|Return of the Valkyrie|
Xena begins to regain her memories
|Series||Xena: Warrior Princess|
|In-Universe Date||Year 31|
|Filming Dates||July 2000|
|Original Air-Date||27 November 2000|
|Written By||Emily Skopov|
|Directed By||John Fawcett|
|Order in Series||121 of 134|
|Order in Season||9 of 22|
|Order in Franchise||290 of 304|
|Previous Episode in Series||"The Ring"|
|Next Episode in Series||"Old Ares Had a Farm"|
|Previous Episode in Franchise||"The Ring"|
|Next Episode in Franchise||"Old Ares Had a Farm"|
Beowulf and the young Viking Wiglaf witness the slaughter of several warriors by the ferocious monster Grinhilda as they attempt to rescue the slumbering Gabrielle and the Rheingold ring from the circle of fire that surrounds them. Beowulf is aware that only Gabrielle's true soulmate can pass through the flames and release her. But believing Xena has been dead for the past year, Beowulf not only attempts to pass through the flames himself, but helps others attempt the same with the warning of showing the results of his own attempt: a severely burned hand.
After witnessing the warrior Erik carelessly kill himself by rushing too quickly and deeply into the ring of fire, Beowulf utters the name of Hrothgar to Wiglaf and explains that he may be the last worthy warrior to be able to attempt penetrating the ring of fire. Beowulf and his companions arrive in the Norse village looking for Hrothgar to find that it's Hrothgar's wedding day and that the bride, Wealthea, is actually Xena.
During the ceremony of the rings in the wedding, Xena/Wealthea is suddenly overcome with jarring and vivid flashbacks of the Rheingold and Grinhilda. She covers up her surprised expressions by explaining them as the result of wedding bliss. After the ceremony, Beowulf talks to Xena but when he uses her name, he gets no reaction.
Hildegyth, Hrothgar's jealous sister, warns her brother that he's made a grave mistake marrying Wealthea. Later, when she notices Beowulf's frustration as he tries unsuccessfully to get Xena/Wealthea's attention, she suggests to him that they work together and brings him to meet Hrothgar. But the ruler angrily banishes him when he insists that Wealthea's real name is Xena and pleads for her help in rescuing Gabrielle. Hildegyth then approaches Beowulf and Wiglaf with another plan to get rid of Xena/Wealthea.
That night, Beowulf, wearing an elaborate mask, surprises Xena in her chamber. When she unmasks him, he tries to explain who he is, but he cannot trigger her memory. Suddenly, Hildegyth and Hrothgar barge in to find the two in what looks to be a compromising position. Silencing Xena, an irate Hrothgar has them seized and hauled off. But Beowulf manages to break free and grabs Xena's hand, vowing to save Gabrielle. Beowulf's hand becomes Gabrielle's as Xena has a momentary hallucination. Meanwhile, back at Valhalla, Odin informs Waltraute that their enemy Xena is still alive.
Later, Xena, still suffering from amnesia, instinctively throws herself between two Vikings as they engage in a brawl. After the incident, Beowulf reminds her that although she taught Odin his violent ways, her worldview changed as a result of her friendship with Gabrielle. Soon Odin, Waltraute and two Valkyrie swoop in. Beowulf prepares his men for battle, but Xena insists on reasoning with them rather than fighting. When Waltraute and Odin attack, Xena skillfully escapes injury and calmly hands Odin's axe back to him. Ordering Waltraute to return to Valhalla with him, Odin assures her that he has a brilliant plan to recover the Rheingold ring from Xena and finally make it his own. This infuriates Waltraute since Odin had promised it to her.
Meanwhile, Gabrielle appears to Xena again, telling her she is the key to Xena's past. When Gabrielle disappears, Xena questions Beowulf about her own history and the monster she created. He reassures her that the good she's accomplished outweighs the evil. The next day in the Eastwind Bog, Xena examines the ring of fire that encircles Gabrielle. Soon the Valkyries, led by Waltraute, arrive and a battle ensues. Xena manages to defend herself though she receives a wound to the shoulder. As Waltraute positions herself to kill Xena, Xena kicks her into the ring of fire which immediately kills her. Beowulf comes to Xena's side to urge her into the ring of fire quickly, when a horrific scream is heard and Grinhilda stabs Beowulf in the shoulder with her long sharp fingers.
