Xena: Season Two

Click here for Season One Review

Xena and Gabrielle, as obvious as the affection and attraction was in the first season, the second season is when the show really began to grow and play in the Xenaverse.

Despite the episodes where Gabrielle and more rarely, Xena’s head is turned towards a man, more often, it’s because of the god’s messing about or as a distraction to something else in the episode that wants to be less noticed than are they lesbians or not?

Yes, Xena and Gabrielle were a couple from the beginning and were a couple in any meaningful sense of the term – always returning to each other, even from death.

Episode 1: Orphan of War

Xena reveals her deepest secret to Gabrielle: Xena has a son – Solan.

Episode 2: Remember Nothing

The Fates change the world to one in which Xena never lifted a sword in defense or anger, but only for as long as Xena can resist the sword – in this episode, Gabrielle is a bitter slave, because Xena wasn’t there to rescue her, but naturally, she saves Gabrielle in the alternate world.

Nothing stands between them, not even alternative selves.

Episode 3: The Giant Killer

Another of the under the radar religious episodes, Xena helps David defeat her friend, Goliath. Xena and Gabrielle are back burned during the episode.

Episode 4: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

This episode turns up the teasing of the lesbian audience, by turning Xena and Gabrielle into Baccus following vampires, putting the bite on each other.

It’s as if this was the nod to the lesbian fans by throwing us a nibble – watching now in 2011, it is not entirely clear when Xena and Gabrielle were sexual, this is the last episode where it’s possible that they weren’t yet having sex, because they certainly were a sexual couple after this episode.

Episode 5: Return of Callisto

Gabrielle’s childhood sweetheart, Perdicus returns and separates Xena and Gabrielle with marriage. Fortunately, destiny has other plans, Callisto escapes from prison in time to slay Perdicus and return Gabrielle to Xena.

I remember the kiss between Xena and Gabrielle following the wedding to be really racey, and it probably was in 1996. It seems chaste in 2011.

Episode 6: Warrior… Princess… Tramp

A favorite episode that reunites Xena with her Princes Diana doppleganger and introduces a second doggleganger – Meg – the one who never got a break and is getting by as best she can, which is mostly to play duplicate patsy to the episode’s bad guy. Meg comes into her own in the final season.

This episode has Meg running a bawdy house where Joxer is a regular, and features the first true musical number of the show when the brothel babes sing a rousing and non-warrior version of Joxer’s theme song.

While there’s not much action for Xena and Gabrielle, this is one of the bawdier episodes with Hestian Virgins doing untraditional things with vegetables and what we hope but know isn’t a petting zoo inside the brothel.

With sexcapades like that, mere lesbianism is so pedestrian.

Episode 7: Intimate Stranger

Callisto escapes the afterlife and changes bodies with Xena, so the running theme of this story arc that saw Lucy Lawless in hospital following her horse fall – was could Gabrielle still love and remain with Xena, even though she was in the body of her worst enemy?

Love conquers all, even death and body transfers.

Episode 8: Ten Little Warlords

Xena is trapped in Callisto’s body until she can restore Ares’ godhood so he can make the body switch.

Episode 9: A Solstice Carol

Xena and Gabrielle retell the Dickens classic Christmas story, reimaged in a pagan solstice context, throw in the Santa Claus origins and a splash of born in the manger for good measure.

We don’t know, it could have happened that way.

Episode 10: The Xena Scrolls

The first of the “descendant” stories. Set in 1940, the descendants of Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer located Gabrielle’s scrolls and keep Aries from getting loose in a world at war.

For a playful reversal, Gabrielle is a female Indiana Jones and Xena is a slightly repressed librarian type.

Episode 11: Here She Comes… Miss Amphipolis

One of the best and edgiest episodes.

Xena enters a pagent for peace as Miss Amphipolis (her home village) and Gabrielle poses as her sponsor. Gabrielle chastises the other sponsors – all warlords – to treat their girlfriend/contestants as equal partners – while Xena teaches the other contestants to be their own women.

Episode 12: Destiny

Xena returns to the site of Callisto’s village ruins, confronting her path to becoming the Destroyer of Nations and her past encounter with Julius Caesar. While Xena’s comas provides the back story for upcoming episodes, Gabrielle struggles to save Xena’s life by bringing her to a remotely located healer, who is unable to help Xena.

Episode 13: The Quest

Gabrielle’s attempst to take Xena’s body home is complicated by would-be thieves, Amazon dynasty squabbles, and Xena’s attempts to return to Garielle by possessing Autolycus.

This episode had the first true love kiss between Xena and Gabrielle and set off a firestorm of does it count that they kiss in the spirit plane, but it was Autolycus’ lips in real life.

To which I say, it was a kiss between Xena and Gabrielle, who loved each other – because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have kissed at all, regardless of who’s body Xena was present in.

It wouldn’t be the last of the great love teases.

Episode 14: A Necessary Evil

Xena and Gabrielle take on two mortals turned goddesses who are determined to destroy them. Love is a great motivator to conquering all.

Episode 15: A Day in the Life

After the high stakes and excitement of the previous episodes, this episode provided a glimpse into the every day life of Xena and Gabrielle, and it shows what an integrated couple they were – fighting over chores, teasing each other over the mundanities.

