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Season 1, episode 06
Series 106
1st release: 10/16/95
2nd release: 01/01/96
1st strip release: 08/12/98
2nd strip release: 11/06/98
3rd strip release: 11/26/98
Production number: 76908
Script number: 108
Approximate shooting dates: September 1995
Last update: 11-13-00

SYNOPSIS 1 by Kym Taborn
SYNOPSIS 2 by Kym Taborn
COMMENTARY 1 by Kym Taborn
COMMENTARY 2 by Beboman

Kevin Smith (Ares)

Bill Johnson (Benitar)
Christopher Mayer (Peranis)
Danny Lineham (Grathios)
Christian Hodge (Teracles)
Phaedra Hurst (Teresia)
Meryl Main (Areolis' Widow)
Sam Holland (Teen Son)
Ross Harper (Polinios)

Written by Peter Allan Fields
Edited by Doug Ibold
Directed by Charles Siebert.

When villagers declare war on an innocent Xena for killing four of their neighbors, she's forced to consider an offer made her by Ares, the god of war, that would give her the power to rule the world.

Ares, the god of war, frames Xena for murder with the hope that she will turn to him in desperation and become his evil ally.

1st RELEASE: 10/16/95
An AA average of 5.2
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 4th with 7.7
(2) HERCULES 10th with 5.8
(3) XENA 14th with 5.2
(4) BAYWATCH 17th with 5.0

2nd RELEASE: 01/01/96
An AA average of 4.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) STAR TREK DS9 8th with 6.8
(2) HERCULES 14th with 5.9
(3) XENA 20th with 4.8


This synopsis is by Kym Taborn.

Darth Vader, oops, I mean naughty Ares, attempts to trick Xena into joining the Dark Force, oops, I mean becoming Ares' Warrior Queen. He almost succeeds but for the grace of Obi Wan Kenobi, oops, I mean Gabrielle agreeing to become Xena's target practice. Slugging Gabrielle becomes Xena's ticket back to sanity after an especially brutal moment of bloodlust and allows Xena to cleverly trick Ares into reviving half a village he slaughtered on his way to covet Xena's soul.


This synopsis is by Kym Taborn.

Xena, minding her own business, finds a group of peasants being attacked by a mysterious and magical foe. The peasants, as peasants are wont to do, are having the dickens beaten out of them. The New and Improved Xena (tm), perceiving a grave injustice, jumps in and heads off the mysterious intruder. The intruder is wily and quick. Xena is deprived of victory when the caped intruder disappears as the peasant peers come over the hill.

The peasant peers immediately deduce that Xena was slicing and dicing their people. Unfortunately all the survivors are dead except for one guy, who passes out.

The villagers take Xena to the village where the unwashed masses want to string her up. A village elder arrives to remind everyone of habeus corpus and Xena's inalienable right to trial. The trick works! The villagers leave mumbling.

Meanwhile it is discovered that (1) the intruder was none other than Ares, THE god of war; (2) there is a bully/sadist who lives in the town and he blames Xena FOR EVERYTHING; and (3) Xena really feels bad about killing a lot of people in her past [this trait is exploited more in CALLISTO, episode #22].

Gabrielle finally gets to town and decides she'll be Xena's representative at the trial. At the same time Ares is playing massive headgames with Xena. He wants to seduce her back to the Dark Force. While rotting away in the dank prison, Xena is periodically whisked away (oh, calgon, take me away!) to Ares' groovy Mt. Olympus bachelor pad/tent, where Ares works overtime to seduce Xena to the Dark Side. He even encourages her to enact universal education and public good works programs if and when she becomes Ares' representative on earth. Xena starts to see some wisdom in Ares' plan.

Meanwhile, back on earth where Xena's physical self still remains, the little village sadist arrives with his friends to torture Xena after the guy in the coma dies. Little did the sadist know that Xena could have whupped the entire village but did not because she would have felt like a hypocrite. Unfortunately for the sadist, after several sessions with Ares, Xena could have cared less about being a hypocrite. In mid-torture Xena goes into a fine frenzy and starts literally ripping the place apart (not to mention the sadist and friends). Gabrielle comes in during the mayhem and gets belted and thrown across the room by the Old and Unimproved Xena (tm). Xena sobers up and becomes once again the New and Improved Xena (tm), quickly offering emergency first aid to all of her victims (what a good samaritan!).

