Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 3 Episode 11

Maternal Instincts (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Jan 26, 1998 on
out of 10
User Rating
95 votes

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Episode Summary


Maternal instincts are in the air when Gabrielle encounters her evil daughter Hope, who has freed the Goddess Callisto in order to kill Xena's son Solan to sever the friendship of Xena and Gabrielle forever, and bring about Dahak's return to the world.

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  • very intense,and an incredible turn of events...lets praise the writers for delivering us with another classic.

    Lets just start by saying,season three started off very steady,it started off an arc that didn't (until now)really take off(Gabrielle's Hope,Deliverer),then we were given a nicely plotted yet very core to the series...yes i'm talking about the slick episode The Debt,then all of a sudden this season lost track for a handfull of episodes...until Maternal Instincts that is,were we are given a storyline that not only achieves classic status,but also changes the course of the show forever with the rift between Xena and Gabrielle well and truely in form after the events of this episode.

    Here we got to see a very brutal edge to the show...and we see the long awaited return of a vengeful Callisto here in true glory to get under Xena's skin once more.

    Gabrielle also gets the shock of her life when her daughter(the incarnation of evil itself) Hope lands on her doorstep.

    there are plenty of twists in store for our belove characters which all culminates in a bitter showdown in a cavern between Xena & Callisto.

    this is definately one of the greatest episodes in the shows history(only behind Return Of Callisto,Intimate Stranger,Ides Of March,Fallen Angel,and this seasons epic finale Sacrifice)i love it,and i'm sure all hard core fans think exactly the same.

    Maternal Instincts leads directly into the musical extravaganza The Bitter Suite which is also recommended viewing.moreless
  • With their relationship at breaking point, Xena and Gabrielle continue to build their web of hate and deceit, resulting in loss and suffering, accompanied by the irony that no amount of revenge can ever take away the pain.moreless

    "Maternal Instincts" is an incredibly powerful, emotional and moving journey. Whether you love it, hate it, or just don't care either way, you cannot deny the significance of the events, they irony, and the many many important themes that are present throughout the highly memorable episode.

    As so many different themes are addressed in this one, I will break it up and deal with them separately.

    Xena and Solan

    I have always had a bit of a problem with the relationship between Xena and Solan. Maybe it is because she gave him up, and then went rampaging and murdering for another 10 years and then, all of a sudden, had the desire to be a doting mother. I found it a little false, and I felt this way early on in this episode. But ultimately, this is not about the relationship between Xena and her son, it is about betrayal, and how this can lead to devastating consequences. Through her actions, Gabrielle allowed Hope and Callisto to murder something so dear to Xena – regardless you cannot help but be moved by Solan's death, if only for Xena's sake.

    Gabrielle and Hope

    This episode helped to fuel my intense anger at Gabrielle, that has taken 13 years to work through! I can now see that this is a woman who has gone through severe trauma, with no opportunity for dealing with her issues. Xena doesn't do emotions, so this means that Gabrielle is unable to communicate and connect with her over the darkest time in her life. The lies had already created an insurmountable barrier between them, leaving Gabrielle to try and battle her demons alone. No wonder she clung to the possibility that Hope had truly returned – she blamed herself every day for letting her go. It is a very hard and painful time to see Gabrielle, and I have nothing but sympathy for her now.

    Hope is suitably creepy. She is played very well, and bounces off Callisto surprisingly well.


    The return of Ephiny highlighted to me better than anything just how damaged the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle was. Here was Gabrielle, breaking now and pouring her heart out to another woman – because she was no longer able to confide in Xena. This speaks volumes and says that no matter how normal Xena and Gabrielle are making their relationship out to be, underneath things are at breaking point.


    Callisto brings a very interesting presence to this episode. This is no longer about revenge, hatred and destroying Xena. Callisto has moved beyond that and is now searching for oblivion. Tragically, after throwing her entire life away on revenge, she has discovered that there is no peace to be had; her hatred has in fact consumed her, and she has destroyed herself, and committed herself to an eternity of pain and suffering. There is truly a cruel irony to the whole episode in terms of Callisto…underneath the jest is the fact that Callisto never had the opportunity to have a life, or a child... because of Xena. In a way it helps to justify her actions in the episode. Yet she is as much to blame. It is all very sad, and is performed beautifully by Hudson.

