Whoosh! Issue 61 - October 2001

GUISE WILL BE GUISE:
LOOKALIKES IN XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS

By Jennifer K. Brouillard
Content © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2001 held by Whoosh!
3008 words


Introduction (01-02)
The Xena Lookalikes (03-13)
The Joxer Lookalikes (14-21)
The Gabrielle Lookalikes (22-27)
Conclusion (28)
Biography



GUISE WILL BE GUISE:
LOOKALIKES IN XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS



Introduction

And we stand exactly alike too!
The very first lookalikes were Xena and Diana.

[01] The concept of lookalikes, people who resemble each other, has been a part of entertainment's history since Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors over 400 years ago. Stories that use this concept often explain the resemblance through family relations, but some, like Mark Twain's American classic The Prince and The Pauper, do not. The Prince and The Pauper documents the lives of two identical boys born on the same day to separate sets of parents. Once they meet, fate intervenes so that they switch places. Unlike A Comedy of Errors, in which the characters are unaware of and confused by the mistaken identity, the characters in The Prince and The Pauper are aware of the mix-up and learn from the experience. The Pauper, Tom Canty, discovers how confined and unvarying royal life can be, yet still retains his value system. His counterpart, the Prince, Edward Tudor, discovers much about what his people must endure.

[02] Xena: Warrior Princess combines the concepts inherit in Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, i.e., multiple characters having lookalikes, and Twain's The Prince and The Pauper, i.e., learning about life from another perspective, in several of its episodes. Like The Prince and The Pauper, the episodes display lookalike characters that possess the opposite traits of our heroes, despite the same outer appearance. An analysis of these characters follows.


The Xena Lookalikes

Diana

"Amazing. It's like looking in a mirror—before I've brushed my hair."
- Diana, Princess of Treus, to Xena

[03] The Xena: Warrior Princess audience is first introduced to the concept of lookalikes at the beginning of WARRIOR...PRINCESS (15/115). The episode is a fitting comparison to Twain's The Prince and The Pauper, as it involves one who is sheltered royalty and another who has lived a harsh life. Diana is the opposite of Xena in almost every way and in every circumstance. Living in a castle, she has been protected from the world by a loving father. Xena's father tried to have Xena put to death. Diana is meticulous with her appearance, having her attendant brush her hair 1,000 strokes a day. She uses flowery language, such as "sky blue eyes" and "fawn-colored hair" when she is describing the man she loves, Philemon. A bit of a snob, she looks forward to being around "the little people" and enjoys playing music on her harp. During a stressful situation, she breaks down in tears and pouts. She is ignorant of the concerns outside the castle walls. She knows nothing of starvation, faints at the sight of blood, and cannot catch to save her life. All of these personality traits are the opposite of those held by Xena. As Gabrielle says to Diana, "You may look like Xena, but you are nothing alike."

[04] Dressed as Xena, Diana discovers a starving family and learns of the corruption that keeps royal aid from reaching them. She vows to discover a new way to help them. This is similar to Edward Tudor's situation in The Prince and The Pauper when he discovers the inhumanity of British justice. While in prison, he hears of a young apprentice who took an escaped hawk to his home and was sentenced to death for stealing it. Like Edward, Diana has her happy ending. In addition, like Tom Canty, Xena took some time adjusting to the royal lifestyle, but even after she did, she held no qualms about relinquishing it.


Meg

"Ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. The name's Xena. That's Xena with a capital 'Z.'"
- Meg

[05] In WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206), Joxer exaggerates how he fought Callisto and casually mentions the affections he and Xena shared. It is at this point that the audience realizes that something may be amiss: would Joxer make up such a story or did it actually occur? Reality and fantasy are blurred for Joxer, as it was not Xena at all, but a lookalike, Meg, with whom he had relations.

[06] Meg is used by Agis so that he may gain control of Princess Diana's father's armies. Like Tom Canty before he discovered his lookalike, Meg's whole life has been one of suffering. Her father died when he got drunk and fell off a roof as she was being born. Meg notes that she had a rotten mother and that she was "fun", indicating that perhaps the woman was more of a friend than a guardian. There are hints that her mother's boyfriend sexually abused her and that is why she ran away at age 10. A year later she discovers that her mother died. Those experiences alone are enough to scar an 11-year-old, but since then she has been struggling on her own.

