Whoosh! Issue 28 - January 1998

IAXS project #342
By Sue Ratkowski
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
This edition copyright © 1999 held by WHOOSH
1583 words

Colorful Adversaries (01)
Callisto, Sign in Please (02-07)
Velasca, Sign in Please (08-12)
Callisto vs. Velasca (13-15)
Velasca, One Sick Puppy (16-18)

Callisto Redeemable vs. Velasca Unredeemable?

It's all fun & games 'til someone starts pulling hair.

Velasca and Callisto duke it out in A NECESSARY EVIL.

Colorful Adversaries

[01] Xena and Gabrielle have had to deal with many interesting and colorful adversaries over the seasons. Add to that Xena's knack for setting up interesting adversarial situations, is it no surprise that Xena's match-up of Velasca, the Ambrosia-enhanced Amazon, versus Callisto in A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214) was so fascinating?

If I blow right on the edge, it sounds like a duck!

Callisto makes an impression upon Xena.

Callisto, Sign in Please

[02] The backstory of Callisto is well known. As a young girl, the Destroyer of Nations pillaged her village. With her family dead, and all that she knew in ruins, Callisto became a woman with a purpose: to seek revenge on Xena, the warlord who had visited this evil upon her.

[03] We first meet Callisto in the episode named after her, although there are hints and glimpses in the episode, THE GREATER GOOD (21/121). In GREATER GOOD, Callisto's theme music is debuted and we see her mail-clad knee as she poisons Xena with a dart.

[04] In the subsequent episode, CALLISTO (22/122), we are introduced to her in a startling way, she CATCHES Xena's chakram! With this lead in, we are not too surprised to see Callisto has honed her warrior skills to be every bit the match for our true Warrior Princess. Xena, Gabrielle, and we, the audience, learn how determined Callisto is to hurt Xena in revenge for the harms that she has suffered. At first, Callisto is simply attempting to damage Xena's reputation as a REFORMED warlord. As time goes by, and as she gets to know our favorite ex-warlord better, Callisto realizes there are better ways to hurt Xena.

[05] In RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), Callisto sets her sights on Gabrielle, realizing that Gabrielle is the source of Xena's new light. Failing a shot at Gabrielle, Callisto does the next best thing, and guts Gabrielle's new husband, Perdicus, hoping to extinguish the light in Gabrielle. This almost works, as Gabrielle works herself into a killing rage and goes after Callisto in her lair. Fortunately, Gabrielle comes to her senses, and sets up the final confrontation between Xena and Callisto that results in Xena allowing Callisto to die in the quicksand.

[06] Now that she is dead, Callisto still works her evil on Xena from Tartarus. In the episodes INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207) and TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208), Callisto has managed to switch bodies with Xena, using Xena's guilt to trap HER in Tartarus. When Xena beats Callisto's game, she gets out of Tartarus, but still is in Callisto's body! Which makes Gabrielle's life interesting, to say the least. Finally, Ares fulfills a promise and returns to Xena her own body, and Callisto remains in Tartarus.

[07] In a Hercules: The Legendary Journeys crossover, Callisto teams up with Hera to torment Hercules, and becomes immortal by eating the fruit of the Tree of Life [SURPRISE (H49/312)]. Hercules outsmarts her, though, and leaves her trapped in the cave with an eternity of nothing to look forward to but killing rats named "Hercules". We leave Callisto there, and take a small side journey to the Amazon Nation.

Velasca, Sign in Please

Velasca began to hate Gabrielle when she didn't 
compliment the bird hat

Velasca is all nicey-nicey at first.

[08] In DESTINY (36/212), Xena is severely injured while rescuing some innocent villagers. She dies at the end of the episode, leaving Gabrielle to go on a "quest" to take Xena's body back to Amphipolis for burial next to her beloved brother Lyceus. On the way, Gabrielle passes through Amazon country and meets up with her old friend Ephiny, with a new kid on the block in tow: Velasca. According to Ephiny, Velasca killed Queen Melosa in combat ("Fair combat. You keep omitting that word, Ephiny," says Velasca. "The Tribunal ruled it a fair combat.") for the crown. Nevertheless, Ephiny now wants Gabrielle to reclaim her Right of Caste, and become Queen of the Amazons [THE QUEST (37/213).

[09] During the rest of the episode, we see Velasca attempting to talk Gabrielle into giving the crown to her, and then taking the crown when Gabrielle leaves with Autolycus after stealing Xena's body. The most telling scene in THE QUEST (37/213), and the one that forever nails down the true character of Velasca, is where she is torturing Autolycus for the information about the Ambrosia. "I like pain, I like what it does to a person, and I like what it makes people do," she crows, as she whips and drags her victim about the floor.

