PROS, CONS, AND EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN (30-43)
FIN I opens with a peaceful campfire scene.
 Why have I taken the heart-stopping finale of Xena: Warrior Princess in a positive way? One must look into the eye of the beholder. I first found Xena a little over a year ago in my junior year of high school while channel surfing. I was immediately taken by the show, a female hero with her girlfriend sidekick kicking evil's *ss. It was the perfect formula for a girl who grew up loving She-Ra. With the help of reruns and the Internet, I caught up on what I had missed. Soon, I too would become a true Xena fan: always thinking of what would happen to the Dynamic Duo next in the middle of English class and imagining the capabilities Xena would possess in the world of girls' varsity sports. I was fortunate to catch such an awesome television program while I was experiencing the most important transition in my life, becoming an adult.
 After consecutively viewing both parts of the finale, I was saddened and heartbroken. Yet, before allowing any irrational, impulsive thoughts to take over my head, I paused. I grabbed paper and pencil and proceeded to write down the pros and cons of Xena's last hurrah. Before I decided what I thought about how it ended, I wanted to weigh the good and the bad. I focused on the ending and the results of it. When I finished, I took a quick glance at the paper. I will not deny that cons were present. There were definitely bad points. However, it was very clear that the pros far outweighed the cons. I will discuss the ending later, though. First things first.
 I will start with a light-humored play-by-play commentary, discussing my thoughts concerning the events of both parts of the finale.
 It begins with a comforting nighttime talk below the stars. I shall miss that. I did not quite understand what Xena meant by asking Gabrielle if they were just going to "wander around Greece" and "look for trouble" the rest of their lives. If I were in Gabrielle's shoes, my response would have been simple, "Uhhh...yeah! Duh!" I mean, what was that? Did a mid-life crisis suddenly strike Xena? What if they would go south? The way I see it is, if the "Land of the Pharaohs" is looking for "a girl with a chakram", then that girl with the chakram would just wander around the South looking for trouble. Maybe it is just me. Enter the man who spoils the slumber party.
 Roll the footage of the super-sized teahouse. From what I remember in my four years of Japanese in high school, traditional teahouses are rather small. Akemi attempted to seduce the messenger monk by showing some shoulder. He ignored it, since he is the "good" monk. I wonder if when you opened a porn centerfold in ancient Japan, you would get a big, bare...shoulder. Meanwhile, the "bad" monk was giving in to temptation. With the shake of a foot, Yodoshi barged in on his pool party and sucked his soul up faster than you can turn on a Dirt Devil. Akemi got the good monk the h*ll out of Dodge and told him about the Lord of the Rings...I mean Darkland...and about his soul-snatching evil plans. Akemi told the honorable monk to find not a samurai, not a priest, not a god, but a warrior princess. It is great when they call her that. Nicknames never die.
 The idea of Xena and Gabrielle's trip to Japan was a good one. Ancient Japan is both an important place and an important culture for it to be ignored. As they say in the promos, Battle On!
 There you have it, Xena and Gabrielle won an all expense paid trip to Japa...n. Xena is sunbathing in her matching tube-top and bikini bottoms. Gabrielle is getting a lecture on Samurai and their honor. She asks about Akemi, and he replies that she is a beautiful ghost. Meanwhile, Xena just cannot remember what she meant to do the other day and every day for the past few years. Think, Xena, think. "Oh yeah! I forgot to tell Gabrielle some dark secret about my past...no, not that one...no, I'm saving that one... I know, my adventures in Japan! You know, I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached!" No pun intended...well, maybe not.
 Xena tells Gabrielle about how she met Akemi and her time spent with her. Akemi is eager for Xena to teach her. While in the woods, Akemi teaches her about the Kami. Yet, another lesson learned from my high school Japanese class. Akemi writes a little love poem for Xena. The Warrior Princess has a thing for poets. Poets have a thing for the Warrior Princess. Back to the story. One thing leads to another and Xena is now after the Great Katana. That was the weapon of choice for Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Of course, Xena thwarts off the samurai sword smiths with ease and gains possession of the legendary sword.
