Whoosh! Issue 18 - March 1998


IAXS project #004b
By Richard Carter Jr
Copyright © 1998 held by author
2079 words

Introduction (01-03)
Tests, Allies, And Enemies (04-17)
     Contrast (05-07)
     Testing (08-13)
     Allies and Enemies (14-17)
Conclusion (18-21)

The Hero's Path:
Gabrielle as Focal Hero in Xena: Warrior Princess
Part 2 - The Second Season


Gabrielle plays  dress-up'.

Gabrielle was the last thing Xena expected to see at this point in THE DEBT.

[01] In the first edition of this series ["The Hero's Path: Gabrielle as Focal Hero in Xena: Warrior Princess"], I proposed that Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) was actually the journey of Gabrielle becoming a hero based upon a style of storytelling promoted by the work of Joseph Campbell, and repackaged for writers by Christopher Vogler. I am not changing my tune, but based upon the feedback I have received, I would like to make something clear before I continue. Gabrielle becoming a hero is not dependent upon her also becoming a warrior. While there is some correlation in the fact that as Gabrielle is on her hero's journey, she is also learning the ways of the warrior, this is incidental. I am guilty, perhaps, of not making this clearer in the beginning, and I am sure I will be guilty of marrying the two ideas again. A hero, like any person, is the sum of their experiences, and a major part of Gabrielle is and will be the experience of the warrior -- at least as long as she hangs around with Xena.

[02] The first edition of this series began, as it was wont to do, at the beginning. We explored Gabrielle's nascent heroism as she met up with Xena and began her travels. She moved from the ordinary world, answered her call to adventure, confronted her refusal to join the adventure, met with various mentors, and found herself entering the adventure with both eyes open, ready to face tests, allies, and enemies.

[03] Where the first season ended, the second season continues with Gabrielle in the stage known as Tests, Allies, and Enemies. The season is a progression of Gabrielle through this one facet of the hero's journey, a dangerous and important learning stage for the neophyte hero. In this involved stage of her personal growth, Gabrielle must come to terms with the rules of her new world, and the complications and ramifications of those rules.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies

[04] Joseph Campbell described this special world of our hero's journey as, "A dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials." [The Hero With A Thousand Faces", Bollingen Series/Princeton University Press 1973] Gabrielle found herself in this new world toward the end of season one of XWP. That she stays in this stage of her journey for the entire season would initially seem to be limiting her growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike most of the other stages of her road to becoming a true hero, this is a complicated period of development, with many stages of its own for the hero to survive.


[05] Is there a contrast between this special world and the ordinary world? How have the rules changed? How does this affect our hero?

[06] When we first met Gabrielle and the people of Poteidaia in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), and again later in THE PRODIGAL (18/118), we see that the ordinary world is one of violence sent upon the weak by the strong. How is Gabrielle's life different now? Is not her world still one of weak vs. strong? Sometimes. Sometimes it is also a world of strong vs. strong. The distinction does not matter. The contrast is not in the cycle of violence and intimidation, the contrast is in attitude.

Gabrielle delights at Xena's helium antics.

Gabrielle makes her debut in SINS OF THE PAST.

[07] What separated Gabrielle from almost all of the villagers she and Xena have tried to help in the course of their travels is her refusal to be a victim. It is not in her nature -- but it took Xena to help channel that streak of defiance into a more mature air of (still fledgling) bravery and courage. The acts of bravado Gabrielle first exhibited in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101) of being willing to offer herself in exchange for the freedom of her fellow Poteidaians at first seemed to have been a one-shot instance of Gabrielle's latent heroic abilities. However, in REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), we see that even without Xena's guidance, Gabrielle would become a formidable force -- albeit one whose view of the world has become cynical and myopic. We can still see "our" Gabrielle in this alternate universe Gabrielle. The hero has always been there, but, in this universe, she is forced to find small personal victories in acts of defiance against her slavers, and in the other she is guided onto a path that sets her course to becoming a hero.


[08] For someone to become a hero, it is important for their mettle to be challenged. Generally, the obstacles in this phase do not have the dire life-or-death stakes of the later stages of a hero's development, but that does not mean that mortal threats are ruled out.

[09] The most obvious test Gabrielle faced occurred in the middle of the second season with the trilogy of episodes: DESTINY (36/212), THE QUEST (37/213), and A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214). The pivotal event which forced Gabrielle to find new inner strength was the most recent, and seemingly permanent, death of Xena.

[10] The teaser of DESTINY (36/212) has Xena mortally injured in a fight. Gabrielle saves her friend from getting killed immediately, and earns herself a deep stab wound in her own leg. Xena asks Gabrielle to take her to Mount Nestos. Though Gabrielle does not know where that is, exactly, she knows that her mentor needs her to be the hero this time. As befits a heroic journey, the road to the mountain is difficult and pushes Gabrielle past what she thought was her physical ability to endure. Unfortunately, Gabrielle does not arrive at the lodging of the healer, Nicklio, in time to save Xena. Xena dies.

They really DO lift and separate.

Gabrielle tries to pass for Xena in THE GREATER GOOD.

[11] This does not end Gabrielle's journey. Back in THE GREATER GOOD (21/221), Gabrielle promised that if Xena died, she would take Xena back to be interred next to her brother Lyceus. Gabrielle sees this as a "no-brainer." The least she can do to honor her friend is to carry out her last wish. But testing means that in order for a hero to grow, plans must go awry. In THE QUEST [(37/213)], Gabrielle's simple plan to take Xena's body back to Amphipolis takes an unexpected detour.

