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Welcome to Very Important Binge (VIB), where SYFY FANGRRLS tells you how to navigate your favorite TV shows.
It’s no secret that we are big fans of the Amazons, otherwise known as the mythical group of Grecian warrior women who created their own society away from the influence of man’s world. There are definitely days when we ourselves feel more than ready to quit the world and join up with them to live a life of constant, intense training sequences.
Like most Grecian myths, Amazons have made plenty of appearances in books, TV, comics, and film. The representations have emphasized the trope that they are bloodthirsty and have an unreasonable hatred of men, while sometimes failing to portray stories about what their lives are like or how their society works. That’s a shame, because Amazonian society is very interesting all on its own, but even looking back on their appearances on the small screen, there are some truly great TV episodes featuring our favorite mythological legends.
Xena: Warrior Princess - "Hooves & Harlots"
Out of all the TV series, Xena: Warrior Princess is the one that treated the Amazons the best. Though Xena herself did not join the Amazons, she regularly worked in alliance with them. Meanwhile, Gabrielle became a literal Amazon Princess, then Queen.
At the beginning of "Hooves & Harlots", Xena and Gabrielle are attacked by a group of Amazons who tell them they’re trespassing and will have to meet the Queen. This group is in turn attacked, and Gabrielle selflessly leaps over the body of the Amazon Princess in hopes of shielding her from a flurry of arrows. Sadly, the Princess is hit, and she dies. This means, you guessed it, Gabrielle takes her place in Amazon society.
This episode is one-half murder mystery, one-half Gabrielle coming into her own as a character, and three-halves joyous queer romp. Gabrielle trains with the Amazons, befriends the initially hostile Ephiny, and switches up her outfit for the first time. Going forward, Gabby would be more physically active in the series and Xena would learn to rely on her more and more. Meanwhile, the Amazons are delightful, and nobody shames them for living in a society without men.
Xena: Warrior Princess - "To Helicon And Back"
Pretty much any episode of Xena featuring the Amazons is well worth your time. The show gave them complexity and heroic status in a way that, all these years later, has yet to be duplicated.
This is a surprisingly somber, highly violent episode, in which several Amazons engage in all-out war with Athena’s cruel demigod son after he attacks them in the middle of a sacred ritual. The episode starts heavy and it doesn’t get any lighter until the last 12 seconds of run time. Lots of Amazons die, everyone is faced with complicated moral dilemmas, and Gabrielle’s outfit is amazing.
Though there are many deaths in this episode, one of them low-key sells out her sisters, and Gabrielle flies into a murderous rage at least once, this is still an amazing representation of the Amazons as a society. They are portrayed as morally complex, and their Queen both does what she thinks she must and very nearly costs everyone their lives at the same time. Things are bleak, but the Amazons prevail.
Harley Quinn - "Bachelorette"
Harley Quinn, in denial over her intense romantic feelings for her BFF Poison Ivy, tries to support Ivy’s pending marriage to Kite Man by arranging a bachelorette party on Themyscira. This involves a handful of Ivy’s distant acquaintances who agreed to come along, including Catwoman, Nora Fries, and Ivy’s friend from kindergarten, Jen. Awkwardness abounds and Harley and Ivy have sex many more times than best friends usually do, but they do also put a stop to the evil Eris’ plan to turn Themyscira into a lucrative tourist destination.
This is easily our least Amazon-centric episode on this list, but let’s face it, there is no place this story could have taken place besides Themyscira. Besides everything, Hippolyta’s brief but iconic presence here is a lot of fun. This is the kind of Queen of Themyscira we'd love to see more of.
Justice League - "Paradise Lost"
The Justice League cartoon did a pretty great job of tying together myriad iconic comic book arcs and distilling them to their most accessible form, and that’s why it continues to be one of the most fondly remembered series of DC’s animated universe.
Here, Diana discovers that classic DC villain Felix Faust has taken Themyscira and turned the Amazons into stone. He enlists Diana and the Justice League to track down artifacts that merge into an instrument meant to summon Hades to earth. When that happens, Felix is immediately incapacitated by the elder god, and it’s left to the League to battle him back to the Underworld.
Diana’s complicated relationship with her mother and the rest of the Amazons is the focus of this story, and though she saves the day, her mother must still exile her for breaking Amazonian law to save them. Diana is shamed and leaves the island heartbroken. Despite its heavy tone, this episode has a ton of great fight sequences, and Diana’s interactions with her mother are fascinating.
Young Hercules - "Amazon Grace"
Though some Amazon episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys deserve a trigger warning and then some, Young Hercules gave us some highly entertaining alternatives. Dreamy, meandering teen Hercules as portrayed by Ryan Gosling is just a fun character in general, and his good-intentioned flirting with the Amazon Cyane is actually very sweet.
Here, Cyane discovers that Hercules is the son of her most hated enemy, Zeus, and it causes a temporary rift between them. However, when a king of Athens captures her and attempts to take her, Hercules puts his life on the line to free her. She sees that Hercules is an ally after all, and they part as friends.
The Amazon episodes of Young Hercules are among the best of the series, and this is no different. There is a lengthy soccer match between the Cadets and the Amazons (which the Amazons easily win) in the middle of the episode that lightens the mood. Seeing teenage Amazons interacting with other kids their age is actually refreshing, and it adds layers to them that we hadn’t yet seen in the Xenaverse.