After Gabrielle's attempts to disprove the prosecution's case against Xena are thwarted by Ares, and Xena refuses to be party to a jail break, Xena is saved by her own quick wit. Using cunning logic that only a warrior princess could get away with, she tricks Ares into bringing back to life the villagers that Ares slaughtered (duh, Ares). The villagers then, of course, think Xena is the best thing since sliced bread, and they all, especially the little sadist, see the error of their petty little ways.

Ares is majorly bummed, but the gals slap the backs of the villagers, laugh a few laughs (hey! mistakes and misunderstanding happen all the time), then head out on the road again.


Commentary Kym Taborn.

Ares' obsession with returning Xena back into her evil ways was further explored in TIES THAT BIND (episode #20). Ares was an agent of temptation made flesh. He tested Xena's resolve to redeem herself. He would have succeeded had it not been for Gabrielle's opportune arrival onto the scene of Xena's bloodlust which Ares artfully manipulated. After the slug felt around the world, Xena removed herself from her Ares' induced trance, and was able to get back on track. The next time Ares would strike (TIES THAT BIND), Gabrielle had to whack Xena across the back with a hoe. What will have to happen to bring Xena back from the next Ares encounter? It probably will not be pretty, whatever it is.


Commentary Beboman.

This was a very interesting episode for many reasons. It shows some of the many talents of Xena. We see her healing ability when she tries to save the life of the farmer. We also see her great fighting ability when she comes up against a fighter who is just as good or better than she. But the best one was her ability to solve a mystery and be able to con a god into doing what she wanted. That was very great.

In this episode, we get to meet Ares, and we are treated to a very sexy and seductive scene between Ares and Xena. Also, we get to see the desire that Aries has for Xena and how he tries to frame her into returning to him as his Queen Warrior. The interaction between Xena and Aries in this episode is a mixture of seduction, sexuality, obsession, desire, and cunning. We see Xena fighting her sexual weakness and desire for Aries as she struggles to save her life and we see her use Aries' desires for her to her advantage.

Another very interesting thing about this episode is how it shows a very powerful Xena; not only is she physically powerful, but also mentally powerful. This is especially true when she breaks loose of the chains when the villagers are beating her. That was a very powerful scene. It is also true when she is able to survive the blow on the head that the villager gave her when they took her prisoner. This strength follows along the same lines as what we see in "The Gauntlet". It becomes very obvious that Xena's strength and anger, when unleashed, have no boundaries. The only power able to constrain her is Gabrielle and that takes place when Xena accidentally hits Gabrielle, and then reacts to what has taken place. She returns to who she is.

The scene in which Ares takes Xena back to his palace when she is being beaten by the villagers and seduces her by using her past of greatness and power to break free of the chains was excellent. It was so sexy and so seductive, and it was great seeing Xena succumb to Aries' suggestions and once again become the destroyer. But when Xena calls on Aries to save her, we get to see a sexual Xena, a Xena close to the one in "The Warrior Princess". At this point, Xena is in control, and she is using all of her sexuality and cunning to get what she wants from the God Of War. Xena goes as far as to make Aries swear:

I'm Ares, God of War. For you, I'll bring them back, and anyone else you desire.
Anyone? I just want to be sure of the deal.
Anyone you name.
As long as I have your word.
You have my word, my pledge, whatever you want.
With those words, Xena's plan was in motion. She had seduced and manipulated Aries and had gotten him to be her protector on her terms, using his own plan to her advantage. And, in so doing, she redeemed herself. (Not bad for our Warrior Princess. That was one reason she was a great leader.)

In this episode, once again Gabrielle uses her ability to talk to try to defend her friend, just as she did in "Sins of the Past." The only problem here was that her efforts did not pay off, and even though Gabrielle gave it her best shot, Xena was still found guilty. What is great is that we, the audience, were privy to the fact that Xena was not going to have a fair trail, especially after seeing Aries in the town meeting before the villagers went hunting for Xena.

In this episode, Gabrielle gets to learn the hard way that there's a big difference between justice and the law, and the law is not always fair. This episode has one of Gabrielle's greatest lessons in growing up. Not only does she lose a trail she knows she should have won because she very cleverly presented all the facts, but she comes face to face with the whole brunt of Xena's fighting force.

