Legendary Journeys

The Prodigal
Gabrielle Fights.jpg
Gabrielle Faces the Bandits
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 1
Antagonist Damon
Setting Poteidaia
In-Universe Date Year 1
Production # 76915
Filming Dates December 1995
Original Air-Date 4 March 1996
Written By Chris Manheim
Directed By John T. Kretchmer
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 18 of 134
Order in Season 18 of 24
Order in Franchise 54 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "The Royal Couple of Thieves"
Next Episode in Series "Altared States"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Promises"
Next Episode in Franchise "King For A Day"
Title Image
The Prodigal TITLE.jpg

After freezing up in a fight, Gabrielle returns home for some answers. But, she must save her village when she learns that it is under attack by a warlord and his army.


When Gabrielle and Xena are ambushed by a group of armed highwaymen, Gabrielle becomes paralyzed with fear and is almost killed before Xena can intervene. Thoroughly shaken by her failure to act, she decides to leave Xena and return home to try to sort out her feelings. On the way to Poteidaia, she learns that Damon, a ruthless brigand who demands periodic tribute, is headed for her village with his band of thieves, and races to warn the citizens. Upon her arrival, however, her younger sister Lila gives her an oddly restrained welcome. Gabrielle soon discovers that the villagers have placed all their hopes for survival on Meleager the Mighty, a famous warrior they've summoned for help, who unfortunately arrives in town dead drunk.

The following day, a severely hungover Meleager checks to make sure that the villagers have the money they've promised him, and sends them off to collect whatever weapons they have. By the time Damon's scouts Athol and Derq arrive, Meleager is drunk once again, but Gabrielle and Lila are able to prop him up in the tavern doorway long enough to intimidate the two thugs and send them running. Meanwhile, news of Meleager's arrival in Poteidaia reaches Damon, who is determined to collect the fifty thousand dinars being offered by the warlord Cassius for the warrior's capture.

Gabrielle finally impresses upon Meleager the gravity of the situation and together, they plan a defense of the village, unaware that Damon's men are spying on them. As they split up, Gabrielle and Lila begin to talk about the distance which has grown between them. After Lila admits she was hurt and jealous when Gabrielle left home to join up with Xena, the sisters are able to become close once more. When the two go looking for Meleager, Gabrielle realizes he's been captured and races off after him. Bound in chains at Damon's camp, Meleager refuses Damon's offer to join forces with him just as Gabrielle is brought in and dumped at Damon's feet. The two prisoners are thrown into a guarded tent, but manage to escape and make their way back to the village. There they set a series of traps for Damon and his men, and plan for the impending attack. Led by Pharis, the villagers publicly cheer Meleager for his strength and bravery.

At dawn, Damon's men begin to approach the village, but when Gabrielle goes to get Meleager, she is shocked to find he has disappeared with the strongbox containing the villagers' money. When everyone starts to panic, Lila convinces them that Gabrielle is a true warrior in her own right, and can lead them against Damon. When the ruthless gang arrives, the traps which have been set work brilliantly and the outlaws begin to retreat. But when Damon orders his men to take the village or die, they regroup to charge again. As the second attack begins, however, Meleager suddenly appears, armed with a rack of deadly Spartan javelins which he has bought with the villagers' money. Like a human Gatling gun, he hurls the javelins, skewering two or three thugs at a time until all have fallen.

When a desperate Damon grabs Gabrielle and Lila as human shields and places a knife at Gabrielle's throat, she tricks him and manages to escape with her sister. Meleager steps forward and the battle between the two fierce warriors is on! With Gabrielle shouting words of encouragement, Meleager recovers his confidence totally, and defeats the brigand. In the end, Gabrielle, her own confidence restored, bids farewell to her sister and rejoins Xena on her journeys.


Meleager the Mighty, the generally Tipsy and Carousing Warrior-For-Hire, was not harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • This is the second "Xena-Lite" episode.
  • The title is likely a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son, a story that Jesus told his disciples. The word "prodigal" originally had the different meaning of "spendthrift", but has come to refer a wayward person who returns home unexpectedly.

Key Events[]

  • This episode marks the first appearance of Meleager.


  • Chakram Count: 1
  1. To save Gabrielle from the bandits.
  • Although Xena and Meleager do not meet in this episode, that have come close to meeting before. Whilst Gabrielle was at the Athens Academy, Xena mortally wounded a drunken man. The man later died, and Meleager almost took the blame for it.

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