Whoosh! Issue 69 - June 2002

SYMBOLISM MADE EVIDENT IN FRIEND IN NEED
By England Simpson
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2002 held by Whoosh!
1618 words


Credit Where Credit Is Due (01-02)
Problems with the Ending of FRIEND IN NEED (03-06)
The Title (07-08)
Armor Burying (09)
Passing On Knowledge (10)
Manner of Death (11-14)
Gabrielle's Tattoo (15)
Gabrielle's Possession of the Chakram (16)
Land of the Pharaohs (17)
"I'm At Your Side" (18)
More Credit Due (19)
Articles
Biography



SYMBOLISM MADE EVIDENT IN FRIEND IN NEED



Credit Where Credit Is Due



You should have thought of that before we left!

Who was really the friend in FIN?


[01] I give credit to R.J. Stewart and Robert Tapert where credit is due. Although I despised the last episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, I looked at them from another perspective and found out that they contained much symbolism. This is not surprising, since Xena as a series exploited symbolism and hidden meanings, and I am not talking just about subtext.

[02] The producers and writers used symbolism that only a true Xenite would be able to notice. The last episode was full of these types of references, especially the beginning of the last episode: the way Xena died, Xena's guilt, and even the title of the episode. After this article, I have promised myself to stop writing about the last episode. For a person who hates it so much, I have seen it over thirty times.


Problems with the Ending of FRIEND IN NEED

[03] Before addressing the issues of this paper, I must address a few more problems I have had with the ending of FRIEND IN NEED.

[04] First, after Xena and Borias first "rescued" Akemi in Chin, they went to go ransom Akemi back to her father. The city they went to was not Higuchi. So where does Higuchi fit in? Did they have time to take a personal cruise all around the eastern part of the world or what?

[05] Second is the simple fact that Akemi used Xena. She had it planned all along that she was going to kill her father. Xena merely taught her the method to use: pressure point. How could Akemi expect Xena to risk her life like that? Respect or not, I would not appreciate being used like that.

[06] Finally, when our beloved Warrior Princess was beheaded her hair was loose, but when her head was on the pedestal it was pulled back in a ponytail. Ha Ha! Conspiracy? Okay, enough with the complaining, and on with the show.


The Title

[07] Considering the title of the episode FRIEND IN NEED, one would expect it to refer to Akemi and Xena's relationship and about Akemi's need. Yet, during the course of the episode, Gabrielle was helping her friend that was in need. That brings us to the first symbolic aspect, the stress on the word friend.

[08] Xena and Gabrielle have said the word "friend" at least fifty million times. I believe that this use was addressing the subtext. When Gabrielle went to go to Mt. Fujisan, Xena told her, "Good Luck old FRIEND." She did not say lover or anything of that sort. This obviously symbolized that Xena and Gabrielle are only friends, despite the water-transporting kiss they engaged in near the end of the episode. That was a cheap ploy by the writers to safeguard viewers and keep them on "the edge of their seats."


Armor Burying

[09] In the very beginning of the episode, Xena buried her armor in the ground and shoveled the dirt with her chakram. This was a direct reference to the first episode of the series, SINS OF THE PAST (01/101). When Xena did the same thing in SINS OF THE PAST, it symbolized that Xena was "giving up" her evil warrior ways and was starting anew. Although Xena did the same act in FRIEND IN NEED, it was not due to similar circumstances. However, Xena was doing it because she was starting a new chapter in her life, or after life. She was not burying the sins of her past. She was burying the warrior woman who killed all of those people at Higuchi.


Passing On Knowledge

[10] Shortly after this melodramatic deed, Xena felt the need to teach Gabrielle "all that she knows". Xena teaches Gabrielle how to do a pressure point and how to listen to sound and determine its meanings. Could this represent the guilt Xena felt? Perhaps Xena felt guilt because she never shared things with Gabrielle that she did with Akemi. Perhaps because she knew she was about to die, she felt an even more dire need to show Gabrielle.