The trial scene was like watching a spin-off of L.A. Law, with Gabrielle as the defense lawyer. She was very good, asking the right questions, making the right assumptions, and presenting the right facts. The bard is good at this lawyer role.

For Xena, seeing Gabrielle back after she had punched her was a surprise. The unquestioned loyalty this young girl had for her was overwhelming and Xena understood that. This is why she clarifies what she meant when Xena sends Gabrielle away. She doesn't want her to go, but she (Xena) has to be alone to be able to contact Aries and get her plan in motion. At the same time, Gabrielle is able to see that Xena has a plan and understands Xena's need to be alone. This was a very good scene and showed how close these two characters were getting.

So, at the end when Xena is found guilty and she uses Aries as her defender, we get to see a triumphant Xena, an astounded village, an amazed Gabrielle and a surprised Aries. But this final interaction between Aries and Xena leaves the door open for many other great encounters between these two formidable foes.

Once again, the ending was just great. The interaction between Gabrielle and Xena is getting more familiar:

You coming back for me really meant a lot after what I did to you.
I trust you. I never thought for a moment you meant to hurt me.
Well, I owe you. Thanks.
I owe you too. (Hits Xena)
What was that?
Pay back for hitting me.
Feel better?
I think I broke my hand, but I do feel better.
Good, so do I.
Very good interchange, and good lines in the development of the familiarity between these two characters. A very good episode and a magnificent way of introducing Aries to the program and, at the same time, leaving the door open for future visits by this character.


11-13-00. Kevin (Ares) Smith was at the Panathenaea Convention in London, England on September 3, 2000. He talked about his stick-on beard in The Reckoning, and how he couldn`t move his face at all throughout the shoot.

12-17-98. On the USA Thanksgiving Day XENA/HERK marathon (Thursday, 11-26-98), Lucy Lawless did pre-recorded bits between the shows. For the first RECKONING break (5:00PM), she said, "Next please. Here we go, what are we up to, hour seven? Something like that. And the answer is: The Reckoning. From Xena. Oh, this has got that bad old Ares in it. He's always flirting with Xena. They've got this love/hate, lust/hate relationship. Stay away, Xena! Don't trust him! He's bad to the bone. Grrrrr." For the second break (5:30pm), she said, "I seem to remember that on the day we ad libbed that Xena pops Gabrielle one, Renee and I thought that would be funny, so it made it in the final cut, I think. Take a look at this."

12-17-98. At the Burbank Con II (01/97), there were several comments about Kevin Smith (Ares)'s looks, which embarrassed him. He was asked about the god of love character and what it was based on. "It was Vegas Ares." Then said that at the last wrap party Elvis was became theme night. Did he enjoy the god of love? He always plays bad guys and wonders if casting directors see an evil in him tha t he wasn't aware of. He loves playing something different, but doesn't want to be a wuss. The god of love was a lounge lizard. He was also asked if he enjoyed adding the satire, the cheesy little tidbits? Kev started to answer, then said "cheesy?" and looked at the woman askance, "fromage? (French for cheese)" I've got to wonder if that was another bit of American slang he hadn't heard or if he was playing. Kev and Charles Siebert decided when Kev started playing Ares that there has to be an element of charm. Yes, he's a bad guy, but you have to have an edge there.


Highlights by Kym Taborn.

Xena slugging Gabrielle, of course.


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

Coming soon


12-17-98. From Corinne Heller. In THE RECKONING, Xena plays along with Ares's proposal to bring back anyone she names from the dead and she suggests Hector, Achilles, and Agamenmon, but they're long gone. In BEWARE OF GREEKS, those three people play major parts in the siege of Troy. Oops!


Prepared by SheWho.

The televised version follows the script pretty closely, dialogue wise, but there are some descriptions of the characters' emotions, and some omitted scenes and dialogue that are interesting (to me).


Gabrielle's hand wave at Xena's "don't get lost" comment isn't in the script.

A little clue as to Xena's emotional state during part of the fight with the hooded stranger: "Outraged at facing one who seems to be, so far at least, as good at this as she is, Xena roars as she throws her whole body into a frontal assault on the Hooded Being . . ."

