Editor's Note: Changing Times, a regular feature of Whoosh!, examines episodes of the internationally syndicated television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, and considers the changes happening individually and between the two characters, Xena and Gabrielle, along with discussing the clues offered in each episode about their pasts.
The episodes will be reviewed in the order they were originally aired. The reviewer will approach her material as if she did not have knowledge of the upcoming episodes. Insights to subsequent episodes will not be made in the earlier episode but in the latter ones. The series, Xena: Warrior Princess, will be treated as a story where gaps must have explanation and what is there may be given more meaning than originally intended.
ALTARED STATES (01-13)
The Changing Xena (01-09)
The Changing Gabrielle (10-13)
TIES THAT BIND (14-31)
The Changing Xena (14-25)
The Changing Gabrielle (26-31)
THE GREATER GOOD (32-48)
The Changing Xena (33-39)
The Changing Gabrielle (40-47)
The Changing Argo (48)
The Changing Xena (50-56)
The Changing Gabrielle (57-60)
Karl Urban debuts as Maell.
The actor would appear in later episodes as Caesar, Julius Caesar and Cupid,
both with much more severe 'do's than Maell could have ever imagined.
ALTARED STATES (#19) explores how Xena's morals have changed since her 'evil days.' We also get to see Gabrielle learn from her experiences.
"You're too late, it's already begun!"
--Maell in ALTARED STATES (#19)
The Changing Xena
Xena is about to reveal an eyeful before giving some bad guys a mouthful of fish.
 Xena has never been shy about her body. That is most evident when she walks out of the lake stark naked. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Xena is using her body as a distraction until she can get to her weapons. She may no longer sleep with men to get her way, but she is still willing to use any of her foes' weaknesses against them.
 Xena demonstrates that she will jump in and help people before she knows what the argument is about. Perhaps someday she will jump in and assist the wrong side merely because they look innocent or in need of help.
 Leaders must think beyond the group mentality. Xena tries to get Anteus to question what he is doing and to see the wrong in sacrificing his son. However, Xena fails, because she does not understand the nature of Anteus' belief. How can she when she has seen her gods and even has been called upon to help them? For once Xena is unable to manipulate someone because she cannot understand what motivates them.
 One thing that is similar to her morals of the past is her refusal to let children be killed. What has changed, though, is Xena merely hides and protects Icus while trying again and again to persuade Anteus to change his mind. Before turning to the good, Xena would have given them a chance to change their mind, but then would have simply killed then had they not resolved it her way.
 Another curious thing is that Xena took Icus to Anteus when he was lying hurt on the hill. She basically risked Icus to try and help the man she was trying to stop. Still, she realized that Anteus was good at heart and that Maell was the one that was the manipulator. In the end, however, Xena was willing to cut Anteus' hand off rather than let Icus die. Xena even offered Maell a chance at life rather than killing him or even simply letting him fall and die.
 Xena greatly cared for the people she was trying to help in this episode. She even got Icus to talk with her when he was upset. Xena usually leaves those tasks to Gabrielle.
 Another interesting thing to note is that Xena had several caves she used for her wounded men and was willing to come back and use them. First, she rejects so much from her evil days it is interesting that she has no qualms about using the cave. Maybe that is because of the second point: the cave was used for the welfare of her army rather than for destruction.
 In THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (#17), Xena was retrieving the Ark of the Covenant for her Hebrew friends, who had previously saved her life and healed her. Yet she had not heard of the 'one God', which you would have expected her friends to have mentioned in passing, if nothing else.
 Xena has changed in how she treats Gabrielle. At the beginning of the episode, she is teaching Gabrielle to fish by hand -- and even leaves an easy catch for Gabrielle under a rock to get her confidence up. Xena leaves Gabrielle behind to guard Icus while she looks in on Anteus. Xena also is very patient with the drugged Gabrielle, though the fact that Xena immediately thought of Gabrielle when Icus' mother mentioned nutbread and 'how children are about nutbread' seems to indicate Xena still thought of her as a child. At the end, though, Xena has actually loosened up around Gabrielle enough to tease her about her headache.
The Changing Gabrielle
Gabrielle, whacked out on spiked nutbread.
 Gabrielle is getting much better at picking up Xena's hand signals. They both disappear under the water at the sound of men chasing someone. Also, Gabrielle is now falling into the role of back-up defense. Whenever they have some one to protect, Xena fights while Gabrielle keeps an eye on the person they are protecting.
