five years old -- her first friend), and to the woman her brought her a new life ("Mom says hi."). Xena said she knew something was up with Gabrielle because she was the only person Xena had not seen.

Xena figures out that the truth will set them free from the fiction in the scroll. She goes to defeat the army, which has seen the three naked Gabrielles running down the road with the barbarians chasing them, and taken that as a sign from Ares. Gabrielle writes about the fight as Xena defeats the army with her cart of fish. Ares and Aphrodite regain their powers and everything returns to normal. There is still some space left on the scroll; Gabrielle writes "The End" and the screen goes blank in the middle of Gabrielle's sentence.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

OK, folks, time for a new rule. The Xena writers have got to cut back on the number of controlled substances in their system while they work. This was one of the strangest episodes I've seen yet. Yeah, it was funny sometimes. But this was in deep farce territory, with a barely-strung-together story to provide excuses for the gags. I'd rather sacrifice goofy antics for coherence, not vice versa.

Ares has finally clued in to the fact that Gabrielle is a key to Xena's life. He took note of her for the first time in The Furies; this time he actually worked to get her out of the way. He was on the right track, but it ended up backfiring; Ares and Gabrielle discovered that they have common ground in their hero-worship of Xena. Who'da thunk it? Great "I didn't like it." "Right back at ya." "OK." reactions from them. But even though they wanted to deny it, Ares was darned affectionate with Gabrielle when he left, and for once, Ares' trademark fading laugh isn't sinister. It's genuinely amused, instead.

I would have given a week's take-home pay to see the look on Renee O'Connor's face when she read the script and got to the part about the three naked Gabrielle go-go girls. It's only fair: we've seen Xena nekkidness a few times, Gab had some catching up to do.

"She awoke with a jerk." Best joke of the episode - very, very funny. The first time. Didn't need to hear it four times to get it.

Joxer is a terrible warrior, but he's not too shabby as a romantic. Gabrielle awaking to the necklace and Joxer's quiet admission that he bought it for her with his scabbard was actually touching. Too bad Gabrielle didn't at least recognize the gift - and Joxer never did get the scabbard back, did he? Joxer got decent treatment in this script; he came up with some respectable ideas sometimes. Instead of being justifiably ignored this episode, he was underappreciated. Go fig. (One notable exception: he used the scroll for his poetry attempt? Dum-dum on the highest level.)

Joxer was right: it was an octopus. Was the squid/octopus debate an in-ref to the "squid" that Gabrielle ate in Lost Mariner that was really an octopus?

OK, everybody, repeat after me: Here's the line. Jokes about fish and hygiene are on thaaaaaaat side of it. I can't believe they went there.

I liked some of the clever word tricks: Minya's appearance with Xena's whip, Aphrodite losing her power because she was the force that enchanted the scroll. But the script tried to get TOO clever. Gabrielle alternated between using names to very accurately identify people and being too scared to use a name for fear of being misinterpreted. "Xena returns to Gabrielle" was really that tough to think of to write?

I had guessed that you could bounce a quarter off of Gab's Abs, but a sword point? None-so-subtle wink at the audience - between that and Ares' dreamy "Leather... mention the leather" description for Xena, I'd say the XenaStaff are very much in tune with what the fans love to dwell on.

Apparently, when gods become mortal, they're required to get drunk and belch. Must be in the Olympian handbook. Ares did it in Ten Little Warlords, now it's Aphrodite's turn.

Mortality wasn't easy on the gods - Ares turns cowardly, Aphrodite gets messy. (Sorry, I wasn't buying "plain." If that's plain, 95% of the world is absolutely homely, Lord help us all.)

Joxer, inventor of the beer cap! Football fanatics everywhere now know who to thank.

XenaStaff seems to want Aphrodite to be annoying but sympathetic. But wow, that "I'm gonna end up like you!" wail at Minya was a low blow. That's NOT the way to make a character likeable, folks.

Gratuitous slapstick alert. Ever-alert Xena is accidentally smacking Joxer senseless with fish as she tells her story? Not necessary, especially since the matter-of-fact rundown on the parade was funny on its own: "I took it off a merchant, who was being chased by some barbarians, who were being chased by three naked Gabrielles..."

I'm going to go drink heavily, then watch this episode again. I bet it'll make perfect sense then.


11-13-00. Kevin (Ares) Smith was at the Panathenaea Convention in London, England on September 3, 2000. He stated that his favorite episodes were The Quill is Mightier, The Furies, and the Hercules' Golden Hind ones.

03-17-00. Kevin Smith, at the Orlando May 1999 con, was asked about the rumor of practical jokes between him and Renee O'Connor. He explained that the final scene in `The Quill is Mightier` originally called for a more intense semi-kiss thing that neither he nor Renee liked. The two of them decided to add the practical joke nose flip thing that we all saw. Also, Smith noted that Gabrielle mostly plays out as the antithesis of Ares.

