Whoosh! Issue 48 - September 2000

By Nusi Dekker
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
4930 words

The Enhancement of the Warrior Princess' Sexual Liaisons with Men in the Fifth Season (01-04)
A New and "Improved" Xena (05-06)
Xena and Ares (07-15)
The Fifth Season - Lots and Lots of Ares... and Sex (16-19)
The Sudden Emergence of a Sex-Starved Xena (20-26)
The Seduction of Antony (27-28)
Sexual Imagery Involving Gabrielle and Joxer (29-33)
Miscellaneous Sexual Imagery in Season Five (34-38)
Conclusion (39-42)

Sexual Imagery in Xena: Warrior Princess

The Enhancement of the Warrior Princess' Sexual Liaisons with Men in the Fifth Season

If you try that tongue thing again I'll smack you a good one

Things heat up between Xena and Draco again in LYRE, LYRE.

[1] The fifth season of Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) saw a dramatic increase in male/female sexual depictions, ranging from comedic innuendo to intensely graphic scenes. There has always been an undertone of heterosexual imagery on XWP, usually centered on the main character of the show as played by Lucy Lawless. From the very first episode, SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), where Xena confronted a past lover (Draco), there have been many instances of some type of sexual bond between Xena and the male of the week, be it with ex-warlord boyfriends (Draco, Marcus, Petracles), new romantic interests (Ulysses, Rafe), a certain god of war (Ares), or flashbacks to her evil past (Caesar, Borias, Darfus, and including Iolaus and Hercules from the WARRIOR PRINCESS trilogy). Having sexual preferences for handsome and/or powerful men has always been a predilection of Xena, the presence of her close friend Gabrielle notwithstanding.

[2] Graphic sexual displays (Xena and Borias on the horse, the bearskin rug scene, as examples) were always associated with the dark, sadistic, evil Xena who thought of nothing but her own pleasure and power. However, from the middle of the fifth season on (and curiously coinciding with Ms. Lawless' post-pregnant status), the intensity of Xena's sexual liaisons with powerful "bad boys" rose several notches. It was if she had reverted back to her early days with Borias: raging hormones, cocky self-assuredness, and uncontrolled greed. Moreover, the sexual liaisons of Xena were of an unhealthy nature, built not on romance and love, but on hedonism and treachery. It marked a profound change in Xena's character. In the latter half of Season Five, this "new" Xena did things that the Xena reformed by Hercules and Gabrielle would never have resorted to. She allowed herself to be sexually coerced and manipulated to distraction by Ares in ETERNAL BONDS (103/503), and she used sex as a weapon both in AMPHIPOLIS UNDER SIEGE (104/514) and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (108/518).

[3] In stark contrast, Gabrielle was allowed no romantic interests. Instead she was pursued and hounded by three men who really wanted nothing more than to possess her: Joxer in at least twelve episodes, Draco in LYRE, LYRE, HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510), and Ares in SUCCESSION (93/503) and SEEDS OF FAITH (99/509). All wanted her for their different agendas. The one man who saw Gabrielle as a person, who treated her as an equal and with respect, Lin Qi [BACK IN THE BOTTLE (97/507)], was denied the chance to pursue a romance because it evidently did not fit in with the story being told.

[4] Gabrielle, who could see through the motives of her three "suitors", especially the very persistent Joxer, was able to resist their "charms" because of her commitment to protecting Xena with "whatever it takes", as she so vehemently told Eli in CHAKRAM (92/502). Gabrielle shunned romance or the possibility of male companionship and dedicated her life to caring for and tending to the needs of Xena. Xena responded to Gabrielle's warmth and caring with an icy cold demeanor, avoiding eye contact, and rarely even placing her hand on the shoulder of her once beloved friend.

A New and "Improved" Xena

[5] The sudden change in Xena's character is jolting. During Seasons Three and Four, Xena had only one "romantic" interest over the span of 44 episodes, Rafe in KING CON (61/315). Xena appeared to be in reasonable control of her body and mind. In Season Five we find Xena with very muted emotions. She had no feelings of guilt or regret after causing the deaths of a hundred thousand men. She had no time to mourn or demonstrate any feelings of regret for Joxer in whom she confided over the course of the season much more than Gabrielle. Her only emotion seemed to be the insatiable and inexplicable sexual attraction to sadistic and conniving men, such as Ares and Antony.

