Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 2 Episode 12

Destiny (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Jan 27, 1997 on
out of 10
User Rating
89 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Xena, critically injured in battle, relives her past with Julius Caesar and we learn about her mentor M'Lila who taught her the pinch. Meanwhile Gabrielle tries to get her friend to a healer named Nicklio, but she is too late, and Xena dies. But it's hard to keep the Warrior Princess down, who vows to find a way back to life and Gabrielle.


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  • Xena's poor legs!!!

    Destiny-After being gravely injured, Xena's life flashes before her, including the time when she learned the art of pressure points from a slave girl and when she met Julius Caesar for the very first time. This episode is the first backstory of Xena and boy is it a brilliant one!!! The episode starts with some action, gets so good as it continueson. Everything from Xena meeting a warrior slave girl named M'Lila to meeting Julius Ceasar(very well portrayed by Karl Urban) to Xena breaking her legs and literally snapping at the end...this episode was just pure genius!! The writers really thought hard about this and made an episode that makes sense on part of why Xena is who she is. The writers continue to do this future episodes with Xena's backstory adn trust me...it gets even better. I also love the Gabrielle's speech to Xena when she finds out she dead...beautiful and powerful writting!!! All in All, A must see episode for Xena and Non-Xena fans!!!moreless
  • The past revealed...

    In "Destiny", Xena reflects on her past. She and Gabrielle travel to Cirra, the village that she destroyed, Callisto's village. Xena exclaims with regret and reflection, "I want to understand why, what happened. Why I was who I was. And how I can ever atone…"

    The first season contained no flashbacks other from the trilogy. Except for Cortese's involvement and Xena's violent history, no other details were given.

    Gabrielle is taken captive and Xena battles a group of cannibals. Xena takes a massive blow, possibly enduring head trauma. Gabrielle brings her to the healer, Nicklio. Her memories of what happened 10 years ago are intermingled with the present.

    Xena dreams of the time when she first meets Caesar as her captive. He is manipulative and can sense a person's weaknesses. Caesar incites Xena when he announces that one day he will rule the world. Xena is bored by merely defending her home village and she yearns for more. She has a quick romance with Caesar and tries to convince him they should join forces. It's painful to see the naive, hopeful look in Xena's eyes and know that Caesar is just a hairsbreadth away from stabbing her in the back. Karl Urban as Julius Caesar was great. His portrayal of Caesar was surprising, considering he was so young at time. He is not only convincing but he gives a sense of humor to the character. At one point in the storyline, Caesar verbally abuses one of Xena's warriors with such quips as, "You have a woman's touch." and "A brave man dies once. A man like you dies a thousand deaths."

    A runaway slave, M'lila saves Xena several times but it's never revealed what the reason was for her devotion to Xena.moreless
  • Ceaser makes his debut.

    Destiny is and will always be an emotional in depth look at the warrior princesses past and my my what a great approach to this.

    it is remarkable in a way that escalates the true nature of our heores debut as a warrior...and where did she learn those moves and pinch from...its all discovered with all to true harsh nature in this classic episode of the show.

    this mark the start of a trely remarkable trilogy for season 2.

    it also starts Ceasrs hate towards Xena and the main reason why in later episodes Xena vowes vengeance on Ceaser(see season 3/4).

    a classic and a must watch.moreless
  • An utterly unforgettable episode - we are taken back to where it all began: the moment when Xena became the tormented, twisted warlord intent on death and destruction. The absolute epitome of a perfect Xena episode.moreless

    Destiny is one of those episodes: awe-inspiring, life-changing. It is perfect, completely unforgettable, and so important within the whole context of the series that, in my opinion, very few other episodes compare.

    The episode starts off fairly blandly, and that is the only (small) downside to the episode. Quickly, however, it becomes clear that this is anything but a typical episode. Xena's horrific injury takes it to a startling and emotional new level. Watching Xena suffer, and seeing her so vulnerable was so shocking, it was almost nauseating. There is something incredibly unnatural about seeing Xena defenseless, to the point that you want to jump in to defend her.

