|Many Happy Returns|
Xena give's Gabrielle her birthday present
|Series||Xena: Warrior Princess|
|In-Universe Date||Year 32|
|Filming Dates||26 February to 7 March 2001|
|Original Air-Date||14 May 2001|
|Written By||Liz Friedman & Vanessa Place|
|Directed By||Mark Beesley|
|Order in Series||131 of 134|
|Order in Season||19 of 22|
|Order in Franchise||300 of 304|
|Previous Episode in Series||"When Fates Collide"|
|Next Episode in Series||"Soul Possession"|
|Previous Episode in Franchise||"When Fates Collide"|
|Next Episode in Franchise||"Soul Possession"|
On their way to deliver the Helmet of Hermes to Thebes, Xena and Gabrielle save the young virgin Genia from being sacrificed by religious zealots. In order to change her views on the "gracious" gods that she believes in, they introduce her to Aphrodite.
Strolling through a forest, Gabrielle keeps wondering what Xena got her for her birthday. She also pleads with Xena not to pull any of her traditional birthday pranks, Xena promises, no jokes, but her fingers are crossed behind her back. Xena takes a spy glass from the horse's backpack, but when Gabrielle peers through the telescope Xena hands her, she is left with a ring of soot around her eye. Xena says they have to head to Thebes and that they are delivering the Helmet of Hermes to some kind along the way. Gabrielle wonders if her present is in Thebes. Xena's laughter is halted by a sudden shriek that sends the women to investigate. |
Zarat and his band of religious zealots are about to sacrifice the virgin Genia by hurling her off the edge of a cliff when Xena and Gabrielle intervene and order them to drop the girl. They place a girl on a contraption designed to slowly throw her over a cliff. The head zealot raises his sword to cut the last rope. Xena's chakram flies through the air and cuts the sword in half. Xena tells him to put the girl down. He says they are interrupting a religious ceremony, but Xena and Gabrielle don't care and fight the zealot followers.
During the fight, the rope is broken and the girl goes over the cliff. Xena dives over the edge with her bag in hand and as she plummets, she pulls out the Helmet of Hermes. As soon as she puts it on, she begins flying and is able to grab hold of Genia and execute a safe landing. Believing she has crossed over to the other side, Genia regards Xena with awe and confesses she's always dreamed of being sacrificed. As Xena and Gabrielle try to make sense of this new twist, they hear the zealots heading their way and the three women take off.
Once safe in the forest, Genia bows before Xena, certain that she's a goddess. Xena explains that she was able to fly only because of Hermes' helmet. Genia becomes angry and accuses them of ruining her life. Determined to sacrifice herself to the Almighty, she begins holding her breath until Xena and Gabrielle offer to introduce her to a real god on their way to deliver the Helmet to Thebes. Meanwhile, the zealot Frankus enters the lair of his father, the warlord Ferragus, to inform him that the sacrificial virgin has escaped. When Ferragus learns that Xena rescued Genia using the Helmet of Hermes, he orders his son to seize it from her.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Genai arrive at a waterfall. They make a camp and Xena and Gabrielle go swimming. Genia does not go, but she keeps peeping at the naked women through her hands. Later, as they eat, Genia realizes she ate fish and says she must do penance and sleep on the ground without cover. Xena says if they weren't supposed to eat fish, how come they taste good? Gabrielle throws a blanket to Genia and she accepts it. Xena tells Gabrielle they should get some rest: they have a big day tomorrow. As Xena and Gabrielle lay beside each other, Gabrielle begins to giggle. She tells Xena to stop it.Then Gabrielle realizes there is an eel or snake or some other creepy slimy thing at her feet. Xena snickers. Gabrielle declares war as Xena smiles.
Next morning, Xena bathes beneath the falls. Genia wakes up. Gabrielle tells her that Xena is never to be bothered while she bathes in the morning. Xena emerges from the water and notices her clothes are missing. Gabrielle tells Xena they are right under her nose. Xena looks and finds her clothes partially hidden. She grabs them and when she does a bucket of fish guts falls on her head from the tree. Gabrielle is a little stunned. She tells Xena she was sure she would have dodged those fish guts. Xena didn't see that coming, apparently. Gabrielle looks a little nervous, saying that they are even, but Xena says they're just getting started.
