Online Edition Visit the Crossroads to the Xenaverse!

aka Fish Schticks

Season 3, episode 18
Series 318
1st release: 04-13-98
2nd release: 08-24-98
1st strip release: 10-22-98
2nd strip release: 01-29-99
Production number: V0418
Script number: 316
Approximate shooting dates: January, March 1998
Last update: 10-09-01

SYNOPSIS by Bluesong
COMMENTARY by Beth Gaynor

Ted Raimi (Joxer/Attis the Apeman)
Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite)

Kevin Smith (Ares)
Lawrence Makoare (Maecenus)
Renee Schuda (Young Xena)
Callum Gallagher (Young Lyceus)
Jason Tahu (Thug #1)

Story by Rob Tapert and Adam Armus & Nora Kay Foster
Written by Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster
Edited by Robert Field
Directed by Josh Becker

(Aphrodite holds a huge diamond.)
Gabrielle: If it's perfection I should possess it.
(Joxer, with leaves on his head and wearing a toga, falls from a tree and grabs Gabrielle.)
Gabrielle: Joxer, are you mad?
Joxer: (Grunt) MMM!
(Joxer swings off through the trees, clutching Gabrielle.)
Xena: Monkey man you bring her back!
Gabrielle: Xena!!!!!!
(Xena swings on a vine.)

Aphrodite steals the "mystic diamond" that keeps the North Star lit, then casts spells on Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer to keep them from retrieving it.

Aphrodite's spell makes Joxer an ape man, makes Gabrielle vain, and preoccupies Xena with fishing.

Aphrodite casts a spell on Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer to bring out their innermost desires and hinder their attempts to recover the Mystic Diamond

1st RELEASE: 04-13-98
An AA average of 5.3
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 7th at 6.0
(2) XENA 10th at 5.3
(3) STAR TREK DS9 12th at 4.8
(4) HERCULES 15th at 4.5

1st RELEASE: 08-24-98
An AA average of 4.0
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 13th with 4.9
(2) XENA 14th with 4.0
(3) WALKER TEXAS RANGER 17 with 3.8
(4) STAR TREK DS9 20th with 3.5
HERCULES not in the top 20.


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

This farce opens with Aphrodite in one of her temples, checking out the gifts left her by worshipers. A warlord who has stolen the "mystic diamond" enters, and the Goddess of Love tells him to take it to a priest, who will send it into the heavens at the appropriate time so that Aphrodite's place amongst the stars will be assured (or something like that). Xena is after the warlord, though, because the mystic diamond keeps the North Star shining, and without the star all the travelers will be lost. Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer enter the temple after the warlord leaves, and they begin searching the temple for the diamond. Aphrodite has created a perfume she calls "Obsession" which makes a person desire whatever they're looking at when she blows it in his or her face. She puffs at Joxer, who is looking at a story about an ape man, then at Gabrielle, who is glancing at her reflection in the mirror, and then gives Xena a double dose just as she picks up a fish left at the altar as a sacrifice.

So Xena decides they should go fishing. She takes them all to a beautiful lake where she fished with Lyceus (her brother) as a young girl. Gabrielle thinks the lake is almost as beautiful as her own self. Joxer grunts a lot. Xena throws her chakram into a canyon to cause an avalanche so that the warlord will have to detour around the lake to get to the priest. She then dives in the water and catches fish with her hand, by punching them in the nose. She tells Gabrielle to join her. "She wants me to fist a fish?" the sidekick says in bewilderment. Gabrielle looks at her reflection in the water, and, finding it irresistible, decides to kiss it. She falls in and nearly drowns, but Xena saves her.

Xena remembers that she and her brother were constantly trying to catch a legendary big fish in this pond. She rigs up a flying parchment contraption to catch the fish, and uses some of Gabrielle's overly-gorgeous hair as a fly on her hook. Joxer then grabs Gabrielle and they swing through the trees. Xena follows and rescues Gabrielle from Joxer. The two women return to fishing with the kite. Xena doesn't want to leave her chore, so she tells Gabrielle that since she is so beautiful she should possess the mystic diamond, which is the most beautiful rock on earth. Gabrielle then goes to get the diamond and beats up three men in the process; however, they chase her. Xena continues to fish (whistling her theme song as she works) and tells Joxer how to rescue Gabrielle. Finally the men chase Gabrielle and Joxer to the shore, and Xena beats them up. She loses the fish in the process.