[6] Why such a stark change in character? Were the callousness, self-absorption, and otherwise muted emotions of the pregnant Xena due to a desire by the pregnant Lucy Lawless to keep her stress levels down? Or perhaps the character change itself was a calculated move, a result of brain damage from Xena hanging dead on a cross for several days, then having a very important part of her personality, her dark side, erased by an ethereal being. Xena got most of her personality back in CHAKRAM (92/502), but key elements of both her personality and memory seemed to be missing, a change which continued to persist through the rest of Season Five. Then again, maybe Lawless herself was tired of the character after four years, and decided to make some changes through her acting choices.

Xena and Ares

[7] Ares has been a part of Xena's life from her emergence as a bloodthirsty warlord to the present day. Up until the fifth season, Ares' goal was to use whatever methods necessary to entice Xena back into the life of waging war and mayhem. Xena, as well as the XWP viewers, were introduced to the corporeal Ares for the first time in THE RECKONING (06/106).

[8] The premise of THE RECKONING was a set-up by Ares for Xena to take the blame and receive the punishment of death for the murder of three unarmed villagers, actually murdered by Ares himself. Xena, trussed in chains and in the midst of being tortured, was transported to, supposedly, Ares' bedroom, where she found herself in a very sexual setting with the god of war. Ares offered to remove her from the sordid situation he put her in with promises of a vast army to command, limitless power, immense wealth, and of course, sex with him.

[9] The sexual tension between Ares and Xena was evident. Xena appeared to be aroused by Ares, but stopped short of a kiss, which would have been a signal to Ares of her willingness to commit to his ways of war. Xena was able to get out of her predicament a different way, by outsmarting Ares at his own game. The war god learned that torture and imminent threat of death were not the right methods to get the Warrior Princess to see things his way.

[10] In the episode, TIES THAT BIND (20/120), Ares pretended to be Xena's long- lost father, and tried to lure Xena back to her blood fever state of mind by appealing to her sense of family loyalty and guilt for not being able to save her brother. Of course there was no sexual connotation here, since that would have been flirting with incest. Ares simply tried and failed with another method of attempted conversion of Xena to her dark side.

[11] In the second season, Ares appeared in three episodes. INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207), almost, but not quite, approached the same intensity of graphic sexual display as the latter half of Season Five. By now the character traits of the reformed Xena had been outlined. Xena would never again be vulnerable to the sexual advances of Ares, since she supposedly now knows herself. So when a sexual liaison did occur between Xena and Ares, it was confusing. It was then discovered that Callisto had switched bodies with Xena, with Ares' help, leaving Xena (in Callisto's body) in Tartarus, and it was Callisto who was actually having sex with Ares.

[12] In TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208), Xena was back from Tartarus, but still in the body of Callisto. Ares had been made a mortal (by having his sword stolen!). In a sexually charged scene, Ares and Xena/Callisto are forced to share a room and a bed together. Ares had been wounded and was being tended to by Xena, who treated him by giving him a massage on his bare shoulders. He made a pass at Xena and then proceeded to describe the delightful sex that he had shared with Callisto in Xena's body. Xena defused the moment and deflated Ares by vowing to take a long hot bath as soon as she got her own body back.

[13] In THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210), an episode set in modern times with the "descendants" of Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer, Ares was awakened from his long imprisonment in a cave to be reunited with Xena, in the body of her descendant. A scene laced with eroticism followed as Ares again tried to entice Xena to the ways of war. Their lips almost joined, and then Xena smacked him in his nether regions, instantly deflating this sexually charged scene.

[14] The third season featured Ares in nine episodes, but there was virtually no sexual sparring and certainly no kissing, implied or otherwise, between Xena and Ares, save for the sensual dance sequence between them in THE BITTER SUITE (59/312). Xena in this particular scene had reverted back to her dark side. Ares seized the opportunity to capitalize on the rift between Xena and Gabrielle by concentrating his seductive efforts on Gabrielle in an attempt to separate the two. Gabrielle was curiously resistant to his sexual advances, so he played up to her guilt and anger over Xena. His persistence was rewarded by the "death" of Gabrielle in SACRIFICE II (68/322).

