Callisto is a fictional character in the fantasy TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. She features as a recurring villainess on that show. She also makes appearances on three episodes of the parent show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. She is portrayed by the American actress Hudson Leick.
Callisto is Xena's nemesis, motivated by a desire for revenge for the suffering Xena has caused in her own dark past. Before Xena reforms, he was responsible for the death of Callisto's family when she had her army torch Callisto's village, Cirra.
Callisto, a child at the time, was left traumatized by the attack and eventually went insane and became obsessed with getting revenge on Xena. She displays signs of bipolar disorder and psychopathy, manifested in a bizarre brand of sadistic, gleeful, shrieking cruelty towards Xena and her associates.
Callisto intends to make Xena suffer as much as possible rather than killing her, and repeatedly lets chances to kill Xena pass by. This is reflected in Xena's own feelings of guilt that cause her, on several occasions, to spare her enemy's life as well.
Callisto feels constant emotional pain, caused by the loss of her family; she thinks that if she takes revenge, she will be free of the pain. By surrounding herself with her own evil, and feeding her hatred with guilt, she only increases the pain; by seeking revenge, she traps herself in a downward spiral that prevents her from healing. Exhibiting a classic martyr complex, she justifies herself by blaming her evil on Xena, and refuses to take responsibility for her own actions. Occasionally, she tries to discuss the issues, perhaps hoping for another way out, but finds only Xena's watchful scepticism of her motives.
Callisto's first two episodes set up the themes of hatred, revenge and guilt, and pose the ethical dilemma of how Xena can never put right the damage of her evil past. If she lets Callisto live, she will wreak havoc, kill and maim people. But if she kills Callisto, she is merely finishing the job which she started when she wrecked that little girl's life. In her first episode, we see that Callisto has recruited a small army and spends her days training hard with them until she is "as good as Xena". She begins her campaign of revenge by raiding and burning villages and savagely slaughtering people in Xena's name. She hopes to revive Xena's reputation as a villain; planning to kill Xena after destroying her reputation. Xena has no choice but to engage with her, and in a close fight Xena beats her, but cannot kill her. She hands her over to the authorities, who throw her in jail. However, Callisto later escapes, weaponless, easily crippling and killing her guards. She finds Xena, but is still unable to defeat her, and instead makes her suffer by plunging her sword though the heart of Gabrielle's recently-wedded husband, Perdicas. Xena catches her again, and is wracked with guilt as Callisto taunts her about her past. A fight ensues, and Xena and Callisto fall into quicksand. Xena's inventive wit allows her to struggle free, and she watches doubtfully as Callisto is sucked under. But the ethical dilemma still hangs in the balance: Xena has killed the monster that she created, but still carries the guilt that it was all her fault.
Callisto works with Ares, the god of war, to invade Xena's dreams and switch bodies with Xena, so that she is free and Xena is trapped in Tartarus. But Xena persuades Hades to let her return to earth, although still trapped in Callisto's body, where she defeats Callisto and sends her back to Tartarus. Xena remains trapped in Callisto's body for one episode before Ares restores them to their normal selves.
Immortality and godhoodEdit
Callisto again escapes from Tartarus on the companion show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys by making a deal with Hera, Queen of the Gods. Hera allows her back to Earth for one day to kill Hercules, and promises her immortality if she succeeds, but Callisto plans on getting immortality regardless. She poisons Hercules' family, then tricks him into accompanying her to the Tree of Life, where one bite of a golden apple cures all ills, and a whole apple makes a person immortal. Hercules reluctantly agrees, but Callisto traps him, and uses him to reveal the tree and eats a golden apple, becoming immortal and restoring her sanity. Hercules escapes and fights Callisto, inadvertently scarring her in the process, and breaking her sanity once again, and traps her in the Labyrinth. Frustrated, Callisto has only her rage to console her for what appears to be an eternity inside the ruins.
When an Amazon called Velasca eats Ambrosia and becomes a goddess hellbent on killing Gabrielle, Xena makes a risky deal with Callisto. She offers Callisto a chance at the Ambrosia in exchange for her help. Xena tricks her into fighting Velasca for the Ambrosia on a rope bridge over a river of lava, where she gets it and eats it. In her moment of glorious godhood, Xena cuts the ropes and Callisto and Velasca plunge into the lava.