Xena then sets up a contraption to send the diamond skyward, but it will also be bait for the fish at the same time. When she cuts the rope, the fish jumps from the water and goes with the diamond up into the northern sky. Xena says that she dedicates the fish and the diamond to Lyceus, and when she has this "insight" that she felt she owed her brother something, the obsession spell is broken. She talks to Gabrielle, and Gabrielle has an "insight" that she doesn't want to be just a non-recognized sidekick. Her obsession is broken and Xena promises to give her more credit. They make camp, and see that the milky way around the North Star looks like a big fish. Joxer remains a monkey man; Xena says she'll fix him in the morning.


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Plot? What plot? FINS follows what has become a standard system for the XWP gallivants: a two-minute exposition and a two-minute resolution to provide the bookends for 40 minutes of gettin' goofy. I like comedies when they have some story to go with them, but I'm not complaining too loudly as long as the goofiness gives me some laughs. FINS, FEMMES, AND GEMS got tiring sometimes (Joxer grunting gets old after 20 minutes), but it also made me laugh out loud a few times, and that covers quite a few sins.

I officially take back every wisecrack I ever made about the number of Xena and Gabrielle nude shots this season. I'll never mouth off about them again (or I'll try real hard not to, anyway). Now, please, put the nekkid Joxer away!

Welcome to the XWP School of Dance. We have a new addition to the Amazonian Barddance and the Warrior Princess Dance of the Three Veils (even though you only get two): the Aphrodite Boogie. Please bring your own seashell headphones.

The XenaStaff just loves using godly influence to get Xena out of character. I got a kick out of hearing Xena mutter "fer cryin' out loud." The MAJOR pout and sulk from Xena when Gabrielle refused her nail wig - I mean, hair lock - was funny, but so wildly out of character that it made me twitch, too.

Yet more proof that Xena got around in her warlord days: "That's not humanly possible." "Sure it is," Xena replies with boredom after barely a glance. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, Warrior Princess?

The flying parchment - and its penchant for tackling Gabrielle - returns from A DAY IN THE LIFE. The repetitiveness is mollified by Gab's adorable "Ow!" squeak - it's a wash.

Ahem. WHAT, pray tell, was Gab doing with that frilly little nightie number in the top of her magic bag? That sure didn't look like typical campsite fatigues.

Aphrodite is declared guilty of underestimating the Warrior Princess. Although Xena remained obsessed, she had no qualms about using Gab's and Joxer's obsessions to see to that pesky diamond thing getting taken care of. But hey, if 'Dite never bothered to check in and make sure her plans were working, she deserved to lose the game.

We're really flirting with the "text" side of "subtext." Xena's expression plummets from excitement to crushing disappointment when Gabrielle waxes rhapsodic about the one person for her - herself. Gabrielle accuses Xena of taking them to the lake so she wouldn't have any competition. Xena proudly notes that Gab's beautiful when she's angry. Subtlety goes out the window all OVER the place in these tweakfest episodes.

On the flip side of the coin, Xena is perfectly content when Atis the Apeman takes off with Gabrielle. It's not until the flying parchment crashes to earth that Xena gets peeved. "Monkey Man, you bring my launching assistant back!"

Young Xena wasn't a bad likeness, and NICE morph back to the adult. Small question, though: Xena's pole had a bite - why did Lyceus grab his pole, too?

Gabrielle's list of marital and royal titles continues to grow. She has now been drafted as the bride of Morpheus, Queen of the Amazons, Queen of a weird country that has really goofy laws about pretty young blonde brides, and bride of Atis the Ape King.

I hesitate to bring up such a personal matter, but it struck me as so strange that I must ask: Is Ted just hairless, or did he shave his armpits for this episode?

I know that weather is a constant bugaboo for outdoor filming, but this episode brought new meaning to the words "variable cloudiness." We bounced from blinding sun to murky gray from shot to shot.