[07] The situation changes when she is dressed as Diana. She receives the warm love she desperately sought as a child from Diana's father, King Lias. But she thinks she is undeserving of it, stating "Yes, three women who look so much alike, and yet inside, so different. One's a warrior, and one's a princess. One's a tramp." She feels that she cannot compare to her other lookalikes.

[08] With King Lias' help, she discovers that the one respectable skill she feels she has, cooking well, is appreciated. This skill gives her an identity that neither Diana nor Xena possess. She is touched when the king makes her his personal chef. She begins to believe that she can do good, as evidenced in WARRIOR...PRIESTESS...TRAMP (55/309), when she poses as Leah to do good, thinking that the priestess abandoned her virgin charges. In this episode, we see that she is running her own "tavern", perhaps as a way of employing promiscuous girls like herself and acting as their guardian. She still has her problems, for instance stealing silverware from the King in WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP and kidnapping the baby during KEY TO THE KINGDOM (78/410). However, meeting Xena and Diana has brought new perspective into her life, just as it did for Edward and Tom in The Prince and The Pauper.

[09] Though KEY TO THE KINGDOM (78/410) was a transgression from the differences of right and wrong that Meg, and even Joxer, seemed to be learning, the episode reveals their reason for kidnapping the baby is a reaction to their own childhood.

[10] As Meg states, "When I heard about the baby—ooh! There was no one to love him. There was no one to hold him—no one to tell him stories. Well, I just reckon that's a lousy way to grow up." We already know that she was unloved and neglected. She does not want a young one to suffer as she suffered, so she does what she feels is right. She takes the baby. Joxer, having also experienced a troubled childhood, understands and assists Meg in the venture, although she tricked him in the beginning. She tells the baby she likes Joxer around because he is funny. As Amoria notes to Joxer in LYRE, LYRE, HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510), "Didn't anyone ever tell you the quickest way to win a woman's heart is by making her laugh?" The two create a world together and are determined to be the kind of parents they always wanted, but never had, despite their lack of knowledge as to how.

[11] Meg's dreams are shattered when the spell is broken and the baby returns as King Cleades. But Xena reassures her with, "You did a wonderful thing here, Meg. You helped a lot of people because you were able to love one child. And I can't believe that with all the little lights in the sky, that there isn't one waiting for someone like you." As the events in LIVIA (110/520) reveal, her dream comes true eventually.

[12] The Warrior Princess also has a lesson to learn from The Tramp. When Meg insults herself, Xena notes, "Who do you think you're fooling, huh? You've got so much depth that it scares you when it comes out." Meg, recalling Xena's internal struggle with redemption and forgiveness, responds, "Well, look who's talking."


Leah

"And now we'll pause for a bwief musical interlude."
- Leah
When good bridesmaids go bad
Meg, Leah, and Xena -- can you tell which is which?

[13] The Head Priestess of the Hestian virgins, the third Xena lookalike, is pious, chaste, and not afraid to die for the Goddess of the Hearth. Her faith in Hestia is unwavering, to which Xena notes it is better to put faith in yourself. Though in the beginning Leah complains, she finally finds a purpose while hiding out in Meg's "tavern". She decides that instead of lamenting, she will attempt to give Meg's girls some religion by creating a choir. She realizes that despite the differences in occupation, their humanity and camaraderie connect them. At the episode's end, she announces that she misjudged Xena and Gabrielle. She was accustomed to the virgin ways and believed that nothing outside the temple was worth knowing. Like the events in The Prince and The Pauper, being in a lookalike's shoes changed her way of thinking.


The Joxer Lookalikes

[14] Now that an analysis has been made of what Xena's lookalikes have learned from their experiences in disguise, let us move on to Joxer's lookalikes, his brothers, to discover what they have learned from each other.


