Altared States
Series: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995)
Season: One
Story Number: 019
Writer: Chris Manheim
Director: Michael Levine
Broadcast: April 22, 1996
Previous Story: The Prodigal
Following Story: Ties That Bind

Synopsis Edit

Xena & Gabrielle swim sans clothing ... Xena is teaching Gabrielle to catch fish. A young boy with men chasing him runs close; Xena pulls him in the water. He can't hold his breath. Some guy grabs the kid (Ikus); Xena rises from the water, scowling and breathing and purring (like a dragon-kitten, maybe?). She gets the kid; grabs her leather cover (no breast plate or anything), and beats up 10 guys with a string of fish. Then Mael, the brother of Ikus, shows up. He says, "I don't know who ... or what ... you are, but this is none of your concern." Xena then manages to make the word "maternal" sound like the strength of the sun ("call it my MATERNAL instinct"). Ikus tells Xena he's to be sacrificed by his father to "the one true god."

Xena takes Gabrielle & Ikus to a cave and then goes to see Anteus, father of Ikus and Mael; she also finds Ikus's mother at the temple of Hestia; Mael rouses the other men against Xena. Meanwhile, back at the cave, Gabrielle eats some nutbread that Ikus has and is poisoned. Xena figures out the bread is poisoned when she speaks to Ikus's mother, (Mael had the bread made) and rushes back to the cave, to find a very drugged Gabrielle lying on the ground. Ikus is gone. Gabrielle hears voices and is very funny, though Xena's rather concerned. Xena leaves her and goes back to get Ikus, who has gone to his mother to get help for Gabrielle. Xena has to jump a barricade and with some cunning gets Ikus away from the men who would sacrifice him.

Anteus is praying on the mountain, and god thunders and speaks to him -- everyone hears this. Xena takes Anteus and Ikus back to their house, and Gabrielle shows up. Mael grabs Gabrielle and takes Ikus. Xena and Gabrielle end up falling or jumping (or something--I think they allow themselves to be thrown) down a well; Xena saves them both. Anteus takes Ikus up the hill to sacrifice him; Ikus goes willingly because he loves his father and his god. However, we see that Mael has made a "gong" that he strikes to sound like thunder and has constructed a "loud talking thing" to make his voice echo over the hill. He is jealous of his father's love of Ikus.

Xena tells Mael to tell Anteus not to kill Ikus; Mael throws the loud talking thing up the ridge; Gabrielle goes after it. Xena crosses a rope bridge to Mael, who cuts the ropes one by one, while Xena does a balancing act on each remaining strand until she's close enough to flip over to the same side as Mael; Mael falls, and clings to the rope. He won't take Xena's hand and falls into the river below. Xena runs to save Ikus. She throws her chakram and it misses as a voice booms out: "Anteus, you have proven your faith, do not kill Ikus." As Xena and Gabrielle leave, Xena tells Gabrielle she did a good voice of god imitation. Gabrielle says she never managed to reach the loud talking thing. So then who ??? Quick shot of the sky; choir sings.

Memorable quotes Edit

  • Xena: I'm asking you to spare your son.
Anteus: And teach him what? That faith is just for those times when it's convenient to believe? What's the good in sparing his life, if I rob him of the very thing that makes it worth living?
  • Xena: What are you doing here? I thought I told you to wait for me back at the cave.
Gabrielle: I did, and then this rock told me to come find you.
Xena: The rock spoke to you?
Gabrielle: Well yeah. I mean his voice was a little gravelly but I understood.

Cast Edit

  • Lucy Lawless as Xena
  • Renée O'Connor as Gabrielle
  • David Ackroyd as Anteus
  • David de Lautour as Ikus
  • Karl Urban as Mael
  • Sean Ashton-Peach as Zealot #1
  • Jack Dacey as Brawny Zealot
  • Peter Ford as Zealot Guard
  • Graham Smith as Senior Zealot
  • Teresa Woodham as Zora

Background information and notes Edit

  • This episode was a reworking of the Abraham-Isaac story from the Torah.
  • When Altared States aired on the USA cable channel, censors changed Mael's words "May whatever god you believe in have mercy on your soul" to "May our god have mercy on your soul".
  • This episode marks the first (but not last) time that Xena uses fish as weapons.
  • Henbane, the drug Gabrielle was exposed to when she ate the nut bread, is a real drug with connections to Greek mythology. Henbane causes hallucinations and was used in magical potions. It was also used to induce oracles in the Priestess of Apollo, which was documented by Pliny
  • This was the first episode that appears the so called SUBTEXT of the series.

Continuity and mistakes Edit

Chakram CountEdit

  • To stop Anteus from killing Ikus. It however misses it's mark (Anteus' arm); divine intervention perhaps?

Disclaimer Edit

  • No Unabating or Severely Punishing Deities were harmed during the production of this motion picture.