Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 3 Episode 20

Vanishing Act

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Apr 27, 1998 on
out of 10
User Rating
72 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Xena and Gabrielle team up with Autolycus to recover a statue that is a symbol of peace between two villages, but they must steal it back Autolycus' way in order for him to maintain his reputation.

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  • Warning... this episode does not come with its own novacaine...

    The "Vanishing Act" is extremely PAINFUL to watch. The story starts out promising but goes quickly down hill. Xena, Gabrielle and Autolycus disguise themselves in order to acquire the golden statue of "Pax" stolen by Tarsus, the man who killed Autolycus' brother.

    Xena's nasally Jewish "new yawker" voice destroyed the entire episode for me. I can never watch it again, having barely gotten through it the first time. Now if Gabrielle's accent was supposed to be Indian, then that's got to be the worst Indian accent I've ever heard. I lost interest in the plot and just didn't care.

    Best scenes-

    Xena gives the pinch to the wharf master and Gabrielle casually counts the seconds.

    Autolycus is ready at hand with a nifty device to pick a lock on a door. Xena shows him up by kicking it in.moreless
  • Not as bad as everyone makes out - appreciate this episode for what it is: a light, entertaining filler.

    "Vanishing Act" gets overwhelmingly bad reviews from fans. It gets bagged out constantly, not only by fans, but by the actors as well. I have to say that I really do find it surprising that so many people hate this one. Don't get me wrong; its not one of my favourites, but I just don't see why people think it is so much worse than other similar-themed episodes. I personally enjoyed this one much more than any of the look-a-like episodes, it is miles ahead of dopey episodes like "The Giant Killer", or "A Solstice Carol", and I can't think of almost any episode worse than "Forgiven". Sure, nothing too amazing happens here, but its not that bad.

    This one wins points from me for the improved performance of Autolycus. I thought Tsunami was a real let down because Autolycus was so underused. In this episode he is in his element, and the lines are funny, the performance is well done, and he is very enjoyable.

    Bruce and Lucy play off each other incredibly well, and their interactions in the early part of the episode are brilliant. Given, the disguises are not all that crash-hot, but Lucy does an incredible accent in her Ezra costume, and Renee is no worse than usual disguised as Myopia.

    Sure, the plot is contrived and silly, but it works for the most part. We're not being asked to really stretch our imaginations too much here, just to be entertained for 40 minutes. And there are a lot of similarities here between this episode and other Autolycus episodes. This one is no worse than any of the others.

    To me, where the problem with this episode lies is in its placement. Between the end of "The Rift" and the start of the "Hope saga" we had 8 filler episodes. That is a lot of room for story quality to decline enough to start to be a bother to viewers. Things pick up again in a big way in the next episode, however, and "Vanishing Act" can fade into the filler-archives and be forgotten.moreless
  • Xena and Gabrielle try to help Autolycus keep his reputation as the 'King of Thieves' when a statue representing peace is stolen – and he isn't the one who stole it! A boring and abysmal episode, one of the weakest of the series...moreless

    This is a really terrible episode, and painful to watch. Stars Lucy Lawless and Renée O'Connor, executive producer Robert Tapert and director Andrew Merrifield are amongst the crew who have cited it as one of the show's weakest episodes.

    I know in my recent reviews I have criticised 'Forgiven' and 'King Con' for being not very interesting filler episodes, but at least they had vaguely decent plots and were watchable; This episode is just dire.

    At the outset, it seems to be setting itself up as a Xena-lite episode, as the Warrior Princess tells Gabrielle that she'll catch up with her in a couple of days. But then after the opening teaser, Xena is suddenly back. Whether Lucy Lawless was unavailable for a day or something, I don't know, but it struck me as odd.

    Anyway, some statue representing peace is stolen overnight, and everyone is in a panic about it. "Who could have done this?" they ask, as surely a statue couldn't just disappear in the dead of night. Well it COULD, knowing what mischief some of the Gods get up to, but that's not the plot of this episode.

    Soon, Xena, Gabrielle and Autolycus are on the trail of the thief who took it. Cue lots of 'hilarious' (ahem) disguises. Gabrielle and Xena pose as would-be buyers, with Autolycus as Xena's hunchbacked servant.

    Lucy Lawless plays her character in a broad New York accent, and while its hard not to be impressed by New Zealander Lawless' vocal dexterity, it pretty much comes across as a generic 'Xena plays another funny character' which, with due respect to Lawless, doesn't really work.

    As for Gabrielle, I haven't a clue what kind of accent she was aiming for!

