Whoosh! Issue 41 - February 2000

The Fourth Season: Spiritual Journeys


Thank goodness my long hair cushions this uncomforable helmet!

Gabrielle makes like a Roman in A GOOD DAY.

[44] A GOOD DAY (73/405) was one of the strongest scripts of the season. As Xena orchestrates the demise of two armies, Gabrielle is placed morally in what becomes an untenable position. It can be argued that the events of A GOOD DAY are what drove Gabrielle to a complete pacifist perspective. Xena asks Gabrielle to take the role of field tactician. Gabrielle refuses stating, "I can't give the command. I cannot lead these men to their deaths". Events take place that pull Gabrielle from her role as healer. Given command with sword momentarily in hand, she enters the battle.

[45] Though the bloodshed surrounding her is massive, what challenges her soul is the decision and consequences of choosing not to kill. A man, Phlanagus, deemed good in her estimation, dies when she purposely directs a spear into a mound of dirt instead of killing his assailant. The opposing army's soldier still dies, but it is by an arrow, one fired by the hand of a young man, Temecula - his first kill. Gabrielle had knowingly advised Temecula that once you kill everything changes.

[46] She now learned that by choosing not to kill, the pain can be equally profound. Gabrielle's own experience in the loss of blood innocence was a case of self- defense, though she owned it as murder [THE DELIVERER (50/304)]. The second was the poisoning of Hope [MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311)], and the third throwing Hope and herself to what she believed would be certain death [SACRIFICE II (67-68/321- 322)]. Hope survived both attempts to end her life, but Gabrielle's acts against Hope were purposeful in a way her first kill was not.

[47] Xena cannot console Gabrielle, only acknowledge her pain. There is no resolution, no complete lesson. There are only acts and their consequences, which must be reconciled. A GOOD DAY (73/405) establishes a foundation for the extraordinary defensive response Gabrielle will take to protect Xena in THE IDES OF MARCH (89/421).


Yeah, yeah, I love you too.  Now get off.

Xena is nonplussed by Borias' display of affection in PAST IMPERFECT.

[48] In PAST IMPERFECT (77/409), Xena confronts one moral dilemma by sharing her vision with Gabrielle. Gabrielle receives the prophecy with skepticism. She will not live in fear, and she will not accept Xena's attempts to protect her from harm. The vision raises a new tension between the companions.

[49] Xena must also confront the memory of the birth of Solan and the death of Borias. It is her unquenchable thirst for power that she vividly relives in order to solve the mystery of her present nemesis. The memories are harsh and the consequences bitter. At the end she must bear anew the sorrow of the death of a good man and the surrender of her child into better hands than her own.

[50] The Xena who remembers is a different woman than the Xena who experienced the history in the making. What must be acknowledged is that she is also a different woman than the Xena Gabrielle met four years earlier. The insights of recollection alter with time. An individual's ability to address a truth is dynamic. Time, and I would argue Gabrielle, has worked to enhance Xena's ability to face her truth. The remaining unanswered question is whether or not there is truth in the vision. Gabrielle fights accepting what Xena fears is inevitable. Given that only Xena has seen the vision, it is understandable that its immediacy is far more profound to the warrior.

The India Arc

[51] The India Arc quickly establishes a new focus in the spiritual journey of the two women. Gabrielle articulates it best during the opening sequence of PARADISE FOUND (81/413).

GABRIELLE I just wonder if maybe your fighting for good has more to do with the "fighting" part than the "good" part. XENA Think my fighting for good is a cover for something darker? I don't know. GABRIELLE It's funny, we come to places like this, you know, spiritual places, looking for some sort of answer. Makes you wonder. XENA Wonder what? GABRIELLE Instead of reaching out maybe we should be looking in.
[52] Xena experiencing the vision immediately follows this dialogue. Both Gabrielle and Xena will be looking in for their answers.


Funny, you don't *look* bluish

Gabrielle comes over all bluish in PARADISE FOUND.