Manner of Death

[11] As everyone should know by now, Xena dies in this episode. However, the way she dies is fraught with symbolism, or at least it shows a substantial amount of coincidence. Xena dies a warrior's death. Ever since the beginning of the series, she always mentioned that she would prefer to die with a sword in her hand. In FRIEND IN NEED, she did. The drummers represented the battle that was about to begin. When the samurai army attacked Xena, arrows flew around her, and of course, many of them hit her. When I first saw Xena's death, it reminded me of MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311), where the villagers attacked Callisto and Callisto merely stood there with many arrows hanging out of her.

[12] Before the battle, Xena tells Gabrielle that even in death she would never leave her. Xena did the very same thing in ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), IDES OF MARCH (89/421), and in the first part of FRIEND IN NEED.

[13] In addition, the mere fact that Xena allowed herself to be killed symbolized that Xena learned much from Gabrielle. Xena even mentioned that the only reason she was doing this was that she learned how to truly love from Gabrielle.

[14] Xena's corpse strung up on a tree represented dishonor and disgrace. Gabrielle noticed that Xena's head was missing and found it on a pedestal. This was honorable to the samurai and to the deceased. It was a way of showing that the opponent (Xena) was worthy of the battle. The decapitated head signified that the samurai had defeated a great foe. This may all seem contradictory, but regardless, it was a bad way to die.


Gabrielle's Tattoo

[15] What about Gabrielle's tattoo? As told to us, "The Viewer," a dragon symbolized protection and power.


Gabrielle's Possession of the Chakram

[16] When Gabrielle acquired Xena's chakram this symbolized that Gabrielle was a true warrior who was competent enough to fill Xena's shoes. This demonstrated that the Warrior Princess was a great teacher, and this indicated more maturity blossoming in Gabrielle. It also showed that Xena and Gabrielle taught each other many things throughout the course of their travels.


Land of the Pharaohs

[17] In the beginning of the episode, Xena and Gabrielle mentioned going to the land of the Pharaohs. Xena said that they needed a girl with a chakram. At the end of the episode, Gabrielle was the girl with the chakram. This signified that she was ready to continue where Xena left off. Gabrielle accepted that she must let Xena go. This was very mature in and of itself.


"I'm At Your Side"

[18] The very last words spoken in the whole series were Xena's, when she said, "Where you go I'm at your side." We had up to then always heard Gabrielle telling Xena this. However, now Xena was telling Gabrielle. Even as recent as FRIEND IN NEED I, Gabrielle told Xena this right after Xena jumped out of a ship to save the small town of Higuchi. This was certainly a tearjerker for anyone who actually understood how significant that was. Gabrielle, to some the blonde sidekick, was now the true warrior she had worked very hard to be.


More Credit Due

[19] I give R.J. Stewart and Robert Tapert credit because they took the right routes to make this episode have the desired impact. However, it was like being at a party and getting the crowd's attention to tell a joke and then the joke "sucks." All of the symbolism and "meaningfulness" in the episode definitely was "getting the crowds attention", but killing Xena for no apparent reason was "the bad joke." It was not the proper legacy for Xena.


Articles

England Simpson, "Why the Last Episode of Xena: Warrior Princess is Incoherent and Chronologically Impossible" WHOOSH #64 (January 2002)


Biography

a woman of mystery England Simpson
England Simpson was born January 19, 1984 with her twin sister Ingrid Simpson. At the age of five England began to show an interest in things not normal. By the age of 13, England was watching such television shows as Barney, Ghostwriter, and Bo-Bo. England at the age of 15 met her arc-nemesis Terri Day, she claimed to be the biggest "Xena" fan in the world. England picked on this girl. Little did she know that this girl would become one of her best friends. Terri and England began to talk more, and Terri taught England all about the show (Xena). England showed interest in the show and started to surpass her friend's knowledge in the show. To date England is 18 years old (almost...) and has a certification in Xenaology, the study of the show Xena: Warrior Princess. She lives at home with her four sisters and her husband Billy Zane.


Favorite episode: I do not have a favorite. That would not be fair.
Favorite line: Eve: "The heart may betray, but the sword never lies." HEART OF DARKNESS; Callisto: "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Glory Hallelujah." SACRIFICE II
First episode seen: CALLISTO
Least favorite episode: FRIEND IN NEED II

 

 

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