Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 6 Episode 15

To Helicon and Back

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Feb 19, 2001 on
out of 10
User Rating
73 votes

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Episode Summary


When Varia is unexpectedly captured by Bellerephon, the vengeful half-God son of Artemis, Gabrielle is forced to take charge by leading the Amazons to rescue Varia from Bellerophon's fortress: Helicon.

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  • a true action packed classic of the season

    its the end of an era for the amazon nation as Baleraphon declares war on the amazon tribes for vengeance on his mother who died at the hands of Xena during the twilight (see Motherhood)and the amazons mistreating of their supposed goddess.

    To Helicon & Back is by far one of this seasons most perfect and visually stunning episodes that is true to the show and is very,very violent with blood by the bucketload...and for the good of the episode.

    there are plenty of twists and turns throughout this episode which makes the whole show go back on course for the final set of episodes.

    Path of Vengeance was a major dissappointment for me of this season and it added nothing to the show minus the two showdown sequences between Xena Gaby and Varia.

    To Hell & Back single handedly put the show back on its action packed course which is why this isnt just one of the best of this season but one of the best ever in the shows history.

    Lucy and Renee are just amazing and are on top of top form here and execute their lines with such power and persuasion.

    TH&B also shows how far Gaby has actually come as a person and as a warrior as she transorms herself into the leader of the amazons for one final time and with an epic bowout.

    all in all TH&B is sheer brilliance and excellent filmaking from Michael Hurst,who not only akes this a joy to watch but makes it a classic.moreless
  • Michael Hurst directs. After the Amazons are attacked and Queen Varia is kidnapped, Gabrielle leads them to Helicon on a deadly rescue mission. A bloody and exciting episode, one of the best of the season...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    After the lacklustre 'Path of Vengeance' before it, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this episode very much. I have to admit that at this end of the series I'm not usually overly keen on Amazon stories, but to my surprise, I really enjoyed this episode.

    After directing the rather weak 'Who's Gurkhan?' earlier in the season (which was down to a poor script as much as anything), Michael Hurst redeems himself here with some excellent direction.

    It is one of the most violent episodes of the entire series. Apparently there was even more shot, so one can only wonder what was left on the cutting room floor.

    One of the few things that didn't completely work was the villain, Bellerophon. While not an out-and-out weak nemesis, he just doesn't come across anywhere as near as seeming hell-bent on wiping out the Amazons and Xena as he should do.

    Following in the footsteps of the classic (and, as I always say, much underrated) 'The Pric' in season two, 'A Good Day' in season four, and this fifth season's 'Amphipolis Under Siege', this is one of those all-out, humour free 'realities of war' episodes.

    It is pretty much one long battle, with none of the series' trademark quirky humour, and the pace doesn't let up for a minute.

    The action scenes are breathtakingly shot, with explosions ('Greek Fire') all around and Amazons falling wounded or dead everywhere. Particularly impressive is the scene as Gabrielle dashes across the sands with explosion after explosion going off behind her.

    This is one of those episodes that really shows how far Gabrielle has come from the naïve young peasant girl at the start of the series, or even from the character that she was a few seasons ago. At one point, she is forced to send a volunteer Amazon to her death to act as a diversion for the rest of them; and later, when they are all wading out at sea, giving a dying or dead Amazon as food for a shark. (It never seemed to be made quite clear whether she was dying or already dead).

    If I was forced to pick holes, other than with the villain, I would say that the only thing really wrong with this episode is with the last act, which begins to sag very slightly in an episode that is effectively one big long battle.

    At the end, Xena kills Bellerophon, who is a half immortal. Does this finally reveal if half immortal Hercules can die? Or maybe it's different in each case?

    The conclusion of the story sees the Amazons severely reduced in ranks. One would hope that they would go on to replenish and recruit, but this is the last we see of the Amazons in the series.

    All-in-all, I found this to be an excellent episode. Probably one of the best of the season.moreless
  • The fall of the Amazon Empire - a brutal and violent episode which brings to a close the journey and the many memories of the Amazons, in catapulting glory.

    This is a very powerful episode of Xena. The last season of Xena just felt like the end, as we moved from one tearful finale to another... this time the last of the Amazon Empire.

