Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 19

Altared States

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Apr 22, 1996 on
out of 10
User Rating
92 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


A young boy is hunted by his father and brother. They want to sacrifice him to their God, because their "faith" demands it. It's up to Xena and a drugged Gabrielle to save him.

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  • Lame but it left me with a smile

    A twisted version of the famous story from the old testament. I'd rather prefer the original scenarios in Xena than twisted versions of famous myths or historic events. They did it with the Trojan War story in episode12 and i wasnt fan of it. Keith Urban made his first appearance in the series he will be most remembered as playing Ceasur later. Also we have the first lesbian reference for those who take it like that when the dizzy Gabrielle said to Xena w'You look beautiful''. As a whole this twisted version of the old testament story looked lame but it left me with the smile in the end.moreless
  • Xena and Gabrielle come to the aid of child who is to be sacrificed...

    A string of fish to the groin can propel a man off his feet.

    In "Altered States", the idea of one God is introduced though apparently not in a favorable light. In the opening scene, we hear Xena exclaim "Come on, you know you want to", which could be construed as innuendo. She is only teaching Gabrielle to fish bare handed.

    A young boy, Icus, has come on the scene pursued by a gang. Xena and Gabrielle fight them and they run off because a string of fish can be deadly. Xena learns that his father, Anteus wants to sacrifice his son to the Supreme Diety, the only true God. She proceeds to hide the boy until she understands exactly why his father would want to kill him. Apparently, Mael was jealous of his brother Icus. He drugged Anteus and pretended he was the voice of God to convince his father to sacrifice his younger son.

    Xena saves the boy, his father comes to his senses and Mael for some reason prefers death.. Gabrielle eats some nut bread laced with henbane and conducts a symphony with stalagmites. She also has some of the best comedic lines. I could see the basis of Karl Urban's "Caesar" in this role of "Mael"... the self righteous attitude, his stance and particularly his speech patterns.moreless
  • A rock told me to do it!

    Altared States is a really entertaining episode - it is funny, suspenseful and (most importantly) introduces Karl Urban to the Xena scene!

    When I think of the first season, this is not an episode that comes to mind: in contrast to the entrance of Callisto, the drama of Is There A Doctor in the House, and the funny comedic episodes, not to mention the pilot, this episode is easily overlooked. However, Altared States has a lot going for it, and it works exceptionally well.

    I have to echo everybody else's sentiments and comment that easily one of the strongest parts of this episode is the amazing New Zealand scenery. It truly is spectacular and lends such an epic feel to the episode.

    I also have to note that this is definitely the first episode where the so-called 'subtext' aka, lesbian themes, are first played upon by the writers. There is no doubt that several scenes in the episode are designed to test the waters to see how such a relationship would go down. I have always been a fan of the Xena/Gabrielle romantic relationship, so I find the scenes clever, entertaining and believable. The whole question of the leading ladies' sexuality is a topic for debate and, in my opinion, whatever works for you is great.

    We are introduced in this episode to Karl Urban, who returned later as the absolutely outstanding Caesar, and the entertaining Cupid. In this episode he is just excellent - believable, just good looking enough to make him hard to hate, but just evil enough to really love to hate him!

    The storyline works well; the dogmatic religious theme provides a solid backdrop and although there are a few holes, they don't matter. You get a real sense of grief when you watch a family torn apart by their faith and I even felt shocked and sad when Mael ends so badly. The relationships really capture the emotions.

    On the flip side, this episode also has one of the funniest scenes in the whole first season - Gabrielle, drugged, in the cave. Renee, like Lucy, is an exceptional comedienne and she absolutely had me in stitches. Lucy and Renee play off each other so well, their scenes are flawless.

    I really enjoyed this whole episode, and it deserves a better spot than stuck between the unexceptional "The Prodigal" and "Ties That Bind". It is lucky that we all have the series on dvd now so that episodes such as this one are not forgotten completely!moreless
  • Xena finds herself protecting an innocent 12 year old boy, whose father is convinced he has heard the voice of God telling him to sacrifice the boy. A surprisingly enjoyable tale with some great moments...moreless

    When I think of first season greats, I don't automatically think of this episode. But maybe I should, as it's a really good one. I hadn't seen this episode for a while, and I forgot how good it was.

