Key To The Kingdom

Written by Eric Morris
Directed by Bruce Campbell


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Pursh on Key to the Kingdom:


Stretch. Yawn. Hey quit hogging the blankey.

It's times like these that I especially miss Callisto.


Well, the good news is that the almighty fates saw fit to bless the beloved webmistress and I with geographic compatibility during the airing of this yawn-a-thon. So there we sat, we two, the spirited chakram sistas, above the smokin' smoke shack of Smoker Girl, waiting, waiting, waiting to see what would be the last first run Xena episode that we would watch together for a long time. Twin VCR's primed, we sat. We waited. We ate. We talked. The beloved webmistress peppered our conversation with acrid PMS wit. We laughed gaily as we inhaled Smoker Girl's polluted contribution to the much anticipated evening. I danced naked and prayed for the TV fuzz goddess to show mercy on our pitiable selves by keeping her fuzzy tendrils away from our big television event. The beloved webmistress lead us all, including my stuffed animals, in a robust rendition of "Roll out the Barrel." Everything was perfect.

And then who pulls a no show? The Bard of Abs. And who manages to show up? Joxer. And who else? The Dweeb of Thieves at his least stimulating. I can take this guy with Xena and gABrielle, but couple him with Joxer and hello semi-conscious, drooly bobbing head, half-mast eye-lids, neck snapping snooze fest. If it wouldn't have been for the beloved webmistress' tenacity in firing M&Ms enhanced with well developed peanuts at my head, as she reeled off delightfully clever theories on the origins of Smoker Girl's genetic lineage, I would have fallen asleep in the first two minutes. Luckily Meg made a quick entrance and my brain cells became interested enough in her to produce the minimum amount of alpha waves necessary for semi-alertness.

Well, at least she saved the webmissy some M&Ms.


A prostitute compassionate am I." - Ishtar, the Great Whore of Babylon

"Not only are we compassionate of ourselves, but we are compassionate of all the race of mankind." - Mary Magdalene

Regarded as embodiments of the Queen of Heaven the Qadeshet, or the Great Whore, or Horae, were honored for centuries by pre-patriarchal pagan cultures in Asia Minor and Greece. Having long ago embraced the notion that outside of the judeo-christian tradition prostitution is an honored profession, I'm pleased to say that I like Margaret the sex worker. And since she's the only memorable player in this trying to be pithy chug-chug-chugging along sleeper let's fast forward to her, and her slowly unraveling story.

The disconsolate Meg tweaks my heart with her tenacious belief in her own worthlessness, and I wish it were so that she had the compassion for her self that her foremothers in the trade seemed to have had. Unlike that little sprite Tara, who shook the "bad me" blues with a few "I believe in you" strokes from brave Xena, Meg is tragically far removed from her core self and all of its goodness. Even Xena can't turn on the self-love tap for her.

And Meg's secrets, usually held inpetto, have a tendency to present themselves in rushed, matter of fact gushes that always make me take note. Recall Warrior...Princess...Tramp where she tells gABrielle with blank starkness as she stares straight ahead "one of my Mom's boyfriends liked me too much so I ran away." She goes on to reveal that her Mom was "lotsa fun," but "not a very good Mom." Ah but alas, she tells gABrielle that she loved her Mom anyway. Oh whaaaaa, yes that's my heart breaking. Drats! I can't stand how much little girls suffer in our culture.

And now we know that Meg can't have kids. Sigh. Xena Staff does a good job here illustrating the sad, familiar misconception which holds that the bringing forth of children will ensure the bearer of such a never ceasing source of love and reverence. Of course without the firm foot-hold provided by compassionate self love, love from others, including the automatic love of little progeny, never blossoms to its fullest. Ya gotta have the basics, and I hope the Meg sista finds a way to negotiate that end and find her peace.

On a high note Margaret reaffirms that she likes the turnip-helmeted one because he's "funny." Right on Meg. Like us all you deserve happiness and laughter in your life, and if Joxer helps in that regard, bully for you. And though the inconsistencies in Meg and Joxer's relationship bother me, I'm willing to accept another view that would replace the concept of inconsistency with the notion of evolving. Indeed it seems that their relating has taken a turn for the deeper since Warrior...Priestess...Tramp where his focus is to procure a "spanking for naughty Joxer." In Key to Boredom he seems genuinely interested in helping her in her misguided quest to form a family by stealing a doll...whoops...I mean baby.