 Gabrielle is also no longer complaining at being left behind to protect people. In fact, now she is starting to understand how valuable she can be at times. She tries to tell Icus a story to calm his mind about his father's strange behavior. It does not work, but at least she is trying to help rather than sulking.
 We now also know she loves nutbread so much she will hog it all. Though after being drugged, I wonder how much she likes nutbread now. Gabrielle did learn one important lesson, though. One headache and a bizarre day has taught her to avoid drugs.
 Note: I have just got to say this. Renee O'Connor, I could watch your parts in ALTARED STATES (#19) a million times in a row and never become bored with it. The part of drugged side-kick was played to perfection.
TIES THAT BIND
Xena, leading an army for the first time since her "bad" days.
 In TIES THAT BIND (#20), both Gabrielle and Xena learn how much Xena really missed her father.
The Changing Xena
More of the Xena father/daughter mystery is revealed
in the Season 3 opener, THE FURIES (#47).
 The beginning of the episode starts with Xena scouting out a camp ready to free some about- to-be-slaves against twenty soldiers. Xena showed she did not approve of slavery when she agreed to help Diana in WARRIOR...PRINCESS (#15). She even saved Gabrielle and her village from slavery in the very beginning, in SINS OF THE PAST (#01). She may have always disapproved of slavery, but now she is actively fighting against it. She is helping slaves, which her culture would see as less than human, when before she would destroy whole towns because she did not see the inhabitants as actual humans, merely targets.
 Before Xena can take to the field to save the women, a man, Atrius, attacks the camp and almost gets himself killed. Xena saves him and binds his arm. When he finds out who Xena is, he tells Xena that he is her father.
 Xena's first response is refusal to believe him. She says that her father would never fight to save slaves. She denies his claim several times and even checks up on his claim to a horse he might have stolen.
 Still, Xena then starts to tell Gabrielle about the good memories she had about her father. Her anger at her father seems to be at his deserting her mother and leaving the family. Perhaps her mother even added to the pain and hate.
 Atrius then starts commenting about the exact things Xena has been remembering. It seems to be proof of him being her father, and she very clearly wants to have a father that she can look up to and respect. Atrius has so far proven he can be that man.
 Finally, when Xena starts accepting him as her father, the deal is clinched when he forgives her past because as he says, it has made her the great woman she is today. He then admits to doing bad things himself (much like Xena did when she was evil) and shares with her his need for a chance at redemption, as well.
 When Atrius dies in Xena's arms, the quick loss of someone she desperately missed and finally had gotten back sends her over the edge. She is so grief-stricken that she even ignores Gabrielle. This hints on what might have started her on her path of evil: perhaps a similar reaction to her brother Lyceus' death?
 During this episode, Xena becomes so focused on Atrius, that she literally forgets about Gabrielle. At first Gabrielle is the one she tells her memories of her father to. She trusts Gabrielle's word first when Gabrielle says that Atrius killed the assassin in cold blood. When Xena decides Atrius is her real father, however, she lets Gabrielle leave her. True, it does show that Xena trusted Gabrielle to protect and lead the women home, but it was still a surprise. It also shows Xena was only slightly paying attention to what Gabrielle was up to. By the end, Xena is so focused on her father being 'strung up' and beaten in the middle of the village, that she forgets Gabrielle is there, as well. In fact, Xena yells for the whole village to be captured and killed.
 Still, a whack on the back of the head by Gabrielle was enough to break Xena out of the grief-haze and into seeing Gabrielle again.
 Eventually, Xena realizes Atrius is really Ares and chooses death over joining with him again. She does not even flinch as the sword flies to a stop within inches of her throat. Xena certainly has conviction of her new way being the right way.
 In the end, Xena names her friendship with Gabrielle greater than her blood-ties. Xena sees Gabrielle as more than a tag-along now.
The Changing Gabrielle
The sidekick, fighting with her little stick.
"I'm standing up to an evil warlord, like I saw you stand up to Draco. Only this time the warlord is you!" The innocent Gabrielle knows how to lock-pick with a dagger! Maybe she has a lot of practice freeing slave women. Yet again, though, it is Xena who fights and distracts the guards as Gabrielle frees and guides the people they are saving and protecting to safety.
--Gabrielle to Xena, TIES THAT BIND (#20)
 Gabrielle is also the one who talks Rhea into telling her story and eventually going home and chance shame for the opportunity at being welcomed back into her family.