Some ruffians never learn. "Don't make me kill you." "You're new around here, right?" Just once, you'd think one of these thugs would be smart enough to take one look at the Warrior Princess (or the damage she's doing to his buds) and display a bit of brain by turning tail and running.

CUT TO a small room dominated by a table buried in scribble-covered paper. Two WRITERS sit at the table, holding their sides and laughing hysterically.

WRITER 1 (gasping): OK, OK, we've got Joxer eating maggots and Gabrielle smearing bug blood on her lips. What else?

WRITER 2: Wait! I've got it! Here's one the net fans will capture for all eternity: Xena heads for the lake yelling "Come on, Gabrielle, let's get wet!"

Both WRITERS collapse across the table in fits of hysterics. The door opens and the PRODUCER bursts in.

PRODUCER: C'mon, folks, it's deadline time! Aren't you done yet? (He grabs a few sheafs of paper and starts reading.)

WRITER 1: (Grabbing at one of the pages) Wait! We haven't put in enough fish-punching jokes yet!

WRITER 2 is still incapacitated.

PRODUCER: (scanning) We're out of time! You guys are totally obsessed with these jokes! The episode's almost over and nobody's any closer to a cure OR the diamond.

WRITER 2: (blinking) Oh. Well. Why don't we send a fish into orbit for Xena's brother and give Gabrielle some sidekick angst? That'll solve everything.

PRODUCER: It might work. But we haven't figured out what makes Joxer act like an ape.

WRITER 1: Huh. Well, we'll just put Xena and Gabrielle on a bedroll together like we did in A Day in the Life and everybody'll be too distracted to notice.

PRODUCER: You really think that'll work?


10-09-01. Rob Tappert, executive porducer, quoted in Dan Scapperotti's "Producing Xena: Warrior Princess: Rob Tapert on Censorship, Lesbian Ambiguity & Violence" in Femme Fatales, October 22 2001, Volume 8, Number 6, Page 20: "Sometimes you try things that don't exactly work. Some of them just weren't appealing to me. Jeez, I'm going to get myself in trouble with the writers. We did a couple that I wasn't all that fond of. We did one the second season called "The Execution" that I didn't like, and another - "Vanishing Act - just wasn't funny enough. We did another comedy, "Thims, Thims and Jims" [Fins Femmes and Gems] that made me laugh because it was so stupid".

07-12-00. Ted Raimi at DragonCon 2000 in Atlanta stated he was on a plane to New Zealand when he first read the script for FINS and found out that he would be swinging naked through the trees. He said he then dropped to the aisle of the plane and started doing push-ups to try to buff up.

04-18-00. Josh Becker in an interview with S. Silverwind at http://www.fakeshemps.com/josher.html:

When asked what Ted is like to work with, Josh cheerfully announces, "...we just have the best time adding new lines to the script. We sit there and talk about what the scene is, and just come up with a new joke for every scene."

"One that particularly comes to mind is Fins, Femmes and Gems. All that stuff up in the tree with he and Renee, where I was cutting to all the stock footage, like 'Billy Goats into ramming positions!' I mean, he and I just worked all that out immediately before shooting it. I think it's hysterical stuff."

03-07-00. From Dave Grossman. At the Cherry Hill Creation Convention (08/98), Bruce Campbell, when discussing the pulling of THE WAY and its surrounding controversy, mentioned that there have been other episodes that have been almost pulled due to content. He mentioned that DeBeers diamonds threatened to pull their money from the show due to content of this episode. Apparently the script was re-written and the episode title was changed to include the word "gem" in the title in order to appease DeBeers.

11-25-98. From Beth Gaynor. At the Cherry Hill Creation Convention (08/98), Sharon Delaney, president of the Official Xena Fanclub explained the mystery of what REALLY happened at the end of Fins Femmes & Gems. As Xena and Gabrielle rested in their bedrolls and contemplated when to bother curing Joxer, a few sharp-eyed people noted that as the show faded to black, Gabrielle's hand moved toward Xena. Those people should now be patting themselves on the back, because Sharon has shots of how the rest of the scene went that we never got to see. Apparently Gabrielle reached for Xena's hand, pulled on it, and an arm wrestling match ensued. Sharon has a FANTASTIC shot of Xena and Gab, arms locked, with silly, satisfied grins plastered on their faces. She's hoping the shot gets approved for the calendar - it's adorable.

