The Bitter Suite
|"The Bitter Suite"|
|Xena Warrior Princess episode|
Xena and Gabrielle, trapped in Illusia by the manifestations of their mutual hate.
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Oley Sassone|
|Written by||Chris Manheim
Steven L. Sears
|Original air date||February 02, 1998|
“The Bitter Suite” is the twelfth episode of the third season of the American-New Zealand fantasy adventure series Xena: Warrior Princess, which premiered on February 2, 1998. The episode was written by Chris Manheim and Steven L. Sears and directed by Oley Sassone.
The series focuses on Xena (Lucy Lawless), a warrior in a quest to seek redemption for her past sins as a ruthless warlord by using her fighting skills to help people. Her best friend and traveling companion is Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).
In the episode Xena and Gabrielle are brought to the Land of Illusia, where they have to work together again, letting their past problems go, in order to escape alive. Xena's and Gabrielle's enemy Callisto (Hudson Leick) is their guide and is aided by Ares and Joxer. Throughout the episode Xena and Gabrielle deal with the problems that had recently torn them apart and learn to focus on the stronger bond that brought them together in the first place.
Noted for being a rare musical episode of the series, combining both humor and drama, "The Bitter Suite" was nominated for two Emmy Awards. Regular series composer Joseph LoDuca was nominated for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the song "The Love of Your Love" and LoDuca and lyricist Dennis Spiegel were nominated in the same category for the song "Hearts Are Hurting." It was LoDuca's second and third nominations for the series out of a total of seven nominations, and one award, through the six-year run of the series.
At the start of the episode, Xena attacks and attempts to kill Gabrielle, only to be thwarted at the last moment when both are brought to the land of Illusia. After both awaken completely nude and are supplied with new clothing, their enemies immediately try to set them against each other.
The concept of Illusia is never actually explained. Callisto is their guide throughout the magical land, but the entire episode appears to be a deus ex machina to bring the two of them back together when nothing else could. Throughout the episode the two are forced to realize what drove them apart, and what is truly important to them. Ultimately realizing that the only thing separating the two of them is hate, and that they truly do love each other, and would sacrifice their own lives for each other.
"The Bitter Suite" was shot between September and October, 1997, in New Zealand. Some actors of the previous episode return, Hudson Leick as Callisto, Danielle Cormack, as Ephiny, and David Taylor as Solan. Other old actors in the series return in that episode, as Ted Raimi, Kevin Tod Smith, Willa O'Neill, Karl Urban and Marton Csokas. The series executive producer, Robert Tapert, was originally going to direct the episode himself, but he was forced to pull out at the last minute because of complications on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Kevin Smith was unable to rehearse the tango sequence in the episode with Lucy Lawless because Lucy had sprained her knee getting off her horse. Kevin had to rehearse with a dance instructor a foot shorter than Lucy. All ended well as Lucy's knee healed in a week, and Lucy was much easier to dance with because of her height. Hudson Leick's singing voice was dubbed in this episode by Broadway and film star Michelle Nicastro, although Leick did provide the narration from Paul Foster Case's The Book of Tokens to open the musical segment of the episode. Renee O'Connor's voice was dubbed by Broadway singer Susan Wood. Lucy Lawless, Kevin Smith, Ted Raimi and Willa O'Neill did their own singing for the episode.
At the Panathenaea Convention in London, England, on September 2, 2000, Willa O'Neill mentioned that she did her own singing in "The Bitter Suite." She explained that she had to audition to Joseph LoDuca in Detroit by telephone. When they recorded the songs, the singing was done in a sound studio in New Zealand, but the actual taping was done in Detroit. After taping it, they then played it back while filming the episode. She found it weird to hear her voice singing during the filming.
The costumes in "The Bitter Suite" are all based on Tarot cards; specifically, the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Callisto was based on The Fool and Justice, Gabrielle was The Empress and The Sun, Xena played both Death and The High Priestess, Ares was The Emperor, and Joxer was The Hanged Man and The Hermit. Scenes were made to resemble The Wheel of Fortune, The Chariot and The Tower.
|The Bitter Suite: A Musical Odyssey|
|Soundtrack album by Joseph LoDuca|
|Released||March 3, 1998|
A soundtrack containing the entire musical score of the episode was released by Varèse Sarabande on March 1, 1998.
All music composed by Joseph LoDuca.
|1.||"The Sweat Hut/Slapped Out Of It/Xena's In Town"||4:42|
|2.||"Horrible Drag/On The Edge/Song Of The Fool"||5:09|
|3.||"What's Still Unwritten... (Song Of Illusia)/Little Ditties/Into The Chandra/Joxer The Mighty/Prepping Gabby"||Pamela Phillips Oland, Stephen L. Sears, Chris Manheim||Michelle Nicastro, Keith Black, Robert Bugar, Gia Warner, Ted Raimi||5:17|
|4.||"War And Peace/Gab Is Stabbed"||Oland||Kevin Smith||5:52|
|5.||"Melt Into Me/Let Go"||2:28|
|6.||"Dead?/Hearts Are Hurting (Part 1)"||Dennis Spiegel||Lucy Lawless, Susan Wood||2:35|
|8.||"Hate Is the Star (Son Of The Torment)/Hearts Are Hurting (Part 2)"||Oland, Spiegel||Lawless, Wood||5:42|
|9.||"The Way Out/The Love Of Your Love/Passing Through"||Joseph LoDuca||Lawless||7:10|
- Variety Magazine, February 6, 1998
- Joseph LoDuca, Xena: Warrior Princess composer, from the article "Bitter Suite: The Making of a Musical," Topps Official Xena Magazine #3, May 1998
- Green, Michelle Erica. "Susan Wood: Singing for the Bard". LittleReview.com. Retrieved 2009-03-12.