Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 6 Episode 7

The Rheingold (1)

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Nov 13, 2000 on
out of 10
User Rating
81 votes

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Episode Summary


When Xena journeys to the Norse lands to stop a vicious beast she created, Gabrielle soon follows and learns of Xena's past as a Valkyrie and the crimes she committed after she made the Rheingold into a powerful ring.

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  • Xena joins Norse warrior Beowulf on a deadly mission north to stop a vicious beast that she once created. Gabrielle follows her trail and learns of another chapter of the Warrior Princess' past, when she became a Valkyrie. A reasonable epic adventure...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    This is the first of a three part story, that as a similar sort of epic feel to the fan favourite two part 'The Debt' in the third season (although if I was pushed, I'd say that 'The Debt' does it better).

    It starts off in midst of a flashback, with Xena forging the ring out of Rheingold, and imprisoning monster Grindl. As it started mid-way through this, I was totally bemused as to what was happening during the first couple of minutes (as no doubt was the intention).

    Much of the episode is taken up with more flashbacks into Xena's murky past (similar to the second season's 'Destiny' and aforementioned 'The Debt' amongst others). That Warrior Princess sure did have a lot of experiences before she 'turned good'!

    As usual, these flashbacks are well shot, but how much you like the episode will depend on just how fond you are on such flashbacks to Xena's past.

    On the note that Xena leaves for Gabrielle, look out for the 'kiss' that Xena has signed it with (guess they must have had lipstick in those days). Also next to it is an 'X' with a long tail, as used on the 'Xena' logo – maybe that's how Xena signs herself?

    The shots of the Valkyries racing through the skies on their horses are semi-successful. Some shots come off better than others, but a lot of them look very staged. It is definitely done in a campy style and could probably have been done better on a bigger, feature film budget.

    The Grindl monster is bought to life conventionally by a rubber creation instead of CGI. It is executed reasonably well, and is probably all the better for being shot in half light. The costume actually reminded me of the earth monster from the third 'Hercules' movie, 'Hercules and the Circle of Fire'.

    Talking of 'Hercules', I'm not sure where (or if) this story fits in with Herc's venture to Norseland that show's fifth season two-parter 'Norse by Norsevest' and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bridge'. As we all know, sometimes the universes between the two series tally and sometimes they don't. Odin appears in both but is played by a different actor.

    This is a reasonable episode, although seems mostly to be a setup to the following episode(s). The Valkyries are an interesting concept to weave into Xena's past, but seem rather like a late "What else can we do with her?" thought, as surely something so key in the Warrior Princess' history would have at least been hinted at previously? Even so, the next episode looks set to be a good one.

    Oh, and a warning – if you're watching the episodes on DVD (Region 1) for the first time, as I was (due to Channel 5 in the UK abandoning showing the series long before) and watch the 'Interviews with the Cast and Crew' after each episode where available, be careful with this one, as it goes on without any warning whatsoever to give away big spoilers about the next episode and really spoil the story!moreless
  • Xena is forced to deal with more of her past mistakes, only this time she chooses to do it alone.

    This was a great, epic episode, the kind of which we haven't seen for quite a while.

    We get another piece of the puzzle of Xena's dark past, and find out where her rampage of destruction took her after she left Chin - to the North where she meets Odin and becomes a Valkyrie. Its hard to believe that nothing to do with this has ever been seen in the series before, it seems such a significant point in Xena's life.

    Seeing Xena as a Valkyrie reinforces just how many skills Xena has gained and how much power she has had over the years, and the destruction and suffering that she has brought to people's lives with this power. It makes it easier to understand how she will continue, until the day she dies, to try and redeem herself for this destruction.

    The whole episode had a really epic feel to it, right from the beginning where we see Xena's past. Becoming a Valkyrie, riding on a flying horse and setting out on a 'quest' to find the Rheingold should have a really heroic feel to it, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that this is evil Xena at work!

    The Grindl is a fantastic monster (although, it does remind me a lot of Hope's child!) and to think that Xena created it has a real 'consequences for your actions' feel to it.

    I did, however, find it quite sad, after the previous 3 episodes, where it really felt like Xena and Gabrielle had cemented their relationship, that Xena chose to leave Gabrielle behind on what she felt was going to be a suicide mission. Even after all this time Xena still feels responsible for those around her, and she cannot let go of the guilt she feels. It is sad that she still does not realise that Gabrielle is with her until the end, no matter what challenges they encounter.

    Overall, the episode was good, and makes sure that you are hanging out to find out what happens in the episode that follows, The Ring.moreless
  • Norse Explorese!

    The Rheingold-When Xena journeys to Norse to stop a vicious beast she created, Gabrielle soon follows and learns of Xena's past as a Valkyrie and the crimes she committed after she made the Rheingold into a powerful ring. A great first start of the epic "Norse" trilogy, the writers do well as usual by setting up more of Xena's backstory with the introduction of the Norse mythology being done with class. From the action-paked and suspenseful opening scene to the mid-air battles on flying horses, the whole episode is full of stunning visuals and great effects. Also, the Bewolf tale is brought into the story brilliantly with the appearance of Grunnidil being a shocking highlight. The beast itself is one of the biggest and most scariest looking creatures featured on Xena, and the scene with Xena and Beowolf battling the creature is well directed and executed! The scenes with Gabrielle and Brunnhilda are good, but the character of Brunnilda gets kind of grating toward the end onward. All and all, Part 1 is an epic start and it only get's better!moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Odin: I am Odin, King of the Norse Gods. It is my duty to bring peace to the Norse country. Yet, as I sit in Valhalla and watch the bitter struggle called life upon this earth, I ask, 'Are we doomed to live in a constant state of endless conflict?!'
      Xena: Damn straight. That's what makes life so worth living.

    • Odin: (while feasting at Valhalla) And what exactly do you desire?
      Xena: (laughing flirtatiously) Pour me some wine and I'll show you after dinner.

    • Grinhilda: (after Odin tells Xena where to find the Rheingold) You told her! She knew you wouldn't tell her if you thought she hadn't forsaken love, so she acted as if she was in love with you, didn't she?
      Odin: That's ridiculous! How would she know the power of the Rheingold is only available to those who have forsaken their love?!
      Grinhilda: Everybody knows what the gold does to a loving heart. The local bards sing songs about it!
      Odin: Local bards know this?!
      Grinhilda: (disgusted) Oh, you ought to mix with the people more, Odin.

    • Gabrielle: My dear friend's curse is to spend the rest of her life seeking a redemption she'll never allow herself.

  • NOTES (6)


    • In Norse mythology, Valkyries were a group of female warriors loyal to Odin. They took those who died bravely in battle to Valhalla, the large hall in Asgard where Odin ruled.

    • This episode takes its main plot elements from Wagner's opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen", which contains four parts: Das Rheingold (The Rheingold), Die Walkuere (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Goetterdaemmerung (Twilight of the Gods). The opera is based loosely on Norse mythology and folklore. The story tells of a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, which was forged by Alberich the Nibelung (a night-dwarf). Alberich had stolen the gold from the Rhine maidens, after renouncing love. Odin fights him for possession of the ring. The hero Siegfried wins the ring with Odin's help, but is eventually betrayed and slain. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Siegfried's lover and Odin's estranged daughter, returns the Ring to the Rhine. In the process, the Gods are destroyed.

    • This episode borrows from the old English epic "Beowulf". This story takes place in Denmark and Sweden, and tells the tale of the hero Beowulf fighting and killing three evil monsters: Grendel, who has been attacking a mead hall and those inside, Grendel's mother, and finally a dragon.

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