Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 6

The Reckoning

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Oct 16, 1995 on

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • This episode was alright, but the lack of action and the plot story made this very cringeworthy. The whole time, you're just waiting for the episode to end. Pretty much, the only reason I watched this episode again is to make sure I watch the whole season


    Xena encounters a man who is killing innocent villagers, who turns out to be Ares, the God of War. You'll see him a lot in the series from now on. Well, villagers spot her with blood on her hands from attempting to heal a man, and she is accused of being the murderer. Now the entire episode, you're watching her undergo a series of events to prove her innocence.

    This episode lacked the action I wanted, and just made me cringe most of the time. Just her proving her innocence, stubborn people too stupid to pay attention to her and Gabrielle's reasonings, her deal with Ares, the fact that she can't run from this her entire life. It's just not the type of episode I come to enjoy from the other Xena episodes.

  • Xena is offered a chance to return to the dark side of the force, by Ares...welcome him to the stage folks.

    While this isn't Ares first appearance in the Universe (he'd been a Hercules enemy in at least 3 season 1 episodes), it is the first time Kevin Smith takes up the role as he was played (like Hera before him) as an omniscient evil force in the lives of mortals. Giving him form made him more of a man and eventually a more vulnerable character than a laughing skull in the sky could ever be. But here he's simply a Ruthless, yet Suave and Sexy God. And I swear, he wears his role so well even my Sapphic little heart goes pitter patter for him. You could easily be convinced to like this guy even though he slaughters a bunch of innocent villagers basically just to get Xena's attention. Unlike in an episode like "The Path not Taken", here I was easily convinced that Xena was tempted to go back to her old ways. One of the most powerful scenes of the episode is when Xena breaks free from her chains under Ares seductive influence and attacks the villagers. First of all, it once again shows the incredible warrior Xena has turned herself into. One of the reasons I think Ares likes her so much is because she doesn't require him to be great, he just wants to be a part of her greatness and it kills him that in the end she always chooses to go on without him. I also think it's very significant that he sends her into a rage and it's harming Gabrielle that snaps her out of it. This is probably also the grandest test Gabrielle's loyalty has ever had. When Xena hurt her she could have turned against her, instead she returns to try to break her out from prison. As a Gab fan, of course I must gush about how wonderful she was here. She is unwilling to leave Xena despite being told to do so and she is willing to sacrifice herself and die with Xena (wrapping the cords intended to drag Xena to her death around her own neck). Gabrielle is just a very brave woman and I understand why I admired her so much as a younger person. With Xena's abilities it's easy to go into most fights knowing you're going to win. When Gabrielle puts herself out there it's more of a risk and makes her all the more a hero in her own right. Also, I think this is the first time Xena calls Gabby her best friend. She's acknowledged her as a friend before, but here you can really see that Gabrielle is the most important thing in her life. And because there is a Gabrielle in her life she has the power to resist dark (yet tempting) forces like Ares.
  • Ladies and gentlemen... please welcome to the stage: Ares!

    The Reckoning is a fantastic episode in all respects - possibly one of the best of the entire series. It has everything that you come to hope for in an episode of Xena: beautiful moments of love and friendship between Xena and Gabrielle: "Check"; Evil Xena moments: "Check"; great fight scenes: "Check"; and (of course) Ares: "Check"!

    This episode starts out brilliantly, with peaceful moments spent with Xena and Gabrielle walking together, contrasting with the bloody battle scene between Xena and Ares over the bodies of mortally wounded villagers. Early in the series, Ares is as competent in battle as Xena is. As the series moves on, Xena surpasses Ares in talent and skill, but in the first series he is a formidable foe, and quite frightening.

    I have always felt that Ares was as vital a part of Xena as any of the lead characters. In this first episode where we receive a proper introduction he is seductive, sexy, dangerous, ruthless and delicious; Ares is one of the most watchable and instantly endearing characters in the series.

    This episode marks the beginning of the long-term battle-of-the-wills, and power struggle between Xena and Ares. Not only do this pair fight physically, but they also are forced to fight their feelings for each other. They have many many great scenes throughout the series, and some of the best are in this episode.

    We also get a glimpse of Evil Xena when Ares provokes Xena into lashing out madly against the villagers attacking her. Her incredible strength and power is awe-inspiring. The most significant part of this display, however, is Xena, in her almost trance-like state, lashing out at Gabrielle. This scene always haunts me as it shows Xena's dangerous and abusive side... which comes out again later, particularly in Season 3.

    However, rather than being a roadblock between the two women, this event triggers one of the most beautiful moments, when, despite the attack, Gabrielle returns to help Xena escape. This is the first episode where we truly see the deep friendship and bond that is developing between the women, and this episode takes their relationship to a new level.

    I always have felt that Ares presence in Xena's life strengths the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, rather than weakening it as you would expect. Ares (to me) reminds Xena of the past and who she is running from, whereas in Gabrielle she sees her future and who she wants to be. I think that this episode brings this theme out, and definitely shows that Xena and Ares are going to be a lot of fun to watch!

    This is easily one of the best episodes of Season 1, surpassed really only by Callisto later in the season, and even then, I don't know if I could separate the two. All in all - classic Xena.
  • Ares' debut...

    Ares makes his initial appearance in the series and his first ploy to win Xena back by attacking villagers and having her take the blame for it. Upon meeting face to face while she awaits trial in a dungeon, Ares lays a heavy line on Xena, "Behold your former mentor and still greatest fan". He goes as far to offer her freedom if she will embrace her former past. It's probable and safe to say that even if Xena's sentence were death, Ares would never allow it to happen. When Gabrielle's plan of defense fails, Xena devises a brilliant plan to save herself.
  • Xena is framed for slaughtering a bunch of innocent villagers, whose friends and relations demand that she be excecuted; but she finds that some other force is trying to manipulate her, in this excellent, tense episode that introduces Ares, God of War...

