I've been sick the past couple of days, and as we all know that means Netflix marathons while I sit huddled up in a blanket and wishing whatever misery was besetting me at that moment would go away. You can of course imagine my delight when I saw that Xena: The Warrior Princess in as near to its entirety as I can tell is on Netflix. Course, this wassomething I apparently had found out a while ago and forgotten about because my queue was set some twenty episodes into the first season already.
I was sick so I watched anyhow. Which meant that in my marathoning I got to see the first couple episodes that feature the villain Callisto. In Greek Mythology Callisto is one of Artemis's handmaidens that gets seduced by Zeus and thus cast out of Artemis's good will and protection. In Xena, well, it's a different story.
Now Xena is an old show so maybe you're not famiiliar with it aside from it was a show in the same vein as Hercules, could be ridiculously historically inaccurate, and was more than a bit campy. Beyond that though Xena is, at least in the early episodes, a show about a warrior woman seeking to atone for the sins she committed as a warlord and bandit by traveling around and helping people when she can.
So if that's Xena then who is Callisto?
Callisto is the survivor of a bandit army attack on her village. In a story strikingly similar to Xena's own backstory people close to Calllisto were killed, and she took up the sword and formed an army to get back at the people who had wronged her. Only, in Callisto's case the person who had wronged her - the warlord of the bandit army that killed her family, was Xena.
Whatever camp and silliness the show's writers allow they treat Callisto with respect. There have been other big name warlords in the show. The first episode even features one that was once Xena's lover and partner, but none of the male characters in the show ever come close to matching Xena as closely as Callisto does. No one else - at least at this point - can catch the Chakram out of mid air. But that is how Callisto is introduced.
She is more than just the martial threat though. Callisto is the embodiment of Xena's past, the person she was, and the sins she committed come to get her. On top of this is the fact that for all the evil Callisto does, she is a victim. She would not have ended up the way she did if not for Xena's sins.
All this together and the stakes are just a little higher when Callisto is involved.In many ways she is the Joker to Xena's Batman or the Moriarty to Xena's Holmes, only unlike in those legendary cases there is no question as to who made who.