    This incredibly sad episode marks the final appearance of the Amazons, in a total obliteration which seems an incredibly brutal and unexpected way to close the chapter of the Amazon people. The fighting/war/massacre scenes in this episode are incredible; there is no doubt. Bellerophon is a bitter and twisted enemy who you can imagine accepting and appreciating such a massacre of a people. The strength of the episode truly comes from the focus throughout on the Amazons, rather than on the battle with Bellerophon. The moments between Gabrielle and her Amazon sisters are touching and memorable, and remind you of how far the Amazon nation has come through the series.

    Varia's betrayal seemed so desperate that you have nothing but pity for her. As a Queen she was highly unsuccessful, which stands in stark contrast to others, such as Ephiny. However, what it portrayed is how much of what makes a good Queen comes through experience, maturity and friendship. This episode, in many ways, was a reinforcement of just how far Gabrielle has come since her early days as a Queen in the first season, in stark contrast to the Queen that Varia became.

    Overall, this was a much better episode than the previous Path of Vengeance. It had some wonderful character development/reinforcement moments, and some real heartfelt dialogue. The action scenes were wonderful, the location was perfect and the emotions were real. Although not the end to the Amazons that many fans would have envisaged, it definately leaves you with the memories of what was, and how far we have come.moreless
  • To A Strong *cough*Massacred*cough* Amazon Nation!

    To Helicon and Back-Gabrielle leads the Amazons on a rescue mission to Helicon to save Queen Varia from the vengeful half-god son of Artemis, who's bent on destroying every Amazon. A brutal episode that marks the final appearence of the Amazons on the series. I liked how the episode was directed in a very Saving Private Ryan-esqe way with the fight scenes and battles being shot in a very vivid, surreal sort of way. My favorite scene would have to be the sequence with the Amazons charging on the shores of the beach with explosions all around, some great cinematography there! But there are some problems that I have, like Craig Parker's Belleophon, who I felt was weak villian for this kind of episode. Also Varia's betrayl seemed random and out of character with nothing really justifying her actions. But the final scene is what brings the episode and the whole Amazon nation tragic close. All that left of the Amazon nation of about 9 or 10 women, which is a very morbid closing for the Amazons and after 6 seasons of seeing their different tribes and battles with Xena and Gabrielle, you can't help but fell bad for them. All and All, a good episode with a pivotal moment for the Amazons.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • This episode marks the last appearance of Varia on the series. There is still some lingering ambiguity regarding her destiny and place within Amazon society, however.

    • For anyone who is confused about the status of the many Amazon Queens in "To Helicon and Back", all the women who were in the tribal council in "Path of Vengeance" were Queens of their own individual tribes, but when Varia calls them to join her she becomes the High Queen. In "Path of Vengeance" Queen Kanae says, "We up hold Amazon law....Varia is our Queen". Later, during "To Helicon and Back" when Varia is kidnapped, the Amazons needed a commander in battle who knew the terrain of Greece. Any of the Queens could have qualified to lead the Amazons in battle, but as they were less familiar with the terrain, it made more sense to elect Gabrielle. When Varia returns, Gabrielle defers to her as High Queen. But when Varia betrays her, the power which had been freely given to her by her fellow Queens was rescinded, and leadership once again devolved upon Gabrielle.

    • Nitpick: When Xena and the Amazons are swimming with Gwyn-Teir's pallet, it's very obvious that they are only in about 5 ft of water. While they worry about the shark circling then, Xena is a good three inches beneath her armpits above the waterline, and her arms aren't even moving to help her stay afloat. She could be scissoring with her legs to stay above water, but it's unlikely she could stay that high above water for the length of the entire scene without visible effort.

    • During the funeral pyre scene, we hear Ephiny's song from "Maternal Instincts".

    • Nitpick: This episode has some serious, major problems with catapult physics. Catapults are not precision weapons, and cannot be used to pick off individual people. And they take a few minutes to reload. Early in the fight, fireballs fall one after another, meaning there must be several catapults being used. However, when Xena takes one out with her chakram, or when they pause to reload after firing at the sacrificed volunteer, all firing stops. Both of those scenes seem to imply that there is only one catapult.

    • Nitpick: Artemis, in Greek mythology, was one of the virgin Goddesses, so how can she be Bellerophon's mother?

