CHANGING TIMES: CHARIOTS OF WAR; DREAMWORKER; and CRADLE OF HOPE
SPECIAL to WHOOSH!
By Debbie White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Content © 1996 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1996 held by Whoosh!
CHANGING TIMES is a regular feature of WHOOSH. It looks at episodes of the internationally syndicated television show, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (this month, CHARIOTS OF WAR, #02; DREAMWORKER, #03; and CRADLE OF HOPE, #04), 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.
CHARIOTS OF WAR
 Xena and Gabrielle become closer friends in CHARIOTS OF WAR. Xena learns that it is sometimes okay to accept help and learns about families. Gabrielle learns that doing the right thing is not always easy or a joyful task. Xena is very much the warrior here while Gabrielle is the talker. Also, the farmers in this episode have come from Troy, which Xena and Gabrielle travel to in a later episode (BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS, #12).
The Changing Xena
 Xena goes out alone to see if she can find a passable ford. While out, she hears the sound of battle and rides to the rescue of some peaceful farmers. While returning a boy she rescued back to his father, Xena is hit by one of four arrows shot by a warlord's son and falls to the ground. The farmer, Darius, takes her to his home to take care of her. Still the warrior even when wounded and in safety, she protests the removal of her weapons. The farmer, an ex-soldier, does not know how to treat her wound. Xena tells him how, showing for the first time that she has at least basic medical skills and more knowledge than the common soldier.
 The farmers want to be peaceful while Xena is very much a fighter. When, still weak, the food silo is burned, Xena stubbornly wants to fight because the farmers refuse to. When the peace conference is about to be ambushed, Xena jumps in to save the day. Xena thinks the only way to handle warlords is fighting, and in this episode, she is right.
 She has her reasons for thinking fighting is the answer. She "was these people" and still sees fighting as the only thing they will listen to.
 Xena still has her bad reputation, too. Darius was willing to let Xena stay in his house despite that reputation. Xena tries to leave, though, determined that no one but her should suffer from and deal with the consequences of her reputation. The farmer helps break this habit of thought by insisting she stay. Luckily, Xena's wound was on his side and made it difficult to leave without his help.
 Xena does not accept help often. At first, she is not willing to burden Darius. When her wound forces her to stay, she becomes more willing to accept help. In the end, Xena forgets her chakram and needs Darius' help, as he rides up with Xena's chakram in the nick of time. Xena goes from refusing help, to accepting it.
 Xena also learns about something else she has forgotten about: families. As Darius' family takes care of her, Xena becomes more comfortable around them. She tells the children stories and see how much they love each other. When Darius offers Xena his family, she says she never thought about it until now, and cannot have one yet. Xena gives the family one last longing look, then sets off to finish her pittance for her evil deeds. Xena has been without a family for so long, she only now thinks to ask Gabrielle if Gabrielle missed her family.
 Xena still views Gabrielle as somewhat as an 'extra body' to keep safe. Xena leaves Gabrielle at a safe inn, while she scouts ahead to see if a ford is passable. Later, when wounded, Xena tries to leave saying that she has a friend that depends on her. Darius points out that "surely she can take care of herself for one night." When Xena does go back for Gabrielle, though, Xena has already changed enough that she actually apologies for worrying Gabrielle. When Gabrielle helps talk Sphaerus, the warlord's son who shot Xena with an arrow, out of fighting, Xena thanks her for the help. Xena now respects Gabrielle as a friend and for what skills she has.
 Interesting fact: "This is the only thing I have to wear!" -Xena, to Darius about wearing her warrior outfit to the peace conference.
 Gabrielle, though left out of most of the fighting, does prove her worth in her quick thinking and silver tongue. She talks her way around an overbearing warrior and into Sphaerus's lap. Without even knowing it, she makes him guilty about hurting Xena while at the same time providing him with a way to become free from the situation. When fighting on the beach, Gabrielle talks Sphaerus out of his anger and into standing up against his father (and for peace). In the end, Sphaerus returns the favor by teaching Gabrielle something she had not really considered: killing his father, Cycnus, might have been the right thing to do, "but he was my father."
