Legendary Journeys

The Debt
Xena Debt.jpg
Xena in Chin, whilst with Borias
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 3
Antagonist Ming Tzu, Ming T'ien, Gabrielle
Setting Chin
In-Universe Date Year 2 (with flashbacks to Year -7)
Production # V0406
Filming Dates 16 July to 25 July 1997
Original Air-Date 3 November 1997
Story By R.J. Stewart & Robert Tapert
Teleplay By R.J. Stewart
Directed By Oley Sassone
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 52 of 134
Order in Season 6 of 22
Order in Franchise 122 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Gabrielle's Hope"
Next Episode in Series "The Debt II"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Two Men and a Baby"
Next Episode in Franchise "Prodigal Sister"
Title Image
Debt I TITLE.jpg

Xena learns of a great evil disturbing the peaceful land of Chin, known as 'The Green Dragon'. She explains to Gabrielle about her time there and all about her mentor, Lao Ma, Borias and who the Green Dragon really is. Gabrielle doesn't understand how she could go against everything to murder this man, and she sets out to stop her.


La Ma sends a message for Xena to repay a Debt.

A wounded Chinese messenger staggers into Xena and Gabrielle's campsite one night and collapses. He tells Xena that he's been sent by the `Weak One,' which provokes a strong reaction in her. Suddenly, six Chinese warriors come charging out of the trees and try to kill the messenger. When Xena leaps to his defense, her combat skills are pushed to the limit by the warriors' amazing Chinese martial art moves. When she is finally able to defeat them all, she turns to the dying messenger in time to hear him whisper what he has come to tell her. After hearing his words, Xena tells Gabrielle that she must go to the Kingdom of Chin to kill the `Green Dragon' and urges her friend to stay behind. Gabrielle refuses and as the two women begin their long journey, Gabrielle prods Xena into explaining who the Green Dragon is and why she feels compelled to kill him. Xena launches into the story...

Xena and Borias meet Ming Tzu.

Somewhere on the plains in the days of Xena's dark past, a band of warriors pursues a group of Asian soldiers. Borias, the head warrior, launches a furious attack on the soldiers and quickly defeats them in battle. As the last couple of Asian soldiers surrender, a mysterious bloodthirsty warrior, who turns out to be Xena, gallops into the fray. She kills one of the soldiers by impaling him on her sword, but is stopped by Borias before murdering the other. A short while later, Borias and Xena are visited by the enormously wealthy and powerful Ming Tzu and his 12-year-old son, Ming T'ien.

Ming Tzu and his 12-year-old son, Ming T'ien strike a deal with Borias and Xena.

The shrewd Borias makes a show of respect to the mighty leader, but Xena refuses to be impressed. The boy, Ming T'ien, is transfixed by her as the two men discuss a deal. Borias is to raid the Lao province while Ming Tzu remains neutral. In return, Ming Tzu will get half of everything Borias, Xena and their men are able to steal. Xena loudly rejects this proposed arrangement and infuriates both Borias and Ming Tzu.

La Ma rejects the deal from Xena.

Xena continues her story...Outside of Borias' yurt, a canopied litter approaches carrying the breathtakingly beautiful Lao Ma. Both Borias and Xena are surprised by her arrival and as she greets them, she explains that she is the wife of the great Lao and has come in his place because he has fallen ill. That evening, as they sit around eating and drinking, Xena becomes increasingly jealous over Lao Ma's flirtations with Borias. Later that night, Xena tries to kill Lao Ma, but much to her amazement, the Asian beauty proves to be a formidable adversary. With amazing martial arts skill, Lao Ma easily deflects Xena's attack and overpowers her. When Borias shows up, Lao Ma tells him that the deal they discussed earlier is off. Borias is incensed and threatens to kill Xena if she refuses to leave by morning.

"You don't know it yet, Xena, but you're a remarkable woman capable of greatness."

Xena then devises a plan to accomplish what Borias has only dreamed of -- to get rich with the help of one of the great houses of Chin. Xena breaks into Ming's Palace and kidnaps Ming T'ien. When Borias shows up at her hiding place, Xena tells him exactly how the plan will work -- she will return the child in exchange for horses and gold from Ming Tzu, and as compensation for his help, Borias will receive five percent. As the plan unfolds, it turns out that Borias has double-crossed Xena and in fact, has given her over to Ming Tzu to be killed.

Gabrielle decides to not accompany Xena on her revenge mission.

As the story continues, Gabrielle struggles with the knowledge of how ruthless Xena once was and decides she can't go with Xena to kill the Green Dragon after all. As Xena proceeds on her mission alone, the story flashes back to her being taken into Lao Ma's territory by Ming and his soldiers, locked in a cage. Ming Tzu explains to Lao Ma that he is about to set Xena free to be hunted down by his dogs for sport. Lao Ma wishes them well and gives Ming T'ien a gift -- a cloth with a sad-looking green dragon on it. Soon, the hunt begins. Xena is let loose through a thicket with a pack of hounds at her heels. During the ensuing chase, she is suddenly intercepted by Lao Ma, who urges Xena to come with her if she wants her freedom. Lao Ma explains that she has the ability to see into the souls of others and she knows that Xena is a remarkable woman, capable of greatness. Lao Ma takes Xena to her palace and hides her there.

Xena infiltrating Ming's Palace.

Back in the present day, Xena has arrived at Ming's Palace and finds a way in. She enters the room of the Green Dragon. As she lifts her knife to plunge it into the chest of the figure beneath the sheets, she soon discovers that it is Gabrielle lying there. Xena stares at Gabrielle in shock as Gabrielle explains that she cannot let Xena commit murder -- that she's intervened for Xena's own good. Suddenly, many soldiers rush the room, followed by Ming T'ien -- now a haughty and handsome 21-year old with a ferocious green dragon emblem embroidered on his robe.


No Frock Tarts were killed during the production of this motion picture although they wish they had been.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • The story for "The Debt" episode arc was one that Rob Tapert had wanted to use in a Xena: Warrior Princess feature film, but the studio refused to back it, and so he used it here instead.
  • Part One was the second-highest rated episode of the third season in 1998, it scored a 7.9 out of a possible 10 stars.
  • A reference to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is made in the opening scene of this episode; Xena effortlessly throws her Chakram at a ninja rapidly swirling his swords, much like Indiana Jones effortlessly shoots a guy swirling his sword rapidly.

Key Events[]



  • Although it isn't revealed or shown until 11 episodes later in "Forget Me Not," it was Ares who helped Gabrielle get to Chin ahead of Xena.
  • The opening scene of this episode may have taken place in Britannia, as Gabrielle is still seen assumingly praying for Hope's safety. But after Xena heard the message from the "Weak One", she gets up and walks over to Argo. As Argo was not with her in Britannia, it is more likely that the opening scene took place in Greece (or maybe Gaul), and that Gabrielle was simply still thinking about the events in Britannia.
  • The six Chinese warriors who appeared in the first scene are using Qinggong.

Links and References[]

Guest Stars[]






Season Navigation[]