Xena: Warrior Princess

Season 3 Episode 16

When In Rome...

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Mar 02, 1998 on
out of 10
User Rating
79 votes

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Episode Summary


When a great warrior of Gaul named Vercinix is captured by Julius Caesar, Xena captures a blood-thirsty general named Crassus in an attempt to use Roman politics to free Vercinix. However the plan goes awry when Pompey plays off Xena's hatred of Caesar, landing Xena in the coliseum to fight for her life. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is faced with a life and death decision.


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  • Caesar: "You have one obsession, Xena: that's me. And because of it, I have you." The tumultuous relationship-saga between Xena and Caesar continues...

    "When In Rome…" is an absolutely outstanding episode that is tragically under-appreciated by fans. Tucked in amidst the filler episodes that followed the overwhelming drama of "The Rift", this episode is easily one of the top episodes of the whole of season 3. There are so many good points to it, with brilliant acting by the leads and guest stars, strong emotional revelations, questions of loyalty and right and wrong, and the expected action that you would hope for in the Coliseum.

    I have discussed on numerous occasions my feelings about Caesar, so I'm not going to wax lyrical again about how great this guy is. Suffice to say, like all episodes in which Caesar makes an appearance, this one is exceptional, easily one of the most exciting and memorable in the series. Karl Urban stands alone as a character that can carry a weak plot effortlessly (not that this episode has a weak plot), and the chemistry between him and Xena never gets tiresome.

    We see the return in this episode of Jeremy Callaghan, who previously guest starred as Palaemon in the underrated second season episode, "Blind Faith". Jeremy is perfect as Pompey – cold, calculating, yet with a far more human side that Caesar. His connection with Xena is obvious and expected, and it reveals a man with more sense and more ability than he is given credit for. Jeremy plays Pompey with relish, making the most of his scenes, which sadly are few and far between.

    This episode is a lot deeper and a lot more significant that many casual viewers would realize. After all Gabrielle and Xena had been through with the rift, here we are again with Xena charging ahead full pelt, following her own agenda and leaving Gabrielle behind in the wake. Her plan to 'save' Vercinix was so clearly a plot to yet-again attempt to destroy Caesar that you have to wonder who Xena thinks she is fooling. Her actions really leave you questioning how much Xena has learned through the pain and suffering that she has gone through. Caesar said it beautifully when he stated that "You have one obsession, Xena: that's me. And because of it, I have you." When it comes to Caesar, Xena is ruled by her heart, instead of her head. Despite the years that have passed since the original betrayal, to Xena it is like yesterday, and the hatred and burning desire for revenge is as strong as ever. This makes Xena careless, and her carelessness puts not only herself, but Gabrielle in danger.

    As usual, it is Gabrielle who suffers most from Xena's selfishness, again put into a situation where Xena expected her to go against who she is and what she believes in to fulfill a plan. While Xena reiterates her love for Gabrielle at the end, in many ways Xena cares about herself first and foremost, and I really felt for Gabrielle in this episode, again left to fend for herself, and alone in dealing with the inner turmoil her actions caused.

    I think this episode did a fantastic job placing the story within the historic context. I enjoyed the picture painted of Rome, and the Coliseum was well done. The battle between Xena and the horsemen in the ring was excellent, but lacked suspense. The fulfilling of Xena's plan, leading to the execution of Crassus was one of the more believable plots, despite several gaping holes towards the end.

    A couple of key points that I feel needed to be touched on. Firstly, I think that the way the writers continue to create a time line for Xena and Caesar is excellent. That Caesar is still torn between feelings of love, hate, anger, lust and revenge for Xena is well portrayed and captures just how complex their relationship is. As we see later in the show, Xena and Caesar were truly made for each other, and yet they are also poison to the other. I also like how Xena's effect on Caesar is captured; prior to her entry Caesar is all-powerful, in control and with an aura around him that is palpable. Xena walks in to the room and the great Caesar turns into a babbling idiot. It is well written and well acted.

