I've been a follower of the Hercules/Xenaverse since January 1997. This is the first time I've written to a website to express my views. I'm not saying this to get my letter published, but Whoosh! is the only fan-run Xena site that I've ever read regularly, as I am impressed with the scholarly content and wealth of information. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.
6/23/01, 8-10pm, watching FIN 1 & 2 with sword replica in hand. The last 10 minutes of the episode have me leaning forward in my chair, saying hurry, hurry.² My heart sinks at the final shots. I cant believe it. My eyes start filling with tears. I wasn't sure if I was going to cry but I do. A lot. I try to start to form an opinion other than I'm in shock. The first thoughts I have are Xena's redemption and Gabrielle's learning to be a warrior themes are completed. I'm having trouble accepting the WAY Xena died and WHY. The first thing that came to mind to try to justify what happened to our heroines is that sometimes bad things happen to good people.² RenPics made a choice to do a daring, dramatic ground-breaking ending. I think almost every fan would have wanted a happy ending. Or at least something more positive than killing off the main character! So many people are disappointed. But sometimes you don't get what you want. We got the ending *they* wanted to do, for whatever behind-the-scenes reasons.
Three weeks later, and I'm still undecided on whether I accept or reject the final two episodes. I've changed my mind on this finale so many times my brain has whiplash! First I think it was a horrible ending and it deserves all the criticism it's gotten, and then two seconds later I think it was a suitable conclusion that wrapped up some themes from the very beginning and was as bold and unique as other episodes like The Bitter Suite.² I don't usually get to read much on the internet (don't have enough time in the day), but I have read a lot of the Studios USA Netforum and Whoosh! site for grief relief these past three weeks. It's been a great help to sort out my emotions by reading the comments of other Xenites. My thanks to the fellow fans on Studios USA and Whoosh! for making me think and consider other opinions, for making me laugh to relieve some of the pain, and for helping me try to understand this finale and try to find peace in my Xena fandom.
I've been amazed that I've been so worked up over a TV show: this isn't real life where a bad thing happened to a real person in my life. It's fiction!! But for a week after watching the finale I really felt like a real person had died. I didn't think I was such a fangirl that 3 weeks later I'm still upset and depressed and angry at 90 minutes of TV drama!!!! I know from reading other peoples letters that others have suffered this finale and have had passionate reactions. But maybe, that's what great or powerful art is: to incite such emotions in people?? By that I mean the entire series, not only the finale. X:WP meant so much to so many people that it was *more* than merely a TV show, more than fiction for the millions of HCNBs who looked forward to seeing X and G every week. I know that both H:TLJ and X:WP have been an inspiration to me.
As soon as Akemi's ghost said "you have been redeemed". I knew that Xena was going to stay dead. It reminded me of a comment I remember reading somewhere, or maybe it was in a blooper reel, that as soon as Xena finds peace/redemption the series is over. More accurately it is when *she* feels like she has redeemed herself; if you don't forgive yourself it doesn't really matter if other people tell you that you have been forgiven.
The sacrifice for something that Xena was not directly responsible for is even *more* heroic than if she died to atone for all of her war crimes. Her sacrifice for the 40,000 innocent souls was the most heroic, selfless thing she ever did. There was no reward in it for her, only that it was the right thing to do. I will venture that a more total sacrifice would have been if Xena had been denied future contact with the living world, but the series has set up too many precedents for extra-spiritual existence to deny Xena a ghostly presence.
The outlandish and sometimes contradictory rules of the various afterlifes/mythologies that we have seen over six years can finally twist around to work *against* our heroines. The rules of Illusia healed The Rift; the rules of a quasi-Christian afterlife allowed the return X and G from the dead at the beginning of season 5; and the rules of Tartarus have allowed numerous visits. So finally the afterlife of Japa comes up with some crazy rule about the requirement for the souls to enter "a state of grace" by being "avenged"!?! What a poor reason; as much as I can excuse/accept other elements in FIN, that moment is just a poor choice, poorly written. I totally agree with everyone about the contrived surprise plot twist; that seemed like a cheat to have been sprung on everyone in the last five minutes. Our suspension of disbelief has been often stretched to the limit throughout this series, so it's almost to be expected that a far-fetched supernatural plot element would figure prominently in the final episode. On a logical level, is having to stay dead to save the souls any more unbelievable as Callisto being immaculately conceived/reincarnated as Eve? We hate *this* crazy plot because it is the series finale, and works to prevent our heroines from having a traditional happy ending.
I have read many comments on the increase of brutality and violence throughout the series, culminating in the events of FIN. I'd like to propose that maybe the reasons the obstacles and violence increased was because our heroines always overcome every obstacle. Perhaps TPTB felt they needed to raise the stakes in order to sufficiently challenge X and G in later seasons; to keep the show dramatic and interesting. Even at the end of FIN, you can interpret X and G as transcending the tragedies to continue on in life and (after-life).