The escaping Xena finds Gabrielle: "Fully dressed, she's just emerging from a blissful time in the cool stream." Xena is still calling for her, and Gabrielle "quickly puts her sandals back on," calling, "Here! C'mon, this stream is great." (In the televised version, of course, Gabrielle is wearing that cute little white slip, and invites Xena to "come on *in*" with her. D*mn those villagers . . .) Gabrielle resists getting on the horse, but sees the hostile villagers coming. "As usual, Gabrielle's a very quick study. One look at the oncoming Villagers, and she extends her arm to meet Xena's. . . Xena will spur her horse across the stream, with Gabrielle hanging on for dear life behind her."

In the woods, Xena says they'll wait for nightfall. The script describes: "Gabrielle is lying on her stomach. Xena is alertly peering into the woods." (I don't know what significance it has whether Gab is lying down or sitting on a log, but since it was noted in the script, I included it.)

As they make their way down the mountain, Xena tells Gab to get on the horse. "Xena's tone impels Gabrielle to do as instructed without the usual hesitation. She grabs Xena's outstretched arm and again finds herself riding behind Xena."

Xena's rescue of captured Gab is described differently from the televised version: "With Xena having hacked away the lassos, her horse will dash forward, carrying Xena away from the immediate harm surrounding Gabrielle. But Xena slides off the horse, sword in hand -- leaving the horse to continue it's gallop away from the scene." Xena's wonderfully hostile look at the villagers who are holding Gab isn't mentioned in the script. Neither is Gabrielle's frantic yell -- "Xena!" -- when Xena is knocked out by Peranis.

A great Gab scene not included in the televised version: Peranis speaks to a mob outside the jail, encouraging them to execute her. Gabrielle "bravely makes her way through the crowd toward the jailhouse door, which is barred from within."

Peranis (to Gabrielle): "I'd get away from here, if I were you, young lady."

"Gabrielle, careful to appear unintimidated, and certainly undeterred, bangs on the door."

Gabrielle (in Peranis' face): "You gave your word. I'm free and I can go where I want. Or does your oath mean as little to you as your laws?"

"Someone opens a peephole from within; sees Gabrielle."

Gabrielle (staunch dignity): "I'm here to speak with the wrongfully detained hostage."

"As the door is opened from within, Gabrielle tries another verbal thrust at Peranis and the nasty crowd:"

Gabrielle (her first try at defense counsel): "She could've just ridden away, y'know. Have you thought about that?"

Grathios (easily): "The only place to go, little lady, was right back down where the rest of us were waiting."

"This evokes a derisive heckling chuckle from the villagers."

A guard appears to admit Gabrielle, and Peranis shouts that he'd like a word with the guard. "Guard #1 acknowledges Peranis with a friendly nod, and holds up a finger indicating 'Wait just a minute.' Then, he closes the door behind Gabrielle."

Ares is described: "He is tall, lithe, dark-haired and sophisticatedly handsome. He's neither slithery nor a creep. Worst of all, even we may find some charismatic charm in him."

Ares takes Xena to what is described as "Xena's fantasy boudoir." "The entire boudoir is scarlet in color. Magnificant scarlet drapes hang from ceiling to floor here and there; opulently framed full view mirrors; a chandelier such as Xena's world has never scene; a wonderful fireplace; a lushly cushioned chaise-type couch; a great four-poster bed." Xena looks around in awe, then "resumes as much of a poker face as she can muster."

Ares leaves, after making his tempting offer. Close on Xena, "Surprised, and a bit confused. Did this actually happen?"

When Benitar tells Gab he can't let her speak for Xena because the villagers might explode, she replies, "So you're afraid? To get real justice takes a little guts sometimes, you know."

Gab loops the rope around her neck. "Xena's as surprised as everyone else." Xena says, "Stop it. Take that thing off." (In the televised version, she says, "Stop that. This isn't about you, Gabrielle.")

Benitar removes the rope from Gabrielle's neck. He says this isn't justice, and asks, "Would you have us destroy the very laws we live by?" Peranis angrily replies, "When someone destroys the people we've lived with all our lives, yes!"

Back in the cell with Gabrielle, Xena "appears more annoyed than angry," telling Gab it was a pretty dumb thing she did.

