IAXS Project #119
By Anita Louise Silva (
Content © 1996 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1996 held by Whoosh!
2634 words


What's in a kiss? Find out one view in this essay about the three kisses Xena and Gabrielle have shared over the last season and a half.

A Kiss By Any Other Name

[1] A kiss can be interpreted different ways depending upon cultural background, geographic location, or local custom. The practice of kissing probably started at the beginning of humankind and evolved through trial and error to what it is now in the present.

[2] There could have been cavemen who interpreted the kiss as clubbing a woman over the head and dragging her to their cave, for all we know. Cleopatra used the kiss to gain control of entire lands and to basically get whatever she wanted. To Romeo and Juliet a kiss was a sign of love, fraught with longing and hopelessness. When introduced to a lady, the men in the days of Sir Walter Raleigh would bow and, as they took her extended hand, they would kiss it lightly. In some cultures a kiss means a friendly "hello." In some circles a kiss on both cheeks means you are marked for an unpleasant death. A kiss on the lips can also mean: (1) I like you; (2) I love you; (3) good luck; (4) I want you; or (5) I hate you. There are so many interpretations possible from a single kiss that to discuss them all would be out of the purview of this paper.

[3] We will now look at the kisses that have been shared by Xena and Gabrielle, the main characters on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, and discuss some possible interpretations of what their kisses may have meant.


[4] Xena is hit with a poisoned dart. When Gabrielle realized Xena was sick she was not sure how ill Xena was.

Gabrielle: How bad is it?

Xena: I still don't know, my legs are about useless. I can't feel my feet. My arms will probably go next.

Gabrielle: You're going to pull through, right? (look of concern on her face)

Xena: It's going to get worse before it gets better.

When talking about Gabrielle's pony.

Xena: Did you leave Tipany with your sister?

Gabrielle: No, actually he got very sick one day. Well, I thought he would get better but that's just what happens with everything you love. Sometimes they just leave you. Xena, are you going to die?

Xena: Go on now, I'll be here when you get back.

[5] Gabrielle returns after escaping Talmadeus. She is excited about what had just happened to her and she has to tell Xena. Salmoneus blocks her path and at first she becomes irritated by him then slowly she is hit with the thought that something has happened to Xena.

Gabrielle: No.

[6] Gabrielle looks around the room hoping for some sign that what she is feeling is wrong. Her eyes show the look of fear, apprehension and non-acceptance. As she walks toward the covered body, she reaches down and pulls back the cover to expose a very colorless face. Xena lay motionless. Gabrielle kneels by her bed side, she stares deeply into Xena's face looking for a sign, a glimmer of life. Continuing to stare she reaches out and touches Xena's forehead with her right hand, her fingers caressing it as she travels across the now cold flesh. As she continues to stare into Xena's face. She bravely holds back a tear, and begins to caress Xena's hair with long strokes holding the beautiful black hair within her hand as if to reach out to the Warrior Princess, and say "I'm here for you." She sniffs and brings her face to Xena's and softly kisses her on the cheek, laying her head against Xena, staring in disbelief.

[7] After she leaves the room she takes out her anger on a tree beating it with her staff yelling, "No, no!" Finally crumbling to the ground in a wrenching heap, tears now flowing. Her loss is deep and she is still in shock, non-accepting of this in the beginning. Now just cold, and lost, her own body filled with pain. Xena was her friend, supporter, confidant. She had grown to know and to trust her with her own life. She had lost her pony but the ache was never like this.

[8] The kiss was loving, soft, caring and a final good-bye.


[9] Gabrielle is seriously injured and although Xena has seen many wounded and dying, this was a different situation for she now was looking at her friend. Yes, she could now call Gabrielle her friend because in the beginning she just seemed to always be there. At first Xena wanted to send her back home. But if one spent any time with this very caring, giving, and trusting young woman her charm would win you over. Even the hardest of people had fallen to her smile. After all she had found an opening in the fence Xena had strung around her heart never wanting any one to enter again, never wanting to feel the hurt of losing once more.

[10] Xena looked at her friend and wanted to be able to reach out and make her well again, only she did not have the power to do that. She now knew the feeling of helplessness. She had to think positive.

