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Chariots of War
Chariots of War arrow.jpg
Xena catches two arrows, before being hit herself
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 1
Antagonist Cycnus, Sphaerus
Setting Greece
In-Universe Date Year 0
Production # 76902
Filming Dates 6 July to 18 July 1995
Original Air-Date 11 September 1995
Story By Josh Becker & Jack Perez
Teleplay By Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster
Directed By Harley Cokeliss
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 2 of 134
Order in Season 2 of 24
Order in Franchise 22 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Sins of the Past"
Next Episode in Series "Dreamworker"
Previous Episode in Franchise "All That Glitters"
Next Episode in Franchise "What's in a Name?"
Title Image
Cow t.jpg

"I'm looking for my best friend, maybe you've seen her? Six foot tall, dark hair, lots of leather, fights like the Harpies in a bad mood." - Gabrielle describing Xena

Xena is hit by an arrow whilst defending a village, rendering her unable to stop their brutal attack. While she recuperates in the care of a local family, Gabrielle is left to fend for herself against cutthroats and thieves in a tavern while awaiting Xena's return.


You don’t have to be strong all the time, Xena; sometimes it’s good for the soul to be soft.

Xena and Gabrielle walk along in a tavern, as Gabrielle is telling Xena a story about Zeus and his appreciation for mortals and turning two lovers into oak trees. Xena doesn't seem interested and wants to know what the point of this story is, to which Gabrielle tells her she believes everyone will find their tree in the forest someday, even Xena. Xena tells Gabrielle she is going to ride up ahead, and see if they can ford the Meleatus River, Otherwise, they'll have to double back two days.

Xena leaves Gabrielle at the tavern and rides ahead, promising to not forget about her.

Xena is shot with an arrow

Meanwhile, In a peaceful valley where settlers have joined together to build a new barn, thugs under the command of the evil Cycnus suddenly swoop down in chariots and destroy the structure. Xena rides up just in time to pull a young boy to safety before he is crushed by the collapsing timbers.

Xena's wounds are tended to by Darius

For saving the boy's life, Sphaerus, Cycnus' son and the leader of the thugs, strikes her down with an arrow and rides off. Darius, the young boy's father, nurses Xena's wound and insists that she stay with him and his children until it is healed.

You're growing more powerful, my son. Ares will be pleased.

Cycnus meanwhile is pleased that his son has managed to do well in his previous attack and attacked and put down Xena. Sphaerus hopes to be worthy of Ares.

Later as Xena recovers in bed, Darius' two children Argolis and Lycus move into Xena's room, as they talk about her and argue over who will get her hose if she dies, and Xena opens her eyes and tells the boys it will take more than an arrow to get rid of her. Lycus then runs out of the room, calling his father. Xena lies back down.

I'm sure she'll be here any minute. She's very dependable. Of course, she also takes a lot of risks.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle waits in a tavern for Xena still wondering when she'll show up. She makes conversation with the Homesteader who is annoyed by her conversations without buying a drink, as she continues her chatter.

Xena tells the three children a story about a giant.

Xena is sitting in bed up with the children gathered around her and telling them a story about a giant who had her trapped in a boxed canyon. The children are loving the story, until Darius shows up, prompting Xena to change the story to a new suitable one for children. The children laugh and so does Darius.

She lied to you. Other people have heard of this woman. She's no warrior. She's a murderer. A killer.

When the children ask Xena if she travels with a family, she says she doesn't' have a family. Xena looks at Sarita, asking what her name is, and the family reveals she hasn't talked since her mother died. There's a knock at the door. Darius opens it to see Tynus, informing them that Xena still being around will cause problems, and Darius says she'll be on her way when she is well.

The soldiers ride to Darius' house and throw their torches on the silo.

Darius looks to Xena's bed, but she is gone, having heard what was being said about her, he returns to find Xena in the stable ready to leave with Argo, and saddling her up. Darius thinks in her condition she can't leave and asks why she is afraid of letting someone take care of her. Xena admits, that Tynus is right, her past is horrible, and Darius doesn't care, because he saved his son. However, moments later, Sphaerus and his henchmen ride out of the darkness to attack again.

Gabrielle meets Sphaerus unaware of who he really is.

The next day, Gabrielle meets Sphaerus and unaware of what has happened, reveals the woman's warrior's identity.

Xena changes into something nicer for the meeting

Later, Darius and the other townspeople meet with Sphaerus to arrange a peace, though none of the townspeople know that Cycnus has given his son orders to slaughter them all. Suspecting the worst, Xena insists on accompanying Darius to the meeting, though she lays down her warrior gear and is beautifully disguised in a dress that belonged to his late wife.

Xena fights some of the men hiding in a back room.

Before Sphaerus' hidden thugs can launch their attack, however, Xena discovers their hiding place and launches a fierce fight and rips the dress and fights them. She kicks a man into the room with the villagers. Startled, the townspeople flee and Sphaerus, beginning to question his father's cruel plan, orders his men not to follow.