And regarding that scheme, it's a little difficult to believe that the Dweeb of Thieves would be so easily inveigled by Joxer the nugatory and Meg the less than crafty.

Usually at least somewhat clever, Autolycus appears here not only without gray matter, but also noticeably shy on consciousness. He manages to pick up the slack for Joxer and act the part of the daft, unevolved sexist, with his "Meg is unworthy because she's anybody's girl" crap. I would say she belongs to herself, Auto my boy, and that the choices she makes are her business, and her gig to work out, or not, as she chooses. Apparently Mr. Stinky Thief's profound life journey of stealing red plastic baubles from the craft section at Wal-Mart has rendered him needing to feel superior to someone, and when all else fails there's always an "anybody's girl" to kick around to inflate the old virility deficit. Curses! I deplore the great patriarchal cultural imperative that demands the mistreatment of the sacred Horae.

Heed my words, o' gals de Xena, and behold ye this first corollary of Xenitian episode evaluation: episode titles bearing kings and kingdoms and royalty are trouble. Think about the flush fests that preceded the current installment. First we have that notable waste, King of Asinine, which is actually likable compared to King Conk, which is mildly desirable when juxtaposed with Royal Couple o' Dweebs, the original cornerstone entry in the Autolycus is a boorish rube genre.

I'll keep my copy of this episode but only for its sentimental historical value in bearing the distinction of being the last episode that the beloved webmistress and I will ever watch together in her Xena sanctuary masquerading as the apartment above smoker girl's downstairs smoke house. But for Meg, M&Ms and the webmissy, there was little else to love here.

KEY TO THE REDRUM Or Return of Callisto: Reprise

The here piggy piggy sheriff has just begun prison feeding hour with the compassion, dignity and kindness one would expect from a man of his station. He is training a new, witty, well-dressed, kind-hearted and delightfully kempt undersheriff.

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: (to the new hire): Each of the animals gets a nice hot bowl of oatmeal.

NEW HIRE: Oh goody! Now do they get to choose between maple and brown sugar, cinnamon and raisin, and apples and spice? I prefer plain myself. Vidalis says it's the best choice for a healthy, young looking complexion, and an overall pleasant disposition, especially during a long day.


NEW HIRE: Oatmeal, you know, it sticks to the ribs so one doesn't get hungry and crabby during a long day.

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: Just pay attention! You've got to demand their respect. They're all murderers, thieves, and perverts.

NEW HIRE: Murderers, thieves and perverts, oh my! You mean Xena, Autolycus and Joxer! All here together in the same episode, without gABrielle? Oh no!

With a veritable glide to his gait, Vidalis, carrying a thoughtfully folded brown paper sack, enters the room through a hulking metal door.

VIDALIS: Joxer!? Who said anything about Joxer being in the pervert club! Please! I speak for the upper ranking nobility of the sacred perverted minority and he is definitely not in the club!

NEW HIRE (gaily): Honey! How nice to see you! What are you doing here! I didn't see you come in!

VIDALIS: Well dear, you should pay better attention.

Vidalis approaches his boyfriend carrying the tenderly folded brown sack, which emanates olfactory evidence of a delightful and carefully prepared home cooked meal.

VIDALIS (handing his boyfriend the brown meal sack): Here darling. You forgot your lunch.

NEW HIRE: Oh you sweet thing!

The men embrace in a manner appropriate to the moment.

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: What the hell is going on? Look here you two chatter bugs, I'm trying to feed these animals. Now hand me the damned oatmeal ladle.

NEW HIRE: Yes sir! Sorry sir...I...well, if you'll pardon me sir...the presence of Vidalis always distracts me just a bit. Giggle.

He smiles shyly at Vidalis, who winks back in return.

VIDALIS (as he playfully pinches his boyfriend's cheek): And I can't have my sweet poopsie-pie going without lunch at his first day on the new job, now can I.

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: Grrrrrrrrrrr. Freakin' homos.

VIDALIS: (to Sheriff Here Piggy Piggy as he notices Callisto, who is squirming around, inartfully strapped to her electric chair): Goodness sakes! Why is that dashing lesbian strapped in that Pre-Mycenaean electric chair? Heavens man, where is your compassion, common decency and fashion sense! This will never do!

NEW HIRE (noticing Calli for the first time): I should say not.

The well-mannered fellows move toward Calli's cage.

