Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 10

Hooves & Harlots

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Nov 20, 1995 on

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • Xena and Gabrielle find themselves in the midst of a war between the Centaurs and the Amazons

    I have to love this episode as it has two of my favorite things, Amazons and Centaurs. This is actually the return of the Amazons to the Universe as they haven't been seen since the Herc. Movie "Amazon Women" (which featured Lucy Lawless). These Amazons obviously have a different moral standard than those Amazons as they don't worship Hera (Artemis is their patron goddess) and they aren't keeping a cattle of breeding Men nearby. What is nearby is a village of Centaurs and a warlord who wants a war between the two that he's hoping will wipe both out, giving him control of the land. Xena and Gabby get involved and in the process Gabrielle becomes and Amazon Princess. |
    This episode not only has two of my favorite things, it has some of my favorite reoccurring cast including the introduction of the character Ephiny and the return of Alison Bruce (previously in the Herc. Episode "Gladiator") as Queen Melosa. Ephiny actually reminds me of Lawless' character Lysia in the Amazon Women movie. She's initially the most hard nosed of the Amazon Woman and not too patient with the prisoner, but she turns out to be the one who seeks out the truth when others want to accept the easy target for their vengeance. I sometimes wondered when watching this episode if she wasn't a little in love with the deceased Princess. But I digress, let's move on to Bruce. I said it before and I'll say it again. It's ashame they never got a permanent role for Alison Bruce in the series. This is by far my favorite of her roles. She comes across as a strong and powerful leader here. One of my favorite Amazon Queens next to Cyane (the blond one from XWP season 4).
    Perhaps the weak part of this episode is the fact the Queenship of the Amazons is thrown around here like a toy. I don't get why Xena was "Queen" for defeating Melosa when she was acting as Gabby's champion. Therefore, her win was Gabby's win making her queen, not Xena. And even though I get why they did it (namely the Centaur leader's reaction to seeing Xena leading the Amazons). I know Xena's the star and the grand warrior, but it becomes a big deal to point out in later episodes that she's not an Amazon despite her familiarity with thier ways. It could have easily worked with them acknowledging Gabrielle (as the now Queen) was making Xena a general of some sort in charge of decisions. Then (without any ceremony or explanation of the matter) Melosa's back in charge. Of course (as she would come to do many times) Gabrielle could have just put Melosa back in charge, but seeing as the flipping Queenship is never explained it just kinda doesn't make sense. |
    Gabrielle's growth is possibly the most key part of this episode though. Even though she inherited a staff from Ephiny, she goes on to use a much simpler one. I liked that Ephiny was so hard on Gabrielle at first. My favorite scene being when Ephiny sort of gives her a command and she's like "excuse me, am I a dog" or something like that and Ephiny is then forced to be polite. There relationship in the episode is just smile-worthy throughout. I often like to think Gabrielle kept Ephiny's staff in some sacred place and couldn't bare to use it as a common traveling weapon. Speaking of which, she actually gets to fight enemies here, her first fight scene ever finally fulfilling what she decided to do when she met Iolaus in the "Promethus" episode and fight by Xena's side (actually, it's Ephiny's side she fights by, but you get the poing). And while she's effective to a point, it's nice that they allow the weapon still to be a somewhat new and clumsily used device. |
    Awesome episode, great cast, and good fun.
  • Xena and Gabrielle find themselves caught in another squabble...

    New characters. Wonderfully written and directed. Another thread of Xena's past exposed. Gabrielle provides the perfect amount of comic relief. Xena and Gabrielle are thrust into the middle of an impending war between the Centaurs and Amazons. Gabs unexpectedly but delightfully finds that she has been selected to be the future queen of the Amazons (and in my opinion, it's a way to prove her worth to Xena). She chooses her first weapon and learns to fight.

    I believe it was intended from the beginning of the series for Gabrielle to become a warrior. Also, a hint of a possible romance between Ephiny and Phantes. Definitely worth watching. A classic episode.
  • A very strong first introduction to the Amazons and the Centaurs - who remain important parts of Xena for the whole series.

