Maternal Instincts

Mother and son reunite.Xena and Gabrielle make their way to the village of the centaurs, with Xena sad that it's been over a year since their last visit. Just then, her son Solan literally tries to get the drop on her from a tree, and while he's not quite successful, Xena's impressed with how much his tracking skills have improved. They're then joined by Kaleipus, who thanks Xena and Gabrielle for coming. Apparently, Kaleipus has organized a treaty summit that could reunite the centaur nation, and he's asked them to be there. He informs them that the delegates have brought their children so that they could appreciate the "legacy of peace and hope" they're leaving them. However, at the mention of children and hope, Gabrielle quickly changes the subject, challenging Solan to a race to the edge of the village. Solan accepts, and as he and Gabrielle run off, Xena assures Kaleipus that she's only there to help with the treaty summit and not take Solan away from him. Meanwhile, near the lava pit where Xena trapped Callisto and Velasca, a little blond girl plays with a ball. The ball falls into the pit, and as the little girl peers over the side, the pit opens up, shooting up flames. Then girl then faints, and Callisto appears, glad to be free.

'Fayla' plots with Callisto.In the village of the centaurs, Solan is showing Gabrielle to the hut she and Xena and are to be staying in, when they're surprised by Ephiny and her son Xenan. They're there for the treaty summit as well, as Ephiny feels it's important for Xenan since he's a centaur prince. Noticing something's wrong with Gabrielle, Ephiny tells the boys to go play so she and Gabrielle can catch up. Just outside of town, meanwhile, Callisto sets fire to a couple of totems that have been erected in honor of the summit. As two men come running, she explains that she's sending a message to an "old friend," before turning on them. Back in Gabrielle's hut, Gabrielle informs Ephiny that she and Xena were in in Britannia a couple of months ago, and that she had a child. However, she tells Ephiny that the child died, letting Ephiny believe that Hope died in her sleep. Meanwhile, outside of town, Xena and Kaleipus find the burned totems, as well as the bodies of the two men who'd tried to confront Callisto. Even though the evidence seems to point to her, Xena believes Callisto's still trapped in the lava pit and not getting out anytime soon. Back in Gabrielle's hut, meanwhile, Ephiny leaves for a meeting, just as Gabrielle catches the little girl from the lava put tring to sneak in. The girl says her name is Fayla, and that she has a message for Xena. She claims that if she tells anyone but Xena, the "monster lady," a.k.a. Callisto, will hurt her. So, Gabrielle takes Fayla to Xena and Kaleipus, and that's when Fayla relays the message: Callisto not only knows Xena's secret but she plans on taking it to her grave. From this, Xena deduces that Callisto knows about Solan, though she's not sure how, and decides to hide her son in the Ixion Caves. Later, in Callisto's lair, Callisto asks Fayla how Xena looked when she relayed the message, and Fayla gleefully replies that Xena looked devastated. Callisto says she wishes she could've seen it, but Fayla assures her that she'll get her chance, reminding Callisto that she freed her for a reason. Fayla then brings up her father Dahak, revealing her identity as Gabrielle's daughter Hope, informing Callisto that Dahak's kingdom "is at hand."

Callisto prepares to kill Solan.Back in Kaleipus's hut, Xena and Kaleipus try to talk Solan into going into hiding, but don't explain why. He's resistant to the idea, of course, so Xena asks to speak with him alone. She tells him that Kaleipus is worried about him, and that sometimes, he has to trust that Kaleipus only wants what's best for him. This manages to convince Solan to go into hiding. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is leaving a shop when she literally runs into "Fayla", causing the latter to drop a wooden lamb. Recognizing it as the one she gave Hope, Gabrielle asks "Fayla" where she got it. "Fayla" insists it's hers, and that it was found with her in a basket. Realizing "Fayla" is Hope, Gabrielle asks her to wait in her hut until she gets back so Gabrielle will know she's safe. A little later, Xena is escorting a hooded figure, presumably Solan, through the woods, when Callisto appears and attacks them. However, when Callisto goes to kill Solan, she finds that the hooded figure is actually Gabrielle in disguise. While disappointed, Callisto applauds them for fooling her. She then disappears, but not before taunting that even she, Callisto, can't be in two places at once. In the Ixion Caves, meanwhile, Kaleipus comes upon Hope, who uses her mind to stab Kaleipus with a sword, fatally wounding him. Back in the woods, Xena points out that Callisto all but said she's got someone helping her, but can't figure out who that might be. Just then, she and Gabrielle come upon the mortally wounded Kaleipus. He assures them that Solan is safe, then with his last dying breath, instructs Xena to look after Solan.

