Surprised and Entertained #339
A third dimension.
It is July 18th, or so, and the finale episodes have been simmering in my head for weeks. And as much as I have read of the opinions of others, and as I watch those episodes over again, I understand more and more why so many were hurt and upset, but I also realize just how much I loved the finale. Because of the ending my show was given a third dimension--another life as it took one that meant so much.
Awkwardly enough, the finale always seems to be holding an abnormal amount of my attention where ever I am-school, work, at a restaurant, literally everywhere. The daunting conclusion of the series was not alone though. No, the climatic ending and the other poignant scenes such as the "gab chakram toss/catch", the "if I had only 30 seconds to live" monologue, and much more, were accompanied by the many words of the often violent and somewhat negative receptions of the fans. Somehow this made it worse, if that is at all possible. The additional negativity made it uglier than it should have been.
Fans feel they have been rejected, insulted, literally stripped of the joy they found in a T.V show that became so much more than it perhaps should have. I join the many though in saying that it actually changed my life, not in the "new religion" type of way, but more as an addition to everyday thought processes. I am watching anything action related, a sword fight, a little hand-to-hand combat, and I think to myself "yeah, Xena could so totally kick their ass". Or I am seeing something on television, perhaps the news or something on 20/20, and I tell my sister in all realized seriousness "this is just like on Xena, where they talk about forcing your will onto something when you should just allow yourself to be the vessel of what you want to do." It, somehow, affected the way I think in an amazingly powerful and open-minded way.
I will never say it is just a show, because it wasn't. It was the entertaining embodiment of many people: actors, writers, directors, cameramen, grips, absolutely everyone that participated on the show and gave it their all and loved it, and worked on it. So when the fans get so angry, so personally offended by the huge amount of work that went into the show, which is what it translates into for me, I end up being more offended by the responses to FIN I and II, then the actual ending itself. Fans are not only criticizing the series ending, but the people who invested their lives in it, who were trying to retain a sense of quality and depth that show deserved. The writers and such took a obviously bold and unusual step, and were reject by the very people they had in mind. The fans were rejected because they didn't get their fairy-tale ending. If I were someone involved in the making of Xena, I would feel rejected because the very people I believed would support me in some off the wall decision, were the first to desert, berate, and dissect what I believed in. Harsh.
Why did I like it? You can know someone your entire life and never really understand where they are coming from. This show gave all of it to me, past, present, and future.
The Xena series worked on the basis of a great writer chronicling the fascinating life of a courageous, powerful, and physically/spiritually beautiful person. The show revealed that she was not just a man or a woman, but a fantastically powerful karma currently working for the best of human kind. So even though many women, such as myself, latched on to her strong feminine archetypes in her current life, the more important moral was that your spirit should eternally make the best of itself despite obstacles and despite sex/gender. Once she realized the error of her young ignorant ways, she began to pursue "the way of the warrior", and in the end, she died by the sword in an honorable way. She remained dead, not because someone asked her to, Xena could have found a way out of it, rest assured, but because it was the ending that soothed her soul.
Fans have been saying that it was a weakening of the character, that male heroes find themselves walking into the sunlight, but wasn't her finale an example of self perspective? These male heroes are always getting the easy way out, the easy road, and from the beginning Xena was about taking the hard road up from where she had been. I believe the show taught us that strength comes from within the self-just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, redemption is in the heart of the redeemed, and she redeemed herself, not through Gabrielle's, Akemi's or anyone else's vision, but her own. Fans may ask, what about the happy ending? Well, for her, this may have been it, and we can't say it was any less if we want to truly allow the character to be as human as she has become in our minds.
Her decision said something about the strength, courage and conviction of a single woman. Xena stayed dead because her staying dead for the release of 40,000 souls mollified her perception of redemption. The character of Xena has always been about inner strength- "To know yourself is to know the way", in my opinion, this was the ultimate example of it. The character established that the most important decision and opinions are the ones you make yourself. Xena, in her heart, and not because of anyone else, made this decision on her own, not because some told her to do it, but because she felt it, if we go with the background of the character, this has to be the only truth, there was no "forcing" or "contrived" guilt.
Like Shakespeare has been tiredly quoted, but it's so true to the theme of Xena: To thine own self be true, and Xena was true to the very end.
This gave her a third dimension, the end of Gabrielle the Bard's stories about Xena: Warrior Princess-an entire story told for a lifetime. We were able to learn about her past and how she grew out of the person she had become after Cortese and Caesar, and into the one that found complete inner strength, the one the viewing audience grew to love. Our fair warrior princess even shared with us the likes of her future lives as mother of peace and "Harry". We were given the life and death of a fantastic character, and single lifetime in the cycle of many. Now, when I watch the episodes again, they hit me in an even more human way. In Devi, Gabrielle tells Xena the reason she does yoga, so she will be in great shape and feeling well in old age, and she will remind Xena of this when they are old and gray. It hits me in a painful yet so realistic way- she wouldn't be there to fight with old Gabs. There would be no squabbles about frying pans, fishing, sugar on the fat, and practical jokes on birthdays.
Xena and Co. may not have given us a happy ending, the one that ended in an inexpressive and tired ride into the sunset, but they did manage to make us feel for one last time, as they had been for six years, and powerfully so. They brought new life with their death, as shown by tons of post FIN fan fiction, and nothing is really over. The series is over, but Xena isn't, her heart still beats in the minds of the fans and in the pulse of the internet. Did I enjoy seeing her decapitated head-absolutely not, but I moved on and focused on the moral of the show. Did I like that she died permanently? Well, sure. The show had to end, and might as well end in a way that people had thought wouldn't affect them-Xena has died a million times, why the big deal now?
I could sit and pick a part a miracle of television. Dissect it scene by incongruent scene and contradictions of plot and past storylines, but I respect and love the show more than that-why would I want to take the initiative to destroy it. I will continue to watch it as though it has a life of its own, and in so doing, I will allow for the many things that can't be explained to be dismissed as larger parts of the puzzle missing their smaller pieces that would make them whole. Six years wasn't enough to cover it all-so a few details were left out, I don't mind, I will fill them in with my imagination.
I don't want to know how Santa Claus can get into an apartment with no chimney. I don't want to know how David Copperfield made the statue of liberty disappear; I just want to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I want the magic to stay and not be spoiled by the negativity of reality. Why did they show her headless body? Eh, the body is nothing, the soul is everything. Why did she stay dead? Cause she felt like it. It was a cool show, it was enjoyable, and every now and again I watch it in disbelief and utter respect.
I loved the ending. The full circle travels of these two women. I loved Gabrielle being a woman who followed her dreams, and at the same time accomplished what she would have never dreamed. I loved Xena proving herself to be a wonderful teacher, and ultimately positive influence in the world through her deeds and creating another hero. I loved the fight scene with all the arrows, where she continues to fight with unfettered determination despite the circumstances. I loved to see her human side, her open-minded nature, her willingness to let people into her heart even though she says she can't. I liked seeing Evil Xena in action. I loved seeing good Xena in action. I loved watching her for the last time.
How did Xena get so much accomplished in that part of her life 35 winters ago? When did she manage to work with Lao Ma in Chin, and Akemi in Japa, not to mention tangle with Borias and Caesar and have a son somewhere along the way while meeting Alti? Why is she stuck in limbo instead of the Elysian Fields? Who cares? I make those bridges between gaps on my own. You can call it magic. Call it cool. Call it the amazing tales of the woman they called Xena-the mighty princess forged in the heat of battle. The woman whose courage changed us all. The woman who lives on-despite her "death"- in this heart and those of many.
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