[53] In PARADISE FOUND (81/413), Gabrielle embraces a second spiritual teacher, Aidan. Where Najara was a woman of the sword, Aidan is a man of introspection. He offers techniques for self-discovery and clarity. Though his motives are to rob his victims of their goodness, it does not invalidate all that he offers Gabrielle. Gabrielle revisits the guilt associated with Hope. She, in achieving some sense of healing, wishes to minister to others. She wants to teach Xena what she has learned. There is an underlying selflessness in her quest, although it is still a quest that is touched by a harsh assessment of her companion. It is at the end that she confesses to Xena:

GABRIELLE I learned something about myself and you. I sometimes talk about your darkness like its some sort of disease. But without it, neither one of us would be here. It's kind of ironic.
[54] Xena, in turn, is haunted by her darkness. She is uncertain about her true motives for fighting because Gabrielle posed the question. She struggles with the vivid destiny of death posed by the vision. Gabrielle has repeated her mistake of trusting someone who promises spiritual knowledge, and Xena has mirrored Gabrielle's errors. She is prepared to leave Gabrielle with Najara [CRUSADER (76/408)] and, now she is prepared to leave Gabrielle to Aidan. Xena's motivation is compounded by the fear fed by Aidan that she will hurt Gabrielle. At the end, Xena bases their salvation from Aidan's treachery in her faith that Gabrielle would never let her hurt an innocent. Xena continues to hold fast to her faith in Gabrielle's inherent goodness.


[55] In DEVI (82/414), the battle for Gabrielle is poorly articulated. It is clear that there is a distinction between corporeal and spiritual existence. But where has Gabrielle's soul been placed? Did Tataka consume it? Suppress it? How does Xena reconcile herself with the fact that though it is Gabrielle's body, her soul has been displaced with evil? Would Xena have indeed killed the body of a good person, someone she loved, in order to prevent the body from causing harm? Would that have been Gabrielle's choice for herself?

[56] Not knowing where Gabrielle's spirit resided during the ordeal of Tataka's possession (e.g., what actions where Gabrielle's in free will and what actions were not), it is impossible to analyze any of Gabrielle's actions in DEVI (82/414) in terms of character development. Xena's actions were clearly motivated by a desire to protect Gabrielle. There is no reason to believe that Xena did not intend to kill Gabrielle's body in order to save her soul. This may be considered a return to Xena's original efforts to assure Gabrielle's blood innocence. Although, Xena did not succeed in saving Gabrielle that pain, it seems clear that she would do what was necessary to prevent any further tarnishing of Gabrielle's essence.

[57] DEVI (82/414) introduces yet another spiritual personality in Eli. He is a man who experiences the gift of healing in his youth and yearns to regain the extraordinary power. Yet, in learning that his spiritual gift is his to exercise, he is left confused and uncertain of what he is to do with it. His first conscious act in adulthood is to free Gabrielle from the Tataka's possession. At the story's end, however, he journeys alone. For Gabrielle, though she experienced the strength of an evil, she suspects that a greater power for good exists. Xena is simply grateful to have the bard at her side once again.


I borrowed this special effect from EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT

Naiyima demonstrates her power in BETWEEN THE LINES.

[58] No other episode in the fourth season more clearly established the bond between Xena and Gabrielle than BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415). At the end of the episode, Naimi, a woman of mystery, coveys two messages. The first, to Xena, speaks about Xena's future battles with Alti. The warrior will continue to fight evil in future lives. In the second, to Gabrielle, Naimi speaks of relationship - Gabrielle's and Xena's. The role of each cannot be any clearer. Xena's is to battle evil. Gabrielle's is to be a moral compass.

NAIMI You both walk a path together. Think of yourselves as lines in the Mendi - separated but forever connected.
[59] Later, Gabrielle tells Xena, "There are so many questions I wished I had asked her [Naimi]. What this all means. She [Naimi] said your Karma and mine are intertwined".