[12] While crossing through the land of the Amazons, Gabrielle is reunited with Ephiny and members of the Amazon camp who she first met in HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110). That initial association, metaphorically, pushed Gabrielle onto the hero's path that Xena had been trying to protect her from. Gabrielle not only learns that because of the "right of caste" she accepted, and the queen's subsequent death, that she will be the new Amazon queen if she accepts the honor. A further complication to her quest occurs when the Amazons wish to honor Xena with an Amazon funeral -- complete with a pyre. Gabrielle soon learns that the Amazons truly need her to be their queen. She therefore learns and personalizes a lesson Xena learned only at the completion of her hero's journey -- that while honoring a friend and your word is important, the hero will sacrifice all in order to serve the greater good. As a result, Gabrielle ascends the throne and becomes the Queen of the Amazons. Not bad for a farm girl from Poteidaia.

[13] The test does not end there. There is still the little matter of bringing Xena back to life. That done, a new test arrives in A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214) -- the Amazon, Velasca, who wanted to become queen, has instead become a god and seeks revenge on Gabrielle. Gabrielle had never been hunted with such homicidal malevolence before. Xena brings forth a new ally, the recently immortal Callisto. The woman who was responsible for killing Gabrielle's husband is now enlisted to defeat Gabrielle's deific stalker. While it appeared that the lesson to be learned was that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", Gabrielle set forth on a new path -- that in order to move forward, she would have to forgive Callisto. The cycle of hate had to end. This revelation surprised Xena. In some ways it demonstrated that Gabrielle's self-knowledge makes her more heroic than Xena, who is trying to reach the same place of self-fulfillment, but, like Tantalus, seems to have it fall forever just beyond her reach.

Allies and Enemies

[14] Unlike the opening stages of her journey, the people Gabrielle meets now are less likely to be mentors and more easily fall into the camps of allies and enemies.

[15] Certainly Gabrielle's most fearsome foes were Callisto and Velasca, the would-be Amazon Queen. They both want to see Gabrielle dead, though for different reasons, and both have now become immortals -- which gives each of them a bit of an edge. Gabrielle knows that she is fortunate to be alive, and also knows that she will have only her head and heart, and not strength, the next time she is challenged by this deific duo of dastardly deeds. However, as mentioned before, Gabrielle's realization that in order to be strong she has to forgive her enemies, may have been an unintentional lesson that will always lead her to eventual victory as both Callisto and Velasca have a rage that makes them vulnerable.

Und den ve vill go out for de Black Forest cake.

In disguise the the "Marquessa" in HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS.

[16] The question of allies has been more focused this season, and the result is a kind of consolidation. As with Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939), once allies are met and become part of the journey, there comes a time when some bonding must occur. Without this bonding, our hero will likely find herself without friends willing to sacrifice all in order to save her at a crucial time in the future. While her relationship with Salmoneus, in HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211), is still improving, her trust in Autolycus is growing, and her father/daughter relationship with Meleager the Mighty is strengthened to the point where she is willing to sacrifice all in order to defend her belief in his innocence [THE EXECUTION (41/217)], it is with Joxer that the greatest and most important bonding occurs.

[17] It is clear that Gabrielle finds Joxer to be annoying. He is a braggart, he is not cunning, he is not a great fighter, he is not...well, he is not Xena. Be that as it may, Joxer is loyal. He takes Gabrielle's verbal barbs and yet he still puts himself at risk to help her. We first see this in RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205) where he confides to Xena that he understands the lack of respect. Still, he enters Callisto's lair and even takes an arrow to save his friends. Indeed, it was this brave act that allowed Xena the opportunity to ultimately save the day. From here he commits many acts which demonstrate his loyalty. He defends a fallen Argo from the person he believes to be Callisto [INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207)]. He joins with Gabrielle to defeat an unknown monster in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208). The major revelation occurs in A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222) where he discovers that he is in love with Gabrielle -- even though she does not take him seriously. Indeed, he will be by her side when it is necessary. He is a true ally, even though he is, as of yet, under-appreciated by our budding hero.


[18] To this point Gabrielle describes herself as "an over-achieving sidekick." While at first glance that seems to be a put-down on her part, it may be a matter of interpretation. A knight would go on his quest with a squire who would attend the knight -- a sort of medieval sidekick. Yet, one day, that squire, the lessons of questing learned (and if he survived), would graduate to become a knight in his own right. Looked at in this way, the over-achieving sidekick is clearly a knight in training.

[19] Gabrielle started down on the road with Xena in order to have adventures. The storyteller in her wanted more than to simply rehash what was already known. She knew that to become great she would have to leave Poteidaia and learn about the world.

[20] Now her future lies elsewhere. While the evidence indicates that she is the bard of bards in her own time, her future no longer lies solely on that path. Although she accidentally became an Amazon princess, she freely became their Queen. Her future is now tied to this legacy, and future events may have this as the source of the biggest test of all.

[21] To be continued as the story develops...


Richard Carter Jr Richard Carter Jr
A graduate of the University of Maryland, CJ (as he's known to just about everyone) has evolved to become a screenwriter and graphics-type person. When he isn't pursuing his work of writing and art, he can often be seen filling his free time with writing stuff and doing the art thing.
Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110)
Favorite line: Ephiny to Xena: "Now I see why you ride the horse." HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110); Callisto: "You're my li'l Hercules." A NECESSARY EVIL (38/14)
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: THE DELIVERER (50/304)

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