Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 5 Episode 1

Fallen Angel (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Sep 27, 1999 on
out of 10
User Rating
87 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


In the afterlife, Xena and Gabrielle find themselves caught up in a war between Hell's demons and Heaven's angels over possession of Heaven. Meanwhile, Callisto receives a miraculous gift and Joxer, Amarice and Eli try to recover Xena and Gabrielle's bodies.

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  • A strong series opener which lets itself down by attempting too much in an episode that required simplicity and emotion only.

    Fallen Angel is an unusual mix of styles, themes and images. It almost works, but for me it is too overdone, too busy in the multitudes of concepts that exist to work as well as it should. I think it is a tremendous waste of what was certainly one of the most important episodes of all time.

    The episode opening is just perfect, a 10 out of 10. From the opening scene of Joxer struggling in the snow looking for his friends, to him, Eli and Amarice retrieving Xena and Gabrielle's bodies from the crosses, the imagery, scripting, the barrenness of the landscape... it is all perfect. It's incredibly moving, beautifully shot, and the musical accompaniment is also spot on (Joseph Lo Duca was nominated for an Emmy for his composition on this episode). I would go on to say that ALL of the scenes involving Joxer, Eli and Amarice with the girls' bodies, trying to come to terms with their deaths are just beautiful scenes. No one puts a foot wrong in any of them and they capture the tragedy of the loss without tipping into soppy or clichéd territory. If only they had focussed more on this part of the story, this episode would probably be a series classic.

    Unfortunately, the episode then shifts into a complex and disjointed battle between the demons of hell and the arch-angels of heaven. This is a story that certainly has a place, and would be quite enjoyable, but this episode was NOT the place to play it out. The episode needed to focus on the love that Joxer, Amarice and Eli shared for Xena and Gabrielle, and how that love was strong enough to bring the dead back to life. I have praise and criticism to give, so I will cover my concerns separately.

    The idea of Gabrielle being dragged into hell was a good one, and I especially loved the suggestion that the demon-Callisto would then torment her for eternity. This could have been played out much more than it was, and instead we get this almost instantaneous rescue which seemed far too easy to be real. I felt that Xena 'making a choice' and suddenly becoming an arch-angel was much too far-fetched to believe. Gabrielle I could appreciate because her soul really is pure, but I just didn't feel that it was realistic in Xena's case.

    My second concern is with how much hell has changed from two episodes prior. I thought the depiction of hell in "The Ides of March" was much more realistic, so why the change? And why are they all demons now? These plot holes shouldn't matter, but they do. Taking it further, are we to believe that the rock ledge is actually heaven? I found the sets confusing, and wondered who they were fighting against and why? Were the demons trying to take over that rock ledge? Sounds silly, but these things matter.

    My biggest praise is for the redemption of Callisto. There was a beautiful sense of closure, of coming full circle, in Xena sacrificing her light to save Callisto's soul. But what a waste of a moment! So much could have been said and done in that scene that wasn't. Four seasons worth of hatred, rage, pain all tossed aside in a moment. Putting that aside, the Callisto 'as she would have been' is a beautiful creature, and Hudson is, as always, impeccable. I also though the way they played it out with Gabrielle was realistic and touching. Points for this.

    Which brings me to my biggest complaint of the episode. After Xena gives up her light to redeem Callisto, she suddenly becomes the leader of the damned and leads the demons of hell in a battle against heaven. WHY??? How was this necessary in any sense? It tips right over the edge into that bizarre dark comedy we have seen in other episodes such as "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and while it worked beautifully in that situation, here it is too overdone and just feels juxtaposition. It doesn't fit with the subtle and emotional scenes at the foot of the mountain, nor with the redemption of Callisto.