    From here on out, the episode just goes from strength to strength. We revert back to Evil Xena which, as everyone knows, is what it is pretty much all about for me. When watching Evil Xena I almost feel like that is why I watch the series. As a bad guy, Xena is unbelievable: incredibly beautiful, powerful, yet still somewhat young, so hopeful, just so much MORE. She owns the screen; you cannot take your eyes off her. The flashback episodes just work for me; I love them. I love seeing where we have come, and where Xena has come. It makes us as fans part of their world.

    We then are introduced to one of the finest characters of the whole series: Caesar. For me, several characters fall into the Xena Hall of Fame. Along with Ares, Lao Ma, and Borias, (among selected others) Caesar gets a pride of place. He is just such a fabulous character, with so much charisma and so much depth. He is completely evil yet so endearing. There are no bad episodes with Caesar in them, he makes an episode work just with his presence.

    I also love how (finally) the series begins to shift to a much stronger theme of destiny, and fate. We touched very briefly on this theme in Remember Nothing, but Destiny finally gets the plot device moving. I love the talk of destiny, if anyone in history had destiny, it was Julius Caesar, and I am a firm believer that Xena's entire life (and Gabrielle's) had a very clear cut destiny which aimed solely to bring them together. What is also important about this episode is how significant the talk of destiny is considering where the Xena-Caesar story-line is taken in later seasons.

    M'Lila is also a beautiful and very important character. The magnitude of this episode does not really hit you while watching the episode, but looking back on it, so many very significant events occur. I believe that unless you have seen the whole series from start to finish, it would be impossible to fully appreciate how important this episode is. What we are seeing is the true CREATION of Xena – this is how it actually happened, how the misguided and angry young woman became the ruthless, bloodthirsty killer who wiped out villages, destroyed lives, gave up her own child. While M'Lila should have been a positive influence on Xena's life, she instead gave Xena the motivation and the means to become a true warrior princess, feared by all.

    However, Caesar too earns a huge amount of credit for his role in the creation of Xena. The crucifixion, which is a theme used again throughout the series, always with great success, is haunting and very very effective. It is hard to believe what Xena has lived through, no wonder she has issues!

    This episode is also one of the first to use beautiful camera shots and great choreography to emphasize the emotional, sometimes romantic and often sexual nature of the episode. There are some very beautiful scenes, on the boat, and in the snow, that give this episode an epic, almost big-screen feel.

    I could go on and on about how much I loved this episode because I really did love it… but I will give one final mention and leave it there. Although this is undoubtedly a Gabrielle-lite episode (and fully justified, not to mention that it is more than made up for in the following conclusion) Gabrielle's role is not to be ignored. The courage and strength it took for her to honor her dying partner's wish is beautiful, and watching Gabrielle's reaction to Xena's death had me crying uncontrollably with her – an absolute credit to Renee's acting ability.

    All in all, I ADORE this episode. It is so outstanding, so special, so incredibly important to the series, I feel very fortunate to be a Xena fan to get to experience episodes such as this one.moreless
  • After being almost fatally injured in a battle, Xena's mind flashes back to a past encounter with Julius Caesar, and a mysterious young woman, both of whom were pivotal in the forming of the Warrior Princess. A powerful, landmark episode...moreless

    This review contains moderate spoilers.

    After a season and a half of actually quite whimsical adventures (well, bar the odd clash with Callisto), along comes this immensely powerful episode, that shows us the forming of Xena as she became the Warrior Princess.

    The template of flashback episodes would be used in a number of popular future episodes.

    Although the show had been great from the start, it is around this point that it really starts to come into its own and produce some truly classic television.

    Things zip back and forth between the past and the present at breakneck speed, sometimes in the blink of an eye, and it is to the credit of the director that these sudden changes do not become confusing or distracting.

    The whole episode has a classy, sophisticated feel to it, at times being almost cinema film in quality.

    The bulk of the episode takes place in Xena's past, but we do get some nice scenes of Gabrielle, herself wounded, going all out as she struggles to get Xena to the only healer that can save her.

    It is great to meet M'Lila, the young woman who teaches Xena pressure points, as well as a lot of fighting moves.

    Not to mention the slippery Julius Caesar, who double-crosses the young (and maybe slightly naive) Xena. The leg breaking scene is one of the most horrific moments in the show's run.

