Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 2

Chariots of War

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Sep 11, 1995 on
out of 10
User Rating
118 votes

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Episode Summary


Xena is shot by an arrow defending a small, peaceful settlement from a ruthless warlord and his son. While she recuperates in the care of a local family, Gabrielle is left to fend for herself against cutthroats and thieves in a tavern while awaiting Xena's return.

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  • Gabby meets a warrior and Xena mets a pacifist. The man-of-the-week fest is on!

    In "Chariots of War", Gabby meets a warrior and Xena mets a pacifist, but oddly enough I don't hate either of these guys. First of all, I doubt Xena and Gabrielle started "hooking up" the day they met, second they (at the very least) are both into men as well as each other (and possibly other women in Xena's case) – and I'm sure it hasn't even occurred to Gabby at this point that she wants "more" with Xena than to be her friend, and third as a kid when I watched the series it wasn't because I wanted to see something happen between Xena and Gabrielle. I just liked Gabrielle. It was always about Gabby. As for the guys they were both appealing characters so there was no reason to not like them. The series starts with Xena leaving Gabby in a Pub while she does some scouting. Along the way (while helping some peaceful village folk) she gets shot by a warlord's arrow and is taken in by a kind man named Darius (who has 3 cute little kids that "bond" with her). Meanwhile, Gabby meets a young handsome warrior .. who happens to be the one that shot Xena with an arrow. But it turns out he's not a bad guy at all. And while both men grow very fond of the women and the women fond of them, the women leave together at the end. It's kind of funny how (in the beginning of the series) Gabrielle just declares them friends and then "best friends" to others without there really being justification for it. She just decides it's going to be so and makes it so. So when Xena ask her why she sticks by her she goes "that's what friends do" and Xena (somewhat sarcastically) replies "okay, friend" it's really just Gabby's will that started the friendship in the first place. It's almost as if Xena doesn't believe it at first, but Gabby is so open and sure of a life with Xena, a life at Xena's side, it's no wonder Xena came to love her so... and the fact that she loved her (whatever you define that love as) is text, not sub-text. Unfortunately, in the early years of Xena most of the plots included finding somewhere to stick Gabby while Xena was off doing the hero thing. Up until the appearance of Joxer, Gabby was given the role of being comic relief. Many of her Pub scenes in this episode are played for comedy and even after she insist on following Xena into a fight, the most she does is play a distraction on an out of control horse. Xena, in the meanwhile, gets this whole dramatic story where she not only fights off groups of warrior thugs, but almost falls in love with the pacifist that nurses her back to health. The weird thing is she plays a role so typically male and makes it work while retaining the fact she is, in fact, a beautiful woman. I mean switch the widower with a widow and make the hero Hercules and this could have easily been a Hercules episode. That was the amazing part of the Xena series though, Xena never made a issue out of the fact she was the woman she was (as unusual as it was for a woman of her time). She just sort of is her and wears it with ease.moreless
  • Xena clashes with the warlord Cycnus...

    Xena defends a peaceful town from an attack by the evil warlord Cycnus. When hit with an arrow, Xena's injury is tended by one of the villagers, Darius. She attends a town meeting for peace but realizes it is only a trick and she defeats the warriors. Gabrielle meets the warlord's son Sphaerus at the tavern while waiting for Xena's return. A chariot chase ends in a sword fight between Xena and Cycnus. After Xena kills the warlord, Sphaerus calls a town meeting to end the fighting.

    I read that "Chariots of War" was intentionally written as a piece for "Hercules" and I never would have guessed it. LL is so believable as Xena that it makes up for any loose plot lines. Gabrielle is relentlessly annoying and her gullibility can get on anyone's nerve but her unresolved faith in Xena is astounding. She seems to be the only person who overlooks Xena's dark past.moreless
  • A solid episode as we begin to create a story and history for our leads on their journey together - unremarkable, but still enjoyable.

    The second episode of Season 1 is a solid, but overall unremarkable episode. Unfortunately, nothing here stands out - the plot is fine, the dialog is fine, the enemies are fine but in comparison to where Xena heads in later seasons, it is a particularly mediocre episode.

    Having said that, it is vitally important to remember that this is the very beginning of the series - and that it really takes at least a season for any show to build momentum... and any episode of Xena, no matter how average it is, still rates highly in my book! There is not an episode of Xena that (in my opinion) rates below a 6... so they are all essential tv!

    Early on, it is unlikely that much of the dialog and plot lines had any real significance to stories later on in the series, but it could be seen that we are already getting a hint of Xena and Gabrielle's search for their soul mates - although their radars are currently tuned in different directions. It is nice to see early friendship and a bond forming between the two leads.

    Gabrielle is seriously underused in this episode. Xena is most uninteresting, and it is Gabrielle who brings the life to the episode - in the few short scenes that she has. Xena seems quite lackluster for most of the episode; it seems hard to believe that she would allow herself to get hit by the arrow, or that she would leave her chakram behind. Combined with the incredibly cheesy ending with the farm family, the episode just fails to impress.

    There are nice themes of redemption, the quest for the Greater Good, and the search for true love introduced, and these themes remain important in later seasons. The battle scenes are also solid, especially the chariot fight which is particularly impressive.

