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Gabrielle is Forced to Kill
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 1
Antagonist Morpheus
Setting Greece, Dreamscape
In-Universe Date Year 0
Production # 76905
Filming Dates 19 July to 28 July 1995
Original Air-Date 18 September 1995
Written By Steven L. Sears
Directed By Bruce Seth Green
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 3 of 134
Order in Season 3 of 24
Order in Franchise 24 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Chariots of War"
Next Episode in Series "Cradle of Hope"
Previous Episode in Franchise "What's in a Name?"
Next Episode in Franchise "Siege at Naxos"
Title Image

The rules of survival. Number one. If you can run, run. Number two. If you can't run, surrender, and then run. Number three. If you're outnumbered, let them fight each other, while you run. - Xena tells Gabrielle the rules of survival.

Xena enters a mystical realm known as the Dreamscape to save Gabrielle, who has been taken there and forced to complete a series of daunting tasks, that are designed to make her lose her blood innocence and will make her worthy of becoming the bride of the dream god, Morpheus.


Gabrielle plays with Xena's sword

Gabrielle is fantasizing about being a great swordswoman. Xena sees her playing with her sword and isn't impressed. Gabrielle asks Xena to teach her how to use a sword, apparently a conversation they've already had several times. And Xena refuses, again. Xena tells Gabrielle that she doesn't understand what's involved that when you pull a sword you have to be prepared to kill. Gabrielle, missing the point totally, insists she doesn't want to learn to kill, just to survive.

Xena tells Gabrielle the rules of survival.

Xena tells her the rules of survival: "Number one: if you can run, run. Number two: if you can't run, surrender and then run. Number three: if you're outnumbered, let them fight each other while you run. Number four: talk your way out of it. Moments later they are attacked by bandits, Xena doesn't take her own advice.

Xena and Gabrielle are attacked by warriors.

While fighting them, Xena somehow loses her sword, which Gabrielle picks up. Xena has to come to her rescue as the bandits converge on Gabrielle. As the fight ends, Xena killing the last of them, we see two hooded men watching from the undergrowth. They are very impressed, but not with Xena. With Gabrielle. Morpheus will be pleased, he says, revealing Gabrielle is the one.

A local trader wonders why Gabrielle is around during the season.

Xena and Gabrielle ride into town. Gabrielle, still miffed by their earlier argument, wanders off, ostensibly to find some supplies, while Xena seeks out a local trader: she needs a new sharpening stone. The trader is interested in Gabrielle and when Xena asks where she should report a dead highwayman, he seems relieved when Xena confirms it wasn't Gabrielle that killed him. Before Xena can question him, a blind old man, Elkton, comes into the shop. He wants a new halter for his horse, but the trader refuses to serve him despite Elkton's insistence that he's no longer a mystic. Xena, offended by the trader's attitude, buys a halter and as she leaves the store, places the halter where Elkton can find it.

Gabrielle gets a Breast dagger.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle has found the shop of a swordsmith and is inspecting his wares. The swordsmith seems surprised to see her: he tells her she should be in hiding unless she has no reason to fear Morpheus. Gabrielle can't think of any reason to fear the god of dreams and says so. Instantly, the swordsmith assumes she is a warrior and goes into full salesman-mode. Gabrielle, flattered, plays along, eventually buying a breast dagger, which Xena immediately confiscates. There's a disturbance in town -- all of the people flee to their homes, bolting doors and shuttering windows.

Xena demands to know why Gabrielle was kidnapped.

Three warriors attack Xena. She fights them off easily, but when they've gone, so is Gabrielle. A very angry Xena interrogates the trader. All he can tell her is that every Solstice the mystics of Morpheus come down from the mountain and take a young girl...who is never seen again. Xena goes in search of Elkton, remembering he is a former mystic.

Praying to Morpheus.

Manus, Priest of Morpheus, explains to Gabrielle that she has been chosen as Morpheus' bride. To prove herself worthy, she will face a series of challenges, each one a fight to the death. If she survives, she will become the god's bride. Gulp. Gabrielle's in trouble. More trouble than she realizes. From Elkton, Xena learns the truth behind Manus' mystical talk: that Gabrielle was chosen for her blood innocence, the fact that she has never killed. The challenges are designed to trick her into taking a life... and the moment she does, she will be sacrificed to Morpheus.

