I’ve gotten a little behind in my Xena reviews. We’ve started in on the final season, when there was no longer any pretending about Xena and Gabrielle’s couple state – heck, even the Valkyries in the the Norse Cycle, recognized Xena and Gabrielle as soul-mates, when one Valkyrie protected Gabrielle’s body as an eternal flame that could only be cross by her soul-mate, Xena, to restore Gabrielle to the living and undo the damage that Xena wrought.
I think that it’s true, if you go looking for something, you tend to find it – and Xena was wonderful as a tease for lesbian with just enough plausible doubt to keep the censorship forces at bay.
It’s funny/sad to think about how hard that show had to work in the pre-L Word days to hide the central relationship of the show in plain site in order for people to focus on the show and not get hung up that it’s a show about a lesbian couple.
Episode 1: The Furies
Ares convinces The Furies to drive Xena insane as part of his plan to get Xena back, but even crazy Xena is too clever for him – and it’s her love for Gabrielle that keeps Xena fighting.
Episode 2: Been There, Done That
Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are trapped in an endless repeating day, until Xena figures out how to prevent True Love between a Romeo and Juliet being lost in a town erupting in a blood feud.
In any episode where Xena or Gabrielle come close to death or actually die, we see their true relationship – complete love and devotion beyond death, nothing comes between them.
Episode 3: The Dirty Half Dozen
Xena provides an opportunity for four prisoners slated for execution to redeem themselves by doing a good service by stopping a warlord that Aries has provided magical Armour for.
Xena, as much as she wants to be a force for good in the world, many times over the series, had to draw on her dark side to carry the battle – and her commitment to good deeds, is largely down to wanting to be worthy of Gabrielle’s love.
Episode 4: The Deliverer
Episode 5: Gabrielle’s Hope
Xena’s hatred of Caesar takes the duo to Britannia; where Xena helps Boadicea against Caesar and Gabrielle falls into the clutches of a religious cult, looses her blood innocence by taking an innocent life and becoming the vessel for the evil god Dahak’s offspring, who Gabrielle names Hope.
And, with many lesbian couples, it’s hard on the non-biological parent – and Xena demands that Gabrielle kill the baby. Kidding – Xena knows that Hope must die to prevent Dahak from entering the world, it’s not because Xena has issues not being the baby daddy. Lesbians are blended family tolerant, but offspring of evil gods, changes the perspective a little.
The important thing that comes back later is that Xena lost sight of what was going on with Gabrielle because of her hatred for Caesar – if they hadn’t gone, if Xena hadn’t left Gabby to her own devices, if Gabby could have listened….
These episodes sets up all the future relationship unraveling.
Episode 6: The Debt: Part 1
Episode 7: The Debt: Part 2
Leaving Gabrielle behind, Xena travels to the Kingdom of Chin to assassinate an evil ruler to ensure the good done by Lao Ma, the woman who put Xena on the path to The Way.
Furious that Xena would abandon their shared path of good, Gabrielle makes a deal with Aries to get to Chin first, planning to stop Xena from murder and mostly, to find out what Lao Ma had that Gabrielle didn’t.
These episodes add more fuel to the break up and hatred that is rising between our girls.
Episode 8: The King of Assassins
A Xena light and humour episode after all the darkness, Gabrielle, Autolycus, and Joxer stop Joxer’s identical appearing but completely bad ass brother Jett, a cold-blooded assassin, from assassinating Cleopatra.
In this episode, we also discover that the Might Joxer song began as a childhood taunt – Joxer the Tidy instead of Joxer the Mighty; giving us a glimpse that Joxer’s delusions of competence are a childhood dream of belonging – and you wonder how much better his life would have been, had he settled down with a trade – because in season six, we find out that he ends up married to Meg and operating a tavern – a Xena and Gabrielle Hard Rock Tavern, but a tavern nonetheless.
Episode 9: Warrior… Priestess… Tramp
Xena and Gabrielle discover another Xena-lookalike – this time, Leah, the Hestian Virgin Head Priestess and that Meg impersonating her, but this time, Meg’s been duped into thinking she’s doing good by taking over for a priestess that she’s been told has run away.
This is one of my favorites and it’s certainly the most raunchy episode ever.
Between Leigh chastising Xena and Gabrielle for not being virgins – even Gabrielle’s protest of being married has no impact; as, Leah replies, we all have our little excuses.
Meanwhile, Xena impersonates Meg impersonating Leah and has a battle with the bad guys while the Hestian virgins are confessing to sexual feelings and encounters with garden vegetables.
Also in this episode, a bawdy brothel version of the Joxer song.
