Which Episodes are Essential?
The Readers' List
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL XWP EPISODES?
Which Episodes Are Essential?
 Our question this month was, "What do you consider to be the 10 essential XWP episodes, and why?" We got some interesting responses.
 Some of the choices were predictable--A DAY IN THE LIFE, DESTINY, SINS OF THE PAST--while others were surprising. There were only a few clear winners; a total of 31 episodes were named in the polls. Throughout, we were impressed with the thought that went into your choices.
 Kym's list included many good episodes, including her personal favorite, DREAMWORKER.
1. DREAMWORKER -- The episode that inadvertently tapped into every major theme of Xena. If one can only see a single episode, this is it. It touches on everything that made Xena Xena, and more!
2. DESTINY/THE QUEST/A NECESSARY EVIL -- This was the first grand story that demanded more than one episode. It begins with introducing us to the Xena backstory mythology and ends with the most intense action episode ever on the show and it's a feminist's dream.
3. THE PRICE -- This episode demonstrates how fundamentally different Xena and Gabrielle are, but also shows how they use that as a strength.
4. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT -- This is the best comedy of the show and brilliantly betrays the show's post-modern sensibility.
5. THE BITTER SUITE -- XWP had so much creative power within it that it literally burst forth by pushing envelope in all types of different ways and means.
6. ONE AGAINST AN ARMY -- The 11-minute third act demonstrates the depth and complexity of Xena's and Gabrielle's relationship. Whether you are a subtexter or not, after this episode, there is no doubt that these two ladies are meant to be together.
7. CRUSADER -- What happens when someone else wants Gabrielle as their sidekick/soulmate? Well, it gets Xena's attention, that's for sure.
8. BETWEEN THE LINES -- Finally, it is written in the canon what the fans knew about years before -- the ladies are soulmates and that they are the physical embodiment of an archetype that exists throughout time and space.
9. THE IDES OF MARCH -- The resolution of what was started in DREAMWORKER. It has Caesar, crucifixions, open statements of love, and Gabrielle finally snapping and taking down a Roman platoon singlehandedly after they threatened her woman.
10. THE RHINEGOLD/THE RING/RETURN OF THE VALKYRIES -- XWP at it mature best -- taking old myths and putting then into new contexts. This was the potential of Xena, which had all of history, mythology, literature, and legend to mine from. Pity it was cut short in its 6th year.
 Cynthia's list, while containing mostly different episodes from Kym's, followed the similar logic. Cyn admittedly prefers "the epics, and episodes that give us pieces of Xena's history."
1. THE GREATER GOOD -- introduces the concept of self-sacrifice for the greater good, a theme which is carried through to the bitter end of the series.
The Greater Good
2. SINS OF THE PAST -- the beginning. Sums up Xena's character, past, and motivations very well, introduces Gabrielle, and has one of the series' best fight scenes and villains. What a way to start!
3. DESTINY/THE QUEST/A NECESSARY EVIL - XWP takes a big step into story arcs and sophisticated storytelling; our first direct look into Xena's past, and our intro to Evil Xena; and, of course, The Kiss.
4. THE DEBT I/II -- more Evil Xena, with important figures from her past (Lao Ma, Borias). A marvelous episode--perhaps the closest we'll ever get to a XWP movie.
5. ENDGAME/THE IDES OF MARCH - our heroines' darkest hour to date, and the resolution of some major storylines and themes.
6. FRIEND IN NEED I/II -- the end; whether you loved it or hated it, it should be seen.
7. HOOVES & HARLOTS -- Gabrielle finally becomes empowered. And it introduces the Amazons, who play an important role throughout the series.
8. CALLISTO -- the first ubervillain, and a really good episode. Xena is forced to face her past deeds. Another big step in recognizing the Xena-Gab relationship. And (alas) Joxer is introduced.
9. ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE I/II -- more of Xena's past, a new ubervillain, more Amazons! Another innovative, daring story.
10. THE PRICE - shows that even Xena has to take things one day at a time.
 The readers' choices were really interesting! They selected many of the same episodes that Kym and Cyn did, but had some intriguing differences of opinions, as well.
1. SINS OF THE PAST (unanimous choice) -- "An obvious choice--it's where it all begins." "Xena's first real step toward redeeming her past." "A beautiful dark woman searching for a way to redeem herself of the past and an idealistic village girl seeking to change her life and the lives of those around her."
2. A DAY IN THE LIFE -- "Shows the humorous side of Xena and Gabrielle's adventures and the creative nature of the show." "An excellent showcase of just how versatile the series can really be." "One of the best comic relief episodes, and a charming look at a typical day in the Xenaverse."
A Day in the Life
3. A FRIEND IN NEED -- "Another good example of how far Xena will go to set things right and how her quest for redemption was ultimately the driving force in both her life and Gabrielle's." "Just as Sins of the Past begins the series, FIN ends it. It's heartbreaking to see Xena go, but it's amazing to see Gabrielle's growth."
4. THE DEBT I/II -- "One of the first epic episodes of the show, plus we find out a little more about Xena's past." "The storytelling is great, the directing is amazing and it takes us back to Xena's past and shows us just how important Caesar was to shaping her character."
5. THE BITTER SUITE -- "As if this show didn't take enough risks, here comes a musical episode!! I think it was full of surprises; most of them pleasant (the fact that it did such a great job of solving The Rift) and others not so pleasant (the Gabdrag)." "The singing and Illusia." "First musical episode, closes up the Xena-Gab rift, outrageously cheesy but cute nonetheless."
6. ONE AGAINST AN ARMY -- "Absolutely breathtaking in their depth and scope of the portrayal of Xena and Gabs' trusting, loving relationship." " A great example of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle as well as showing how much both of them are willing to sacrifice so that the greater good will prevail."
7. THE GREATER GOOD -- "[Shows the] basic motivation behind anything Xena (or Gabrielle) does." "The theme of the fighting for "the greater good" is important throught the entire series. It's important to know where that originates."
8. DESTINY -- "We see where Xena started to really go awry after her tiff with Caeser, and also we meet M'Lila, one of Xena's first mentors."
9. BETWEEN THE LINES -- "Shows us just how deep Xena and Gabrielle's relationship really runs. Also, Gabby starts taking real steps towards the whole 'way of love' lifestyle." "Confirmed what we...knew already: that Xena and Gabrielle are soulmates."
10. And, tied for the last slot: DREAMWORKER, MOTHERHOOD, THE DELIVERER/GABRIELLE'S HOPE, CALLISTO, IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, and THE IDES OF MARCH.Also receiving votes were these episodes:DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN Thanks for the response! If you'd like to participate in future List projects, join us at our LiveJournal group and on the Whoosh! Mailing list. And if you have any suggestions for Lists, we'd love to hear them! Just e-mail Cyn and let her know.
WHEN FATES COLLIDE
TO HELICON AND BACK
AMPHIPOLIS UNDER SIEGE
A GOOD DAY
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
FINS, FEMMES, & GEMS
SEND IN THE CLONES
YOU ARE THERE
THE XENA SCROLLS