[60] BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415) continued to carry the fourth season's themes forward. All the damage done by the rift will never destroy the bond between Gabrielle and Xena. They are soul mates, and as they struggle to come to terms with themselves, they will grow together and not apart. Their personal growth has not been easy. Mistakes were and will continue to be made, but the duo will continue, and they will learn and grow stronger and wiser in this on-going process.

[61] In BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415), Alti forced Gabrielle to live her crucifixion. In the battle with Alti, Gabrielle's hair is cropped, and by the end of the episode Gabrielle has had her hair cut to mirror how she looked upon the cross. Both Gabrielle and Xena acknowledge the presage. The force of the vision is now equally shared.


[62] In THE WAY (84/416), Xena, ironically with the help of the Hindu god Krisha, reaches a point of reconciliation that will carry her through her greatest trial [IDES OF MARCH (89/421)]. Gabrielle's journey will not be as clear, though she does not yet know it.

[63] Given the knowledge that one day her soul will be Amenestra's, the Mother of Peace, Xena begins to doubt how she should be living her current life. It is from Krisha that Xena learns not to diminish the "Way of the Warrior". No longer does she need to speak with contempt for her methods. Her value has been set, and it is held in high regard. After Indrajit initially defeats her, Xena also humbles her pride by calling for Krisha's help.

[64] Eli returns to teach the "Way of Love". It is a message that Gabrielle is ready to accept, but she is counseled by Hanuman that Eli's way is rare. When the test comes, Gabrielle chooses not to witness passively what she believes is Xena's torture. Gabrielle judges herself as failing the test of the "Way of Love". Eli gently tells Gabrielle that the "Way of Love" may not be right for her. He warns her that she may fail more than once. Ironically, her first failure is motivated by her love for Xena. In retrospect, Gabrielle's action in trying to save Xena from Indrajit foretells the choice she will make in IDES OF MARCH (89/421).

[65] At the end, the paths that Xena and Gabrielle have embraced are diametrically opposed - "The Way of the Warrior" and the "Way of Love" - though the essence of their relationship from the beginning has never been so dramatically delineated. The clear definitions carry a risk, specifically to Gabrielle. She has chosen to discard her staff. She will no longer fight. To walk with a warrior without being willing to defend herself may cause her death. It is a return to their first journeys together when Gabrielle did not contribute to a fight. Then she did not have the skills necessary to use a weapon. Now she has learned the consequences of fighting and wishes to chose other means of surviving.

XENA So it's the way of love for you. GABRIELLE Yeah. Yours is the way of the warrior. I think I've always known that. XENA And I've always known that it was wrong for you. I'm sorry I took you so far from your truth. GABRIELLE Don't be sorry. Xena, do you think I could have understood the power of selfless love if it wasn't for our friendship? XENA Still, I think maybe you should travel with Eli for a while. GABRIELLE No. You and I stay together. XENA Gabrielle, we're headed in opposite directions in life. GABRIELLE All rivers run to the sea. We'll end up in the same place. I'm sure of it.


All she wanted was an autograph, Xena.  Did you have to put her
in a coma?

Najara doesn't fare as well in THE CONVERT.

[66] In THE CONVERT (86/418) Gabrielle and Xena are revisited by the past in the form of Najara. Najara has met Eli and embraced the "Way of Love". She has escaped prison, put down her sword, and she engages in good acts, convinced that by doing so she will someday be rejoined with Gabrielle. Najara tries to coax Gabrielle into leaving Xena with the argument that Gabrielle and she have a bond that Xena could never share with Gabrielle. Najara offers Gabrielle what once may have been Gabrielle's ideal, but it is too late. Gabrielle is beyond the place where Najara had known her. Gabrielle clearly states that her place is with Xena.