Xena leaves Darius and his family's home to continue the battle her way.

Fearful of Sphaerus' revenge, Darius prepares to move away before he returns. Xena tries to convince him to stay and fight, but when Darius refuses, she dons her warrior tunic and vows to continue the battle herself. At the same time, Cycnus, accusing his son of cowardice, leads the thugs in one last chariot raid against Xena and the townspeople.

You? Trouble? That's a surprise! You couldn't send a messenger? I was worried sick!

Xena rides along and sees Gabrielle, who has been looking for Xena. Xena tells her she ran into some trouble, and Gabrielle is not too pleased, but Xena tells her she is sorry. Xena quickly changes the subject to send Xena to a farmhouse for safety, and Gabrielle is not happy and refuses, and Xena eventually gives in to let her come along.

Xena and Gabrielle in a chariot fight

Sphaerus and Cycnus ride in a chariot towards the village. There's a second chariot with them. Sending Gabrielle ahead to act as a decoy, Xena takes out several of Cycnus' men before commandeering a chariot and facing Cycnus and Sphaerus with her sword and chakram. Seeing her bravery and that Darius has returned to help her, Sphaerus turns his sword against his own father, vowing that the killing must end.

One day, maybe. The strange thing is, I have never thought about having any of these things until now.

In the end, Xena slays Cycnus before he can kill his son. Sphaerus then promises that the townspeople shall live in peace and Xena and Gabrielle bid farewell to their new friends before continuing on their journey. Darius asks Xena that there's no reason she can't have the same things he does with a family. Xena admits maybe one day.

I really, really hate chariots.

Outside she meets Gabrielle ready to go. As she takes one final look at Darius and the kids, she asks Gabrielle if she ever misses her family. Gabrielle tells Xena she does sometimes, but not as much as when she is with Xena. As they walk along, Gabrielle tells Xena she learned an important lesson today, and that is she really hates chariots which makes Xena laugh.

Background Information[]

""People may guess that i was remembering childbirth, and the not submitting to the pain because there's no choice than to get through this. You know, these things have got to be done. So i just drew on that experience for that scene"
― Lucy Lawless on the arrow removal scene Source: Xena: Warrior Princess: The Official Guide to the Xenaverse book and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed

"“This [opening] scene was tough because it was my first introduction to a hard TV schedule. The director had spent all his shooting hours on other scenes and was running out of time. So he had to shoot all my stuff in one setup – with the camera in one position – all at one time. If you notice, there’s only one angle. He didn’t have time to turn the camera back around and get my response to the bartender. The director told me, ‘Renee, I need you to turn around as much as you can to the camera. Try to find a way to play it to us.’ I probably could do a better job now knowing what he meant, but I didn’t really understand how to do what he wanted and make it natural… I could have learned back against the bar and talked over my shoulder. There are ways you can do it and make it seem natural. At the time, I was so green. I was thinking, it has to be truthful. I was thinking I would talk to the bartender the way I normally would and that wouldn’t be over my shoulder. I didn’t understand playing the scene for the camera. I’ve learned since. Lucy was always good at that…” "
― Renne O'Connor on the opening scene Source: (The Chakram Newsletter: #21) and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed

Behind the Scenes[]

  • This episode was originally called "Sins of the Father".
  • Shooting dates: July 05, 1995 through July 18th, 1995 (9 day shoot).
  • This episode marks the only Xena: Warrior Princess appearance of actor Jeffrey Thomas, who plays legendary Argonaut Jason on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
  • There's a cut scene during the Xena-Darius goodbye scene, Xena says she's never thought of having a home and family until now and tells Darius he's a lucky man. She says, "Somewhere out there I have a father. I want to know about him. I want to know if he's as wonderful a man as you." Darius then kisses Xena.
  • The writers originally intended to have Sphaerus be a recurring love-interest for Gabrielle, but decided to go along with different characters throughout the first season. He was originally thought to be brought back in "Return of Callisto" and end up married to Gabrielle, but killed by Callisto. They ended up going with Perdicas instead.
  • Josh Becker revealed in an interview for The Official XENA Magazine (Issue #7 – June 2000) that the writing process for Xena was fairly difficult at the beginning of the series in production and that a Hercules story ended up becoming a Xena episode. “everybody at Renaissance went into a total panic thinking, ‘How do we make a Xena episode? What the hell is it about?’ Meanwhile, I had written a number of Hercules stories… but I went uncredited on [them]…. They couldn’t figure out how to write a Xena episode, nor did they have a writing staff so I took one of my Hercules stories and changed Hercules to Xena – it doesn’t have Gabrielle in it, because the character hadn’t been created yet! So I took this story and handed it to Rob, who said, ‘This works,’ and they bought it!”

Key Events[]

  • This episode marks the first time that the Chakram is named on-screen.


Chakram Count: 1

  1. To stop Cycnus from killing Sphaerus, his son.

Links and References[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]

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