Whoosh! Issue 59 - August 2001

ADVENTURES IN THE STUNNED TRADE:
COMMENTS ON THE FINAL EPISODE OF
XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS

By L. A. Clark
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
1744 words


Xena's Story (01-04)
Gabrielle's Story (05-08)
What Does It All Mean? (09-13)
Biography



ADVENTURES IN THE STUNNED TRADE:
COMMENTS ON THE FINAL EPISODE OF XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS



Xena's Story

Ghosts cast shadows too!
Not exactly the sunset scene a lot of fans were expecting.

[01] The series finale of Xena: Warrior Princess has evoked mixed feelings in me. On one level is the extreme disappointment coupled with a sense of relief that they avoided a trite and hokey ending. I did read my first spoilers 24 hours after watching the episode and I was stunned by the harsh reactions to something I felt so differently about. I was not angry at the ending because it made sense to me.

[02] While Xena and Gabrielle did, in a sense, ride off into the sunset together, the last episode took them very far from home. Gabrielle was empty and alone after seeing her best friend and soul mate beheaded, and then discovering that this time they would not able to cheat death. I can empathize with Gabrielle, to a lesser degree, because I have considered Xena and Gabrielle to be like friends of mine for six years and now THEY are gone. Because of that, there is emptiness within me. I have read many bitterly angry responses, but the more I think about the last episode, the more I believe the ending was the right one, if not the most popular.

[03] The general story of Xena: Warrior Princess was that of someone with an evil past finding redemption. Once that slate has been wiped clean, what other purpose was there? Xena had grown as far as she possibly could have as a person in that life. Her last, seemingly selfless act, purified her and rendered her incapable of existing as she had previously. To go on after that would have been impossible. Choosing to selfishly let 40,000 souls be damned would have set her karmic balance back into the negatives with no possibility of undoing the damage. Gabrielle knew that just as clearly as Xena did. A less mature Gabrielle, upon stating that she "didn't care" about those souls, may have chosen to condemn them and Xena merely to keep Xena at her side. Gabrielle at a younger age was prone to bouts of idealistic conviction and would have optimistically felt that Xena could help more people by remaining alive. However, a jaded, mature Gabrielle knew the futility of such a compromise that would have exchanged 40,000 strangers' souls for the hope that Xena could some day redeem them. Xena's journey was over and Gabrielle knew this in her heart.

[04] Perhaps The Powers That Be (TPTB) chose to keep Gabrielle alive because they knew her journey was no where near completion. Some might argue that without Xena, Gabrielle has no purpose, but that is an oversimplification. Bereft of Xena's corporeal body, Gabrielle's life would be DIFFERENT, but far from over and definitely not without objectives. Xena's tale was of good versus evil in the purest sense, but it was more internal than external. The person who actually changed and grew during the course of their association was not so much Xena, as it was Gabrielle.



Gabrielle's Story

I could really use some pickles and ice cream right now
Gabrielle came a long way from the tag-along days.

[05] It could be argued that the series was Gabrielle's story more than Xena's. Xena was already at the end of her journey by the time the first episode aired. She merely had not realized it herself. It was implied on the show that Xena knew on a deeper level that once she had achieved complete atonement (in her eyes) her life would be over. However, at the beginning of the series, Gabrielle was just starting to live.

[06] To go from načve, innocent farm girl to a world-weary, mature adult in a matter of six years may seem accelerated but it is hardly implausible given the experiences Gabrielle confronted in that short time. In many ways, it is fair to say they had thirty-two years (twenty-five frozen by Ares and one when they were in Scandinavia) rather than six. Also, if you want to get technical, the show only existed for six seasons but it took a long time to travel in those days so much more time should have passed from SINS OF THE PAST (01/101) to FRIEND IN NEED PART II (134/622). Careful scrutiny is unnecessary for the sake of this comment, though. Merely using the apparent six years, Gabrielle was capable of a metamorphosis of epic proportions simply based on her life experience.

[07] Gabrielle's six-year journey was more amazingly complex and life altering than Xena's. From leaving home to learning to fight to killing at Dahak's altar to giving birth to learning deliberate deception to defending Xena to the death against Roman Centurions to literally dying and being reborn to her ultimate acceptance of her role as a warrior. The list can go on and on. Gabrielle went first from a village child, then to an Amazon Queen, and finally to a warrior of Xena's caliber. The trip was not easy for her.