Of particular interest are the bathing sequences, but more than that, the introduction of fannish characters within the Xenaverse.

Episode 16: For Him the Bell Tolls

A Xena light episode, Gabrielle resolves some Aphrodite hijinks that turned Joxer into a Xena class warrior.

Episode 17: The Execution

Gabrielle and Xena rescue a warrior from a wrongful execution.

Episode 18: Blind Faith

Temporarily blind, Xena rescues Gabrielle from a plot to see her married off and buried with the King.

This episode is one of several where a gay man character is on hand to teach all about queenliness – in addition to being the sole representative of everything civilized and cultured.

Episode 19: Ulysses

Another episode that I normally skip. The show gets it’s Greek on with the classic Ulysses tale, but is another throwaway episode of Xena being attracted to a man she will never leave Gabrielle for, but are periodically done to preserve the appearance of heterosexuality for the network or for the censors.

Episode 20: The Price

Xena as to think like Evil Xena to save a beleaguered Athenian outpost under siege; putting her at odd with Gabrielle’s desire to care for the wounded.

Episode 21: Lost Mariner

Xena rescues Gabrielle from the the cursed ship of Cecrops.

Episode 22: A Comedy of Eros

The baby of Cupid & Psyche, on the loose with Daddy’s love-bow, complicates Xena’s attempt to stop Draco from attacking a temple of Hestian virgins.

We are again teased when Gabrielle is struck by a love arrow and the action slows down for every agonizing moment of Gabrielle seeing Joxer, not Xena, and falling in love.

Hi comedy and jinks ensue with Xena in love with Draco in love with Gabrielle in love with Joxer, who returns her love with true love.

Fag Hags and Gal Pals

It’s curious to me that straight women and gay men have two strongly bonded relationships – the fag hag and the gay best friend – while there are no parallel relationships being lesbians and straight men.

For context, I beleive in diversity when it comes to friends – the more kinds the merrier. But the Fag/Fag Hag relationship seems to be a particularly unhealthy relationship, when a woman makes a gay man the centre of her emotional well being, because it is a role that a gay man cannot fulfill, they can do anything for love, but they can’t be straight.

At least, there seems to be no parallel between straight men and lesbians; but I think it’s there – just not named.

Yes, anyone can be friends with anyone, and without any subtext and in all honesty, some of my best friends over my life have been and are straight men – but these friendships were on par with any other friendship with any other person – the closeness was owing and arising from the personality rather than tapping into any social role.

And it’s movies and TV programs that reflect the relationships that we form in life, art reflecting life, which is in return, copied back into real life.

It used to seem like there were straight people and gay people and each side contained the genders; but when you consider people behaviorally in a broader spectrum, neurologically, it seems that gay men have much more in common with straight women than with straight men – but straight men and lesbians also have overlaps, they do not form the same friendships and relationships that gay men and straight women do.

At some levels, the strong bonds between gay men and straight women can be harmful, if not counterproductive. A fag hag is not merely a woman who enjoys the company of gay men and is friends with some or one in particular, but rather the fag hag is a woman who is in love with a gay man that she cannot fulfill a romantic and sexual relationship with – in a way, he is her idealized safety net that prevents her from forming romantic bonds with an available male, who could harm her, disappoint her or let her down – all the things that happen in a real relationship from time to time.

In a way, the fag hag to fag relationship, is reflected in the current angsty virginal teen to vampire – an eternally unrequited love, the attraction between innocence and a self aware darkness, the promise to be unfulfilled, lest it wholly consumes and destroys the parties.

As a lesbian, it has been a curiosity to me to see straight women flock to be – not groupies in the rock n roll sense, or harem in the Arabian sense – but a level of fannish girl crushes in adult women who are otherwise fully engaged in life – marriage, children, work and personal relationships, – never the less, turn into swooney teens and indulge in some kind of group fantasy of unrequited and therefore safe attraction and semi-devotion to attractive, but needy and insecure gay men who, not exactly string the women along, but who certainly revel in the attention.

Although, it seems that there are some on both sides who take it farther – to the fag/fag hag stage – and the gay man and straight woman, end up in a tight bond of everything that is meaningfully a marriage relationship, except for the sex, which, the woman is often so devoted to the gay man, that she doesn’t form romantic or sexual relationships with available straight men, and accepts that the gay man is having sexual and romantic or sexual relations with other gay men.

It occurs to me to wonder why these women are seeking such strong emotional attachments that can do anything for her, but it can’t do that one thing.

In a parallel, I also wonder about women who work in the criminal justice system, who fixate on a prisoner, often going so far as to marry him – full knowing he is in jail for life, often for violence crimes against women for rape and murder. What is it about him? That forbidden, that he has harmed and maimed and killed, and that you will be the one woman to save him? To rescue him from himself? To be so loveable that a man who has harmed, maimed and killed other women won’t be able to treat you in the same way? To be unattainable because imprisonment holds you apart and wreck vengeance?

Is love for violent prisoners incarcerated a manifestation of the vampire’s self imposed restraint?