    • Goof: When Xena stops Varia from killing Gabrielle, Gabrielle's sword handle is coming out from behind her right shoulder. But then, as the bombs fall and Gabrielle runs to safety, the sword handle is coming out from behind her left shoulder. The sword holder strap also switches sides on Gabrielle's body

    • Goof: Xena squeezes Gabrielle's shoulder, then walks straight behind Gab to Argo, with one of the Queens on Gab's right. When we switch to the long shot from above, the row of Queens stand to Gabrielle's left, and Xena is way over on the other side of them.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Gabrielle: Everybody's afraid. Some people are just better at hiding it.

    • Cyane: Lend me some coins?
      Gwyn-Teir: What for? We don't even use the same money.
      Cyane: I know, but knowing my luck, if I owe you money, I'll survive. (Gwyn-Teir laughs) No, I'm serious.

    • Varia: How's the eye?
      Gabrielle: How's the hand?
      Varia: Fine. Why?
      Gabrielle: I thought maybe you sprained it on my face.

    • Xena: You won.
      Gabrielle: I don't think I did. With each battle, I lose more of myself.
      Xena: War's tough on the soul, Gabrielle.
      Gabrielle: Yeah.
      Cyane: Queen Gabrielle?
      Xena: Your people need you.

    • Gabrielle: Queen Mawu-Ka, Queen Gwyn-Teir, your friend Bane- their blood on the shores of this land. Our sisters have died, but death is not an end to their spirits. Death it's a pathway to an afterlife. And when it is my time to join them, I want to know that I can grasp them by the hands, I can look them all in the eyes and tell them that their blood was not shed without purpose, that we finished the job that they began. More of us may die today, but the Amazon Nation, it will live on forever. That is the duty that we carry, and the everlasting honor that we will hold.

    • Gabrielle: You're thinking of giving yourself up to Bellerophon, aren't you?
      Xena: It would settle things.
      Gabrielle: Only for a moment. Then he would turn around and come after us again.
      Xena: That's the thing about vengeance, you're never really satisfied.

    • Gabrielle: Xena, you should take command. Take it.
      Xena: The Amazons aren't going to listen to me, Gabrielle. You're it. You're it!

    • Varia: Xena, hope you don't mind if we borrow her for a while, but, um, the ceremony is...
      Xena: Amazon only, like the other ones. Yeah, that's okay. I'd rather sleep rough out in the forest.

  • NOTES (8)

    • This episode had more edited out than any other previously, with 25 minutes of deleted footage. The previous record-holder was "Motherhood", with 20 minutes.

    • When writing the action for the landing scene, Liz put a note reading, "As much carnage as television will allow". She personally thought this episode pushed the boundaries on that subject farther than what is normally allowed.

    • In the script, Gabrielle doesn't ask Trudis to be the diversion, she orders her. When they filmed it, they had Trudis volunteer. In editing, they compromised and had Gabrielle ask her if she will do it.

    • Originally Gabrielle's speech to rally her troops for the final attack on Bellerophon was more Pattonesque, but they rewrote it to be more low-key and soulful.

    • While filming the scene where Gabrielle argues with Varia about whether or not they should leave the wounded Amazons behind Renee and Tsianina switched lines several times because no one was sure which would be more appropriate for Gabrielle to argue.

    • There were two shark scenes filmed. The second made it into the episode, but the first came when Xena leaped into the water to eacape from Bellerophon. The guard that she knocks out before her gets eaten. The scene was cut for time.

    • They called this their Saving Private Ryan episode.

    • DISCLAIMER: No shark bait was harmed during the production of this motion picture.


    • In Greek mythology, Bellerophon was a hero who lived before the time of Heracles. He is best known for killing the Chimera, a monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. He was the grandson of King Sisyphus, and sometimes described as being related to Poseidon.

    • The symbol on Gwyn-Teir's arm seen when she collasped is a triquetra. Notably, the version of the triquetra used is identical to the one popularised by the TV series Charmed which also has strong themes of female empowerment.

    • The title of the episode is taken from To Hell and Back, the autobiography of Audie Murphy (1924-71), the U.S. Army's most decorated combat soldier in World War II. The book was later made into a movie of the same title, with Murphy playing himself. However, the episode more closely resembles Omaha Beach in the Normandy invasion; Murphy was not there.