Classic Recap: Miss Amphipolis
By Alex Cranz
Behold, the most awarded episode of Xena in the history of…Xena. And it all begins with Xena and Gabrielle taking a stroll on a beach that was once the sight of one of the bloodiest battles in Greek history…Xenian Greek History. Xenian…did I just make that word up. It’s a thing right.
Gabrielle takes a very nice pratfall over some ruts in the sand and then finds clams. She’s excited about her incoming clam bake. As we already know, Gabrielle LOVES clams. Though usually they’re a bit more bearded…too much?
Not for all these buxom ladies running in slow motion towards Xena and Gabrielle!
They want Gabrielle’s clams too! Or maybe they’re running from a bad guy. Xena and Gabrielle try to appease the dudes with even more clams. It works. They run away. Then Salmoneous shows up.
So the reason Xena and Gabrielle are there? To enjoy a beauty pageant. Xena and Gabrielle are NOT amused. You know, I’m a feminist, look at everything I write on this forum, but dang I loved me some beauty pageants when I was five. I still remember staying up late watching the crowning of some chick while clutching my Barbie. WHO WAS THAT GIRL?!
Okay, so this Xenian beauty pageant? All the countries there are doing it to bring about peace or something. Salmoneous wants Gabrielle to go undercover but Gabrielle refuses. I like how he goes to her first, because Xena? Big butch warrior? Not the ideal beauty pageant contestant.
Only don’t tell Xena that. She’s ready to go undercover, and unlike Sandra Bullock she won’t need to pluck her eyebrows!
TITLES. Man this episode loves bashing on pageants.
The contestants are all practicing their talents. Xena’s in her armor and a cloak. Not a good costume. Gabrielle is in a turban. Even a worse costume. Xena makes eye contact with a statuesque contestant and is mocked by another contestant. What? Just because she doesn’t ascribe to your ideals? Jerks!
Gabrielle meets a contestant and busts out her latest accent. It’s foreign sounding. Xena saves the contestant and makes it look like Salmoneous did it. He approves of this tactic. Gabrielle and Xena do not. Seriously, THAT TURBAN.
Gabrielle heads off to meet the other sponsors armed only with her bad accent. Xena meets some old lady who hates beauty contestants.
The other sponsors are all SO ANGRY. I think it’s because of the junk they’re wearing on their heads. What you can’t be a sponsor unless you look like a schmuck? Gabrielle interrupts with her accent. Is that French? Does she know France doesn’t exist yet? No one tell her, she might make you wear that robe of hers and no one on this earth can pull off that collar.
The other contestants gather and bitch about Xena and talk about why they joined the pageant. Some for self-affirmation, some to save their villages, some because they’re raging cunts. Xena interrupts and all but McCunty leave. Then she turns and reveals a scar which Xena STARES at. Xena, don’t stare at people in the bath. It’s rude!
McCunty leaves and locks the door, leaving Xena alone in a room full of steam! Xena gives us a little sideboob and escapes. Was that all so we could see Xena sideboob? Man I can just watch Spartacus and see ALL boob.
Elsewhere Salmoneous and Gabrielle are worried because Xena’s late and may miss a key part of the pageant.
We then get to watch part of the pageant. Ms. Artemis, the statuesque one, has some righteous abs. Finally, Xena arrives and boy is she blond. However it’s clearly a wig, not that that doesn’t stop Gabrielle and Salmoneous from enjoying the show.
Back in Xena’s room someone breaks in and finds all of Xena’s stuff. OH NOES! They take it. Potentially even worse!
Salmoneous tries to feel up Xena so she chokes him.
Then sorts out who tries to steam her. It looks like it was Ms. Artemis. Who is a man. THAT’S why she stared earlier! Xena is moved by Ms. Artemis’s plight and also confused. Xena refuses to rat out Ms. Artemis. She won’t to prove she can beat her. Or something.
The sponsors gather, and rather than discussing their awful headwear they listen to Gabrielle’s French accent. Then all threaten each other. Also Gabrielle kind of bonds with another sponsor…it’s vaguely sexual.
She then goes and dresses Xena. It’s worth it for Xena’s facial expression.
Then the contestants all dance and Salmoneous sings. I just realized, Miss Congeniality essentially ripped off this episode of Xena. Oh Sandra Bullock. I like how Xena has NO TIME for all the dancing and looks like she wants to cut a bitch. I want her to be in every beauty contest ever. Anyway, the number fails and afterwards a turbaned sponsor makes a pass at Xena. She chokes him and makes him apologize to his contestant. This just arouses him.