Callisto is later freed from the lava by Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope, who calls her "the monster lady". In a ploy of mythical proportions, she causes Hope to kill Xena's son Solan, and laughs manically as Xena and Gabrielle's friendship is torn apart. However, Xena defeats her and traps her in a mine by causing a cave-in. Callisto then appears to Xena and Gabrielle as a manifestation of their own guilt in the musical episode where they eventually reconcile.
Hope later frees Callisto from the mine in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Hope sends her back in time to destroy Hercules and also gives her the Hind's blood. Although she fails to kill Hercules, Callisto uses the Hind's blood to kill Strife. During her time travel, it turns out that the adult Callisto killed her own father accidentally while trying to protect her family from Xena's army, and then filled with sadness and regret went on to kill her mother as well, and then left the "young Callisto" in the burning wreckage. But Iolaus also traveled in time and stopped Callisto from returning to the past, making it so that the event never happened in the first place. At the end of the episode, she is trapped in an interdimensional pocket. She then escapes from this prison right before the events of Sacrifice and the rebirth of Hope.
By this time, Callisto has had enough of the emotional pain that has tormented her since childhood. Hope spins a cocoon around herself for her transformation from child into adult. Callisto agrees to protect her until she hatches, in exchange for permanent oblivion. When Gabrielle sacrifices herself to destroy Hope, Callisto changes her mind and gleefully exclaims that she has a reason for living again. However, it proves to be a moot point, as seconds later Xena, in her furious torment, mutters, "No more living for you" and slays Callisto with the Hind's Blood Dagger.
Damnation and redemptionEdit
Stripped of her powers as a goddess, Callisto is condemned to eternal torment as a demon of Hell. She is, however, given the opportunity to return to the living if she can corrupt Xena and install Caesar as emperor of Rome. She is required to do this without hurting Xena physically, but as a result of her blind rage for Xena she fails at both tasks. She defeats Xena for the only time, by breaking her spine with Xena's own chakram. Callisto is returned to Hell, but her actions set into motion the events leading to Caesar's, Xena's and Gabrielle's deaths. Xena lies critically injured on the ground and Gabrielle tries to defend her, but they are captured by the Roman guards. On the Ides of March, as Caesar declares himself emperor and is murdered by his peers, Xena and Gabrielle are also crucified at Caesar's command.
After her death, the angel Xena encounters the demon Callisto. As an act of redemption for her own guilt at Callisto's suffering, she purges Callisto's guilt, brings her back to the light. Callisto is lifted up and becomes an angel, utterly devoid of the pain and torment that she had always known, and in exchange, Xena is turned into a demon, sacrificing her own eternal happiness to save her.
The sacrifice of lives and souls is a recurring theme of the series. Xena frequently tries to sacrifice herself for redemption, and this is partly what gives her such fearlessness in the face of death. But this sacrifice for Callisto has its own unexpected rewards, as Xena is later resurrected by the power of Eli's God of Love, acting through the angel Callisto. Callisto now exudes such light and goodness that even Gabrielle cannot believe it.
Soon after Xena and Gabrielle are resurrected through Eli's efforts and Callisto's spiritual aid, Xena becomes pregnant with Eve. But Xena does not know how it could have happened. It is later revealed that the angel Callisto caused it: Callisto herself will be reincarnated as Xena's child. Callisto's gift of Eve to Xena is also something of a way of making amends for Solan's death. So in a peculiar way, Callisto gives Xena back the child she lost, and she gets back the family that she lost.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Callisto is an amazing fighter, on par with Xena. She can also hold her own against Hercules. She shows herself to be able to catch and throw the chakram with the same skill as Xena, a feat that only two others were ever able to replicate. Callisto's fighting style is very similar to Xena's with the exception that she often becomes unfocused and carried away in a blind insane rage while fighting. Later on in the series, Callisto attains the powers of a Goddess and defeats Ares in combat. She is generally seen producing lighting bolts and more commonly, fire blasts.
Below is a list of all the episodes Callisto has appeared in.
Xena - Warrior Princess
- 1.21 The Greater Good (cameo)
- 1.22 Callisto
- 2.5 Return of Callisto
- 2.7 Intimate Stranger
- 2.8 Ten Little Warlords (Xena in Callisto's body)
- 2.14 A Necessary Evil
- 3.11 Maternal Instincts
- 3.12 Bitter Suite
- 3.21 Sacrifice I
- 3.22 Sacrifice II
- 4.21 Ides of March
- 5.1 Fallen Angel
- 5.9 Seeds of Faith
Hercules - The Legendary Journeys
- 3.12 Surprise
- 4.13 Armageddon Now I
- 4.14 Armageddon Now II
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