Back in the Bottle
Xena Powers back bottle
Xena defends herself against Khan's army
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 5
Antagonist Pao Ssu, Ming T'ien, Khan
Setting Chin
In-Universe Date Year 4
Production # V0909
Filming Dates 7 July to 16 July 1999
Original Air-Date 15 November 1999
Story By Rob Tapert & Buddy Williers
Teleplay By Buddy Williers
Directed By Rick Jacobson
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 97 of 134
Order in Season 7 of 22
Order in Franchise 265 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Purity"
Next Episode in Series "Little Problems"
Previous Episode in Franchise "A Wicked Good Time"
Next Episode in Franchise "Full Circle"
Title Image
Bakc in the Bottle TITLE

When Joxer discovers he didn't destroy all of the Black Powder, Xena receives visions from the future, telling her that Chin was still in danger. Pao Ssu was revived, along with an enemy that Xena thought she'd killed a long time ago.


Xena is testing her use of "The Power" on a dead rabbit that a hungry Gabrielle has just caught for dinner, turning the animal to stone. Joxer appears and an annoyed Gabrielle asks him for money so that she can go into town to buy food. Joxer withdraws a pouch from his poncho and instead of money, he discovers that he didn't destroy all remnants of the black powder. Taking the pouch, Xena gets a vision of the black powder being used to kill Gabrielle, Joxer and an unknown warrior in battle. It's back to Chin for the trio.

When they reach Chin they meet K'ao Hsin aiding refugees who are escaping from the notorious conquerer Genghis Khan who knows about the black powder thanks to the merged spirits of Pao Ssu and Ming T'ien conjured by an incantation Khan chanted.


Pao Ssu's split personality was not harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Background InformationEdit

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • Rob Tapert (Executive Producer/Writer/Director) was not happy with the two Chin episodes, Purity and Back in the Bottle, and revealed in an interview with Whoosh in January 2001 his disappointment with them, "The whole reason for Xena’s conflict in China… was about how, as a pregnant mother, could she take 100,000 lives in order to save the lives of a few, but that whole concept got dropped out of the show." Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] added in Ming T’ien to give it some semblance of order but script wise.
  • In The Chakram Newsletter issue 10, Renee O'Connor did not like the Gabrielle/Lin Chi as a relationship. She praised actor Anthony Wong, but felt he wasn't the right love interest for Gabrielle and alot of the writers saw this. On working with Wong, Renee explained He’s a brilliant actor, though. He’s the sort of actor who reacts off what you do – completely natural and honest in the scene and I really enjoyed working with him. It’s unfortunate he was cast in a role that couldn’t eventuate into anything.
  • Lucy Lawless was 6 months pregnant when this episode was filmed.
  • In The Season Five DVD Extras, Rick Jacobson the Director of the episode remarked The episode had problems right from the start and couldn't really put his finger in what went wrong, but the script went through many changes with so many people onboard. I knew the characters; I knew what they were doing… [But] I think [Lin Qi] was probably just miscast and Rob [Tapert] raised flags to it right from the get-go… but… myself, Eric Gruendemann, Chloe Smith, we all kind of felt that, ‘No, this guy is good.’… This [story] was from the mind of Rob. He loved the idea that Xena was responsible for these thousands of terra cotta soldiers that were unearthed.


  • The chant that is uttered by Khan to resurrect Ming T'ien and Pao Ssu was spoken in Cantonese, as are all the conversations that took place between Khan's soldiers. Cantonese is widely spoken in southern China, but it's vaguely implied that most episodes set in Chin are set in the north, due to their proximity to the great wall, Manchu fashion, and the fact that Xena usually travelled north of the Himalayas to get to Chin.
  • "Khan" is the Mongolian word for "king" or "chieftain". The character in this episode was probably based on Genghis Khan, the greatest of Khans who created the largest land empire in history during the 12th century CE – some time after the presumed ages of Hercules and Xena.
  • Khan and his army are turned into terra-cotta statues. The real Terra-cotta Army was had no connection to any Khan, as it was built for the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China who reigned during the 3rd century BCE.
  • This is the second time Xena has defied a prophecy, the first time took place in One Against an Army.
  • Gunpowder, like most explosives, contains its own oxidising agent (the saltpeter, 'herb for preserving meats'). Thus removing the surrounding air (and oxygen) will NOT stop gunpowder from burning.

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