Xena: Gabrielle, come on, you're going to be just fine.

[11] Gabrielle goes into convulsions, which startles Xena not knowing exactly what is happening. Xena gazes down to her friend's face, as Gabrielle takes her last gasp of air.

Xena: Gabrielle.

Hippocrates: She's dead.

Xena: She's not dead. I wouldn't let her. Come on, Gabrielle, wake up. Come on wake up, come on wake up, you're scaring me, wake up, wake up, Gabrielle breathe, come on breathe.

Xena lifts Gabrielle up into her arms as she cradles her, rocking her as you would a baby.

Xena: Maybe she just needs air.

[12] Xena lays Gabrielle back down on the table and begins to give mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Xena: Need to get some air in her lungs. Come on breathe!

Xena starts to cry. She is terrified of losing Gabrielle.

Hippocrates: Stop it, she's dead now. She's in a much better place.

Xena: Get out of my way, you don't know anything.

[13] Xena looks at Gabrielle.

Xena: Don't you listen to him, I know you're in there, prove it. You can show him. Come on, wake up and breathe.

Xena cradles Gabrielle in her arms again.

Xena: Come on fight, fight!

With her hand, Xena touches Gabrielle's face.

Xena: You never ran from anything in your whole life.

Marimax: Xena. Xena. It's time to stop now. Let her cross over peacefully.

Xena: What do you know you've killed so many.

Marimax: So have you. Let it go.

Xena: No. No. Come on, Gabrielle.

[14] Xena lays Gabrielle back down and gives her mouth to mouth resuscitation again. This time as a last attempt all the while knowing that the person she has grown to care for is slowing leaving her.

Xena: Don't leave me. (This was made as a request. A pleading to come back.) Don't you leave me! Don't leave me, don't leave me. (This was made in anger and frustration; as if an order.) Wake up, wake up, wake up.

[15] Xena hits on Gabrielle's chest. At this time Xena is totally consumed with the loss of her friend and she is crumbling. Gabrielle takes a gasp of air and Xena quickly reaches down and brings her up into her arms again cradling her as if she were holding a baby. Gabrielle looks into Xena's face.

Xena whispers: You're ok.

Galen: You're Aesculapius. You've come back to earth.

Xena: Get up, Galen. I'm not Aesculapius. You should know that by now. It was Gabrielle that performed the miracle, didn't you?"

[16] Xena's right hand is on Gabrielle's face and Gabrielle is holding Xena's wrist with her hand. Xena's tears streaming down onto her face brings her face to Gabrielle's and kisses her gently on the forehead twice. Xena is happy that Gabrielle has come back. But she too is in shock and amazement.

[17] The kiss was loving, soft, and caring.


[18] Gabrielle runs into her old fiance, Perdicas, who seeks her out and asks her to marry him. They eventually marry and what follows is my understanding of what happened before and after Gabrielle's marriage.

[19] When Gabrielle told Xena she was going to say "no" to the marriage proposal of Perdicas, Xena seemed relieved. After fighting Callisto's men, when they were attacking a village, Xena asked Gabrielle where Perdicas was going and Xena seemed gleeful -- until Gabrielle told her the answer was "yes", that she was going to marry Perdicas. At this moment Xena felt a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. She was in shock. 'How could Gabrielle leave me, after all we have been through together, all that we mean to one another?' Xena wanted to move but was numb. It was as if she had been hit by a Hydra.

[20] At the wedding of Perdicas and Gabrielle, Xena tried to show a happy face but from time to time it would fade and you could see the hurt coming to the surface. Her eyes let us into her very thoughts. What can I do, there she is standing with Perdicas. My friend, my partner and my life. This has got to be the Gods' way of giving me a bad dream. I will wake up in a few minutes and it will all be gone.

[21] This did not happen and Xena heard the vows that would end forever the extraordinary relationship that she and Gabrielle had enjoyed. Gabrielle hugged her and she shook hands with Perdicas giving him a light kiss, wishing him well and still trying to put on a brave, happy face for her friend.

