Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 2 Episode 5

Return of Callisto

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Oct 28, 1996 on
out of 10
User Rating
94 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Gabrielle marries Perdicus, her hometown sweetheart, and leaves Xena and their travels, at the same time that Callisto escapes from prison with vengeance in mind. Callisto kills Perdicas, filling Gabrielle with a deep need for revenge. Can Xena stop Callisto and save Gabrielle's innocence?

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  • In this episode we get a chance to meet Xena's nemesis again, Callisto.

    We see the start of the episode with Callisto still in jail, and finally getting a chance to break out. She quickly releases the other prisoners to begin her new army. Once out of jail she goes after what she desires…. Revenge against Xena. This time instead of just avenging her family by killing Xena, she wants to kill Xena's soul by killing Gabrielle. In Callisto's quote "I long to see you wail over the body of your friend".

    The back story we see is Perdicus coming back and confessing his love to Gabrielle, and with that, a marriage proposal. Gabrielle is unsure if she wants to marry Perdicus, and a little worried about losing Xena. Xena gives Gabrielle her blessing and makes Gabrielle consider the proposal. Well, another fight ensues from Callisto army, and Perdicus caught in the middle of it, makes a kill. He then throws down his sword and vows never to fight again. It is at that moment that Gabrielle realizes she is in love with him and wants to be his wife. After the wedding we see Xena going after Callisto, only to find out that Callisto knew Gabrielle was not traveling with Xena, so Callisto goes after Gabrielle to kill her. Well, Xena arrives on time to save Gabrielle from Callisto's sword. As Callisto retreats, she quickly turns to Perdicus and kills him. Her words after killing Perdicus…. "That will do".

    We see changes in Gabrielle that we never thought we would see in the past episodes. Gabrielle so feeling of hate that she wants Callisto's blood! She even tries to get Xena to teach her how to use a sword so she can go against Xena. When the time comes that Gabrielle is in front of a sleeping Callisto, she realizes that she cannot kill anyone, not even Callisto.

    I loved Callisto's character from her first episode, and Hudson Leick manages to keep that certain "psycho chick" persona that keeps you captivated! I totally love it!

    This was also another emotional episode with saying "goodbye" to Gabrielle (even though Xena said it was not goodbye) to seeing Gabrielle losing her newly betrothed. Much credit given to Lucy Lawless with her facial expressions, while trying to decide whether to help Callisto or not, while she is sinking in the quicksand. You can tell that Xena was definitely conflicted with her final decision on helping Callisto. Also a quick notice…. Notice when the camera Pans out of the scene while Xena is kneeling next to the quicksand, you will see Xena has her whip extended out to the hole in which Callisto sunk into…. All in all, that was a great episode and definitely one of the best in the series!moreless
  • By far one of the greatest episodes of Xena ever!!

    The Return Of Callisto is an episode that(after viewing)wont leave you once the end credits roll.

    we see the return of one of the greatest villains ever created for television...CALLISTO!!

    and she wants to get her bloody vengeance on Xena.

    this episode makes her a more skin crawling foe than how we first saw her in season 1's episode-Callisto,as she gets extremely personal with Xena and changes Gabrielle's life forever.

    and the performances from the main cast is nothing but awesome the whole way through.

    it has had a massive impact on the Xenaverse which is why this has to be my all time favourite episode.


  • Callisto returns...

    Callisto is the eternally scarred witness to the massacre of her family and village. She is the irrefutable blood on Xena hands that will never wash away. Callisto becomes the mirror image of Xena through her own warped mirror. In the guise of her nemesis, the easier to think like her and to ultimately conquer her.

    Gabrielle faces her first painful event. She states, "My ideals were a lie; I thought love was the strongest power on Earth. What a fool…" Regardless of this ordeal, she will begin to embrace her ideals more strongly.

    The one puzzling incident in this storyline is when Callisto begs Xena to save her but in the episode "Callisto", she was enraged that Xena had saved her. First, she wants to die... then she doesn't want to die...moreless
  • An absolutely pivotal episode, perfect in every sense. An episode that will change the way you see the series, and that you will not soon forget.

    The Return of Callisto is as close to perfect as Xena gets. It is breathtaking, and an incredible emotional journey. It is also a pivotal moment in the development of the characters of our leading ladies. The episode goes into my Top 10 Xena episodes ever... possibly into the top 5. If I could give it a higher score than 10, I would.

    There is just so much to say about this episode, it is hard to know where to start, so I suppose I will start at the beginning. Although some fans feel that this episode had a rather slow start, I have to disagree. I thought the opening scene of this episode, of Callisto's escape from the jail cell was outstanding - totally riveting and beautifully staged and acted. Hudson just steals the stage when she walks on, you cannot tear your eyes from her. As a character, she is exceptional: dangerous, scary and yet addictive. Her escape was done with such style, and with such ease. Watching Callisto in action is every bit as good as watching Xena in action, but Callisto does it all with a smirk on her face. I really feel that this opening scene is one of the best in the series, and it doesn't even have Xena in it!

