|A Solstice Carol|
Xena Disguised as Clotho
|Series||Xena: Warrior Princess|
|In-Universe Date||Year 1|
|Filming Dates||29 July to 6 August 1996|
|Original Air-Date||9 December 1996|
|Written By||Chris Manheim|
|Directed By||John T. Kretchmer|
|Order in Series||33 of 134|
|Order in Season||9 of 22|
|Order in Franchise||84 of 304|
|Previous Episode in Series||"Ten Little Warlords"|
|Next Episode in Series||"The Xena Scrolls"|
|Previous Episode in Franchise||"A Star to Guide Them"|
|Next Episode in Franchise||"The Lady and the Dragon"|
King Silvas is holding a court and sentencing an old couple to hard labor for celebrating the Winter Solstice, which he outlaws in his kingdom. He then tells Senticles, his clerk, to ready an eviction notice, and Silvas adjourns the court.
Xena and Gabrielle arrive in Silvas' kingdom full of festive Winter Solstice spirit, but quickly fall prey to the cunning young pickpocket Lynal, who steals Xena's chakram when he thinks she's not looking. Curious about the boy, the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle follow him to an orphanage where they find a group of clean but threadbare children in the care of a wonderful matronly woman, Melana. There, perched on top of a partially decorated pine tree, is Xena's chakram, adorned with colorful ribbons.
All are shocked by the sudden arrival of Senticles, who bursts into the orphanage to proclaim that its residents will be evicted at midnight for failure to pay the huge taxes demanded by the King. Seeing the holiday decorations in the room, one of Senticles' guards calls for the immediate arrest of Melana and her charges for violating the King's ban on celebrating the Winter Solstice.
Grabbing her chakram, Xena leaps into action and manages to tie the guards up to prevent the arrest. Upon questioning Senticles, Xena is amazed to learn that the notoriously hard-hearted King Silvas outlawed the annual celebrations some 30 years before, after losing his wife, Queen Analia, one Solstice Eve. She and Gabrielle also discover that Senticles, a fundamentally timid and good-hearted soul, was formerly a toymaker of some renown, who was stripped of his profession by the embittered King. Gabrielle becomes determined to show the King the error of his ways and comes up with an elaborate plan, enlisting the help of Xena, Senticles and a donkey named Tobias, whom she rescues from the tannery.
That night, Xena steals into the King's bedchamber and gives the startled ruler an ominous warning about shutting down the orphanage. Fleeing just ahead of the guards, she discovers a secret chamber exquisitely decked out to celebrate the Winter Solstice but covered with 30 years of dust and cobwebs. On one wall hangs a wedding portrait of the King and his young bride, Queen Analia, wearing a beautiful pendant. Later that night, Xena crept into the King's room again, disguised as Clotho, the first of the Fates whose province is the past.
She frightens Silvas into following her to the secret Solstice room where Gabrielle, veiled and costumed to look like the young Queen Analia, is suspended by a rope and appears to be a ghost floating in mid-air. Her disguise is almost blown when the donkey Tobias, who is holding her aloft, hears a distant whistle and lets the rope go slack.
Xena, however, manages to distract the King by giving him a goblet of drugged wine, allowing Gabrielle time to recover her disguise and warn Silvas that he must reject his narrow and greedy path before it's too late. The King soon succumbs to the sleeping potion in the wine and passes out. Xena and Gabrielle express confusion over Silvas's assertion that Analia walked out on him, as opposed to having died years before.
Some time later, Xena revisits the King, this time disguised as Lachesis, the second of the Fates whose province is the present. She wakes Silvas, forces him to dress as a commoner and takes him to the orphanage so he can see the results of his cruelty. Posing as weary travelers, the two are warmly welcomed by Lynal and the other children and invited to share in their Solstice celebration.
Meanwhile, Gabrielle and Senticles are on their way to the orphanage to deliver a bag full of toys Senticles has kept hidden for years when they spot a group of soldiers about to kick in the orphanage door. Xena springs into action when the soldiers threaten her and their king-in-disguise with arrest, but the strain is too much for Silvas and he soon passes out.
As Xena and Melana tend to him, Xena notices that Melana is wearing the distinctive jeweled pendant she saw on Queen Analia in the castle wedding portrait. The warrior princess returns to the thick of battle and together with Gabrielle, Senticles, Lynal and the children, uses Senticles' many toys as makeshift weapons to defeat the guards. When King Silvas awakens and sees the hooded figure of Melana, he assumes she is Atropos, the Fate of the future. Terrified that he is facing imminent death, the King vows that he can and will change his ways and joins the battle on the side of the children. When the guards are finally vanquished, Silvas is shocked to discover that the hooded figure is, in fact, his precious wife Analia, who has been running the orphanage since she walked out on him 30 years before.