    Until this point, the series had consisted of mostly very enjoyable tales, until the previous episode, the dull 'The Path Not Taken', the show's first real dud. But things bounced back, and then some, with this excellent episode.

    Xena is framed for murdering a group of defenceless villagers and condemned to execution without trial, but finds that the whole situation is being manipulated by Ares, God of War, who wants to push her back into her old warlord ways.

    The brief first scene, with Xena and Gabrielle walking through a hazy woods looking for an elusive road, starts the episode off well, and the gentle music used gives me goose-bumps for some reason, as it reminds me of this episode and why I love the series so much.

    As Gabrielle wanders off in search of the road, Xena finds herself battling the hooded figure that has killed the villagers. It is a good duel, with Xena for once not being able to get the upper hand, and when watching the episode for the first time, has genuine mystery as to who the assailant is, especially as he vanishes into nowhere.

    Of course, the attacker, and the man behind the whole scheme, eventually turns out to be Ares, God of War, well played by the now sadly deceased Kevin Smith. Ares the character had appeared a couple of times previously in ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’, but in non-human form; his appearance in this episode is the firs time we see his familiar form, as played by Kevin Smith.

    In later episodes of the series, it is portrayed that Ares had known Xena prior to the events of this episode, causing somewhat of a continuity problem. There is maybe nothing that couldn't be explained away with a bit of creative reasoning (after all, Ares is a God – maybe here he had wiped Xena's previous memory of him, or put some kind of other influence over her), but even so it is a bit awkward.

    Anyway, I like Xena and Ares' relationship; as Xena resists his temptations to go back to her murderous ways, yet at the same time looks like she could possibly fall in love with him at any moment. Ares, in return, admires Xena for the powerful leader that she was previously, and lusts over her for what she once was. The thread of Ares trying to lure Xena back into her bad ways is one that would continue throughout the entire series.

    I really like the way Ares is brought to screen, as suave and rather charming, yet totally ruthless. In this episode is he seen as a real challenge; I wasn’t too keen on some later comedy-based episodes, where he was over-used too much as a comediac character (many of the Gods were treated too comically for my liking), somewhat deminishing his more sinister, manipulative persona such as in this episode, in my opinion.

    For all of Ares’ evil plotting, possibly the most powerful moment of this episode is when Xena, driven into a blind rage by Ares' manipulation, breaks out of her cell, and, in slow motion, strikes Gabrielle. Gabrielle just picks herself up, looks at her hurt (emotionally) and leaves. It is a sign of their already deep friendship, and Gabrielle’s loyalty, that she later comes back, to Xena’s cell window, with a plan to break her free. Even beyond that, it important to note that Gabrielle, who didn't witness Xena's battle with the hooded assasin, is 100% certain of her friend’s innocence.

    It is really hard to see how Xena will work her way out of the seemingly no-win situation, and her final solution is very good and credible. Without giving anything away, it also makes Ares more of an interesting nemesis, as for all of his villanous intentions, is at the same time bound by his word. Not to mention that he seems to be very impressed by Xena’s checkmate and lets her win the situation out of admiration.

    I have special memories about this episode. In the U.K., this episode was actually shown on the fourth week of Channel 5’s run – previously there had been 'Sins of the Past', 'Chariots of War', and a double-bill of 'Dreamworker' and 'Cradle of Hope' ('The Path Not Taken' was not shown until the week after 'The Reckoning' for some reason). I had already taken a love to the series, and on the Saturday afternoon before this episode was broadcast I went out to buy a new stereo video recorder (replacing my ancient mono one) to record the episodes in all their stereo glory. This episode was the first thing I ever recorded on the new machine. That week my folks went away and I went to stay with my Grandmother, taking it with me. I remember late one boiling hot night, with all the windows open, watching this episode in the dark, with a thunder storm raging in the distance and lightning lighting up the room (adding to the effect), and the episode in crisp stereo. ...Sorry, went off reminiscing there!! Just one of those things that has stuck in my mind over the years.

    I consider this episode to actually be a pivotal one of the series, as it introduces Ares and lays the groundwork for many future stories both involving him, and of Xena being torn between her past and present self. It highlights Xena’s dark past and the possibility of her being tempted back there very well (and is the sort of thing that we should have seen in 'The Path Not Taken' – but I've done that review and criticised it too much already!). Normally in an episode, I generally prefer ones that are more action and adventure driven, but this more drama-based episode is one of my favourites (possibly even THE favourite) of the entire first season. Wonderful.
  • Here comes the God of War!!

    The Reckoning-Xena is mistaken for the killer who attacked and murdered a group of townspeople and is put on trial, causing Ares, the god of war to be delighted at the success of his plan.

    This episode opens a little violently with Xena fighting a hooded man, who not only has slaughtered 3 innocent men but fights almost as good(or even better)than Xena can. Than suddenly, the man disappears, leaving Xena falsely blamed for the murders by the village people. Now captured and Gabrielle trying to save her friend, the mystery still remains....who is the hooded man? Soon the man reappears and is known other than the God of War, Ares! Kevin Smith makes his debut on Xena and he sure makes a good first impression. His charming yet coniving...all the these we Xena fans love about the Ares. This also the first time Xena out smarts the God of War for asking the lives back of the 3 dead village men. One scene that does stick out of this episode is Xena unleashing her rage of the villagers and hitting Gabrielle in the process. Just creepy and you can't help but feel bad for Gabrielle!! All in All, a great episode which introduces one of the fans' favorite recurring characters.