    While I am not totally convinced that Callisto (as a character) had enough depth to have carried a series of her own, in Xena she was perfect.

    We see the return (and farewell) of Perdicus in this episode, and although I have said in the past that I am not a fan of Gabrielle's Man-of-the-Week, there is just something I really like about Perdicus, which I cannot deny. I have to say that on first watch, I was just blown away by Gabrielle's acceptance of his proposal, however, I really did buy it. I think that it was handled believably, with genuine emotion and the whole situation was very well acted. I could live with the possibility that Gabrielle really did love this guy, which does not happen again. It is a real credit to all involved that they managed the marriage of Gabrielle without it being cheesy, overdone or a waterworks show, which it could easily have been.

    This leads me to our first pivotal moment of the episode - which occurs at Gabrielle's wedding. The wedding is nice, but what is important there is, of course, Xena. Watching her facial expressions throughout is quite heartbreaking; what you are seeing is the face of a woman who is watching the person she loves marry somebody else. In my opinion, this is the episode where the 'friendship' goes from being just that, to being so much more, at least on Xena's side of things. I believe that it is in this episode where Xena realizes that she not only loves Gabrielle, but is desperately IN love with her too. I accept that there are many different interpretations of their relationship, and that is fine, but for anybody who disagrees, I would like to hear another explanation for the beautiful parting of the two, the kiss and Xena's secret goodbye.

    This episode has some of the most beautiful scenes, which are contrasted with some of the cruelest. The fight scenes are brutal, and the hatred is real. I personally love how they handle the fight scenes between Callisto and Xena, they really are unlike any others. What stands out about this though, is that this episode is the first really cruel episode, and it sets a new tone to the series which (from here on out) had some very harsh moments.

    The death of Perdicus at Callisto's hand is one of those moments. It is awful to watch, as is Gabrielle's distress at the death. This leads us to pivotal moment number two, which is Gabrielle's transformation from the innocent child, to the worldly woman warrior. Some people credit this change as late as the 5th season, but I believe this episode is where Gabrielle changes forever. She loses her virginity, which is usually a life-changing event in the life of a woman, but furthermore, she gets her first real taste of hatred and revenge, and you can see these emotions permanently scar her soul. The fantastic argument between Xena and Gabrielle, as Gabrielle fights Xena in an attempt to force her to teach her to fight, takes our ladies to a new level, and demonstrates the cruel changes in Gabrielle.

    There are so many amazing scenes in this episode, every one is perfect and I could go on to mention them all. However, this review would never get read, so I will wrap it all up here. It is suffice to say that this episode was pivotal for me in my journey as a fan of Xena. It is one of those episodes that changed the way I saw the series, and thus has a very special place in my heart.moreless
  • Callisto escapes from prison, vowing revenge on Xena. Meanwhile, Gabrielle's sweetheart Perdicus suddenly arrives and asks her to marry him - Too bad for Gabby, Callisto kills him off the day after their wedding. One of the series greats...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    This episode, although it has a couple of slow scenes early on, is undeniably one of the classics of the series.

    After making a big hit with fans as Xena's ultimate nemesis in the first season's 'Callisto', Hudson Leick returns as the Psycho Barbie, vowing revenge on the Warrior Princess.

    As with her first appearance, Leick plays Callisto perfectly, with a childhood innocence mixed with a psychotic streak, and is Xena's most powerful enemy.

    Perdicus suddenly appearing and asking Gabrielle to marry him is quite abrupt, but it works well within the context of the episode. I think they would have lost a lot of the impact of the story if they had extended it into a two-parter.

    The marriage scene is quite brief, but well shot, with Xena refusing to let Gabrielle say goodbye, but saying goodbye when her friend is out of earshot.

    With Perdicus murdered by Callisto, this is the slow start of Gabrielle's change of character, causing her to reevaluate and even lose some of her beliefs and ideas, which will be played upon a lot more in the next season.

    The scene as Gabrielle angrily forces Xena to teach her to use a sword is powerful and, in its own way, quite pivotal.

    Another great scene is Xena desperately praying (to whatever God) for Gabrielle to keep her innocence and ideals.

    It is also quite a pivotal episode for the series overall, as it is by far the strongest episode up to this point. (It was about this point that I started favouring this series over 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'. Although I really love both shows, HTLJ was doing a number of silly episodes, nothing like the powerful stuff seen here).

    The climatic battle, as the captured Xena fights her way out of Callisto, saving Gabrielle from being burnt on the stake, and leading onto the chariot duel across the sands, is excellently shot, one of the series' best story climaxes.

    All-in-all, this is one of the show's best episodes.moreless
Scott Garrison

Scott Garrison


Guest Star

David Te Rare

David Te Rare


Guest Star

Ted Raimi

Ted Raimi


Recurring Role

Hudson Leick

Hudson Leick


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Callisto dies for the first time on Xena.

