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Season 3, episode 19
Series 319
1st release: 04/20/98
2nd release: 08/31/98
1st strip release: 10/23/98
2nd strip release: 01/27/99
Production number: V0414
Script number: 318
Approximate shooting dates: February 1998
Last update: 03-08-00

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY by Beth Gaynor

Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)

Todd Rippon (Macon)
Joy Watson (Palmist)
Stephen Tozer (Thadeus)
Toby Fisher (Petrodes)
Angela Dotchin (Soraya)
Stephen Hall (Captain)
Ben baker (Dockhand)
Slade Leef (Sailor)

Written by Chris Manheim
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by John Laing

Xena, Gabrielle and Autolycus find themselves aboard a ship capsized by a tidal wave. They do find an air pocket, but so does a cutthroat, who thwarts them at every turn.

The eruption of Mount Aetna produces a tidal wave that submerges Xena, Gabrielle and Autolycus inside a sinking mining vessel.

A monstrous tidal waves engulfs a ship with Xena, Gabrielle and Autolycus aboard.

1st RELEASE: 04/20/98
An AA average of 4.8
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 7th with 6.3
(2) XENA 11th with 4.8
(3) HERCULES 14th with 4.5
(4) STAR TREK DS9 17th with 4.3
(5) WALKER 19th with 4.2

2nd RELEASE: 08/31/98
An AA average of 4.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 10th with 4.7
(2) XENA 13th with 4.0
(3) HERCULES 19th with 3.6


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

Xena and Gabrielle visit a village, and Gabrielle decides to have her palm read. The woman tells Gabrielle she is in great danger. Gabrielle says that describes every day of her life with Xena! The duo splits off in search of lunch, and Gabrielle see Autolycus in chains on the end of the line of men boarding a ship. She tries to speak to him, and when she boards the ship to do so, the men jump her. She fights them off with her staff, but the boat sails. Xena hears Gabrielle's screams for her, and runs to the shore. She does a Xena flip (as only Xena can) and lands in the ship, sword drawn and ready to rumble. You don't take Gabrielle from Xena!

Thadeus, a wealthy man who owns the slaves now, is also on board the ship. He isn't very happy with Xena and Gabrielle's presence, but Xena goes to speak to Autolycus. He is just after some diamonds in the mine. There are two other prisoners; Macon and Petrodes. Macon is a jerk and Petrodes is scared to death. Gabrielle learns that Thadeus' wife is pregnant, but she hasn't told her husband yet because he doesn't want a baby. Everyone keeps feeling a slight bump in the ship, and Xena tries to persuade Thadeus and the captain to turn around. She sees ash in the distance -- a volcano has erupted. The captain turns about. Xena tells everyone to go below deck, but there is no time! She barely is able to drag Gabrielle and few others below when it hits! The mother of all waves flips the ship, leaving them upside and trapped in a pocket of air. Xena begins a frantic search for Gabrielle. She finds Autolycus, safe and unharmed. The pregnant wife is fine, too, but her husband has a broken leg. Macon survived also; the Captain is badly wounded. But where is Gabrielle? Petrodes begins screaming: get her away, she's dead! Xena rushes over and pulls her semi-conscious friend away from the hysterical young man. She's okay. They patch everybody up, and then Xena doesn't quite know what to do. Macon, who is a real idiot as well as a jerk, opens a door, letting the equilibrium out of the boat, and it begins to sink after tumbling everyone around some more. Xena determines that they need to turn the rudder on the ship, and after much maneuvering they finally manage to do that. The boat comes to rest on a reef, no longer sinking, but they are too deep to try to swim up. The atmosphere is ominous; everyone thinks they are going to die. Macon doesn't help any by trying to kill anyone who is injured because they are breathing his air. Petrodes finally nearly shoots Macon with a crossbow, and Xena whips out her chakram to stop him. Unfortunately it messes up the ballast of the boat and it slips again. Autolycus tries to drink from a leather wine bag, and finds it empty. Xena realizes they can fill the bags with air and use them on the way up to the surface. They are near some warm water geysers; she thinks they can use them to propel themselves to the surface. They do this; Macon loses his bag and fights Xena for hers. She saves him, though. Everyone makes land and lives.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Tsunami is a take on The Poseidon Adventure; in the great tradition of Lifeboat and countless other stories, a mixed bag of people get trapped together and have to figure a way out of their problem - in this case, the little matter of a tidal-wave-capsized ship. Neat idea, and good character concepts for it, but the episode lacked punch for me. Maybe I'm just not water-phobic enough.

The cast and crew must have squished when they walked for a week after filming this episode. Almost the entire show was shot hip-deep in water, plus the occasional scene totally submerged. That kind of work merits hazard pay all the way around - and free barnacle scrapings when it's all over.

