Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 5 Episode 20

Livia (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM May 01, 2000 on

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • An episode of enormous signficance in the Xena-verse, "Livia" has both harsh critics and exuberant fans. I sit comfortably in the middle with this solid and enjoyable episode. Try to go in without expectations, and allow yourself to be pleasantly suprised


    This episode, surprisingly, is a very good episode. For some reason I always expect to be bitterly disappointed by this episode; I seem to recall disliking it for some reason, and thus I go into watching this one with very low expectations. This negativity is undeserved. Given the enormous amount of content this episode needs to cover, the sweeping emotions, the epic storyline (easily the biggest in Xena history), it copes extremely well, giving us a mostly evenly balanced episode, with some good performances, that actually fills in the gaps leaving you quite satisfied. This is no easy feat, and this episode deserves kudos for achieving so much in the space of 40 mins.

    With this one we should start at the beginning, and the beginning is really the re-awakening of Xena and Gabrielle from their prison of ice deep within Mount Etna. I don't think we could even begin to imagine the horror of waking suddenly, with no idea where you are, what time or year it is, and only knowing that something has gone terribly, dreadfully wrong. It is a horrendous situation, and I think both Xena and Gabrielle handle it remarkably well. I would probably have suffered a nervous breakdown of some description.

    After finding out that they have somehow been entombed for the last 25 years, Xena and Gabrielle stumble into a living shrine of themselves, which turns out to be Joxer and Meg's tavern. As was suggested last episode, Joxer ended up marrying Meg, however, neither of them are looking especially well for the wear. We should probably consider, however, that Joxer is more than likely in his 60's by this stage, which I imagine is a fairly good age for a Greek peasant. This reunion actually turns out to be quite a tear-jerker; I found it enormously touching that Joxer had gone on to dedicate his life to honouring his friends. If they had had more time to work with, it would have been really special, but with so much to cover, the reunion is brief.

    We then meet the absolutely charming (and gorgeous!) Virgil: Joxer's now-adult son. Clearly genetics have worked wonders, because the lad is genuinely the best of both his parents: not only enormously attractive, but is also sweet, clever, romantic and brave. The producers did a fabulous job casting Virgil, which would have been a difficult task. I feel like they couldn't have picked a better actor; it was a very big risk choosing to not have Joxer's son play the bumbling comedic character, but it was a risk that has paid off. He feels so much at home already, as if we have known him for seasons, and he makes such a welcome addition to the rest of the series.

    The group then travels to Rome where they realise that Octavius has fulfilled his ambitions and is now Augustus of Rome. He is also very well cast; he has a lovely presence about him, a grace and wisdom that the young Octavius also had. I feel that Xena's anger towards him, whilst understandable, is unfair. He has done the absolute best he could for Livia. He kept her safe, hidden and alive, protected her from the vengeful Gods, and raised her with every opportunity in life. Not only that, he genuinely loves her and wants to make her his wife and Empress. I feel incredibly sorry for Octavius, who I think proved himself to be a genuinely good person, and a loyal friend. A tragic turn of events for a man who truly believed he was doing the right thing.

    And then, in the big moment, we realise that little baby Eve is actually 25 year old Livia, The Bitch of Rome!

    I should take some time now to discuss Livia, because she is certainly a vital part of what is to come. Many fans have great issues with Livia as a character, which I feel is quite undeserved. Here is what we should consider regarding Livia:

    1. She is the biological daughter of Xena, containing the spirit of Callisto, and thus has the talent, skill, fire and darkness inside of her that both her Xena and Callisto possess

    2. She spent only a matter of months with her mother before being snatched away, and has grown up believing her mother was either dead, or didn't want her

    3. She was raised by Rome as royalty, given every possible opportunity, the best schools, the finest things, and the best of everything

    4. She has been praised, and spoilt, and fawned over her entire life. In her world, she is special, she is loved by the people and by the Emperor; she is Rome

    6. At a young age she was corrupted by the ever-charming God of War

    Taking these things into account, what do fans actually expect her to be like? Because personally, I think that she is absolutely the product of those parts. She certainly carries within her the essence of Xena and Callisto, and casting-wise she is just what I would have imagined adult Eve to look like. But genetics is where Xena's input ends. For her entire life, Eve has known herself to be Livia, a child of the Roman Empire. She has been raised as part of the royal family, and is every bit as spoilt, bratty and immature as you would expect any child of royalty to be. She has lived little; her life has been determined for her by those around her. She probably has never interacted with ordinary children, but has been praised and adored by Roman royalty. Naturally she has an expanded ego. She has also inherited her mother's and Callisto's incredible fighting skills, making her a champion even among her peers. Then, to top it all off, at a young age, when she would have been most impressionable, the God of War, Ares himself, takes an interest in her, takes her under his wing, makes her his lover and his protégé. How else would you expect an immature, ridiculously talented little girl to act?

    I believe Adrienne does a great job with a very difficult character; no one is pretending that Livia is anything other than a mixed-up, spoilt little brat, yet Adrienne still manages to play her with fire and passion. I feel her reaction to finding out that Xena is her mother is especially fitting: how else would you expect her to react? Why would she care who her biological mother is, or even that she is alive, other than to feel anger towards her for rejecting her as an infant, and now stealing away the affections of her adoring God.