 Gabrielle is willing to leave Xena. She is not worried at losing Xena, but decides it is for the best that Xena have some time with her father alone. It shows how selfless Gabrielle can be at times. Also, it shows that Gabrielle is becoming more independent and confident in her abilities.
 She also shows how innocent she still is by the way she reacted to murder. When she thought Atrius had killed the assassin in cold blood, she was wordless with shock. She was also shocked when she saw the dagger under the body (as proof that the assassin was attacking and therefore the killing was not in cold blood). She was so shocked that her eyes betrayed her.
 Finally, Gabrielle shows her bravery. She tries to talk her way free from Xena's soldiers, then breaks free. When Xena will not snap out of her killing grief, she stands up to her best friend and even hits her. Gabrielle is scared to death after hitting Xena, but she stands her ground, bravely expecting the lethal wrath of the Warrior Princess. Gabrielle has learned from the best and is willing to stand up to the best. What more can you ask for?
 Gabrielle also gets the first glimpse at how Xena can react to the death of someone dear to her.
THE GREATER GOOD
Salmoneus makes a valiant attempt to keep from laughing at Gabby's Xena impersonation.
 In THE GREATER GOOD (#21), Xena learns how far Gabrielle will go for her, and Gabrielle learns how much Xena has changed.
The Changing Xena
Xena is temporarily overcome by Callisto's poison dart.
 Xena starts the episode by riding out to save a village from a warlord named Talmadeus. When she finds out the town's hero is Salmoneus, she is exasperated but nonetheless continues to save the village. Xena is then hit by a poisoned dart from an unknown enemy. It is not amazing that Xena has enemies, but it is amazing Xena does not have a clue as to who it might be.
 Xena does know what the poison in the dart is, though, showing off her medical knowledge. She does not tell Gabrielle about being poisoned until she is almost killed in battle. Xena is still hiding her weaknesses, even from Gabrielle.
 Xena also shows she has a sense of humor along with her confidence at battling large numbers of men. She tags along behind the troop of men and Talmadeus until she is noticed, and then waves happily when seen.
 When Gabrielle tells Xena to stop thinking about others for a while, Xena tells her that her first priority and focus is on the greater good. The people of the village, any village she helps, used to be the people she killed and she keeps that in mind when she fights for them against evil. Xena uses her past actions as a motivation to help people, but probably also as a way to never forget what she can become if she forgets that the villagers are people.
 We also find out how important it is to Xena that she eventually gets to go home. Even if she cannot go home in life, she very much wants to go home and be buried there when she dies. Now that Gabrielle has proven she will do anything to make that wish come true, she is at last not worried about that anymore.
 Xena also shows how she works at defeating her enemies. It is more evident here because she is making others do the work for her. Her simple strategy is to hit people with their greatest fear and demoralize them.
 Argo has already been shown as a close companion to Xena. Now Xena shows how much she cares for Argo by breaking the arm of the soldier that was going to kill her.
The Changing Gabrielle
She *looks* like Xena, she *sounds* like Xena -- well, no she doesn't, really.
 Gabrielle starts off the episode practicing her staff, against Argo! Xena has obviously been teaching Gabrielle some moves, which means Xena must think Gabrielle has learned the 'rules of survival' she set out for Gabrielle in DREAMWORKER (#03).
 Gabrielle has helped care for Argo before, even though she has expressed a dislike for riding horses. Still, Gabrielle had a pony when she was young. Horses themselves probably do not scare Gabrielle per se. More likely wild rides or war-horses (like Argo) probably make her nervous. It would also explain why she is willing to get on a horse, but regrets it after the ride is done.
 Gabrielle is now growing into a decent fighter. It is not only the actual fighting, but the knowledge of when to fight and when not to. When Xena takes on Talmadeus and his troop of men, Gabrielle hides and watches. When Xena falls and cannot find her sword, Gabrielle knows something is wrong and it is time to fight. Later, Gabrielle is getting good enough with her staff that she can fight her way into the camp to try and get Xena's body.
 The fact that Xena is willing to risk Gabrielle by having her play at being Xena means her confidence in Gabrielle's ability has gone up. Not only must Gabrielle be able to defend herself, but now she is following Xena's orders well enough that she does not think Gabrielle will go off and do heroics when told not to.
 No one can say Gabrielle is not brave. She does not want to 'be' Xena, yet she does it because Xena asks her to and it needs to be done. She rides Argo again because Xena asks her to. She confronts a camp of troops without Xena because it is part of Xena's plan. She even stands up to Talmadeus when she is captured and scared.