Episode 10: The Quill Is Mightier…
A miffed Aphrodite charms Gabrielle’s scroll so that anything written comes true, more or less. More less than more.
Gabrielle tries to write a fictional adventure of her own, sending Xena off for a spot of fishing – Xena fishes a lot in the series, catching fish by hand more often than by pole. If you get where that’s going….wink wink nudge
The highlight is when Joxer, full knowing the scroll shapes reality, brings three Naked Go Go Gabrielles.
Episode 11: Maternal Instincts
Xena and Gabrielle travel to the centaurs’ lands and visit Solan.
Gabrielle’s not dead daughter, Hope, returns Callisto back into the world and kills Solan with poison.
Xena and Gabrielle rage at each other over the loss of their children and at each other in a power struggle of relationship dominance and recrimination for errors in judgement. Everything that’s been pulling them apart finally succeeds.
Episode 12: The Bitter Suite
Predating the Buffy Musical episode by three years, Xena and Gabrielle face their betrayals in an alternate world of Illusia – a magical and musical place.
The most brilliant episode of the series, it dealt on an epic operatic scale the betrayals of the past episodes; subverting the usual roles of the support casting – Callisto instead of being a crazy murderer is a crazy singing guide to Illusia.
Only the most dead inside of person could not be affected by the declaration of purest love and forgiveness that Xena delivers to Gabrielle and Solan.
Episode 13: One Against an Army
Who needs 300 Spartans when just one Xena and an injured Gabrielle can hold off the Persian army of100,000 strong?
Episode 14: Forgiven
With Gabrielle and Xena completely a couple, sidekick wannabes start to show up – seeking to separate the two. Oh, and recover the Urn of Appollo which gives people second chances by purifying them of past deeds.
I never thought of it then, but this is something that seems to happen in Lesbianworld – you form a couple and all your friends want to be in a couple just like you – and the easily way to get that is to poach someone already in such a couple. Seriously, it’s messed up and it’s wrong – if you can steal one of a couple, then they weren’t that much of a couple to start with and it’s not a solid foundation for your own couplehood status, by poaching, you’re basically saying we’re together until one of us is lured away. And you start knowing who’s stealable and who doesn’t respect boundaries.
Episode 15: King Con
A humour episode wherein Joxer is beaten by thugs who operate a gambling palace to steal back his winnings; which Joxer had lost to con artists.
Xena forces the con artists to make things right by helping to shut down the gambling palace. The con artists have a side bet where one is trying to get Xena to kiss him – but unlike other episodes where men are temptations, there is no sense at all that Xena is falling for this inside con game.
As funny as some of the episode was, and the cons inside cons, it fell down for me at the begining – after all – who is going to gamble, given that the house normally wins coupled with a gambling palace that has no qualms about beating or killing you to regain what you’ve won from them.
Gambling is about winning, no matter how remote the odds and probabilities – but even the most dedicated gambler is not going to patronize a place that literally beats you.
Episode 16: When in Rome…
Xena keeps her wits about her in this Julius Caesar encounter while Gabrielle learns why Xena hates the Romans and their political machinations. Gabrielle causes the execution of a Roman.
Episode 17: Forget Me Not
Tortured by the things she has done and suffered in the last months, Gabrielle decides to come to the temple of Mnemosine, the Goddess of Memory, where she could forget all the bad memories along with her good memories – including Xena.
Episode 18: Fins, Femmes and Gems
Aphrodite has her pet thugs deliver a stolen diamond to her temple at Parnassus, and distracts Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer with am obsession potion – making Xena obsesses with fishing (again!), Joxer with an ape man legend and Gabrielle with herself.
The Story of Gabrielle, a musical series classic!
Episode 19: Tsunami
Xena the Poseidon Adventure – trapped on an upside down and sunked ship, Xena has to figure out how to escape a watery death while preventing her fellow trapees from killing each other to conserve air.
Episode 20: Vanishing Act
When an enormous statue commemorating Peace is stolen from a seaside village, Autolycus fears the loss of his title of King of Thieves and recruits Xena to help him steal it back.
Episode 21: Sacrifice: Part 1
Episode 22: Sacrifice: Part 2
One of Gabrielle’s friends, Seraphin, is about to be sacrificed to bring forth a goddess. Xena and Gabrielle stop the sacrifice, fearing the goddess to be Callisto when it’s Hope, whose rebirth would be another attempt for Dahak’s entrance in the world.
Hope, appearing exactly like Gabrielle, prepares with Ares the sacrifice which will bring Dahak into our world.
Callisto, frustrated that Hope won’t give her the longed for oblivion, joins Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer, on the condition that Xena kills Callisto in a manner where there is no afterlife.