Whoosh! Issue 14 -

November 1997


     Denmark Prison (52-53)
     The Death Wish (54-57)
     Coaching the Players (58-59)
     Caesar, Julius Caesar (60-61)
     Lap Dogs (62-64)
     Hecate's Ban, Hecate's Temple (65-66)
     Guilt Trips Traps (67-71)
     A Little Light Praying (72-75)
     The Sword of Damocles (76-81)
     Harping Harpies (82-84)
     The Counterfeit Images (85-87)
     Gilding the Guilt (88-92)
     A Tapestry of Blood (93-94)
     The Missing Body (95-96)
     The Pirates of Princess (97-98)

Xena Does Shakespeare: The Callisto Episode Arcs

Denmark Prison

[52] Before Laertes leaves for France, he warns Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet. He tells her that Hamlet must marry in consideration for Denmark's throne. King Claudius sends for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two old school chums of Hamlet. They catch him alone deep in thought. Upon seeing them he is immediately suspicious. He tells them that he is in prison, referring to his succession to the throne and its attending restraints. He asks why they are here. They hedge. Hamlet presses them for an answer suggesting that the king has sent them to spy upon him. After Hamlet kills Polonius, King Claudius sends Hamlet to England accompanied by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (in the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet). They carry warrants for Hamlet's death provided by the king. En route Hamlet switches the warrants with those of his own design. They call for the death of the bearer.

[53] In RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29), Callisto is not only in prison but also strapped to a massive throne-like restraint device. Two guards feeding prisoners discuss her mental stability. As they approach Callisto, she baits one of the guards. He attempts to beat her into submission. She lifts his keys and later escapes killing both guards. She breaks Theodorus out and tells him to bring the throne restraint because she knows who will be perfect for it, implying Xena. When Callisto restrains Xena in the throne, Callisto says to her, "Oh, don't bother struggling Xena. Be thankful for that beautiful throne. It will give you peace if you let it." If only Hamlet could have learned that lesson.

The Death Wish

[54] Thoughts of suicide plague Hamlet and Gabrielle. A troop of actors visits Elsinore Castle. Hamlet asks Polonius to see to the needs of the actors. He tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to report back to King Claudius.

[55] Hamlet utters his second suicide soliloquy::


To be, or not to be--That is the question.

Whether ' tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

No more, and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to. " Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,

To sleep--perchance to dream, Ay , there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Must give us pause. There' the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered county from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard there currents turn awry

And lose the name of action.

[56] Gabrielle in RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) forces Xena to teach her how to fight with a sword so she can take arms against her sea of troubles and kill Callisto:




Is it time?




I'm ready.


Gabrielle, when we find her, don't go up

against her one on one. You'll be dead

in seconds.


If she dies with me that'll be fine.


Not with me it won't. Besides, she'd chop

you into little pieces before you struck

even struck a first blow.


That's because you never taught me how

to use a sword. Now that's going to

change...right now. I want a lesson.






Because I won't help you destroy all the

ideals you live by.


My ideals were a lie. I thought that

love was the strongest power on earth.

What a fool. Love is helpless in the

face of cruelty.


Gabrielle, if you are taken over by

hatred, Callisto wins.


I've got news for you Xena. She's

already won. Now show me how to use a



Not a chance.


Xena! [GABRIELLE makes a resounding cut

at her practice tree.] Teach me.




[GABRIELLE prods XENA twice in the

stomach with her sword.] Teach me. [Two

more prods. ] Teach me. [One prod.]

Teach me. [XENA knocks the sword from



I won't do it.


Xena, wake up and look around you. The

little innocent Gabrielle is dead and

there is no getting her back. Just teach

me how to use sword so that I stand a

fighting chance. Please!


All right, pick it up. First thing is

that sword is not a staff. You have to

learn to parry so that you can look for

an opening. And keep eye contact. That's

how you anticipate the next move.


OK. [XENA and GABRIELLE begin to fence.]

Again. Again. Again. I'm going to kill

her. Again. Teach me. Teach me. Teach

me. Again. Again. Teach me how to kill

her Xena. I going to cut her open and

watch her bleed. Teach me how to kill


[57] Yes, Xena functions as Gabrielle's conscience in this scene. She suspects that what Gabrielle really wants is death. The only way that she sees of preventing this is to teach Gabrielle to fight with a sword.

Coaching the Players

[58] Hamlet in the Sir Laurence Olivier version coaches the actors on how to present their lines in the play.


Speak the speech, I pray you, as I

pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if

you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as

lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw

the air too much with your hand, thus, but use

all gently. For in the very torrent, tempest and, as I

may say, whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and

beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh,

it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious

peri-wig- pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to

very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who

for the most part are capable of nothing but inex -

plicable dumb shows and noise. I would have such

a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant--it

out- Herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.