 Next to a warm fire on an obviously chilly night, Akemi jots down another poem for Xena. Xena explains that she is only in it for the dinars. Akemi insists she has other reasons. That is when Xena heard, through help of the Kami, Akemi's heart beating faster than normal. I bet Gabrielle was getting a little nervous at that point in the story. Akemi tells Xena that although she does not speak of love, she gave Akemi the greatest gift a teacher can give her student, saving her life. Then comes the sales pitch, all that talk of love just lured Xena in for the kill. Akemi wants to learn the pinch. Of course, at this point in the story, Gabrielle is thinking "Yeah, right. Nice try, kid." That is it. Gabrielle is all fired up.
 Due to warlike situations, Xena and Gabrielle decide to take a swim to Higuchi. This leads up to some cool moves by the both of them, with Xena depending on Gabrielle to know what to do. That is what I do not understand. By observing Xena's encouragement of Gabrielle to save Higuchi for the day, one concludes that Xena already knows she has to die and that she is getting a jump-start on teaching Gabrielle. Asking for Gabrielle's opinion in such an action packed environment is not Xena's style. I thought that Xena did not learn of her obligation to die until her talk with the Ghost Killer, Harukata.
 After the mispronounced town is saved, Gabrielle remains persistent in her line of questioning about the pinch. She is feeling one-upped by Akemi. Xena explains how Akemi wigged out and used the pinch on her father, Yodoshi. Akemi tried to make Xena understand that he had to die for what he did to Akemi's relatives. Xena, being the gold-digger that she was, complains about the unpaid ransom. Show me the money! Akemi, knowing what she has to do to keep her honor, asks Xena to kill her with dignity by slicing off her head and then take her ashes to her family shrine in Higuchi. Akemi also manages to whisper out one last love poem. Gabrielle is probably thinking there is no way she can out do Akemi now. Seriously, I do not know what to make of Akemi. I do think she loved Xena, but more as a guide to help her to fulfill her duty than as more than a friend.
 Enter Harukata. That is when he points the finger at Xena for killing 40,000 people in Higuchi. Xena explains what happened with Akemi's ashes. Xena of the past is wandering around Higuchi being attacked by angry residents. A traditional Japanese hairdo on Xena looks about as natural as the same hairdo looked on Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz. Remember that one? That was a riot. Anyways, Akemi's ashes spilled, and a p*ss*d off Xena did that alcohol spit of fire thing, one of her many skills. Because of her red-hot raspberry, the town of Higuchi caught fire, killing 40,000 of perturbed Harukata's townsfolk. Yes, Xena it is possible. Fire is bad, fire spreads, and fire kills. Should not be a new concept, honey. The good monk explained how Yodoshi became the "Eater of Souls", and that the 40,000 souls of those who died in the fire are now enslaved inside Yodoshi. This is what I do not understand. If Yodoshi thrives on the souls of the immoral, does that mean all 40,000 residents of Higuchi were immoral?
 Xena insists that she must put things right. I am going to have to agree with Gabrielle on this one, though. It was an accident. Who would not spit fire at people who were trying to stop them from putting the ashes of their friend, who they killed, who expressed her love for them, where they belong? Golly, I know I sure would. Honestly, the whole shebang was Akemi's fault, not Xena's. Then again, if Xena had not been greedy and picked up Akemi in the first place...let us not dwell on that. It hurts my head.
 Gabrielle's first lesson was the Kami. Xena is teaching Gabrielle how to hear what is behind the sounds. Xena tells Gabrielle that at least three armies are gathering, so Gabrielle leaves to warn the others. Harukata steps in, and Xena expresses her guilt for what she is done. Harukata tells Xena that he can kill Yodoshi, but he cannot get close enough to him without the help of a ghost. Xena's light bulb turns on and she realizes what Harukata was hinting around to. She has to die. She prays to Akemi, and lets her know that she is afraid that her death will be final.
 Gabrielle walks in, unknowing of what is about to happen. A saddened Xena asks her to sit down. Xena begins teaching Gabrielle the pinch, but Gabrielle argues that Xena does not have to. Xena tells Gabrielle that she wants Gabrielle to know everything that she knows. Gabrielle asks, "Why are you doing this?" and Xena indirectly replies "Gabrielle, if I only had thirty seconds to live, this is how I'd want to live them -- looking into your eyes." What a memorable Xena quote. Xena then adds, "Always remember I love you." Gabrielle is confused and Xena is hiding her plan. FRIEND IN NEED I ended with Xena's last mortal sight of Gabrielle as she walked off into the distance. Xena's goodbye words to Gabrielle were not what I thought they would be. Yes, she said those wonderful quotes and all, but I could not help but feel sorry for the fact that Gabrielle was left totally in the dark. It is not like Xena has not done that before. However, I also understand that Xena did not want Gabrielle to worry about her or try to stop her.
