Group Therapy #202-212
From: Scott Coble
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 4:04 PM
Subject: Group Therapy for Whoosh
I liked the finale, and I thought it was a fitting conclusion to the series. Xena found peace; Gabrielle is pursuing her way. The series was about a relationship, from beginning to end. The relationship has brought both characters to the place they wanted to be from the beginning, and I am happy for them. I certainly felt the pain of the separation. But as in any death there is something of the deceased remaining in those that live on. Another thought on death: It is a reality. Xena and Gabrielle were able to cheat it several times, but death eventually must occur if fiction is to have that element of truth.
I will miss the series. It has been the only show that I have ever followed so closely. And I'm still not sure why. Action, humor, good writing, beautiful scenery, Lucy and Renee, the development of the characters, especially that of Gabrielle, all had a part. By the way, the subtext did not. I first heard of the subtext from some of the major Xena websites. The speculation and humor on the sites was entertaining, but I rarely brought the perspective of subtext to the show itself.
A whine: The episode developed from another "Oh yes, Gabrielle, I know we've been together for thirty-one years (twenty-five of them in an ice cave) but there's another important part of my life I haven't told you about yet." Many thanks to all the Whoosh people. I have truly enjoyed this site over the years.
P.S. A beyond the ending possibility: The gods placed many of the Greek heroes into the sky as constellations. I can see Gabrielle on Mount Fuji that night, looking up at the stars and seeing a new group. Maybe she first notices the shape of a sword, raised high perhaps in salute. And then the rest of Xena's profile is seen clearly. Some extra falling glitter and a blue flash by the new constellation clue her in that Ares and Aphrodite have given this gift to their friend. Now fast forward many years. Gabrielle is an older woman, telling the stories of Xena and her to some children one evening out under the stars. She has kept the chakram through all her adventures during these years, and never lets it out of her sight. (The children may be her grandchildren, which are needed so that the descent for the Xena Scrolls ep can happen.) Their mother calls them in for bed, and Gabrielle remains outside. Somewhat later the mother again comes out to see if Gabrielle is OK, and finds her dead, but with a peaceful expression on her face. Oddly, the chakram is nowhere to be seen. The mother looks around and finally looks up. And there are new stars. Next to the Xena constellation is another, this one also the figure of a woman, somewhat shorter. A scroll is in one hand, and a sai is lifted high in the other. Most remarkable, at the hip of the warrior princess herself is now a circle of nine bright stars.
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 4:53 PM
Subject: xena therapy
here is my therapy session:
first let me start by saying, i never watch TV. i happened to have the TV on as background noise at my grandmothers house and there was xena on. it was the episode "the play's the thing" and Minya says "I'm a thespian". after that i started to watch xena on a regular basis, collecting the past 4 seasons.
why was the TV on as background noise at grams house? my grandmother was dying of lung cancer and she usually would be in an out of wakefulness when i was over. gram was legally blind also. she could only see images. when xena would come on, if we were sitting very close to the TV she could see the "X" and she would say "is X on? oh, good". she loved xena. it would come on, and i would explain what was happening "now xena is beating up so and so" and she would get such a big kick out of it. i also went to great lengths to explain the subtext moments to her "now she's telling Gabrielle, i love you with googly eyes, etc.". she particularly liked these moments because she loved my partner and i so much yet she didn't know any other gay people. (we all became very close her and i being the ones who were taking care of her through her illness.) at the very end, she would always ask, "did you watch X today? what happened?" and i would chatter on about it, taking her mind off the pain.
i was very disappointed with the ending of xena. for me xena was about 2 women in love who overcame all sorts of things, even death, with their love and courage. it was fantasy. a wonderful fantasy that helped me to deal with many things in life that are painful.
besides the slow death of my grandmother, i have the fact that i am a female, lesbian, construction worker (ironworker to be exact) to deal with. a typical day when gram was dying was to walk 10 floors up on a 6 inch beam dragging a 300Lb sheet of deck, with my partner who drank 9 beers at lunchtime (1/2 hour) and wore a sign on his hard hat "silly faggot, dicks are for chicks". then go home and pick up the poop on the floor from gram's "accident".