[59] Gabrielle coaches the other contestants in THE ATHENS CITY ACADEMY FOR PERFORMING BARDS (#13). One of the contestants, Twickenham , speaks with a "tripping" tongue. Another character Stallonus "saws" the air with his "robust" performance.

Caesar, Julius Caesar

[60] Before the play begins, Polonius brags that he has played "Julius Caesar" at the university.


My lord, you played once I' the

university, you say?


That did I, my lord, and was accounted a

good actor.


What did you enact?


I did enact Julius Caesar, I was killed

i' the Capitol. Brutus killed me.


It was a brute part of him to kill so

capital a calf there.

[61] Xena plays Julius Caesar in DESTINY (#36). She seduces him and causes him to "suffer" le petite morte, the little death.

Lap Dogs

[62] Hamlet refuses to sit by his mother during the play and instead places his head in Ophelia's lap saying:


Lady, shall I lie in your lap?


No, my lord.


I mean, my head upon your lap?


Aye, my lord.


Do you think I meant country matters?


I think nothing, my lord.


That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

[63] Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer trail Callisto to a cave in RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) where she and her army are having a post terrorism party. While Callisto rests upon her throne of restraint, Theodorus sits at Callisto's feet. She notices his admiration.


A beverage, my queen?


You know I don't drink intoxicants,



I thought maybe just this once.


No. I like to experience life in all

its agonizing glory. I don't want to

dull the sensations in any way. You're

not falling in love with me, are you?


What if I was?


I'd have kill you. Love is a trick

nature that plays to get us to

reproduce. I want no part of it.

[64] Comparisons:

But I'm NOT standing in a hole!

Hamlet and Ophelia fence verbally at the play.

Here, piggy piggy...Oops...wrong line.

Callisto lectures Theodorus about love.

Hecate's Ban, Hecate's Temple

[65] During the play, the character Lucianus describes the poison to be used to kill the play king:


Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time


Confederate season, else no creature seeing,

Thou mixture rank of midnight weeds collected,

With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,

Thy natural magic and dire property

On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[66] In PROMETHEUS (#08), as illness begins to sweep the land, Xena journeys to Hecate's temple to find out how to free PROMETHEUS. Once PROMETHEUS is freed man's ability to heal himself will return.

Guilt Trips Traps

[67] Still not sure that the ghost is really his father's, Hamlet sets a trap for King Claudius. He writes the play the visiting acting troop is to perform. The play reenacts the murder of Hamlet's father as told to him by the ghost. Hamlet says to himself, "The play's the thing to catch the conscience of the King."

[68] Hamlet watches King Claudius' reaction to the play.


Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in 't?


No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest--

no offense I' the world.


What do you call the play?


_The Mousetrap_. Marry, how? Tropically.

This play is the image of a murder done in

Vienna, Gonzago is the Duke's name, his wife, Bap-

tista. You shall see anon. 'Tis a knavish piece of

work, but what o' that? Your Majesty, and we that

have free souls, it touches us not, Let the galled

jade wince, our withers are unwrung.

[69] The actor playing Duke Gonzago pours poison into his brother's ear. Claudius is so affected that he stands up and calls for light. Hamlet says, "What, frighted with false fire!" King Claudius flees to the castle chapel.

[70] In INTIMATE STRANGER (#31), Xena is forced to reenact her murder of Callisto, watching her drown in the quicksand. It affects her to such a degree that her guilt overcomes her and Callisto's spirit takes over her body.

[71] Hamlet says it best as he plans his play to trap King Claudius:


The spirit that I have seen

May be the Devil, and the Devil hath power

To assume a pleasing shape, Yea, and perhaps

Out of my weakness and my melancholy,

As he is very potent with such spirits.

Abuses me to damn me.

A Little Light Praying

[72] Hamlet encounters King Claudius still searching for light in the chapel. His intent is to kill Claudius.

[73] He overhears the king praying:


Oh, wretched state! Oh, bosom black as death!

Oh, limed soul, that struggling to be free

Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay

Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel,

Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!

[74] In RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29), Gabrielle encounters Xena praying in the moonlight.


If anyone is listening: you know I'm not

much for praying. But I don't know what

else to do. I was ready to give up once

and... Gabrielle came into my life.

Please! Don't let that light that shines

in her face go out. I couldn't stand the

darkness that would follow.

Gabrielle overhears Xena's cry for help on her behalf. Whatever Gabrielle had planned to do she now changes her mind. Her plan, initially brazen, now takes on stealth.

[75] Comparisons:

A gin fizzy with a lime twist on the


King Claudius' prays in Castle Elsinore's chapel.