Xena buries her armour in a scene reminischent of the first episode SINS OF THE PAST.
 The final episode begins with Xena burying her sword and usual armor. I find it odd that the last time she did that, Xena was just about to meet her soul mate, Gabrielle, for the first time. Now, Xena is burying them after she has seen Gabrielle through mortal eyes for the very last time. Gabrielle's mind is suddenly flooded with memories of Xena. I am not sure if she realized what Xena was up to, but I think she sensed that Xena was about to be in deep trouble.
 Xena throws her chakram and initiates a bomb-like explosion that destroys enemy soldiers, but we all know that was not enough. Xena starts firing arrows like it was as easy as spitting fire. This is when the attack on Xena begins. These scenes are very disturbing. Xena eventually is pelted with arrow after arrow. She has one final blast of strength as she slays about twenty or so enemies. Then images of Gabrielle race through her mind and she shouts her name. A memory of staring into Gabrielle's eyes flashes thirty seconds before the blade of a samurai beheads Xena. This scene simply made my heart drop. It is what she meant to do, but having seen Xena fight through so many battles, it was very difficult to see her give up.
 Gabrielle finds Xena's bloody chakram, and, like Gabrielle always does, she remains hopeful that Xena is alive. At the same time, Xena is reunited with Akemi in the teahouse. Gabrielle even tries to convince the good monk that Xena is alive. Akemi's back to her obsessive habit of writing love poems now that Xena is with her. Yodoshi crashes into the teahouse and attempts to teach Xena humility. Xena discusses the plans with Akemi, and decides to let the "bad" ghost follow her. Gabrielle is zealously searching for Xena and surprisingly runs into her, clean and red-robed and all. Xena's cover is blown when she cannot hold the chakram. Gabrielle was completely shocked and dismayed by Xena's ghostly form. She probably felt betrayed, too. I am sure she figured out that Xena died on purpose without telling her. Gabrielle seems completely heartbroken.
 Gabrielle knew Xena let it happen, so Xena tried to convince her that it was the right thing to do to save them both. Xena reassures her by saying, "We've overcome death before." I guess that means that Xena did not yet know that in order to save the souls, she must remain dead. She probably thought it was another opportunity to experience the other side, then come back to the mortal world when she was finished doing her thang. Gabrielle gives Xena an understanding hug and tells her "You're my whole life, Xena. I won't lose you." In the end, she will not lose Xena, but I will discuss that later.
 Xena acquires the anklet to summon Yodoshi when the time is right. Back at the teahouse, Harukata and the good monk describe what Gabrielle must do if she wants to save Xena. She has to find her body, and then sprinkle the ashes into the Fountain of Strength on Mt. Fuji. Gabrielle is ready for the challenge. Xena introduces Gabrielle to Akemi. Xena has obviously spoken of Gabrielle to Akemi, since Akemi mentions that she is honored to meet her "at last". To protect Gabrielle on her journey, Akemi offers a gift, a sweet one, if you ask me. Akemi inks a design into Gabrielle's lower left leg, and a kick-*ss dragon onto her back. Gabrielle is cool.
 Gabrielle takes the Great Katana and sets out to find Xena's body. Upon reaching it, she is sickened by the sight of Xena's headless body. It was sick, though. Perhaps even unnecessary. Gabrielle screams for Xena's head, and ends up meeting Xena's pathetic little killer. They prepare to duel and Gabrielle focuses on what Xena told her about the Kami. That managed to keep her ready for her opponent's first move. She thwarted his effort to attack her and pinned her sword to the back of his neck. Unfortunately, she did not kill him. Personally, I would have liked to see the sucker die. Gabrielle acquires Xena's head and continues onward.
 At the teahouse, Xena summons Yodoshi with Harukata and the good monk ready at her side. The team ultimately fails to destroy him, due to the beheading of that poor good monk, the icy entrapment of Akemi, and the slaying of Harukata. Xena gives Yodoshi a few good hits, but he retreats. Yodoshi ticks me off. He just will not die. Then again, Xena used to be the same way.