[22] When Gabrielle told Perdicas she wanted to talk to Xena, Xena's heart flew up into her throat and she felt a tightness grip it, but this was gone when Gabrielle put her arm around her. Xena and the two walked away from the altar area. Xena had wrapped one arm around Gabrielle's waist and they hugged. Xena tried to hold back the tears and still force a smile as she told Gabrielle, "I'm so happy for you."

[23] Then Gabrielle looked into her eyes and said, "I'm going to miss you." Xena wanted to say, 'Then why are you doing this to me? I do not think I can go back to being alone. I do not think I can go on without seeing your shining face. I have lost Marcus and now I have lost you. By the Gods this is not fair. Can't you see how much I love you? Can't you see what this is doing to me? Perdicas will survive. After all he had become a soldier of the world...laying down with whatever wench caught his pleasure. While you Gabrielle, you are so pure, so kind and you don't really know him anymore. You have let your softness and caring, for his not wanting to kill anymore, blind you to what you are doing.'

[24] Xena realized she had to say something to her but the words that came forth from her mouth were not the ones she was thinking, "Hey, it's not like we'll never see one another again. I'll visit you all the time." There was that smile she had become so accustomed to waking to each and every day. Even when things looked bad she could always look toward Gabrielle, who always had a smile and something to say that would make her look at things differently. She could even make something good out of the darkest hour.

[25] Gabrielle said, "You promise..?"

Xena took a breath and thought, 'I have to tell her, I have to let her know what this is doing to me and how it's all wrong for her. She was a free spirit. She loved adventure and telling tales. She could never be happy tied down having one child after another while her husband did his man thing, carousing with the others.'

[26] Yes, Xena knew what was in Gabrielle's future but she could not bring herself to destroy the happiness her friend seemed to be having. Then Xena heard her own words, "I'll be knocking on your door so often you'll be sick of me."

Gabrielle replied, "Never."

[27] That look. There it was again. Gabrielle cared, just like her. So what had gone wrong? Xena knew, regardless of what had been said, that they would never be together anymore. The young, beautiful, outgoing Gabrielle would be as if she never was.

[28] Xena remembered how she felt after her Army had ran her through the Gauntlet. She then thought she would die. It was Hercules who showed her there was a different path for her and she thought she would try and take it. She wanted to return home and make amends to the village and to her mother. She really thought things would be better but instead she was met with hostility and they were even going to stone her to death and yes, she was going to let them.

[29] There stood Gabrielle, as if she had placed herself into Xena's life as her protector and savior. Young innocent child, Xena had thought but not for long. Gabrielle had spunk and she began to grow on the Warrior Princess. She reached a point in her life, where she just always knew that Gabrielle would be somewhere near. Now Gabrielle was leaving, never to see Xena again.

[30] Although they might speak of seeing one another again, Xena knew it would never happen. She put a hand on each of Gabrielle's shoulders and said, "Gabrielle, I'm not going to say good-by. That's not what this is. We'll see one another soon." Xena gazed into Gabrielle's eyes. They were forcing themselves into her being, staring at her in wonderment. Xena knew that if Gabrielle had not wanted it, she would have pulled away. Gabrielle did not move and Xena leaned forward softly touching her lips to Gabrielle's. Gabrielle's lips seemed to dance for a moment with hers. Xena, hugging Gabrielle close, began to show the deep pain she was experiencing as she fought back tears. Stepping back, she managed a smile.

[31] Xena's final wave and good-bye tore the heart out of the fans, ripping into their very beings as if they were standing in the same spot with her, feeling her pain and loss.

[32] The kiss was loving, soft, caring, and a final good-bye.

[33] This kiss almost crashed the net with the buzz. Fans across the world shared their insights. It has probably been the most discussed subject in a very long time. Fans loved it because it showed true friendship and love.

[34] It was interpreted by some as nothing special, just a kiss of friendship. By others, it was seen as just a kiss good-bye. Yet others, saw it as the kiss that finally told it like it was. Everyone had their opinion about the kiss, according to their unique way of viewing this magnificent series.


[35] Beauty is a joy forever: THE GREATER GOOD (#21), IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (#24) and RETURN OF CALLISTO (29). Each kiss each was beautiful and given with care and tenderness.

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