Whoosh! Issue 60 - September 2001

By Jan Vaughan
Group Therapy Project
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
2128 words

Introduction (01-03)
The Grief (04-07)
The Anger (08-10)
The Rational Mind (11-17)
Full Circle (17)



[01] I watched the first part of FRIEND IN NEED and missed the conversation between Xena and the ghost killer where he said he could not kill Yodoshi because he was mortal, only someone dead could kill him. The significance of that conversation made the scene where Xena teaches Gabrielle the pinch even more powerful, beautiful, and touching than it already was. As I waited for the next weekend and the finale, reports began coming in on the Xena list to which I belong. Xena was beheaded and left dead and Gabrielle was now traveling alone. I was floored.

[02] I had two opportunities (Saturday and Sunday) to watch the two parts back to back. I found I could not bring myself to watch the finale on Saturday. I simply did not want the image of Xena dying indelibly burned into my memory banks. On Saturday I watched Part One again, this time with the complete knowledge that Xena was teaching Gabrielle the pinch as a way of leaving her soul mate with all of her knowledge. She then sent Gabrielle into the mist so that she, Xena, could go off to die. I was sobbing all through the pinch scene that would turn out to be the last time they would speak while Xena was alive.

[03] I watched Xena bury her breastplate and sword and turned off the TV leaving a tape in. I turned the TV back on for the last five minutes to be sure I missed Xena being killed. I saw the scene between Xena and Gabrielle on the mountain and then Gabrielle on the boat. I cried for the rest of the day, my stomach in knots. I knew in my heart that this was it, the last Xena episode. There would be no more. Until I saw Part II myself, I would not be able to grieve and then move on. With an immense amount of sorrow, I watched the two parts together on Sunday. My feelings about the finale are not neatly divided into the following categories but is will make it easier for me to express.

The Grief

[04] Why am I so devastated by the death of Xena and by the image of Gabrielle alone on the boat at the end? What was it about the show that has caused me to care to the extent that I care and react with the amount of emotion that I have? It has been suggested that the grief is akin to what one feels at the loss of a family member or dearest loved one. This is true for me.

[05] Why? For the past six years, Xena: Warrior Princess fans have been invited into an ongoing relationship between two women, Gabrielle and Xena. We have watched each character and the relationship evolve into the deepest of love and respect between two people. This was expressed and dealt with through silliness, tragedy, comedy, and drama in ways that have never really been done on a TV show before. Some of us became emotionally involved with Xena and Gabrielle. We cared about what happened to them. What became so apparent to me as I observed myself grieving was that, Xena and Gabrielle were living examples of how two people Behave when they Love each other Unconditionally. What a lesson for us in real life!

[06] One of many examples of this for me was in THE BITTER SUITE. Xena's son, Solan, had been killed at the hands of Gabrielle's daughter, Hope, for whom Gabrielle had lied to Xena in order to protect. In the real world, that would certainly have fallen under the category of Irreconcilable Differences. I have had friendships permanently end over less. Xena and Gabrielle were sent to the Land of Illusia and they were not getting out of there until they worked it out. The sheer magnitude of these two finding forgiveness for each other opened up in me the greatest of desires that we folks in the real world could have similar second chances.

[07] Xena: Warrior Princess absolutely abounded with meaningful moments of this kind that touched the heart and soul and gave us an example of a near-perfect loving relationship. To the eternal credit of the two actors, we believed this to be true; that they loved each other unconditionally and this is what unconditional love looked like. The knowledge and the image of this relationship enduring despite and because of its joys and hardships became something upon which we could depend. Therefore, to have as our final memory of these amazing women, that one dies and the other goes on without her, does no more and no less than break my heart. Bittersweet endings have never been among my favorites but this ending was so much more bitter than sweet to me. The romantic in me wanted to believe that Xena and Gabrielle had more time together in the lifetime (the time of ancient gods, warlords, and kings) that we had been so very privileged to witness for the past six years.

The Anger

[08] There is decidedly less anger in me than there is grief but some anger (not rage) is there, nevertheless. When the Powers That Be started Xena, they were going to run it for one season and see how it went. The fans made it so that Xena survived that first season and lived on through six. As one who was a fan from the first season on, I feel as though I have been punched in the gut. Rob Tapert said that he knew that fans would react this way. I can only assume he was speaking about fans being upset, angry, distraught, and/or grieved. That left me wondering why did they end Xena this way? Do they Really think that killing Xena and leaving her dead was the best artistic expression of how to end the show?

[09] It feels to me that this ending was done more for shock value than anything else. If they were simply going for the shock factor and the concomitant visceral reaction, I believe this belittles much of what Xena had been to the fans over the series' run. If Tapert et al truly felt that how they ended the series was the best, most artistic way to end the tale of this glorious woman and her soul mate, I disagree. Having Xena commit suicide and then Choose to stay dead did not work for me as a full-circle redemption for this character.

[10] The message of Xena: Warrior Princess for six years had always been redemption through love and forgiveness. The message garnered from this ending said that the redemption for Xena was attained through providing vengeance to those 40,000 souls. Therefore, in the end it is vengeance, not love and forgiveness that we are left with as Xena's way to redemption. This way of ending the show does not resonate in concordance with the message of the show over the past six years. For that and other reasons, I believe it was a poor choice for the ending.