[67] Xena is convinced, correctly so, that Najara's conversion is not authentic. Gabrielle wants to believe that Najara could change as Xena had changed. Once again the tension between Gabrielle and Xena rises. It is fueled by Gabrielle's wish to believe in the redemptive power of love and by Xena's distrust for a woman who had deceived and physically beaten her in a quest for Gabrielle's loyalty. Xena challenges Gabrielle to contradict Najara in order to test Najara's conviction. Najara's facade is exposed when she forcefully restrains Gabrielle as Gabrielle attempts to help Xena, who has been injured in battle.

[68] The importance of THE CONVERT (86/418) is twofold. Though it reinforces the different world views of Gabrielle and Xena, it does provide an indication that Gabrielle's pacifism is tenuous. Gabrielle states that sometimes when someone pushes you, you have to push back. Xena assures Gabrielle that it would not be an issue as long as she, Xena, is around. Again, the lesson learned will play a role in the moral choice Gabrielle will make in IDES OF MARCH (89/421). It is then that Gabrielle must face an event where Xena will not be able to defend her.


[69] ENDGAME (88/420) begins the series of events that will lead Gabrielle and Xena into the overwhelming juggernaut of the Roman Empire. With the death of Ephiny, Gabrielle returns to reign as queen of the Amazons. The contradictions of her life begin to test her ability to lead her nation. A new character, Amarice, is introduced. Amarice plays the role of a Greek chorus commenting and challenging Gabrielle's ability to lead. Her voice is directed to the impatient ear of Xena.

XENA (defending Gabrielle to Amarice) You know Gabrielle is not the weakling that you think she is. She has seen more of life and death than you will ever know. This is just one more battle, and she has got her own way of fighting it. AMARICE By letting him [Brutus] go? Are you crazy? XENA Her battle isn't with Brutus. It's with this and this [referring to a sword and dagger]. With war and with hatred. You know what? Sometimes I don't like the way she goes about it, but I've come to understand her. Amarice, you are so young. And when you are young you think that answers are simple to find. You think you can find them at the point of a sword. Well, you're wrong. I just pray that you live long enough to lay down your sword and look for those answers in yourself.
[70] Xena's defense of Gabrielle reflects the maturing relationship between them. They do not always agree, but they understand and respect one another. Gabrielle defers to Xena's guidance upon entering the Amazon village. They work together in managing Brutus. Gabrielle raises her disdain for Xena's tactics of using Roman soldiers as human barriers to the point of obtaining a justification without undermining Xena's military authority. Xena, aware of Gabrielle's pacifism, directs Amarice to protect Gabrielle during battle.

[71] Gabrielle's leadership is visible. When Amarice suggests that Gabrielle get back to camp to avoid getting hurt, Gabrielle's reply is, "You don't know me very well". Gabrielle then proceeds to hold the Amazon line, her tactical knowledge evident. At the appropriate moment Gabrielle calls for her tribe to fight, "For Ephiny!"

[72] In the closing scene Gabrielle once again relinquishes the Queen's mask to go on with her life with Xena. She and Xena agree to have Amarice join them. Gabrielle's growth as a character is striking as she tells Amarice, "You are a kid", and it is abundantly clear that Gabrielle is no longer the young, innocent bard from Poteidaia. Gabrielle's quiet confidence and strength are telling. This Gabrielle has sacrificed her life to destroy Hope and has led Greek men in battle against Roman soldiers. She has, in Xena's own words, seen more life and death than the kid, Amarice, would ever know. Yet Gabrielle is strong enough not to feel she had to prove it. Amarice's sarcastic retort to Gabrielle, "Right, and you're a warrior", is ironic because Gabrielle, the pacifist, embodies the strength, skill, and wisdom that any true warrior would honor.


Rejected advert for Sea Monkeys

Xena and Gabrielle embrace death together in IDES OF MARCH.

[73] The crucifixion vision was first seen in SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402). It reappeared throughout the fourth season, building a level of expectation and foreboding that could have easily undermined the ability of the narrative to meet the extraordinary expectations that had been created. IDES OF MARCH (89/421) provided a brilliant closure.

