Classic Recap: Ulysses
By Alex Cranz
Xena and Gabrielle have arrived at the edge of the sea and Gabrielle is inspired by it, as though she’s never been to the beach before. She tries to inspire Xena as well. It doesn’t work. Xena gets butcher and butcher as the discussion proceeds. I half expected her to grow a beard and readjust her wang.
On the beach a dude is fighting and Xena chooses to watch the guy fight instead of help. She also seems to watch him rather lustfully. More guys run in to kill him and Xena finally chooses to intervene. During the fight they leave introduce themselves. As the episode is called Ulysses I’ll let you sort out who Xena’s looking at all lustfully.
Gabrielle is IMMEDIATELY made a third wheel.
THEN CGI POSEIDON SHOWS UP. XENA YAARGH HIS ASS!
TITLES. WHY IS XENA NOT YARGHING HIS ASS?!
The only one who is in awe of Poseidon? Gabrielle. Wait why are they suddenly on rocks? Did Poseidon move them? Poseidon wants Xena to butt out of things because she’s Ares’s favorite. But she’ll help because otherwise this episode would be boring.
So Ulysses? Living in a cave down by the sea. Shouldn’t he be hanging out with some lady living alone and having lots of guilty guilty sex?
Shout out to the first season. Xena apologizes for fighting for Troy and against Greece during the Trojan War. Ulysses is cool with it. Gabrielle calls him a man in a VERY DEEP voice.
That night Gabrielle snores, Xena sharpens her sword and Ulysses tries to surprise her. This scene is supposed to ramp up the sexy time and show how awesome the two are. I would prefer watching Gabrielle be a sad sack third wheel then watch what this Ulysses is doing to my favoritest character. And is he supposed to be in his twenties?! Like hell he is. Ah thank you Gabrielle. We needed levity.
More levity! Gabrielle floats up to the pirate ship doing a sexy dance to some atrocious music. Renee O’Connor really knows how to work with shit material. Or she just gets good directors. As I feel this episode does not have the best direction I choose to believe the former.
Xena and Ulysses sneak up and prepare the ship for sailing. Gabrielle owns some dudes but everyone thinks it’s sexy. Then Xena just watches Gabrielle dance. I thought she was supposed to be making eyes at Ulysses? Poor direction! Anyways. Fightin’. Some bagpipes. Ulysses jumps in front of an arrow to save Gabrielle. Whatever between Gabrielle and Xena that arrow was of no consequence. Ulysses you’re dumb. Xena says the same. They take the ship and Xena sends Ulysses down to the hold and sets sail, because once upon a time she was a pirate.
Another sexy time scene. I do not find it sexy. Ulysses talks about his bow at home. Um, the reason only Ulysses could use it was because he was a stout little bad ass who was also quick enough to string a bow. Not because it was magical or whatever this guy was suggesting. Ugh. Being a jerky fan girl. Sorry.
Senora Third Wheel interrupts the sexy time. She’s feeling sea sick.
MORE sexy time while Gabrielle wanders around looking grosser and grosser. They discuss passing the sirens. Xena and Gabrielle will be immune to their song because they have vaginas. Yea for vaginas!
The next morning Gabrielle is still vomiting up a storm. I know her feelings, though it was because I smoked and drank too much at a wedding. Xena teases her. Ulysses sees some terrible clouds in the distance. Gabrielle does not look excited.
The storm shows up. Xena ties Ulysses up because they’re getting near the sirens at the same time as the storm. Gabrielle and Xena dance a little? Nice two step!
SIRENS. That one siren needs to get that mole on her arm checked. But yeah they start doing their thing. It’s pretty I guess. My vagina must be working because I am not compelled to smash a boat against rocks for that music. Ulysses? His penis is drawn to the music. Gabrielle thinks he’s crazy and is clearly trying to hear what he hears. She makes the mistake of getting too close and he kicks her and frees himself.
On the surface he tries to take the ship and head for the rocks. IDIOT. Xena does what any former warlord and pirate would do to reclaim the ship and save Ulysses. MUSICAL NUMBER.
Her song? Also not that amazing. Sounds a little flat. Also sounds like something I’d sing when trying to unnerve my dog. But this is just what Ulysses needed. His ears and penis are drawn to her nasal singing. They pass by and he apologizes for knocking Gabrielle around. Poor little Senora Third Wheel.
That night Gabrielle sleeps and Xena and Ulysses have more sexy time. He invites her to stay in Ithaca. So they can bone. I do not find this relationship believable at all. Also this scene is just poorly written. And here comes the soul mate talk. And some kissing. The only part of this scene that works? The look of utter devastation on Gabrielle’s face. Ouch.
