Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 4 Episode 16

The Way

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Feb 22, 1999 on
out of 10
User Rating
72 votes

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Episode Summary


Xena and Gabrielle encounter their old friend Eli who has been targeted by Indrajit, the King of Demons, and his dark minions. However, when both Eli and Gabrielle are captured, Xena is forced to seek help from a higher power: Krishna, a Hindu God who transforms her into an avatar of the Goddess Kali. Meanwhile, Eli helps Gabrielle embark on a new path and Xena, after her glimpse of her future life as a peace maker in "Between the Lines", fears her warrior's actions in this life might prevent that from happening as it should.


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  • What is your Way?

    "The Way" is a very dreamlike episode. It has a quality of the unreal about it, as we are dealing with gods and powers that are completely foreign to our hero's. However, it is a very good episode, with a strong and fascinating plot, great visual effects and a strong cast.

    "The Way", I think, tends to get lost in the whole India story-arc without getting the attention and praise that it rightly deserves. It is the last the in 4 part India arc, and is the most significant for Gabrielle ("Between the Lines" was more important for Xena). Xena, as a series, had long since been removed from Australian television by this stage, so I was never privy to the outrage by the Hindu community over the misrepresentation of their culture and religion. I'm actually surprised that they felt Xena was even worth complaining about, it seems fairly unimportant in the great scheme of things. Perhaps because I know nothing about the Hindu religion I feel that this episode portrays the religion in a very beautiful light.

    It was very good to see Eli a little further down the track into his journey as the bringer of 'the way' to society as a whole. I imagine this is probably only a month or so since Xena and Gabrielle's last encounter with him, but his life has changed dramatically. In personality, Eli is now hardly recognisable as the magician we met in "Devi". It is quite sad to see how heavily his path weighs on his shoulders, but also inspiring to see how completely dedicated and committed he is to that path. He is such a multi-layered character, and is the perfect spiritual mentor and guide for Gabrielle.

    I will cover Gabrielle's incredible journey now and the rest of the elements of the episode shortly. This is possibly Gabrielle's most important episode in the entire series. It is in this episode that she finally finds the path she has been searching for all her life – the way of love. It seems such a simple concept and yet is so complex. It is mind-blowing how much of an effect this simple decision will have in both her life, and in Xena's for the rest of their lives. It is about Gabrielle finding who she is, being strong enough and brave enough to make her own decision, and to finally have the courage to acknowledge that her path is completely different to Xena's, the love of her life. To accept the fact that you are going to disagree with the very journey your soul mate is on, and to have the courage to dedicate yourself to a path which is both difficult, trying and possibly fatal is a massive decision to have made. This is not the Gabrielle we met at the beginning of this show. She has become such a force to be reckoned with, she has grown in every aspect of her very self, and has made so many hard decisions in such a short period of time. I am so so proud of Gabrielle in this episode, so proud of her courage, honesty and ability to still love and support Xena despite their differences. It is a beautiful moment when Gabrielle throws her staff into the river, so significant. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

    Xena is also suffering a very unusual dilemma for her in this episode. Surprisingly, her vision of herself in the future as the Mother of Peace has begun to weigh heavily on her conscience. She is worried that her actions over the course of this life could now affect her karma, i.e. if she continues to follow the way of the warrior, it may damage her karma irreparably making it impossible for her to be reincarnated as the Mother of Peace.

    I thought this was quite an unusual concern for Xena who is very much a 'live in the moment' woman. She rarely thinks ahead, and usually takes every moment as it comes. It also surprised me that she genuinely considered the possibility that she was not meant to be a warrior. This seems so impossible, as a warrior is what she exists to be. Thankfully, Hanuman and Krishna are able to convince her that her path is already written, and by simply following who she is inside (a warrior) she is fulfilling her destiny and karma. And I think this revelation finally gives Xena that clarity and the comfort that she is a good person and is right to feel good about her fighting and her actions.

    I will now cover the incredible fight scene between Indrajit and Xena, both in human form and as the avatar of the Goddess Kali. This is a BRILLIANT scene from start to finish, I was absolutely glued to the screen the entire way through. I actually would give this fight scene credit as one of the best in the whole series, it is so unique, original and so well put together.

    We start with a very brutal attack on Xena by Indrajit. Obviously, as a mortal, Xena has no hope of winning against the very incarnation of evil. She gives it her best shot but cops a wicked beating, ending in having her left hand pinned to the wall with a knife, and having her right arm sliced off above the elbow. This was all extremely graphic and extremely violent. I'm actually wondering whether it has been toned down slightly on my dvd version. I loved it. I loved the brutality of it, the realism, I loved the fact that Gabrielle had to stand there and watch her partner in love and life get mutilated by a demon. It was gritty and great.

    Then Xena calls upon Krishna for his assistance, and he morphs her into the beautiful and terrifying goddess, Kali, a demon-like spirit with multiple arms and incredible makeup. I especially liked the fact that the knife remained embedded in Xena's hand as Kali, becoming a weapon. I loved the irony of it, and the consistency. Kali and Indrajit then fight to the death, in a brilliant show of skills, with arms and weapons flying everywhere. It is entrancing to watch.

