Legendary Journeys

Xena Kao H'sin.jpg
Xena and K'ao Hsin use Lao Ma's powers to defeat Pao Ssu
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 5
Antagonist Pao Ssu
Setting Chin
In-Universe Date Year 4
Production # V0907
Filming Dates 25 June to 6 July 1999
Original Air-Date 8 November 1999
Written By Jeff Vlaming
Directed By Mark Beesley
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 96 of 134
Order in Season 6 of 22
Order in Franchise 263 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Them Bones, Them Bones"
Next Episode in Series "Back in the Bottle"
Previous Episode in Franchise "City of the Dead"
Next Episode in Franchise "A Wicked Good Time"
Title Image
Purity TITLE.jpg

Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are confronted by a Monk from the land of Chin, who informs them that the peace has been disrupted. This prompts them to journey there and fight against this evil that is disturbing Chin. They find that someone has discovered the secret recipe for creating a more powerful alternative to Greek Fire - The Black Powder. They team up with Lao Ma's twins Pao Ssu and K'ao Hsin, only to discover that one of them is the true mastermind behind the recent disruptions.


Xena receives a message from Lao Ma before her death.

Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are awakened by a monk from the Xo Monastery, who dies moments after delivering a letter stating "the hawk and the dove must become one with wisdom." Xena realizes that her spiritual mentor, Lao Ma, must have written the letter before her death and that "wisdom" refers to her book which teaches ways to obtain special powers. To unravel the mystery, Xena decides to return to the land of Chin with Gabrielle and Joxer, expecting to find the book in the Xo monastery where she left it.

Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer arrive to find a village in terror.

They arrive in an abandoned Chinese village to find the monastery being attacked by warriors using explosives. A tough and beautiful young Chinese woman, Pao Ssu, joins Xena and Gabrielle in their fight against the troops which retreat. Much to Xena's surprise, Pao Ssu introduces herself as Lao Ma's daughter and explains that the explosives are made from black powder -- an ancient Chin formula which was forbidden but which a vicious warlord, Go Kun, rediscovered.

Lao Ma's book of wisdom is missing?

When Xena opens the cabinet that contained Lao Ma's book, she finds it empty. Xena sends Gabrielle and Joxer on a mission to discover a mysterious key ingredient in the black powder, while she and Pao Ssu follow the trail of the book thief. They enter a room in the monastery. As Gabrielle and Pao Ssu run out. Xena hands Joxer a book, telling him to put put it in one of Argo's saddlebags and not to let anyone see him do it.

Pao Ssu's twin sister, K'ao Hsin learn her sister is behind the attacks.

While searching for herbs and spices for the black powder recipe, Joxer gets one of the market vendor to identify the key ingredient by sniffing it. Upon recognizing the recipe, the market vendor alerts the surrounding people, causing both Joxer and Gabrielle to be thrown into jail. Xena and Pao Ssu find the book in the hands of Pao Ssu's twin sister, K'ao Hsin. It becomes clear that Pao Ssu will stop at nothing to get her hands on the book and use its powers to annihilate her enemies. Knowing now that Pao Ssu is behind the black powder army and its atrocities, Xena challenges her to fight. Pao Ssu unleashes a cherry bomb and steals the book -- not realizing that it's a fake Xena planted.

Xena senses Lao Ma's spirit when studying in her temple.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle, while locked in the stocks next to Joxer, manages to retrieve the black powder from his pants and blow open the locks. On their way to meet up with Xena at Ming's Palace, they run into Pao Ssu who wishes to join them. As Xena and K'ao Hsin study the book, Pao Ssu arrives with Joxer and Gabrielle in tow. She has tied them to separate carts, which she has booby-trapped with explosives. Not wanting any bloodshed, K'ao Hsin hands over the book to Pao Ssu, who ignites the two trails of powder anyway and rides off. Xena defuses the path to Gabrielle and frees Joxer just before his cart explodes.

Battling Pao Ssu.

Xena, Joxer and Gabrielle figure out the secret ingredient in the black powder and they use explosives to set a trap for Kun's army. While Gabrielle and Joxer fight the army, Xena and K'ao Hsin battle Pao Ssu with their newfound powers. All three women are able to harness the special powers through their purity of thought and actions. Whereas Pao Ssu learns to master it with her pure hatred, Xena and K'ao Hsin realize that pure joy gives them access.

You never knew your mother. But you're a worthy successor to her.

Xena and K'ao Hsin are able to weaken Pao Ssu's hatred by telling her that Lao Ma only gave them up to save their lives and thereby defeats her. In an attempt to save their leader from Xena, Kun's army mistakenly fires a rocket at the tent containing the black powder which explodes into flame. With neither Pao Ssu to lead them nor the black powder, Kun's army is rendered powerless and peace is restored.


To obtain a copy of Joxer's recipe for Moo Shu Sauce and other Chinese delicacies, visit your local bookstore or look for it on the Internet.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Marie Matiko played both K'ao Hsin and Pao Ssu in this episode.
  • Jane Holland the Costume Designer for Xena said in an interview for The Xena Season Five DVD Set that she really loved the costumes for this episode and Back in the Bottle " I really enjoyed the color and the textures of the fabrics that we used”.
  • In the The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #12 – November 2000, Ted Raimi on being locked in the stocks and filming with Renne,“Being in stocks, or having water poured on you – it doesn’t matter to me. But sometimes when you get a female actress of Renee’s stature, they won’t do it because they don’t look good. But Renee is such an actor’s actor that she doesn’t care about that sort of stuff. I thought it was very bold of her to do that. Of course, Renee’s so pretty that it doesn’t matter how you photograph her – she’s always going to look good. But mainly I was like, ‘Wow!’ I’ve worked with a lot of actresses who would not do that.”
  • Marie Matiko mentioned in an interview with The Official XENA Magazine, Issue #4 – February 2000 on playing two different characters, (K’ao Hsin/Pao Ssu) “Everything is in my body emotionally… so I create emotional layers. With K’ao Hsin, I started off with my mother’s love. In the very gut of me, in my movement and everything, is this love for my mother and a belief in what my mother did, and I want to make my mother proud. Pao Ssu was [built on] her feeling of abandonment… I started off with, ‘Everybody’s here to screw me over anyway, so in order to protect myself I need to have power over them.’ So Pao Ssu was made out of pure power… and also this almost hedonistic feeling of enjoying other people’s torture."

Key Events[]

  • This episode marks the first time that Xena and Gabrielle return to Chin since "The Debt II".
  • This episode marks the first reference to Lao Ma since "One Against an Army. However, Jara Matthews said that is incorrect, she is mentioned in Paradise Found when Xena warns Gabrielle that Lao Ma's way is different than Aiden's. HA!".


  • In the scene while Xena and K'ao Hsin are walking through the forest, Xena remarks that this was the place she first met Lao Ma. However, this is not true. It was in Borias' camp when she first met Lao Ma, where she failed her attempt to assassinate Lao Ma and Borias had her banished from his camp. After which, Xena then kidnapped young Ming T'ien and followed by Borias' act of betrayal resulted Xena to be hunted as a prey by Ming Tzu in the forest. And there, Lao Ma saved her.

Links and References[]

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