Gab already knows that getting on ships = nothing but trouble. She now has the right to kick Xena in the butt if she suggests even getting near a coastal town. Our duo should stay land-locked.

What was the reason for the pregnancy storyline? It wasn't mentioned except when Soraya and Gabrielle were suddenly chummy and at the end as Soraya and Thadeus have a heart-to-heart while water is crawling up their necks.

Classic Xena "I'm too tough for my leathers" moment (to coin a Melissa Good phrase) when she emerges from the surf: she staggers as if not a single muscle is working like it should, but she still braces up and walks mean. Image is everything, Xena, work it!

Watch Gabrielle lay vicious waste to those sailors when they start roughing up Autolycus! And Xena didn't get a fight scene - except underwater grappling - this episode. You go, bard!

The couple, Thadeus and Soraya, didn't work for me. He buys prisoners to use as slave labor and totes around a trophy wife half his age, but there's supposed to be deep affection between them. I'm not sure whether it was the situation or the actors that put me off, but I wasn't buying it.

What happened, did XenaStaff run out of money to pay the captain? He starts out as a really interesting character; he and Xena work in good tandem as they realize the danger headed their way. He tries to save his panicking crew. Then he spends the rest of the episode as a body. What a bummer of a gig.

Salty, wet leathers - yuck! Gabrielle and Soraya have permission to be smug during the entire walk back to civilization and lord their relative comfort over Xena, Autolycus, and Macon.

Who else thinks that they missed all kinds of easy opportunities for jokes in the fortune tellers' hut?

"I see great danger in in your future! And someone tall, dark, and..."
"Oh, that's Xena."

Wait a minute: there's a column of ash shooting to the clouds and every sailor, who lives and breathes weather, is ignoring it? Did Xena and Gabrielle stumble onto the ship with the most unobservant sailors in Greece?

Special effects report card: The ship getting hit by the tidal wave was pretty cool. Most of the underwater shots were so-so. And the ship swooping horizontal after its dive as if it were a child's bath toy was horrid.

Xena's fairly single-minded in her hunt for Gabrielle after the wave hit. Injured people get left in her wake (pardon the pun) as she rabbits after every sign of survivors. When she and Autolycus spot Gab's hand across Petrodes, watch Xena yank aside a crate as big as her.

Xena's leap to the ship was almost verbatim from Lost Mariner. Seen it, done it.

Turning the rudder is the one time that everyone worked together, and it made good sense. I could have done with a couple more of those moments of sanity for all aboard.

The Xena Reality Editor who sits on my shoulder has no explanation for how an unconscious man is supposed to hold his breath and breathe from a wineskin.

"Trapped in here until we run out of air... or luck," Gabrielle grouses. This from the eternal optimist?

NICE show of fang from Soraya when she clocks Macon back three feet away from Thadeus. She didn't contribute much during the episode, but don' MESS with her man!

Why was Xena and Autolycus scraping the ceiling with a harpoon? "Okay, Autolycus, if we lurch suddenly, the great white whale has us, and I want you to heave to right through the floorboards!"

I couldn't understand Macon's problem with Xena's plan. He would still get out and could swim directly for the surface if he wanted. Nobody was making him take a wineskin or head for a geyser. "Let's vote: knock a hole in the hull, or knock a hole in the hull. Who's with ME?"

When the styrofoam-hem, I mean vicious rocks - punch through the floor, Autolycus mutters darkly, "Aaah, I've seen more leaks in a sieve!" Was that an attempt to make people feel better? Or was Autolycus starting to get oxygen-deprived?

I have no problem with Petrodes the non- swimmer making it to the surface; following the updraft isn't tough. But how on earth did he make it to shore?

Autolycus, make a note: self-pitying angst doesn't work well on you, my friend. Keep the brash self-confidence.

"From you, nothing. From me, nothing less." I liked that line quite a bit. It's pompous and cheesy, and it IS awfully cool.

Petrodes wins the award as the Wussy Character of the Season, also known as the "Hudson from Aliens 'Game Over, Man!'" merit badge. (This award was claimed last year by the villager in The Execution who threw himself off Xena's horse to avoid having to face the corrupt judge.) If Pre-Mycenean Greece didn't have its share of scardey-cats, how would the heroes look heroic?


03-08-00. From KSZoneW. The sailor at the dock refers to the criminals as b*st*rds was edited.


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

[128] Then there's TSUNAMI (65/319), the homage to The Poseidon Adventure (Ronald Neame, 1972).

[129] [laughs] Although some people are too young to remember that film. I couldn't believe it, I thought everyone was going to get that. People in their 20's didn't remember it. But yes, that's definitely what it was.