So now the contest is on again. Salmoneous introduces more contestants including McCunty who yearns for approval from her sponsor. Xena reveals her love of Hestian virgins. Then the guy she chokes earlier calls her Xena. War is on! But actually they’re talking about Mrs. Artemis and thus Gabrielle gives the best look of surprise you will ever see. GIF GIIIIIF.
My bad; Artifice not ArtiMIS. Oops. Salmoneous announces the ladies who moved to the semifinals. Naturally, because she’s Xena, Xena moves on. So does McCunty and Artifice. And some other chicks who’ve been introduces. Um…does Ms. Artifice have more cleavage then Xena in the same costume? Um…was Gabrielle just a bit TOO excited about Xena advancing onto the semifinals?
Xena and Gabrielle then discuss the talent competition. Gabrielle wants her to sing, but Xena must be moved to sing. That old bitch lady walks in and judges Xena and Gabrielle. Gabrielle then races off to a meeting she didn’t know about. The sponsors all still hate each other and threaten each other with war. These guys take beauty contests TOO SERIOUSLY. Gabrielle judges and I love how her accent falters when she gets passionate. That’s kind of great.
Next Xena and Gabrielle are both horrified by Xena’s dress. Xena, utilizing one of her MANY SKILLS, does a bit of tailoring. Then goes outside and twirls swords around. I guess that’ll be her talent? She then runs into the harpist from earlier. She’s crying. Is the harpist McCunty? This is the first time she’s in the sunlight. It turns out that all the contestants hate the pageant and wish they weren’t in it, and they hate Xena because she actually WANTS to be in it.
Oh yeah, that’s McCunty because she starts talking about her boyfriend and McCunty puts her boyfriend first like a dumbass. Xena’s all “MAN DON’T BE SUCH A PUSHOVER” and McCunty agrees.
Then we get treated to a shot of someone sabotaging the stage. Nefaaaarious!
Man, this harpist blows and also the harpist WASN’T McCunty. So two people are worried about their sponsors’ opinions? Then Artifice walks in and waves around ribbons. God help me I love a ribbon dance. Ribbon dances should be required in every contest ever. EVER.
Okay McCunty comes out and charms a snake. I bet she does! Her dance around her snake is pathetic. Seriously. McCunty your talent blows. Waking up a snake and doing a two-step around it is NOT a talent. Oh and someone is trying to kill McCunty. Xena jumps in and bitch slaps the snake and saves the day. McCunty is NOT AMUSED.
Afterward someone knocks out all the sponsors while Gabrielle obsesses about Xena winning and Salmoneous worries about the actual plot and the old lady hears EVERYTHING. Then the guy who tried to kill McCunty approaches Xena. He wants to kill her and start a war so he can make money. Turns out XENA knocked all the sponsors out and hid them under a table so they’d hear the bad guy’s confession. That’s actually very clever. He still tries to kill her because he’s an idiot. Also he tried to pretend his knife is a dick. Xena, channeling Buffy, then kicks his ass. Then Gabrielle comes in and tells Xena it’s time to hear who won the competition…and reveals that Xena’s Xena to the sponsors. Good job.
Salmoneous sets to crowning the winner. Xena comes in and announces that her alter ego has withdrawn from the pageant. Which is unfortunate because she won the pageant. McCunty got second place but she quits because she realizes that she’s more important then a pageant. The harpist was third and quits. Her boyfriend respects her choice. Then the Gina Torres stunt double quits because she’d rather plant seeds then sell herself for food. Laame. So Artifice wins.
How this episode makes historians weep
Were there beauty contests in prehistoric times? With spotlights? And talent competitions?
- Kills a snake with a kick
- Most beautiful woman in the known world…apparently.
Where it stands in the series
The last appearance of Salmoneous. Apparently Lawless HATED the actor. However O’Connor loved him (they first appeared together in the Hercules/Xena universe in one of the early Hercules movies. So the actor will return in a different part in O’Connor’s directing debut.
The first girl on girl kiss unless you count Gabrielle sucking on Xena’s neck a few eps back. I don’t.
This was also one of the first episodes directed by a woman and written by a woman. Chris Manheim, who wrote the episode used her brother for the inspiration of Ms. Artifice.
No ribbons were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, several experienced severe motion sickness.
A well written, well directed satire that examines the reasons women set themselves up to be judged for arbitrary reasons. Fun for what it was and definitely all about ra-ra sisterhood, feminism and tolerance.
But really it’s all worth it for that look of surprise from Gabrielle when Artifice comes out in Xena’s outfit.
Episode 12, Destiny.
CAESAR! CRUCIFIXIONS! Thus begins one of the best arcs in television history and on this show in particular. I SAID IT.