Legendary Journeys

Altared States
As dArc PDVD 1662.jpg
Anteus is brainwashed into killing his son
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 1
Antagonist Mael
Setting Greece
In-Universe Date Year 1
Production # 76926
Filming Dates February 1996
Original Air-Date 22 April 1996
Written By Chris Manheim
Directed By Michael Levine
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 19 of 134
Order in Season 19 of 24
Order in Franchise 57 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "The Prodigal"
Next Episode in Series "Ties That Bind"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Protean Challenge"
Next Episode in Franchise "The Wedding of Alcmene"
Title Image
Altared States TITLE.jpg

Xena and Gabrielle must work out why a father is trying to sacrifice his son to his God, and why this god would ask him to do such a task.


Xena and Gabrielle rescue a young boy at a lake

A young boy is being told to run away and hide by his mother. He doesn't understand why, but neither does she, and they have a short parting hug before he leaves.

While fishing in a calm lake, Xena and Gabrielle witness the boy running from a crowd who seem to capture him. Using a line of caught fish as a weapon, Xena, aided by Gabrielle and her staff, succeed in chasing away the boy's would-be captors.

While speaking with the boy, Xena finds out that the leader of the group is out to catch him was none other than the boy's brother. Furthermore, the brother and his gang were out to catch the boy because his father was supposed to sacrifice him on an altar. The understanding is that the family is the head of a monotheistic group whose god has ordered the sacrifice of the son. Xena, not content with accepting a god would require the sacrifice of an innocent young boy, hides the boy in a cave and orders Gabrielle to watch over him while she tries to get answers.

Xena finds the family and speaks with the father who seems ill and conflicted, but believes that his god is the one true god and commanding him to sacrifice his son. Still, he insists upon peace and not violence while his older son is more than ready to engage Xena in a sword fight.

It soon becomes apparent, that the older son is drugging his father's bread when Gabrielle eats some that was meant for the father, but was put in the boy's pack as an innocent gift from his mother. The drugs make Gabrielle pass out which causes the boy to return to his mother for help. While the mother searches for medicine, the older brother and his gang of breakaway, aggressive zealots kidnap him again. Xena intuits the plan: Motivated by jealousy, the older brother drugs the father so that in a hallucinatory state, the older brother might convince the father to kill his youngest son.

Xena struggles on a rope bridge

It turns out that the older son used a heavy sheet of metal to make the sound of thunder and a bullhorn to amplify his voice, and pretended to be the group's God. In his hallucinatory state, the father couldn't help but believe the amplified voices. As the father and son both prepare to go through with the sacrifice, being unaware of the hoax, Xena and the older brother meet in a confrontation which ends in the older son's death when he refuses Xena's help and falls in a gorge.

Despite Xena and Gabrielle's best efforts, they are too late to stop the sacrifice themselves but a booming voice from Heaven tells the father to stay his hand as his faith is enough. The father and son embrace.

Xena and Gabrielle realizing that neither of them stopped the sacrifice. Xena realizes it wasn't Gabrielle who used the bullhorn and Gabrielle realizes it wasn't a hallucination on her part. The two look to the sky.


No Unrelenting or Severely Punishing Deities were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Filming Dates: March 4 to March 12, 1996 (7 day shoot)
  • It is very clear that this episode uses the story of Abraham and Issac from Hebrew Scripture as its inspiration. Even the names Anteus, Ikus and Mael are variations of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael respectively. Several things shown are not present in scripture, such as: Ikus' mother going to worship the pagan gods instead of the One God. The father being manipulated is, of course, another dramatic device, as well as the death of Mael.
  • This is first appearance of Karl Urban (Mael) on Xena: Warrior Princess. He will later appear as the pivotal character of Julius Caesar in many other episodes of Xena and one episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ("Render Unto Caesar"). He will also later appear as Cupid in two episodes of Xena and one episode of Hercules.
  • The title of this episode is a play on words of the 1980 film, Altered States.

Key Events[]

  • This is the first episode to introduce the idea of a monotheistic religion/belief. This theme would become pivotal in from Season Three onwards in Xena: Warrior Princess. Characters such as Dahak, Eve and Eli would revolve heavily around this theme.


  • Chakram Count: 1
  1. To prevent Anteus from killing Ikus, although it is intercepted by the One God and returns to Xena.

Links and References[]

Main Cast[]

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