i can't stand these people who say "its just a TV show". they should've tried walking a day in my shoes when all this stuff was going down. it makes me think of the women i met from the Bronx at the Audre lorde conference, when audre was still alive. and how these women said that her poetry saved their lives. i really understand that now. no one has a right to criticize what helps a person make it through the day.
then i just have to say that the publicity interviews after were awful. I'm not criticizing anyone's personality, but i really feel like people were really clueless "you won't be disappointed" "its good for gabrielle" "cut the chord". i would have felt so much better if everyone had just kept their mouths shut. it makes me think that although well intentioned, people just have no idea how hard real life is for the average gay person. no, there are no great romances for us to watch. we go out every day and face awful oppression. many of our family members face this isolation also just by not being able to talk about their gay family members. we don't want to see our main characters off themselves anymore! of course we find this disappointing in a fantasy show. just my opinion.
so back to the ending. i am very disappointed. real life can be a real "b****". i didn't really want to see an ending that was so brutally realistic. that is not why i watched the show. i also thought it was a shame to separate the 2 characters in such a way. it was like watching Romeo go off happy without Juliet. and the kiss. not saying its anyone's fault. but what a world where we cannot show a natural response to a wonderful love story. the ending would be something i could never tell my grandmother because it would just be a big downer. to real.
From: Chrystal Eve Jackson
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 7:04 PM
Subject: Group Therapy Issue - A friend in Need
Xena – Last Episode –A Friend in Need
Now let’s see – how would I describe my feelings after watching the last episode of Xena. Depressed – sad – disappointed – angry (note: none are these are happy emotions). I even tried sitting down and finding meaning behind such a negative ending to what has always been a positive series – I couldn’t find any.
The entire show has always been based on Xena and Gabrielle-and their being together at the end. We, the fans, always endured whatever heartbreak and suspense was presented to us each week with happy hearts – Why? - because we always knew that whatever came about, Xena and Gabrielle would inevitably be together at the end (either both as spirits or both in human form – note: I stress on the word both). I watched part II with the aforementioned pre-existing biases in mind – and perhaps that is why I was disappointed…….no, I was disappointed because the ending just purely stunk.
To me, and this is my opinion, the series could have ended positive with one of the following conclusions: First – Xena and Gabrielle die together and we have the joy of knowing they are together in death. Second – Xena and Gabrielle finish with this adventure and we see them ride off to face a new adventure (which could be followed up in a movie). Third – we actually begin a brand new adventure which leaves us hanging and we eagerly await a movie to give us the ending.
Instead of watching one of the three conclusions I presented above, I watched a character I deeply respected go through an arrow piercing ceremony (and when in this whole series has Xena ever allowed this to happen) followed by a beheading. Xena goes through all of this for a town that provoked her anger which resulted in their own destruction. Truly, the people in this town had no one to blame for their fate but themselves; yet we have to watch our hero become truly self sacrificing and give up her life in order for these doomed souls to be happy again. I suppose we were to think…hmmm, Xena in the end becomes self-sacrificing like Gabrielle and Gabrielle (who is now chakram capable) has in essence become Xena. Hmmmm….I guess that should make me feel better and bring meaning to this meaningless episode. Well guess what?…..the day I buy this ending, “skippy will be a puppy”. Now, I sit and watch all this happen to the hero of our show, thinking to myself, “that’s okay, Gabrielle will bring Xena back in the end with the ceremony involving her ashes”. But noooo – much to my dismay, we are told that Xena can’t come back because the souls must be avenged or they will be doomed – and of course the only way they can be avenged is for Xena to stay dead.
THIS IS STUPID!!!!!!! No, it does not help that we see a “happy” Gabrielle (who mind you, was shortly before that crying and saying she didn’t know how she would live without Xena), suddenly accepting of the idea that Xena would be a ghost and that her memory would always be inside her heart. Well this might be good enough for Gabrielle but it sure in heck is not good enough for me. Truly, I do not feel that Gabrielle would be so accepting of losing her soul mate – she never was in the past, why would she be so now?
