Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 6 Episode 19

Many Happy Returns

Aired Monday 8:00 PM May 14, 2001 on
out of 10
User Rating
78 votes

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Episode Summary


While traveling to return the enchanted Helmet of Hermes to the King of Thebes, Xena and Gabrielle rescue Genia, a virgin who is about to be sacrificed willingly by religious zealots in exchange for protection from a warlord. Xena and Gabrielle think that introducing Genia to Aphrodite would convince her that throwing away her life for a God is a bad idea but it backfires on them when Genia becomes a disciple to Aphrodite, who casts a love spell on Genia, causing her to fall in love with the warlord's son. Now, Gabrielle, Xena, and Aphrodite must go to extensive measures to save the helmet from the warlord's greedy hands and save Genia from the zealots, who've teamed up with the warlord to stop Xena. Meanwhile, it's Gabrielle's birthday, which means a series of practical jokes and one-up-man-ship between Gabrielle and Xena.


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  • Xena and Gabrielle rescue a virgin about to be sacrificed by religious fanatics, only to find that the girl doesn't want to be saved. They introduce her to Aphrodite to show her what Gods are really like, but a warlord interferes. A so-so comedy...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    Very near the end of the series now (sob), and this is the last comedy offering.

    The episode starts out much in the vein of the second season fan favourite 'A Day In The Life' (which set the template for many future comedy episodes), with Xena and Gabrielle playing practical jokes on each other on the eve of Gabrielle's birthday.

    Genia, the young virgin girl that they rescue from religious nuts, only to find that she wanted to be sacrificed, reminded me a great deal of Deianeira, as played by Renée O'Connor in the second 'Hercules' TV movie, 'Hercules and the Lost Kingdom'.

    The practical jokes continue, as does the 'A Day In The Life' feel. However, things start to change as Xena and Gabrielle decide to introduce Genia to Aphrodite, to show her that sacrificing herself for a God is a bad idea. The comedy starts to get sillier, which is a shame as things started out with a lot of potential.

    Not to mention that there is a warlord to cause trouble (well, of course). Being a comedy episode, he is played out like a complete loon, and has a rather generic "seen it before" feel to him.

    This is the last episode to feature Aphrodite. When she first appeared (in the second season 'Hercules' episode 'The Apple'), I wasn't too sure about her. But once I learnt to get past the annoying beach lingo (which seemed to be subtly toned down over subsequent appearances) I grew to really like the character.

    When Aphrodite casts a spell of love over the warlord's son and Genia, things really plummet and get even sillier. We get my least favourite sequences of the episode of Xena, Aphrodite and Gabrielle in disguise, including Xena in drag posing as Genia's father! I've never been a fan of the episodes where Xena and Gabby dress up and pose as other characters (bad memories of the late third season dud 'Vanishing Act'), and I really didn't enjoy these scenes at all.

    Lucy Lawless makes an eerily good man, to the extent that it is really creepy.

    Things pick up with the climatic fight, which is excellently choreographed and one of the best fight sequences of the season. It has echoes of the classic ladder fight in the first season favourite 'Callisto'.

    The ending scene, with Xena and Gabrielle sitting on the cliff overlooking the sea, is a nice one (although it did look to be blue-screened to me) with Gabrielle finally getting her birthday present. The final shot of them flying off into the sunset (Xena is wearing Hermes' helmet of flight) is a bit over the top, but a nice end before we get into the serious matters of the end of the series.

    As with the other comedies this season, the humour of this episode is mostly of a more gentle nature, a long way from the riotous comedies seen mid-run in the series.

    It's not a bad episode as such, but after a promising start does sink somewhat. Bearing in mind the fact that it is the final 'Xena' comedy makes the episode slightly disappointing in many respects.

    I was very surprised that the episode made the 10th Anniversary 'Best of' DVD, as in my opinion there are a number of far superior comedies from other points in the series.

    It's far from bottom-of-the-barrel, but not a classic episode either.moreless
  • Happy Birthday Gabrielle! And the countdown begins, 3 to go....

    Many Happy Returns is a cute, funny and sweet episode, but ultimately pretty pointless. It marks the end of the comedy episodes before Xena finished for good, but it does have a 'filler' feel written all over it.

    For the last comedy episode of the series I felt that it was a little bit of a let down, especially for Aphrodite's last episode - which felt like it should have had a bit more of a fanfare, something more grand like the send out that Caesar and Alti got in When Fates Collide.

    Having said that though, it was still a great episode. The beauty of the series lies in its ability to go from an incredibly dramatic, brutal and emotional episode (When Fates Collide) to one like Many Happy Returns, quite effortlessly. And it does, in many ways, give you a minor reprieve from the last three episodes of the series, which were guaranteed to be a hard emotional journey for fans.

    The episode has some really lovely moments - the scenes between Xena and Gabrielle on her birthday are really touching, including the practical jokes, which really let Xena be herself and show her 'nerdy' side - because she is not the cool controlled warrior princess all the time!

    The ending is really very touching - and a big tearjerker, as Xena gives Gabrielle a poem by Saphos.. but Xena (usually) doesn't like to leave you crying - and a bit of comedy right at the end boosts the episode back up again.