    After Xena and Gabrielle's sexuality had been debated about by fans ever since their very first meeting in 'Sins of the Past', here it is very apparent that the writers were starting to pick up on the subtext and really play on it, and this is the first episode where it is really apparent.

    The scene with Xena and Gabrielle doing some skinny dipping fishing is the series' first real instance of heavy subtext. (And is it me, or does Gabrielle jump a little too high before she dives for the fish? Freeze frames at the ready(!)).

    Also playing on the subtext is when the drugged Gabrielle (see below) wakes up and is breath-taken with Xena's beauty. And later still, as Gabby climbs up Xena's body and out of the well... she makes just a little too much out of it to be completely innocent!

    When they wind up helping the young boy, the great lake scene continues, as Xena emerges naked from the water and sees off his pursuers with the bunch of fish that she's caught, sending them sprawling!

    Then there's Gabrielle getting drugged up on the bread with henbane in, leading to a several scenes of her conducting her 'choir' in the empty cave. I found these scenes to remind me of Robert Donner's recurring character Excidor in the sit-com 'Mork & Mindy' (1978-82); he was always leading and ordering around his seemingly non-existed men.

    The "I shall never take another drug" line at the end of the episode did see a bit tacked on, though – "Hey kids, remember, don't do drugs!". The scenery of this episode is wonderful. I always like the episodes that make the most of New Zealand's landscape instead of being studio bound, and this is one of the best first season episodes for outdoor action.

    [Mild spoiler] The conclusion – was it really God's voice? – opens up a number of questions, and I actually found a bit predictable. But it rounds off a good episode. [end of spoiler]

    All-in-all, a very good episode, and one that is often overlooked. Although it might not scrape my Top 5 first season favourites, it is great in its own right.moreless
  • Was God really present in this episode?

    Altared States-Xena helps a young boy whose father and brother want to sacrifice him to their god, because their \"faith\" demands it. I never really like this episode because I just find it boring from start to finish. Xena and Gabrielle are protecting a little boy whose fatheer and brother want him sarcificed to their God. Karl Urban makes his first appearence on Xena(soon he will play an pivotal character in Xena's life) as Mael. Too bad his character comes of as a loser, because he really was. Some funny scenes are when Gabrielle is drugged and she\'s talking to the rocks in the cave, LOL. But what is weird is the ending, so was it really God who stopped Anteus from killing his son? I think the point was to leave it up to the audience. All in All, an episode I\'m not the fond of..at all!!moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Chakram Count: 1
      1) To stop Anteus from killing Icarus.

    • In this episode, they talk about the Gods as theories. Yet, we have seen that the Gods really do exist in the Hercules/Xena universe, so how can someone simply "choose" to believe that there is only one God, calling the others pagans, as if proof didn't exist about the reality of the various Gods? Perhaps it's a question of how you define "God". For monotheistic cultures, God means omniscient and omnipotent, whereas in polytheistic cultures, the Gods have limits on them. Also, the Greek Gods tend to appear to people only out of self interest, so it's likely that most of their worshippers never actually see them in person.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Xena: I'm asking you to spare your son.
      Anteus: And teach him what? That faith is just for those times when it's convenient to believe? What's the good in sparing his life, if I rob him of the very thing that makes it worth living?

    • Xena: (to Gabrielle under the influence of hensbane) Can you stand?
      Gabrielle: You mean I'm not?

    • Xena: What are you doing here? I thought I told you to wait for me back at the cave.
      Gabrielle: I did, and then this rock told me to come find you.
      Xena: The rock spoke to you?
      Gabrielle: Well yeah. I mean his voice was a little gravelly but I understood.

    • Xena: Very funny. Although, it wouldn't have been if you had taken much longer getting that loud-talking thing.
      Gabrielle: Well, that's just it. I never did get the loud-talking thing. I mean, I tried. I even had it in my hand, but I lost it.
      Xena: That can't be. I mean, come on. If you didn't do it, then who?

  • NOTES (6)


    • Episode Title: "Altared States"
      The plot is very similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Holy Bible, the Book of Genesis Chapter 22. Abraham was ordered by God to sacrifice his son Isaac to show his faith. When Abraham had his son on the altar for sacrifice, God stopped him before Abraham could kill Isaac. You can even find Mael in Ishmael, Isaac's older half brother who is sent away with his mother Hagar when Isaac is born.