 Gabrielle is still the master at talking and improvising to cover her mistakes, though. She is also very loyal to Xena, willing to fight her way into Talmadeus' camp to try and retrieve Xena's body to take back to Amphipolis.
 Gabrielle's reaction to Xena's death is interesting. She worries it will happen, quickly figures out that Salmoneus' silence means Xena is dead, then quietly stares at Xena and kisses her cheek. When Salmoneus suggests fleeing, Gabrielle dons the boots she was only pretending to wear before. She will not leave Xena behind, so they must stay and defend her body. Gabrielle cooks up a plan, then rides out and beats a tree senseless in her grief. One would expect a bard to write a story rather than pummel a tree.
 It is interesting to notice that Gabrielle carries her staff to fight with on horseback and when fighting into the camp. However, when she is threatening Talmadeus' life, she uses a sword. Does she equate swords with killing?
The Changing Argo
Gabrielle still doesn't speak 'Argo' very well.
 Argo finally gets to show her true colors. Before, Argo just had to put up with Gabrielle, now she gets to save Gabrielle's life! Argo is so loyal to Xena that she talks with another horse and refuses to tear apart Xena's body, even when she is being whipped.
Callisto is nothing but 'attitude' from start to finish.
 In CALLISTO (#22), Xena has to deal with her past coming back to haunt her, while Gabrielle finally sees what Xena was once like.
The Changing Xena
Thought necessary to offset the intensity of Callisto, Joxer also debuted in this episode.
 Callisto understands Xena too well: her reputation as doing good is more valuable to Xena than her life. The look of fear Xena used to want to see in villagers' eyes now deeply haunts her. When first asked, before Xena knew of Callisto, if she was Xena, "warrior princess" she responds that "some people call me that." Again, the reputation that earned her that title is no longer something she cherishes. She simply puts up with the title.
 When Xena tells Gabrielle about Cirra, she takes personal responsibility for her army's actions. She does not know how the fire started, but it was because of her army being there that so many women and children died. She admits that was the one time her army was responsible for the deaths of women and children.
 Xena also seems willing to accept direct guilt for what Callisto has become, even though Xena did not make Callisto choose a life of revenge. Xena is even willing to let Callisto go and have a second chance until Callisto tells her she is not going to stop destroying village in her revenge on Xena. Xena gave Callisto her chance at redemption that Hercules gave her, and Callisto refused it.
 Xena admits to Gabrielle that if anything happened to Hercules, her mother, or Gabrielle she might very well go revenge-mad again. At first, Xena resists promising not to go evil if Gabrielle died, as though she is not sure she can. She promises in the end, though.
 Xena's nights are haunted with nightmares of the people she has killed, yet she lives with it. Callisto has been driven half-mad by hers.
 Justice is now a very strong push for Xena. Before, she was more willing to be judge and executioner. Now she takes Callisto back to have a trial, defends her against a mob, and in the very end, saves Callisto from death and leaves her and her army in chains. As Callisto said, whether Xena dies or Callisto dies, Callisto wins. If Xena had died, Callisto would have killed the woman who destroyed her family. If Callisto had died, Xena would be wracked with guilt about not being able to change Callisto, who she believes she helped create.
 It is interesting to note that Callisto has found several buttons that Xena has. Our fearless Xena can be manipulated into doing things just as she can manipulate others. Most people just do not understand Xena enough to be able to find those buttons. Callisto apparently does.
The Changing Gabrielle
Gabrielle has a heart-to-heart with Xena in a campfire scene.
 Gabrielle now plays back-up to Xena. Xena sends her off on her own to scout Callisto out when the Oracle has come. In the inn when Melas first comes in, Gabrielle has her staff ready to defend if need be. When Xena is questioning Theodorus in the village, Gabrielle is guarding her back.
 Yet again, Gabrielle is left to talk sense into Melas (and Xena) about the cycle of hatred and killing. Her advice is not just the goody-goody innocent talk, but an observation on what she has seen happen and what she sees in Callisto.
 Also, Gabrielle is actually getting very close to Xena. Xena will now tell Gabrielle what's wrong when asked, hug her close, and promise her something Xena's not sure she can do.
 Gabrielle is more visibly afraid of Joxer than Callisto when Joxer is told to kill Gabrielle. Joxer is a man trying to prove his worth, therefore he actually might kill Gabrielle. Especially since she has beaten him up several times already. Callisto might very well kill Gabrielle, but is more likely to use her against Xena, so Gabrielle can put on a brave face.