Later that morning, Xena, Gabrielle and Genia enter Aphrodite's temple and find the goddess of love getting a massage by two gorgeous young studs. Aphrodite finds out that Xena got tickets to Sappho's show and Gabrielle is ecstatic, while Xena is upset at Aphrodite for revealing the surprise. The four set off. As they travel, Aphrodite desperately tries to convince an unimpressed Genia that she's a real goddess.
At a tavern in the Thebes marketplace, Gabrielle is upset because Xena messed up the times for the Sappho show and Aphrodite magically creates an exact replica of the bag containing the Helmet of Hermes that Xena has been carrying to match the new shoes she also magically produced for Genia and herself. While Xena leaves to go get food, Gabrielle tells Aphrodite to switch the bags as a joke to play on Xena.
Meanwhile, Frankus, who has been secretly following the women, tells Ferragus where they are. Flanked by his goons, Ferragus arrives at the tavern and orders Xena to turn over the bag containing the helmet. When she refuses, his men attack, but Aphrodite manages to swipe Xena's bag and hide it. Xena orders Aphrodite to take Genia to safety while she and Gabrielle finish fighting the thugs. Grabbing the replica bag, Aphrodite and Genia flee while Gabrielle, seeing the remaining bag, snatches it. Ferragus notices this and grabs the bag from Gabrielle, which is the bag with the helmet inside of it. Xena belives that they took Aphrodite's replica of the bag, but Gabrielle informs her that they switched them back as a joke to play on her.
Frantic, Xena and Gabrielle take off in search of Ferragus and the helmet. As Aphrodite and Genia continue shopping, Genia, who is now completely devoted to the goddess, asks Aphrodite to cast a spell on her that makes her feel as if she's in love. Aphrodite orders her to pick a guy and Genia, scanning the crowd, points to Frankus. Once the spell is cast, Genia and Frankus look at one another and rush into each other's arms.
Arriving at Ferragus' lair, Xena and Gabrielle are shocked to see Frankus enter with Genia, whom he introduces to his father as his fiance. Aphrodite joins Xena and Gabrielle and the three devise a plan to save Genia and recover the helmet. Disguised and pretending to be Genia's parents, Xena and Aphrodite enter the house with Gabrielle, who is posing as a barber. When Ferragus is persuaded to let Gabrielle trim his hair for the impending nuptials, he takes the helmet off and places it gently in its bag. While Aphrodite breaks Genia's love spell, Xena discreetly swaps bags, handing the one with the helmet to Genia, who is magically transported by Aphrodite back to the Thebes marketplace where she is immediately captured by Zarat and his men. Back in his lair, Ferragus is seething over having lost the helmet when Zarat enters and offers to help him.
Inside the zealot's temple, Genia is about to be sacrificed when Xena and Gabrielle barge in. As Xena moves toward Zarat, Ferragus swoops in wearing the helmet and a battle breaks out while the rope holding Genia burns rapidly. With some fancy maneuvering, the real Helmet of Hermes ends up safe with Aphrodite and Xena and Gabrielle emerge triumphantly. Genia thanks them profusely for saving her life and teaching her the ways of the world.
Later that night, by the sea, with the sun setting, Xena apologizes to Gabrielle because they missed the Sappho show. Xena asks Gabrielle to close her eyes; some tender teasing; Gabrielle closes her eyes. Gabrielle finds a scroll with a poem written by Sappho. She reads it aloud: it is a beautiful love poem. Xena puts on the Helmet of Hermes and grabs Gabrielle. They fly off together, with Xena saying, "Happy Birthday, Gabrielle."
No fish guts were harmed in the making of this motion picture.
Behind the Scenes
- Shooting Dates: Early February 2001.
- This episode was originally titled "Two Bags Full."
- This episode was one of seventeen that fans selected to be featured on the Xena: Warrior Princess: 10th Anniversary Collection, as well as is subsequently considered one of the greatest episodes in Xena: Warrior Princess history.
- This was the final Xena: Warrior Princess episode to be written. "A Friend in Need Part II" had already been written by this time.
- Lucy's yelp in disbelief in the swimming scene was real, since Renée unexpectedly pinched her.