    So there is so much to like in this episode. I was captivated by it from beginning to end, and am actually tempted to give it a 10 out of 10. At this stage I'll settle for a 9.5 and will see what another viewing will do for me.moreless
  • Give Xena a hand...

    'The way' caps off the India arc with a heightened sense of madness, as Xena and her cohort of misfits (a pacifist, some ape-creature and Gabby) face off against the king of demons. There are plenty of startling pieces of imagery on offer, the main one being an armless Xena bleeding to death. It's wacky, adventurous and a somewhat philosophical hour. It may be a little too farcical for its own good in places, but it's an entertaining hour filled with good acting, great sets and brilliant action sequences. It also marks the beginning of Gabrielle's peace quest - she really has changed forever. It's a striking moment as she throws her staff into the lake. Now, back to 'normal' Xena.moreless
  • completely unique

    a splendid way to end the india episodes in such a great fashion too.

    it is unique in everyway that its unusual,we have a visual beauty that glorifies in its flashy colours and its spiritual essence tht makes this episode stand out almost entirely from the rest of the season.

    although Devi and Between the Lines of course are the best ones of the quadrilogy this is unique on its own part.#we see our heroes spiritual journeys through this episode and shows us viewers that there is in fact more to being a warrior princess..as Xena discovers that she herself has a path to follow.

    and together with the help of Eli they discover this sooner rather than later.

    The Way is fantastical on many occaisons where it glorifies in scenery one minute they relishes in brutal violence the next its a pure joy and is required viewing for all fans.

    this episode also paves the way to our spectacular culmination of this seasons mytharc in the stunning Ides of march.#also The Way features the most unique and unusual transformation of Xenas to date in the episodes final and very disturbing showdown.

    its all for the better of the show and for the matter this season.

    this spectacular set of episodes have changed the whole xenaverse from now on...and for the better of the show too.

    season 4 is a great season and this episode is a must see.moreless
  • Still in India, Xena and Gabrielle meet up with Eli, who is being targeted by the evil King of Demons, Indrajit. When Eli and Gabrielle are both captured, Xena preys to Krishna for help. Another strange and surreal episode...moreless

    This episode of the series is infamous for being pulled from American syndication for a while after upsetting Hindu viewers, and was eventually put back into circulation slightly re-edited and with a closing message in Hinduism by Lucy Lawless, Renée O'Connor and a Hindu representative.

    Anyway, this is another quite surreal and bizarre episode – it seems to have become the template for fourth season episodes. Whatever happened to simple tales of battling warlords!

    All the controversy aside, this is one of the series' most violent episodes, with Xena even having both arms cut off during the climax, before sprouting six new ones!

    At the end of the episode, Gabrielle (whose hair has already started to settle down after her unwitting haircut in the previous episode) throws her staff away into a river, marking the end of the 'classic Gabrielle' phase.

    I'm not sure how to sum up this episode. It has a lot of good ideas and imagery, but doesn't have the feel of one of the series' better episodes. The fact that it comes in a season that never feels to have completely found its footing doesn't help.moreless
  • It's Xena's Way or The Highway!!

    The Way-Xena seeks the help of the god Krishna, to rescue Gabrielle and Eli from the clutches of Indrajit, the King of the Demons. This final episode of India Arc got a lot of controversy from India because the images of Krishna and Hanuman, but they should be proud because the Hindu religion is a beautiful one. Xena must save Eli and Gabrielle from Indrajit, King of Demons. The guest stars are great in this episode and the India settings are even more beautiful. Eli returns, and has become Savior for India. It's interesting to see how he handles his new gift with such compassion and sadness. Also, Xena and Gabrielle also develop in their characters with Xena not knowing whether to continue her life as a warrior and Gabrielle chosing the Path of Non-violence. I love the scene with Krishna and Xena, it really shows what how much Xena can see nothing more of herself than a warrior. It's amazing scene when Xena and Indrijit face-off, with him cutting off her hands only for Xena to come back as the Hindu Goddess Kali. It becomes a very interesting battle and the most unique one at that. All in All, this is a superb episode which is full of beautiful hindu scenes!!!moreless
Rajneel Singh

Rajneel Singh

Indrajit/King of Demons

Guest Star

Rajiv Varma

Rajiv Varma


Guest Star

Jake McKinnon

Jake McKinnon


Guest Star

Timothy Omundson

Timothy Omundson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • This is the last time we ever see Gabby's staff. Just as well since it probably doesn't work too well anymore after being broken in the previous episode and burnt in this one.

    • Krishna transforms Xena into an avatar for the deity Kali for her fight scene with Indrajit.

    • Goof: In the last scene by the river, keep a close eye on Gabrielle's scarf; it switches from being across her shoulders to wrapping around her arms.