    Certainly, Livia is not a perfect character, and there are always going to be flaws and plot discrepancies that are going to be huge issues for fans. But I really feel that most fans are far too harsh on this character, and have never really defined in their own minds what the character should have been like. I think they have done an excellent job overall.

    Going on to discuss other aspects of the episode, I will touch on the Ares storyline. Again, as always, Kevin is delicious; his reaction upon seeing Xena for the first time is pure gold, as is the way he immediately discards Livia upon realising that his golden girl is back up for grabs. True love lasts a lifetime, and I actually found his reaction very touching, especially his clearly honest and painful declaration that he mourned Xena for years, which I believe 100 percent. Love, love, love him, as always.

    I would also like to mention just how sensational Xena looks in this episode. The several costumes she dons are fabulous, and she looks positively ethereal in the stunning party ensemble. Also a huge fan of her arena-armour. Most of the episode is spent with a pained expression plastered across her face, but how else could she possibly feel, dealing with the present situation?

    Gabrielle is, again, under-used in this episode, but understandably so. It is a very awkward situation, and I feel very much for her. I like that she finds an early bond with Virgil, which is very touching.

    So, clearly there is a great deal to discuss regarding this episode, and I probably haven't done it justice. Having said all of that, however, I am not suggesting that this is one of the best episodes of all time. In fact, it isn't even one of the best of this season. But it is very, very significant, and is handled very well. It earns an 8 out of 10 from me, which some fans will disagree with because they feel it deserves more, and some will disagree as they feel it deserves less. I think everyone needs to disentangle their emotions from this one to genuinely appreciate the episode for what it is.

  • 25 bad years!

    I absolutely loved this episode and thought it was one of the best episodes of the series. From Xena and Gabrielle's unexpected awakening in an ice cave to their discovery of their accidental conventional time travel to Xena's iconic lip-lock break and her fight with Livia in the coliseum. This is an action-packed episode to behold. I also liked Joxer's tavern, which was filled with Xena and Gabrielle memorabilia. I can't believe that Meg got so fat, though. God, she was supposed to look exactly like Xena in her pride. But Virgil's body is a work in itself, tanned to perfection with rippling muscles. But I'm getting off topic. Watch this episode or don't and regret it the rest of your days.
  • After being in a slumber in an icy chamber for 25 years, Xena and Gabrielle awaken, and learn that Eve is now known as Livia, a bloodthirsty Roman warrior. A good episode, although sags a bit later on...

    This review contains spoilers.

    The first act is definitely the best section of this story, as Xena and Gabrielle awaken from the twenty-five year sleep to find themselves in a very different world. I love the scenes of their tombs melting and them waking up. They are reunited to a much older Joxer (who, as I assumed in the previous episode, is now married to Meg), and meet Joxer's impossibly good looking son Virgil.

    Later in the episode, the pace lets up a little, as Xena tries to convince Livia that she is her daughter Eve. I felt this was a bit of a comedown after the great opening to the episode, and things got a bit too slow in the middle. But things picked up again at the climax, with Livia and Xena battling it out in the coliseum, although it wasn't as impressive as Xena's previous battle in a coliseum in the third season's great 'When In Rome...'.

    Adrienne Wilkinson is reasonably cast as Livia, but I have to admit it took me a while to think of her as an all conquering warrior – as others have commented, much of the time she just seemed like an out of control daughter.

    The Eve story this season has been an interesting one, but I think it is time to round it off now, as I don't see Xena chasing around trying to convince Eve/Livia to turn to good as being very interesting for very long.
  • Though very entertaining, its all for the wrong reasons.

    This is a watered down Xena and Callisto's backstory rolled into one, awful character. The episode itself is quite exciting, but only because you're in hopes that either Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Virgil or anyone will get their hands on Livia and strangle her to death.

    As the love child of Xena and Callisto, Livia does indeed look like a mix of Xena and Callisto, but that's where it ends. Addrienne Wilkinson's portrayal of Livia did not remind me of Callisto/Xena, not even once. Not one gesture, mannerism or line resembled Callisto in anyway whatsoever. The character herself is not very original or interesting, and she just comes across as a bratty, poor excuse for a warrior who throws pointless temper tantrums that chews the scenery. She didnt come off as a "villian you hate to love", or "love to hate" it was just hate.