    • This is the first time we see Xena pray.

    • Chakram Count : 3
      1) To stop Callisto from killing a villager.
      2) To save Gabrielle from being burnt.
      3) To get it stuck in a rock, so that her whip would have something to latch on to.

    • This episode would be followed up in the season three Hercules episode "Surprise", which has Callisto bought back to life by Hera and sets up a later Xena episode in this season called "A Necessary Evil".

    • Goof: At the end, when Xena is treating Joxer's wound, Joxer's mouth moves to a different line than what we hear. The audio says "A warrior of my quality should let you off the hook," but this line appears to be dubbed over something else.

    • Goof: In one shot of Xena swinging on her whip, it gives a Xena perspective shot. When her feet collide with a warrior, Xena's feet bend in a way that is physically impossible.

    • Goof: In the scene where Xena is struggling in Callisto's restraint chair, watch her left arm. In one shot she can clearly be seen accidentally ripping the restraint off the chair and quickly putting her arm back quickly.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Xena: Gabrielle, if you're taken over by hatred, Callisto wins.
      Gabrielle: I've got news for you. She's already won. Now show me how to use a sword.
      Xena: Not a chance.
      Gabrielle: (Swings sword at tree) XENA!! Teach me...
      Xena: No.
      Gabrielle: (Jabbing at Xena with the sword) Teach me.
      Xena: I won't do it.
      Gabrielle: Xena. wake up and look around you. The little innocent Gabrielle is dead, and there's no getting her back!

    • Callisto: We can spend the rest of eternity in Tartarus together.
      Xena: Always the optimist.

    • Xena: Look, Gabrielle, if it's me you're worried about, let me set your mind at rest. Seeing you happy will make me happy. And if that means settling down with Perdicus, then you have my blessing.

    • Xena: Gabrielle, I am not going to let you say goodbye. That's not what this is. We'll see one another again soon.

    • Callisto: Oh! Love, love, love, love. Oh, it unites, you're right. And hate divides. Let's see which one's stronger, shall we?

    • Gabrielle: My ideals were a lie. I thought love was the strongest power on Earth. What a fool. Love is helpless in the face of cruelty.

    • Xena: If anyone's listening, you know, I'm not much for praying. But I don't know what else to do. I was ready to give up once, and... and Gabrielle came into my life. Please, don't let that light that shines out of her face go out. I couldn't stand the darkness that would follow.

    • Gabrielle: (To Callisto) I won't take a life, even yours. I'd rather die.

    • Callisto: Oh, you're good, Xena. Xena, help me. Xena! Xena. Please Xena. Help me, please. You can't just let me die, Xena. Xena? Xena? I'm counting on you. Help me. Help me! Help me!

    • Xena: He'll hear your thoughts.
      Gabrielle: I know. Forever and ever.

    • Theodorus: A beverage, my Queen?
      Callisto: You know I don't drink intoxicants, Theodorus.
      Theodorus: I thought, maybe just this once?
      Callisto: No. I like to experience life in all its agonizing glory. I don't want to dull the sensations in any way. You're not falling in love with me, are you?
      Theodorus: What if I was?
      Callisto: I'd have to kill you. Love is a trick that nature plays to get us to reproduce. I want no part of it.

    • Callisto: Oh, I've missed you, Xena!
      Xena: You never wrote.

    • Jailer: Luck be a lady tonight!
      Callisto: You lose.

  • NOTES (7)

    • Director T.J. Scott added the chariot race to the end of the episode in order to give the script a "spectacular finish."

    • The original disclaimer for this episode was, "The producers would like to thank Gabrielle`s virginity for the role it has played in our series. It will sorely be missed." The studio got wind of it before it aired and made them change it.

      The Disclaimer actually used was "Although Xena finally conquered her dark nemesis Callisto, it took her weeks to get the sand out of her leather unmentionables."

    • Originally Gabrielle was supposed to fall in love with someone new, but they decided it was too sudden for Gabrielle to get so emotionally involved, so they decided to bring back her old love Perdicus.

    • This episode is regarded as one of the 10 classic Xena episodes of all time.

    • Michelle Calvert, who was Callisto's body double, died after this episode was shot.

    • The original ending had Xena saving Callisto.

    • DISCLAIMER: Although Xena finally conquered her dark nemesis Callisto, it took her weeks to get the sand out of her leather unmentionables.


    • The chair Callisto is strapped into in prison is supposed to be reminiscent of the chair of Hannibal Lechter in The Silence of the Lambs.

    • Jailer: Luck be a lady tonight!

      This line is in reference to the 1963 Frank Sinatra song of the same title.

    • According to mythology, Callisto was a devotee of the virgin Goddess Artemis. Zeus was smitten with her and ravished her, so Artemis rejected her and turned her into a bear. Callisto later gave birth to a son named Arcas, and the two were put into the heavens as the constellations Ursa Major (aka The Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (aka The Little Bear).