Group Therapy #227-229
From: Sunny Scott
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2001 9:51 AM
Subject: The Final Episode.. How could they???
I became hooked on Xena when I inadvertently came across "One Against An Army." I sensed a very unique and special connection between the two principal actresses that I knew could not possibly have been scripted. It was like nothing else I had ever seen on television. Much to my surprise, it didn't take long for my husband, a retired Army officer, to join me in becoming a major fan and it wasn't just because he enjoyed watching Lucy Lawless in leather. We are both retired and in our 50's. He and I began to watch the show religiously, found ourselves discussing the storylines endlessly, going to conventions and eventually becoming hard core fans.
I've tried to wait a few days before responding to the question of the final episode, thinking that I might mellow out a little, grasp the deep esoteric meaning that I was supposed to, appreciate the genius that was at work and be able look at the whole thing from the more profound philosophical, intellectual and psychological points of view that are being offered so freely.
I thought I could distance myself, analyze and rationalize the way it all ended. At this point, I cannot. I continue to think why? How could they do this? Why would they do this?
The brutality and finality that was portrayed in the last episode seemed to stem from a need to obliterate the character not just end the series. It was clearly overkill. I am simply left with nothing but haunting, lingering, sorrowful images of the mutilation and desecration of Xena's body, the shock and horror on Gabrielle's face upon finding her and the sheer emptiness, loneliness and sadness that followed.
These are not the powerful, profound, dark, disturbing images that I wanted to stay with me when I think of Xena.
I didn't need a boring, predictable, bland, happy ending, just a satisfying one that was consistent with the prime directive of the Xenaverse, the idea that Xena and Gabrielle would somehow always be together on the same plane in life or death, never to be separated by this great spiritual chasm that places them always just out of each other's grasp.
The focus now seems to have shifted to love endures, which, of course, is a core message in the story but the concept that they will always be together seems to have been recklessly abandoned and conveniently explained away... (I'll always be in your heart...) Did Bobby Ewing just step out of the shower somewhere?
I will never be able look at Xena in the same way again. It all seems so pointless. I will never be able to enjoy the old shows as much as I once did because now all I feel is a vague sadness, knowing what is to come. Watching an old episode is now like accidentally coming across a home videotape of a dear friend who I've come to accept, understand and love who has been randomly, suddenly and senselessly murdered by a savage, merciless knife wielding homicidal maniac. I miss them terribly and want them back the way they were, knowing all the time it will never be. It's far too painful to watch.
The series ending was a cruel betrayal of very loyal fans based on the artificial escalation of the guilt factor that propelled the storyline. If we are to continue this thread, we would soon discover that Xena saved the life of the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of the midwife who was in attendance at Hitler's birth and is therefore somehow indirectly responsible for the Holocaust. How does she atone for that? Have they made Xena hopelessly irredeemable?
As Xena once said of Gabrielle, "You've given my life meaning and joy..." this very unique, insightful, intelligent television show had an unusually heartfelt meaning that moved and motivated so many people in so many different ways. Unfortunately, now the joy is gone and it may never, ever be reclaimed.
I think the very heart of the story was ripped out, tragically and carelessly discarded. I feel cheated.
From: Carol Creech
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2001 3:33 PM
Subject: Submission for Aug
I've been reading Whoosh for years, but somehow never got motivated to write anything. Never thought I had a unique point of view, I suppose. Well, now I do.
HER COURAGE CHANGED THE WORLD
Here's what I really thought about Friend in Need: it sucked. More detail?
Pyrotechnics: A (numerous pine trees, sets, costumes, and stuntees burned up for my entertainment and I thank you all). Costumes: B (beautiful, but so many changes it was confusing). Special Effects: A (wow, I liked the big giant head, but wasn't the frog tongue done on Ally?). Acting (principals): A. Acting (supporting): C. Casting: D (come on, Akemi with her baby little voice, a Japanese warrior with a Kiwi accent, and a villain who has no stage presence?). Makeup: B (Yodoshi's clown makeup made me laugh, but I didn't like Xena in red lipstick). Music: C (most of it sounded recycled). Editing: C (just fast enough not to barf at the headless scenes, but I think most of the story got cut). Writing: F. This was truly bad. Stick to production and marketing, Mr. Tapert and Mr. Stewart. Let me elaborate.