Do we just enjoy flirting with disaster and our own destruction?

After all, to fall so completely in love with someone we cannot have for some reason – they aren’t real, they are gay, they are in jail – that they would harm us either by taking our lives, as in the case of vampires and criminals, or use our life vitality, as in vampires and gay men – what is the fatal attraction that straight women seem to have for the unattainable, the harmful, the destructive?

Is this fatal attraction what separates straight women from lesbians – and why lesbians do not have comparable relationship intensities with straight men as straight women do to gay men?

It’s not like fatal attraction to the unattainable is absent from lesbians – many desire straight women – to rescue or steal from the men, the unattainable, the forbidden the unconquerable holds a fascination, has a compelling aspect, a siren song that is difficult to ignore for some.

But consider:

During World War II, the men of Canada and America went abroad, while the women stayed home with all the other broads.

The woman who stayed home and became Rosie the Rivetter became friends with the men who didn’t qualify for military service. The Geeks.

Geek men, charlie males, computer – dungeons and dragons – anime – braniacs – these are the men that are friends to lesbians – our Gal Pals.

Men who aren’t afraid of strong women, who admire them even, just as they are.

Joss Whedon, creator of the Buffyverse, and Robert Tapert, creator of the Xenaverse, are Gal Pals.

They are guys who are pals to women, who are strong, who are determined, and who are willing to leave their own unique mark upon the world.

Getting Over It

I don’t know that there’s ever a getting over an event that results in Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome – especially if it’s a series of related traumas, one after the other with no respite or recovery in between.

Just a never ending escalating conflict wherein your values and ideals are destroyed, distorted and damaged, and nothing you can do, nothing you can think and no one to protect, guide or salvage you from harm.

Being bullied in the workplace is far more destructive than bullied in the schoolyard. It seems worse as a younger person, but that’s because of the innocence of the world, school bullying makes your world as bad as bad can be in the context, but as a child and teen – you have parents who can go to the school board, you have a buffer zone that you don’t have an adult.

As a child or teen, you haven’t had as much world experience to know anything other what what’s normal for you, what’s the average normal for your peers and what’s normal for a few other individuals who seek to impose their will upon everyone else – the bullies.

As a child or teen, you maintain the illusion that the adults have the means to set things right.

So imagine being an adult, and knowing that adults ignore the means that they have to set things right, in favour of imposing their will and norms upon a workforce, where the current economic situation is that moving careers or jobs is difficult and your mortgage and well being is dependent upon being a contributing and productive member of the workforce.

But the workplace bullies won’t let you do meaningful work, just duplicate busy work so they can have enough work as managers to manage their staffing levels; without regard to work to worker ratios and without the well being of said staff as a consideration.

It seems to me that we know much more than we admit that we know in society. Organizations are like people, they have personalities, the whole of the sum of employees – from the senior-est management down through the ranks to the lowest of the low.

How the levels interact with each other; this is the heart of the corporate culture, in what ways are people supported and in what ways are they undermined. How much productivity is generated, given all the corporate culture problems, versus where we could be productivity wise, if the corporate culture was better.

So why aren’t we looking at the human resources statistics more – turnover because of employees leaving vs employees being promoted. The number of complaints filed against management and the mix of one time complaints versus repeat complainers – because this are the people who are pointing out the areas of serious corporate culture problems.

Think of it like a politican – if a person sends an email to complain vs writes a letter vs sends in a petition vs hundreds of people writing about the same issue – it takes a lot to motive a person to go above and beyond their job – so anyone who actually files a complaint, needs to be listened to, because they are upset enough to stick out their hand or neck and get it slapped or cut off to tell you what’s wrong.

A person shouldn’t have to repeatedly make the same complaint over and over before they get listened to – their claim considered at the lowest possible level to be sure – but if it’s the lower level getting heard is the problem – then senior management needs to be paying attention and not ignoring the trends of complaints or repeated complaints.

This means that the employees are trying to get your attention – and ignoring that complaint process, not giving employees a fair hearing is only telling the employee that the corrective process is defective by design – it’s like the button that shuts down the assembly line, it’s there so you never push it, not intended for use.

So employees beat their head against the corrective process wall and bide their time until they have the means to leave, or they give up and become part of the corporate culture that ensures the problems continue.

In any event, people fall through the gaps in the processes that are supposed to help and are hindered at every turn.

So it’s little wonder that there is so much discontent and rage, wanting a change, needing a leader, a champion to say what that change should be.

 

Collective Psychological Wellness

The symptoms of workers off on disability should be a clue as to the collective mental state or personality disorders (diagnosis wise) of their direct management and senior management

Particularly if the employees were going to senior management for help with concerns about their direct management.

It seems to me that if an organization like the US Military can use population statistics of suicides, PTSD, workplace violence, and other behaviour disorder statistics, such as spousal or child abuse, to take an overall mental health snapshot of the military personnel – and then extrapolate that back to the population demographics

That large employers, such as the civil service are also excellent laboratories for study of mental unwellness. However, this serves no purpose unless it’s to ensure that no one falls down cracks or gets lost in the time table of moving through the process.

There is much we can be doing to make life better, there only needs to be the leadership will to do so.