    This leads on to a battle between Xena and Gabrielle, demon versus angel. Again, it just doesn't quite work. It feels half-hearted, and the camera work is just distracting. The angels just seem to sit around, there is no character development (which is a pity because we had two fine actors playing arch-angels) and it is just all too easy. It doesn't even focus on what is clearly the main point: that Xena is going to drag Gabrielle into hell for eternity with her. Why? Because Xena and Gabrielle's souls are linked for all eternity, because in any form, their everlasting love endures. None of this is made clear.

    The end of the episode when Xena and Gabrielle are brought back to life through the love of Eli and Callisto is superb. Subtle, without being rushed, the moment that the girls regain life, their first action is to clasp hands. The rest of the world has no meaning because they only exist in each other's eyes. The beautiful ending "We are going to be together for eternity" to which Xena replies "Yeah" before Gabrielle rests her head on Xena's chest is so touching and just so fitting that it redeems this episode for me in a huge way.

    So how to sum up this episode... I am still unsure how exactly I feel about the episode as a whole. I love moments of it, but feel so let down by others. Regardless, it is a vitally important episode, but it loses some of the power it should have through messy writing and too much content. Thus, what could have easily been a 10 out of 10, receives only an 8 from me.moreless
  • a fantastic episode of epic standards through and through.

    Fallen Angel is by far one of the greatest episodes ever,not only on this show but in the history of television.

    it got nominated for and won awards,the script/visuals/and acting are completely awe inspiring.

    i seriously recommend everyone to watch this episode.

    after the events of the shocking and brilliantly made Ides Of March,fans were left awe stricken by the events at the end of the episode.

    here Xena & Gabrielle are caught in the middle of a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell.

    Joxer,Americe and Eli unite to support each other in a bid to bring our heroes back.

    the icing on the cake is the return of the demonic Callisto in a more devastating form and is filled with brutality,and still manages to wreck havoc on Xena even in the afterlife.

    the character development is very well done here and this is the greatest ever way to start off a season.

    Season five has a great mix of bad and spectacular episodes...however none meet the standard of this episode(aside from-Looking Death In The Eye,Eve,Motherhood,and the following episode Chakram),but this episode is by far one of the best and it is one of my top ten favourites(just after,Return of Callisto,Sacrifice,Ides Of March,maternal Instincts,and Intimate Stranger).

    epic through and through.moreless
  • In the fifth season opener, Xena and Gabrielle are in Heaven after being crucified, where Gabrielle is captured by the demon Callisto during an attack from Hell. Xena risks her own soul to get her friend back. A terrific start to the season!...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    What a way to start a season. After the events at the end of the previous season (well, the end but one), Xena and Gabrielle now find themselves in Heaven. I personally assumed they weren't in the Elysian Fields (or Tartarus) due to being in Roman territory; as we've seen (particularly in 'Hercules'' fifth season), different parts of the world are governed by different Gods and different afterlife worlds.

    I like Joxer's line that he had been suffering nightmares that Xena and Gabrielle might be in trouble and came to see for himself. Although it is Xena and Gabby that share the close bond, I like it that one of their closest friends (although they probably wouldn't admit it) also has a certain kind of connection and knows what they are in trouble.

    Callisto is really scary looking as a demon, with some truly astounding make-up work. And Hudson Leick gives one of her best performances; Leick is a great visual performer, and gives Callisto some really good (and creepy) movements.

    This episode boasts some truly breathtaking CGI effects, some of the best seen in the entire series. It's easy to forget that they did so much on such a relatively modest television budget.

    As well as the demon Callisto, we also get demon versions of both Gabrielle and Xena at different points in the episode. And they both work wonders. The usually calm and soft spoken Gabrielle is particularly scary as she is forced into eating the food of Hell and turning really nasty! And Lucy Lawless as the demon Xena... I love the way she screeches "Gaabrielllle".

    Then there is the touching move from Xena to free Callisto of her pain and to suffer in her place, finally freeing Callisto from her life of inner torment. Knowing how deceptive Callisto can be, I half expected her to turn out to still be bad somehow, but no, the writers and producers finally decided to let her rest in peace (so to speak!), and the scene where she is finally reunited with her long deceased family is a touching one.