MOTIVATION AND PLOT (LACK OF)
1. Why should we care about the 40,000 souls who died in Higuchi approximately 36 winters ago? In a two-hour movie you'd think they could've given us some backstory and made us feel sorry for the citizens. All we saw were bad people trying to beat up Xena because she forgot to wear her sneaking-into-the-family-shrine boots and instead drew too much attention by clunking down the main street in unfamiliar Japanese sandals. What I got out of that scene was if you live in paper houses, you better have a good fire brigade!
2. Why should we care anything for Akemi? Alive Akemi was written as a scheming tease who fooled Xena twice in the past and broke her heart: "Teach me the pinch so I can use it to murder my evil father who killed the rest of the family for some reason we won't go into." And, "Slice off my head so I can be considered honorable and put my ashes into the family shrine, even though I already know no one will consider a daughter who kills her father honorable and the Huguchites will beat you up if you try. After all I know the customs here and you don't." Ghost Akemi is still presented as a scheming tease: she summons Xena 36 years later to kill Yodoshi and redeem her and the Huguchites' souls (why did she wait so long?), knowing that Xena must permanently die in order to accomplish that. But she doesn't tell Xena all the rules of the game until Xena's already a ghost and her (Akemi's) freedom is already guaranteed.
3. Why would Evil Xena honor Akemi's last wish? We don't see Evil Xena liking Akemi at all, and honoring last wishes certainly wasn't Evil Xena's style. Maybe that's why Xena had to give herself such a bad haircut and makeup job and get falling-down drunk in order to make herself deliver Akemi's ashes.
4. Why should we fear Yodoshi? How did he get to be Lord of the Darkness? Is he in cahoots with Lucifer or Dahak? Just how tormented are these souls he eats? The teahouse women don't seem too tormented. We aren't given much information to make us hate him, except to see him kill or eat up two monks and a ghost killer, whom we aren't made to care for either, and throw Xena and Akemi around. (Presumably, since they're dead, it doesn't hurt.) This guy doesn't even get any cool bad-guy lines to make us afraid.
5. Why are the three armies marching on Higuchi? We aren't told why Yodoshi musters mortal armies to fight with him. Nor are we told that Yodoshi gets the munchies every 36 years and needs another 40,000 soul food snacks. Why does he want to decimate this particular city? Again, this was a two-hour movie; why not cut some of the acrobatics, pyrotechnics, Xena-dressing, Akemi-swallowing, and Yodoshi entrances and give us some PLOT! And anyway, where is the militia that protects this city? Why are Gabrielle and the monk, who said he was not a swordsman, leading such a pitiful small band of soldiers?
6. Why set this so-called story in a place where the viewers (and this includes Japanese viewers, I hear) don't understand the mixed up and muddled cultural references? Why not set it in familiar old Greece, where longtime viewers already understand Xena's motivation to protect her homeland from ancient gods, evil warlords, and kings. If she has to die (again), why not have her give her life in battle with Ares or Alti to save Amphipolis, Poteidaia, Athens, Gabrielle, Eve or for Solan's, Cyrene's, or even her long-lost father's souls? Many past episodes had already set up the motivation for Xena to battle Ares and Alti in multiple lives. If she had to die, how fitting it would have been for her to lose her life for the GREATER GOOD to a worthy opponent! We don't even get a mean and nasty bad guy to do the deed; just a really annoying pest whose greatest joy in life is to have his head whacked off. We don't even get a name for the guy.
REDEMPTION AND CHANGING THE WORLD
This brings me to my biggest quibble with Friend in Need: that Redemption is only through Death.
The "full circle" theme that was touted for FIN held no water for me. Where have Tapert and Stewart been for the last six years? You can't just bookend the series with armor-burying in the first and last episodes and ignore what happens in the middle 130 or so episodes! Hasn't the poor warrior been redeemed by now?
We were meant to think Xena was planning on being killed when she buried her armor and sword in FIN. (Keeping the chakram was purely a plot device, so Gabrielle would end up with it, thus creating the possibility for a spin-off show). I disagree that Xena was planning suicide in Sins of the Past, when she buried her equipment. I think she was giving up her warrior ways and going home to live in peace. "Full circle" would have meant going home to live in peace after the events in FIN.
In Sins of the Past, Xena was immediately called back to being a warrior, this time for the Good. The rest of the series dealt with her coming to terms with the Way of the Warrior. She seemed to have come to terms with it. She was "a girl with a sword and chakram in your service, as long as I can quickly ascertain it's for the good." Tapert says people told him she was a war criminal and should pay for her crimes, and the series has made her pay over and over with angst, physical and mental pain, and guilt. That's what made her such an interesting Hero. Over six seasons, we got a balance of Evil Xena slicing and dicing men, women, and children with Working-on-Redemption Xena saving other men, women, and children. With some comedy and music in between. It balances out.