 Gabrielle is sitting by the fire as Xena's body burns into ashes. Gabrielle thinks about her times with Xena and what she has said. Gabrielle reassures herself that Xena will return to her.
 Xena asks Harukata what went wrong, and learns that she has to drink from the Fountain of Strength on Mt. Fuji and slay Yodoshi with the sacred Katana to finish him off for good. Meanwhile, Gabrielle meets that bad, bad, bad guy again on the mountain. They duke it out for a little while, and Gabrielle keeps chasing Xena's urn around the mountain. Gabrielle is very persevering on her mission. Ain't nobody stopping her!
 Xena arrives and stops Yodoshi from getting another drink from the fountain, then tries to take a drink for herself. Yodoshi blasts her with his ice breath (reminds me of the PowerPuff Girls) and Xena lands near Gabrielle. Akemi's attempt to kill her father for a second time is thwarted by another one of Yodoshi's ice blasts. Mr. Freeze licks up some icicles and therefore gains strength the popsicle way. Yodoshi grows a new arm and sucks up his daughter for the heck of it.
 Gabrielle rushes to Xena's side and hurries to retrieve some water for Xena. She takes it in and holds it in her mouth as an ice blast is repelled off her back straight towards Yodoshi. The kick-*ss tattoo came in handy. Gabrielle gives Xena the old mouth to mouth to transport the water. Their lips remained together longer than necessary for the relay of water. Have to love those moments. Gabrielle hands over the sacred Katana. Yodoshi is taunting Xena as Gabrielle mentions sunset and tries to reach Xena's urn that fell over the side. Xena and Yodoshi set the forest ablaze and go mano a mano. I could hear Smokey the Bear now. Yodoshi teases Xena about joining the condemned and tells her that he will behead Gabrielle. That is it. He crossed the line right there. Xena destroys Yodoshi as Gabrielle retrieves her urn.
 The souls are released with the beheading of Yodoshi and they swirl around Xena. That one bad guy again confronts Gabrielle. It is like come on, man! Give up already! That is alright, though. Gabrielle tosses the chakram with ease and it ricochets right to the target and knocks out that bad guy. Where did that come from? Go Gabrielle! Akemi's spirits tells Xena that she redeemed Akemi, she redeemed the 40,000 souls, and she redeemed herself. Xena tells her they will meet again one day. If Xena knows that she has to stay dead, would she not be seeing Akemi right away, instead? Hmm.
 Right as Gabrielle is about to pour Xena's ashes into the fountain, Xena stops her. Gabrielle does not understand because the sunset is almost over. Xena explains to Gabrielle that she must stay dead to avenge the souls and keep them in peace. Gabrielle finds this situation very frustrating. She tells Xena that it is not right and that she does not care. Gabrielle tells Xena she is all that matters to her. Xena replies that she learned from her travels and time spent with Gabrielle the good, right thing to do. Gabrielle sits down, keeping Xena's urn tight in her grasp. Gabrielle tells Xena she loves her and asks how she is supposed to go on without her. Xena replies that she will always be with her. "Always". Xena fades when the sun sets.
 The final scene of the final episode of Xena: Warrior Princess involves Gabrielle's departure from Japa...n. She is on the boat, holding Xena's urn. Gabrielle states "A life of journeying has brought you to the farthest lands, to the very edges of the earth." Xena's spirit places her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder and replies "And to the place where I'll always remain, your heart." Xena asks where Gabrielle is headed, with Gabrielle's response being "I think we should go to the south, to the Land of the Pharaohs. I hear they need a girl with a chakram." Hey, with those new skills, go for it baby! The last words:Xena: Where you go, I'm at your side.
Gabrielle: I knew you'd say that.
PROS, CONS, AND EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN
 What were the results of all these events? What did the ending of both the series and Xena's life mean to me, personally?
 I found very few cons. The first is Gabrielle's solitude. She does not know what independence really is. Xena may be at her side in spirit form, but not in the flesh as both Gabrielle's best friend and her family. Gabrielle without Xena is like jelly without peanut butter. Carrots without peas. Billy Bob without Angelina. Catch my drift? Gabrielle and Xena are a packaged deal.