Jett

"Nobody hurts my brother, except me."
- Jett

[15] Jett is introduced in KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308) as a merciless, expensive, assassin-for-hire. Though unlike an assassin, he is impatient, hurrying his business partner Autolycus when he is trying to steal a warlord's sword. Pontius, Cleopatra's chief security, hires him to kill the Egyptian Queen. Thinking that Joxer is Jett in the prison cell with Gabrielle, Pontius calls him "a man's man. The girl is obvious. She's certainly not here to think."

[16] When Gabrielle approaches him angrily, scolding him for leaving her locked in the prison cell, he is struck by her frankness, later calling her the "cute little blonde who swings the mean stick." One doubts if a woman had ever approached him in such a confident manner without proposing a business transaction of some kind, whether of a murderous or sexual nature. He thinks quickly and pretends to be Joxer, all the while trying to bolster Gabrielle's opinion of the real him while insulting Joxer. Her response of "Don't say things like that about yourself. One wonders when the last time a woman dared insult him. Jett is correct when he says he would never kill Gabrielle, she intrigues him too much.

[17] When Jett discovers Joxer, all the years of torment and teasing return with a Wet Willie greeting. Despite the mean-spiritedness of the action, Jett's warm demeanor with Joxer is much different than one would expect from a cold-blooded assassin. He is genuinely happy to see his brother again and asks about Jace. He mentions how he keeps track of time through his assassinations, indicating his workaholic tendencies. In contrast to Joxer, who has been the butt of Autolycus' jokes throughout the episode, Jett is able to outbluff the King of Thieves to find the sword. Joxer feels that he can convert his brother and make him do good, but Jett notes that though he considered "another way", for him, there is none. Though Jett is captured and imprisoned for life he looks forward to catching up with his warlord father with no hard feelings toward Joxer for doing what he felt was right.

[18] Jett seems genuinely proud that his brother has the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle as his friends. The short time Jett pretended to be Joxer and the way Xena was willing to defend Joxer helped the King of Assassins see his brother in a different light.

[19] Upon leaving, he imparts the following advice: "Don't let anyone tell you who you are or who you could be - that includes family." Perhaps he feels that if someone had imparted such advice on him when he was young, he would not have devoted his life to crime just to please his parents.


Jace

Elvis meets Clueless
Two bodies with one mind between them?
"We like our fun but never fight.
You can't dance and stay uptight."
- Jace

[20] Like his brother Jett, Jace is happy to be reunited with his brother Joxer. Each has his own intimate greeting that dates back to childhood. Jett's is the Wet Willie, while Jace's is playing peak-a-boo.

[21] Jace has an extremely high opinion of himself. When Xena notes, "Joxer likes to think that he knows who he is, but all he really knows is who he wants to be", Jace answers, "That's right. And who would not want to be just like me?" Jace is uninhibited, declaring himself sexy, and is secure in himself. Yet, Jace denies his true origins. He speaks in a Spanish accent and refers to "the old country" and "where I come from". Joxer has trouble understanding why Jace would do this and becomes angry with Jace for the facade while Joxer himself lives in a dream world of wishful thinking. The difference between the facades is that Jace uses his to reflect his strong feelings of self-confidence and self-acceptance, whereas Joxer uses his to hide his feelings of inadequacy. Unlike the other lookalike instances mentioned, Joxer and Jace were never mistaken for each other, but in the end the two reconcile, singing, "Why can't you and me learn to love one another?"

The Gabrielle Lookalikes

[22] Now that an examination of Joxer's lookalikes and their effects on each other has been made, let us turn our attention to the lookalikes Gabrielle has encountered thus far, especially her daughter, Hope.


Hope

Whoa!  This Fury could use a mint!
The Furies use an image of Hope to goad Gabrielle into striking at Eve in MOTHERHOOD.
"It's strange—the one I love most in all the world and the one I hate—look exactly the same."
- Xena, in reference to Gabrielle and Hope

[23] Hope is torn by the evil nature within her that is aligned with her father and the desire to be loved by her mother. In SACRIFICE II (68/322) Callisto reveals that Hope chose to look like Gabrielle as a means to understanding her mother's actions. While trying to find out more about her from Joxer, Hope wonders how people could love Gabrielle when there was not enough love in Gabrielle to let her daughter live.