It did seem to me that the Hero was redeemed over and over through the power of Love. Both Lawless and O'Connor have consistently stated in interviews that the show was about Love. This theme was pounded into so many episodes, you almost thought Xena and Gabrielle were going to get married and ride off into the sunset together, to be brought back in the next life in another TV series. (Well it was wishful thinking!)
I accept that it's Tapert and Stewart's right to shoot, behead, and bump off the TV character they created. Tapert probably thinks the two-hour TV movie extravaganza was gutsy, innovative, daring, exciting, well-written, and might propel him and Lawless into another lucrative project. I also accept that Xena and Gabrielle lived dangerous lives and chances were good that one of the soulmates would predecease the other, either naturally or in battle. When I heard Xena would die in the finale, I thought "that's sad, but I can live with it because she'll come back."
But for cryin' out loud, her Courage was supposed to Change the World. How courageous is it to give up this life, where she could've done so much more good fighting evil with Gabrielle, for the "state of grace" (whatever that is) of some faceless people who died 36 years ago in an accident she caused while defending herself and some little scheming brat's ashes? So she can "meet" Akemi again in ghostland and be a ghost traveler with Gabrielle. And giving her life up to some unworthy opponent. It wasn't a worthy sacrifice if indeed she even had to sacrifice herself.
How did Xena Change the World according to Friend in Need? Let's see: no matter what we do to re-invent our lives by doing good, even though we may be redeemed by the Love of an innocent and good Soulmate, even if we bear a magical child who's the Messenger of God, even though we may be purified by Heaven itself, and even though we protect (twice) the descendants of those whose deaths we accidentally caused decades before, we are only redeemed by Death and staying Dead. This doesn't sound like Courage -- it sounds like Stupidity. I hate it when my Hero is made to look Stupid!
In the Stupidity vein, I would suggest that Ares, the Trickster, and that cute ditz Aphrodite, snuck the last three episodes into the Xena:Warrior Princess schedule. Of course, Ares invented Soul Possession because he wanted to ride a motorcycle. 'Dite threw in Many Happy Returns so she could sprinkle more pink hearts. And since he once again didn't get the girl, for spite Ares added FIN to the end. How Arean!
What if instead (as I choose to believe) the series ended with When Fates Collide? Xena's Courage Changed the World. She allowed herself to be crucified so Gabrielle could live out this life as a playwright in a vineyard by the sea, never knowing who Xena really was. When she figured out who Xena was, Gabrielle's Courage Changed the World. Literally. Now THAT'S Full Circle.
From: C.C. GEER
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2001 1:31 PM
Subject: NO- LET THEM EAT CAKE
Is it really such a mystery; that is that the finale of X-WP has caused such pain and outrage world-wide? To those who have never watched the show or just used it as a way to spend an hour a week or as background noise, this Atlantian-scale destruction in the Xenaverse must seem silly at best and borderline psychotic at worst. It is not.
I am not unstable, uneducated or psychologically unsophisticated. I had a private practice as a psychotherapist for many years. Yet I was initially shocked at my reaction to the finale. For the first few days I was a hair's breath away from tears alone or at work. For night's I surfed various sites driven to see if other's were feeling as screwed up with shock, pain and depression as I was and if so, if it was for the same reason's. I could barely read thru my tears.
From the moment I heard that the sixth season would be the last I felt an uneasiness the reasons for which I early on could not put into words. As the weeks rolled by this uneasiness grew into chronic low-level anxiety and a faint sense of depression. Sure, part of this was mourning the loss of a show that I had not only come to "love" but to which I was now deeply attached. I have only been watching the show since February. How could a mere TV show affect me so quickly and so deeply? Like many, I had first seen Xena while channel surfing and dismissed it in seconds as a "T&A" show. Then I moved into a house who's owners watched every week. For a whole year I'd walk thru the living room on Saturday evenings and wonder how they could watch that "drivel"?
Then one evening I sat down in the living room to eat dinner before going on upstairs. "Fallen Angel" was on. I was surprised. I was intrigued. I was impressed. And I was soon to become hooked/haunted. I decided to surf the net to see if there were any of what I later found out are called "screengrabs" as I wanted to study the makeup and costumes up close at my leisure. I went in search of a morsel and found an unending feast. Xenites know what's out there; the gorgeous grabs, the "devotion" sites, the incredible, INCREDIBLE fanfiction.