    The Rift

    This episode takes out women to a whole new level. The love is gone, and only pain remains. The action in this whole story arc takes a second place to the emotion, and I can understand why this turned a lot of fans off the show. I find it all very refreshing and very important. Without the rift, I don't see that the show could have continued to grow. Ground-breaking stuff.moreless
  • Xena and Gabrielle visit Xena's son Solan just as Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope, still alive, frees Callisto from her fiery pit, in events which could split Xena and Gabrielle apart forever. Not as tight as it might have been, but still a great episode..moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    This is a pivotal episode in the events of The Rift.

    Although many episodes of the series can be viewed as 'stand alone' stories, this one really requires previous viewing of the second season's 'Orphan of War' (introducing Solan) and 'A Necessary Evil' (Callisto being trapped in the lava pit), as well as the previous episodes concerning Gabrielle's baby this season.

    Xena and Gabrielle visit Xena's son Solan, still in the care of centaur Kaleipus. Since we last saw him, where he was quite toughened and a would-be warrior, here Solan is more as he should be – a young boy.

    Meanwhile, Gabrielle's daughter Hope, already fully grown into a young girl, frees Callisto from the volcano pit. Young Amy Morrison is great as Hope, and gives a really creepy, eerie performance.

    I wasn't sure about Callisto in this episode. Each of her first couple of episodes were landmark, and a real challenge for Xena, but the more we see of her, the more she kind of goes through the same routine. Which isn't completely a bad thing, bad she doesn't come across as intense as she did in her first couple of appearances.

    Hope's killing of Solan is a key point in the Rift – will Xena ever forgive Gabrielle for lying to her about killing Hope?

    And then there's the poisoning scene – Gabrielle poisons Hope, and then, for a moment, seems to contemplate drinking the rest of the poison herself. This is a far cry from the silly, naive young girl that we saw in the earliest of episodes.

    Who would have thought at the start of the season that things would have gone this far awry for Gabby, and Xena for that matter?

    This is quite a pivotal episode, and a very good one. However, particularly earlier on, it wasn't as tight as it might have been, stopping it from becoming one of my all-time favourites.

    Will Xena and Gabrielle ever be the same again?moreless
  • Maternal love must be as blind as the other sort. For Gabrielle not to have seen Hope for what she was proves this.

    The death of Xena's child at the hands of Gabrielle's child not only helped to deepen the rift, it makes you wonder if the relationship between our girls will ever be the same again.

    The fact that Gabrielle is willing to poison Hope was too little, too late. Despite her grief, Xena found the strength to help the children and to trap Callisto once again. I thought it was extremely insensitive of Ephiny to seek out Xena's help under the circumstances, but how else would they have defeated Callisto?

    I tried to feel sympathy for Gabrielle's loss, but I couldn't. All along she was aware that Hope was possibly a vessel for evil. The circumstances of Hope's birth, the events in the temple in Britannia. Do maternal hormones rage so much, they knock the reasoning out of a person?

    This isn't about Xena running off to Chin to repay a debt. This isn't about whether she did or didn't kill Mien Tien. This is about Gabrielle giving birth to an evil being and then lying about the child's death. Putting the world at risk and taking Xena off her guard. All she had to go on was the hope that the child would be good, to overcome the circumstances of its birth.

    When the child eventually shows up again, Gabrielle still fails to alert anyone to her evil presence. The rift has many parts but to apportion blame correctly the separate incidents need to be carefully looked at.

    Gabrielle was very much at fault here. Xena had already found it within herself to forgive her for the betrayal in Chin. Even if we say that Xena was insensitive in wanting to kill Hope when she was a mere babe, even if Xena had handled it differently, Gabrielle would still have done what she did. Lets' not forget that the Banshee's told her EXACTLY what was growing inside her and she refused to acknowledge the possibility that they knew what they were talking about.

    Just because she stuck her fingers in her ears rather than heed a warning, doesn't make her blameless later on. At the end of Maternal Instincts, when Gabrielle says "I love you Xena", it left me cold. I guess it's all she could say but I hope she didn't expect more of a reaction than the one she got.moreless
  • 2 Mothers, No Children!!!