    • Nitpick: Indrajit grabs Gabrielle's staff and sets the cloth on both ends on fire... except that Gabrielle's staff only has cloth on one end.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Gabrielle: This is an evil man!
      Eli: He's not a man at all, Gabrielle. He's the incarnation of evil itself.
      Gabrielle: Is that supposed to make me feel better?

    • Gabrielle: All rivers run to the sea. We'll end up in the same place. I'm sure of it. Thank you.
      Xena: For what?
      Gabrielle: For not mentioning dams.
      Xena: You're welcome.

    • Gabrielle: Eli? I failed my first test.
      Eli: It's hard, the way of love. It may not be right for you. But if you choose to follow it, you must do so with all your heart. You'll fail more than once. But don't give up hope. In the end, you'll redeem the world.

    • Indrajit: (referring to Gabrielle) You, uhhh, like her. Don't you? Well, congratulations, Eli. You have your first real disciple. How passive and serene will you remain while she's being tortured?

    • Hanuman: (to Xena) My way is the way of obedience, and loyalty. I can see it's not your way. You're too proud.

    • Gabrielle: So, if someone were to walk up to you, and knock you down?
      Eli: Then I'd get up.

    • Eli: It's life. That we must revere it, wherever we find it. To bring peace to this world, I have to teach mankind a reverence for life.

    • Eli: It's not as wonderful as you might think. People suffer so, Gabrielle, it breaks my heart. And they look to me for salvation.

    • Gabrielle: Xena, you're only human. Everybody loses focus sometimes.
      Xena: It's not just that I lost focus. It's why. A few days ago, I saw my future life. You saw it, too. I'm destined to be reborn as some kind of a saint.

    • Gabrielle: I love rivers.
      Xena: They're all right, if you don't have to get to the other side.

    • Xena: So, it's the way of love for you, huh?
      Gabrielle: Yeah, yours is the way of the warrior. I think I've always known that.
      Xena: And I've always known that it was wrong for you. I'm sorry I took you so far from your truth.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This episode was pulled from syndication after protests from Hindu groups. It was finally allowed to be reshown with the addition of a public service announcement at the very end by Lucy, Renee, and a spokesman for the Hindu community explaining that the producers took liberties with the Hindu religion. As a side note, the public service announcement was made while they were filming season five, and it gave fans their first look at Xena and Gabrielle's new costumes.

      Any similarities between Hanuman and a major character in the motion picture classic "Planet of the Apes" is purely coincidental.

      (Note: This disclaimer does not appear on the updated version of the episode with the closing message from Lucy Lawless, Renée O'Connor and the Hindu representative)

    • Although 'The Way' is available on both video and DVD this episode has never been shown on either satellite or terrestrial television in the UK (Although terrestrial Channel 5 had very much stopped running the series by this point anyway).


    • The plot takes elements from both the Bhagvad Gita and the Ramayana. The Bhagvad Gita tells the story of a warrior Arjuna and his charioteer, who is the god Krishna, incognito. Arjuna questions whether he should continue to fight, especially given that the enemy he will be fighting against are his kinsmen, and Krishna convinces him that he should fight, because that is his dharma for this life, his 'way'. In the episode's version, Xena is Arjuna, and Krishna is himself - but the internal struggle takes place within the context of a different story, taken from the Ramayana. The Ramayana is the epic which tells the story of the life of the god Rama. Both Rama and Krishna are avatars of the god Vishnu. One part of the Ramayana tells the story of how Rama's consort Sita is kidnapped and taken to Lanka by the demon Ravana. Rama, aided by the monkey god Hanuman and an army of monkey soldiers, wages war on Ravana and his son Indrajit, who is his chief lieutenant. Rama triumphs, killing Indrajit and Ravana, and rescuing Sita. In the episode's version, Xena is Rama, Gabrielle/Eli is Sita, and Indrajit is the ruler of the demon army instead of his father Ravana. Hanuman plays his own role, and the monkey army was omitted.

    • Eli may be an allusion to Jesus - with his pacifist stance, the frequent stars of David in his vicinity, and his power to heal - as has frequently been proposed. However, it seems more likely that the writers are alluding to Elijah, an Old Testament prophet who defeated the prophets of Baal at Carmel (analogous to defeating Indrajit in India) and raised from the dead a young boy who had stopped breathing (analogous to the young girl scene). He was never at ease with the gift he had been given by God because he was to use it to destroy the Israelites who had turned away from God. Thus, the character portrayed looks a lot more like Elijah than it does Christ.

    • Hanuman is an extreme devotee of Rama, and an important character in the Ramayana. He is supposedly part ape. He led a monkey army to fight against the demon king Ravana (father of Indrajit).

    • Krishna is, of course, a Hindu deity. Some traditions view him as an avatar of Vishnu, while others worship him as the supreme being.

      Kali (who Xena becomes in this episode) is a Hindu goddess of death and destruction, but can also be considered as a goddess of time and change. She is the consort of Shiva.

    • Indrajit was a warrior and king, the son of Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka - both evil characters in the Ramayana. Indrajit got his name by defeating Indra, the Hindu king of the gods. Ravana was killed by Rama, the avatar of Vishnu, as mentioned in the show.