Whoosh! Issue 35 - August 1999


IAXS project #713
By William James
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
1398 words

Introduction and the Initial Vision (01-04)
Subsequent Visions (05-07)
Dreaded Crucifixion Vision as Icon (08-12)
The Actual Crucifixion Vision (13-15)

The Dreaded Crucifixion Vision
Sex, At Last!

Introduction and the Initial Vision

Some said the punishment for double-parking Argo was too harsh

For an entire season we were teased with the Crucifixion scene.

[01] If we were ever to get a look at the passion old stoic, hands-off, let-her-come-to-me-in-her-own-time Xena has for Gabrielle, what do you suppose we would see?

[02] The Dreaded Crucifixion Vision, or DCV, first turned up in part two of the season four opener, ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70-/401-402). Ostensibly Alti forced Xena to have the vision in an attempt to kill Xena in the present by convincing her of her death in the future. The DCV is pretty much what it sounds like, a vision of what ultimately will be the crucifixion and implied deaths of Xena and Gabrielle.

[03] The vision takes place in a snow blasted clearing in some mountains. Everything happens in slow motion. The vision begins with the image of an ecstatic Xena mirrored in a Roman shield. Both crosses are flat on the ground. We see, in the shield, Xena lie back. Gabrielle is already secured. The shield is lifted and carried past a Roman crouching at the foot of Xena's cross. He passes a hammer to another Roman at the foot of Gabrielle's cross. The crosses lie next to each other with their bases turned in. The man at the foot of Gabrielle's cross passes the hammer to another at Gabrielle's feet who moves up to adjust the position of Gabrielle's legs. This Roman passes the hammer to a fourth crouching at the head of the crosses and the vision comes to rest on Gabrielle's turned away head. She begins to turn back and we see Xena turned toward her: "Gabrielle, you're the best thing in my life." Then Gabrielle, now facing Xena, emphatic: "I love you, Xena." Vision ends.

[04] The vision is quite beautiful. It is accompanied by a gentle, fluted music, and exists in a clear, blue-white light. The wind pushes snow flakes across the scene. The background is white and stark, populated by a few Romans standing in ones and twos, a horse rider, and by two other crucifixions. The spoken words have a clear, soft, bell-like quality. It frightens Xena every time she experiences it.

Subsequent Visions

Some said the punishment for the haircut wasn't harsh enough

Gabrielle is the object of Xena's concern in her 'visions'.

[05] Partial variants of the vision turn up in CRUSADER (76/408), PAST IMPERFECT (77/409), and PARADISE FOUND (81/413). The first and the last are notable for setting the vision in stories where Xena feels she must leave Gabrielle for Gabrielle's own safety. In CRUSADER, Xena sees the vision from her ecstasy to Gabrielle's "I love you", but she does not see her own words. In PAST IMPERFECT, she sees just Gabrielle's part, soundless.

[06] In PARADISE FOUND, Xena gets two goes at it. At the begnning she sees, again, just Gabrielle's part. Later, the vision becomes mixed into a rubdown Xena gives Gabrielle. Xena, as part of the world they find themselves in, is experiencing hallucinations and spontaneous bleeding. This comes to a head during the rubdown. Xena has decided that she must leave Gabrielle. Xena's words are of the goodness of Gabrielle, her actions tell us she wants to keep her blood off Gabrielle, and the vision running throughout the scene tells us that Xena sees a link between the two of them being together and Gabrielle suffering. This version of the vision shows us Gabrielle's arms being tied to the cross and Xena, herself, hammering the spike through Gabrielle's feet.

[07] Finally, in BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415), Gabrielle is shown the vision. Alti, returned from a future incarnation, shows her everything, including the Romans securing her with spikes in the hands and feet. This version is new, and actually a lot worse. Even so, Gabrielle is unwilling to accept the vision as prophecy. In fact, ever since she had found out about the vision, she had denied that it had any such power.

Dreaded Crucifixion Vision as Icon

[08] What does it all mean? Well, at the very least, the DCV became an icon for season four. Xena iconified it, and so did we, the fans. Which is what we were supposed to do given IDES OF MARCH (89/421). However, it is difficult to accept the DCV as merely a symbol of fate or death. After all, it contains these lines: "Gabrielle, you're the best thing in my life" and "I love you, Xena". Admittedly we have heard these things before, but we have never heard them as the centerpiece of the action. The context is stark.

[09] For a long time the vision was private to Xena and showed her ecstatic. What sort of death vision is this? Xena has at least twice in her illustrious career decided that it was time to die. Once, arguably, in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101) where it appeared she would have accepted the stoning the villagers threatened, and, a second time in DESTINY (36/212) where mortally wounded and revisiting her crushing betrayal and near death crucifixion at the hands of Caesar, she instructs the healer to whom Gabrielle has brought her "Don't, please! Let me go." Neither of these have been times of ecstasy.

[10] The nice, simple explanation for the content of the vision is that the threat of death drives away all other concerns, so, there, on death's doorstep, Xena and Gabrielle profess love. An explanation much more appealing is that we have finally been shown what it is to be loved by the Warrior Princess. The vision describes, in dream language, the passionate attachment Xena has for Gabrielle, and it describes an attachment that must be quite at odds with Gabrielle's sense of what it means for the whole world to be joined by love. We see not life but passion reverenced. We see love made transcendent by its representation in a body submitted to horrible physical pain.

[11] No matter what she is like in the sack, do you suppose that Xena believes that Gabrielle would accept the kind of intensity of feeling that someone as skilled and focused and powerful as Xena might generate? Do you suppose that even Xena can accept such things as allowable, given her very ambivalent approach to the dark side?

[12] The DCV, prophecy or no, is a frightening sex dream. By virtue of its theme of apparently inescapable violent, slow death it gets invested with a feeling of abiding passion and longed for release. It is a stark, terrifying presentation of intense, intimate love.

The Actual Crucifixion Vision

Touched by... each other?

Together in Spirit.

[13] In fact, this interpretation makes IDES OF MARCH look really very beautiful. Xena, back broken, and Gabrielle, unwilling to leave and perhaps not even wanting to, are led to their crucifixion, Xena ignominiously dragged. They are tied down and held in place by spikes. They are hoist up to die. And they do.

[14] But death is a commonplace in the Xenaverse, and it does not really mean cessation of spirit. Xena's spirit reaches out for Gabrielle, and Gabrielle's spirit joins her. Xena searches Gabrielle's face for her connection and finds it again. Then they disappear. It is just so easy to believe that wherever they went, they are, ahem, off alone with no cares beyond those that they have for each other. They realize the content of the vision and make it gentle and loving.

[15] Being "beyond sex" can have its rewards.


William James William James
Study, study, study, unemployment, tv, gainful employment, more TV.
Favorite episode: Today, I pick RETURN OF CALLISTO. Tomorrow, I'll pick ONE AGAINST AN ARMY. Yesterday I might have gone with MATERNAL INSTINCTS. SINS OF THE PAST ain't half bad, either.
Favorite line: Callisto: "Oh yes!" RETURN OF CALLISTO, as she high-kicks Gabrielle under the chin. It's the attitude more than the words. Not that I'm a Gab hater; I'm also fond of Xena in SACRIFICE II: "No more living for you."
First episode seen: erm... TEN LITTLE WARLORDS, I think.
Least favorite episode: There are forgettable episodes that I've forgotten. The only actually irritating ep was FORGET ME NOT. I was annoyed at having to accept Gabrielle as uncharacteristically and retrospectively corrupted.

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