Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 3 Episode 7

The Debt II (2)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Nov 10, 1997 on
out of 10
User Rating
89 votes

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Episode Summary


After Gabrielle's betrayal of Xena's murderous intentions, Xena is imprisoned by the Green Dragon and sentenced to die. When a guilty feeling Gabrielle begs her forgiveness, Xena tells her the rest of her history with Lao Ma, Borias and Lao Ma's son the Green Dragon.

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  • Arguably the series best episode of all time.

    This episode is a 2-parter, but I'll be speaking on both overall. This might have to be my favorite of Xena episode ever. (Any Xena flashback episode is naturally above of all the others, for me anyway). Lucy Lawless plays Evil Xena much differently than she had when she was first given the role (at last minute) in The Warrior Princess. This version is hands down superior.

    The Xena of the Hercules trilogy (with the exception of The Gauntlet) was the traditonal femme fatale; not a true villian in my opinion and I think many will agree. In the Debt (and the following evilXena stories to follow), Lucy plays a wild, uncontrollable, bloodlusting and even yes, stupid, warlord version of Xena here. But somewhow, she makes it all seem so entertaining.

    The thing though, about evilXena althroughout her episodes, she seems to be extremely naive but so intelligent at the sametime. She picks up things most people would look by, and has had several mentors: M'Lila, Lao Ma, Alti and Ares. Its just too bad they didnt give us that Ares flashback episode (instead of the pointless AFIN and Norse flashbacks) as a 2nd part to Season's 5 Chakram. It would of been perfect.

    The contrast between evilxena and Lao Ma are astounding, and the growth of Xena's character is well beginning to develop. With each new chapter (until Season 6 when they ruined it) Xena's backstory becomes more & more interesting, and all the dots (well most) are connecting. Xena's evolution from a teenager defending her village to a damaged evil warlord to hero is beyond exceptional. We beleive now why she carries herself so stock, quiet and focused.

    The great Borias we've been hearing about since Season 2 also, makes his first appearance here. Here, he does not seem to fit the vision that was described in Orphan of War, but by Past Imperfect, it is easy to beleive the transition he made into a noble man.

    The flashback scenes are not the only main attraction: the whole story, the present day sequences, are crucial and are just as entertaining. The climax is VERY high and very unpredictable. Overall just an awesome episode. I'd show this episode to any nay-sayers and/or doubters about the quality of Xena: Warrior Princess can be.moreless
  • pt 2 of the best episode of season three.

    The Debt kick started the third season off in an entirely dark direction,i personally love it loads...it is very very very well made.

    season three (as ive stated b4) is a very contrasting season but this episode is a through and through classic tht should be watched back 2 back with pt one and be treated like the Xena motion picture tht it should have been.

    the rift between Gaby and Xena is an excellent plot device tht the writers have created for the show and its what made this season the success it was (and is and always will be)...it isnt my fave season of the show but its a really good one and season three marked loads of changes for the show.

    which is why the debt is a highlight of the season and indeed is one of this seasons best episodes.moreless
  • "To conquer others is to have power, to conquer yourself is to know the way".

    "The Debt Part II" is a very different kind of episode to the previous one. Part I was about anger, hatred, betrayal. It was hard and angry and used force and action. Part II is the complete opposite. It is about love and emotion, about caring and loyalty and peace and forgiveness. It uses moments shared between people rather than brute force. The two parts are complimentary, and together form possibly the great story-arc of the series.

    Part II is haunting. From start to finish it is paced and shot in a way that shifts between utmost despair, and absolute joy. The scenes in the underground prison are so sad, and provide time for reflection and intimacy. The flashback scenes of Lao Ma and Xena, and Lao Ma's teachings are surreal and filled with love.

    This episode handles everything in balance; nothing is cheesy or overdone and you can't help but feel emotional about it all. The acting is again, topnotch, and the sets, scripting and direction are perfect.

    This episode, to me, is about learning to know yourself, and having the power over your own mind. This power has much greater meaning which extends far into the rest of the series. Has Xena truly mastered herself, even in the present day? How much does she still rely on desire, will, hatred to fulfill herself?

    There are some truly beautiful moments – the healing of Xena's legs is one such moment. Shot beautifully, this scene is all about rebirth and the healing of the soul, and for a few moments you really believe that Xena has accomplished this. And then in walks Borias, and we are back to the old Xena. I love that nothing in Xena's life has ever been simple; when the answer is right there, Xena chooses to look the other way. She is such a human character, full of endless mistakes and guilt and choices she wished she hadn't made.

    Gabrielle also is caught in her own personal battle with her own demons. Already haunted by the loss of her daughter, she betrays her best friend and true love, and this guilt lives on in her for many years to come. She wants to trust Xena, but she is torn. Her conscience fights her every step of the way. Watching Gabrielle scream at Xena to tell Ming Tien what he wants to hear so that he will let them go is absolutely heart wrenching.

    Ming Tien is a brilliant example of another of Xena's past mistakes come back to haunt her. Like Callisto, and the warriors from the previous "The Dirty Half Dozen", here is another of Xena's 'creations'. Through her darkness and her rampage of vengeance she has destroyed another soul. How can you hate something that you created?

    I imagine that everybody gets something different from this episode, and that is just fine. For me, I felt such pity for Xena, Gabrielle, Ming Tien, Borias and Lao Ma. They all try to control their own destiny, only to watch it slip through their fingers. There is a powerful message there for all of us.