Xena learns a lot about her past mistakes in the dreamscape

Xena asks Elkton to tell her where she can find Gabrielle, but Elkton tells her it's hopeless: the temple is well guarded and by the time she fights her way in, Gabrielle will be dead. Unless...and Elkton reveals his prophetic vision of a woman warrior with a dark past who can fight her way through the Dreamscape Passage to defeat Morpheus. Xena agrees to try it his way. Elkton shows her a way to travel the Dreamscape Passage, a mystical journey through her own mind which will, if she makes it through, bring her body to the temple of Morpheus. If she fails, she will die.

Xena enters the Dreamscape

Entering the Dreamscape, Xena finds herself in darkness. She is surrounded by warriors chanting her name. She protests that she left this life behind her. Xena meets a man who claims to be one of her victims. Other figures appear, all villagers slain by Xena's army, all accusing her of crimes. One of them hands her a sword. Kill us, he tells her and the others repeat it as a chant. Xena takes the sword and smashes it on the ground, telling Morpheus it won't work: That he's using the past of a Xena long dead. The figures vanish. Manus somehow knows that Xena has entered the Dreamscape Passage. He sends warriors to search for Elkton and Xena's body.

Gabrielle as seen in one of the dreamscape Passages by Xena

Gabrielle's first challenge: She is handed a sword and shown through a door, she has to find her way to the end of the passage. There'll be two men trying to stop you. Stop them first. The passage is hung with muslin-like cloth, meaning that Gabrielle and anyone else in there can see only shadows. Remembering Xena's advice, Gabrielle trick the two warriors into killing each other. She has passed the test and is returned to her imprisonment, where she falls asleep. Somehow, Gabrielle meets Xena in her dreams and Xena is able to warn her not to kill. Gabrielle wants to know what's plan B? Xena tells her to use what she's good at to stall: give Xena time to break through the Dreamscape Passage.

Gabrielle in her second trial

Gabrielle is woken by Manus, who tells her to prepare for the next challenge. She tries to stall, but Manus is aware of what Xena is doing. He assures Gabrielle that he has warriors searching for her body: she'll be dead before she can reach the temple. Manus' warriors break into Elkton's hut. Both the mystic and Xena's body are gone. They continue their search. Gabrielle's second challenge: Again she is given a sword, but she discards it at once. Killing is not an option. In a mysterious cavern, she is attacked by three warriors. She grabs a spear, breaking off the point and uses the shaft to defend herself.

Xena faces off against herself in the Dreamscape

Gabrielle realizes she might be able to talk her way out of this one. She tells the warriors she'll take them on one at a time: whichever of them is the best, first. This prompts them to fight each other, to test which of them is the best. Once again, she survives, but now Manus realizes that Gabrielle knows she mustn't kill. "The next challenge," he tells her, "will not have options. You take the life offered you, or you die." In the dreamscape passage, Xena is confronted by the first man she ever killed, as well as the most recent. They taunt her with the knowledge that Gabrielle is going to kill...and what that act could twist her innocent mind into. Xena refuses to be provoked. Recognizing at last that she is within her own mind, she exerts her will to banish the apparitions.

Gabrielle during the final trial

Moving on, she finds the door Elkton described. Now Xena must literally confront her own dark side. "You can't go through that door until you have the key," Dark Xena, aka Doppelganger, taunts her. She tempts Xena with the past, telling her that being good can't last. Xena doesn't believe it. "All through this dreamscape, I've been confronted with people I killed in the past and I couldn't bring myself to kill them again...It means I finally get to kill *you*." They fight, but Dark Xena seems physically stronger. Meanwhile, Manus' warriors have found the place where Elkton is guarding Xena's body. They prepare to kill her. Gabrielle's third challenge: she is in a passage with a wall of sharpened stakes moving, forcing her toward an armed warrior. She can either kill the warrior or die between the stakes and his sword. Gabrielle is close to panic. There's a sword on the ground in front of her, but she knows she can't use it.

“Punching’s all right?”