 Gabrielle not only talks her way out of situations, but shows her bravery. She talks back without hesitation to warriors wanting to rumble (and tumble), but also does things she would rather not do. She rides a galloping horse, then jumps from the horse into a chariot, both going at top speed, because Xena needed her to. Neither Xena or Gabrielle may appreciate all she can do, but Gabrielle certainly is gutsy when she needs to be.
 Gabrielle appreciates Xena and what she can do. She tells Sphaerus, "I don't know why I worry, she always comes back okay." Xena is the unstoppable hero in Gabrielle's eyes. Still, even as she gets to know Xena better, she never does see a situation Xena cannot handle...physically. Gabrielle still depends on Xena for protection, while Xena is now opening up to help from Gabrielle.
"What a great story this will make." --Gabrielle, HOOVES AND HARLOTS (#10)
 In this episode, Xena and Gabrielle learn more about themselves. Xena learns to stop hating everything about her evil years. Gabrielle learns the difference between survival and killing. The roles of warrior and talker are switched, somewhat, to where Gabrielle is wielding a sword and Xena has to talk her way free from a dreamscape passage.
 Xena is confronted with all she is and all she was when she enters the dreamscape. First she is surrounded by all the people she killed. "Oh, that's right, you never knew the names of your victims," one man says as the crowd chants their names. Xena starts to panic, not wanting to have people, not just kills, to haunt her nightmares. She is able to escape from the impact of killing 'real people' by going back to her "I don't do that anymore" philosophy when she is given a sword to kill them again.
 Next, Xena is confronted by her first and last kill. She manages to overcome her guilt when they mention Gabrielle losing her blood innocence and having haunted dreams, like Xena. She breaks free because of her concern for Gabrielle being "forever changed." Xena tries her best, from beginning to end, to keep Gabrielle from making the choice of killing without truly understanding the change it causes. This may be because Xena never understood this until it was too late to change back.
 Finally, Xena comes upon her evil self and has to find 'the key' to escape the dreamscape. She revels in the fact that she can finally kill her evil half. When she tries, she finds herself without her fighting skills and getting beaten by her evil self. As her evil half taunts her, Xena finally realizes that not everything she was should be left behind. All her skills and abilities were honed to perfection in her evil days, "foraged in the heat of battle." Xena is starting to learn that while her actions were wrong, what she learned from them were not. Her skills could be used for good or evil, but that in itself did not make them evil. Xena was then able to forgive herself for some of what she was and is.
 Gabrielle wants to be a warrior like Xena. She starts this episode wielding a sword against a tree stump, since Xena will not teach her. When Gabrielle says she simply wants to learn to survive, Xena tells her there is a difference between weapons. If she wants to survive, then here are the rules:
1. If you can run, run.
2. If you can't run, surrender, then run.
3. If you're outnumbered, let them fight each other, and then run.
4. Talk your way out of it.
 Gabrielle still wants to be able to help Xena out. In the next fight, Xena loses her sword and Gabrielle picks it up. She immediately becomes a target, and Xena has to rescue her. Even seeing how just holding a sword makes her a target, Gabrielle nonetheless goes into a weapon's shop in the next town. She tries to play 'the warrior who's lost her sword,' but the shopkeeper catches on and gives her the infamous breast dagger. The surprising thing is that he HAD a breast dagger, considering his main customers would be a few village men, not the rare woman warrior. Xena notices the dagger, however, and confiscates it. Gabrielle still has not learned her lesson...or has she?
 Gabrielle is kidnapped by the followers of Morpheus, who want her to lose her blood innocence. In other words, they want her to kill, which should be easy since that is what Gabrielle has been asking to be taught. Gabrielle realizes there is something strange going on, though, and uses Xena's advise on how to survive rather than trying to kill. She was listening to Xena, at least, since she survives without killing in the first test. Two warriors were behind back-lit curtains and Gabrielle tricks them into killing each other by mistake.