[24] Hope's choice to become her mother is also partly to punish her mother. Gabrielle's biggest fear is that she will realize that she has a dark side. Seeing Hope, her own daughter, as her mirror image is like seeing her dark side, a confirmation of that fear.

[25] In A FAMILY AFFAIR (71/403), Hope is a mother to a beast called the Destroyer. Her vow of "Mother won't hurt you" speaks volume of her wish to treat her child differently than her own mother treated her. However, when Gabrielle attacks and seriously wounds him, the Destroyer thinks Gabrielle is his mother and feels betrayed. He attacks in retaliation, but it is not Gabrielle he stabs, it is Hope. Thus Dahak's daughter dies again, first through the actions of her mother and now through the actions of her son. Her obsession with her mother is her Achilles heel, as being a lookalike kills her and her child in the end. Close to death himself, the Destroyer realizes what he has done when he sees Gabrielle, the one he meant to attack, and dies crying in his mother's arms at his mistake. His death is just as fitting as his mother's; both unwittingly caused the destruction of what they held most dear.


The Three Naked Dancing Gabrielles

"A warrior, Joxer the Mighty,
Asked a boon from the god Aphrodite
And what a surprise
He found with love's eyes
Three times—"
- Gabrielle, reading Joxer's limerick upon discovering her new lookalikes

[26] During THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER (56/310), Joxer creates three naked dancing Gabrielles by writing on the enchanted scroll. Despite being her lookalikes, one assumes that they disappear as soon as the spell from the scroll is broken. Going along with the rule that lookalikes are different in personality, these Gabrielles are different from the original. While the real Gabrielle has a rich, in-depth personality, these girls appear to be no more than eye candy.

[27] So, why does Gabrielle not have as many natural lookalikes as Xena and Joxer do? The answer is that each season she is her own lookalike. Gabrielle started as the innocent young bard in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), then became the Amazon princess in HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), and the Amazon Queen in THE QUEST (37/213). She was the jealous friend suppressing her memories in FORGET ME NOT (63/317), the pacifist during the second half of the fourth season, and the warrior during the fifth season. And now some would label her the tramp, especially in such sixth season episodes as WHO'S GURKHAN (116/604) when she joins Gurkhan's harem to seek her revenge on him for kidnapping her niece, and OLD ARES HAS A FARM (122/610) when she diverts the warlords looking for Ares by ripping her shirt open. Her personality shifts as she searches for herself and reacts to circumstances within her environment. With each traumatic event she discovers a part of herself she never knew existed.

Conclusion

[28] Despite resembling the main characters of Xena, Joxer, and Gabrielle, the lookalikes have opposite and distinct personalities. By associating with or pretending to be each other, the main characters and their lookalikes learn what it is like to walk in each other's shoes. Consequently they discover a bit about themselves in the process. Through their experiences with the lookalikes, whether pretending to be them or just associating with them, the main characters learn what it is like to walk in each other's shoes and consequently discover a bit about themselves in the process. Most begin to accept their own identities and the identities of their lookalikes during the encounter, but for Hope the opportunity to be a lookalike brings about her downfall.

Biography

Jennifer K. Brouillard Jennifer K. Brouillard
Jenn works as a writer/editor at a university, writing and editing advertising copy, alumni magazine stories, and even legal mumbo jumbo. When she is not writing for the university, she is usually writing XWP fan fiction or messages to Yahoo! Group lists that she moderates, including GJRS, Eli's Sanctuary, Joxer Articles and distexters. She has also written a first draft of a non-Xena-related novel that she hopes to have published some day. When her husband Dave tears her away from the computer, she spends time with her family and friends, jogs, and does aerobics and yoga.
Favorite episode: A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222)
Favorite line: Joxer: "You know, uh - that's the first time I ever had - three feet in my pants." PURITY (96/506)
First episode seen: CALLISTO (22/122)
Least favorite episode: WHEN FATES COLLIDE (130/618)

 

 

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