[10] As the episode ends, Xena, in Gabrielle's body, defeats Velasca and Velasca dies on the spikes. At least that is what we think. The episode ends with Velasca's bloody hand grasping for the remaining bit of ambrosia teetering on the edge of the firepit.

[11] Velasca staggers into the Amazon village square to confront Gabrielle, swallows the ambrosia, becomes a god, and starts flaming everything and everyone (and NOT in the Internet sense of flaming)! Xena, Gabrielle, and the Amazons flee to a cave, where Xena tells Ephiny to slow Velasca down while she and Gabrielle goes to find the one match for a God: an Immortal. Callisto!

[12] An unlikely ally, Callisto is willing to go along for a shot at the ambrosia and godhood. Callisto helps distract and annoy Velasca long enough for Xena to rescue Gabrielle and to dump both of the gods into a lava river, presumably trapping them forever. The two are so alike, yet also so different.

Callisto vs. Velasca

[13] Callisto, the villain we loved, was always motivated by revenge against Xena for the evil done by Xena. Revenge is not a mitigating factor in the horrible things Callisto did as a warlord, of course. Murder for murder is not justice, and killing innocents to get back at Xena is hardly a productive approach. Nonetheless, as we see Callisto over the episodes she appears in, it is clear that she became seriously unbalanced and completely insane by the loss of her family. "Not guilty by reason of insanity" does not forgive the crime, it merely changes the punishment.

[14] We see this after Xena releases Callisto from her imprisonment in the cave of the Tree of Life. As Xena, Gabrielle, and Callisto spend the night around a campfire, Gabrielle attempts to understand Callisto. In response to Gabrielle's questioning about what Callisto feels, Callisto answers, "The problem is, Gabrielle, I never feel anything. I mean, bits and pieces here and there, but nothing solid." Then Callisto explains further: "Think back to when you were a little girl and all you knew were your mother and your sister, and all of your faith revolved around them. [beat] Now kill them!" Gabrielle is shaken totally by this vision.

[15] Velasca, on the other hand, has no such background to excuse her behavior at all. Although she was orphaned during the Centaur War, Queen Melosa took her in and raised her as her own daughter. Yet, when Melosa named her sister, Terreis, the heir to the mask, Velasca challenged. Losing that challenge, which was apparently not to the death, Velasca left the village. When she returned, she had apparently improved her combat skills enough to defeat Melosa. Based on the conversation about fair combat, Velasca may have had some edge other than pure skill, even though "the Tribunal" could not prove it.

Velasca, One Sick Puppy

Velasca, first Bond girl

Velasca reveals to Autolycus her penchant for pain.

[16] Once she became queen, Velasca was a voice for power, arousing the Amazons with visions of conquest, not peaceful prosperity. Ephiny explained to Gabrielle that if Velasca's grab for Centaur Land took place, Ephiny and her son Xenon would be in an awkward position. When Gabrielle and her Right of Caste returned, Velasca was unwilling to accept this, and tried several times to talk Gabrielle into abdicating in Velasca's favor. On a side note, it is interesting that Gabrielle's Right of Caste trumped Velasca's challenge. This is an indication that the challenge was intended as an extraordinary means to pass the rule to another.

[17] We have already commented on Velasca's love of pain, and inflicting of pain on another. Wholesale slaughter as practiced by Xena and Callisto as warlords is evil, but the inflicting of pain on a single person, up close and personal, and the relish of wallowing in that pain is somehow sicker and more disgusting.

[18] The Xenaverse has a somewhat 'flexible' ethical and moral code, but this love of pain on a personal level is what demonstrates that Velasca was truly evil inside, a far worse evil than that of Callisto. There are no shades of gray about Velasca: her soul is black, black, black, and an eternity in a river of lava is too good for her.


Sue Ratkowski Sue Ratkowski
Personal info: 48 year old female. Department manager for 60 or so computer programmers and mathematicians. Been a science fiction buff since 1960 and a member of Compuserve since 1980. Bought first computer (Radio Shack TRS-80) in 1977 and it's been all downhill ever since.
Favorite episode: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
Favorite line: Joxer: "Is that a hickey?" as Gabrielle looks innocent in BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302)
First episode seen: GIANT KILLER (27/203). I had the TV on as background noise, but this is the first episode that registered.
Least favorite episode: KING CON (61/315), IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)

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