Recap / Xena S 01 E 19 Altared States

Xena and Gabrielle intervene to save young Ikus from being sacrificed by his own father, Anteus.


  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Xena and Gabrielle are skeptical of Anteus's people believing in one singular God. Meanwhile, Mael ridicules those who believe in the Olympians as primitives who don't know any better.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Xena tells Anteus's wife that he's being drugged, there's a sudden knock on the door. Seems like trouble, but it's really just a drugged up Gabrielle.
    "This rock told me I had to come find you."
  • Bargain with Heaven: Anteus begs God to spare Ikus—offering even his very life in exchange. Mael-as-God, of course, rejects him.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Based on his pagan comments, Mael doesn't appear to believe the Olympians even exist.
  • Buffy Speak: "The loud-talking thing."
  • Cain and Abel: Mael resents that Ikus was named Anteus's successor, so he orchestrates a plot to have little brother killed.
  • Crisis of Faith: Anteus's wife prays to Hestia for help and later tries to keep Ikus hidden. It turns out Anteus is also struggling with what he's been told to do more than he let on.
    Anteus: [to Xena] Every waking moment of every day since it happened. I keep wondering, "Is it me? Have I done something... wrong, and He's punishing me?" Or is this some kind of a test to see how far I'll go to prove my faith? [to Ikus] Or is He angry with me because He knows how much I love you? Or does His love demand the best, the brightest—you see, it-it never stops.
    Xena: You can stop it. You're still the leader here. You don't have to do this.
    Anteus: You're asking me to deny my God.
    Xena: I am asking you to spare your son!
    Anteus: And teach him what?! That faith is just for those times when it's convenient to believe? That, that when it gets hard, and, and, and, it hurts to keep faith, y-y-you let go, until it gets easy again? What's the good in sparing his life if I rob him of the very thing that makes it worth living?
  • Divine Intervention: God speaks to Anteus before Ikus is killed.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A story of a father intending to kill his son because his god told him to?
  • Face Death with Dignity: Ikus doesn't want to die, but he genuinely believes that God told Anteus to kill him, so he goes along with this peacefully.
    "I couldn't let others die protecting me, Father, not when my death is part of God's plan. I-Isn't that right?"
  • God Guise: Mael uses a device to amplify his voice and drugs Anteus with henbane in order to sell the trick. Xena and Gabrielle also hope to pull this trope off in order to save Ikus.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: For the first half, it seems like Xena and Gabrielle have to stop a crazy old man from killing his son because a voice told him to. It's later revealed that Mael is manipulating his father in order to eliminate his rival to power.
  • Honor Before Reason: Mael would rather fall to his death than let Xena save him.
  • Human Sacrifice: Anteus is conned into thinking that God wants him to sacrifice Ikus.
  • Hypocrite:
    Mael: I don't bargain with savages.
    Xena: And what are you? Drugging your father? Trying to kill your own brother?
  • Innocuously Important Episode: For better or worse, later seasons would build on the idea of Greek characters believing in the Christian God.
  • Jerkass: Mael. Not only is he the villain of the story, but he also looks down on anyone who believes in the Olympians.
  • Pals with Jesus: God reportedly speaks to Anteus quite often.
  • Real After All: God speaking to Anteus is loud enough for everyone to hear. Xena and Gabrielle initially assumed the other faked the voice; they're both quite surprised to find that's not the case.
    Xena: If you didn't do it, then who...?
    [Both look up]
  • Secret Test of Character: Given when God finally intervenes, He apparently wanted to see how strong Anteus's faith was after all.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Ikus being named Anteus's successor.