[130] I thought this was a very good episode, and I especially liked the performance of Todd Rippon as Macon.

[131] He was fun to write. It was a fun show to write. I don't think it was anyone's favorite episode to work on because of the conditions. Here I was thinking I was doing everyone a big favor because it was the height of their summer and I thought "It'll be hot, they'll like getting in water." Yeah, right. [laughs] It was cold and nasty, so it wasn't hot. And being wet all day is no fun.

[132] I heard there was an accident involving one of those water tanks. It collapsed or burst.

[133] Fortunately they weren't shooting on that stage, they were shooting next door. There was one carpenter or plumber working there, and he ended up getting pushed into a bathroom by the force of the water. I think he was banged up but otherwise unhurt.

01-13-99. From Gabrielle Anderson. Okay, have you seen the episode "Tsunami?" Well, if you did, you know they were on boats and in water through, like, the whole episode. Well, my inside source says "all the water scenes in Tsunami were filmed on a 5 million gallon watertank. During the dry-land sequences of the episode (which were being filmed directly NEXT DOOR to the tank), the tank kinda split open and a huge, real-life Tsunami, swept everyone away. Nobody was hurt, but lotsa stuff got destroyed and apparently the director ended up hanging from a ten meter tree in the carpark. Lucy and Renee ended up mashed against a chain link fence (at least this is all what the crew told me). They made a huge joke about it and now everyone wear's 'I SURVIVED THE XENA STUDIO TSUNAMI OF 98' T-shirts on set." *laugh* I also noticed...check out the disclaimer at the end of Tsunami: "No Cast or Crew were singing "Tanks For The Memories" during the production of this motion picture. However, the phrase "Strike the Set" was given new meaning." HINT HINT!!

02-23-97. From the Bruce Campbell website: "Auto, Xena, and Gabby are trapped on a ship that's trapped in a storm - think 'Poseidon Adventure'."


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

In the scene when Macon threatens Gabrielle, we get a slight variant on the knife-to-throat theme as he threatens to garrote her instead. I liked that scene: I'm not sure what Macon was hoping to accomplish, but Gab shows her "smart cookie" quotient by grabbing the dagger after she's gut-punched him (don't leave a weapon behind!), and Xena levels a nicely-done threat to let Macon know that he can spend the rest of the episode endangering anybody else in the cabin he wants, but the blonde is off limits.

Line of the episode goes to bad-guy Macon for "I think I speak for everyone when I say TBPBTBTBTBTPT!" Sure, he was acting like a moron, but he'll get a sound file on my computer for that.


05-04-98. From Briareus. After reading the 'things to look out for' for this ep, I must say I was a little surprised - someone even mentioned the nitrogen absorption that was surely to be a problem, and yet no one seems to mind the reason for that - the incredible pressure. They did mention something about that, but I doubt that swimming close to a geyser makes any difference, once they got out of the ship(which probably wouldn't have survived that long anyway) the water would still do to them what Gareth so much wanted to do in ADITL - "Squash them like insects"

05-04-98. From Briareus. And turning the rudder? give me a break, with a lever of that length ten people couldn't do it, I don't care if the *all* were Xenas.

05-04-98. From Briareus. Another interesting thing is - the ship was upside down, they were breaking through what was under their feet - the deck, so why was the hole in the hull?

From PenandSwrd@aol.com. How did they see in the dark down there?

From PenandSwrd@aol.com. Although the air in the wineskins isn't a bad idea (the body still exhales a good amount of oxygen so there'd be breathable air in those skins that Gabby filled by blowing into them) how did the unconscious Captain make it? Did he come to long enough to breathe himself, did someone breathe for him, or did he just hold his breath the whole time?

From PenandSwrd@aol.com.The effects of the "bends" were completely ignored -- at such a depth, being down there as long as they were, they would have absorbed enough nitrogen in their blood for that to be a problem. In short, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

From Beth Gaynor. Xena and Gabrielle's weapons continue to have problems with surviving episodes. Gab's staff now belongs to Poseidon. My money says it'll show up in the next episode with no problems, though.

From Beth Gaynor. Minor continuity flub: Gab starts the final beach scene with one side of her face coated in sand, but loses it all halfway through.

From Beth Gaynor. Watch the stopper on the wineskin as Xena and Macon fight: it comes open almost from the moment the two start battling. It's possible that Xena managed to hold the skin upside-down through the whole battle and keep most of the air from escaping, but I was amazed when she managed to grab a breath from it.


Click here to read a transcript of TSUNAMI.


No Cast or Crew were singing "Tanks For The Memories" during the production of this motion picture. However, the phrase "Strike the Set" was given new meaning.


The following WHOOSH! articles discuss this episode:

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Gabrielle Anderson's Site

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