VIDALIS: Look here Sheriff Piggy Piggy, the leather head piece on this contraption is mussing this nice woman's hair. Tiff. I can barely stand to look at her.

NEW HIRE: Indeed! I must insist that you unleash that lesbian at once!

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: No way. That's Callisto. She's the worst of the worst.

VIDALIS: Oh you brute! You really know how to kick a girl when her hair is down!

NEW HIRE: And apparently through no fault of her own! Obviously our guests don't get a shampoo, rinse and scalp massage with their daily grain.

VIDLAIS: Oh clearly. And besides, what rubbish it is to tag this woman's hair as the worst of the worst. Granted her government issue leather headband doesn't fit properly, but this isn't her fault. How can she be the worst of the worst?

NEW HIRE: Good point hon. Truly, I've seen much worse hairstyles.

VIDALIS: Oh my yes. This shackled Callisto person doesn't even come close to sporting the notorious Promira pompadour! Absent a hair pile like that how can she possibly be under consideration for the worst of the worst award?

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY: All right you two, that's enough. If you don't cool it I'll toss you both in there with her.

VIDALIS: (deftly snaring Sheriff Here Piggy Piggy's keys): Oh don't bother dear, you have work to do. I'll just let myself in. We can have this mess shampooed, combed and curled in a jiffy!

Vidalis and his boyfriend enter Calli's cage, and within seconds Vidalis has unplugged Calli's electric chair and plugged in a high power, professional caliber, deluxe-sized, double rod curling iron.

NEW HIRE (to Callisto): Tsk, tsk what's a nice lesbian like you doing in a place like this?

CALLISTO: Long story.

VIDALIS: C'mon dolly, whaddya in for?

Calli raises her right hand makes a soft fist and begins to bend her index finger up and down, much like the little boy, Tony, in Stephen King's The Shining.

CALLISTO: Redrum! Redrum!

VIDALIS: Murder! Ya don't say! Well it takes all kinds to make a village!

NEW HIRE: Honey, you mean it takes a village to raise a child.

CALLISTO: No, you mean it takes a burned village to make a child into a redrumer.

NEW HIRE: You're village was burned when you were a child and that's what turned you into a murderer?

CALLISTO (as her index finger bobs up and down): Yup. Redrum! Redrum!

NEW HIRE: Tragic! Was everything burned?


NEW HIRE: Even your Dippity-do?


NEW HIRE: And your hair pick?


NEW HIRE: And your hot rollers?


NEW HIRE: Well no wonder you turned to redruming.

VIDALIS: Really!

SHERIFF HERE PIGGY PIGGY (as he moves toward the jail cell's door): All right that's it. I'm lockin' all your happy homo asses up.

In one fluid motion remnant of Donny Osmond when he first tries on his coat of many colors in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Vidalis swoops down and plucks the hot curling iron's plug from its source and swings the blistering hot double deluxe rod around his head, lasso style, three times before fatally landing it on Sheriff Here Piggy Piggy's head. With his thwacked hair steaming in defeat the good Sheriff wastes no time in falling to the ground with an echoless thud.

VIDALIS (as he finishes the final poofs and rats on Calli's hair): All done!

CALLISTO: Thanks bub!

VIDALIS: Sure dolly.

CALLISTO (to the new hire): And thank you!

NEW HIRE: (nodding with pride toward Vidalis): In addition to timely and helpful information about oatmeal, Vidalis also taught me that us perverts have to stick together.

VIDALIS: Ahhhhh, yet another healthy manifestation of compassion and self-love.

CALLISTO: Well thanks to you two I am both free and prettily coiffured.

VIDALIS: Like sweetums said, our type has got to stick together.

NEW HIRE: Especially during gABless times like these.

CALLISTO (feeling moved by the spirit of the moment): Well can I give you guys a lift somewhere?

The boys exchange happy glances at the prospect of riding alongside the dapper Warrior Queen in her horned, James Bond knife in the wheel chariot.

VIDALIS: Oh lovely! Would you dear? We're heading to the Second Annual Miss Known World Pageant to cheer on our friend, the reigning champion, Miss Artifice.

CALLI: Not a problem.

After locomoting to Calli's chariot using a few gratuitous gymnastics moves the happy perverts soon find themselves heading west with the wind in their hair. The key to the kingdom of his heart well intact, Vidalis squeezes his boyfriend's hand as Calli competently commands the worthy two wheeler gaily forward.

c. 1999Pursh
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