I do not know what possessed the writers to construct such a meaningless ending to this show but I hope other television series do not solicit their input for their series’ enders. How could writers take a show that celebrated life, strength, courage, friendship and togetherness – a show in which the two main characters always stated that they didn’t mind what paths they had to travel as long as they traveled it together. How could the writers take this show and give it this ending.
The only happy thought I have is that maybe a movie will be made in which Xena is brought back to life (because even sinners only stay so long in purgatory) and we will once again be left with seeing our heroes together facing their next adventure.
In conclusion, I would like to say I was very disappointed with this ending. It made all the commentaries I had previously written on Xena – pointless.
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 7:37 PM
Subject: Group Therapy Issue Submission
Words of Praise
I have no doubt that I am a minority voice given the praise I hold for Friends in Need I & II (FIN). In scanning the internet I have identified two major objections to FIN. First, Xena dies brutally. Second, Xena is not resurrected in order to ensure that the souls to whom she was the accidental cause of death would enter a state of grace by being avenged. I will address each point individually.
I am always stunned by the distinction made of fictional violence when violence is experienced by a beloved character versus when that same character inflicts (either by her own aggression or in self-defense) violence upon others. A survey of all the death caused by Xena prior to meeting Gabrielle leaves no doubt that by Xena's own hand or by her command desecration of an enemy or victim's body was common practice. How Xena's body was treated was nothing less than a sacrilege. It stands as an unrelenting indictment of the violence humanity perpetuates against its own. The imagery is not only a refection of the era Xena is placed in history/mythology but also of our contemporary times. The lesson is not to forget humanity's capacity for evil.
The second objection raised is Xena's decision to accept death in order for the souls of the dead to enter a state of grace. There is room to argue the logic of the story but such an argument is inconsequential to the core issue. The story of Xena was the story of a woman in search for redemption. Her quest was always her own although wisdom and moral strength was often sourced through her relationship with Gabrielle. In Legacy we have a parallel story. Xena goes contrary to the greater good to prevent Gabrielle's choice to accept execution for the accidental death of an innocent. In response to Gabrielle's question of why, Xena states that "In everyone's life there is something that goes beyond the greater good. That is what you (Gabrielle) are in my life." When Gabrielle asks, "What if it was my choice?" Xena counters, "Especially, if it was your choice."
In contrast, at the end of FIN Gabrielle is confronted with the moral choice of trading Xena's life for placing the souls of the dead in a state of grace. Gabrielle tells Xena, "I don't care. You are all that matters to me." Here Gabrielle proves Xena's own words. In everyone's life there is something that goes beyond the greater good. For Gabrielle it is Xena.
Xena's motivation is different from Gabrielle's in Legacy. Xena chooses death for reasons other than guilt. She speaks eloquently of her life with Gabrielle, "If there is a reason for our travels together its because I had to learn from you enough to know the final, the good, the right thing to do."
Xena first voiced her reconciliation with her past in Isles of March. She told a tempting Callisto, "That guilt you're depending on. I put it all behind me…To redeem myself I have to fight evil with a sword and that's what I'm going to do no matter what the consequences." In FIN Xena lived her conviction. She fought with a sword knowing the consequence would be death. And given a second choice she embraced death for the good of the lost souls.
The argument is raised of whether Xena's sacrifice is too high a price. In Gabrielle's own words, "That is not right." Bolstering the argument is the assessment that Xena's choice of death is a price Gabrielle should not have to pay. But, the closing scene does not portray a suffering Gabrielle. Gabrielle is a woman who is celebrating Xena's life. Xena's legacy is her place in Gabrielle's heart as would be true of the legacy of any individual who touches another soul deeply. It is a very human immortality outside the realm of the supernatural.