    This is the best season opener to the series. Season three had the disappointing 'The Furies', and the fourth season opened with the (in my opinion) horribly heavy going and confusing 'Adventures In The Sin Trade'. Not since the second season's 'Orphan of War', which was in many ways an average sort of episode, has a season of the series got off to such a flying start (no pun intended)!

    This hour is so enjoyable that it flies by (no, I'm not making an angels pun!!). Some episodes drag a bit sometimes, but this one feels like it zoomed by in about twenty minutes, it was so good.

    Having loyally watched (and recorded, and re-watched many times) seasons 1-3 on Channel 5 here in the U.K. (and not having $ky), they started playing around with season 4, with many time-slot changes, and then being dropped completely, with only a handful of later season 4 episodes shown. So when I finally came to watch this episode on DVD some years later, I was in for a real treat. Two 'new' season's of the series to watch – that can't be bad.

    All-in-all, a breathtaking, top notch season opener and definitely one of the series' best, and most memorable.moreless
  • Definatly a defining episode for Xena: Warrior Princess.

    In this episode, it shows that Xena and Gabrielle were "soul mates" and would be together for all eternity. In the process, evil took over and pulled Gabrielle and Xena away from each other.

    This is a perfect way to start Season 5 and to follow the crucifiction story. I belive that in this episode is where Gabrielle finally decided that the "Way of the Warrior" was her true calling. She had to give up the way of love to save her soul mate. This is a great episode to show how much Xena has changed as a person as well. The "Evil" Xena would have never given her soul to someone to help them find peace. Xena's heart has become so big by this time that she felt the pain that she caused people in the past. In Xena's path of redemption, this episode cleary shows that she has reached a level of compassion that she was never capable of in the past.moreless
  • A fight going back thousands of years, adds Xena and Gabrielle to it's ranks!

    This is the episode that took Xena: Warrior Princess to a new level and entailed the fascinating mythology of Heaven and Hell! After their death in The Ides of March, Gabrielle falls into Hell and Xena becomes an Archangel to save her friend. However she gives up her angelic powers to save Callisto's soul and rescue Gabrielle. Just as demon-Xena and Archangel-Gabrielle are battling it out, Eli, with help from the Angelic Callito, resurrects Xena and Gabrielle's bodies. Callisto swipes Xena's memories to get the Chakram of light. This episode is a classic of the show and a personal favorite of mine. Also, it had the best make-up than any episode of the whole show!moreless
David de Lautour

David de Lautour


Guest Star

Tamati Rice

Tamati Rice


Guest Star

Jay Ryan

Jay Ryan

Zortis (uncredited)

Guest Star

Jennifer Sky

Jennifer Sky


Recurring Role

Ted Raimi

Ted Raimi


Recurring Role

Timothy Omundson

Timothy Omundson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • This is the second of a three episode story arc, beginning with "The Ides Of March".

    • This is the first appearance of the Archangel Michael on Xena, but he first appeared in the Xenaverse on the Hercules episode "Revelations", the season finale of that show's fifth season. The actor, Charles Mesure, also previously appeared on the Xena episodes "The Price" and "The Dirty Half Dozen", playing different roles.

    • Goof: At the very beginning of the episode, when Amarice points at Xena and Gabrielle, Joxer, shocked, covers his mouth with his right hand. When the scene cuts to a wider shot, Joxer is now holding his left hand to his mouth.

    • The issue of what happens for Gabrielle in the afterlife gets even more muddled in this episode. In the episode "Is There A Doctor In The House?", Gabrielle ends up in the Elysian Fields during her brief encounter with death. In "Adventures in the Sin Trade", we learn Gabrielle is meant to go to the Amazon Land of the Dead. In "Between the Lines", Xena and Gabrielle learn that they are to be reincarnated. In this episode, however, she is on her way to Paradise, at least temporarily.