[08] Gabrielle's personal journey illustrates the fact that life rarely turns out the way we plan it or want it to be. Gabrielle wanted to travel the known world and be a Bard. It was her choice of traveling companion that profoundly influenced her life. Surely if she had left Poteidaia even without Xena, Gabrielle would have survived on her own. She had the mental resources and inner strength from the beginning, but she would have become an entirely different person. Xena was the most significant influence in her life. It seems doubtful that, knowing where she would wind up, Gabrielle would have chosen to follow Xena on that fateful day. Xena knew what could happen to Gabrielle and that more than anything seemed to cause her reluctance to include Gabrielle in the beginning. Xena knew what such a life could do to Gabrielle's soul and it is possible Xena may have considered the fact that Gabrielle's plunge into darkness could be one more black mark against the Warrior Princess. When Gabrielle innocently saw Xena as a key to unchain her from the locks of drudgery and boredom, she had no experience with which to give her a broader perspective. The reality of a life with Xena was completely incomprehensible to Gabrielle. Her limited realm of experience told her that traveling and writing stories was exciting. She probably expected to earn a few dinars, some fame, and a wealth of stories to carry her well into old age. It is doubtful that she knew what she was really getting into.



What Does It All Mean?

I'd make a great action figure!  See?
Gabrielle heeded Eli's message of peace and love. Sort of.

[09] Life is never what we plan. Gabrielle knows this now, at the end. She has changed and grown though her relationship with Xena, but she is in no way herself finished by the end of the series. She has much more to learn and experience and to reconcile within herself. It is feasible to imagine Gabrielle taking up Xena's sword, chakram, and cause to redeem her own soul. Gabrielle still has many issues to confront starting with Hope and working its way through killing other people in battle, her resentment of Eve, and now, Xena's horrible death. Gabrielle never did plunge into the depths of evil where Xena existed for so long, but in terms of her own mores and conscience, Gabrielle is still far from her initial core beliefs.

[10] Xena fought to undo her past wrongs, but as she did so, Gabrielle changed in unexpected ways that possibly unbalanced her own karma. Even if, in the grand scheme of things, Gabrielle's actions are defensible and acceptable, it is likely Gabrielle does not quite see it that way, at least not completely. No matter how you look at it, Gabrielle has lied and she has killed. She may be capable of such actions, but what has it done to her inner being, from her perspective?

[11] Gabrielle is just beginning her life as a Warrior, which seems to be her ultimate destination in spite of how things appeared initially. Like a butterfly in chrysalis form, Gabrielle wove a protective cocoon around herself in the form of ideals and child-like innocence about the real world, but this was shattered and she later emerged reborn, stronger, more beautiful, and with a greater sense of purpose. Now all she has to do is fly and be free, something she is finally able to do. She now has the mental stability, physical strength, and experience to exist as a Warrior and Amazon Queen. Now that she has achieved the level she is at, ending her life would have been a cruel injustice, and a waste.

[12] Xena was done and Gabrielle's destiny seems to be to continue the legacy. They will meet again in the next life, that is an established fact, and in this life, they will never truly part because Gabrielle now is Xena. They are the same and their souls are enjoined and entwined. Gabrielle also needs no partner to replace Xena because Xena is with her in spirit. I can see her living out her days as a warrior and champion for the underdog, needing no other mate than the ghost of her soulmate. It is doubtful she will ever be lonely.

[13] I found that the last episode left me with a sense of hope and renewal. Seeing Gabrielle continue to live and complete Xena's legacy made Xena's life have reason. It seemed logical that Xena would die at the end, but that she would never leave Gabrielle, as she promised. Gabrielle will go on and she will live because she carries Xena with her. For me, that is enough.



Biography

L. A. Clark L. A. Clark

I am a full-time student majoring in History. Because the US government doesn't want to help much, I work full-time as well, doing Payroll for a Hospital here in Florida. My hobbies include theatre, reading, music, and museums. I also love to travel. I live with three cats, three fish, a gerbil, a mouse, a stuffed buzzard, and a girlfriend. Someday, I hope to teach at the college level.
Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE
Favorite line: Aphrodite: "I hate manual labor." LITTLE PROBLEMS
First episode seen: CALLISTO
Least favorite episode: THE RECKONING




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