Whoosh! Issue 43 - April 2000

By Andrew Shaughnessy
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1795 words

Introduction (01-02)
Alternative Chronology (03)
The Episodes (04-23)
Conclusion (24-26)

Season Three: A Chronological Minefield


Pizza competition was ugly in pre-Myceanaean times.

Some fans were furious about the third season.

[01] In general, the chronology of Xena: Warrior Princess progresses smoothly from one episode to the next. There is, however, the occasional hiccup. In Season One for instance, Gabrielle is wearing the early version of her Amazon outfit throughout DEATH IN CHAINS (09/109). The following week, however, HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110) commences with Gabrielle in her original blouse and skirt combination. She then encounters Amazons for the first time and adopts an off the shoulder dress, which is replaced the following week (and for the remainder of the season) by the two piece outfit already seen in DEATH IN CHAINS. Clearly DEATH IN CHAINS is set after HOOVES AND HARLOTS. Why it was screened first is something of a mystery.

[02] It is in Season Three, however, that the timeline begins to come seriously unravelled. Events occur in what appear to be the wrong order, or they are separated by too great a time span. This is particularly true of the episodes during The Rift, with anachronisms occurring as late as FORGET ME NOT (63/317). In the United Kingdom, Channel 5 complicated matters even further by screening THE DEBT (52-53/306-307) later in the season, placing it between WARRIOR... PRIESTESS... TRAMP (55/309) and THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER... (56/310). Below is my own idea of a revised chronology for Season Three. This is followed by commentaries on the individual episodes, my reasons for moving them (or leaving them in place), and any other chronological problems.

Alternative Chronology

[03] Here follows my proposed alternative chronology:

01. THE FURIES (47/301)
02. KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308)
03. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302)
04. THE DELIVERER (50/304)
05. GABRIELLE'S HOPE (51/305)
06. THE DEBT I (52/306)
07. THE DEBT II (53/307)
10. THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)
11. THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER... (56/310)
13. ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
14. FORGIVEN (60/314)
15. KING CON (61/315)
16. WHEN IN ROME... (62/316)
17. FORGET ME NOT (63/317)
18. FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318)
19. TSUNAMI (65/319)
20. VANISHING ACT (66/320)
21. SACRIFICE I (67/321)
22. SACRIFICE II (68/322)

The Episodes


[04] No problems here. This episode clearly predates The Rift as Xena and Ares refer to its events in THE DELIVERER.


Xena made her presence felt while in Autolycus' body.

Autolycus finally sees some action.

[05] I have brought this episode forward to cut down the elapsed time between the events of GABRIELLE'S HOPE and MATERNAL INSTINCTS. It also clears up a chronological blip caused when Joxer asks the question "King Gregor was killed by a baby?". Bearing in mind Goewin's fate in GABRIELLE'S HOPE, I would have expected more of a reaction from Gabrielle had this already occurred.


[06] Moved back one week to make room for KING OF ASSASSINS.


[07] Essentially a single, two part story in which The Rift begins to open.


[08] This story follows on from GABRIELLE'S HOPE, as Gabrielle is clearly thinking about her lost daughter in the opening scene. Later, however, she apparently does the impossible by reaching China first despite Xena's head start. This anomaly remains unexplained until much later in the season.


[09] This episode is moved back for two reasons. Firstly, Ares is now seen to have bestowed the special metal mentioned in THE DELIVERER upon the warlord Agathon. It seems unlikely that Ares would have acquired two similar materials in such rapid succession. Secondly, in their final encounter neither Xena nor Ares refers to the events that occurred in THE FURIES. Xena's insanity and near-matricide are not mentioned until an early scene in THE DELIVERER. Both these facts imply that the latter episode should in fact come first.


[10] It was necessary to bring this episode forward due to a remark made by Gabrielle which makes it clear that the events of GABRIELLE'S HOPE occurred only a couple of months earlier. Remember that Xena and Gabrielle had to fit a return journey to China into the intervening space. This would be problematic at best given the distances involved, and I do not see how the three episodes from the original schedule could have occurred in the time available.


[11] As this episode is a direct sequel to MATERNAL INSTINCTS it also has to be brought forward.


[12] Held back both to shorten the elapsed time between THE DEBT and MATERNAL INSTINCTS, and to provide a little light relief after the drama of The Rift.


[13] Held back for the same reasons as THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER. It should also be noted that when Gabrielle realises "Xena" is an impostor, she immediately jumps to the conclusion that Callisto has managed to steal Xena's body as she did in INTIMATE STRANGER. This is despite the fact that they are in Diana and Meg's neighbourhood, making "Xena" more likely to be one of these two women. Placing the episode soon after MATERNAL INSTINCTS lends greater credence to Gabrielle's initial supposition.