The next morning Gabrielle does what a good gay lady who likes her straight best friend should do. She has that talk with Xena. This is another scene that really works. The writing is okay, but man do the actresses sell it. Then Ulysses has to open his dumb mouth and spot Ithaca in the distance. I enjoy that Gabrielle is clearly more pleased with landing on Ithaca then Ulysses.
Ulysses gives them the tour of Ithaca. You know the one. Where they point out all the shit they’re sentimental about that the rest of us could care less about. Then they spot some bad guys beating some dude up because there hasn’t been a fight in a while. FIGHTING INTERLUDE. The guy takes a minute to recognize Ulysses. They hug. This actor who plays Ulysses seriously irritates me. And his friend sucks too. Oh and Penelope is alive. Kink in that relationship with Xena. She may be a murderer and a scoundrel but she’s no adulterer!
So now they have to send off the suitors and save Penelope. Because Penelope is one of the cleverest women in antiquity she presents the bow and uses it as a test. String the bow and shoot it through some holes in some axes. Only she doesn’t mention the axes. Whatever.
The threesome sneak into the castle. Ulysses tells Xena he wants to run away with her. Toooooooooooool. Xena lets him down hard because she’s no adulterer! Gabrielle watches it all and she, being the all wise gay girlfriend who’s in love with her straight friend, knows exactly why Xena was being nasty, and because she likes to hurt herself she makes it sound like she’d be okay with Ulysses traveling with them.
Upstairs the bow stringing commences. I don’t have the heart to tell them that isn’t how you string a bow. Ulysses goes to stringing the bow. He can’t. Ah ha ha. IDIOT. Xena gets under the table and helps. Gabrielle gets drunk instead of serving drinks? A fight breaks out and everyone is in awe. Yeah, no axes were involved in this test. But that arrow went through like five guys. I will not comment on that shitty fight between a pirate, Gabrielle and a chair.
All is well and Xena and Gabrielle get ready to set sail. Ulysses, being an asshole, wants to come with. Xena pulls a Born Free and sends the little cheetah away. Gabrielle you have succeeded. You are no longer the third wheel! All is well but not really because Ulysses is a monumental asshole.
How this episode makes historians weep
It took Odysseus TEN YEARS to make it home after the war. And his name was Odysseus, not Ulysses, but like Hercules he gets stuck with a dumb Roman name. I’m over it. Many parts of his story were removed for time and I won’t number them all. However the bit with the sirens? He made sure he was tied tight enough that he’d be unable to escape. But this is just a symptom of the difference between Ulysses and Odysseus. Ulysses is a monumental idiot. Not the least bit clever except when written that way in specific scenes with Xena.
The homecoming is also wildly inaccurate, but there was a nice shout out to his dog, who waited twenty years for him to return.
Oh and Poseidon really did make every attempt possible to stop Odysseus from getting home, and it really was because he blinded his son. But Poseidon never appeared personally and Odysseus never ever would have had a relationship with Poseidon like he does here.
- Out sings sirens.
- Strings a bow only Ulysses should be able to string.
Where it stands in the series
I love love love Gabrielle in this episode and how she deals with her relationship with Xena. It’s wildly different from The Return of Callisto and I suspect it never would have played out this way or been played by O’Connor this way if we hadn’t had the episode, The Quest. She really plays it as the best friend pining after what she can’t have and Lawless plays it as that friend who knows she can have a choice but chooses to ignore it. Awesome work.
Ulysses is never seen again. Thank goodness.
Oh and this is the introduction of Gabrielle’s chronic sea sickness.
Despite Gabrielle’s incessant hurling, Ulysses’s ship was not harmed during the making of this motion picture.
Look, John D’Aquino is just miscast as Ulysses. It’s a huge problem and the reason the episode fails. Even the creative staff and the actors are on record saying the same. I’m also downrating this one because I think the writing, and the directing, is subpar. The story never gels, and it’s not just bad casting. Ulysses is written as a monumentally selfish prick and idiot. Odysseus has mad hubris, but he’s really fucking smart.
At least Penelope is handled fairly well. The cleverest woman in antiquity has her wits remain intact…though she doesn’t have a kid in this version and is at least 10 years younger then in The Odyssey.
The only redeeming aspect of this episode is O’Connor’s work as Gabrielle and the few scenes she and Lawless share. It’s smartly played and stands out from the rest of the episode.
Episode 20, The Price.
Xena goes to the dark side and they fight some crazy guys covered in paint. One of the best episodes of the series.