I realized as the finale loomed a week or two away that a picture had formed in my mind. Xena, on the left and Gabrielle on the right both seen from the back and at a distance. Gabrielle is in full color and sharply defined but Xena has all but faded to black and white, the lines of her form are blurred and she is standing higher up and further away than Gabrielle. I finally realized that my now fully formed fear was that Xena would achieve redemption but would have to die and leave Gabrielle behind. Man, sometimes being right just plain sucks!
I thought FIN1 was basically magnificent and held out hope for FIN2. After FIN2 however I felt nauseous. I left the house and sat in a convenience store parking lot for 40 minutes still queasy and shaky. I felt as if I had been run over by the proverbial Mac truck. I don't have food issues but thought ice cream might help later on. It didn't; not even chocolate.
A week has now passed and I am no longer in tears at the drop of a hat. Occasionally my throat tightens up as I read stuff on the net or think about it during the day. But in less than a week I've read that a woman at Oxygen has approached LL's and ROC's representatives concerning a TV movie. I've also heard that Tapert, Raimi, ROC and LL's lives have been threatened. Other fans have threatened suicide. The threats,of course, have been made by some very unbalanced fans. But everything taken into account folks- What is Tartarus is going on here??? Nothing that hasn't happened before. Bear with me while I explain. (Archetype- (in Jungian Psychology) an inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image,etc. universally present in individual psyches.)
Four years ago another beautiful young princess died. She died in a horrible car crash in France. The world was grief-stricken. The world mourned. The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote concerning the death of the Princess of Whales.
'So a privileged former-royal of a country my country fought for independence a couple of hundred years ago died in a drunken car crash in a country whose language I struggled for three years to learn in high school thirty years ago. So what? What was/IS it about Diana???
The answer to that question depends upon the level at which the question is being asked. At the most superficial level, the level of infantile tabloid sentimentality the answer is that she was a most beautiful princess who, contrary to the fairy tales, did not live happily ever after and had the bad fortune to die in a most unromantic and awful manner. On the personal level, many of us (mostly women) relate to her and thus feel a kinship with her as a woman betrayed by her significant other, or her life as a single mother, or her neurotic dysfunctional responses to a broken marriage and for lack of a better word "difficult" in-laws or her beginning to come into herself; her power and place in her last days. You know the list. It was repeated in all those same articles and news/talk shows we watched. Then there is the answer at the human-to-human level; the simple grieving of one who is responding to Diana's obvious loving and caring towards others. But then there is the answer at the level of archetype. It is at this level that I believe we find the real answer to the so-called hysteria, the global grief...She was the human incarnation of so many archetypes, so many mythical figures: the young virgin, the madonna with child, the consort, the lost princess, the fallen queen, the good mother, the betrayed lover, the whore, to some extent the savior/goddess/fairy godmother and, of course, the sacrificial lamb. I'm sure others will come to me as the days and years go on. For Diana's's archetypal life and death has emerged into my conscious mind. And if Carl Jung was right the level of archetype is a product of racial memory and is,therefore, genetic. Those who would canonize her are seen by many as misguided and pathetic. At one level they are. But at a higher level, the level of myth, they are right on the money. Inherent in our dreams is our becoming; our potential as a race which one day may be realized IF we don't commit suicide first. The dream of Camelot did not begin with Arthur. The dream of the Christ did not begin with the Nazerene.
When viewed in this way this very global and very personal grief is really quite understandable. We as a race have been grieving for Diana since time immemorial. Yes, the loss of Mother Teresa is a loss, a global one. But it is a "simple" loss. Diana's loss is anything but simple. Which do you consider to be closer to your true essence- your stomach or your DNA, your body or your dreams??? Mother Teresa represented hope at the level of our earthly existence. Symbolically she was one of the "powerless" reaching out to the poor and meek; like, if you will, reaching out to like.
But Diana represented deity/royalty descending into our mundane existence- the sacred coming down into and sanctifying our "profane" lives. And this she did willingly, joyously and almost with a vengeance. Mother Teresa lived a full life and completed her work. Diana will always BE an incomplete work. We grieve as much if not more for what she would have become. As magnificent as her life and works were few of us will be "haunted" by Mother Teresa. How many of us will be haunted, are already haunted, by Diana? Thus you have a very familiar tune; one that has haunted the human race since it could think and feel in symbols. Diana represented hope in the realm of our race's potential/dream existence; that which is beyond, at this point, our earthly existence. Yes one can survive with only physical sustenance. But it is survival only. And who among us, given the choice in the long run would be content without, would be able to thrive without- dreams?