Dark Xena is taunting her rival. Xena begins to understand: if it wasn't for her dark side she wouldn't be the warrior she is. Whether she likes it or not, she owes everything she is to the darkness of her past. But she can control her dark side. Finally breaking out of the dreamscape passage, Xena appears in the temple, ready to fight. Just in time to save Gabrielle. Manus, desperate to salvage something, orders his warriors to kill them both. Gabrielle throws Xena the sword and Xena fights the warriors off, while Gabrielle knocks Manus out. Later, the local villagers express their gratitude to Xena for making the valley safe again.

Xena tells Gabrielle a story

Elkton is reinstated as head priest of the mystics and Morpheus grants him the return of his eyesight. He has Manus placed in his own dreamscape to let his demons decide his fate. Elkton tells Xena that if she's ever in the area, she's welcome. Fresh from confronting her past crimes, the offer of friendship means a lot to her. Gabrielle, meanwhile, seems to have changed her mind about wanting to learn sword. Xena thinks that's a good idea.


Disclaimers start at "Cradle of Hope."


Background Information[]

"It was thrilling to play my evil double. The large dark contacts that I wore completely change the shape of your face. Funnily enough, the size of your pupil makes a huge difference, not just darker, opaque, it was the fish eyes! The only difference (in playing a double role) is that you have to work the scene so you know exactly how long it takes which character to speak and what your reaction will be. I enjoy doing those things, they're a sole challenge, and I'm a solo challenge person, so I loved it"
― Lucy Lawless on playing double roles

Source: Xena: Warrior Princess: The Official Guide to the Xenaverse book and many thanks to http://jacksonupperco.com/ for personally researched, and transcribed

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Shooting Dates: July 19th, 1995 through July 28th, 1995 (8 Day Shoot).
  • This was the fifth episode of the series to be written, but the third to be filmed. "Death in Chains" was the third episode to be written after "Sins of the Past" and "Chariots of War."
  • This isn't the first time Renee O'Connor played a character that was meant to be sacrificed to a god by Nathaniel Lees. Nathaniel played the Blue Priest in the movie Hercules and the Lost Kingdom, who tried to sacrifice Deianeira of Troy to Hera, played by Renee.
  • Renee O’Connor on Gabrielle's character progression: “I think Gabrielle was always supposed to be comic relief. That was her role, originally, like Ioleus [sic] from Hercules. Maybe that’s why [the writers] wanted to establish the character [more in “Dreamworker”] and let you know who she was, so you’d find her sympathetic. She was a bit annoying [at first], wasn’t she?” (The Chakram Newsletter: #23)[1]
  • Steven L. Sears added the bit about Gabrielle being born with six toes on one of her feet because his own father was born with an extra toe that eventually fell off.
  • Bruce Seth Green on Directing the episode: “It was a tough episode. We were doing it during [New Zealand’s] winter, which meant there was a lot of mud in New Zealand, [and] so much of it had to do with the weather. [Xena was] shooting episodes in one day less than Hercules, at least when I started, but it was great to see Lucy again. [The cast and crew] were very nice people.” (Starlog Magazine #280 – November 2000)[2]

Key Events[]

  • This is the first episode to handle the dramatic choice between fighting and non-violence with Gabrielle rather than Xena. This will continue to be a central theme in the development of Gabrielle's character in seasons to come.
  • This is the first episode to introduce the concept of blood innocence. This will play a pivotal role in a later story arc.


  • This is the first episode of the series where Xena doesn't use her chakram.
  • Gabrielle broke off the blade of a spear, effectively neutralizing its deadliness. This is possibly foreshadowing her acquiring her own staff by the Amazons later in the season.
  • The god Morpheus appeared to dreamers in human shapes. His name is from Morphe, Greek for "form" alluding to the dream god's ability to assume any form.
  • First appearance of the highly impractical "breast dagger". Xena will retain custody of it and use it occasionally throughout the season.
  • The first person Xena ever killed was a man named Termin. She killed him by slitting his throat.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]

  • Desmond Kelly as Elkton
  • Bruce Hopkins as Termin
  • Nathaniel Lees as Manus
  • Patrick Smith as Dolas
  • Sydney Jackson as Storekeeper
  • Colin Francis as Swordsmith
  • John Palmer as Baruch
  • Matthew Jeffs as Gothos
  • Michael Daly as Mesmer


  1. [1] many thanks for personally researched, and transcribed
  2. [2] many thanks for personally researched, and transcribed

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