    Hooves and Harlots is a fantastic episode, and a very important one in a lot of respects. It stands out as a special episode in Xena history, not just because of the solid storyline, but because so many historic events occur in the episode.

    Firstly, we are introduced to the Amazons, and the Centaurs, both of whom become quite vital parts of Xena, particularly the Amazon nations. The Amazons are always excellent, interesting, great costumes, great fight scenes and it is fantastics to see all women. The Centaurs too get a good look in, and they play an important role in relation to Xena's dark past in later episodes.

    Which leads us to the next important point, which is the reference to Xena's dark past with the Amazons and with the Centaurs. At this early stage it is impossible to imagine how deeply embedded in Xena's past, and Xena and Gabrielle's future that these two nations would be. It definately leaves you desperate to know more about Evil Xena.

    Probably the most significant part of this episode lies in Gabrielle's transformation. Unfortunately, at this early stage I still find Gabrielle a little annoying, but I already respect her growth as a character hugely, and only come to be more impressed and more drawn to her character as the series continues. Gabrielle receives her Right of Caste in this episode, which is a big deal, and which remains a very important event throughout the rest of the series, right up until the end of Season 6. Gabrielle's initiation into the Amazon tribe helps to build on her as a character - we see her major costume change (despite continuity issues between this episode and the previous Death in Chains), and Gabrielle starts down her road to becoming a warrior, which I find an incredible touching journey. She also begins fighting with her staff, which is a great moment.

    The episode introduces us to Ephiny, who was a very valuable character throughout the series. She is very watchable and an interesting character, as is Queen Melosa.

    There are some really excellent fight scenes throughout, and they are particularly varied (which is always exciting) ranging from fighting in the trees, to one-on-one, to an all out battle. There are some really interesting scenes, such as the one between Xena and Phantes in the stable, and between Ephiny and Gabrielle.

    Overall, everything in this episode works. The story is strong, the characters are great, and the backstory is laid for a long continuation of Xena and Gabrielle's journey with both the Amazons and the Centaurs. A winner, without a doubt.
  • After trying to save an Amazon during an seeming attack by Centaurs, Gabrielle becomes and Amazon Princess, while Xena tries to find to true culprit to stop the Amazons and Centaurs going to war, in this popular episode, a turning point for Gabrielle.

    This review contains mild spoilers.

    After nine episodes (well, eight, as previous episode 'Death In Chains' should really be shown after this one) of Gabrielle being a lovely but naïve and slightly cowardly young girl, this episode is the one that sows the seeds of her becoming an able fighter in her own right.

    After Gabrielle's sudden costume change in the previous episode, the aforementioned 'Death in Chains', here she is back to her familiar peasant clothes, and takes up carrying a staff (making it immediately obvious to even the more casual viewer that the episodes were designed to be shown the other way around).

    The Amazons seen here are seemingly of a different tribe to those seen in the first Hercules movie 'Hercules and The Amazon Women', being formidable but at the same time fairer and more honourable. I personally like to think that there are many different Amazon tribes, all following the same beliefs.

    As well as the debut of the Amazons in the series, the episode also marks the first time centaurs appear, previously seen in a couple of movies and episodes of 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'. Although a couple of shots look very slightly wobbly in places, the CGI of merging mens' torsos into horses' bodies is generally reasonable. Much of the time we get the impression of a half man / half horse, but it is actually just down to some cunning camerawork.

    When watching the story for the first time, it is easy to suspect that hostile Amazon Ephiny (Danielle Cormack) is something to do with the real villain, but this turns out to be a red herring, and Ephiny goes on to be a recurring character, mellowing very slightly in ensuing appearances. (I always thought how it was a coincidence how she had both similar name and not dissimilar look (in my eyes) to Danielle *Mc*Cormack in British children's comedy series 'My Parents Are Aliens' ... sorry, just a passing thought there!).

    The episode is well cast, and I particularly like Alison Bruce as fierce but fair leader Melosa, and would have liked to have seen her feature more in follow up episodes. And the episode just *looks* good, with many stills from the episode used of various X:WP merchandise.

