Legendary Journeys

The Bitter Suite
TBS Gabdrag.jpg
Xena and Gabrielle, moments before entering Illusia
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 3
Antagonist Callisto, Ares, Ming T'ien, Krafstar, Julius Caesar
Setting Illusia
In-Universe Date Year 3
Production # V0409
Filming Dates 5 November to 19 November 1997
Original Air-Date 2 February 1998
Written By Chris Manheim & Steven L. Sears
Directed By Oley Sassone
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 58 of 134
Order in Season 12 of 22
Order in Franchise 135 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Maternal Instincts"
Next Episode in Series "One Against an Army"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Men in Pink"
Next Episode in Franchise "Armageddon Now"
Title Image
The Bitter Suite TITLE.jpg

Xena's and Gabrielle's relationship has hit rock-bottom, but when they find themselves in the musical land of Illusia, they finally face everything they've done and find a way to say – or sing – everything they need to.


Ephiny explains Gabrielle's grief to Joxer.

Xena's and Gabrielle's relationship, now having been strained to the point of breaking, sees both of them mourning on their own. Gabrielle undergoes a purification ritual at the Amazon village, while Xena has disappeared. Ephiny explains to Joxer that Gabrielle has been engaged in the purification ritual for three days. Joxer is concerned for her health, but Ephiny points out that he had not seen her after the death of Hope, or seen the pain she was in before she came to the Amazons.

"Accept it, Xena. Embrace it. You know what to do, who to kill.

Alone on a mountaintop, Xena sings agonizingly. Ares arrives and tells her he feels her pain, as well as wonders how long it will be until she does something about it. Xena angrily says that she cannot do anything about it; Solan is dead. Ares tempts Xena with revenge and tells her to embrace it and upon whom she should be getting her revenge.

an illusion of Callisto appears before Gabrielle.

Back in the Amazon hut, someone slaps Gabrielle's face and it is revealed to be Callisto. Gabrielle tells Callisto that she is not real but only in her mind. Callisto does not care and tells her she came for the truth, that Xena had made them both, shaped both of their lives and killed both of their families. Callisto begins to tell her that it is because of Xena that she even had a daughter in the first place and that she should hate Xena for betraying her.

Xena rides Argo into the Amazon village to find Gabrielle.

In the Amazon village, Gabrielle's screams are heard. Joxer runs into the hut and gets her out. Xena, in a blood-lust, rushes into the Amazon village. Ephiny tries to maintain the peace but Xena, in a fit of rage, attacks Ephiny and Joxer and drags Gabrielle from the back of Argo to a cliff, where she contemplates throwing an unconscious Gabrielle to her death.

Xena attempts to kill Gabrielle.

Xena lifts Gabrielle into the air and prepares to throw her off the cliff, but just at that point, Gabrielle regains consciousness and kicks Xena in the head, then falls back to the ground on the clifftop. Standing up, Gabrielle screams, "I hate you!" Then she rushes Xena. The two struggle on the cliff edge, then both fall over into a waterfall below.

Callisto chants a VoiceOver about all life coming from the sea as both Xena and Gabrielle float through the water.

Xena meets Callisto in Illusia.

Xena is transported to the land of Illusia, (naked at first) where Callisto is her guide. Illusia is a land where everyone sings, and where Xena and Gabrielle will ultimately have to face both their pasts and their relationship in its current state.

Gabrielle meets Joxer in Illusia.

Xena is first to enter Illusia, but Gabrielle soon follows (again, naked at first) and she quickly discovers, much to her initial chagrin, that Joxer is her guide there. The two begin in different ways, each returning to the emotional state they were in before they met. Xena is shown a group of warriors praising her and dressing her in armor while Ares swoons over the warrior Xena.

Gabrielle's sister, Lila, appears in Illusia and offers advise.

Gabrielle, on the other hand, begins in her hometown of Potedaia. There she is met by familiar faces praising Gabrielle for her generally peaceful ways and many of the wonderful things she learned while in Xena's company but lamenting the loss of her blood innocence. Gabrielle's sister, Lila, appears and suggests that if Hope was still alive, Potedaia would welcome her in the same way it greeted Gabrielle. Something is not quite as it should be, though, as Lila puts a scythe in Gabrielle's hands and tells her she must "kill to be kind."