    Overall, this is an important episode - there are no 'unimportant' episodes in Xena, but in terms of most of the other episodes, it does fall short.moreless
  • Xena comes to the rescue of a group of pacifists who are under attack from a warlord father and his unwilling son, but is badly injured by an arrow. As she recovers, she begins to get close to a widowed man and his children as she fends off the thugs...moreless

    After the well executed first episode, 'Sins of the Past', the second episode had a lot to live up to. It's kind of like that awkward second album for music acts. The result is 'Chariots of War', a not exactly typical Xena episode for various reasons, and while not one of the series classics, it is a watchable enough story in its own right. Second episodes of some shows fall down as they try to find their footing and keep up the momentum of the opener, but 'Chariots of War' serves its purpose and is quite enjoyable.

    When the series started, almost from the off there was much speculation among many viewers as to the exact relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Even before the series itself started to play this are-they-or-aren't-they aspect, speculation was rife from many areas of the fan community. Which is what makes 'Chariots of War' notable - both Xena and Gabrielle fall in love with men; Xena with the man whose village she saves, and Gabrielle - not realising who he is - with the unwilling son of the warlord who is causing all the trouble. This script was seemingly conceived before that particular element of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship was picked up by the writers. Some people don't like this episode for that alone, but personally I don't mind it at all. After all, even if the pair WERE in some kind of relationship with each other, indications throughout the series are that they are bisexual at very least.

    The second script written for the series, this story is very Xena based, with Gabrielle, as was the case in a number of early episodes, spending most of the episode in taverns and walking around waiting for Xena as the Warrior Princess goes on ahead. I'm glad that it didn't take the writers too long to realise that Gabrielle had a lot more potential and started giving her more to do.

    The tale itself, as Xena considers what she could have if she settled down to a stable family life, while fending off the attacks on the untrusting pacifists, is quite a good one. The climatic chariot sequence is well filmed and exciting.

    This episode has special memories for me; After watching the first episode, I was immediately hooked on the series. This second episode was the first that I religiously recorded, and re-watched many, MANY times before the next episode, 'Dreamworker', was broadcast the following week. So all-in-all, not really a classic, and a heterosexual-orientated curiosity in many places, but a very reasonable and likable episode in its own right.moreless
  • Warlords with Dreadlocks?

    Chariots of War-Xena defends a town against a band of thugs led by a father and son duo, and when she is wounded, Gabrielle is left worrying for the warrior princess.

    This was a nice little episode, of course it's the second episode of the series, and Lucy Lawless and Renee O' Connor are still getting into their roles. I always love the interaction between Xena and the family she saves. But I never got how Garbielle could fall for that warlord's son. He has ugly little colored dreadlocks for God sakes, LOL!!! What is also so funny is when Garbielle jumps on the chariot and Xena's reaction.

    Xena:"You call that a jump!"

    Gabrielle:"A fantic leap, best I could do."

    All in All, this was average episode, nothing speical, only to show Xena continuing to save lives.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Chakram Count: 1
      1) To stop Cycnus from killing Sphaerus, his son.

    • Goofs: After Xena leaves Darius' house to fight Cycnus, she comes down a hill to find Gabrielle waiting for her and she has her chakram with her on her left side. Shortly thereafter, she is seen with Gabrielle walking Argo towards Darius' house. She has the chakram there, too. When Cyncnus' chariots approach, she has Gabrielle mount Argo but the chakram is now missing. Later, during the fight with Cycnus and his son, she realizes it is missing and soon after Darius rides up and hands her the missing chakram. Also, in the closing scene, the chakram can be seen attached to the saddle on Argo's right side but it also attached to Xena's left hip as she and Gabrielle walk away.

    • Goof: The chariot scene shows the horses changing sides. In the first showing, we see that the brown horse is on the left side, and the white horse is on the right side. When the camera shifts back to where you can view the horses, the white horse is now on the left, and the brown horse is now on the right.

    • Goof: In a scene where Xena is riding, her armor goes from on and off in-between shots.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Gabrielle: (when Xena asks her if she wants to ride a horse) Not till they make those things closer to the ground. I learned something really important today.
      Xena: That you can find goodness in unlikely places?
      Gabrielle: Yes, and that I really, really hate chariots!

    • Xena: (when she learns that the guy Gabrielle found attractive is the man trying to kill them) Remind me to talk to you sometime about your taste in men.

    • Sphaerus: So, umm, how long have we been seeing each other, uhhh?
      Gabrielle: Gabrielle. And you fell madly in love with me the moment we met.
      Sphaerus: Well, it's no wonder, the way you kiss.

    • Gabrielle: Xena, it's me! Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you!
      Xena: I ran into a little trouble.
      Gabrielle: (Sarcastically) You? Trouble? That's a surprise!

    • Gabrielle: And so, Zeus, in his appreciation, turned the two lovers into oak trees. And then do you know what happened?
      Xena: Somebody built a boat out of them?
      Gabrielle: No. Their branches intertwined and they spent the rest of their days in each other's embrace.
      Xena: What's the point?
      Gabrielle: Come on, Xena. I believe everyone will find their tree in the forest someday... Even you.

    • Gabrielle: If I die I'll never speak to you again!

    • Xena: Oh, yeah. Look, I'm gonna ride up ahead and see if we can ford the Meleatus River. Otherwise, we'll have to double back two days. Let's find some place you can wait for me.
      Gabrielle: What's wrong with this place?
      Drunk: Hello, beautiful. (Belches)
      Gabrielle: Another place sounds good.

  • NOTES (5)


    • When Gabrielle tells Xena that she is looking for her "tree" with which to "intertwine", she is hearkening back to the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon, an old couple who were transformed into intertwined trees as a reward for their hospitality to the Gods.

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