Whoosh! Issue 21 - June 1998

THE EVOLUTION OF GABRIELLE,
SEASON ONE

IAXS project #099
By Vicky Schwartz
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1902 words



Introduction (01)
In the Beginning... (02-06)
Red-Headed Amazon Princess (07-10)
Sidekick Status (11-18)
End of Comic Relief Duty (19-21)
Conclusion (22)
Biography



The Evolution Of Gabrielle, Season One




Introduction

[1] Can you remember what you first thought of Gabrielle? If not, here is a basic overview of how she evolved in the show and in our hearts. This paper will only review the first season episodes, although much has changed since then. And for those who missed the first season, this will serve as a handy synopsis.


In the Beginning...

[2] Xena met Gabrielle in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101). Gabrielle was a spunky, courageous, talkative farm girl from Poteidaia. She ended up following Xena and saving Xena from a stoning with her ability to think on her feet. We, along with Xena, saw Gabrielle as a mere child. Some of us even wondered when Xena would send her home. Most of us could not see this relationship working.

Anyone got a stepladder? Xena and I need to see eye to eye on a few things.

Xena fights, Gabrielle talks in CHARIOTS OF WAR.

[3] In SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), Gabrielle demonstrated an apparent fear of bridges [Gabrielle: "The bridge will hold me up"?], yet, at this point, she did not mind mounting Argo and riding her. Gabrielle's life plan was to become a traveling bard. In a later episode we learned that she snored [PROMETHEUS (08/108)]. She also wore a peasant outfit (long wrap skirt with cloth tie, light blue tie shirt and a dark blue jacket) and had dirty blond hair. There was little, if any, mutual subtext in the beginning.

[4] As time went on, we found her to be resourceful, a hopeless romantic, and a sleepy head. She had grown on us by the episode CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104). She was now part of the show, but she was still a tag-along. At times she was even comic relief. She always got into trouble and Xena had to save her. In spite of this, Xena and Gabrielle became close friends [THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), Salmoneus "You have a friend?"]. Still, even though she was maturing, we could not help but see Gabrielle as a child. There were also frequent Gabrielle-light episodes like THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105).

Oh, THIS end up?

A proto-GabWhacker, as seen in the opening scenes of HOOVES AND HARLOTS.

[5] As the first season progressed, a few discrepancies popped up. The most notable was that Gabrielle was walking almost exclusively. By the time of THE RECKONING (06/106), she even stated that Argo must hate her. This episode demonstrated, however, how truly deep her friendship Xena ran.

[6] Around PROMETHEUS (08/108), she was upgraded to sideline fighter, but she still held the notion of becoming a traveling bard dear.


Red-headed Amazon Princess

Gabrielle, outstanding in her field

Gabrielle takes some lessons from Claudette Colbert in hitchhiking in THE PRODIGAL.

[7] Suddenly, Amazon gear! Gabrielle's costume changed to an orange v-neck shirt with a striped border, bare stomach, orange wrap skirt, an ever-changing belt, and her same old trusty brown boots. But in the original broadcast schedule, DEATH IN CHAINS (09/109) aired before HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), and it was not explained why her costume changed so suddenly until HOOVES, an episode later. Oops, oh well. In addition to a new costume, the infamous "Gabby dance" was introduced in HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110). Gabrielle officially got a weapon, the staff. We also learned that she did not kill on purpose.

[8] Gabrielle also had subtly became a redhead! (Ok, ok, strawberry blond). She appeared more philosophic, and she was fast on the track to being upgraded to a sidekick. However, she was still portrayed as a child and she was a bit naive. She received the Amazon 'right of caste' though all the details of this would not be ironed out until the second season [THE QUEST (37/213)].

[9] In THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), Gabrielle wandered off on her own, and appeared to have a personal income. It could be deduced that she earned her dinars by telling stories in local taverns. In the same episode, we see her resourcefulness and faith. Her resourcefulness was demonstrated when she got herself sent to prison for the purpose of bringing Xena, who was already in prison, her whip and chakram. Her faith in Xena was clearly shown when she proclaimed that she knew if Xena were in the prison, then Xena obviously wanted to be there, and that Xena would have a plan to get them out.

[10] In BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (12/112), we see that she was the ever-hungry person of the duo. We also met Perdicas, Gabrielle's most notable "red shirt." ["Red shirt" is a term taken from STAR TREK fandom which noted as early as the original series that non- regular cast members who wore red shirts were most likely destined to be dead meat by the end of the episode. Most of Gabrielle's romantic interests took on the same designation when fans noticed them dropping like flies.] Xena also stated of Gabrielle, "She's like family", and we staring to see more subtext. Although subtle, when you look, it is there.


Sidekick Status

[11] In ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (13/113), Gabrielle told a story in a tavern. In ATHENS, we also see evidence of what Xena declared earlier in DEATH IN CHAINS (09/109), "When [Gabrielle] has her mind set, nothing can change it." Gabrielle was no longer as naive and had become a fully functioning sidekick. This was also the first Gabrielle-driven episode. We saw the strength of her friendship with Xena, and her sense of adventure when the episode ended with the line, "I can be out living them [adventures]! This is going to make a great story"!

[12] In A FISTFUL OF DINARS (14/114), we saw her positive world view, her knowledge of medicine, that she still did not like bridges, and maybe a bit of her 'girl scout-ness' too. Her hair also was turning a reddish brown color.