 Xena is then able to warn Gabrielle not to kill, or she will be sacrificed to Morpheus. When Gabrielle is allowed to sleep, Xena's dreamscape crosses hers, and Xena warns her to talk her way out of the tests instead of killing. So in the next test, she talks. There are three warriors, so she pits them against each other saying that one must be better than the other. When only one is left, a freak chance saves Gabrielle from being killed. The head priest realizes that Xena has warned Gabrielle and sets her a choice were she has to kill or be killed.
 Gabrielle picks up the sword, slowly being forced towards her decision when Xena saves her from having to make that choice. "But I got close enough to peek over and what I saw scared me," Gabrielle says at the end. "Everyone is capable of killing," Xena responds.
 Gabrielle has now really learned the consequences of killing. She is more concerned about surviving instead of being a warrior, though she still wants to help Xena out in the fights. This becomes the basis for Gabrielle's code.
"The lake may look the same, but it is forever changed." --Xena, DREAMWORKER
CRADLE OF HOPE
 Xena and Gabrielle become more of a team in this episode. Xena learns to appreciate Gabrielle's help, deals with a baby again, and fixes three peoples lives. Gabrielle, well, she gets on Xena's nerves, has insatiable curiosity, but is ultimately invaluable help.
 Xena is full of surprises in this episode. Yet again, she is very uncomfortable around a baby. She seems ignorant about them, too, saying, "What, are you holding him wrong or something?" when the baby cries. However, she is very protective and makes sure the child is safe and has food. Since Gabrielle likes the baby so much, though, Xena mainly plays back-up in baby care.
 Xena saves Pandora from a hanging by a mob. Pandora says she is cursed to live alone, watching over the box containing hope. Xena sees how lonely Pandora is and has her holding the baby in no time. Pandora has never held a baby and says she does not want to, yet Xena (who also does not want that honor), makes her. Xena shows her knack for emotional healing of others as the baby and Pandora immediately fall in love with each other.
 Xena's bad reputation still is out there, however, and Nemos, an evil commander/advisor to King Gregor, uses that to further his plots. He wants the baby dead since a prophecy states the baby will one day take over King Gregor's throne. He probably wants that honor himself. King Gregor, however, lost his wife and son in childbirth and is not ready to kill a baby before he is a threat. Xena is surprised to see that the king is not the bad guy, so she has to solve the prophesy so the baby can live. She dances her way to the answer.
 Yes, the warrior princess can dance seductively. Where did she learn it? She did not NEED it for leading an army. Why learn it when she turned good? It was not exactly just modifying village dances. Maybe she picked it up when learning the neck pinch.
 Xena is after Pandora's Box, which is ready to open soon and let hope escape. When Xena finally has the box, she comes upon the king's room and the empty cradle and realizes that yet another lonely heart is out and about. The king gets a son (the baby), Pandora gets to stop wandering (becomes queen), and the baby gets a family.
 Though she can heal others, Xena is still struggling to heal herself. Pandora proves there is hope for wandering souls to be happy one day, too.
 The Warrior Princess was simply being the warrior princess, though she did learn that not all the bad guys are the leaders. Also, she learned that people can do an evil thing while trying to do the 'right thing,' since the king was willing to kill the baby to save his kingdom from civil war. This may lead to Xena realizing more about how she turned evil.
 One major difference in Xena in this episode than in previous ones is that instead of directly attacking the castle ('fighting fixes all' mentality), she realizes it is better to sneak in and only fight when she is forced to. The ability to think this way shows she can also adopt other (new) methods of solving problems.
 Interesting fact: Xena uses her whip for the first time.
 Gabrielle was...Gabrielle. She did prove her worth to Xena yet again. She found a palace maid, the one that saved the baby in the first place, to help take care of the baby. She also gets milk for the baby, delivers Xena's 'let's meet' message to the king without getting caught, and manages to keep the baby safe out in the open in the middle of a city-wide search. Xena needed Gabrielle's help and knowledge, and they now have started to work together as a team. Xena even asks that the baby be named Gabriel (a token of her appreciation for Gabrielle).
"We all carry hope around inside of us." --Xena, CRADLE OF HOPE