[74] Focusing on the spiritual journeys of Xena and Gabrielle, Xena found that her truth would hold, as Gabrielle found that the ideal she strove for would not be realized in a brutal world. Xena, tempted to forego her way in barter for Gabrielle's life, as well as her own, chose to remain true to the "Way of the Warrior" and to fight injustice with her sword. In her own words, Xena had put the guilt behind her. She now knew that to redeem herself she needed to fight evil with a sword. Gabrielle, faced with the choice to stand and witness the killing of Xena or to raise a sword and fight the Roman soldiers to the death, chose to defend her companion. As a result, Gabrielle killed seven men. Xena lived long enough to share a farewell with Gabrielle, a farewell that carried a power to balm lingering regrets. The vision was realized with their crucifixion and deaths.

[75] Xena's sorrow that Gabrielle went against her way to save her was countered by Gabrielle's clear statement that hers was the "Way of Friendship". It was Gabrielle's choice, and she expressed no remorse for her actions. The brutality of Gabrielle's defense of Xena was remarkable. Though she had used a staff with skill, the impact of the sword's mortal blows and her physicality in finding a fighting advantage was visually stunning.

[76] Eli told Gabrielle that though he could not teach Gabrielle to heal, he could teach her to love. Eli offered that selfless, pure love is the only expression of divine perfection one can have. Eli's statement seemed misplaced given that it was directed to Gabrielle, the force of goodness in Xena's life. The phrase "selfless love" was an echo of Gabrielle's own framing of her friendship with Xena at the ending of THE WAY (84/416). In prison, prior to Gabrielle's act, she had achieved a state of emptiness, the required state to become a perfect vessel of love. Her act of violence was thus an act of love.

[77] Xena's remorse could not be subdued. She apologized for past wrongs and regretted not having read Gabrielle's scrolls. In the past, Xena had spoken of Gabrielle as her light and her source. Gabrielle consistently spoke of her love for Xena. It was now for Gabrielle to confess the gift Xena had given her. Xena had given Gabrielle her personhood. Prior to being with Xena, Gabrielle had felt invisible. No one saw her for who she was, who she could become. Xena had brought out the best in her. Xena had saved her.

Spiritual Journeys

[78] There is no knowing what Gabrielle and Xena felt on the cross, only that their final words to each other reaffirmed their bond. At the end, Xena's spirit took Gabrielle's in hand and they both left the mortal realm. In terms of their spiritual journeys, Xena's was more clearly realized. She left her guilt behind as she embraced her way. Gabrielle's was the "Way of Love". Though her heart was open to all, it was devoted to Xena. She would do anything for Xena. Once, she sacrificed her life. At the end, she killed to defend Xena as Xena had killed to defend her. "The Way of Love" had been challenged, intolerably so, and as a result Gabrielle found her answer by altering the strict precepts of Eli's teaching and making them her own, defining the "Way of Friendship".

[79] Spiritual journeys do not follow a logical pattern. They are not necessarily linear. Often times such journeys follow the path of a spiral. Movement forward is followed by movement backwards before another forward motion can be made. The spiritual character development of Gabrielle and Xena in the fourth season of XWP followed a similar model. It was not neat and easy. It was as flawed as human nature. That is why it ultimately was a success.


Maytee Aspuro Maytee Aspuro
Maytee was born in Havana, Cuba 41 years ago. She immigrated to the United States when she was three years old. She is a government administrator by trade, a writer for sport [her fanfiction (Mayt) is available in the Bard's Corner, Australian Xena Information Page], and a recently admitted divinity student (Unitarian Universalist). It will be her second Masters Degree. Beyond exploring ideas, travel and theatre are her passions. Her most recent treks were to the Greek islands, northern Italy, and the Olympic National Forest, Washington State, U.S.A. Maytee currently lives in Madison, WI.
Favorite episode: IDES OF MARCH (89/421)
Favorite line: Gabrielle or Xena: "I love you." Various episodes
First episode seen: DESTINY (36/212)
Least favorite episode: KING CON (61/315)

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