It's certainly true that death is always in quote marks in the Xenaverse; seasons three and four both ended with apparent deaths.² But the problem with this being a SERIES finale, is that we have to pin our hopes on rumors of a TV or theatrical movie to fix this ending. And I really don't think it's gonna happen. They are selling every material asset from the the show on Yahoo and on eBay, for crying out loud! I think that is an harbinger of finality. I would love to see more of these characters, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. *sigh*
I am a Hercules fan too, and even though "Full Circle" ended with what you might call a corny happy ending, at least I can imagine that my heroes are still out there in their mythic world, still having adventures. Right now it's hard to imagine Gabrielle as the girl with a chakram,² a pot of funereal ash, and Xena's ghost traveling to Egypt. *sigh* again.
I have been reading a book on mythology, and so many of them end unhappily, with sadness and death, so maybe this is the most realistic mythological episode of the entire series! In the classic mythic journey pattern, a hero heeds the call to adventure,² meets a wise guide who teaches him/her, but then later loses his/her mentor and continues on the journey alone, going through trials, eventually attaining the goal of the journey. This journey pattern is closely followed by Luke Skywalker, who gains and loses TWO mentors (old Ben Kenobi and Yoda). Starting from stake me with you, teach me everything you know in SOTP, Gabrielle has fulfilled this journey pattern, even unfortunately losing her mentor. FIN was trying very hard to set up that Gab had learned everything,² so that the mentor was able to leave now that the teaching was done, even leaving behind a magical instrument (the chakram) to continue on the journey. And as Ben Kenobi could converse with Luke periodically throughout the Star Wars saga, the mentor's death does not mean the end of contact. If you believe that Gabrielle could see the ghost of Ephiny in the episode The Last of the Centaurs,² then you have to believe that Xena's ghost is real,² and not Gabrielle talking to herself.
What was the plot behind this plot?² Will we ever know the whole reason why the series ended this way? Probably not. I would love it if some interview with TPTB details their reasoning, but this finale has caused such a backlash that spin doctoring is expected. Could the selling of the rights of the series from Universal to Studios USA have been a factor? Did RenPics say: "If I cant have control over the property, then no one will, because I'm going to kill off the character.² One can draw parallels to real life from the internal reality of the show: Inside the show: going out in a blaze of glory, by the sword, for the greater good. Outside the show: going out in a blaze (of publicity and public outrage) by creating a daring, bold choice, breaking boundaries as this show had done for six years. Inside the show: the final sacrifice of the hero's life. Outside the show: Killing the main character is certainly a definite ending to a series! Inside the show: Gabrielle loses Xena, to see her only as a ghost. Outside the show: we lose X:WP the show, to see it only as reruns.
Even with trying to intellectually figure out the producers' intentions with this finale, emotionally it really wrecked me! I don't know if I'll ever have to watch FIN 1 & 2 again, as almost every scene had burned into my brain on one viewing. I hope to recover my fandom to the level it was before the finale aired. I personally have spent thousands of dollars on going to conventions, autographs, some of the replica props, press kits, posters, toys, t-shirts, etc., etc., etc. After seeing the finale, I could barely even look at my collection for a whole week. I honestly was afraid that the finale would kill my love and admiration for the characters, the previous 132 episodes, and for the collection I had spent so much time and money on. Even looking at the posters and autographed photos on my wall made me heartsick. Will I ever be able to enjoy the previous 132 episodes the way I used to, knowing this is how it ends up??? After spending countless hours enjoying this hobby, is that going to be all wiped away by this ending?? I'm still waiting for my heart and my brain to tell me the answer.
It will be very interesting to see if Xena fandom goes downhill very quickly now. Most shows will lose fans once they go off the air, but I hope people won't get completely turned off of the Herca/Xenaverse due to this ending. Having this finale ruin Xena fandom for HCNBs, casual fans and even for the general public would be a real tragedy. I'm sure that many people who never watched the show before watched the final two eps because of all the publicity, and they are going to come away with a negative opinion of the entire series based on FIN: that was what all the fuss was about for six years? Blood and gore and a stupid 11th hour plot twist to keep the character dead at the end?² I cant see anyone *becoming* a X:WP fan from watching the finale. I am saddened that the show might be remembered as the finale that beheaded the title character and caused fans to abandon the series. The Show that Killed its Own Fandom.² The show should be remembered for all of its positive accomplishments. What a tragedy that this atypical, unique episode (i.e., Xena does NOT return from the dead, she and Gabrielle are separated), is the lasting image presented to the world. I hope that Xena fandom can recover from this, once everyone works through the stages of grief, anger, acceptance. I am curious about the next convention that I will attend: will attendance go down? how long will some fans be angry? will any new merchandise be made? will prices for things on eBay plummet and our collections be worth nothing? will there even be a fan base in the future? Those would be extreme results, so I am hope I am wrong about that and all of us who are disappointed will recover our fandom in time. I hope all of us in the Herca/Xenaverse will be able to Battle On!²
"Laura Sue will be going into partial retirement here in her column. Honestly, darlings, with the show over, the Xena News, Gossip, and Rumors have dried up a tad too much to keep Laura Sue cranking out regular reports."
Oh now, this is just the worst! Can group therapy heal this loss? First Gabby's left with a little X pot and now no Laura Sue. Will the torture of XWP never end? I think not.
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