    Whereas Lucy Lawless's Evil Xena and to an extent, Hudson Leick's Callisto were also 'young and wild' warlords once, they were entertaining and fascinating characters (moreso with Xena, because Hudson tends to overact far too much for my liking). They had REASONS, motives that made sense into why they turned out the way they were, more or less. (What was Livia's reason?) Xena [and sometimes Callisto both] had a sort of sarcastic, sick sense of humor about how they viewed life, and exuded menace and disturbing emotions without saying a word. You cant tell just by how she carried herself in general. I did not see that with Livia. She didnt seem like a "lost woman" with the mentality/mannerisms of a young child. She was just that; a young child. (Perhaps that's due to Adrienne Wilkinson looking younger than the others, but I disgress. Whatever it was, she [the character, not the actress] rubbed me the wrong way). Back to Livia's motive or lack there of, this is probably my BIGGEST gripe with her character and story in the first place. Why was she that way? What trauma did she go through in her life that resulted in her attitude? Exactly, none. The explaination (and I use that term loosely) on why Livia exactly became evil, and had such extreme blood-lust was extremely poor. The God of War trained her, and now she's bad *Ooohhh! Yeah sure, blame it on Ares. Quite lame. Ares could HELP bring that feature out in someone, but they have to already have it inside them first for him to bring it out. Ares is not going to go to any random mortal and train them as a warrior. He has to see potential first. They have to have that fire already inside them. That is what catches his interest in the first place. Moreover, from what we know of, Eve didn't encounter any life-changing experiences as Xena did during Cortese's attack and Caesar's betrayal, or Callisto's village Cirra burning incident. So the "I-had-no-mother-for-25-years" excuse was even worse and even lamer than the Ares one we got before. Many people dont have mothers around, so what was that all about? She had no valid right or reasonable argument to have such a stupid grudge against Xena. Um, why was she angry again?

    So while poor Eve was suffering without a mother, she was...enjoying all of Rome worshipping her, having the best doctors, tutors, and whatever else Octavius mentioned? Oh my, how tragic. *Gets out violin* Mind you, its not even Xena's fault she was gone in the first place. But did she ever give Xena a chance to explain why, or how? Hell, did she even ASK? No, not at all. It doesnt seem she even thinks before she does anything. All her actions are just for the hell of it, what a very dull and empty character. She crucifies hundreds of innocent village people of Rome because her mother comes back. Ooookaay...

    But the excuse that tops it all is the "She-is-evil-because-she-inherited-it-because-she's-half-Xena-half-Callisto" explaination. It seems with each new reason, it gets even more and more ridiculous. You cannot inherit evil. That would imply that Xena and Callisto were born the way they were during their warlord/evil stage. You cannot inherit rage and fury. That comes from one's own personal experience, and under certain circumstances and sorry -- being spoiled & born into Roman royalty aint one of them.

    Livia's fight scenes we're embaressing to watch. As if Hudson wasnt skinny enough, here comes a skinnier, Nicole Ritchie type size "warrior" as a foe to Xena. Give me a break. Gabby could beat her up. The wirework for Livia is disatrious and took far too much of me to stretch my imagination for. Granted, Xena did have her "flying girl" moments, but at least she JUMPED. We can clearly see Livia being PULLED into the air, with no jumpstart, from an invisible wire. Embaressing.

    What kind of dignified warrior talks like Becky from a teenybopper show? She spoke with no elegance nor eloquence, exuding NOTHING from our warrior princess who speaks so nicely. Her war-cry drives me off the edge, evrn worse than Hudson screetching like a dying cat every 5 seconds. Again, everything she does seems to be for the hell of it. She has no intensity, no edge, no fire. She's a little girl playing dressing up; you can pour tons of fake blood on her costume, it doesnt make her scary. Xena can scare the beejeebus out of you without saying a word. Livia does nothing but annoy me to the point of pain. She just tries SO hard, and its so obvious; it makes it all the more irritating to watch. I hate the way she talks, walks, "fights" and the pointless slowly-opening-her-eyes-closing-them as if that is supposed to intimidate Xena, or the viewers. If we got to see Xena and/or any of the characters beat the crap out of her at the end and revealed that she really wasnt Xena's daughter, I would of enjoyed this episode thoroughly.
  • The Wake Up From Hell!!!

    Livia-Twenty-five years have passed when Xena and Gabrielle finally awake from their icy sleep, and they set out to find Xena\'s daughter, Eve, only to discover the world is not the same and neither is Eve. She\'s now known as Livia, the B!%ch of Rome, a bloodthirsty warrior with Ares as her mentor and lover.

    25 years, now that\'s a long a$$ nap!!! Xena and Gabrielle wake up finally, and find that their lives will be changed forever!! The changes over the years are some good, Joxer is married to Meg(LOL, I love her line when she sees Gabrielle!) and has children! But most of them are bad, Octavis is now Emperor of Rome, and has become so bitter and gullible. To make matters worst, Baby Eve is now a 25 year-old bloodthrister warlord named Livia, the B!tch of Rome!! William Gregory Lee(Virgil) and Adrienne Wilkinson(Livia/Eve) join the cast, their parts are well casted. Adrienne is sort of uneven at first with her portrayl of Livia, but she mostly because she seems more like an out of control teenager than a warlord sometimes!! I think how Livia/Eve became a warlord was answered well, I mean living in Rome and being trained as a warrior for years is pretty self explanatory in those days. I love when she and Xena first meet, Ares is of course head over heels in love with Xena again. I also like how Gabrielle and Virgil become so close and share a commom hobby. Even though Joxer is wiser, he still has that old comic relief which is good to see. The episode ends with Xena and Livia/Eve fighting in the stadium of Rome. It\'s a great fight sequence, but Xena still can\'t get through to Livia/Eve....will she ever? All in All, a great episode with great new introduces and new dilemmas!!