Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 3 Episode 13

One Against An Army

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Feb 09, 1998 on

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • Season 3 at its best

    season 3 is the era of the show that had severe lows and extreme highs that balanced out this season..it started with the average episode The Furies,which paved the way to balancing out episodes tht are either really well done or completely unwatchable( Forgiven, King Con, Vanashing act etc.).

    But this episode just shows how great this show can actually be,an is without a doubt one of this seasons best episodes(just beaten by Sacrifice).
    it single handedly showed us how one person can do so much change and have a great deal on their shoulders and to take off so brilliantly while staying in complete focus the entire way through.
    Lucy and Renee are at their hight here after conquering their rift in the musical after a few episodes of being adrift from one another(the debt,Maternal instincts)and showing their relationship excell.
    this is a masterful episode tht evidently took a lot of skill to make for our enjoyment.
    one of the shows best and the best of the season until the fantastic finale.
  • The Greater Good once again...

    Since the location of the series is set in Greece, it would be unthinkable not to include the battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans and Persians. The storyline follows along the same plot line as "The Greater Good" but a poisoned arrow has hit Gabrielle instead. At one point, she even mentions the "Greater Good", conveying to Xena "there are things worth dying for".

    This episode has many bittersweet moments, including the scene of Gabrielle in a daze from the effects of the advancing poison when she recites the same plea to go with Xena as she first did in "Sins of The Past".
  • As the only thing that stands between the Persian Army and Athens, Xena wages war against substantial odds & time itself, as Gabrielle slowly succumbs to the strike of a deadly, poisoned arrow.

    This was one of the more memorable episodes of the series for me, because I'm kind of drawn relatively to story lines that involve people bearing their souls under adverse conditions. These conditions usually include volatile doses of poison or grievous injury. Thankfully (though the scenes are painful to watch, certainly) both happen to Gabrielle in this episode. : ) Emoting while someone is branding an arrow wound closed on both the front and back of some one's shoulder is a foregone art, of course. Allow me to go on.

    After some magnificent back flips in a training exercise leave Gabrielle with a twisted ankle, things grow even bleaker for the blond scribe a ways down the road; encountering a runner, the companions are informed that The Persian Army is fast approaching Athens for an attack. With gratitude, Xena tells the man to inform the Athenians that she will head the Persians off at the mountain pass at Thermopylae.

    This is when the fun really begins.

    The incredible thing about the show is that no matter what the subject matter, (except maybe in the later seasons where all the good writers jumped ship to write for Cleopatra 2525, and Jack of All Trades, not to go too far off subject) there are always daft character examples, and very clear moral conflicts. They're mostly feigned in this particular episode, but I don't mind. It really only goes to prove, though - how much of a heroic soul Gabrielle's character is.

    Now, Renee O'Connor (Gabrielle) actually had a twisted ankle at the time of filming this episode, because of an agile stuntman falling on her during a stunt, so I give her some mad props at this fact; the twisted ankle was actually the opposite of the one in the storyline, so she must have had a time.

    Getting back to the story, on the way to the pass, Xena & Gabrielle encounter a defected coward of a Spartan named Dorian; Xena - though reacting with as much contempt at a traitor and a coward as reasonable, given the circumstances - recruits him, giving him an opportunity to redeem himself. Uh-huh.

    I certainly wanted to kick Dorian myself several times throughout the plot, if only for his verbose put-on ineptitude, but I dealt with the pain, somehow. ; )
    Soon, the small party encounters a group of Persians. Dorian, true to form, freezes - once more flaunting his battle prowess - and in the flurry of the skirmish, Gabrielle tries desperately to move the man out of the way. In turn, she's struck by an arrow, and it buries itself deeply in her left shoulder blade.

    Afterward, amidst blithering and apologizing on Dorian's part, Xena is forced to remove the arrow in the only way possible; by pushing it forward, all the way through Gabrielle's shoulder. This scene is absolutely remarkable; just the look of horror and borderline sadness on Renee's face as the arrow is 'jutted' through her shoulder is striking, and heart wrenching. The sealing of the wound through cauterization is also striking, as it hearkens back to the third episode of the series, 'Chariots of war', but in no way seems repetitive on the writer's part (Gene F. O'Neill).

    At the risk of making this review a complete recap, when Xena realizes that the arrow's tip is coated by a potent poison, she sends Dorian away to tell the Persians that the pass at Thermopylae has been blocked in a rock slide; after he eagerly agrees and darts off, Xena reveals to Gabrielle that he's not only a liar, but a Persian spy. The misinformation will lead the Persians into a conflict at Trefoils where an antidote for the poison lies, as well as an old armory of Xena's from her horde days.