[15] Ares then disappeared for the entire fourth season except for one episode, supposedly to let time pass for Xena to forget about what he did. His appearance in the modern-day era fourth season ender DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN (90/422) was moot, since Xena had been reincarnated into the body of a man, removing any possibility there of a sexual encounter between Xena and Ares.

The Fifth Season - Lots and Lots of Ares... and Sex

Ares.  You're stepping on my foot.  Again.

Xena and Ares steam up the mirrors in CHAKRAM, as well as several other episodes in Season Five.

[16] After almost a complete season with no Ares, the god of war returned with a vengeance, appearing in no less than ten fifth season episodes. In CHAKRAM (92/502), he attempted to seduce a "lobotomized", for want of a better word, Xena who had no memory of Ares or even the concept of evil, just an obvious sexual attraction to him. He would have succeeded, and had in fact already begun the foreplay, had Gabrielle not interrupted him. His sole purpose for the seduction was to get the "pure of soul" Xena to retrieve the "Chakram of Light" so that he could use it to kill the other gods and reign supreme. Xena had been rendered as innocent as a child here, so the connotation here would have been comparable to him seducing a child. Fortunately, the scene did not get carried too far.

[17] SUCCESSION (93/503) was an eye-candy extravaganza, although Xena was already in her "maternity leathers". Ares returned to his old tricks, trying to lure Xena back to the Dark Side by pitting her against not only her friend, the newly fierce fighting machine Gabrielle, but a well-endowed, somewhat bimbo-esque warlord wannabe, Mavican. The opening teaser has Ares and Mavican having rather vigorous sex under a thin blanket. The sex was perfunctory with no trace of affection from either party, and Mavican was unceremoniously tossed out the door. Ares also tried his sexual prowess several times on Gabrielle, to no avail. Xena showed virtually no response to Ares' overtures to Mavican, Gabrielle, or even herself in this episode. Although, in a strange character lapse, one of many this season, Xena appeared worried that Ares would convert Gabrielle to the dark side. One would think that after all these years together Xena would trust Gabrielle by now. It does appear, however, that Xena has forgotten all about Ares' participation in Gabrielle's "sacrifice". Xena may be omnipotent, but she does have a short memory.

[18] SEEDS OF FAITH (99/509) was a pivotal episode in that much information was revealed: the origin of Xena's pregnancy, the transfer of the spirit of Callisto into Xena's child, the martyrdom of Eli, and the revelation of the Twilight of the Gods. Since Xena was heavily pregnant in this episode, any sexual connotations between Xena and Ares were carefully avoided. So Ares once again tried his seduction shtick on Gabrielle. This resulted in a sexually-charged scene in the desert where Ares let Gabrielle feel the "power" of the gods, though it seemed that she was experiencing orgasms as an added bonus. Here also, Ares learns that his days as a god are probably numbered, and he will do anything to preserve his own life.

[19] With the Twilight of the Gods close at hand as Xena was about to give birth, Ares tried a different tactic out of desperation in GOD FEARING CHILD (102/512). This is the episode where he first makes this threat (paraphrased), "Have sex with me and bear me a child, and I will protect you from the other gods. If you refuse, I'll join with my family of Olympian gods to destroy you and your child". These words became a recurring theme in the latter part of Season Five. Xena's initial response to his "offer" was coldness, but then, out of earshot, Ares declared his "love" for her. Was this sudden "softening" of Ares believable? Evidently, to many viewers it was, as fans eagerly anticipated a blossoming romance between Ares and Xena, the threatening remarks notwithstanding.

The Sudden Emergence of a Sex-Starved Xena

When good braces go bad (and lock up)

Full lip contact in ETERNAL BONDS.

[20] With the episode ETERNAL BONDS (103/513), there came a drastic change in the characterization of Xena. The young, evil Xena had uncontrolled sexual desires, blood lust, and rage against humanity, which was part of the intrinsic evilness of that period in her life. The evil Xena used sex as a manipulative tool and weapon to double-cross her opponents and thus defeat them. She used men like Borias for the sole purpose of keeping them loyal to her in her insatiable quest for power.