11-25-98. In probably the post heard around the world...on 08-20-98, on Josh "Director of FINS" Becker's website, S. L. Nelson posted this question about FINS FEMMES & GEMS:

Subject: Fins, Femmes & Gems

Hello, In this episode, reports say that originally Gabrielle was going to be obsessed with Xena, rather than herself. Viewing the episode, the camera angles and the scene selection all seem to emphasize the triangular obsession with Gabrielle. Although Xena obsesses on fishing, she fishes for and catches Gabrielle three times. Gabrielle obsesses on her own physical form. Joxer obsesses on Gaia, the magna mother, in a perfectly primative and humorous way.

So, did the change from Gabrielle obsessing on Xena to Gabrielle obsessing with herself occur before or after you began directing the episode? If after, how did you work in the wonderful framing of Gabrielle? [by way of example, there's a perfectly balanced Greek geometry to the image when Xena says, "This is the ultimate fantasy"; Gabrielle says, "I am the ultimate fantasy"; and Joxer says, "Ugh".]

Ad astra, Cleanthes

And Mr. Becker replied with this bombshell:

Date: August 20, 1998 07:56 PM
Author: Josh (Josh@beckerfilms.com)
Subject: Finns, Femmes & Gems

Dear SNelson:

By the time I got here and did all this reply crap, I forgot your question.

I was around for every single second in life of that episode. It was to be the "coming out" episode, "just like 'Ellen'" until the Friday before we began to shoot, then was entirely re-written over the weekend to remove all trace of anyone "coming out" of anywhere. Quite frankly, I like it the way it is.

In response to this, personages associated with RenPic denied that the episode was ever conceived to be a "coming out" episode. To read more about this controversy, check out the RUMORS archive on the GENERAL NEWS AND RUMORS AREA of the Episode Guide for August 1998.

11-25-98. Another tidbit from Josh Becker's website:

Date: August 21, 1998 09:30 PM
Author: Cathy (cattkin@homail.com)
Subject: FF&G

I heard that there is a really funny out-take from the filming of this episode , involving Lucy and Renee that might be on the new blooper tape. Can you tell us anything about any funny moments in the filming? What was Ted wearing apart form those socks?


Date: August 22, 1998 03:48 AM
Author: Josh (Josh@beckerfilms.com)
Subject: F, F & G

Dear Catkin:

Lucy threw a party after shooting one night at the beach location (where most of that ep was shot), which, down in New Zealand, they call a "sausi sizzle," and managed to get somewhat plastered (I don't know this for a fact since I didn't go). The next morning we began shooting the interior of Aphrodite's temple, where X, G & J rush in and Xena tells the plot. Lucy, who is a complete joy to work with and an incredibly good actor, could not get the words out of her mouth to save her life. This rarely if ever happens to Lucy or Renee, which is what made it particularly funny to me.


11-25-98. At the Phoenx Creation Convention (05-31-98), Sharon Delaney, President of the Official Xena Fan Club stated that in FINS, Gabrielle was originally going to be obsessed with Xena, but they could not make it work. She mentioned that there would be two seasons (second and third) of XENA bloopers included with kit number two of the Creation XENA fan club, and one of the bloopers would be Lucy Lawless with the "twin" fish on her hands from FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS. One of the fish flops over, and Lucy Lawless says that she can make it stand up. Sharon also mentioned that she had seen pictures of the final scene of Xena and Gabrielle in FINS, and that they look like they are arm wrestling, so Gabrielle's hand definitely moves over to Xena's hand as the screen fades to black.

06-01-98. From Petra de Jong. This really is a kicker: I just read this on the news (videotext):

"According to the Sunday Times, astronomers have discovered a star possibly made out of diamond (the size of Earth), with the Hubble Space Telescope. The white dwarf with the name BPM37093 is located 17 lightyears away from us."