A final note concerning Gabrielle. I am fan-fiction writer and for those familiar with my work there is no doubt that I have a special affinity to the character of Gabrielle. In the second half of FIN Gabrielle's character came to a synthesis I can only praise. Her connection to Xena, never in doubt, was unassailable. She sensed Xena's deception. Not easy given the unconditional love and trust she held. She sought Xena out. She knew that Xena allowed herself to be killed. Even in her accusation there was a foundation of knowledge. Gabrielle pursued "without hesitation" her quest to return her friend to life. She used the tools of her mentor: whip, sword, and chakram. She displayed physical strength and agility in fighting her enemy and in securing Xena's ashes from the side of the cliff. The one image above all others that I will remember from FIN is Gabrielle falling to her knees upon finding Xena's body. For all the changes she experienced, Gabrielle's humanity remained constant. There is no doubt her heart was broken at that very moment. There is also no doubt that her heart was strong enough to live on with the bittersweet joy of having had Xena as her soulmate.
In the tradition of all the Xena epics, FIN was a difficult story. Its darkness was counterbalanced with its hope. The moral questions are never easy but there is a path - truth and love - that can be followed as one seeks resolution. I remained assured that there is greatness to be mined in our lives. Two characters, Xena of Amphipolis and Gabrielle of Poteidaia are examples of the human imagination. I will continue to take solace in knowing that humanity has the capacity of creating such characters and finding greatness in them.
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 8:48 PM
Subject: THE ENDING
I have a lot of mostly un-fun things going on in my life. To say the least, I have no life. The only thing I really had to look forward to, each Saturday, was the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. I wasn't happy to hear the series would come to an end, as all things eventually do; however, I hoped for a happy ending at the least. Even after hearing the rumors, I held the hope. I can't even begin to describe the empty, completely depressed feeling inside me after watching the end.
Sure I know it's just a TV show and it isn't real. Would it have hurt, in this soap opera...never a happy ending world.....to have had just one? As for THE "KISS", so many people seem content with that, but seem to have missed the point that - even though Xena (the memory of) will always be with Gabby, XENA DIED and Gabrielle is ALONE. I can only hope now for a sequel, TV movie, etc. that may find a way to once again bring Xena back to life and have that happy ending.
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 10:58 PM
Subject: I loved it!!
I loved it I think this is how a T.V, Series SHOULD be ended!! The show came full circle, and we saw that even though Xena was dead she far from "gone" She would always be a part of Gabrielle. I also loved the way Gabrielle finally came into her own, after all the years of being Xena's student she is now ready to carry on Xena's Legacy. I hope their will be future movies of her!!!
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 6:37 AM
Subject: Commentary on FIN
What I call into question about this finale are the choices that were made: Xena's willingness to die in battle, and Gabrielle's willingness to allow Xena to remain dead. Let me address the former choice first. Xena was a warrior, first and foremost. Being redeemed for her past sins was never at the top of her list. Remember what she said to Gabrielle in Locked Up and Tied Down: "I am not looking for redemption anymore." What she was in search of, in my opinion, was to find a way to forgive herself - something she would never allow herself to attain. If Xena had fought to win this war against Yodoshi's army, I could have accepted her death more readily - just as readily if she had lost to the Persians in One Against An Army. However, she fought to die. This single act is one that I cannot accept because it was not true to "the way of the warrior."
What seems incredulous to me is the fact that Xena was responsible for 40,000 souls. This part of the storyline seemed contrived at best, and contradictory in nature. We are asked to believe that Xena needed to die for 40,000 people who perished in a terrible accident. The chain of events began with Akemi's need to kill her father, and the result of this one act caused a domino effect which led to the fire. Yet, Xena is held accountable for their deaths. What about Akemi's accountability? Because Xena fulfilled her request to die with honor somehow absolves Akemi, and leaves Xena to carry the entire burden - is ludicrous. Xena spent her life righting the wrongs of her past. Yet, we are asked to accept that this one incident must be bring about her demise in order to redeem herself? Xena always put the greater good ahead of her own well-being. When she laid her hands on Callisto in Fallen Angel, this was the price she paid for redemption - for the pain she caused, for the unending suffering of this one soul. Yes, this was the point at which Xena truly redeemed herself. To then suggest that Xena had to atone for the sins of Akemi destroys the very concept of redemption. Since when did Xena become a surrogate for sins committed by others? In One Against An Army Xena told Gabrielle, "I don't accept defeat...there are always choices." The writers failed in not keeping true to the character. The choices made in FIN diminished the very core of Xena's life and ultimate death.