    The enemies are completely inept, but amusing, just as you come to look for in a comedy episode. Aphrodite is lovely as usual, and it is sad to see her go, as she has played an increasingly important role as a friend to Gabrielle in the last few seasons.

    Overall, this episode would have belonged beautifully back in season 2 or 3; in season 6, at four episodes before the end, it doesn't have the emotion-heavy scenes that we have come to expect from all of season 6, including the comedic episodes. But it is a nice episode, with some interesting characters, and a nice message underneath, reaffirming the friendship of some of the characters, their power for good, and showing the strength of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle.moreless
  • Birthday Blues!!

    Many Happy Returns-While travelling to return the Helmet of Hermes to the King of Thebes, Xena and Gabrielle rescue Genia, a virgin who is about to be sacrificed willingly by religious zealots in exchange for protection from a warlord. Xena and Gabrielle think that introducing Genia to Aphrodite would convince her that throwing away her life for a god is a bad idea but it backfires on them.

    A light-hearted episode which was designed to be the final happy hour between Xena and Gabrielle before the end of the series. It features the final appearence of Aphrodite with Alexandra Tyings bringing her unbelieveable charisma and humor for the last time. Katie Stuart does well as Genia, and has some nice chemistry with the leading ladies and Aphrodite. But the warlord Ferragas was played too over-the-top by Hori Ahipene which got very annoying. Some scenes were pretty funny with Xena playing the father of Genia and Gabrielle as the suthern Belle wedding planner. It was also funny seeing Xena and Gabrielle playing tricks on each other and the final scene is also touching showing their final moments of fun as friends. All and All, a enjoyable episode with some funny parts.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Gabrielle: How big is it?
      Xena: It's huge!
      Gabrielle: Is it so big that I can't carry it?
      Xena: Nah, you can slip it in your pocket.

    • Gabrielle: (skinny dipping with Xena) Come on in!
      Genia: (still on the shore covering her eyes from such unholy nudity) No.
      Gabrielle: The water's great!
      Genia: No, thank you. It's okay. I'll just stay here and... look at the bushes!

    • Genia: (when Xena suggests her God sent her to save her) Or maybe he sent you to test my faith! I'm going to hold my breath and sacrifice myself.
      Xena: Yeah, good one.

    • Genia: But the Goddess of Love is an evil myth, told to rob women of their virtue and strip men of their pride!
      Aphrodite: Well, you got the stripping men part right, honey.

    • Ferragus: You see, in exchange for the helmet I promised Zarat I'd take you out of the picture.
      Gabrielle: Since when do warlords keep their promises?
      Ferragus: Since I wanted to kick your butt anyway!

    • Gabrielle: She's planning my doom. I know it. I can feel it.

    • Clergyman: Stop! You are interrupting a religious ceremony!
      Xena: (touches hand to head sarcastically) Forgive me, Father.

    • Genia: (upon being rescued by Xena) Oh Divine Presence, as You have made Yourself manifest, take Thy humble servant Genia to Thy Bosom.
      Xena: Whoa! These are spoken for.

  • NOTES (6)

    • DISCLAIMER: No fish guts were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

    • Lucy's yelp in disbelief in the swimming scene was real, since Renee unexpectedly pinched Lucy.

    • Lucy played a practical joke on the crew during the filming, getting up in drag and pretending to be a fan gone amok. She had them all fooled, but eventually she clued them in to the gag.

    • This episode was originally titled "Two Bags Full".

    • Renee O'Connor announced to the cast and crew that she was pregnant during the filming of this episode.

    • This episode was replacement for "Last Dance", a.k.a. "The Sappho Episode", a musical episode, because production fell through right before filming was to start. It was to include a duet between Gabrielle and Xena of the Donna Summer song "Last Dance", culminating in a passionate kiss between the two heroines. It has been suggested that this episode was dropped because the Xena team didn't want to make the subtext into... text.


    • Gabrielle: (reading the poem by Sappho Xena gave her) There's a moment when I look at you and no speech is left in me. My tongue breaks then fire races under my skin and I tremble, and grow pale for I am dying of such love or so it seems to me.

      Xena's poem for Gabrielle is an actual fragment of a poem by Sappho of Lesb*s the most famous lyric poetess of ancient Greece. Much of her poetry is interpreted as being about the love of a woman for another woman, and the words "lesbian" and "sapphic" are derived from her fame. It is unknown whether the poems were supposed to be autobiographical, or if she was writing from the perspective of a man. However, much of her work does reference other parts of her life, suggesting that these poems are from a personal standpoint.

    • The telescope was invented in 1608 (credited to three Dutch inventors, and improved by Galileo the following year), making it extremely odd that Xena would have one.

    • Aphrodite: (when accused of misusing her powers to do tricks) Well, I'm really more of a material girl.
      "Material Girl" is a hit song by Madonna, and the epithet has become associated with the singer and her "blond ambition".

    • Aphrodite: For future reference, I'm now 'Mighty Aphrodite'.
      Mighty Aphrodite is the name of a movie written, directed, and starring Woody Allen.