Pre-Myceanaean Valet parking.

Xena would never let anything as minor as the Persian army ruin a date with Gabrielle.

[14] There are two schools of thought concerning this episode. Some feel that it should occur between THE DEBT and MATERNAL INSTINCTS because of Xena's attempt to summon the mystical power taught to her by Lao Ma, something not used against Callisto in the latter episode. In addition, Gabrielle apologises to Xena for betraying her to Ming T'ien, but makes no mention of her unwitting part in Solan's death. It should be remembered, however, that Xena's attempt to clear her mind in this episode almost certainly fails because of her distress over Gabrielle's condition. Similarly, her concern for Solan (and her later rage and grief over his death) would have made it almost impossible to summon the power against Callisto, who would in any case have been largely immune to it.

[15] Furthermore, Gabrielle is delirious by the time she apologises to Xena. In an earlier scene she begs her friend not to leave her in Poteidaia, a plea harking back to their first meeting. With her mind wandering, Gabrielle may well have forgotten both Solan's death and her visit to Illusia, allowing the earlier guilt to resurface.

[16] For these reasons I have chosen to leave the episode where it is.


[17] Xena seems very offhand about Gabrielle's injuries so soon after the latter's brush with death in ONE AGAINST AN ARMY, but there is no solid evidence that the episode order should be reversed.


[18] Gabrielle refers to her earlier ankle sprain, placing this episode after ONE AGAINST AN ARMY.


[19] This must predate FORGET ME NOT as the latter episode features a flashback to the death of Crassus which occurs here. Xena and Gabrielle's apparent wariness of each other may justify placing the episode closer to the end of The Rift, as in the original schedule, but I feel the tension created by their proximity to Caesar offers sufficient explanation.


[20] It is finally revealed that Gabrielle reached China before Xena by enlisting the help of Ares. Gabrielle's jealousy of Lao Ma is presented as her real motive for betraying Xena, yet this fails to ring true. The flashback to the "air dancing" scene from THE DEBT II is anachronistic, as Gabrielle knew nothing of the events from that episode at the time Xena left her. Her knowledge of Lao Ma was limited to the fact that Xena had tried to kill her (hardly an act of love), and yet Ares is able to arouse Gabrielle's jealousy all too easily.

[21] FORGET ME NOT also leaves one important question unanswered. Why is Gabrielle still carrying all this emotional baggage? In THE BITTER SUITE Xena was unable to pass through the water curtain due to her unconfessed murder of Ming T'ien, yet Gabrielle crossed the barrier without hesitation or harm. This would have been impossible had she been hiding a guilty secret.

[22] I realise it was necessary for Gabrielle to owe Ares a favour, but his involvement in her betrayal of Xena could easily have been addressed during their reconciliation in THE DEBT II, rather than ten episodes later. The producers chose instead to plug one chronological loophole by opening up another, one that either ignores past events or twists them to fit the plot.


[23] These episodes appear to be in the correct order.


The helium breathing at the party took an unexpected turn.

Xena and Lao Ma party down before the guys get home.

[24] The main argument against my case would be "the producers know what they are doing", and indeed there are few errors as obvious as the case of Gabrielle's changing wardrobe. Some only showed up when an episode was viewed for the third or fourth time, or when several were watched consecutively. FORGET ME NOT is the one which really stands out. As soon as I saw it I thought "Wait a minute!" and reached for my copy of THE DEBT.

[25] Some readers may feel I am being unnecessarily harsh as the show has a rather loose grip on chronology at the best of times (no pun intended). For instance, the Trojan War took place at least 1,000 years before the birth of Julius Caesar. I believe, however, that there is sufficient evidence to justify an alternate chronology for Season Three. If nothing else, it removes the problem of three consecutive comic episodes right in the middle of The Rift.

[26] If anyone else has the entire season on videotape, try watching the episodes in the order suggested. I would like to hear your views.


Andrew Shaughnessy Andrew Shaughnessy
Andrew was born in England but lives and works in Wrexham, Wales. His fascination with ancient Greece and Rome began almost as soon as he could read, culminating in his studying Classical Civilizations at college. XWP allows him to combine this with his love of heroic fantasy fiction, although he has yet to find a way of working in his other hobby of photography. He believes that UK terrestrial viewers get a raw deal in being two seasons behind the US, and that worshipping Renee O'Connor as a goddess does NOT constitute obsessive behavior.
Favorite episode: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124); FALLEN ANGEL (91/501)
Favorite line: Xena: "You're my source, Gabrielle. When I reach down inside myself and do things I'm not capable of, it's because of you." ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Least favorite episode: FORGET ME NOT (63/417)

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