Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 5

The Path Not Taken

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Oct 02, 1995 on
out of 10
User Rating
94 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Two young lovers are attacked by the minions of an arms dealer looking to make a fat profit by starting a war. The young woman, a princess, is taken captive, so it's up to Xena to rescue her by pretending to still be a money hungry warlord. But her acting ability is pushed to the limits when she discovers an old lover working for the arms dealer.moreless

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  • A young man hires Xena to rescue a princess that he has fallen in love with, in a Romeo and Juliet type romance, who has been snatched away by a weapons dealer. Xena goes back into her murky past world to find her, in this dull and slow-plotted episode.moreless

    A few episodes into the series now, and this one is, in my opinion, the first real dud.

    It starts off seeming as if it could have some interest to it, with two lovers - whose families are at war with each other - in a Romeo and Juliet style romance, and the girl being snatched away by thugs. The tavern scene, with Xena fending off leering locals as Gabrielle wanders on, chattering away unawares, is well done, and I like how Xena is very cold and off with the young man as he tries to hire her. But after the opening credits sequence, it all goes downhill.

    Xena going back into her murky world of past undesirable acquaintances could maybe have been reasonably interesting, but I find the whole episode very dragged out and uninteresting. The plot moves at a snail's pace, is badly over-wordy with little really happening, and could have been done in half the time.

    One of the only things of slight interest in this episode, is that there are several references to events in the episode previous to this, 'Cradle of Hope', and 'Sins of the Past' - signs that they were starting to broaden the episodes from being purely 'stand alone'.

    Even just these few episodes in, I had already fallen in love with Gabrielle and she had quickly become my favourite character; so I didn't like that she was barely in this episode. The episode could well have done with a sub-plot to even it up, and it would have given Gabrielle something to do. As it is, the odd couple of scenes with her and the young man that hired Xena being captured and held by the weapons dealer’s goons seem very much tacked on, and have little to do with the main episode.

    The only real thing of note in this episode is that it introduces Marcus, Xena's old flame, who would return later in the season in the much better 'Mortal Beloved'.

    The final scene (I won't give anything away) was supposed to be touching and sad, but I'm afraid after such an uninteresting story I found it hard to really care.

    In the U.K., on Channel 5, this episode was for some reason broadcast the week after 'The Reckoning' (usually they stuck to the original episode order), and after that excellent episode, one of my first season favourites, I was disappointed in this episode even more.

    I would point to this episode (bar way too early clip episode 'Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards') as the weakest of the mostly excellent first season; and is one of my least watched episodes of the first couple of seasons. I hadn't watched this episode for a LONG time, until recently when I started to re-watch the series in order. I was willing to give it a second chance, thinking maybe it would offer something that I'd missed first time around - but no, I'm afraid that I still found it very dull.moreless
  • Xena and an ex-flame reunite, but she is forced by circumstance to lie to him.

    The man-of-the-week card is back in play with the handsome Marcus, an old pal and boyfriend of Xena's. Even though I don't think Xena really had boyfriends, she had lovers. They weren't really "boyfriends" though as the word seems to childish to apply. Anyway, the story is about a girlfriend and a boyfriend. In fact, it's almost straight from Romeo and Juliet. A princess and a prince from feuding families have fallen in love and, it seems, the families have accepted it. That is until the princess is kidnapped by someone. Well, the someone turns out to be a third party (weapons dealer) with an interest in causing a war between the two nations. Xena is asked by the Prince to find his lady love and stop the feud from escalating to war. So she goes undercover in a thieves den to recover the girl. Once again, Xena tucks Gabby away, this time with the Prince (much as she took care of Pandora and the baby in "Cradle of Hope"). As a consequence, their stories are pretty much separate. Still, Gabby worries over Xena. Hoping she won't enjoy "playing bad" so much that she decides to go back to it. This is a really sweet scene, but beyond resurfacing feelings for her friend and ex-lover Marcus, there's little worry here. I never really doubted Xena was playing a game, except when she was with Marcus. Even though she did seem to enjoy stepping into her old shoes a bit, she was a woman on a mission. I also very much believe the relationship between Marcus and Xena. It was played genuinely and touchingly. Even with Marcus' initially feeling betrayed by Xena and then changing (at the final moment) because of her. I don't think Marcus is a fan-favorite among Xena's male loves, but I liked the guy (better than Ulysses anyway). Gabby is adorable as always (yes, I will at all times use that word for her), but naive too. Her youth shows here as she marches the prince to the rival king's palace where they are captured and set to be executed. Her small little side story is pretty much only that she gets captured and is saved by Xena being able to recover the princess from the thieves/kidnappers den. And even that rescue is unseen and thereby insignificant. Because, well, the big deal here was the story of Xena and Marcus (unfortunately) and he takes priority over Gabby's rescue. What is notable (as a sub-texter) is Marcus is her lover, but she refers to him as "my friend, my friend". So this says to me that even though she never calls Gabby anything but her friend, actually more than that... her best friend it doesn't mean they're not lovers. My mother always called her boyfriends her friend. In fact, I don't think I ever heard her use the word boyfriend except when referring to silly childhood romances. And this is not to say I'm convinced the pair are lovers as of this episode, I'm completely unconvinced actually, it was just a random thought I had while watching this episode. Cheers!moreless
  • The past meets the present...