    I also like the contrast that is made between Xena and the supposedly 'civilized' Romans. Xena is painted to be almost common; these people use words as weapons and that is one skill Xena has never possessed. And yet, at the same time, it is the wildness in Xena that attracts Caesar, and at the end, when the 'civilized' people cry for the death of the wrong man, who really is the enlightened one?

    This one scrapes through just under the top score for me. I'm not sure yet if it has earned a place in my hall of fame. Another watch might just answer it for me. This really is a must see episode, and is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Another winner from the epic third season.moreless
  • After mighty Gaul warrior Vircinix is captured by Caesar's army, Xena in turn captures Caesar's brutal general Crassus, and uses him in a battle of wills to try and negotiate Vircinix's release. One of the far better episodes from the latter third season.moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    After a couple of rather lame episodes ('Forgiven', 'King Con'), 'When In Rome...' is one of the far better episodes from the latter end of the third season.

    After their history was shown in the fan favourite second season episode 'Destiny', a re-match between Xena and Caesar was just a matter of time. After other events got in the way (!) in 'The Deliverer' earlier in the season, finally the pair face off again here.

    The story is a good one, as both sides try to negotiate the release of the other's respective prisoner. Ordinarily, such negotiations would be little problem for Xena, but this is the slippery Caesar that we're dealing with here.

    The bulk of the episode is relatively action free, instead concentrating on the battle of wills between Caesar and Xena. It does verge on getting slightly over wordy at times, but things really liven up at the climax in the coliseum.

    The con Xena and Gabrielle use, of swapping Vircinix with Crassus, is really well played out. THIS is a real scam - 'King Con' take note!

    Xena shines as she fights for her life in the coliseum, and escapes alive (although slightly battered). Then when Crassus is unveiled when Caesar is expecting Vircinix, he has no option in front of the excited crowd other than to order Crassus to be beheaded. Excellent.

    All the time, Gabrielle is in the audience, with Crassus' Imperial Ring, the only thing that he can use to prove who he is. I love the shots as it glints and catches the sun as Crassus makes his final look upwards before death.

    It is also quite a notable move from Gabrielle; she had been duped into killing 'The Deliverer', but here, she holds the one thing that can save a man, and instead decides that his life should be taken away.

    A really good episode.moreless
  • A Trip to Rome makes a worried Gabrielle!!!

    When In Rome...-It's all about power, when Xena must deal with Caesar and the politics of Rome by trading a Roman aristocrat for the leader of the Gauls, whom Xena wants freed but first she must try not to kill the hated Caesar.

    I love the Caeser and Rome episodes because the writers sure make them into some great episodes!!! In this episode, Xena takes on the historical Triumvirate of Rome, Ceaser, Pompey and Crassus. Xena kidnapps Crassus to trade for Vercinix, leader of the Gauls, who Ceasar has set for execution. Some great acting by the leads and guest stars, Jeremy Callaghan returns as Pompey and does a fine job in his new, important role. Karl Urban is always brillant as Ceasar, and Matthew Chamberlain makes you feel for the character of Crassus. The Xena and Ceasar scenes are always entertaing. Ceasar seducing her and Xena trying to hold back her hatred for him. But where the episode shines is Gabrielle and her struggle to back a big decision of taking a man's life. Xena is so concerned with the paln, that she just leaves Gabrielle with this decision. It's shocking at the end where Gabrielle doesn't give Crassus the ring, and then he dies. It's a real big development for Gabrielle, chosing to be the judge, and executer of man, no matter what his done is huge, and knowing she let him die was surreal. The conversation Xena and Gabrielle have at the end is a touching one and both women grow closer. All in All, a really great episode that you should defiantely check out!!


Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Nitpick: Marcus Licinius Crassus was the governor of Syria when he made war on the Parthians, who captured and executed him. (The episode has him in the hands of "Syrians".) He never fought in Gaul; Gardenas is fictional. His only other military campaign as general was against Spartacus, in which both Caesar and Pompey participated. The credit for the eventual victory against Spartacus was given to Pompey, something Crassus deeply resented.