The other problem I have is with Gabrielle's acceptance of Xena's decision. After all that has gone before, suddenly Gabrielle allows Xena to make a life altering decision without a fight. How many times has Gabrielle opposed Xena's decision and followed her heart to a satisfactory conclusion? The Debt, Return of the Valkyrie, The Greater Good, etc. How then can we accept Gabrielle's decision not to fight for her friend's life? In Ides of March, Gabrielle told Xena "I followed the way of friendship." Are we now to assume that Gabrielle took an about face and by acquiescing to Xena's wish to remain dead, is now following the "way of love?" Gabrielle chose her future, her fate....and this failure to do all she could to save Xena is out of character. Whether or not we accept the fact that Xena will always be with her in spirit does little to ease the disturbing ending of this show. Again, the writer's took leave of the truth of who Gabrielle became and brought her back to a time when Xena's word was final. If you juxtapose this to the beginning of FIN I, wherein Xena asked Gabrielle "what would you do" to save Higuchi, it flies in the face of continuity and reason.
Finally, there were many schools of thought on how the series should have ended. I had no preference except that the storyline be truthful to the characters. Sadly, it was not. Many have complained that the only way to redemption is to die, and thus demeans the entire premise of the show. Many have accepted the ending as the only choice. I disagree. If we have learned anything from this show, the one word which comes to mind and one which I have used in the past, is empowerment. No matter where we came from, or what our role in life, we all took a piece of this show and ascribed to its message. We were all empowered by this show, and took from it those ideals which we used to better our lives and the lives of others. In this respect, the show did not fail us. Perhaps we failed it. We expected it to follow our thought processes and never sway from what we believed it should be.
Rob Tapert had a vision, and followed it. He took risks and never apologized for them. We, as fans of the show, have to respect his desire and his wish to follow his truth - whether we agree or not. This was his show, not ours. We supported it and loved it because it filled a void we all felt at some point in our lives. As I said, I disagreed with the ending, but I respect his right to end it his way. Perhaps those who have written alternative endings can find solace in their words. For those of you who believe in life after death, there can be no end - and to suggest there is negates everything that has ever been said by those who believe in the afterlife.
If all the words that have ever been spoken, written, and discussed about the show by its fans were now suddenly turned inside out, then the ultimate lie has been perpetrated by the very people who call themselves Xenites.
From: Gita Patel
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 8:50 AM
Subject: A Friend in Need... Reactions
A Friend In Need.. Reactions
I was devastated! Xena allowed herself to be killed. and then at the end, would not allow Gabrielle to revive her! I was devastated not so much because Xena was dead, but because she left Gabrielle all alone. The last scene with Gabrielle alone on the boat does not seem to fit. Xena was Gabrielle's whole life. How could she leave Japan, carrying Xena's ashes, and smile? That is not possible. All I could think about was how much pain Gabrielle was in. Xena and Gabrielle had been through life and death together. They were inseparable. And yet, now they were parted forever. I could feel Gabrielle's heart breaking on top of Mount Fuji when Xena told her that she could not come back to life. How unfair! Gabrielle's soulmate was gone. It almost seemed here reason for living was gone. Xena and Gabrielle are the true epitome of friendship. Only a few of us in the world are so lucky to have such a connection with someone as close, as deep, and as unyielding. When this connection is broken, all is lost and the world is never quite the same. All I kept thinking was, how will Gabrielle go on? How would I be able to go on? How would anybody be able to go on?
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 11:21 AM
Subject: letter/series finale
As I enjoyed everything except the way the thing ended in the last 5 minutes, what I really feel about the series finale of Xena: Warrior Princess can best be summed up (to some degree) with a quote from the lyrics to "Heaven On Their Minds" from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice: Tim Rice's Judas Iscariot, "It was beautiful but now it's sour". I still enjoy the reruns, but there is the lingering taste of bitterness ever so slightly present that just wasn't there before.
What a shame.