    As I've touched upon in a couple of previous episode reviews, I really love both 'Xena' and 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' respectively. But it was about this time, when Hercules (during its shaky third season) was offering up a number of quite silly and unchallenging stories, that I really started to prefer the ultra-slick 'Xena'.

    Xena was originally intended to recover at the end of the episode, but things were reworked following Lucy Lawless' accident on 'The Tonight Show' for Xena to remain dead for the next couple of episodes.

    I enjoyed this episode when I first saw it years ago now, and when I came to review it recently, after not seeing it for a while, I was totally blown away by it. It is definitely one of the best of the season.moreless
Ebonie Smith

Ebonie Smith


Guest Star

Nathaniel Lees

Nathaniel Lees


Guest Star

Grant Triplow

Grant Triplow


Guest Star

Karl Urban

Karl Urban

Julius Caesar

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Caesar: (to Xena) Where did you steal that dress? Maybe someday you can go back for the rest of it.

    • Xena: You'll be dead in thirty seconds, but know this: you won't be the last. Tell Hades to prepare himself, a new Xena is born tonight, with a new purpose in life: death.

    • Caesar: Divide and conquer, my friend. Divide a woman's emotions from her sensibilities, and you have her.

    • Guard: So, you're not afraid to take a beating, huh?! Are you afraid to die?!
      Caesar: A brave man dies only once. A man like you… dies a thousand times.

    • Xena: You should have left me to die back there on that beach.
      M'Lila: You have a destiny, Xena, but you have to chose it.
      Xena: I did chose it. I chose evil.
      M'Lila: Now that you know evil, were evil, you can fight evil.

    • Xena: What drives you?
      Caesar: The desire to be Great.
      Xena: You mean powerful.
      Caesar: No, Greatness isn't just about possessing power. If it was, any thug with an army would be entitled to that label. Greatness is about achieving what seems impossible to other men.

    • Xena: (looking on the ruins of Sura) I want to understand why.
      Gabrielle: Why what?
      Xena: Why it happened. Why I was who I was, and how I can ever atone.
      Gabrielle: You've changed, Xena, like this valley. Once it was full of death and violence, but now it's full of beauty and life. The same kind of change has happened to you.
      Xena: I wish I could see it that way.

    • Gabrielle: Xena, I know you can hear me wherever you are. I know you always told me to be strong. But I can't be, not now. You can't leave me. I know it's not your time. I can feel it in my heart. I feel this emptiness that I have never felt before and it scares me. Above all, just remember to fight. Fight to come back. This world needs you. I need you.

  • NOTES (8)

    • Ebonie Smith who plays M'Lila also played Jessica Jefferson on the tv show The Jeffersons and Carrie Murtaugh in all four Lethal Weapon movies.

    • When Caesar ordered his soldier to break Xena's legs, he was actually being merciful. In a real crucifixion, death is very slow, unless the person's legs are broken. That causes the victim to slump over and suffocate relatively quickly.

    • Joseph LoDuca was nominated for the 1997 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for this episode.

    • This episode had the working title 'Why and Where'.

    • The original ending had Xena not dying, however it was rewritten as a cover-up for Lucy's accident. So technically Xena wouldn't have had her first official death till the end of season 4.

    • In the original shooting script for this episode, M'Lila is said to be from Africa; on screen, Caesar specifies that she's from the "land of the Pharaohs", which is Egypt, located in northern Africa.

    • The Roman centurion who broke Xena's legs was played by Dan Ryan, Lucy Lawless' real life brother.

    • DISCLAIMER: Julius Caesar was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, the Producers deny any responsibility for any unfortunate acts of betrayal causing some discomfort.


    • When Caesar introduced himself, he says "My name is Caesar. Julius Caesar." (Actually, it's Gaius Julius Caesar; "Julius Caesar" is his family name.) This is a reference to Sean Connery's famous line, "My name is Bond. James Bond."

    • The Greek historian Plutarch tells us that Caesar was captured by pirates off the coast of Asia Minor (present day Turkey) as a young man. He told the pirates to raise his ransom since they weren't asking enough, and while he waited for the money to be raised he had free run of the ship, making the pirates be silent while he practiced making speeches. He told the pirates that once he was free he would come back and crucify them all. The pirates laughed at him. Once free he raised an army and carried out his threat.