Whoosh! Issue 47 - August 2000

By Dana Hlusko
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1693 words

Expectations of Character Development (01)
In the Beginning (02-04)
Gabrielle's Development (05-08)
Peaceful Does Not Do It (09-14)
Gabrielle Has Many Skills (15-18)

Gabrielle: Peacenik to Warrior Chick

Hey man, don't give me any of whatever stuff those producers have been taking during Seasons 3 through 5!  That's bad juju!

A Gabrielle-esque figure is all peace, love, and understanding in DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN.

Expectations of Character Development

[1] Loyal fans expect to see character development over a period of time. Episodes such as ORPHAN OF WAR (25/201), DESTINY (36/212), ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69/401- 70/402), and THE DEBT (52/306-53/307) reveal Xena's backstory by creating a vibrant, three-dimensional character. However, no character on Xena: Warrior Princess has undergone more change than Gabrielle.

In the Beginning

Yeah, right.  The day I become a bloodthirsty killer will be the day I cut my beautiful hair off!

Gabrielle is sweet and innocent in Season One...

[2] When Gabrielle was introduced, she was a young, načve, and inexperienced girl, longing for a more interesting life. She had never been in a fight (other than with her sister Lila) nor had she killed. DREAMWORKER (03/103) introduced the idea of blood innocence, which Gabrielle would retain as long as she never killed another human being. This would be an essential part of the story line as time passed.

[3] Both Gabrielle and Xena made blood innocence of paramount importance, so much so that Gabrielle would not deliberately "take the kill" until the end of the fourth season. Not surprisingly, once Gabrielle lost her blood innocence in THE DELIVERER (40/304) "everything changed", just as Xena had told her in DREAMWORKER (03/103). Yet, even after that, she committed to never killing again, even to the point of choosing "the way of peace", pure pacifism.

[4] Living with a warrior does not make it easy to avoid bloodshed. Choosing never to fight or kill can cause a great deal of tension in such a relationship. When Gabrielle seemingly changed her opinion on fighting and killing during her slice-and-dice of the Roman soldiers in IDES OF MARCH (89/421), the fans went berserk. How did Gabrielle turn from peacenik to warrior chick so quickly-and become such an expert in such a short time? What does her evolution look like, and can there be a logical explanation for her change of heart?

Gabrielle's Development

[5] From a village girl who used words to arm herself, she has developed into a lean, mean fighting machine when the situation calls for it. In the beginning, Xena protected Gabrielle, who ran when an altercation occurred. She always cheered Xena on during the fighting, yet she seemed eager to become a part of it. Then she learned to use the staff expertly, and she could assist Xena in fighting. Even though one never saw Gabrielle kill anyone with the staff, she must have maimed and crippled people with it.

[6] Yet technically, she did not kill. After she accidentally killed Meridian in THE DELIVERER (40/304), she avoided a repeat for several years, but she assisted Xena in plans which caused the death of others [WHEN IN ROME... (62/316), A GOOD DAY (73/405)]). Although she was not the principal actor in their deaths, she was an accessory. From these experiences, she became more convinced that fighting was wrong. She truly wanted to "stop the cycle of hate through love and forgiveness". It was not until she began her spiritual search, found Eli, and adopted his Way of Love that she became convinced that fighting was wrong at all cost. She believed she had found the solution to stopping violence. Love would solve all problems. After all, she reasoned, it worked on the Pomira in THE PRICE (44/220).

[7] She began to ridicule Xena's Way of the Warrior. She became self-righteous and haughty, feeling that her way was better and purer than her mentor's, that her conscience was more developed and "right" than Xena's. This was a normal behavior for someone who had discovered "the truth". She questioned Xena's motives for fighting until Xena began questioning herself.

[8] It was as painful for Xena as it was for the fans. Gabrielle would not fight, but she did not have a problem leading the Amazons or allowing Xena to fight for her. This dichotomy of beliefs did not sit well with many fans. They could not fathom how she could believe fighting was wrong only if she was physically involved.

Peaceful Does Not Do It

Experimenting with 'blood blush' gets messy when it gets on your animal skins.

... but is up to her neck in blood by the end of Season Five.