I hope for another Xena production in the future (hopefully near future) to sweeten the bitter taste of this particular ending.
Atlanta, GA (USA)
From: Lynn W Ribaud
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 12:02 PM
Subject: Season Ender "Draftoid"
Xena is dead. What a concept! As she points out to Gabrielle, this is not the first time, nor is death in itself an impossible obstacle for the two of them to conquer. No, it is not her death that leaves me feeling so empty -- empty enough that I've lost sleep recalling Xena's final dissolution, over and over.
Here is the catch. To me, the single strongest aspect of the show was the depth of the bond (physical or not; that's irrelevant here) between Xena and Gabrielle. So how are things left? Gabrielle is alone, even if now clearly a warrior as skilled as Xena had been. Conversing with ashes just isn't the same as the real thing. To be sure, Xena dies a hero's death, and exacted a terrible toll on her slayers. Could anyone have expected otherwise? Even overwhelmed, Xena had to allow herself to be killed -- it wasn't inevitable. At least Gabrielle has learned that much.
It is the events surrounding her aborted resurrection that leave me so troubled. There are at least three problems. First, Xena's last words to Akemi are that Xena will see her again -- someday. In the very next moment, Xena is making "someday" into "now". The history of the production of the show being what it is, I suspect something got twisted (or left out) in editing; when we get to see the script maybe this will make more sense. It is the least of the problems. Worse is that one of the major underpinnings of the show -- the breaking of cycles of hatred and violence through love -- seems to have been casually swept aside. Xena stays dead essentially because the dead of Higuchi call vengeance upon her.
And this leads to the last, deepest problem. As Gabrielle noted in "The Rheingold", Xena, however much she claims otherwise (e.g. to Callisto in "Ides of March"), is apparently unwilling to allow herself release from her guilt. In the cases of, say, Cirra or the Valkyries, maybe a point could be made for her attitude. But Higuchi carries this just too far. Xena was in mourning -- to the extent that she gets drunk, something we have never otherwise seen her do. She wants no more than to honor the last wishes of Akemi. The towns-people have other ideas. Few likely appreciate the suicidal nature of attacking the Warrior Princess, but they find out. And make no mistake -- they attack her. She acts purely in defense, however befuddled she may be from the drink.
So now, for a poorly explained reason based on faulty thinking, we see one of the greatest bonds of history sundered. Xena, apparently finally at peace, willing to pay for that peace by leaving Gabrielle, closes her eyes and...just...fades...away.
I see it over and over. And like Gabrielle in "The Quest", I awake every day to find it isn't just a nightmare. She deserved -- had worked hard for -- better. Gabrielle is right; this isn't just.
From: Jerry Harris
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 1:01 PM
Subject: Neon Genesis Xena
Bret Rudnick in the July Editor's page talked about the betrayal of the fans by the show's creators. I'm probably not the first to make this comparison, but try watching Neon Genesis Evangelion for a real fan-ti-cide.
If you're not familiar with it, Eva was an animated Japanese giant robot show. For 24 episodes, the show had everything; family problems, anguish, hilarious bath scenes, nebulous sexual situations, great fight scenes, lots of religious symbolism, death and rebirth. All the pending mysteries and conflicts culminated in the last two episodes. Wherein, Hideaki Anno (show's creator) metaphorically assumed the personalities of the main characters and asked himself why he made this show. In Japan, fans rioted (metaphorically).
I wasn't happy either (I didn't burn my Eva tapes). There was a point though. It was supposed to make you think. Anno created the greatest giant robot show ever (debatably) and didn't give it an ending (until the movie came out a year later) just show how pathetically shallow the fanboys following the show were.
At this point, the Xena analogy breaks down. I did like some of Friend in Need (particularly the scenes with evil Xena and Akemi). I thought the ending was rather touching and heroic. Rob Tapert didn't thumb his nose at the fans. He had a vision for how the series should end and went through with it. If nothing else, he gave the fans something to talk about now that the show the show is gone.
It's been three years since Eva was released here; ask an Evangelion fan about the ending. I'm sure you'll get a passionate response.
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