The Family Way
sixth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and the fifth season of Xena:
Warrior Princess now underway, Renaissance Pictures continues to deliver its
winning combination of action, adventure, comedy and drama. While the story
lines enthrall us, the special effects astound us and the action excites us it
is perhaps the humanity that compels us to keep watching the series.
be the strongest man in mythology and Xena may be the greatest warrior ever to
walk the known world but it is their human nature, with all of its strengths and
weaknesses, that makes them the believable heroes that the fans have come to
admire. One aspect of this human nature that was established in the pilot
episodes of both shows was the importance of the family and the relationships
seasons we have seen many different family relationships developing. Hercules
has a mortal half-brother Iphicles, now the King of Corinth, but their
relationship is always overshadowed by the main story line. 'War Wounds' is
perhaps the only episode to truly explore their brotherhood as Hercules bargains
for Iphicles freedom when he has been captured by angered war heroes when they
return as outcasts. There is also the never-ending supply of half-brothers and
half-sisters of the immortal kind. Aphrodite and Ares are seen to have the most
exposure within the series but their relationships are usually portrayed as that
of sibling rivalry as they compete for Zeus's attentions. But each of these
links has always been secondary to the bond that Hercules shares with his
be the son of Zeus - the King of the Gods, but his mother Alcmene was a mere
mortal woman. The lighter moments
of Hercules and Alcmene's relationship includes Hercules ongoing mission to
construct a wall around his mother's land to protect her, but when the Champion
of Men needs advice it is to his mother that he always turns. 'Twilight' saw the
final few moments of this remarkable mother and son. The death of Alcmene not
only shattered Hercules but also Iolaus, who on some levels considered her to be
a surrogate mother. Iolaus's devotion to his best friend's mother could be seen
in the earlier two part episode 'Armageddon Now' as he travelled through time in
order to save her from Callisto and ensure that Hercules would be born.
respected by most he meets there is one individual whose hatred for the demi-god
has caused Hercules great suffering. For Hera, the Queen of the Gods, his
existence is a constant reminder of her husband's adultery and she takes any
opportunity she can to torment him. In 'The Wrong Path' Hera finally destroys
what Hercules loves the most - his family. The story follows Hercules as he
deals with the loss of his wife Dieneira and his three children and begins his
'Sins of The
Past' sees the Warrior Princess beginning her path to redemption, seeking
atonement for her past misdeeds. On her return to Amphipolis, her hometown, Xena
is shunned by the villagers. Even her own mother turns against her and leaves
her to be stoned by the resentful townsfolk.
It is here
that we learn of her devotion to her younger brother Lyceus, whose death
triggered the cycle of hatred in which Xena became trapped. His presence would
continue to have a hold over Xena in episodes such as 'Death Mask', 'Remember
Nothing' and would be the driving force behind Xena's obsession for fishing and
the flashback to childhood in 'Fins, Femmes and Gems'. The episode 'Death Mask'
also reveals the existence of Xena's older brother Toris, who fled the invasion
of Cortese leaving Xena and Lyceus to defend the town against the warlord, which
resulted in the death of Lyceus.
the sibling relationships between Xena and her brothers are over-shadowed by her
building relationship with her mother Cyrene. On their reunion Cyrene draws
Xena's sword and holds it to her, publicly disowning her before the villagers.
At first she is filled with a deep resentment and mistrust for her estranged
daughter; she feels hurt by Xena's past betrayals but her anger is constantly
warring with her eternal bond as a mother.
In a tearful
farewell we discover that Cyrene has never forgotten the love that she has for
her 'little one' but it is not until the third season episode 'The Furies' that
we realise just how deep that love runs. Driven mad by the Furies for not
avenging the murder of her father Atrius, Xena goes in search of the truth, only
to discover that it was Cyrene who murdered her father. When she was a child
Atrius was told that he should sacrifice Xena to Ares, the God of War; Cyrene
did the only thing that she could in order to protect her child - she killed her
husband. This theme would play itself again in a more comedic episode 'It Takes
One To Know One', when in trying deduce who killed Ravenica, the bounty hunter
on her trail, Xena questions her mother. Although not guilty this time Cyrene
confesses that she would still kill in order to protect Xena, no matter what her
age, but she is glad that she does not have to.