    The most memorable moment of this episode, for me, is the one when - in the abandoned armory - Gabrielle, delirious, asks Xena to take her with her, repeating her first request to become Xena's traveling companion. Xena, in turn, comforts her, obviously conflicted about the situation. On the matter of character development, considering what had just transpired between the two during 'Maternal Instincts' and 'The Bitter Suite', I found it reassuring that Xena had been able to push past the angst, and see Gabrielle for the person she trusted and relied on for guidance more than anyone else. (Thank you, run-on sentence).

    I've heard arguments that Xena fighting an entire army (tre' unlikely in such a small space with minimal weaponry), and abandoning Gabrielle for 'The Greater Good' were incredibly unlikely events, however, time and time again both Hercules and Xena make such crazy decisions to bend the odds and sacrifice the people they love for the many. It's just a credo, and one we see over and over as a theme of the sister shows. In my point of view, the battle was actually more believable since it seemed more like a battalion sent out in a first wave to attack than the WHOLE army. It simply wouldn't have been a smart move on any King's part to just move his entire army en masse in for the kill, whether the advantage was primo or not. Just wouldn't happen.

    Getting back to Gabrielle; she - as the selfless character that she is - would have always given her life to help someone else. It's that kind of heroism despite the loss of her 'blood innocence' in 'The Deliverer' that draws Xena to her. They're heroes. Plain and simple. And heroes choose to do what they have to despite the costs and the odds.

    In the end, after having served justice up with a dash of revenge, the two remain as they always have been; side by side. And that's really what the series is about, in essence. Eternal, undying - while dying - friendship. And besides... what's a ruthless, onslaught of Persians between friends?
  • Xena must stop the Persians from invading Athens alone and save Gabrielle who was injured and pierced by a poison arrow that was slowly killing her.

    The episode had a lot of historical references and emotional growth for both Xena and Gabrielle. Xena proves how she can defend a city all by herself. However what makes this episode great is the feelings that were shared between Xena and Gabrielle. We see Xena admit how much influence Gabrielle has on her. As much as Gabrielle wants to be like her, Xena can't help feeling the opposite. There were many scenes where goodbyes were said. Gabrielle to Xena, Xena to her horse, Argo, which gives us the impression that Xena isn't sure she could with stand the force of the Persians. Having to worry about a dying Gabrielle didn't make the situation any easoer for her. The best part was at the end. As soon as the music kicked in and Xena regained her strength again and started knocking Persians left and right made me cheer her on. You just knew those Persians were in for a beating. She not only fought the Persians off, but she stopped them from attacking Athens and found the medicine to save Gabrielle's life. The episode showed the love and friendship between the warrior and her sidekick. It was suspenceful because it was one of those very close calls. It was also emotional, creative, filled with action...it had it all. It's one of my favorite episodes. I loved everything about it. It was very well written and Lucy Lawless gave an excellent pereformance.
  • Xena defeats an army, Gabrielle almost dies, and we find out that our two women are going to be together forever.

    "One Against An Army" continually gets rave reviews from fans. Its generally accepted to be one of the best episodes of all time, and I usually agree with the fan choices. This time is an exception.

    Its not that this isn't a great episode – it is! But its not one of the best, and there are just too many plot holes here to ignore. For me, this episode just pushes the boundaries of possibility a little too far. There are some nice moments, but ultimately, its not enough to give this top marks.

    For a start, this is one of the few episodes that really takes a full 20 minutes to get started. We are halfway through before anything much happens, and that is too long for the second half to redeem itself. The whole flip thing at the start just doesn't work in relation to where this episode ends up. Some top episodes handle the comedy/drama well, but in this episode it just seems unnecessary.

    Gabrielle's injury is suitably horrible, and her suffering leading on to her dying is all very well acted by Renee. I really believed that she was sick and dying, and that is saying something. I was a little bothered by Xena's blasé attitude for most of the episode, and I definitely DON'T believe that had Gabrielle's life really been at stake, that she would have stayed and fought the army anyway. This is perhaps my biggest concern: if the love of your life, your soul mate, was mortally wounded, and the antidote was in a neighboring town, there is no way that you would allow yourself to get sidetracked for any reason. I don't think that 'the greater good' is a good enough excuse; if Gabrielle's dying, then Xena needs to do whatever it takes to get her to safety and a cure. Instead, she stays to fight an army. Logical, really?

    My second main problem is why Xena really feels like taking on the Persian cavalry is worth it? Wouldn't there just be thousands of other Persians on their way? And why would this army bother attacking a little hut with a dying woman and one warrior? Would an entire cavalry launch a full blown attack? I don't think so. So again, a little far fetched for me.