    A final note goes to the final lie at the end of the episode. To 'protect' Gabrielle (for that is the only thing we can assume Xena was trying to do) she lies to Gabrielle and says that she didn't kill Ming Tien. It is astounding, after all they have just been through, how easily the lie comes out of Xena's mouth – she doesn't even hesitate. The rift between them is already so deep, that the damage is soon going to tear them both apart. But that is yet to come…moreless
  • With Xena betrayed by Gabrielle, she is thrown into a dungeon, and as she awaits execution, flashbacks recall how Lao Ma turned her into a focused, powerful warrior. A powerful conclusion to the story...moreless

    Part two of this epic two-parted, and things are just as powerful as the first half.

    Lucy Lawless as Xena, and Jacqueline Kim as Lao Ma offer up some great performances, and I would personally rank Kim as one of the very best guest performers in the entire series.

    [spoiler] The ending is strong, with one final shock as we see Xena has executed Ming T'ien after all. More shocking still is the realisation that she has once again lied to Gabrielle. [End of spoiler] With that, the Rift act may seem to be at an end – far from it.

    As with the first part, I have really come to appreciate this much more in recent years. I love its epic scope and powerful performances.

    To newcomers to the series, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as one of the first episodes to watch, as I think episodes from seasons one and two pave the way and you need to realise what Xena has become first, but for those who are familiar with Xena, this story is a definite must see.moreless
  • Conquering One's self!!!

    The Debt Part 2-After Gabrielle's betrayal of Xena's murderous intentions, Xena is imprisoned by the Green Dragon and sentenced to die, and she reminisces about Lao Mao's teachings and the debt owed to her. Continuing from a impressive part 1, part 2 continues the story of Xena and Lao Ma, and the episode is even better than the first!! The teaching of Lao Ma's powers to Xena is a wonderful scene, not only because of the acting but the direction is perfect. Also the scenes with Lao Ma and Xena healing, and levitating was so well done, and is a beautiful scene. It also great to see Gabrielle and Ming Tien interacting, Ming Tian so thankful to Gabrielle, but knowing she getting her best friend killed is quite suspensful. The scene of Gabrielle slapping Xena and Xena crying was so touching, Lucy and Renee do it again. The flaskback of Xena and Barius turning on Ming Tzu and Lao Ma was great as well. Xena really took a beating from Lao Ma, Ouch!!! It's a shame Lao Ma was killed, her powers were so intereting and her teaching were so interesting to listen to. The episode ends with Xena finally tapping into the Lao Ma's power, freeing herself and all the people from Chin. But Xena lies to Gabrielle as she kills Ming Tien, another great twist!!! Awh, what else can I say, this episode is must see, Perfection!!!moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Goof: Even though Ming T'ien is supposed to be dead at the end of the episode, you can still see his eyes moving.

    • Lao Ma is the person who gave Xena the title of "Warrior Princess".

    • Xena is a warrior riding through the Mongolian Steppes laying waste to everything in her path. At one point in the episode, during a flashback, Xena says to Ming T'ien, "I'm the scourge that your gods sent to punish your people." This has strange echoes in the knowledge we have of Attila the Hun, another warrior who rode from the northern steppes, laying waste. He was known as the Scourge of God. Could he have been given some tips by the Warrior Princess?

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Xena: (to Gabrielle) Not long before I met you, I was at the end of my rope. I was ready to give up... and then I thought of her, and what she taught me, and I was reborn. That's the debt.

    • Gabrielle: I think I understand now why you thought you had to kill Ming Tien. It was Lao Ma's last request, and she saved your life.
      Xena: Not just my life! She saved my soul, my spirit... my entire being!

    • Gabrielle: Look, I know what Xena did to you was a terrible thing!
      Ming T'ien: No, you're wrong! It wasn't terrible, it changed my life! Gave it a meaning, and a direction. She taught me how to rule. She understood how see the fear flooding into your very soul. And when that terror lies deep inside people, they're yours forever.

    • Prison Guard: Hey Xena! I heard you were betrayed by a friend!
      Xena: (bitterly) No. Not by a friend.

    • Lao Ma: To conquer others is to have power, to conquer yourself is to know the way.

    • Lao Ma: The entire world is driven by a will, blind and ruthless. In order to transcend the limitations of that world you need to stop willing, stop desiring, stop hating.
      Xena: How do I do that?
      Lao Ma: Heaven endures, and the Earth lasts a long time because they do not live for themselves. Therefore she who would live a long time should live for others, serve others.

    • Lao Ma: It's easy to serve someone you love. You feel it will make them love you more. It's like a good business investment. That's not what I'm talking about.
      Xena: You mean that I should serve someone who hates me.
      Lao Ma: More than that. You need to serve someone you hate.

    • Gabrielle: Can we talk? Of course not. I betrayed you. The pathetic thing is... I thought I was saving you. My reverence for life kept a brutal tyrant in power, and led to my best friend's execution. I know you hate me, Xena - no more than I hate myself.
      Xena: Scratch my nose, will you?

    • Gabrielle: (after she prevents Xena from assassinating Ming T'ien) I'm sorry, Xena. I couldn't let you do it

  • NOTES (2)

    • Although there have been continuing stories previously in the series, this is the first 'official' two-parter, with II being added after the title, and a recap of events at the start of the episde.

    • DISCLAIMER: Xena and Gabrielle's relationship suffered another blow (although Gabrielle doesn't know it yet) during the production of this motion picture.