    The Romeo & Juliet theme is a bit corny for the backbone of this episode but it's a minor story. The major theme seems to be that everyone has a second chance no matter what their actions in the past were.

    Xena accepts a request to find a lost princess and it's still vastly unknown that she has relinquished her past actions. Xena plays her former self convincingly, even tricking her former lover Marcus into believing she is the same person. Marcus tells her the same speech as Draco, he tried to leave his current way of life but found he could not do it.

    The antagonist in this story is the warlord Myzantius, a slimy, backstabbing, somewhat narcissistic character. Myzantius is so blind with his own greed that he trusts Xena and agrees to a deal with her. Myzantius could have been the warlord who would have had a devastating effect on Xena decision to become a warrior unlike the wimpy Cortese. The worst thing Myzantius could say to Xena is, "It's people like you who make people like me."

    I give the episode a higher ranking than my initial rating of a '5'. The minor characters could have been more believable with better personalities but Xena was very compelling in this story.moreless
  • An interesting look into a small portion of Xena's past - a solid episode with some nice moments between Xena and her old flame.

    I seem to stand alone in thoroughly enjoying this episode - I felt that it had a lot to offer in terms of getting to know our leading lady better, and had a real sense of emotion about it that worked well.

    Xena has always been the more interesting out of the two women, to me, and I find nothing more fascinating and exciting to watch than Evil Xena. Although we don't get to see any of Evil Xena in action in this episode, we get a glimpse of the world that she was a part of, and the impact that she has had, as a warrior, on those in that world.

    I love that we are starting to touch a little on Xena's dark side, because her past makes her such an interesting character. It is because of this past that we meet Marcus - a past lover and friend.

    My only criticism of Marcus is that I find it hard to believe that Evil Xena would have been in any way attracted to such a nice guy! Evil Xena was into bad boys, usually deep down evil bad boys and Marcus is so obviously a 'good guy' that it seems a little unlikely.

    Having said that, Marcus is a lovely character who is played well. He obviously respects and admires Xena, and I like that he accepts her for who she is, not just who she is now.

    There are some really touching moments between Xena and Marcus that stay on just the right side of touching, without becoming cheesy. It is a little strange to see Xena having these heartfelt moments with someone other than Gabrielle, but the first season had a lot of encounters that were never repeated again, and are thus important to watch.

    Again Gabrielle is pushed to the side in this episode. At these early stages I still find her a little annoying, so this is not too much of a disappointment to me, but in broad terms it is always a shame to see one character used more than the other, because ultimately the two leads are equally important to the show.

    Overall this is a really good episode, developing much more depth than the first few, and beginning to introduce us to dark Xena.moreless
  • Poor Marcus!

    The Path Not Taken-In order to stop a war Xena must save a princess that has been taken from her home. The kidnapping could lead to a war. Xena realizes that a weapons dealer is the one that has caused everything. When she tracks the dealer, she meets her old love Marcus, but she is not sure how she feels about him. It\'s always nice to meet someone from Xena\'s past and Marcus was sure very good friend of Xena. Bobby Horsea played the character well, it\'s obvious Xena and Marcus had a very intimate past. It\'s sad when just when your about to like the guy...his gone. I hate Myzantius, he was a pig and I\'m glad Xena killed him. But of course, he returns in the future. All in All, an episode that is only worth watching for Xena and Marcus\' interaction.moreless

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