Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 1 Episode 20

Ties That Bind

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Apr 29, 1996 on
out of 10
User Rating
87 votes

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Episode Summary


As the God of War, Ares, schemes to make Xena lead his army, the Warrior Princess meets a man claiming to be her long-lost father.

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  • Ares attempts to lure Xena back...

    Xena and Gabrielle wait outside of a camp, ready to rescue a group of women who have been captured. Inside, Ares appears to Kirilus, the captain to announce that he intends to have Xena lead the army instead. Enraged, Kirilus swears to kill Xena. An elderly warrior, Atrius shows up and tries to rescue the girls on his own. Afterwards, he claims to be Xena's father. She doesn't want to believe it at first.

    Gabrielle volunteers to take the women home but really wants to give Xena the opportunity to be with her father. Xena learns that Kirilus' army is now waiting at the village and she leaves for it with her father. Atrius is recognized by the townspeople from the last time he attacked their village and they seize him. Xena bargains that if she stops the army from invading, they must let her father go free. She fights Kirilus for control and wins. She goes back to the village to find Atrius has been badly beaten and lynched. In a wild rage, she orders the army to destroy the village. After cutting him down, Atrius tells Xena he is dying. She is prepared to attack the villagers with her sword until Gabrielle strikes her with a pitchfork. Ares finally reveals that he disguised himself as Atrius in a scheme to get Xena back.

    I had a 'sneaking' suspicion it was Ares all along. It seemed a little too convenient that Xena's "father" would show at the same time Ares was desperate to have Xena back. It was amazing when Xena flipped out, reverting back to her former self! (She did the same thing in "The Black Wolf" and ended up smacking Gabrielle upside the head!)moreless
  • Xena: I am your father.

    This episode should really work. It has all of the important ingredients: Ares, Evil Xena, nice Xena/Gabrielle moments and an excellent fight scene. However, for me, one thing ruins the whole episode: Xena's "father", Atrius.

    I like a lot of the elements of Ties That Bind. Ares is always outstanding as a character, bringing charisma, and a delicious evil to any episode he is in. The presence of Ares in this episode definitely improves the whole overall presentation.

    There is a very neat plot to the episode, with Ares' prediction that Xena will take over the army. It plays out effectively and believably, and the fight scene between Kirilius and Xena, where Xena takes over the army is flawless. I am a huge Evil Xena fan - I can't help but be completely drawn to the twisted, bitter and dangerous warrior that Xena once was. I love any episode where we see a hint of Xena's dark past, so seeing Xena in front of an army - and to see them cheering her on as their leader - is hugely effective and a favourite scene of mine.

    Accordingly, watching Xena lead the army into the village and command them to kill all the occupants is also fantastic to watch. However, the whole thing is overshadowed by the complete unbelievability of Atrius. Even though it is pretty certain that Ares is going to be behind it all, nothing about Atrius is in any way convincing. I did not for a second believe that he was Xena's father. On first viewing I thought he was potentially a rogue warlord, or an impostor or a spy, but definitely not Xena's real father. Therefore, it makes it very difficult to genuinely believe that Xena would use her love of him as the inspiration to leave Gabrielle and revert to her old evil side.

    I also didn't buy into any of the soppy father-daughter moments between Xena and Atrius and the whole thing just left me feeling flat.

    Having said that, there are definatley many more good points to this episode than bad points; the Raya-Gabrielle subplot is good, and works well, and as mentioned above, Xena leading the army, and the addition of Ares all improve the episode. Overall though, this episode does not stand out as a top episode of season 1. The combination of The Prodigal, Altared States, and Ties That Bind creates a very unusual set of episodes which I just can't seem to decide whether they work or not. From here on out, Season 1 hits its highest point.moreless
  • With a plot that included Xena finding her long,lost "father" and the first reappearance of her dark side, this episode had a lot of potential - pity it didn't deliver.

    What a pity! This episode had a lot going for it and, initially, it was developing the idea of Xena discovering her father, who had left when she was very young, very well.

    Xena's initial skepticism that it really was her father followed by her gradual acceptance that, maybe he actually was. Her "father's" subtle-ish marginalisation of Gabrielle and her subsequent decision to step back to give Xena and her "father" space. Things were being nicely set up.

    Then Xena's "father" was arrested in a village for earlier crimes there and Xena had to go to defeat a warlord whose army was threatening to attack the village.

    But then the second plot element came into play and boy, was it rushed. Xena defeated the warlord to take over his army (not knowing that it was actually Ares' army) and, on her return to the village with the army obediently in tow, all of a sudden it was "Xena the merciless" in charge.

    Apparently, the sight of her "father" strung up and half beaten to death (bear in mind she'd only met him a few hours earlier) was supposedly the trigger to this momentus event, but it just felt completely false. Gabrielle was there at the front of the line of villagers and even so, we were asked to believe that all of the stuff that had happened in the previous 20 episodes was simply swept aside as Xena did a complete schizophrenic switch to command her army to "kill 'em all".

    Then just as abruptly, Gabrielle whacks her on the back with a pitchfork and suddenly the "Xena with a conscience" is back again.

    Given that this was the first time that Xena slipped back into her dark side, it should have been given a much more careful treatment to explore how she slipped down into it and how the good in her heart, with Gabrielle's support and encouragement, eventually re-established itself.

    In summary, this could have been two very good episodes, but in the end it was a poor amalgamation.moreless
  • Ares schemes once again to lead Xena back to his ranks. While rescuing some slave girls from a warlord, the Warrior Princess meets a man claiming to be her long-lost father, in this episode that should be a classic but just isn't...moreless

    This episode, on paper, looks like it should be a series great. But somehow, it just doesn't work, leaving it one of my least favourite episodes of the first season.

    One of the problems is that I didn't warm to the actor playing Xena's father. Even though we all know from the off that all is not as it seems, I just found it too hard to really care about him. Plus he reminded me of Ceaser Romero.

    The story itself is too slow in places, and lacking in the usual sharp writing and direction.

    The sub-plot, concerning Rhea, one of the slave girls, is dull and adds nothing to the episode.

    [spoilers] Things only start to liven up late on in the episode, when Xena takes over the warlord's army, and leads them into battle against the village that has strung her father up. But even this I found to be too abrupt and too late in the story to be as powerful as it might have been.

    The final revelation of Xena's father really being Ares posing as him is the only really good twist. All along you kind of knew that Ares was involved somewhere, but it was hard to see this coming. It's interesting to watch the episode once again after you know that it is actually Ares, not her father. But beyond that, this isn't one of the most re-watchable episodes of the series. [end of spoilers]

    The story would probably work as a piece of fan-fiction, but for a full-blown episode, I just found it one of the weaker offerings of the series.moreless
  • Xena's father returns but the Warrior Princess is not interested.

    Xena saves a mysterious warrior who later professes to be her estranged father. But the reunion is anything but happy, as a suspicious Xena tries to find out if the man's claims are true. Ares proves that he hasn't given up in his quest to bring Xena back to the dark side. What a schemer. I really do enjoy the interaction between Ares and Xena. Kevin Smith is so good at being bad.

    My favourite line in this episode.

    Xena: "We have families we were born into but sometimes families change and we have to build our own. For me our friendship binds us closer than blood ever could.

    Gabrielle: "For me too"moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions