DEATH IN CHAINS
HOOVES AND HARLOTS
THE BLACK WOLF
A WHOOSH! Series
By Debbie White
Copyright © 1997 held by author
Editor's Note: CHANGING TIMES, a regular feature of WHOOSH!, examines episodes of the internationally syndicated television show, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (this month, DEATH IN CHAINS #09, HOOVES AND HARLOTS #10, and THE BLACK WOLF #11), and considers the changes happening individually and between the two characters, Xena and Gabrielle, along with discussing the clues offered in each episode about their pasts.
The episodes will be reviewed in the order they were originally aired. The reviewer will approach her material as if she did not have knowledge of the upcoming episodes. Insights to subsequent episodes will not be made in the earlier episode but in the latter ones. The series, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, will be treated as a story where gaps must have explanation and what is there may be given more meaning than originally intended. -- KMT
DEATH IN CHAINS
HOOVES & HARLOTS The Changing Xena The Changing Gabrielle
THE BLACK WOLF The Changing Xena The Changing Gabrielle Note
The Changing Xena The Changing Gabrielle The Changing Argo
DEATH IN CHAINS
Hades out and about
in DEATH IN CHAINS (#09)
 In DEATH IN CHAINS (#09), Xena tried to solve a problem without using violence and Gabrielle was her usual spunky and courageous self, but learned about letting friends go.
The Changing Xena
 Xena began DEATH IN CHAINS in high Xena form by insulting some men who wanted her to join their roving band. She promptly killed the leader, Toxeus, when he tried to kill her. At least she had progressed enough to note, after killing the low-life scum that it was a waste of life. Xena at last realized there was more to life than marauding and killing.
 Further, Xena recognized that Talus was a good person, and later noted how special he was in his courage. Xena proved how perceptive she was by realizing why Talus was traveling home before Talus owned up to it. When Xena was evil, good and bad were determined by her honor code more than actually considering each individual and evaluating them. Since she was now seeing people as humans rather than targets, she acknowledged what made some people good and others not. This may stem from her search in herself for what is good and what is bad.
 Another point to ponder was King Sisyphus' perception of Xena and the real reason Xena was trying to save Death. Sisyphus said Xena was coming because she was a warrior and without death she could not kill her enemies. Xena was coming because she realized how much pain people would suffer if death was no longer a release. It is interesting to note that the fighters (the low-life scum killed at the beginning of the episode who did not die) felt the pain, but ignored it. The villagers who where not used to pain, felt it and were devastated by it. Xena is a warrior, and because she could ignore or even work through her pain, she was not freeing death for herself. She did it because the people needed death.
 When Xena was working her way through the castle, she tried a new way to approach a problem. Sisyphus met to talk with her and Xena tried to talk him into releasing Celesta (Death). However, Sisyphus merely dropped Xena down a pit. Xena did her token talk before fighting speech, and then proceeded on, ready to whack her way to Celesta. Then Sisyphus' wife, Karas, came and offered to help Xena. At first Xena refused. She did not trust Karas and she was in warrior princess mode. It was only when Karas pointed out that Xena could not get there in time that Xena finally listened. The important fact though is Xena did take the time to listen and try talking Sisyphus out of killing Celesta. In CHARIOTS OF WAR (#02), Xena thought fighting was the only way to handle people that were evil. Now she was not only willing to trust people to help her, but was willing to talk again, even though it did not work the first time.
 There were a few more points that stood out in this episode. Hades came to ask Xena to help him because she knew of Sisyphus' tricks, and Celesta, a goddess, was trapped by one of those tricks. The gods not only were noticing Xena and asking her to help them, but they acknowledged that she knew more than they did about a mortal!
 Also, we see Xena do some more healing work, but this time she used an herb to numb the pain. This indicated that she had some knowledge of herb usage in healing. Xena also made a big mistake while fighting the low-life scums' leader a second time. She actually told him why he was not dying, so then he started to track her to try and stop her from freeing Celesta and making him die.
 Finally, Xena actually fell into Sisyphus' trap, even though she knew he was crafty. At least she figured out how to get free from it, but this shows she could not foresee everything a person was going to do.
The Changing Gabrielle
Toxeus restraining Gabrielle
 We learn more about Gabrielle than she learns herself in this episode. Gabrielle always seemed attracted to the kind, poetic type. This time she met Talus, who not only helped her heal a stranger, but told a story while doing it. In fact, he knew quite a few stories and was attracted to Gabrielle because she knew them as well. An interesting point about Talus was that he was the first person we see who complemented both Xena AND Gabrielle for traveling around and helping people out. It was the first time Gabrielle was seen as something besides a tag-along by an outsider.
 Another thing we see was that Xena had taught Gabrielle enough about healing that Xena simply handed Gabrielle a pouch of medicine and sent her off to heal by herself. Not only that, but Xena gave Gabrielle a mission to handle by herself: go to the hospital in Athens and tell them about the hurt people along the road. Okay, Talus was going with Gabrielle and Xena was really trying to get Gabrielle to stay behind, but at least Xena was smart enough to give Gabrielle a mission she could handle, rather than simply ordering her away. Xena even told Talus that "when Gabrielle has her mind set on something, there's no stopping her. You'll learn that soon enough" so Xena was slowly learning how to handle Gabrielle.
 Gabrielle also showed her courage and trust in Xena, along with her concern for Xena. When at the hospital, Gabrielle said that Xena could take care of herself. Still, when Gabrielle learned that touching Celesta killed a person, she was so concerned for Xena that she was willing to travel to the castle alone to find Xena and tell her. Luckily Talus insisted upon coming along.
 Also, when Gabrielle and Talus ran into the fighters tracking Xena, they first tried to fast-talk their way out of the situation, and then they tried to run. Before, Gabrielle had been wanting the right to fight (DREAMWORKER #03), but seems by DEATH IN CHAINS finally to have learned the rules of survival. Also, when Gabrielle was captured and asked at knife-point to say where Xena was, Gabrielle was loyal and courageous enough to refuse to say anything.
 Gabrielle learned a few things in this episode. First, she started off by saying that adventure is more fulfilling than love in her opinion. Then she promptly started falling in love with Talus. It is interesting how love and adventure seem to intertwine with her. Also, Gabrielle reluctantly let Talus go with Death at the end because it was what was best for him, even though not what she wanted. Also interesting to note is that she hugged Xena for comfort as Talus left and Xena actually was comfortable enough with Gabrielle to allow her to do that and also hugged Gabrielle back.
 Another thing Gabrielle learned was that there were many men trying to kill Xena in order to improve their reputation. She seemed to finally understand that Xena had quite a standing and that men would kill her because of that to establish their own fame. Gabrielle was beginning to understand how evil men think.
HOOVES & HARLOTS
 In HOOVES AND HARLOTS, Xena met an old enemy while Gabrielle showed her courage again, and finally got to learn about weapons.
Melosa, Queen of the Amazons, with Xena and Ephiny
in HOOVES AND HARLOTS .
The Changing Xena
Xena seeking cover from a wayward arrow
 This episode raised many questions about Xena's past, but answered very few of them. Xena was an Amazon hero, which is not too surprising, but where she learned Amazon ways were never discussed. Xena refused to give a single hint of where she learned these skills.
 Xena knows how to use more weapons than just her sword, whip, knife, and chakram. In this episode, she also used a staff and chobos. Xena chose to fight Queen Melosa with the queen's best weapons, chobos, rather than ones that Xena had specialized in. Xena was perceptive and confident enough to know she had to win against Melosa at what Melosa was best at to gain Melosa's help and respect. Xena also chose not to kill Melosa, as the fight demanded, but let her live to help stop the war. This may have been because Xena and Gabrielle could not stay to lead the Amazons, but also may have been because Xena tried to avoid killing those she did not have to and thought that Queen Melosa could be won over.
 It was not surprising that Xena knew a lot about centaurs because she fought Centaurs in her evil days. It was because of this that she knew that the centaurs did not kill Terreis. Despite having battled the centaurs and being their enemy, Xena risked her life to try and stop a war with them. She even used her medical skill to save a centaurs' life after he attacked her. At the end, she told Tyldus, her old centaur enemy, that "You said I taught you the meaning of war. You taught me it's the fights you chose and the people you protect." Despite having been an enemy to Tyldus, she still was willing to help and learn from him.
 Also, in the ending battle, Xena stopped Melosa from killing the arm's dealer, Krykus. Xena showed that she had now changed her honor code from killing in revenge to having a fair trial.
The Changing Gabrielle
Gabrielle learning what it means to be an Amazon Princess
 Gabrielle started off as her usual self, but ended having learned a few new lessons. She began by making a badly received joke to the Amazons. However she did point out the fact that she was interested in and had learned (unlike most women of her time) about history and other subjects. She then went on to throw herself over a wounded Amazon, Terreis, in an attempt to protect her from the arrows. She had shown selfless courage before for Xena, but this impressed Terreis. So much so that Terreis, while dying, gave Gabrielle her Right of Caste, or her rank in Amazon society, despite the protests of another Amazon, Ephiny.
 This is where Gabrielle started to change. First, she did not know what she had just accepted, so she did not tell Xena about it. For the first time, Gabrielle did not protest being left behind because she wanted to know what she just had accepted. When she learned she was an Amazon Princess, she thought only of the glamour of it. When she picked a weapon, she said she did not like swords, and could not use a bow well, so she picked a war-staff. Gabrielle picked up the basic moves on the staff quickly, but it was not until Ephiny gave her a demonstration on how to kill a centaur that Gabrielle finally learned the reality and responsibility of carrying a weapon. Gabrielle was finally learning what Xena had been telling her about weapons.
 When Gabrielle was forced into the other responsibilities of this Right of Caste, she got an even larger dose or reality. She had to kill the centaur, Phantes, who was accused of killing Terreis. He asked Gabrielle not to, but it was her death or his, and so she stood there having to decide which was more important to her: her morals or her life. Xena came and took that decision from her before she finally had to decide, but now she had started thinking about and forming her fighting morals.
 Another interesting point was when Melosa ordered Phantes to be killed, it was another Amazon, not Gabrielle, that held the sword to his throat. Evidently the Amazons did not think Gabrielle would decide to kill Phantes.
 Yet another interesting point came up when Xena started her challenge to Queen Melosa. Gabrielle took a while to catch on to what Xena wanted of her, but she trusted Xena enough to follow Xena's lead. Also, Gabrielle was confident that Xena would win until Xena did not reassure her. Gabrielle learned that Xena was not always sure she would win.
 In the end, Gabrielle used her staff to help save Ephiny in the battle. Ephiny respected this enough that she listened to Gabrielle tell the stories of their adventures and then gifted her with her war staff. Again, Gabrielle has earned herself respect for what she did.
Gabrielle, Ephiny, Melosa, and Xena take the chariots out for a little spin
 For once Xena's horse and centaur knowledge is off. Xena says that 'centaurs carry more weight on their front feet' and that is how she knows it was a centaur. Well, horses (even without a rider) carry 60-65% of their weight on their forehand. If nothing else, Xena should have said that centaurs carry MORE weight on their front feet. It is a good thing Ephiny found some better evidence.
THE BLACK WOLF
Xena and Diomedes
 In THE BLACK WOLF (#11), Xena learns about how she affected some old friends and Gabrielle shows her courage and cleverness.
"The times change people, and people change the times.
--Xena, THE BLACK WOLF
The Changing Xena
Xena reminiscing with Flora
 Xena rides into a town on Argo, but Gabrielle is no where in sight. Xena hands her horse over to a horseshoer when suddenly she notices a woman being pushed down by a bunch of guards. What does Xena do? She takes on the guards and saves the woman, of course. The woman happens to be someone that lived in her village when she was young.
 According to the opening, Xena sometimes rides ahead or without Gabrielle. In this instance, Xena is not just scouting, since she is handing Argo over to get her shoes changed which will take a bit of time. This seems to indicate Xena's confidence that Gabrielle can travel on her own safely, or at least catch up to her safely.
 The next interesting thing to notice is that Xena takes on the guards in their own center of power (near the castle) without stopping to find out what is wrong: pushing a woman is crime enough. Then again, Xena did not kill any of them for it. Someday, though, this tendency to get into fights without knowing the cause might get her into trouble.
 Also, in THE BLACK WOLF (#11), Xena runs into the mother of an old friend. Someone who was there when her village was attacked, in fact. Yet instead of treating Xena like she was a curse, the woman is happy to see her and starts chatting with her about her family. When Xena meets Flora and says that she has changed her ways, Flora said she had heard. Again, Flora treats her like a friend. This seems to show that Xena did not earn everyone's complete hatred when she led her village into battle, and her reputation as having changed is becoming widespread and is believed.
 Xena promises to get Flora out of the dungeon, so she promptly breaks into the castle and walks in on the ruler's discussion. He wants to kill the Black Wolf, but he does not know which of the prisoners it is. Xena, in fine Xena form, says she will find the Black Wolf for him and sets a high price for her services. As always, greedy people understand money and since she demands such an exorbitant price, her intentions are believed. This still works, despite her growing reputation as a good-doer.
 They arrange a fake arrest in public, then Xena is thrown into the dungeon and proceeds to find Flora. During the fake arrest, Xena kicks the stuffing out of the captain of the guards. She even gets away with it by saying they had to make it believable. Wounding his male pride almost gets her in trouble later, when she is thrown into the water pit. Still, she gets thrown into the dungeon like she wanted. While looking for Flora, several men get in her way. Xena goes tough, dispatching them (or about to) with no trouble. She earns a little wary respect from this, which is useful in a dungeon.
 Xena's interaction with Flora tells us a great deal about Xena's youth. Flora says that Xena knew even back then how to read people and knew what they needed to hear. Xena taught Flora to use a sword, so she also taught her villager men and women to fight against Cortese. She also taught Flora how to embroider, so it would seem Xena did start of with a somewhat normal girl's life and learned the usual skills. Also, Xena would trick Flora by climbing into a tree, offering her hand, and saying "You've gotta have faith" then pulling her hand away from Flora. Xena was cruel in her lessons, never explaining them, even when she was young. Flora was like a sister to Xena, yet she still was hard in her lessons.
 Some other things happen in Xena's relationship with Flora during this episode. Xena still considers Flora young. She calls her 'young Flora' to her mother, then plans to carry Flora out of the dungeon on her back, despite than fact Flora is grown up and a Black Wolf. Xena picks on how Flora is making a knot, when Flora has been doing that sort of thing for a while. Even when Xena starts respecting Flora, in the final fight, Xena throws Flora her sword and fights bare-handed so that Flora can have a weapon. Despite this, Xena is willing to risk her friends life when she quickly decides to hand Flora over to the captain.
 Again, Xena shows how observant she is. She finds the escape tunnel the Black Wolves where making before the guards did. She knows when their escape is going bad because 'it was too easy.' She figures out that Flora is the Black Wolf when the Wolves worked so hard to hide that fact. Xena knows what to say and do to get the support of the Wolves and the belief of the ruler. Xena mixes or tells just enough of the truth to be believed and twists the rest to make herself believable to whoever she is talking to. Again, Xena's past makes her uniquely suited to using the evil people to help her rather than outright opposing them like Hercules does (and can, with his strength).
The Changing Gabrielle
An excited Salmoneus tells a nonplussed Gabrielle about his 'Wolf Pack'
 Gabrielle is moving up in the world. She can travel by herself, or at least this time she is. Xena defends her as "my friend" to Salmoneus. She gets to help ferret out the dungeon spy. Gabrielle even gets to carry an important message to Diomedes about Xena's plan to free them. In the final fight, Gabrielle even manages to hold her own with her staff.
 Gabrielle finds a way to help Xena, even though she did not know anything about why Xena got thrown in dungeon. She not only finds a way to get Xena her whip and chakram unnoticed, but finds a clever way to get thrown into the dungeon without getting hurt. She even manages to find a way to get free of Salmoneus, which is quite a feat. Still, she obviously needs to work on her bad girl image since the guards did not believe she threw the tomato.
The Changing Argo
Xena gives Argo instructions
 We learn Argo likes to eat a lot of grain when she gets it, and that somehow she can make Xena think that perfectly trimmed hooves look like they need work.