Callisto is one of the greatest villains of television, hands down. She is the creation of our lead character, a major consequence of Xena’s history that directly correlates to how Xena sees herself, both in past and present, and she’s also a physical embodiment of how complicated actual redemption and forgiveness is. No matter how much Xena tries to improve and distance herself from her actions as a warlord, there is Callisto, in all her glorious wrath.
You see, no one is required to forgive anyone. It may be spiritually healthier, sure, but not everyone chooses to truly let go of the anger. The rage that Callisto feels is valid – her entire world was taken from her as a child – and although she isn’t in any way blameless for the violence she wrought across nations, you can 100% understand her. She wants Xena to pay, and no amount of good deeds or apologies from the warrior princess will assuage that fury that rests in Callisto’s soul. Unlike so many other villains, she appears in every single season and is ultimately redeemed when Xena sacrifices eternity in Heaven for her.
There have been so many great articles on Callisto, from SyFy to The Mary Sue, so I’m not going to repeat anything that they’ve written here, but I will say this: Callisto is a huge inspiration of mine when I create antagonists. Motivation beyond “take over the world FOR REASONS” is required for me to enjoy watching/reading a proper villain, and I get bored with a story that has a main antagonist who are evil simply because they want to be evil. It does take a bit more preparation to come up with how your hero could be so shitty that a person exists solely to bring them down, but honestly? It is so much fun, and you get to delve into deeper topics like, again, forgiveness, and not just in that “Jesus loves you” way.
And now, I’m all caught up! I’m actually really happy with myself right now! Let’s see if I can keep this up until the end of the month, shall we?