    In this episode, we learn why Autolycus became a thief in the first place, after his brother was killed. And wouldn't you just know it, the murderer was Tarsus, the thief who has stolen the statue.

    Tarsus is one of the least convincing villains of the season, another thing that works against this episode.

    One thing I did find strange was early on in this episode, where Xena criticises Autolycus for being a thief. Yet in the previous episode, 'Tsunami', she praised him for really being a good man. Due to this, I felt that these episodes would have been better broadcast in reverse order.

    Things vaguely start to pick up late on in the episode, when Autolycus is captured, and – realising that it was Tarsus who killed his brother years before, vows revenge; but even then its not much better, and is too little too late.

    A late episode in the season, this episode feels really tired, like they'd used up all of their good ideas for the year. And who cares about a silly old statue being stolen – hardly one of the plots to keep us on the edges of our seats!

    This story rivals disappointing season opener 'The Furies' as the poorest entry of the season, and stands as one of the series' weakest episodes overall.moreless
  • No Magic Involved Folks!!!

    Vanishing Act-Xena and Gabrielle team up with Autolycus to recover a statue that is a symbol of peace between two villages, but they must steal it back Autolycus' way in order for him to maintain his reputation.

    This episode is only decent for 2 reasons: 1. Lucy's New York/Fran Drescher accent...how does she do it? This is a woman with a rather thick New Zealand accent, yet she can change her voice with ease!!! A very talented woman indeed. 2. The funny acting by Lucy and Bruce, LOL!! Bruce as a shy hunchback was hilarious. I like how they resolve the episode with hiding the statue is place but painting over it so it looks like the wall. All in All, it's an okay episode, nothing special!!moreless
John Brazier

John Brazier


Guest Star

John O'Leary

John O'Leary


Guest Star

Ian Harrop

Ian Harrop


Guest Star

Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Autolycus mentions Xena taking over his body, which happened in the Season 2 episode The Quest.

    • Goof: In a shot of Gabrielle walking, you can tell it is old stock footage. Her top is bigger than the sports bra sized one she was wearing at the time and her hair is a different colour, so this is probably from season two.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Autolycus: Xena, I want to get that statue back just as much as you.
      Xena: Give me a break.
      Autolycus: Oh no, not for any goody-goody reasons, but for me. Don't you get it? I don't know who stole that statue. What's worse, I don't know how they stole it! So if I don't find out who did it, steal it back…
      Xena: You're no longer the King of Thieves.
      Autolycus: Exactly.

    • Tarsus: Look Autolycus, I can't bring your brother back, but I can offer you money. Lots of money.
      Autolycus: Money? I do love money. How much?
      Tarsus: Everything I own, and more.
      Autolycus: Not enough. But thanks for trying.

    • Gabrielle: Autolycus? Of course. Who else could pull off a heist like this?
      Autolycus: Well, it is impressive, isn't it. I mean, a statue that size just… disappearing like that? It would not be immodest to say that's the greatest theft ever! There's only one problem.
      Xena: And what's that, genius?
      Autolycus: I didn't do it.

    • Autolycus: Oh, I get it. What have I done for you lately, huh?
      Xena: Yeah.
      Autolycus: Yeah, nothing besides letting you live inside my body while I risked my life to steal back your shapely corpse, all the while having to endure Gabrielle whining and crying 24 hours a day about 'how much she misses Xena'...
      Xena: (furiously) Are you quite finished?
      Autolycus: That depends... did it work?
      Xena: It worked.
      Autolycus: (smugly) Then I'm finished.

    • (Looking at all the happy people, who have just got out of bed)
      Gabrielle: That's what makes doing work like this worth while.
      Autolycus: Yes, half naked men screaming through the square. I see your point.

    • Xena: (as Ezra, referring to a disguised, hunchbacked Autolycus) Here's my guy, now. This is my assistant, uh, Bentley. (chuckles)
      Gabrielle: (as Myopia) Bentley. What an unfortunate name.

    • Autolycus: Xena, you agreed to do things my way. Undo that pinch!

  • NOTES (3)

    • Shooting Dates: February 5 through 13 1998, 7 day shoot.

    • This episode is considered by many of the cast and crew to be one of the worst episodes of Xena. While watching a clip from the episode at a convention Lucy hid her face in her hands. "Not that I'm ashamed," she said laughingly.

    • DISCLAIMER: Upon completion of the filming of this episode, Autolycus' Scuba Gear was placed on display at the Athens Diving Institute for the education and enjoyment of future generations to come.