    Maternal instincts-Gabrielle encounters her evil daughter Hope, who has freed Callisto in order to kill Xena's son, Solan and plans on severing the friendship of Xena and Gabrielle forever.

    God, was this an emotional, and shocking episode!! Lucy and Renee broke my hearts in this episode!! Hope returns as a little girl when Xena and Gabrielle visit Kaleipus and Solan!! She wants to continue to bring Dahak into the world, and frees Callisto from her lava trap. It's always great to have Callisto back and now a god, she's even more exciting character!! Seeing Gabrielle and Xena agruing over Hope is a very dark scene, but gets even worse when Solan is killed by Hope. Xena holding the lifeless body of her son is probable the most heart-breaking scene I've seen on Xena. Kaleipus dies in this episode, but I can't help but not feel too bad, since he wasn't played by the same actor. Amy Morrison as Hope was quite good, when her true colors were revealed, she really gave the character life and you trully saw pure evil in her. I love fight scene at the end with Xena and Callisto, Callisto sees Xena as nothing now and has already done the damage to her. But Xena reminds her she's done the damage to herself years ago. The episode ends with both women standing over the bodies of their dead children, Xena has lost all her trust and faith and Gabrielle. Now both women leave each other, can anything bring them back together? All in All, this was a superb episode with amazing acting, guest stars, and speical effetts!!!moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • The episode marks the deaths of Solan and the first death of Hope.

    • Goof:As Xena grieves over the body of her son Solan, you can clearly see his eyes move despite them being closed when she touches his cheek.

    • Ephiny says to Gabrielle about their trip to Britannia, "Word was Xena helped Boadicea defeat Caesar" and Gabrielle replies that this is true. This is a reference to the earlier episode "The Deliverer" and it is the only reference to how the battle turned out, as we never see the result in it.

    • The wooden lamb Gabrielle gives to Hope is the one Xena gives her at the end of "A Solstice Carol".

    • When Hope's ball falls into the abyss she releases Callisto, but what happened to Velasca? She should have been released too. But in the sixth season episode "You Are There", Charon states that Xena killed Velasca, so she must not have been a true God after all. She was so severely wounded when she took the Ambrosia, it must have weakened it's effect on her.

    • Nitpick: Callisto is a Goddess, and yet she was imprisoned by a rock slide? She should have been able to teleport away, as she does a number of times in this episode and others.

    • When Callisto and Velasca went into the lava pit, they both had those all-white eyes as an apparent side-effect of the Ambrosia. But when Callisto emerges, her eyes are back to normal. Apparently once you've been a God for a while, your eyes return to their normal appearance.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Gabrielle: (as Xena pulls away from her at Solan and Hope's funeral) Xena?
      Xena: No. You lied to me. I trusted you, and you lied to me. And now Solan is dead. My son is dead because of you.
      Gabrielle: I love you Xena. (Xena turns away from her)

    • Callisto: (to Xena) You'd like to kill me... wish you could.

    • Callisto: (to Xena) Hurts, doesn't it? Losing your family. Rips out your heart, and your guts, and your feelings. All that's left is the pain, right? Welcome to the club.

    • Callisto: Well, what is a little more time? And when you're well, we'll obliterate them all.
      Hope: No, better to crush their dreams, destroy their future. We'll kill what they love most... their children.

    • Gabrielle: (at Solan and Hope's funerals) If I had just done what you said when you told me to do it, then they would still be alive. Kaleipus and Solan...
      Xena: No. Don't you even speak his name.

    • Callisto: All these years I've spent living to destroy you? Thinking that only if I could give you the same pain that you gave me, I'd be rid of it, and life would go on. And then I do-- and nothing changes. I don't feel better. Just empty.

    • Callisto:(referring to Xena's son Solan) Flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood, bone of your bone. Can't wait to see all of that!

    • Callisto: Tell me again how Xena looked when you told her that I'd take her precious little secret to the grave.
      Hope: (smiles) Like she'd been stabbed through the heart with her own sword.

    • Xena: This message she told you to give me, what is it?
      Hope: She told me to tell you that she knows your little secret and she's gonna take it to the grave.

  • NOTES (7)