[9] Then came her capture by the Romans. Gabrielle realized that the Roman prison was the place both she and Xena had seen in the visions [ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402), BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415)]. She knew the end of the story: their crucifixions. When Xena came to rescue them, Gabrielle dutifully helped the other prisoners out of the garrison. She did not pick up a sword or staff. Xena fell, mortally wounded. At that, something snapped in Gabrielle. She grabbed a sword and began lashing out at the Romans, and doing a very good job of it.

[10] Oh my G-d! The fans roared: How could she do that? When did she learn how to wield a sword? What happened to Gabrielle and the Way of Peace? They were further confounded when, after her resurrection, she adopted what looked like the Way of the Warrior, Xena's Way.

[11] Gabrielle had preached peace and love for four years. She had succeeded in softening Xena's "stab- first-ask-questions-later" reactions. Her meeting with Eli seemed to validate her commitment to peace and the Way of Love. Her way was right for her, but how could her way and Xena's both be right? Is there a place for fighting and peace in the world? These had to be questions Xena and Gabrielle discussed at the campfire at night.

[12] Just as Xena had realized there were viable solutions other than fighting, Gabrielle must have realized that sometimes fighting is the only way. When she snapped in IDES (and "snapped" is the only way to describe her actions), it became clear to her that love was not about to save them from the vision. Later, in prison, when Xena apologized for taking her from her path, she explained to Xena that she had chosen the Way of Friendship.

[13] She had been wrong to be critical of Xena's Way; the regret showed on her face. Her experiences to this point and her life with Xena had shown her more than one answer to life's situations. The Way of Love did not work in her world. She finally accepted that fact when she saw Xena fall.

[14] The Way of Friendship, as she termed it, was more important to her life and soul than any philosophy adopted from an itinerant sermonizer. The Way of Friendship actually defined her and her relationship with Xena. In fact, she had been living that life since she first met Xena. In all the situations in which she was willing to sacrifice herself for Xena, she was living the Way of Friendship.

Gabrielle Has Many Skills

[15] Then there are her abilities with the sword to consider. A logical explanation is that Xena had been teaching her sword strategy since RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205). At the time, Gabrielle had insisted that Xena teach her the basics of using a sword. Xena did so reluctantly. The teaching most likely continued after Callisto's capture. Who knows how many countless hours they spent in practice off the record (offscreen), so to speak? They cannot play charades by the campfire, fish, fly kites, or wax philosophical about trees in the forest all the time.

[16] Even with this tutelage, the sword was not her weapon of choice. If she had felt comfortable using the sword, she would have adopted that weapon after her resurrection [FALLEN ANGEL (91/501)]. Instead, she chose a more defensive implement as her signature weapon: the sai [CHAKRAM (92/502)]. She realized the necessity of self-defense and used her weapons in a defensive manner. Xena, who was about to give birth, could no longer be the sole protector of them both. Gabrielle would have to step up and protect Xena and the unborn child. It behooved both for Gabrielle to be well versed in sai usage.

[17] How does one explain such a radical change in attitude? Look at how Gabrielle approached challenges. She had never done anything half-heartedly. She did not hem and haw about leaving home to follow Xena. She packed her bag and left. She did not tiptoe tenderly into the lava pit with Hope [SACRIFICE II (68/322)]. No, she hurled herself into the pit. When she first decided that the Way of Love was for her, she was 110% devoted to the cause and adopted the ways of Eli. Eventually, she realized her real truth -- that she was a warrior at heart. It is very plausible that Gabrielle will devote herself as intensely to this cause as she did to the others. We can also be assured that she will train long and hard in the use of arms to do her job well.

[18] There will be no more philosophical turnarounds. Gabrielle has found her way, and she is settling into her role. With the birth of Xena's baby, drastic life changes will envelop them both. Gabrielle will still need to serve as a protector for some time. She is becoming the companion and equal to Xena, which has always been her destiny. It just took her a long time and several detours to figure that out.


Dana Hlusko Dana Hlusko
I am a registered nurse working in the computer field, trying to convince nursing that a computer is a good patient- care tool. I have published scholarly articles in professional journals. Writing about XWP allows me to write on a topic for which I have a real passion. I gave up my passion for STAR TREK: TNG for Xena. I am the mother of two wonderful children who make fun of Mom for her passions.
Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), FORGET ME NOT (63/317), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), FALLEN ANGEL (91/501)
Favorite line: Xena: "I have many skills" KING CON (61/315), THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), etc.
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS (105/515) - MAJOR YUK

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