 What about poor Gabrielle's persistent hope throughout Japa...n to get Xena's life back? Once again, Gabrielle's "Hope" dies.
 I was also disappointed with the kissing scene. I mean, come on, it happened in the middle of a life and death situation. I was hoping it would be a little more deliberate and meaningful, but that is okay. A kiss is a kiss is a kiss...
 What are we supposed to do now? You know? Us! The fans! What about us? For the love of the gods, we need to know what happens next! It is our addiction! What are we gonna do? Wear a Xena patch or chew Gabrielle gum? Does my prescription plan even cover that?
 The first pro is the first con I mentioned above. It can also be viewed as a good thing. Gabrielle has never experienced independence before. She sought to learn about herself in season four, but never learned of herself while alone. Maybe solitude is something she needs, as a completion of her maturity as both a warrior and a person.
 Hey, Gabrielle did not die! Joker will have a friend up there to keep him company! Xena will finally be reunited with Solan. Xena will also be able to spend time with the father of her baby, the now angelic Callisto. Xena will forever remain in Gabrielle's heart, not to mention her scrolls.
 Gabrielle now has some exciting new shoes to fill, not to mention newly acquired skills. In addition, Gabrielle previously mentioned wanting to be like Xena. In ONE AGAINST AN ARMY, Gabrielle restated her reasons for traveling with Xena:Gabrielle: You've got to take me with you, teach me everything you know. You can't leave me here in Poteidaia. I wanna go with you. I've studied the stars, spoken with philosophers, and I have the gift of prophecy. I can be very valuable to you. Take me with you. I want so much to be like you.Gabrielle has become like Xena while remaining her own unique self.
 On the positive side is no more surprise stories from Xena's past! That is, until Gabrielle spots the Grecian Enquirer at the checkout line.
 What Xena did in FRIEND IN NEED II was act for the Greater Good. She sacrificed her life for the freedom of 40,000 souls. If you remember from the episode THE GREATER GOOD:Gabrielle: Xena, are you gonna die?
Xena: It's not about me. It's about these people. That's why we're here. People like this used to be my victims. I keep that in mind every time we come up against a warlord like Talmadeus. It's the greater good, remember that.
 Gabrielle eventually came to terms with Xena's death and learned to accept it. She, too, believes in the Greater Good. She was willing to risk her life to save the people of Athens in ONE AGAINST AN ARMY:Xena: I am not going to let you die. I can still get you to Thessaly and the antidote.
Gabrielle: And then what? What happens to Athens? What's my life worth then?
Xena: First things first.
Gabrielle: The first thing is the greater good, you taught me that. You taught me that there are things in life worth dying for [also mentioned in WHEN FATES COLLIDE], things that hold a higher meaning than our own existence.
Xena: Not your existence.
Gabrielle: Why? 'Cause I'm your friend?
Gabrielle: Well then, honor my memory. We both know that I'm right. This is right. Xena, promise me -- promise me that you will not leave this battle because of me.
 Some time passes...Gabrielle: Don't you argue with me! I know that I'm going to die. I accept that. Why can't you? A long time ago, I accepted the consequences of our life together, that it might one day come to this. It has. I'm not afraid.
Xena: You always said that I was the brave one. Look at you now. If this is to be our destiny, let's see it out together. Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you.
 Because of Xena's belief in the Greater Good, she has finally achieved what she had been looking for since SINS OF THE PAST. That is exactly what they are now, SINS OF THE PAST. Xena has finally earned redemption and has come full circle.
 Lastly, although Xena seems to have left Gabrielle all alone, they will ALWAYS be together. How many times have we been reassured that Xena and Gabrielle are soul mates, and that they will be together in each life that they live? The Dynamic Duo is meant to be together for eternity, no matter what happens. So, sit back, relax, put a smile on your face, and watch a rerun for me.
I am fresh out of a suburban Pittsburgh high school and currently attending business school in the city to pursue a career in computer programming.
Favorite episode: Any of the comedies
Favorite line: Joxer and Aphrodite: "Did I smell something?" "Lay off of me, turkey!" "No--oh, it's fish!" "I'm new to this mortal hygiene thing!" THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER...
First episode seen: THE BITTER SUITE
Least favorite episode: PROMETHEUS