Whoosh! Issue 18 - March 1998


Whoosh! Series
By Debbie White
Copyright © 1998 held by author
2092 words

Editor's Note: CHANGING TIMES, a regular feature of Whoosh!, examines episodes of the internationally syndicated television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, 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.

     The Changing Xena (02-05)
     The Changing Gabrielle (06-10)
     The Changing Argo (11)
     The Changing Xena (13-18)
     The Changing Gabrielle (19-20)
     Note on Ares as a Mortal (21)

Changing Times:


[01] In INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207), Xena learns to accept only her guilt and not take on Callisto's, as well. Gabrielle learns what hate and anger (and love for Xena) can drive a person to, regardless of any codes of honor.

And another thing -- those bangs make you look like some ET harlot!

A 'family protrait' of sorts -- Callisto, Xena, Ares.

The Changing Xena

"You can't shut it out. It's like a crashing wave. Once it starts, you can't shut [guilt] out."
   -- Xena, INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207)

[02] Xena feels guilt for the death of Callisto. By her new code of honor, she does not have the right to judge other people's actions. By letting Callisto die, in order to save Gabrielle and the others that she loves, Xena broke the rules that she used to make her 'good.' Xena is dealing with a conflict between what may have been 'right' versus what may have been 'good'.

[03] Xena also feels she did not give Callisto a chance to change and to become good. She ignores the fact that she did offer to let Callisto free, but Callisto outright told her it would never work. Though Ares and Callisto had a hand in this guilt, Callisto still represents what Xena once was. She still wanted to give herself/Callisto every chance to change for the better.

[04] The new code of honor Xena lives by is not only causing her conflict, but may become a weakness in her fighting. Theodorus (a truly brilliant character and actor) knew that the real Xena would not be able to kill someone who was not actively threatening her or someone else. Xena would not be able to break her code to kill Theodorus and stop his army, but neither would she have the power to stop them from killing until she caught them in the act. Theodorus was creating a situation where Xena had to break her code or wait and let more people die. It is a pity for Theodorus that 'Xena' was really Callisto and she had no such compunction about killing people.

[05] Still, Xena has managed to learn that Callisto's killing is not her guilt. As Gabrielle has told Xena, "She choose her own path." Xena finally realizes, after almost taking Callisto's place is Hades, that Callisto is responsible for her own actions as Xena is responsible for her own, past and present. She did what she could to save Callisto, then gave back the guilt. From what Xena told Gabrielle at the end about ending the cycle of hatred through forgiveness, I am assuming Xena even forgave Callisto to a certain degree. For a warlord who killed for revenge and grudges and a warrior who cannot forgive herself for a mistake, she has come a long way.

The Changing Gabrielle

"And for some of us, [hatred] is all we ever really know."
   --Callisto, INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207)

Backflips?  I got your backflips right here, pal!

Gabrielle considers learning how to kill since Callisto murdered her husband.

[06] Gabrielle understands Callisto very well. She tells Xena that because of the guilt in Xena and the hate in Gabrielle and the jealously in Joxer that Callisto managed to cause, Callisto "won after all". Callisto got what she wanted, which was to torment Xena and her friends. Yet, Gabrielle is so trusting in Xena that she ignores it when Xena is not acting normally or making sense.

[07] Perhaps this is because Gabrielle is feeling a little guilty about causing Xena to let Callisto die. That may explain why she tells Xena (Callisto) that she does not want to kill, yet lets her teach her how to kill. That may be why Gabrielle is letting Xena (Callisto) make her responsible for killing 'Callisto.' Still, she is reluctant to take on the role of killer, even for 'Xena.'

[08] Gabrielle's weakness is Perdicus' death. She was able to hate and even hit Xena (Callisto) in that moment when Xena (Callisto) blinded her with hatred. Gabrielle felt sick after hitting 'Xena', her best friend, yet she was capable of doing it. And she did not take the breast dagger off the end of her staff when Xena (Callisto) left.

[09] When Gabrielle comes upon Xena (Callisto) and Callisto (Xena) fighting, she holds her make-shift spear to Callisto's (Xena) neck. Gabrielle is willing to kill to keep Xena safe, even after the way 'Xena' had been treating her. Still, she held back her anger over Perdicus' death long enough to listen to Callisto (Xena), demand an answer from the strange Xena (Callisto), and even believe Callisto (Xena).

[10] This is where Gabrielle makes a huge step. In RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), she comes close to killing for revenge. In INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207), she is willing to kill Callisto as her duty to keep Xena's conscience clean and to save Xena from Callisto. When Gabrielle learns that Xena is trapped in Callisto's body, she realizes she almost killed the wrong person. She almost killed her friend. She kicks the dagger from her staff, refusing to kill, and returns to her old code of honor. By the end of the episode, she has found peace with Perdicus' death, so that now he cannot be used to drive her to kill or be used against her.

The Changing Argo

Argo approaches Joxer only to be overcome by the
warrior-wannabe's new cologne

Joxer defends Argo from the person he thinks is Callisto.

