Classic Recap: The Xena Scrolls
By Alex Cranz
Man, clip shows. SO DUMB. But then you get a guy smoking and pointing at a map of Macedonia and you’ve got people in 1940 Macedonia hunting for artifacts and acting like they’re in an Indiana Jones movie. Then some legs that look fabulous in a split skirt step out of a car, and oh man this lady’s accent. That’s right, Lucy Lawless is playing a southern belle and though her accent is hilarious she looks GOOD.
And there’s a little Baby Dyke Jones smoking a cigar and challenging some bad guys. Gabrielle the Warrior Lezzy sets straight to shooting at some bad guys. She runs out of bullets, but luckily she is AWESOME, and when they shoot through her hat she busts out with a MACHINE GUN. She appears to be a terrible shot, but no, she’s secretly great, and between her prowess with a machine gun and her prowess with a whip she makes short work of these dudes. But sidenote: what is going on with her makeup? Someone on set must hate O’Connor.
So Xena is Mel Pappas, the daughter of a famous anthropologist. Gabrielle is the surly daughter of a disgraced treasure hunter, Janice? SO GAY THAT NAME. She tries to send Mel back to town, but then a guy just randomly dies in front of them. People scream. Janice screams in a foreign language. Mel cleans her glasses. I love these characters and I love how big these two actresses play them. Oh and this is all to find the XENA SCROLLS.
TITLES. Seriously, this episode merges Xena with Indiana Jones. NOTHING CAN GO WRONG. It’s like they made it for my brain!
So a flashback. Janice is reading a scroll about an episode from last season. She sucks at it so Mel reads it instead. This accent? Better than the one from the last episode, by leaps and bounds. Mel is some sort of savant. She can read the scrolls perfectly. Janice is the only one in the world who believes they’re historical fact. Oh and the two ladies hate each other because of pre-conceived notions. They hear a bad French accent and go outside to discover Joxer trying to be French. He fails at it. He succeeds at making eyes at Mel. She’s enchanted. Janice wants NONE OF IT. Totes a lady lover.
I like how Mel barely knows Janice but quickly hops to her defense. Aw. Adorable.
Smythe shows up. You’ll recognize him as a serial bad guy. He killed Borias and tried to start a war between the Amazons and the centaurs. Now he’s being evil and British. Janice says “moolah.” WHO SAYS THAT. Also she calls Mel honey. If she’s straight someone needs to tell her.
So Smythe forces Janice to open the tomb, Janice tries to outwit him, but Mel ruins the ruse. Good job Mel. Now they’re all forced to go into the tomb…along with Joxer? So the tomb stairs? Turn into a slide. They all go flying down it and are quickly separated. The good guys luckily have the lamp. Mel starts reading the walls. “Beware the wrath of the god of war!” Love the delivery of that line. We get treated to another flashback. Then Joxer tries to talk about another curse, but it’s just The Mummy. Good movie. Then he talks about The Wolf Man. Another good movie. The ladies call him on it. Poor Joxer, always third best.
They go further into the tomb. Mel sets off a trap. Janice gets angry. Then Mel sits down and accidentally reveals all the scrolls. Janice ignores her, so Mel takes a load off and reads the scrolls. It’s about Marcus. Holy crummy CGI! This story? Turns Joxer on. He tries to woo Mel. She bops him on the head. Janice kind of claims the discovery and that annoys Mel. Then Mel notices the chakram. Janice tries to take it out of the stone. Doesn’t work. Mel just pops it out and is immediately drawn through the temple to another room. I love the walk she does while being led by it.
So the other half of the chakram? Held by Smythe. He tries to threaten her with a gun, but Janice runs in and saves the day. Chick LIKES that whip. Also, she throws a good punch. She then starts a rock slide and leaves Smythe to his doom.
Unfortunately Joxer takes Mel to the actual temple of Ares. Oops! Janice puts on a Scully hat and tries to explain away magic. Awesome. Joxer freaks out. Janice slaps him. Smythe and company show up again. The chakram is drawn together and Mel yells “shazam!” and I snort water out my nose. This all wakes up Ares. SO MUCH GEL IN HIS HAIR. Oh and it knocks Mel unconscious.
