Whoosh! Issue 23 - August 1998


A Member Opinion
By Nicholas Nayko
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1445 words

Introduction (01)
Plot Points (02-04)
Humanism and Supernatural (05-07)
Other Points of Contention and the Third Season (08-15)
Other Whoosh! Articles by this Author

Bitter About The Third Season:

You know, Joxer, Perdicas carried me over the threshold just
before *he* died.

For some, more bitter than suite.


[1] THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) epitomizes what went wrong in the third season of Xena: Warrior Princess. The episode was filled with the same plot mistakes, continuity errors, and sloppy scripting which were so prevalent in the third season.

Plot Points

[2] What follows is a list of important plot elements that were either unexplained or poorly explained.

Joxer learns the 'Scroll-of-the-month-Club' charges full price
after getting the first 12 for a dinar.

Joxer has an uncanny knack for showing up wherever Xena and Gabrielle are.

  1. How did Joxer find out about Gabrielle's grief? How did he know he would find her recuperating in the Amazon camp?
  2. Why did the Amazons not make more of an effort to protect their queen [ala A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)]? And, oddly enough, no warriors were sent out to follow the abducted queen.
  3. We learned in the future episode, FORGET ME NOT (63/317), that Solan created Illusia. This seems unacceptable since he was an ordinary mortal with no supernatural powers. He would have to have been more powerful than an Olympian. How did he learn of the rift between Xena and Gabrielle? He did not even know Xena was his mother. It, therefore, would have been nigh unto impossible for him to work out, so precisely, the intricacies of the rift. To create this land, the individual had to know quite a bit of personal knowledge about Xena and Gabrielle. Solan did not have this type of knowledge and neither could he summon Ares at will. Solan did not appear to be especially intelligent or even street-smart. He seemed to always be in trees, and one could wonder how long it took him to realize he was not a centaur.
  4. Was Illusia a real place, as in another dimension, or a state of mind for Gabrielle and Xena? The episode offers conflicting evidence to both support and contradict either choice. If not a state of mind, how did Gabrielle's wounds heal and clothes change at the end. If a physical land, how did Joxer know how to also enter (or exit) Illusia?
  5. We know it was Joxer in Illusia because of his song; but who were Callisto's characters? Her dialogue says she is called Aleph, while in another scene she is unnamed and resembles a justice statue.
  6. How was Gabrielle permitted to exit through the falling water while Xena was unable to until she confessed to killing Ming T'ien? Gabrielle had something just as critical that she needed to confess, yet she had no problem exiting through the falls.
[3] In an interview in Chakram #3, the newsletter of the Official Fan Club of Xena: Warrior Princess, Chris Manheim states that was due to Gabrielle's repressed memory. According to her, Gabrielle does not recall she had jealous feelings towards Xena which caused her to betray Xena to Ming T'ien. That, however, is an unsatisfactory explanation too since Illusia should have brought out all repressed memories and feelings, similar to hypnosis. Was that kind of exorcism not the entire purpose of the place?

[4] Thus, we see many things that need to be explained before this episode becomes credible.

Humanism and the Supernatural

[5] The premise of THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) countered one of the fundamentals of the series. Xena, despite assistance from the supernatural (for example M'Lila and Lao Ma), represents humanism. Humanism is a philosophy that focuses on the interests of man with the idea that man is a creature of great latent creativity that can be activated through reason. Humanism was the spirit of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and its spirit is well expressed in a German phrase, "Habe Mut, dich deine eigine Verstande zu bedienen" ( Have the courage to use your own reason).

[6] Throughout the series, she has advocated the need for individuals to help themselves, as opposed to submissively enduring and accepting the Olympian gods' and other deities' (for example Dahak) will. Xena similarly advocates the need for individuals to solve their own problems without seeking or waiting for the gods' assistance. This is best shown in LOST MARINER (45/221) where Xena urges Cecrops to use the gift Athena gave him to solve his predicament. One can argue about whether the gift was time or reason.

[7] Xena may have been a believer in the Israelites' God since she sided with them prior to THE THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117) and prayed to "anyone listening" in RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205). However, Xena is a humanist in the series. Illusia seems rooted in chance and fate. That theme directly conflicts with the principle themes of humanism: individual responsibility and effort ethic.

Other Points of Contention and the Third Season

[8] When I saw the episode I knew nothing about tarot and the symbolism behind it. I did, however, recognize some of the symbols tarot employs, like the animals and the sphinx. When I saw a tarot card deck and realized how meticulous they copied the costumes from the cards, I was very disappointed. I would have preferred original work rather than copies.

[9] The music of THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) was not the usual Xena/ Hercules music that was so great. Instead it was a copy of the style of music from Broadway musicals.

[10] The third season also copied stories and plot devices from popular movies (homage) and that, unfortunately, always makes it seem as though one has already seen the story. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302), KING CON (61/315) and TSUNAMI (65/319) were homages to the films Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993), The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973), and The Poseidon Adventure (Ronald Neame, 1972), respectively.

[11] Individual scenes were also copied, such as in THE DEBT (52/306), Xena's head with knife in her mouth rising from the water was like a scene in Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979). Or, in the same episode, the revolving birdcages in the Ming palace hallway were similar to the round "memories" Xena had while on the cross before M'Lila in DESTINY (36/212).

Can we talk?

Xena forgets to ask mom some of the important details.

[12] THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) was quick and sweet with many unanswered questions and loose end resolutions to perplexing problems. That was the formula ending for most Xena episodes in the third season. Everything works out at the end, more like in cartoons than in a continuing saga. At the end of THE FURIES (47/301), after all that happened to them, Xena complacently resigns that she will "never know who her father really was". She could have gotten some information from Cyrene, if she had only asked.

[13] At the end of THE DEBT II (53/307) we are to believe two foreigners leaving the royal palace, which blew up and collapsed, could leave the country unmolested. I wonder how long it took the Chins to realize their Green Dragon was dead.

[14] At the conclusion of VANISHING ACT (66/320) we do not learn how the Pax statue was moved back to the town and erected at night undetected. We do not learn the motivation of Bailius in WARRIOR... PRIESTESS... TRAMP (55/309). Was he a renegade priest working on his own or following the orders of his lord Apollo? To further confuse the argument, we have been given conflicting impressions of Apollo during the third season. Apollo seemed benign and caring in the Xena episode FORGIVEN (60/314); yet he was malignant and cruel in Hercules episodes TOP GOD (H80/421) and REUNION (H81/422).

[15] The episodes are now a moral statement wrapped around the thinnest veneers of a story, instead of, after some careful thought by TPTB, a quality story with a moral statement imbedded in it. The trend is now fancy scenes with little substance. THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) was in that vogue: visually stunning but plot wise, empty.


Nicholas Nayko Nicholas Nayko
BA in political science 1972. MS in systems management 1976. Works for the Federal Government. Interested in history and militaria, especially Russian. I've enjoyed traveling domestically and abroad, seeing different cultures.
Favorite episode: THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117) and RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205)
Favorite line: Xena: "We all eventually become who we pretend to be". BLIND FAITH (42/218)
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302)

Other Whoosh! articles by this author

"Callisto: Die Furie?" Whoosh! #11 (August 1997)
GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN vs. Euripides' The Bacchae Whoosh! #14 (November 1997)
Avengers or Airheads: The Xenaverse Furies Whoosh! #15 (December 1997)

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