Therefore our so-called surprising reactions to her death ARE appropriate, ARE normal, ARE healthy and understandable. For we are an infantile and deeply dark race crying out in that darkness. We are a race that calls itself human but has yet to decide if it is HU-man. We have yet to decide if the opposite sex is really human, if the other sexual orientation is really human, if the other race is really human, if the people of the other religion are really human, if the other nation is really human; and to act righteously in that decision. Therefore, we go fetal, denying that we are enveloped in darkness at all and secretly pray that someone will come stay by us, turn on the nightlight, stroke our forehead and tell us that the monsters aren't real and that we've really been safe all along.'
Today the Xenaverse is grief stricken. Today the Xenaverse mourns. And the reasons should now be becoming obvious. X-WP at the most superficial level was a fun show with two gorgeous women and it is sad that it ended. At a deeper level we feel for Xena and Gabrielle at a simple human level; for their loss and separation. But it is again at the level if archetype that we can come to grips with the real cause of all this pain, angst and uproar. TPTB may never have thought in these terms at all. (I would surely like to believe that that's the case.) But they went to the core of our psyche as a race, tampered with it in a most disturbing way; they cut too close to the archetypal bone.
For we are still a dark and infantile race crying out in that same darkness. After pure physical survival what is it that we need? Love. We die literally or figuratively without it. Even kittens in an actual experiment died without touch; that is without being loved. Alive or dead, it has been repeatedly said, it would have been "OK" IF Xe and Gab were together. But to kill one off and leave the other leaves US alone in the dark. Even more than death I think that we as a race fear separation from love and from our loved ones. For those of us who came to care so deeply about the Warrior Princess and the (now) Warrior Bard (in the classic archetype the Poet Warrior) the ending was not entertainment. It was a nightmare!
If it is a matter of maturity to feel that our loved ones are with us "in spirit" and that that is good enough then this human and I suspect most of humanity still has a long way to go. And as has been stated in fan fiction "Reincarnation just ain't good enough." We need love here, now and in the present simply and precisely because that is where we as individuals and an a race- are.
The Princess of Whales was a princess of the light. The Warrior Princess was a dark princess moving into the light. She was also the classic Greek hero, the dark-haired page of the Tarot, the "mother" of the Messenger of the Gods (Gabrielle) as well as the mother of the messenger of the One God (Eve). One may also look upon her as a dark Christ (no NOT the Antichrist). And our dear Gabrielle is the wandering story-teller, Joan of Arc/ the pure knight, the young maiden, the fair-haired page, the Messenger of the Gods and the Poet Warrior. Together they form, the issue of subtext aside, the basis of all life; the Lovers. Take that away and what do we have left? What hope is there for them or for any of us? I am disappointed and puzzled when I hear that Lucy can't relate to the depths to which the fans have taken their attachments. Or that Robert says that yes the finale will be "sad" but for the "right" reasons. His intentions were almost undoubtedly good. But I can't help but perceive a very cavalier underlying attitude; almost an attitude of "let them eat cake." What- reality isn't full enough of loss and separation? We have to suffer it in our beloved Xena fantasy too??? I just can't believe that Robert et al are that psychologically unsophisticated. So I say no- YOU eat cake.
I strongly recommend fanfiction as a way to heal. Tapert and Co. don't own Xena any more. On an archetypal level they never did. Xena and Gabrielle are OURS and always have been.
By the way, I strongly dislike the word "fan." It reminds me of some beer guzzling idiot at a baseball game. We may have been "fans" but it in now time to become "keepers"; keepers and protectors of that which we will heal. We don't have to be left with "The Ghost and Mrs. Xena" as I read in one board message or left with an image of Gabrielle alone on a junk "babbling to a pot of ashes."
For a wonderful alt story about their beginning I strongly recommend "Xena of Gaul" by "Xena's Little B*tch" (www.xenafiction.net/scrolls/xenas_little_bitch_xog.hts). And for a great wrap up of the entire series a la "When Fates Collide" read "The Empress and the Playwright" by the same author. (www.ausxip.com/fanfiction14/empressandplaywright.html).
So come on all you keeper/bards, fanfiction sites and image sites- PLEASE stick around and do so for a very long time. There are many of people out here counting on you!!! Hey, how about a site devoted solely to revisionist "end" stories? Gods Bless...
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