[13] In the first slapstick episode, WARRIOR...PRINCESS (15/115), we saw Gabrielle save herself. She was also very proficient with her staff -- Xena must have been helping her between episodes.

[14] In THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117), we saw that Gabrielle was good with disguises. She was a good thief, and yet, she was still girl scout-ish.

Yes! I *can* wear a halter top!

Gabrielle proves she could have been a major-league pitcher in THE PRODIGAL.

[15] Then in THE PRODIGAL (18/118), Gabrielle shined! She played the panflute, loved her family, saved her village after rallying them together, and we also saw her hitchhiking for a second time after SINS OF THE PAST (01/101). The first time she hitchhiked she hiked with the same man, but this second time, we got a whole litany of goofy antics. For example, Gabrielle tried shortening her skirt (in both an homage to the movie It Happened One Night [Frank Capra, 1934] and a foreshadowing of Gabrielle's shrinking garb), cursed them out, and eventually pretended to be pregnant to finally get a ride. She certainly had picked up a lot from Xena. Her relationship with Xena continued to grow to the point that even Gabrielle's sister saw Xena's importance and sent Gabrielle off for more adventures with the Warrior Princess. Gabrielle ended the episode with a fantastic leap, which Xena praised as a "gutsy move."

[16] Who could forget ALTARED STATES (19/119)? The subtext slapped you in the face! Do you remember the first wild thoughts that ran through your head while Xena and Gabrielle were seen naked together in the water? Dialogue like this fed those wild thoughts:

Wait a minute... Xena, is that a camera crew over there?

We all got to know Gabrielle a little bit better in ALTARED STATES.

GABRIELLE How was that? XENA Very good. You're getting the hang of it. GABRIELLE Really? XENA C'mon, Gabrielle, you've been wanting to do this for ages. Just reach under this rock. Give it your best shot. GABRIELLE OK... I did it! I did it!
Then we found out they were only fishing! But, later, the subtext continued when Gabrielle stated to Xena, "By the gods, you are beautiful!" Granted, she was high on henbane at the time, but still! [Associate Editor's Note: Not to mention the subtext possibilities of a line like Xena's command to Gabrielle when they were hanging from a rope in the well, "Climb up my body."] Gabrielle also served her frequent function as comic relief when she conducted those singing rocks with their "gravely voices."

[17] TIES THAT BIND (20/120) was a wonderful episode which ended with the telling line, our friendship "ties us closer than blood ever could." Xena was willing to give up Gabrielle so she could be with her father. In the end, Gabrielle saved a village by standing up to Xena, and by explaining that it was Xena who taught her to do this. She may not have been the best fighter, but, fortunately, her bond with Xena saved her.

[18] An episode that made many cry was THE GREATER GOOD (21/121). Gabrielle was very worried when she found out Xena was poisoned. Renee O'Connor did an excellent job in this episode. She played the anguish once Xena 'died,' and captured the agony and longing in her dedication to bring Xena's body back to Amphipolis even if it cost her life. The kiss and tears when Xena 'died' affected many in the audience, including me, strongly, and I am not one to get too emotional. This episode added a deeper level to Gabrielle. Even though she was not fond of riding Argo, she rode her most of this episode. It is a pity that the scene where Argo nuzzled Gabrielle after she beat up the tree was cut from the final version.


End of Comic Relief Duty

[19] CALLISTO (22/122) had Gabrielle once again in the role of a victim, and it also earned her the 'annoying blond' nickname, although she was obviously a strawberry blond by this time. We also met Joxer, and many of us hated him at this point. Joxer's introduction gave Gabrielle her own 'problem man', and permanently relieved her of the job of constantly having to provide the comic relief.

[20] In DEATH MASK (23/124), we met Xena's brother, learned that Gabrielle's cooking lacks her sister's "7 secret herbs", and she stated that she will protect villagers "even if they don't need saving." Xena even praised Gabrielle when she said to her brother, "She knows more about peace and justice than you ever will." Gabrielle was a strong figure at this point. We were compelled to think of her as Xena's equal, or partner; perhaps, not skill-wise, but she has been elevated otherwise.

The beatings will continue until she feels better.

Gabrielle scares 20 years off Xena's life in IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?

[21] In IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124), Gabrielle died and came back. She saved a young boy's life, kept her commitment to never kill another human, and we saw Xena worried stiff over her. A payback for THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)?


Conclusion

[22] Throughout the first season, Gabrielle slowly developed and grew in our hearts. Season two brought more rapid changes in Gabrielle (called "Gabby" by many fans at this point, including Joxer in WARRIOR...PRINCESS... TRAMP [30/206]). As a parting observation, did you notice that Gabrielle's pack started out as a wicker, circular backpack in CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102), then became the fur flapped purse soon after she got amazon gear?



Biography

Vicky Schwartz Vicky Schwartz
Vicky (a.k.a. Amazon-V) was a Xena fan (The HCNB type) since the beginning. She is presently a student at Notre Dame. She is presently on three Xena lists (Xenaverse, Herc-Xena, and Chakram). She is also a fan of the X-Files, La Femme Nikita, and Buffy the Vampyre Slayer. She is of Native-American descent, and the picture that comes along with the biography is one from a spring formal dance. She is one of the many fans of subtext, and considers herself to be one of the feminists of her family. When she and her best friend aren't out battling in the woods with war staves she can be found reading lots of books (although usually for the purpose of not failing a test).

Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110)
Favorite line: Terreis: "It's a man's world, Gabrielle, not because it should be, but because we let them have it." HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110)
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311)

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