During Gabrielle's cross-examination of witnesses at the trial, "we'll see the villagers become more interested in angry; less and less certain in their general demeanor."

After Teracles testifies that his last sight was Xena standing over him with his blood on her sword, Gabrielle, "anxious, even desperate," moves to Benitar, and says, "About the verdict, and what that gentleman said . . . I'd appreciate just a word or two with your Council when you get together?"

In the script, Peranis is whipping Xena, rather than punching her. Just before Xena screams and begins pounding her tormentors, Ares kisses her.

Because the Xena-hitting-Gab scene is so pivotal, I'm including its entire description:

Gabrielle is "just entering the other corridor door (ostensibly from the Council meeting)."

Gabrielle: "Xena, the Council said . . ."

"But, out of pure instinct, all Xena's aware of initially is that someone else is coming at her. Even as she's finishing the round kick which just dropped the Guard, Xena lashes out with a vicious backhand sweep -- at Gabrielle.

The force of the slap literally flings Gabrielle several feet and flat against the wall. Move in on Gabrielle's face. A fairly quick return to her senses is followed by an expression of her heartfelt anguish. She rises slowly. . . holding her bruised cheek, and with tears welling up in her eyes. . .

Only now does Xena vaguely recognize Gabrielle. . . the sight of whom will slowly bring her out of her madness.

Beat, then -- sobbing -- the heartbroken Gabrielle runs out of the place. Xena looks after her. . . bewildered at first. . . then, with reality creeping back into her:"

Xena (dazed): "Gabrielle?. . . (fully realizing; brokenly) Oh, no. . ."

"Suddenly emptied of all hostility -- indeed, all strength -- Xena leans back against a wall. What she's done pains her greatly."

The next scene is omitted from the televised version:

"Gabrielle runs through the woods. She looks distraught. She reaches the stream and falls down beside it. She's unsuccessfully trying to hold back tears. A couple have escaped and are running down her cheek. She reaches into the stream and gingerly applies the soothing water to the cheek where Xena struck her. She's in a state of despair when she looks up and sees something across the stream from her. We don't see what she's looking at."

That night, "Sitting alone and disconsolate on the floor, Xena hears the sound of a horse's hooves. She rises quickly, goes to the little window, and sees" Gabrielle. (Not that it matters, but in the televised version, she doesn't know it's Gabrielle until Gab looks in the window.) Gabrielle is said to "give a little forgiving smile" as she says hi. She tells Xena she found Argo getting a drink at the stream. She tells Xena of her plan to wrap the rope around the bars, and asks Xena to "grab the rope." Xena says "not this time," that if she runs, she'll be running forever. Gab indicates it's better than being dead, and asks, "Will you please take the rope?" Xena then thinks of her plan . . .

Xena "gently" tells Gab she needs Gab to leave her alone for a while; Gab is "a bit hurt." As a "quick afterthought," Xena says, "I didn't mean that the way it probably sounded. I'm, uh. . . glad you came back." "Gabrielle returns Xena's look with the shiny smile of her unconditional friendship."

In her next scene with Ares, Xena's demeanor is "tinged with genuine sensuality -- as she faces a very pleased, if not expectant, Ares. (She's not over the top with the sensuality part, because Ares is no dope, and males do like believing the initiative's theirs.)"

After Ares notes that he wouldn't have killed the villagers if he didn't know they would find her guilty, Xena says, "I'm a little concerned about something. If I do have to escape, the whole village'll be after me and I won't have my sword. How do I fight my way out of there?"

Ares: "My dear, do you honestly think I won't supply you with whatever's necessary? (picks up the bottle of wine) This particular wine really is delicious."

Xena then tells him she's flattered . . . After he promises to give her whoever she wants for her army, Xena runs her hand through his hair once, but then disappoints him by leaving.

As the formerly deceased villagers reappear, "a joyous, almost elfish Gabrielle arrives to tug at the sleeve of the overwhelmed Benitar."

Gabrielle: "Nobody's even dead. Nobody! Can you still say she's guilty?"

Benitar (happily): "It's magic. . . But what wonderful magic."

Gabrielle's question of how those guys came back from the dead, Xena's answer, and Ares' statement, "Until next time, Xena," are not in the script.


Click here to read a transcript of THE RECKONING.

Coming whenever


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