Somewhere...out there...beneath the pale


Xena prays for Gabrielle.

The Sword of Damocles

[76] Hamlet freezes, sword raised above the praying King Claudius in the Sir Laurence Olivier version of Hamlet.

[77] Hamlet considers his options:


Now might I do it pat, now he is praying,

And now I'll do't. And so he goes to Heaven,

And so an I revenged, That would be scanned:

A villain kills my father, and for that

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To Heaven.

[78] Hamlet decides to wait for the right opportunity, when the king has committed a sin.

[79] Gabrielle freezes, sword raised above a sleeping Callisto who is nestled in her throne surrounded by her sleeping dogs of war. Gabrielle recalls Perdicus saying that he knows that she will not kill, Xena's promise to her not to become a monster, and Xena's prayer in the moonlit glade.

[80] She recants her decision to kill Callisto:

[GABRIELLE freezes, her sword poised above CALLISTO]


I don't understand you. After all that I

did, you still can't kill me.


I won't take a life, even yours. I'd

rather die.


Oh, but you will.


Get it over with.


Oh, no, no, no. I'm going to make a

grand show of your death. And I'll need

an audience who will truly appreciate

[81] Comparisons:

D*mn light! Shoot! It's the paparazzi!

If he kills him now, Hamlet believes that King Claudius will go to heaven.

Something I'm supposed to remember...Oh! Right! Blood


Memories cause Gabrielle to forego killing Callisto.

Harping Harpies

[82] Rosencrantz and Guildenstern confront Hamlet about his actions at the play. Hamlet takes a flute from one of the players.


Will you play upon this pipe?


My lord, I cannot.


I pray you.


Believe me, I cannot,


I do beseech you,


I know no touch of it, my lord.


It is as easy as lying, Govern these ventages with your

fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and

it will discourse most eloquent music, Look you, these

are the stops.


But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony,

I have not the skill.


Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing

you make of me! You would play upon me,

you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck

out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me

from my lowest note to the top of my compass--

and there is much music, excellent voice, in this

little organ--yet cannot you make it speak, 'Sblood,

do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?

Call me what instrument you will, though you can

fret me, you cannot play upon me.

[83] Hamlet then throws the flute away.

[84] In WARRIOR...PRINCESS (#15), Xena, undercover as Princess Diana, is asked to play the harp, at Diana's formal engagement dinner. Unfortunately, it is not one of Xena's many skills. Instead she breaks the harp strings preserving, her disguise, her "antique disposition," and "the heart of her mystery."

The Counterfeit Images

[85] CALLISTO (#22), INTIMATE STRANGER (#31), THE QUEST (#37), and Hamlet all use counterfeit images. A messenger arrives with a summons for Hamlet to go to Queen Gertrude's chamber. Queen Gertrude confronts Hamlet about his behavior. Hamlet confronts Gertrude about hers. He closes in on her as she sits upon her bed. Hamlet shoves his locket with his father's picture in it in Gertrude's face. He angrily yanks the locket worn by Gertrude. Upon the locket is portrayed King Claudius' face. When Hamlet confronts his mother about her over hasty marriage, he brings the "counterfeit" image he wears of his father next to the counterfeit image his mother wears of King Claudius. Hamlet asks his mother who is the truest, who can she trust?

[86] Callisto catches Xena's Chakram in CALLISTO (#22) framing Xena's face just before their first duel begins. Here Xena is truest of the chakram images. Later Xena reclaims the chakram in INTIMATE STRANGER (#31) snatching it from the air framing Callisto's face, the counterfeit image. Callisto takes over Xena's body through guilt and escapes Tartarus into the mortal realm in INTIMATE STRANGER. Xena takes over Autolycus' body in THE QUEST (#37). As he puts out the fire threatening to burn Xena's body, he takes the chakram from atop her sarcophagus. With it he cuts the bowstrings of the Amazonian archers catching the chakram on the fly, framing his face in it. Melius and Gabrielle must decide who is the real Xena and who to trust, either Callisto or Autolycus depending on the episode.

[87] Comparisons:

First we take the pros, then the cons, then...whoops, out of


Hamlet tries to convince Queen Gertrude that King Claudius pales in comparison to King Hamlet.

Xena...recognize this?

"The main attraction, the real deal!"

It's yours, isn't it?

Callisto explains to Theodorus her intent to kill the oracle at Delphi flipping Xena's chakram over from its defensive aspect of castle crenulations to...

Sniff...I mean, whom else could it belong


its offensive aspect of a lightning bolt.

Sniff...yup...it's fish. Must be Xena's.

OK, now what do I do with it?