    There are a couple of good moments, one of which is Xena trying to look within herself to gain access to Lao Ma's powers again. It must be incredibly frustrating to know that they are there, but not be able to use them.

    Secondly, the moments between Xena and Gabrielle are really touching. I was tearing up (as usual) and I thought that they captured the enormity of the moment quite well. I loved that Gabrielle was utterly content to die, because she was with Xena. To have that much love and connection with a person that just having them there is enough, is quite inspiring.

    Finally, the fight scene was really, really good. It was clever and original, and almost believable. So, I will probably be making enemies here, but I just can't see what other people see in this episode. I would love somebody to explain it to me. The end of season 3 had some weak moments, with some great episodes tucked away. After the incredible first half of the season, anything that came after was going to be a bit of a let down, but on the whole season 3 is really probably the most consistently strong season of all, which is why it gets the most votes for best season. Personally, its not my favorite, but it is definitely a great all-rounder.
  • When Gabrielle is hit by a poisoned arrow, Xena must struggle to keep her alive whilst single-handedly fighting off a ruthless Persian army who are on their way to plunder Athens. An excellent showcase for Lawless and O'Connor in a great episode...

    After the close (of sorts) to The Rift in 'The Bitter Suite', here we return to Xena and Gabrielle being closely attached to each other.

    The episode makes references to 'The Debt' two-parter, but does not make any reference to the events of 'Maternal Instincts' or 'The Bitter Suite', suggesting that maybe it was possible for it to air before those episodes. However, coming out of The Rift, it serves perfectly to show the deep love between Xena and Gabrielle that is firmly back in place.

    Talking of 'The Debt', Gabrielle asks Xena why she can't use the force that she used at the climax of that episode, Xena replies that it "took purity off essence" that is "gone now". I was glad this was explained away as such, as I did find it a slight niggle coming out of that story why Xena didn't harbor such powers in every adventure.

    At first, I was a bit dubious about Xena's claims about how bad the-army-of-the-week (TM) was, and how Athens would be done for, as it reminded me of the numerous generic warlord's armies from the first (and to some extent, the second) season, but it turned out that this army actually WAS a force to be reckoned with.

    Gabrielle being hit by the poisoned arrow, and the graphic sequence of Xena removing it by pushing it right through, and then using a hot steak to sterilize it, is reminiscent of Xena being wounded of the arrow in the second ever episode, 'Chariots of War'. Seeing Xena endure it is bad enough, but when it is fragile Gabrielle, it seems all the worse.

    I really enjoyed this story, with much of it being set in the confines of the old hut that Xena set up as an emergency armory several years ago. The episode serves as a great showcase of performances of both Lucy Lawless and Renée O'Connor. One of my favourite moments comes as a semi-conscious Gabrielle repeats her plea for Xena to take her along on her travels, from when the first met in 'Sins of the Past'.

    If I was forced to find fault, I'd say that maybe there are one-too-many "I love you Xena" / "I love you Gabrielle" scenes in the middle, which do start to become slightly repetitive, but that's just a small thing, and just more of a nitpick.

    The climatic fight scene is one of the longest and biggest of the series, with some good stunt work. Seeing it on paper, one might scoff at the idea of Xena against an entire army, but it comes across on-screen as reasonably credible.

    I am slightly surprised when this episode is picked as one of the very best of the entire series (it is, for example, on the Tenth Anniversary 'Best Of' DVD compilation), but even so, it is a great episode in itself.
  • Xena Can Sweat!!!

    One Against an Army-Xena, alone, must battle the ruthless Persian army and stop them from plundering Greece, as well as save a poisoned Gabrielle who is slowly dying.

    The title literally speaks for itself, when only Xena alone can stop the Persian Army from attacking Athens!!! This episode has everything you could want out of this series. Terrific acting, when Gabrielle get hits by a posion arrow, and Xena is left with the decision of saving her or stopping the army. Lucy and Renee truly bring the back the dynamic between the 2 friends, which is needed after The Rift arc!! These 2 have come a long way in just 2 and a half years, and they still have to remind each other that the greater good comes first, no matter if it means losing a friend!! Such a well-written script!! I felt bad for Phiddipides, it's a shame and a shock that he was a spy!!! The episode concludes with possibly the best fight sequence of the series!! The Stunt crew really outdid themselves, and Lucy really put her all!! I can't believe she hates fight scenes when she does so well at them...who knew! All in All, this is a really great episode with some brillant acting from the leading ladies and a kickass fight scene to round it all off!!!