The Rational Mind

[11] Do I not have that proverbial "life" that folks may be muttering under their breaths that I should get? The answer to this is I do have a life, thankyouverymuch. In what ways have I allowed myself to live vicariously through the characters on Xena: Warrior Princess over the past 6 years? In what ways have I procrastinated finding that unconditional love of which I so fondly speak? Well, I am not telling you. You're a bunch of strangers!

[12] A movie is not something that would ease the sadness I feel. I understand that a movie is not in the works and I am not asking one to be made now. The only way that a movie would be worth it for me is if Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor played Xena and Gabrielle. Those actors made those characters who they are. If a movie is to come, do it soon enough so that Lucy is not in her 50s and in need of more than a brass-plated push-up bra!

[13] I own seasons 1 through 5 on video. Some of the episodes I never pop into the VCR because I did not like them. Other episodes I want to watch repeatedly. Regardless of this, I doubt I will ever be able to watch videos of Xena with the same innocent joy that I once had for the show. The memory of how The Powers That Be chose to end the series will dampen the comedies and make the dramatic and tragic episodes decidedly more sad to watch.

[14] For this reason, I feel vaguely ripped off. The joy of Xena has been taken from me. So what? The show is over. This is how it ended and how I feel about it does not change a thing. It has been suggested that the fans turn to fan fiction to see where others take this ending. As for myself, I never read fan fiction before (apologies to Missy Good and others) so why would I start now? Furthermore, fan fiction, except for Missy Good's two episodes, are not the official version of the show and certainly not the official version of how it ultimately ended. The official version is done and we are left with our individual reactions to it.

[15] Some fans are indeed content and satisfied with the ending. However, quite a few of the folks who expressed this sentiment also wrote that they would not have ended it this way. Others are as distraught and sad as I am. Others are angry. This shows us Xena: Warrior Princess touched fans on so many different levels that it is truly amazing.

[16] While we are on the subject of fan fiction, let this fan address the issue of the character of Xena coming full circle in Part II. In my opinion, Xena had redeemed herself by these two acts: (1) She allowed herself to be killed Before she knew about the possibility of taking her ashes to those waters and restoring her life. She had already made the ultimate sacrifice for those 40,000 souls. (2) She then freed those souls by killing Yodoshi. That, to me, was all the redemption that she needed. All The Powers That Be had to do was take the episode up to that point exactly as it was. Now for the final five minutes, imagine that the writers made it so Xena did not have to stay dead for those souls. Imagine that the story line said that only a Pure Soul that truly loves itself could be restored in the waters at the end of FRIEND IN NEED. Xena would have had to ask for some serious help from Gabrielle and perhaps Akemi in order to find the kind of forgiveness that she had NEVER given to herself at any other time during the show. With the sun going down Xena would need Gabrielle to be her teacher one more time to help her find forgiveness and love within herself and for herself. I can picture the conversation where Xena asks, perhaps begs Gabrielle to help show her how to forgive herself. There would, of course, be no dearth of words and reasons coming from Gabrielle in order to help Xena do this before the sun is gone. Once Xena had truly forgiven herself, Gabrielle lowers her ashes into the waters. We have special effects beginning with gold light within the pot. This light swirls out of the pot and into Gabrielle's hands, up her arms, into and through her body, finally coming out the other side as Xena in the flesh.

[17] Given that this episode appeared to show so much more growth and change for Gabrielle's character, having Xena have to forgive herself in order to be restored would have allowed for her character to exhibit a similar amount of change as that of her soul mate. In this way Xena would have shown that she learned as much from Gabrielle about self-love and self-forgiveness as Gabrielle learned about being a warrior. It would have also shown that it was Xena as well as Gabrielle who had grown, changed, and learned from their relationship over the last six years. Only upon giving herself this true freedom from her guilt could her ashes be restored to flesh. Forgiving oneself and staying alive to continue doing what is right is a much more congruent vision of Xena's true redemption than her deciding to stay dead.

Full Circle

[18] This would have brought the character of Xena full circle and made for powerful dialogue for the sailing off into the sunset scene. I, personally, would not have been up crying the past few nights.


Jan Vaughan Jan Vaughan

My name is Jan Vaughan. I have a Masters degree in Social Work and am a clinical counselor in substance abuse. I am a 46-year-old, young-minded lesbian. I have been a fan of mythology, Science Fiction and Fantasy all my life. This began with Conan and Thor comic books, continued through The Avengers and all the Star Treks, and remains my favorite genre via Xena, Buffy and similar shows. My liking of Xena began with thinking that she was like a female Conan. However, my adoration quickly grew to encompass an affinity with the subtext, the comedy, the drama, and especially the development of the relationship between the two main characters. Although I do not consider myself a writer, I have had humble achievements with writing. I have had short stories published in lesbian magazines. Academic papers that I have co-authored on Lesbian Battering and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been accepted for publication in two books. Now that Xena is over, I have been thinking of beginning to read fan fiction and writing some of my own.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT
Favorite line: Subtext: Gabrielle: "Xena, Come on. I just need relief." IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL; Gabrielle: "No. You promise me, if something happens to me you will not become a monster." CALLISTO
First episode seen: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS

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