    Xena talks of a previous battle with the centaurs, "the Battle of Corinth" - one that she didn't win, marking one of the first appearances of Xena's previous battles in her former life as a warlord being used as a background reference for the current story.

    Probably my favourite parts of the story are of Gabrielle being initiated into the Amazons and choosing her weapon of choice (being a massive Gabrielle fan probably has something to do with that!), and there are some great 'irritating' Gabrielle moments in the episode, including "We gotta come up with some hand signals or something" to Xena, and, of course, the centaur dung!

    There are some great action pieces, such as Xena and Ephiny's duel in the treetops at night (although on first viewing I did feel it came slightly out of nowhere, almost thinking that I’d missed a bit of the story) and the very impressive climax of the story, where "hooves and harlots" unite, with the centaurs pulling the Amazons in chariots, to take on the real enemy of the piece (warlord Krykus, who has a weird little triangular beard. Warlords with strange tiny beards seemed to become something of a recurrence in the series).

    There are also passing references, by Gabrielle (who exaggerates her role in the adventures) to "..the Morpheus story" ('Dreamworker'), "...and the Draco story" ('Sins of the Past'), "...the Titans" (from the episode of the same name) and "...Pandora" ('Cradle of Hope').

    Gabrielle does not go on to carry the eagle-head staff that Ephiny gives her, instead carrying a simpler-looking one. Also, some sources indicate that her costume change to that which she would wear for the rest of the season comes about in this episode; In actuality, she wears an Amazon costume in this episode. Her costume for the rest of the season is not directly referenced to be related to the Amazons, but has resembling colours, and her necklace is a nod to it (although she only ever wears the necklace again in 'Death In Chains', the costume being without it for the remainder of it's duration). She even goes back to wearing her peasant clothes at the end of the story, with the change in regular costume seemingly falling somewhere between the two episodes.

    The episode ends with a wonderfully shot silhouette of Gabrielle, Xena and Argo against a bold orange sunset, with Gabrielle talking away to herself.

    This episode is a favourite with many. I've always liked it, but it was always outshone by other episodes in my view. When I came to re-watch it again recently, I came to recognise just *how good* an episode it is, and a key one in Gabrielle's development.

    In the United Kingdom, this episode was scheduled to be aired by Channel 5 in its original broadcast sequence, but ultimately fell on the day of Princess Diana's funeral, 6th September 1997; It was replaced at the last minute by the next episode 'The Black Wolf', presumably due to the plot of an Amazon Princess being killed not sitting well considering the real-life Princess had just been killed, and finally aired a couple of weeks later.

    This episode was actually responsible for getting a relation into the series. My Godfather had seen me watching odd bits of a couple of episodes previously, and enticed he decided to tune in himself to see what it was all about. This was the first episode that he saw, and it pulled him on the series. For several years, he and I were totally hooked on the show (until Five abruptly dropped it mid-fourth season, grrr!)

    All-in-all, a very enjoyable and somewhat pivotal episodes. An all-time favourite with some, it is eclipsed slightly by some other classic episodes in my own personal view, but is still a very good, very enjoyable episode, and a fine example of the series. Re-watching the episode, I’ve reminded myself just how got it is.
  • Amazons, Centaurs, and Arrows, Oh My!!

    Hooves and Harlots-When Xena and Gabrielle encounter the Amazons, Gabrielle tries to save an Amazon and unwittingly finds herself an Amazon princess.

    This episodes introduces 2 civilizations: The Amazons and Centaurs, which Xena has had past with both. We also introduced to Ephiny, as well as Queen Melosa, who are both well-rounded characters and it's refreshing to see more strong warrior women other than Xena. The subplot with Gabrielle protecting Tarais and getting her right of cast was great. Now Gabrielle finally gets to learn how to fight and do more than just talk all the time. Krykus was pretty good villain, it was a good twist with him wanting to force the 2 groups to go into war. I also love the fight scene between Xena and Melosa, and also how both groups came together in the end to defeat Krykus. All in all, a great episode with a lot of introduces and things for the cast to do.
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