Gilding the Guilt

[88] King Hamlet's ghost appears to Hamlet. He chides Hamlet for taking so long to exact revenge on King Claudius.

[89] The ghost says:


Do not forget. This visitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But look, amazement on the mother sits.

Oh, step between her and her fighting soul.

Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.

Speak to her, Hamlet.

[90] As he does Queen Gertrude's guilt reaches unbearable proportions. Hamlet brings Queen Gertrude around to his point of view regarding her incestuous relationship with King Claudius.


Mother, for love of grace,

Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,

That is not your trespass but my madness speaks.

It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,

Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,

Infects unseen. Confess yourself to Heaven.

Repent what's past, avoid what is to come.

And do not spread the compost on the weeds

To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,

For in the fatness of these pursy times

Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg--

Yea curb and woo for leave to do him good.


Oh, Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

[91] Guilt-ridden, Xena succumbs to Ares' manipulations. Callisto's ghost then appears to Xena in a dream and draws Xena, by way of her guilt, to Tartarus. There Callisto switches bodies with Xena.

[92] After realizing that Callisto has escaped, Hades chides Xena for her actions:


This is ridiculous. What you're saying

is impossible and is exactly what I

would expect of you Callisto.


She got to me through my dreams, Hades,

my guilt. Ares is helping her.


Guilt? That is possible. The dead can

invade the dreams of the guilty...Oh,

you're smart. So smart. No wonder Xena

had to kill you. No Callisto, Tartarus

is your eternity.


I was down here with Marcus, remember?


That's no secret. You'll have to do

better than that.


I stabbed Marcus in the heart because I

love him. You saw it. How many people

know that beside you?


Only Marcus, and he wouldn't tell

anyone. I can't believe Ares would do

this. He's really overstepped the bounds

this time.


If you help me we can defeat him.


You? Your guilt allowed her to escape,

Xena. You're not totally innocent here.

I will give you one full day. After that,

someone has to go back to Tartarus.

Take it or leave it.

A Tapestry of Blood

[93] Fate denies both Hamlet and Callisto the objects of their rage. Demanding that Queen Gertrude give up the incestuous bed that she shares with King Claudius, Hamlet scares her to the point that she calls for help. Polonius, hiding behind a tapestry in the queen's chamber, also calls for help. Hamlet, in a furious rage and thinking it is King Claudius, lunges at the tapestry with his sword piercing it and Polonius behind it as well. Uttering sharp cry, Polonius slumps to the ground dead. Hamlet drags Polonius' body from the chamber. King Claudius arrives and Queen Gertrude tells him that Hamlet has killed Polonius.

[94] During verbal foreplay, Gabrielle, in RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29), asks Perdicus if has slept with any other women. He responds yes and asks her if that bothers her. She says yes. Later, after consummating their marriage, they take a secluded walk and are confronted by Callisto. She tries to kill Gabrielle. Xena arrives in the nick of time staying Callisto's hand. Xena's only thought is to protect Gabrielle. Briefly, Xena and Callisto clash to no avail. Noticing the fight has positioned her fortuitously in relationship to Perdicus, Callisto runs him through. Xena glares at the disappearing Callisto.

The Missing Body

[95] Upon killing Polonius, Hamlet hides Polonius' body to frustrate his uncle King Claudius. King Claudius organizes a search for the body. He sends his guards throughout the castle looking for it. He knows that his subjects will be in an uproar if Polonius cannot be given a proper burial. Hamlet bursts into the King's study and admits to hiding the body but that in a week or so they should not have any trouble finding it. Once everyone else has left, King Claudius writes a letter to his cousin, the king of England, asking that Hamlet be put to death. He arranges for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England.

[96] Talmadeus sends two of his troops to Lord Seltzer's factory in THE GREATER GOOD (#21) to determine the status of Xena. He knows that if Xena is dead, the morale of his troops will improve.

The Pirates of Princess

[97] Pirates provide opportunities for both Hamlet and Xena to find and fulfill their destinies. King Claudius bundles Hamlet off to England. Hamlet says his good-byes to his mother and leaves accompanied by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In the Sir Laurence Olivier version of Hamlet, Hamlet's ship is attacked by pirates. In the resulting fracas he is captured. He sends a note to Horatio to that effect. Horatio then sets out to meet him. Julius Caesar is captured by "Xena: Pirate Princess" in DESTINY (#36). Xena sends a message to Caesar's cohort asking, with Caesar's prompting, for a ransom of 100,000 dinars. Eventually, the ransom arrives with Brutus, Caesar's second, and an exchange is made, destiny for dinars.

[98] Comparisons:

Before the sail-eating vermin arrived...

Hamlet's ship is attacked by pirates.

...and after.

The Pirate Princess' ship is stalked by Caesar and his crew.
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