I guess there was some truth in Xena shoting a diamond into the sky in 'Fish, Femmes and Gems'... Maybe we can convince the Astronomical Union to rename that star and call it the Xena and Gabrielle star

04-17-98. Film editor, Robert Field, came up with the new title of "Fins, Femmes, and Gems".

04-17-98. In one scene, you'll see Joxer swinging through the trees nearly naked. Originally, he *was* naked and you saw a bare "stunt butt" fly past. But the studio censors caught it at the last second and a clothed stunt-butt was used instead.

04-01-98. This episode features a young Xena and young Lyceus. Looks like we in for more post-REMEMBER NOTHING psycho-analysis of the pre-warlord relationship Xena had with Lyceus. We got some info that Xena was a bully as a child in both THE BLACK WOLF and FORGIVEN. Is this turning into the season where not only the pre-redemptive Xena is deconstructed, but her childhood/teenage years, as well?

03-24-98. This episode was formerly known as FISH SCHTICKS, but the name was changed to FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS in the month of March 1998.

03-17-98. The upcoming episode FISH SCHTICKS is going to get a new name. Seems that a diamond figures heavily in the story, and one of the sponsors is into diamonds, hence... name change! Stay tuned -- as soon as we know what it is, we'll let you know!1

03-13-98. Ted Raimi at the St. Louis Con (02/15/98) discussed FISH SHTICKS saying that Joxer is looking at a picture of Attis the Apeman [pre-Mycenaean comic book?] when Aphrodite casts her spell [aren't we all glad this is not the season ender...doesn't it read a tad like A COMEDY OF EROS II?] , so he becomes obsessed with running around and acting like a large, pale monkey. He also complained about how little clothing he wound up wearing [are we coming close to seeing three nude dancing Joxers?] for Attis the Apeman.

02-09-98. And it gets worse! WHOOSH just received this intelligence: In this episode, Aphrodite casts a spell on everyone and they become obsessed with whatever they are looking at at the time. Xena becomes obsessed with fishing, Gabrielle is looking in a mirror and becomes obsessed with herself, and Joxer is looking at artwork with Attis the Ape Man on it. Joxer becomes him and thinks that Gabrielle is his ape wife. Apparently it involves Joxer flying on vines and eating bananas. This episode even exceeds the high concept of PORCULES. (Makes you wonder what those people are smoking at those pitch sessions!)

01-30-98. For new anal and obsessive heights in WHOOSHDOM! All I know about this episode is that it has to do with fish (a rather STRONG obsession of show these days, from recreational fishing to embarrassing and very bad taste fish jokes) and that is was filmed in late January 1998. And that information ALONE has gotten this episode it's very own html file. WHOOSH: Bringing you new levels of obsessive behavior.


Highlights by Beth Gaynor.

A study in pure obsession: Xena has just managed to pull a drowning Gabrielle from the lake. "And you fell in," she states with amazement as Gab explains, followed on its heels with "Any fish in there?" Now THAT'S a one-track mind.

Mystery lyric!

Welll, listen to m'story 'bout Gabrielle,
Cute little gal that's lookin' really swell,
Perfect hair, such a lovely lass,
Nice round breasts and a firm young--

I'm sure she was about to say "bass," just looking forward to the fishing, right? I want to know how many times they had to practice that song before Renee could do it with a straight face. I didn't hear Xena's response the first time I watched because I was laughing too hard, but it was a great "I'm worried we're going to get there and the fish will be armed!"

My favorite Joxer moment of the episode: Xena and Gabrielle sit companionably on a log when a skinny, pale form swings by behind them. Xena continues fly-tying, Gab looks vaguely discomforted, and finally ponders "do you ever get the feeling we're missing something really important?" Nah, don't worry about it. He'll show up soon to offer furious zug-zug.


From FP. 11-07-00. About the amazing mid-air switching sides trick: Even though Xena has many skills (as she on more than one occasion has frased it) Kat McLeod might be looking to the wrong person, when trying to determine who to credit for this feat. Notice how Joxer (well, Attis) and Gabrielle pull off the same thing just moments before. I think it in this case is more likely to be Gabrielle who achieve this stunning trick. Joxer does have his moments though, so it can't be ruled out entirely that he is (partly) responsible. Eg. same episode where he gets in and out of his armor at a lightning pace, or in the begining of Fallen Angel, where he changes hands in the blink of an eye.