Leaving the king and queen happy for the first time in decades, Xena and Gabrielle depart and later on the road they meet a man and woman traveling with a baby. Gabrielle gives them the donkey. The woman tells her, "May God smile on you always for your kindness." Xena then gives Gabrielle a Solstice present: it is the carved sheep like the one Gabrielle had as a child. "I don't have a gift for you," Gabrielle says as she thanks Xena. "Gabrielle, you are a gift to me," Xena tells her.
- Senticles was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, several chimneys are in dire need of repair.
Behind the Scenes
- Both the title and the plot of this episode is based on Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol.
- One of the toys that Xena uses to fight off the guards is a Hercules doll. The theme music from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is briefly played when she picks it up.
- Nicko Vella, who plays Orphan 3 in this episode, will later play Mabon in the Eire cycle of episodes on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Solan in "God Fearing Child".
- Peter Vere-Jones would later play Zeus in "Judgment Day" of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (which also featured Xena and Gabrielle).
- "A Solstice Carol" was considered for a possible musical episode, but the pitch did not pan out just yet.
- Gabrielle creates a medley of the famous Christmas Carol "Jingle Bells" when she hits the guards with the bells in the final fight scene.
- Also in the final fight scene, Senticles aims a toy crossbow loaded with a candy cane at a soldier and says "Go ahead, punk. Make my day." This is followed by a western-style of music, which is a direct reference to Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry".
- Senticles is obviously (and especially by the end) based on Santa Claus.
- This is the second episode of Xena: Warrior Princess to be heavily influenced by Christianity. The first was "Altared States", although wasn't such a heavy (or as obvious) influence.
- In this episode, Xena gives Gabrielle a Wooden Lamb as her Solstice present. This Wooden lamb would later become key the Rift, as Gabrielle gave this lamb to Hope in "Gabrielle's Hope", which later allows Gabrielle to recognize her in "Maternal Instincts".
- When Xena and Gabrielle are constructing their plan, Xena asks Senticles if he'll take her to Silvas. When she says: "Right Senticles?", her mouth does not move when she says Senticles, only when she says "Right".
- This episode premiered the same night as "A Star to Guide Them", a Christmas-themed episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Based on both episodes' endings, they appear to take place more or less at the same time.
- Lynal mentions how Hercules turned King Midas away from his greedy ways. That backstory was established in "All That Glitters".
- This episode appears on the Region 1 Season two, Disc three DVD as "The Solstice Carol" instead of "A Solstice Carol."
- Chakram Count: 1
- When Xena throws it to tie up the guards with ribbon.
Links and References
- Sher Booth as Melana/Queen Analia
- Daniel James as Lynal
- Genevieve Lucre as Orphan 1
- Jaimee Kaire-Gataulu as Orphan 2
- Nicko Vella as Orphan 3
- Junior Chile as Orphan 4
- Hemi Rudolph as Head Guard
- Mike Howell as Guard 1
- Lucas Young as Bearded Guard
- Tony Bishop as Donkey Owner
- Johnny Glass as Man
- Karen Morgan as Woman
- UNCREDITED as Jesus
- King Silvas
- Melana/Queen Analia
- Orphan 1
- Orphan 2
- Orphan 3
- Orphan 4
- Head Guard
- Guard 1
- Bearded Guard
- Donkey Owner
- Hercules (Mentioned)
- Creasus (Mentioned)
- Clotho (Impersonated by Xena)
- Lachesis (Impersonated by Xena)
- Atropos (Impersonated by Melana)
- Hades (Mentioned)
|<< Season 1||Season 2||Season 3 >>|
|#01||Orphan of War||#09||A Solstice Carol||#17||The Execution|
|#02||Remember Nothing||#10||The Xena Scrolls||#18||Blind Faith|
|#03||The Giant Killer||#11||Here She Comes... Miss Amphipolis||#19||Ulysses|
|#04||Girls Just Wanna Have Fun||#12||Destiny||#20||The Price|
|#05||Return of Callisto||#13||The Quest||#21||The Lost Mariner|
|#06||Warrior... Princess... Tramp||#14||A Necessary Evil||#22||A Comedy of Eros|
|#07||Intimate Stranger||#15||A Day in the Life|
|#08||Ten Little Warlords||#16||For Him the Bell Tolls|