    • Though she never asked for it, Callisto is finally redeemed by Xena in this episode. Xena takes full responsibility for Callisto's crimes and chooses to sacrifice her own soul to redeem her enemy's.

    • Notice that when Xena is brought back to life, her broken spine has apparently been healed as well.

    • Xena, Gabrielle, and Callisto all take turns as angels and devils in this episode.

    • Xena becomes pregnant with Eve at the end of the episode.

    • Why did Archangel Michael fade out like Xena and Gabrielle? Certainly no one was reviving his body on Earth too. Perhaps it was just to show that all the chaos in paradise had been undone as well.

    • What happens to the war in Eternity after Xena and Gabrielle are revived? It was never revealed if reviving Xena also undid the damage that demon Xena inflicted upon Heaven. However, since the forces of Hell lost their two leaders (Callisto and Xena) after fighting just two battles, it seems likely that Michael and his fellow Archangels were strong enough to repulse any further attacks, at least for the time being. Caesar might have been a good enough general to take over the position, but as we learn in season six's "When Fates Collide", he went to Tartarus, not Hell, when he died.

    • Goof: During the long shot before Xena and Gabrielle go over the cliff. In all the far scenes of Xena it shows that they don't have the reddish tint on her legs, nor does she have the hooves.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (Gabby is forced to eat the food of hell, and starts to turn into a demon)
      Gabrielle: Callisto! When Xena burned you're family, did you see the fire? Did you? Did you smell their flesh sizzling? You know what I think? You wanted them to die so you'd have a reason to be a bitch!

    • Archangel Michael: (after preventing Xena from diving into Hell after Gabrielle) Are you insane?!
      Xena: Depends who you talk to.

    • Eli: My friends are dead, because of my teachings. The Way of Love. It wasn't the Way for Gabrielle. I was too proud to see that. What good is this gift if I can't at least protect the ones that I love! Why did you even give it to me? What am I supposed to do? You show me! What am I supposed to do?
      Angel Callisto: Eli, Love is the Way. Go to them.

    • Xena: (after she is changed into a demon, begging Gabrielle to join her) Why not? Gabrielle, the love that we have, it's stronger than Heaven or Hell. It transcends Good or Evil. It's a end in itself. Our souls are destined to be together. Gabrielle, you can't let me walk through Hell alone.

    • Gabrielle: Xena?
      Callisto: Morning, honey. Aren't you the lucky girl?! You get to spend eternity with me!

    • Xena: Gabrielle and I have already been through Hell together. I didn't come all this way to lose her now. So either you set me up with a pair of wings or I take another dive. Michael, Gabrielle's soul and mine are destined to be together. I can't let her walk through Hell alone. Please.

    • Gabrielle: We're going to be together, for eternity.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Michael tells Xena that she is to be reincarnated. Early Christianity and Judaism did include a belief in reincarnation, though that belief disappeared over time.

    • The Archangel Raphael is never mentioned by name in the scriptures of the Bible accepted by most sects of Christianity. However, he does appear in the Book of Tobit, accepted by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. He also appears in the Book of Enoch, only considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

    • The term "fallen angel" refers to an angel that has been banished from Heaven. The most well-known example in Christian mythology is Lucifer/Satan. Lucifer was once an angel, but because of his pride, was thrown down with his followers. Some popular explanations given for Lucifer's fall include a refusal to serve and protect humans as God had ordered, a refusal to bow to God's son, or a direct challenge of God's power.
      This episode also references the War in Heaven, a large part of the story in the Book of Revelations about the end of times. At the end of the war, the victorious angels, led by Michael, throw Satan and his followers to Earth.

    • Angels appear frequently in the Bible, generally as messengers or as guardians. The named angels that appear in the Bible include Michael and Gabriel, both Archangels. Michael is the field commander of the Army of God.