that Cyrene has for Xena is reciprocated in turn by her daughter. Her adamant
refusal to kill her mother in 'The Furies' in order to satisfy the Punishers of
the Gods is in keeping with this, but her complete about turn at the request of
Ares is a little frightening. It is not until the conclusion that we discover it
was simply a ruse, to buy time with the God of War and the Furies, whilst she
found a way out of the situation. Xena's love for her mother truly comes to the
fore in the closing scene as she reassures her mother that they will become
stronger from the truth they have shared.
episode also introduces us to Gabrielle's family, albeit very briefly. There is
not nearly as much emphasis based on the Bard of Poteidaia's family. In fact we
did not even discover her mother and father's names until the fourth season
episode 'A Family Affair', however it was always stated that they were called
Hecuba and Herodotus. Younger sister Lilla features much more prominently and
she would return in 'The Prodigal', 'The Bittersuite' and 'A Family Affair'
along with their parents.
perhaps the seeming lack of relationship between Gabrielle and her parents that
reveals most. From the beginning Gabrielle states that she is not 'the little
girl her parents wanted her to be'. The fact that they have never understood her
speaks volumes as to why the young village girl ran away to join the Warrior
Princess on her adventures.
Xena and Gabrielle on a fundamental level were just like any other - rebellious
and independent, but it was when our heroines became the parents that things
became more than a little unusual. Not every mother has to deal with their child
blaming them for the death of their father and not every mother gives birth to a
demon that will destroy the world.
settled back to enjoy the second season of Xena they were in for a shock.
'Orphan of War' opened with a revelation from Xena that left the audience as
shocked as Gabrielle. "He's my son," revealed a whole new facet of the
Warrior Princess's dark and mysterious past, giving her already complex
personality yet another dimension.
filled with a deep hatred for the Warrior Princess having been told by his
adoptive father Kaleipus that Xena killed his father, The Great Borias and his
mother. Xena proves herself to the young boy and they develop a friendship,
which leaves Xena with mixed feelings when she is unable to reveal her maternal
link to him.
being murdered in the third season episode 'Maternal Instincts' by Gabrielle's
daughter Hope, the story of Solan would continue to unfold in subsequent
stories. 'Adventures In The Sin Trade' told of the pregnancy and the curse that
Alti bestowed upon him, that he would never feel the love of either parent. In
Imperfect' we would witness the birth of Solan, the death of Borias at the hands
of Dagnine and the realisation of Alti's curse as Xena gives up her son to
Kaleipus. Both 'Orphan of War' and 'Past Imperfect' show us the moment that Xena
hands over her son, knowing that it is for the best because he would grow up as
a target for Xena's enemies and eventually become like his warrior mother.
with 'Gabrielle's Hope' we experience the indestructible bond of motherhood
through the young Bard's eyes. From the moment that her newborn daughter is
placed into her arms a connection is made, one that not even Xena can sever.
Blinded by what she sees as her redemption - for the murder of Meridian in 'The
Deliverer' - she is unable to see Hope for what she really is. Though Gabrielle
finally opens her eyes to the truth of her daughters capability for evil during
the events of 'Maternal Instincts', 'Sacrifice' and 'A Family Affair' we still
feel her pain at the loss of her child as she either watches or assists in the
death of her daughter.
and Hope would play a pivotal part in what would become known as the Rift Saga;
the darker events of the third season that proved that Xena and Gabrielle could
turn on one another. Starting with Gabrielle's lie over the death of Hope, to
her betrayal of Xena in the Kingdom of Chin and Xena's anger that Gabrielle
would do this to her their friendship would appear to have survived. The
introduction of their children to this volatile situation was the final test
that broke them. Their deceptions and anger cost them the lives of the ones they
loved the most - their children. They stood side by side at the funerals but
their lives would be forever torn apart.
'The Bittersuite' Xena is given the chance to make amends with her son, and
Solan finally calls her mother. For Gabrielle there can be no happy reunion and
her conflicting emotions as she watches Xena with Solan says it all; her failure
as a parent, the loss of her child and that her deceit led to Solan's death.
the latest season unfolds and reveals Xena's mysterious pregnancy we wonder if
this is Xena's chance to be the mother that she could never be for Solan? A
chance to succeed where she had failed before?