- Lucy Lawless played a practical joke on the crew during the filming, getting up in drag and pretending to be a fan gone amok. She had them all fooled, but eventually she clued them in to the gag.
- In this episode Genia is angry when Xena stops the priests from sacrificing her. This scene was very similar to one that Renée O'Connor performed in the second Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Action Pack movie, Hercules and the Lost Kingdom.
- This episode was replacement for "Last Chance", a.k.a. "The Sappho Episode", a musical episode, because production fell through right before filming was to start. It was to include a duet between Gabrielle and Xena of the Donna Summer song "Last Dance", culminating in a passionate kiss between the two heroines. It has been suggested that this episode was dropped because the team didn't want to make the subtext into a blatant narrative.
- Renée announced to the cast and crew that she was pregnant during the filming of this episode.
- Renée on the final scene in an interview with (Coffee Talk #1 With Lucy and Renee): “[The final scene] was the last comedic scene that we did… together on a normal Xena episode before the [end]. It’s actually quite sad. I remember being quite touched by it all. [It was] so beautiful looking out over New Zealand… And I think I remember telling the crew I was pregnant then as well. Lucy’s going, ‘Renée has a secret! Go on, tell them! Tell them!’” 
- Liz Friedman said in an Interview with (Titan: The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #21 – August 2001): “[This script] had a shockingly fast turnaround. Nonetheless, I think the script came out well. The episode was based on several notions. Rob [Tapert] had the idea of a girl who was so devout that she wanted to be sacrificed. At first, we were thinking of it as a serious, dramatic story, and then it became more of a road story. And everyone involved, including us, was interested in doing a comedy. I really enjoyed doing the running joke of Xena and Gabrielle playing practical jokes on each other. Also, there’s a scene revealing a particular neurosis of Gabby’s which makes me chuckle!” 
- This is the final stand-alone episode before "A Friend in Need Part I", since the next episode is set in modern day.
- Subsequently, it is the final episode to be solely set in Greece.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Aphrodite.
- As with Ares in Path of Vengeance, this episode establishes that Aphrodite is back to her old self now that she's got her godhood back.
- This is the second time a hero has allowed Aphrodite to take custody of an important artifact associated with one of her siblings. The first time was when Hercules let her take the Bow of Artemis in "One Fowl Day". Both Hercules and Xena trusted that she wouldn't get into any mischief with them.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Argo II.
- This is the last time Gabrielle is seen using her Sais in battle.
- The "Unknown God" that the zealots worshiped could very well be a reference to the Unknown God (a placeholder for any gods they might have missed in their pantheon) the Greeks worshiped, which was mentioned in the Book of Acts.
- Sappho is one of the most revered poets in the history of Greek literature, on par with Homer and Hesiod. She is known as one of the first masters of lyric poetry, and she was referred to only half-jokingly as the "tenth Muse". Many throughout the centuries have discerned some homoeroticism in her love poetry; in fact, the very term lesbian is a reference to Sappho, who spent almost all her life on the island of Lesbos.
- References to Sappho, therefore, are practically subtext in and of themselves.
- The last time Hermes was seen, he was wearing his trademark winged sandals, with no mention of his helmet being made. Hermes's status is not made explicit, since he wasn't seen in "Motherhood".
Links and References
- Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite
- Hori Ahipene as Ferragus
- Katie Stuart as Genia
- Latham Gaines as Zarat
- Taungaroa Emile as Frankus
- Ross Duncan as Lagot
|<< Season Five||Season 6|
|#01||Coming Home||#09||Return of the Valkyrie||#17||Last of the Centaurs|
|#02||The Haunting of Amphipolis||#10||Old Ares Had a Farm||#18||When Fates Collide|
|#03||Heart of Darkness||#11||Dangerous Prey||#19||Many Happy Returns|
|#04||Who's Gurkhan?||#12||The God You Know||#20||Soul Possession|
|#05||Legacy||#13||You Are There||#21||A Friend in Need Part I|
|#06||The Abyss||#14||Path of Vengeance||#22||A Friend in Need Part II|
|#07||The Rheingold||#15||To Helicon and Back|
|#08||The Ring||#16||Send in the Clones|