From Tony Caruso. 03-07-00. The song Gabrielle sings is to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies TV show theme song.

From Kat McLeod. When Xena rescues Gabrielle from Joxer (errrr.. I mean, Attis) swinging through the trees, in the first shot of the back of Xena and Gabrielle as they swing away, Xena is on the left, holding Gab on the right. In the next shot we see of them, after Joxer has his unfortunate incident with a tree, they've switched sides! I mean, I know Xena has many skills and all, but that two person mid-air full body vine switch must be a real b*tch to pull off ;)

From Pen And Sword. When Gabrielle swings down from the trees to steal the gem, she sings "Yodel-ay-ee-hoo!" just like Autolycus does.

From Beth Gaynor. The rockslide footage was recycled from A NECESSARY EVIL. I kept expecting to see a power-mad amazon getting buried in the rubble.

From Beth Gaynor. Listen to Xena as she fishes: she's whistling her own theme song.

From Beth Gaynor. Throwaway moments can make or break an episode like this. This ep had some good ones:

  • Listen to the thugs when Gab is about to ambush them. One tells a joke and then spends the next minute explaining it.
  • "Gabrielle and the Four Seasons!"
  • Listen when Joxer tosses the arrow off the tree for a falling bomb sound effect and the squawk of a struck bird.
  • From Beth Gaynor. Watch Joxer's reactions when Xena rescues Gab from the lake. He's wearing his chest plate, but the plate is gone when he does his backflip. (Kudos to the sharp-eyed LadySpice for spotting this one for me.)


    Observations from Margaret.

    My husband Pete subscribes to a "kite" newsgroup and showed me these posts. I thought you might be interested.

    >> Xena was actually flying what appeared to be a single-line delta,
    >> with a second line used as the fishing line rigged to the kite
    >> with a triggering device (perhaps stolen from a parabear setup?).  
    >> From some angles it kinda looked like she was flying a dualie
    >> but the crowning touch was when she finally tied one on, she just
    >> chucked the one line with the kite away and turned full 
    >> attention to the lunker in the water.  Like a *real* kiteflyer 
    >> would do that, eh?
    >> Maybe one of the writers must've seen one of the rash of kitefishing
    >> articles appearing in the kite mags of late.
    >> Michael
    > Congratulations. You got it in one. She was kite fishing.
    > In New Zealand (where Xena is made) - kite fishing is a regular aspect 
    > of fishing. 
    > When I first travelled to NZ several years ago I heard about this style 
    > of kite fishing and decided to learn a bit more.
    > This style of kite fishing usually involves using a line climber (yes 
    > just like the one for dropping bears etc) to lift baited hooks and
    > lines out beyond the breakers and into deeper water. Usually a large 
    > delta kite is used as a lifter and custom made line climbers
    > are generally available in kite shops and fishing tackle shops.After the
    > kite releases the bait, the climber slides down the line and
    > returns to the fisherman/kiteflyer. They then have the option of either 
    > flying the kite or holding their fishing rod or alternatively
    > setting another line. Now we know where Xena's real allegiance lies as 
    > she lets the kite go to land the fish.
    > This is a recognised and rapidly expanding form of recreational fishing.
    > Other kite fishing I have seen in Sumatra and Sulawesi in Indonesia 
    > using traditional methods with water proof leaves are much
    > more sustainable and provide an interesting argument on kite history. 
    > Were kites first developed as tools, playthings or religious
    > items. After all a leaf certainly predates chinese silk???
    > John Murray

    I am not a kite expert but to explain a couple of terms used a dualie is a two line kite, these being the ones mainly used for acrobatics and team flying. Parabear setups are mechanisms to take a teddy bear or other soft toy (safely kitted out with a parachute!) up a line on a large stable single line kite. The parafauna is then dropped and floats to the ground much to the relief of the owner. (I believe the bear gets a certificate!)


    Click here to read a transcript of FINS, FEMMES & GEMS .


    Joxer's dignity was slightly harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, Gabrielle's pink nightie was restored to its original condition.

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