Once again Beowulf urges Xena into the ring of fire and she leaps to action. When Xena passes through the flames towards Gabrielle, she sees images of her soulmate and her from their shared past. Mesmerized by her soulmate, Xena gives a tender kiss to Gabrielle which releases her soul mate's slumber, but also makes Brunnhilda's eternal flames pass away. As the last of the flames pass into the Rheingold ring, Grinhilda's roar brings Xena out of her reverie.
As the two battle and Grinhilda moves to crush Xena, Xena tells Grinhilda that she wants to help, not fight, as well as urges her to believe in herself. Suddenly, with the power of the ring, Grinhilda is transformed back to her stunningly beautiful Valkyrie form and the ring is turned back into pure gold. A thrilled Grinhilda and Xena and Gabrielle mount flying horses and ride off to Valhalla.
When the group arrives, Xena demands that Odin reinstate Grinhilda as head of the Valkyrie so that she may bring back the light that was in the Valkyrie before Xena herself poisoned it. Later at the Rhein River, Xena happily returns the gold back to the Rhein Maidens. Surprised by the change in Xena, the youngest maiden asks what magic turned Xena into a force of good. Xena and Gabrielle exchange knowing looks as Xena explains, "It was no magic. . . ."
- Any similarity between our story and the classic children's fairy tale is purely coincidental.
- Hrothgar and Wealthea are pivotal characters in the Old English epic peom Beowulf. Grindl's attack on Hrothgar's feast-hall is the event that sets Beowulf against him in the first place. Wealthea is Hrothgar's queen and embodies the ideal Anglo-Saxon/Old Norse woman of rank.
- Gabrielle's sleep and the fact that a kiss needs to be used to awaken her bears closer resemblance to the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault or Little Briar Rose (German: Dornröschen) by the Brothers Grimm, than to anything out of Viking mythology.
Behind the Scenes
- Gabrielle's role was short in this episode, in order for Renée O'Connor to prepare for directing "Dangerous Prey."
- Dean O'Gorman, who plays Wiglaf in this episode, is better known for playing young Iolaus on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Young Hercules. He did previously appear as Homer, in the first season of Xena: Warrior Princess, in "Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards." O'Gorman later went on to portray the dwarf warrior Fili in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.
- The shots of Denmark being a city on the water and another on an island at the beginning of the episode are taken from The Apple from Season 2 of HTLJ, where it depicts Syros and Delos. Coincidentally, this arrangement does bear a passing resemblance to the real-life layout of Copenhagen.
- Gabrielle returns to long hair for the first time since Between The Lines, its the only episode in the series to have Gabrielle have long hair with her post-season 4 outfits. It was briefly discussed about Gabrielle getting a new hairdo after this episode, to a more shoulder length style, but Renée did not agree and wanted to return to the short hair again.
- This episode is the last in the Ring Trilogy.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Brunhilda, although only her voice is heard and a CGI shot of her face is seen in her flames.
- Beowulf slips up and calls the Flames of Brunhilda "Grinhilda's" Flame, when explaining to Xena that only she can pass through it.
- When the Grinhilda monster clutches Xena, it clearly has all of its fingers still in-tact, in spite of the fact that a missing finger was key to identifying her previously.
- Mud splatters on the lens as the Valkyries fly off.
- Hoof prints can be seen before the Valkyries land on the beach, meaning it must of taken them a couple of takes to get the shot.
- This is a "Gabby Lite" episode.
- Xena's and Gabrielle's Clones are seen eating pizza and watching this episode in "Send in the Clones".
- Renato Bartolomei as Beowulf
- Brittney Powell as Brunhilda
- Dean O'Gorman as Wiglag
- Alexander Petersons as Odin
- Luanne Gordon as Grinhilda
- Roger Morrissey as the Grinhilda Monster
- Victoria Hill as Waltraute
- John Leigh as Hrothgar
- Marama Jackson as First Rhein Maiden
- Lucy Thomas as Second Rhein Maiden
- Stephanie Bertram as Third Rhein Maiden
|<< 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|