[21] The "reformed" Xena, who served a self- imposed penitence by helping to save others from the corruption and feudalism that she was once a part of, established early on that she would not again stoop to use sex for treacherous purposes. Her sexual liaisons (Marcus, Ulysses), were of a strictly romantic nature, almost in the vein of Gabrielle and Perdicus. In CHAKRAM (92/503), it was suggested that she had a sexual liaison with Ares in her bath, but that was dispelled in ANIMAL ATTRACTION (94/504), when Xena, upon discovering her pregnancy, declared that she had not had sex with men in a very long time. During the rest of her "pregnancy" episodes, she showed very little interest in Ares, instead keeping the company of Joxer, who was sexually neutral to her.

[22] The first post-pregnancy episode, ETERNAL BONDS (103/513), blew all conceptions of a Xena in control of her body and mind right out of the water. In a scene that would border on pornography if not for the strategically placed camera angles, Ares telepathically entered the mind of a drowsing and unaware Xena. What follows is a "dream sequence" with extreme close-ups of Ares and Xena licking the inside of each other's mouths, and a graphic insinuation of Ares performing oral sex on Xena. After four years of watching Xena repeatedly refuse Ares' "charms", this scene comes as quite a shock. As the dream sequence fades, Xena wakes to find that she has been vigorously masturbating in the woods with her baby gurgling next to her. Slightly disturbing is the impression that Xena felt pleasure instead of disgust at the thought of having sex with Ares and did not seem to even wonder where these intense "dreams" came from. Ares again voiced his threat that first appeared in GOD FEARING CHILD, this time with a tentatively positive response from Xena.

[23] In AMPHIPOLIS UNDER SIEGE (104/514), Xena took advantage of Ares' mind manipulation by tricking Ares into protecting her and Eve against Athena and her army by pretending to consent to a sexual interlude with him, in his own temple. The resulting steamy scene included not only tonsil licking, but nipple biting as well. It seemed that Xena had reverted back to her old dark days when she used sex as a tool for treachery, this being the first time since her change from evil to "good", that she used that particular tactic.

[24] The last time she would use sexual manipulation against Ares would be in the episode LIVIA (110520). After discovering that her grown daughter had become Ares' new lover, Xena staged a convincing seduction of Ares in front of Livia and Augustus Caesar, who was planning to marry Livia and make her empress of Rome. Livia's intense jealousy towards Xena revealed her relationship with Ares to Augustus. The ruse was so convincing that Ares thought Xena was really coming back to him.

[25] Subsequent episodes showed Ares pitting mother against daughter, as he frequently switched sides between Xena, Eve, and what was left of his Olympian family. Ares constantly urged Xena to couple with him and produce his child, while urging Eve to ever-greater atrocities toward humanity. He was also the stool pigeon for the Olympian gods, so that they could easily find Xena and Eve to kill them.

[26] In the culmination of this bizarre relationship between Ares and Xena, Ares finally tells Xena to her face that he loves her, in MOTHERHOOD (112/522). But that whole scene was solely meant as a distraction for Xena, to allow time for the Furies-possessed Gabrielle to kill Eve. Ares, at that point, was clearly working for his sister Athena. He also tried to kill Eve several times in the episode, to be thwarted every time by Xena. At the end of MOTHERHOOD, Eve and Gabrielle were dead, with Gabrielle being killed by Xena as an ostensible act of vengeance as profoundly suggested by the editing of that scene. Victory for the remaining Olympian gods was virtually assured as Athena was about to kill Xena. However, Ares inexplicably brought Eve and Gabrielle back to life, which gave Xena the opportunity to kill Ares' sister, Athena. Ares lost his godhood and immortality as a consequence, but retained his life. His explanation to the dying, incredulous Athena: "I have a "thing" for her". Of course, this opens up the possibility of a future Xena/Ares romance, and in spite of all the past indiscretions, many fans feel that Xena "owes" Ares at least a roll in the sack for his "heroic" sacrifice to save her.

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