    • Caesar inadvertently broke an important Roman law by allowing Gabrielle into his home (which was also his office). Caesar, as Pontifex Maximus, lived in the Domus Publica. This building, on the original Forum itself, was within Rome's sacred boundary, the pomerium. Because of Republican Rome's extreme antipathy toward kings, no sovereign could cross the pomerium except when being exhibited as part of a general's triumph; at the end of the triumphal procession the sovereign was either executed, or installed in a villa outside of Rome under house arrest. Gabrielle, of course, was an Amazon queen, though perhaps Caesar did not know that. He knew the law, though: when he installed Cleopatra in Rome, he kept her outside the pomerium.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Caesar: I can't believe that you would double-cross me, just as I was about to double-cross you.
      Xena: How'd you know?
      Caesar: You have one obsession Xena, that's me. And because of it, I have you... and I have Vercinix. And somewhere out there, there is an irritating blond about to follow a plan that no longer exists.

    • Crassus: Caesar! I knew you'd come!
      Caesar: Really? I don't know why I bothered. If I thought you a capable ally, a good balance against Pompey? But look at you! Captured and chained by a woman that I captured and chained! I don't know!

    • Crassus: Ah.. Xena, I'm reluctant to thank you for saving me. After all, last time I saw you, you swore you'd kill me on sight.
      Xena: That was before you became useful.

    • Crassus: Yes Xena, it is about power. The appearance of it, the possession of it, the wielding of it... You're quite familiar with that, aren't you?

    • Pompey: This is Xena?
      Caesar: Yes.. uh, an old.. friend. Enemy? Friend? I forget where we left off.
      Xena: We weren't on speaking terms.

    • Caesar: Prison hardly seems the place to tell you this, but-- you look incredible. Roman finery becomes you.
      Xena: We're not going down that road-- this is business.
      Caesar: It's never just business between us, Xena. It's hatred, war, conflict-- and it's love.
      Xena: I gotta go to the bathroom. Are we done yet?

    • Xena: How many more times're you gonna follow me into battle, huh? How many more times am I gonna hurt you? You are the most dear thing to me in all the world. And yet, instead of protecting you...
      Gabrielle: (interrupting) I'm here, because I want to be here. I love you, Xena.
      Xena: I love you too, Gabrielle.

    • Xena: (showing Caesar Crassus' ring as proof she has him) I'll send over the finger this belongs on tomorrow. And after that, I'll be more creative.

    • Pompey: So why do they call you the warrior princess?
      Xena: Because Caesar was taken.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Shooting Dates: January 8 through January 16 1998, 7 day shoot

    • If the actor who plays Crassus seems familiar, it's because Matthew Chamberlain has performed several other roles in the Xenaverse, including Orpheus in the second season episode "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and Darphus in the Hercules episodes "The Gauntlet" and "Unchained Heart", the final two installments of the trilogy that served as the pilot for Xena.

    • This episode is also known as 'First of the Three'.

    • In the original script the scene where Pompey asks if Xena can be trusted and Brutus responds "Only in her hatred of Caesar" there were two more lines that were cut. Pompey asks "I wonder why she hasn't killed him yet?" Brutus responds "Opportunity." This gives Pompey the idea of presenting her with his dagger, tacitly telling her that her "Opportunity" has arrived.

    • DISCLAIMER: Caesar's Palace was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, Crassus and the gladiators went down for the count.


    • When Vercinix mentions that Crassus had some 100 men, women and children crucifed along the Appian Way, this refers to what Crassus did to the prisoners he took after the final battle against Spartacus. In fact, he had some 6000 people crucified.

    • Vercingetorix, or Vercinex of the Xenaverse, was defeated by Julius Caesar after a number of battles. Julius Caesar is famed for never losing a battle, but Vercingetorix was able to fight him to a standstill for months at Alesia. He was imprisoned in the infamous Tullianum prison of Rome for five years before being part of Caesar's Gallic Triumphal procession, and then strangled back in prison.