[11] We learn that Argo can tell when something is not right with Xena, even if she looks the same. Also, Gabrielle did not seem to be alarmed when Xena (Callisto) said that they would leave Argo running free in the woods. Perhaps instead of keeping Argo in expensive stables, they might occasionally let Argo run free. Xena also did this with Argo in THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105).


"I've been hung, swung over a fire, nearly shish- kabobbed on razor-sharp spikes, yeah. How do you mortals get from day to day?!?"
   -- Ares, TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)

I said pull my finger!

Ares -- down and out in ancient Greece.

[12] In TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208), Xena learns that Ares really is the best 'God of War' and Gabrielle learns to control her anger.

The Changing Xena

"You lose control now and there's no turning back."
   --Xena, TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)

Rock lobster?

Xena, in Callisto's body, deals with a cantankerous crustacean.

[13] Xena has a fun time using Callisto's body, even if she does not like it. In the very beginning, she is fully intent on continuing her mission of redemption, even though she has to deal with Callisto's reputation now instead of her own. She is more than ready to change Callisto's reputation to a good one. Then she ends up having to play Callisto to solve a mystery. As Callisto, she screams and intimidates warlords like Callisto would. She even brings out the truth of the warlord's claims of Xena's defeats while skillfully remaining in character as Callisto. Xena might not like her new body, but she is not reluctant to use it to its full effect.

[14] She also has no problem dealing with Ares. When he shoves Gabrielle in the bar, Xena puts herself between them to protect Gabrielle. When she realizes that he is mortal, she has no sympathy for his pain and hang-over. However, when he is hurt in the castle fight, she bandages him up. She was even willing to (or at least expected to) room with Ares, since their weapons where in the same room. When the warlord came in when Ares was hurt, Xena puts herself between Ares and the warlord, ready to defend him.

[15] But why? After turning on her in INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207) and trying to trick her in TIES THAT BIND (20/120), she still protects and helps him. Partly it is to help Gabrielle and a world without peace (and God of War). Maybe deep-down she really does hope for her body back. Yet she is kinder to him as time goes on. Maybe it is because he really is starting to become human.

[16] Maybe it is also because she realizes Ares is the best man for the job of God of War. If nothing else, she knows him and how he works. He may be a god of War, yet he is not a god of Destruction, like the other warlords might have become.

[17] Also, she refuses Ares' offer/idea of keeping the sword for herself. Perhaps she merely thought it another ploy to try and get her to rejoin him. Yet she did have the sword in her hand and chose Ares as god of War over becoming one herself and stopping Sisyphus. If she was a goddess, she would not die and would not need redemption. Yet she refuses it all. Perhaps for the Greater Good?

[18] A few minor points should probably be covered. Xena treats Joxer nicely. Instead of ordering him to do something, she has learn that it is best to flatter him to get him to do what she wants. Also, when Gabrielle gets violent, Xena starts treating her like a child again. In the fight in the market, Xena grabs Gabrielle by the ear to pull her out of it. She also leaves Gabrielle behind, and most likely because of her condition and for her safety rather than because she could not get another invitation. She should know by now that Gabrielle will find a way to track her anywhere if she sets her mind to it.

The Changing Gabrielle

"It takes a lot more strength to resist the anger than to give in to it."
   -- Xena, TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)

And the next thing I grab gets hacked off!

Gabrielle grabs Joxer by his most prominent feature.

[19] Gabrielle is still having a hard time accepting Xena in Callisto's body, however she is learning how to control her anger and pain. That comes in useful. Since she is not used to controlling hatred, she is violent and angry as long as there is no god of War. Still, what she learned in INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207) about controlling her anger helps her here. She is able to control her anger beyond a few petty fights. Also, even while she was angry, Gabrielle did not lose her head. Instead of storming the castle that Xena was in, she made Joxer follow her to the drainage pipes and was ready to sneak into the castle.

[20] She is still innocent, though, despite her loses and everything she has learned. When Ares leaves without giving Xena her body back, she yells after him, "Wait, you can't betray her. Come back!" She can not conceive of anyone breaking their promises, even Ares.

Note on Ares as a Mortal

One more remark like that and I put a tourniquet on your sword!

Xena tends an ailing Ares.

[21] It is sad to watch Ares as a mortal. When he is first hurt, he tells Xena, "It's the first time I've had to suffer the consequences" of his actions. After his dagger kill, he looks at his hands and says, "Strange, this is the first time I've had blood on my hands." He even naively asks Xena, "Well, you changed, why not me?" For a moment, he is like a spoiled child waking up from his dream world. He is realizing what his actions have caused and perhaps why Xena changed. But when the child is given back his comfort and power too soon, he too soon forgets.


Debbie White Debbie White
Debbie White is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and is currently studying Animal Science at Southern IL University at Carbondale. She is 20 years old, single, and has watched Xena since the first Sins of the Past (i.e., the beginning).
Favorite episode: REMEMBER NOTHING (#26)
Favorite line: Gabrielle: "If you don't know, it must be Xena." ORPHAN OF WAR (#25)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (#01)
Least favorite episode: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (#28)

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