Xena finds her son dead.Later, in Kaleipus's hut, Xena tires to console Solan. She assures him that he has lots of friends who would love for him to come live with them, but he expresses a desire to travel with Xena and Gabrielle instead. After making sure it's what he wants, Xena gladly agrees, telling him to be ready to go by the time "all this is over". Back in the Ixion Caves, meanwhile, Callisto finds Hope weakened from using her powers. Hope forces her to wait with her while her strength returns, coming up with a plan to destroy what the treaty delegates love most: their children. Later, Gabrielle returns to her hut, and starts to panic when she finds Hope isn't there. Suddenly, Hope appears, and claims Callisto held her captive. She also claims Callisto called her evil, but Gabrielle assures her that she's not, before revealing that she's her mother and that she gave Hope up as a baby in order to save Hope's life. Hope, in turn, reveals that she helped free Callisto, making it seem like it was inadvertent, and that Callisto plans on killing all the kids in town. Gabrielle goes to warn Xena of this, but first, drops Hope off at Kaleipus's hut, where Solan is finishing packing his things. As soon as Gabrielle relays Callisto's plan to Ephiny and Xena, Ephiny leaves to round up the kids; Xena, however, isn't entirely sure they can trust "Fayla", calling her a pawn of Callisto's..."or worse." That's when Gabrielle indirectly reveals that "Fayla" is actually Hope, and insists that Hope is the victim in all this. Xena, however, argues that Hope is nothing more than a vessel for evil, and theorizes that poison might be able to kill Hope since she's still so young. Gabrielle continues to assert Hope's innocence, mentioning that she sent her daughter to Kaleipus's hut out of concern for her safety. At that bit of news, Xena rushes to Kaleipus's hut, where she finds Solan slumped over a table. Nervously, she checks on him, only to have her worst fears confirmed. Gabrielle catches up to her just then, and is horrified to find Solan dead in Xena's arms. Xena tells her to get out, then lets out several agonizing screams of grief. In Callisto's lair, meanwhile, Callisto hears Xena's screams, recognizing them for what they are. She smiles, savoring the moment, but then, her smile fades, her face falling in disappointment.

Xena and Gabrielle hold funeral pyres.Xena continues to hold Solan to her, sending Ephiny away when she comes to inform her that Callisto's on her way. She even yells at Xenan, frightening the poor young centaur. Finally, Xena covers Solan's body, and leaves, presumably to deal with Callisto. Back in Gabrielle's hut, meanwhile, Gabrielle is putting poison into a water bag, when Hope returns, claiming that "that boy" was already dead and that she got scared and ran. Gabrielle hugs her daughter in relief, but then, Hope mentions Solan by name, even though Gabrielle never her told her what his name was. Meanwhile, Callisto staggers into town, where she notices Ephiny trying to get the children to safety. She prepares to kill them, insisting she's doing them a favor, but Xena attacks, stopping her. After a brief fight, Callisto follows the kids into a cave, eventually coming to a dead end. Xena confronts the blonde once more, but Callisto admits defeat, revealing that even after getting her revenge on Xena, she still feels empty inside. She has no interest in fighting anymore, but Xena attacks, eventually goading her into fighting back with a few lightning bolts. Xena manages to duck the bolts, causing the cave to start collapsing as Callisto hits everything but the Warrior Princess. Ephiny manages to get the kids out in time, but Callisto's not so lucky. Xena leaves Callisto alone with her pain as the cave collapses all around her, trapping her. As Ephiny and the kids watch, Xena emerges from the cave, a little dirty but none the worse for wear. Later, around sundown, Gabrielle covers up Hope's body, the poisoned water bag laying nearby. Gabrielle picks it up and starts to drink, but then changes her mind and pours it out instead. Just then, Xena appears, and they share a wordless moment, Xena apparently angry and Gabrielle remorseful. That night, Xena and Gabrielle hold funeral pyres for their respective children while Ephiny sings an Amazonian dirge. Gabrielle tearfully points out that if she had just done what Xena had told her to do, Solan and Kaleipus would still be alive. Xena tells her not to speak Solan's name, insisting that he's dead because Gabrielle betrayed her trust. Gabrielle tells Xena that she loves her, but Xena doesn't reciprocate the sentiment. Instead, she cries, then she and Gabrielle go their separate ways.

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