01-10-98. Hey! QUILL is the first Aphrodite episode of the season (to be followed later by another one which has not yet been filmed). However, Alexandra Tydings in an interview that will appear in WHOOSH #17 (February 1998), says that the episode she has already filmed has Aphrodite losing her powers. However, a promo for this episode says that Aphrodite puts a spell on Gabrielle's scroll which one would think would be difficult if you had lost your powers. Also, it looks like the statement made at a con last year was erroneous. The statement was that Michael Hurst was appearing in QUILL. The statement was made in the context of the news that Renee O'Connor and Michael Hurst would not be able to make the January 1998 Burbank con because they'd be filming THIS episode. However, the episode was actually filmed in November 1997!!! So, I doubt Hurst is in the episode. We shall see!

11-16-97. Although given as the excuse Renee O'Connor would not be making the January Burbank Convention in 1998, the gang is supposedly filming this episode in the month of November 1997. Perhaps they moved up the production date? Does this mean Renee O'Connor and Michael Hurst will be free for Burbank? Or will they just find something else to occupy their precious convention time?

10-20-97. Michael Hurst is alledgedly in this episode too. Stay tuned for more info!

10-15-97. Apparently this is why Renee O'Connor will not be at the '98 Burbank Con...she shall be filming this episode. Billed as an "All-Gabrielle" episode, it will cover for Ms. Lawless' stateside tour in the US. From the name of it, perhaps they will concentrate on her bardliness?


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

Cameo Appearance of the Month award goes to Minya's welcome return to celebrate all us geek fans. And she's been practicing with that whip! A Day in the Life is fast becoming the episode that is most often referred to by other episodes. Must be a favorite of the writers as well as the fans.


11-16-98. From Lindsey Neef. This stood out to me the second I saw it, the reason for that being that I grew up in Detroit as a huge Red Wings hockey fan. As we know, both Lucy and Rob also love the Detroit Red Wings -- which to me seemed like the source of a certain flying octopus in the fish-fight scene. (It's an ollllllllld Detroit hockey tradition to fling octopi to the ice whenever the Wings score during a playoff game. In the old days it took 8 games to win the Cup... 8 games, 8 legs, etc.) It's also traditional to give the octopus a couple good twirls before flinging it-- just as Xena did.

11-16-98. From Joan Leib. About the bust mentioned below in Nick Nayko's post from 01-30-97, I just want to point out that the same bust also appears as Aphrodite in HTLJ episode "Love Takes a Holiday." Just another bit of useless trivia for us hardcore nutballs to mull over.

01-30-97. From Nick Nayko. Recycled props department: Aphrodite's temple has the Lost Athena bust from LOST MARINER in it.

01-30-97. From Nick Nayko. Named the warlord Thelonius (Felonius?) and his henchman Munk as a takeoff of the jazz musician Thelonius Monk.

01-27-97. From Bret: Gabby's mouth is also an inkwell. Several times she licked the end of the quill and then wrote on the scroll without benefit of ink.

01-27-97. From Bret: After a commercial break, we see Joxer doing shadow puppets. But when the camera pulls back, we see his hands and it's obvious he was doing one of the two shadows, but we don't see who or what was doing the other.

01-27-97. From Bret: The character Scabrous, the one seeking his kinsman's sword, is an homage to a character in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.

01-27-97. From Bret: In the "use those props again" department, the warlord "waiting for the sign" from Ares was using a spyglass that a crony of the warlord looking for the Ixion stone was using in ORPHAN OF WAR.

01-27-97. From Nicholas Nayko: Inconsistancies in QUILL. After Xena got Gabrielle to write "true words", the scroll lost its enchantedness. So how did writing "The End" do anything unless Aphrodite recharged it before she disappeared? Even if she did, there is an inconsistency:the rules were if the scroll was filled up-the curse doesn't end but everything stays as it was when the scroll was written on. Yes-sounds kinda ambiguous! But if the scroll got recharged; by writing "The End", the world ended. So something has to recreate the world again for continuation of the series. Right? They need a good editor.

From Beth: The music while Minya is waxing fannish over Ares and Aphrodite is the same music she got for the Warrior Princess Haze in A Day in the Life.

From Beth: Picking at logic problems in this episode is a bit akin to shooting fish in a barrel, but I can't pass up this one without comment: "Aphrodite, Minya: you go to town... Ares and I will go where it's raining dinars..." which was... town.

From Beth: By the time we got to the caves where Gabrielle had been sending people, I was getting pretty lost. Why was everyone suddenly after the scroll? (Except the Go-Go Gabbies - they were just looking for an audience.) Nobody should have figured that out except the peddler. By the time we got to the caves where Gabrielle had been =

From Kym: In this episode there is a discussion about whether a sea creature is an octopus or a squid. This recalls in detail an on-going internet discussion which of said sea critters were Gabrielle's meal in THE LOST MARINER


Click here to read a transcript of THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER... .


No naked Gabrielles were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

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