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017
The Royal Couple of Thieves
Series: Xena: Warrior Princess (1995)
Season: One
Story Number: 017
Writer: Steven L. Sears
Director: John Cameron
Producer:
Broadcast: February 19, 1996
Previous Story: Mortal Beloved
Following Story: The Prodigal

Synopsis Edit

The sun shines on a religious procession, reflecting off the glittering jewel carried at its head. Suddenly, a cloaked figure soars over the procession on a wire, snatching the jewel on the way - Autolycus! He runs into an alley, changes clothes, and is grabbed by - Xena! He flees through the alleys, but Xena outruns him on clothelines, eventually catching him and dragging him backwards down a flight of steps (ouch!).

They sit down in a bar, Autolycus with his hands bound. He asks Xena to cover his hands to save him from embarrassment, then knocks over some fruit, and (while Xena is picking the fruit off the floor) his hands are suddenly free. One point up to the King of Thieves. Xena wants him to help steal back a valuable chest which contains 'the most powerful weapon the world has known' from a warlord named Malthus, who plans to auction it off. The chest is very important to some friends of Xena's. Auto is unenthusiastic, and gets up to leave, but finds his feet tied together. Two points up to the Warrior Princess!

Auto eventually agrees to undertake the assignment, for 2000 dinars (all Xena's friends can afford), to uphold his reputation as King of Thieves.

Xena suggests Auto goes to the auction as Sinteres, known as the philosopher-assassin, with Xena as his assistant. Sinteres is reputedly deadly with any weapon. Auto finds Xena a 'disguise' - a very brief, much-decorated and tasselled harem dress; "The assistant to Sinteres would wear no less". Gabby: "Any less and there wouldn't be!". Xena flatly rejects it.

The two show up at the ship for Malthus' island; Sinteres' name causes some antagonism amongst the assembled warlords. 'Sinteres' introduces Xena as his concubine, 'Cherish', who has never been on a ship before (does this man like living dangerously?) and produces The Dress for her to wear (is this man suicidal? is he trying to find out if there are more dangerous things than a boatload of warlords? read on...)

One of the warlords, whose brother Sinteres had killed, hurls Auto overboard, taking Xena with him, and they are left hanging from Auto's grapnel rope. Auto reappears and, helped by some backstage work by Xena with the grapnel, hurls the warlord fatally against the ship's rail. Some time later, in the saloon, Sinteres is boasting of his exploits when Xena eventually reappears, very wet and very mad.

At the island, Malthus demonstrates to his guests the alarm systems protecting the chest. The weapon will be demonstrated next day at noon. Auto needs a distraction while he makes a cast of Malthus' keys - so Xena does the Dance of the Three Veils, and very seductive she is too. This woman is multi-talented. However, 'Sinteres' demand that Cherish 'show them more' only gets him a face full of fruit.

That night, Auto and Xena sneak into the room where the chest is kept, and find Malthus lying dead in place of the chest. Auto trips the alarm system which he confidently assured Xena did not exist. They flee.

Back in their room, they find the chest on their bed. Someone is trying to frame them. Immediately, there comes a knocking on the door; the guard has been sent to search all rooms. He breaks in to find 'Sinteres' and 'Cherish' on the bed (chest hidden under them) and beats a hasty retreat. Xena, having hurled Auto off the bed, reads the inscription on the chest: 'Don't fear the truth, face it, for to turn away from truth is death'. Xena decides to put the chest back where it came from.

Xena and Auto enter the gallery above the room where the chest was kept, and Auto starts to lower the chest on a rope, just as Arkel, Malthus' henchman, walks in the door. Xena faces him and 'confesses' that she's there because the presence of death turns her on and Sinteres is too tired after all his fighting to be any use to her. 'Sinteres' meanwhile is dangling upside down from the rope behind Arkel, a predicament from which Xena skilfully frees him with her chakram while smooching Arkel (didn't we say this woman is multi-talented?) Just as Arkel is starting to get enthusiatic, 'Sinteres', having put the chest back in place, 'arrives' to interrupt the party.

Next morning, Arkel makes ready to demonstrate the power of the weapon on some local fishermen. But first, he introduces the real Sinteres - who is holding Gabrielle at his mercy. Under Sinteres' threat to Gabrielle, Xena and Autolycus admit their true identities. One of the warlords, Prognese, asks for the privilege of killing them for the murder of Malthus. Xena points out that Prognese, the night before, had quoted from the wording on the chest - how could he know it if he hadn't stolen it? Arkel, convinced, is about to kill Prognese when Sinteres claims the privilege. While Arkel holds a knife on Gabby, Sinteres kills Prognese with stabbing blows from his fingers. Then he says to Arkel, "You can kill her now". As Arkel makes to stab Gabby, Xena uses Autolycus' grapnel to lasso his arm, and the three make their escape.

Xena sends Gabby to follow the captive villagers, while she and Autolycus retire to the castle to change. Autolycus finally admits his admiration for Xena.

Meanwhile, Gabby gets captured yet again by Sinteres (this is not her lucky day). Xena and Auto, emerging from the castle, are found by the guards; Xena wades into them and Auto packs a pretty mean punch, too. Xena leaves Auto to fight them off while she runs for the cave where the Weapon is to be demonstrated.

In the cave, the warlords are clustered round the chest when Xena walks in. She and Sinteres square off, circling each other hand-to-hand in single combat. After a deadly fight, Xena catches Sinteres' final strike and chops him in the chest, killing him. The other warlords leap to the attack, but Gabby and Auto join Xena in fighting them off, leaving only Arkel standing. He lifts the lid of the chest. Slowly, a blinding point of light rises out of the chest and hangs stationary in the air. Xena quickly tells Auto and Gabby "'Don't fear the truth, face it.' Don't run". The light hangs there, slowly starting to give off a vapour. Arkel loses his nerve and runs; instantly a jet of flame shoots from the light, skewering Arkel and turning him into charcoal. Its work done, the light blinks out.

The friends examine the chest, lifting out a marble tablet. Autolycus reads " 'Thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not steal.' Who could live by those laws?"

The final scene - Autolycus hands the chest over to its owners, Xena's friends (obviously Israelites). He accepts the second 2000-dinar instalment of his fee, which he surrpetitiously replaces on their cart. He makes to kiss Xena farewell, Xena instead puts her hand out for him to shake, so he ceremoniously kisses her hand instead. As the King of Thieves walks away, Gabby flourishes his ring which she has stolen.

Memorable quotes Edit

  • Autolycus: Talk is cheap. I have an expensive ear.
  • Gabrielle: Is money the only thing in your life?
Autolycus: I believe it is.
  • Xena: Malthus has a big ego, almost as big as yours.
Autolycus: Nothing is as big as mine.

Cast Edit

Background information and notes Edit

  • This episode was inspired by the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Bruce Campbell as Autolycus in Xena. The character previously appeared on Hercules.

Continuity and mistakes Edit

  • When Xena and Autolycus try to steal the chest they enter the hall, where it is supposed to be. While they go down the few stairs you can see a shadow of a microphone at the wall on the top left corner of the screen.

Chakram CountEdit

  1. To free Autolycus from the rope.

Disclaimer Edit

  • No Ancient and Inflexible Rules governing moral behavior were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

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