Xena and Ares.

Xena and Gabrielle then meet in Illusia as their respective groups urge them towards each other with Xena's camp crying "War!" and Potedia calling out "Peace!" When the two come face to face, Gabrielle screams and attacks Xena with the scythe. Xena knocks down Gabrielle and stabs her in the stomach with a sword.

Tango dance.

Joxer confirms that Gabrielle is dead. Xena appears momentarily confused. Ares begins a seductive dance with her, telling her that killing Gabrielle proves that Xena is just like him and that he is now her only friend. He tells her that together they will conquer the world.

You Killed Me.

Xena holds Gabrielle's body and begins crying. A door opens and Gabrielle walks in, in disbelief that Xena killed her. Xena protests that all of this is an illusion, that she had not killed the real Gabrielle. But Gabrielle is still angry.

Xena and Gabrielle work out their issues.

The next stage in Xena's and Gabrielle's journey through Illusia is a tall room where an echo that makes it impossible to decipher what is being said begins any time the past is brought up. This leads to a dramatic moment where Gabrielle admits she hurts inside and Xena admits the same. They each scream, "It's your fault!" A rope of flame appears and starts to drag Gabrielle though the Fortune Wheel, then takes Xena as well.

Ghosts of former enemies appear.

The next room is the altar where Gabrielle had lost her blood innocence and where ghosts of Ares, Callisto, Ming T'ien, Khrafstar and Caesar are present. Dark-eyed versions of Xena and Gabrielle also appear wearing the robes of Dahak followers. Xena is up on a cross as the dark-eyed Gabrielle prepares to break her legs. Gabrielle is tied on the altar as the dark-eyed Xena threatens to stab her. The real Gabrielle and the real Xena sing a duet about how "the fury in us made us blind; if we could turn again to love..." they can stand together in the storm. One by one the audience disappears and Xena and Gabrielle are left holding each other.

The Final Test...

They see Solan through a curtain of water. They realize that it is he who is trying to bring them back together. Gabrielle passes through the water, but Xena is burned by it and remains behind. The ghost of Ming T'ien appears on Xena's side, and she has to admit to Gabrielle that she did kill him, breaking her promise to Gabrielle and lying to her about it afterward. Xena also apologizes to Solan for leaving him and never telling him she was his mother. She begs for his forgiveness also.

Xena reunites with Solan, who had created Illusia.

Gabrielle reaches out her hand to Xena and she is allowed to pass through the water as the wraith of Ming T'ien explodes and disappears. Solan tells Xena he loves her, too. As Xena hugs Solan, Illusia fades away and Xena and Gabrielle are left hugging on the beach. The two laugh as the sun sets. Their friendship has been restored by releasing their anger and finally being completely honest with each other.


The musical genre was not harmed during the production of this motion picture. In fact, the Producers sincerely hope you were A-MUSE-D by this episode.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

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Key Events[]

  • This episode sees the climax and resolution of the rift. Although the real Ares, Callisto, Hope and Ming T'ien will all make further appearances, none of them will test Xena and Gabrielle's relationship in the same way again.


  • At moments during the Gab-Drag, you can tell when a stunt-double and a dummy are being used, due to a more "butch" figure and lack of movement respectively.


  • Chakram Count: 1
  1. to try and stop Joxer from saving Gabrielle.

Memorable Quotations[]

"Alright Callisto, you like little ditties? Fine! I've got one for you. You're acting so strangely that I hardly know ya, but still I wouldn't trust you as far as I could throw ya."
—Xena, to Callisto
"Nothing more need be said. Ding-Dong, the bitch is dead."
—Ares, to Xena, after her killing Gabrielle

Links and References[]

Guest Stars[]


  • Keith Black
  • Robert Bugar
  • Gia Warner
  • Ron Coden
  • Judd Maher
  • Julie Moran (then a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight Magazine)
  • April Arabian Tini


  • Music composed by Joseph LoDuca
  • Lyrics written by Joseph LoDuca, Pamela Phillips Oland, and Dennis Spiegel
  • Dancing for musical numbers choreographed and directed by Jeff Calhoun






See Also[]

Season Navigation[]