Smythe tries to kill Ares because he’s an idiot. Ares finds it hilarious. He then kills Smythe and his goons. Aw and we were death free this episode! Joxer tries to fight him and Ares calls him on it. Turns out Joxer is a dude named Jack and the descendant of Joxer. This gives us a flashback to the time Gabrielle kicked his ass. Then Ares mocks Joxer. Not cool man, didn’t you see that episode in the fifth season?
So Ares is all happy to be awake and wants Xena’s descendant to free him. Janice thinks it’s her, and as she kicks ass this is a logical assumption. But she isn’t, she’s Gabrielle’s descendant. Only first she thinks she’s related to Callisto which makes her happy. She’s SO SAD when she realizes she’s Gabrielle’s descendant. Naturally they choose to flashback to the time she got stoned and made a pass at Xena.
Yeah, Mel is Xena’s descendant. Only Mel isn’t home right now. The glasses are off, the hair is down, Xena’s in town!
Oh man I did not intend that to rhyme. The Xena voice! I love the voices Lucy Lawless does. She stays to fight Ares and sends Joxer and Janice away. It involves hitting him in the nuts.
She runs out and finds Janice being all mopey. Oh yeah, definitely Gabrielle’s descendant. She starts smack talking Gabrielle and Xena’s all “stop it.” She gives us a flashback to the time Gabrielle became an Amazon and the time Xena freaked the fuck out over Gabrielle’s death. Oh, and the time she VERY SERIOUSLY told Gabrielle she was her family. That’s such a crummy delivery. She’s so Xena Blue Steel stage. Janice is now all happy to be Gabrielle’s descendant. They reclaim Joxer, Xena mocks him and they head off to fight Ares again.
Then Ares kidnaps Janice and Joxer. Janice looks so nonplussed about being kidnapped. Xena arrives. Ares is excited about Hitler and wants Xena to free him. She and Ares fight. She keeps him from escaping the cave. Janice helps a little after watching the fight for SO LONG. Xena tosses the chakram again and it shatters, this puts Mel back in her body. Janice saves Mel and they both escape, leaving Ares trapped in the tomb again.
Then Janice sets off some expensive ass explosions to keep him sealed in. Um…I thought clip shows were supposed to be cheap? Joxer drives away and Mel seems to lust after him. She and Janice bond and decide to travel together.
In the PRESENT…or the early 90s, a writer pitches Xena to Rob Tapert. I like how Rob Tapert’s office had a leopard print futon in it and that he apparently had an Oscar.
How this episode makes historians weep
Man World War II was already in full swing by 1940.
Xena was not created from some scrolls found in a temple in Macedonia.
- TRAVELS THROUGH TIME.
- Battles a god of war.
Where it stands in the series
This is allegedly one of many possible canon futures for the show.
It also is one of the first episodes to deal with the idea of multiple lives and our heroines battling bad guys through time and space. (And now I’m wondering where my space age Xena is.)
No Hollywood producers were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
Clip shows are the bane of my existence. Like “bottle” shows the exist to save money and to give the actors and crews a break. Nine times out of ten they’re tedious “remember when” affairs. What’s lovely about Xena is their commitment to odd and entertaining clip shows. It’s like they know they’re awful too and they go out of their way to give us something fun.
But this one, “The Xena Scrolls” might go down in history as one of the best clip shows on any show ever. Hyperbole? Nope.
This is a genuinely fun 40 minutes of television. It doesn’t expand the story, but instead introduces us to a whole new group of characters. Characters that happen to mirror the characters of the show, while still be refreshingly different.
This episode is also notable for inspiring a whole new subset of fan fiction that ended up launching actual writing careers for a whole slew of fan fiction writers. Not bad for a silly clip show eh?
Episode 11, Here She Comes…Miss Amphipolis.
Xena enters a beauty contest. Ironically this is the most awarded episode of the entire series because it was apparently groundbreaking TV for it’s positive portrayal of transsexuals?