The Only Way To Go (03-05)
Xena and Redemption (06-10)
Settling Down (11-14)
Xena's Accomplishments (15-16)
Respect vs. Disrespect (20-28)
Gabrielle sails off into the sunset without Xena's physical presence.
 Before I begin this essay, there are two things I would like to say. NO, I did not like the ending of the show, I just LOVED it. YES, I understand why it ended that way. I have to agree with Lucy Lawless when, at the convention, she said she did not like the end of the show, but she liked how it ended. I feel the same way she did. With this said, I will move on to state what I think the reasons are for this end. Again, these are my personal opinions and nothing more.
 I, like many others, would have loved to see Xena and Gabrielle ride off into the sunset, but that was something that was never going to happen to these two characters. In a very different and special way, they did sail off together into the sunset.
The Only Way To Go
 First, this was the only way Xena could go. She died as she had lived: as a warrior, in a final battle facing an overwhelming enemy, doing great harm to them. She did not die at the hand of some cocky young warrior wanting to make a name for him/herself. She went out calling the name of the only person who meant the world to her, the only person who understood her and loved her with all her faults and all her virtues. Xena was and would have always been a warrior.
 She was not a woman who would settle down, so she decided to go out in the only possible way she could, with the dignity of a warrior with her sword in her hand fighting the good battle. As Xena told Gabrielle, she had to do it that way because if not, Gabrielle would have followed her and then they both would have died. What would have been the purpose for Xena's sacrifices in trying again to do the right thing and fix a wrong she had again done in her past?
 This past of Xena always followed her no matter how hard she worked at fixing her wrong deeds, a past that would never allow her peace. Her past made it difficult for her to sleep well at nights and made her always look over her shoulder for fear someone would demand vengeance for what she had done.
Xena and Redemption
 There have been many arguments about Xena's redemption. Was she really redeemed by Michael? If we look back at FALLEN ANGEL, Xena demanded to become an archangel not because she was sorry for she had done in her life, but because she wanted to get Gabrielle back and the only way to do that was to get her wings.
 During the whole run of this series, we have dabbled in Gabrielle's spiritual search, but very little has been said or done about Xena's need for her own spiritual search. This was touched on briefly in FORGIVEN when Tara and Gabrielle ask Xena if she wants to be forgiven and she walks away. In LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN, Xena goes to jail to try to pay for some of her bad deeds. When another prisoner asks her why she has never had to pay for her crimes, Xena responds that she has asked herself the same question.
 Xena's redemption is not something Michael or an urn with magical oil or jail could give her. Xena's redemption comes from within herself. She has not been able to find that point in her soul where she would feel she had finished paying for all her crimes.
 There was only one point during the whole run of the show when Xena stated that she was through paying for her faults. That was during ONE AGAINST AN ARMY. That, however, was just a moment of frustration when she felt helpless to save Gabrielle's life and still fight the army that was threatening Athens. That was the only time Xena mentioned anything regarding finishing with her guilt.
 Did Xena ever get to find redemption for her guilt during the run of the show? The answer for me would have to be NO. Yet, in this final episode with this final act of courage and determination, she finally accomplished that. She paid the final price for all her sins and guilt and now she is free from all of it.
 Then, there is the subject of settling down, those picket fences, and riding off into the sunset. That was not Xena. She was not one to settle down. Her heart was that of a wanderer.
Xena doesn't nest well.
 She had the opportunity to settle down with the Amazons in KINDRED SPIRITS, but she could not make herself do it. When Xena asked Gabrielle what she would do while Gabrielle was off doing her Queen stuff and Gabrielle told her to relax and take it easy, Xena's response was "Like that is me".
 No, that was not her. Settling down was not part of Xena's nature and would not have been. Xena knew that no matter where she went, her past would follow her. At every corner, there was and would always be someone to remind her of her past. Even with the Amazons, that past was there.
 There was no way Xena and Gabrielle could ride off into the sunset together and enjoy a peaceful, quiet life somewhere. Xena p*ss*d off many people all over the known world during her time as a warlord. There was no place where they could go and settle down.
 By going this way, Xena accomplished two things she most wanted in life: to always be close to Gabrielle and to find peace of soul and mind. In death, she was able to be with Gabrielle with no fear that her past would be there at the turn of every corner. Finally, she had obtained true and complete redemption for all she had done in life.
 At this time, I find myself having to back track a bit to Michael, The Archangel. Michael did not have Xena's best interest in mind, least of all her redemption. Michael used Xena to finish off the Olympian Gods. Then there was the subject of Mephistopheles. He had to go and Xena took care of that. Then Michael had a cocky angel wanting to take his place. Michael sent Lucifer after Xena, knowing she would take care of his problem. Finally, there was Caligula. Again Michael used, or tried to use, Xena to do his bad deed for him. If this were redemption, who would want it?
 Then, there is Akemi, a loathsome character. I propose that all this is a result of manipulation by this vengeful young woman. Personally, I would prefer a statute of limitations on debts. If you have not cashed out on your debt after ten years, your ghost should not be allowed to come back and demand some type of restitution. Then again, there is no statute of limitations on murder, is there?
 Akemi used Xena to accomplish her needs. If Akemi had not put in motion her plan to use Xena to get vengeance on her father, Xena would not have gone to Japan, gotten the sword, taught Akemi the pinch, and then burned a town down.
 Yes, the burning of the town was an accident, caused by a drunken young warrior who was mourning the loss of someone she was starting to believe to be her friend and someone who had betrayed her. Had Xena not been trying to carry out the last wishes of this young woman who used her and broke her heart, Xena would not have been in that town to start with. In turn, she would not have been drunk and the townspeople would not have attacked her, making the urn break and Akemi's soul not find honor which led to her being imprisoned by the man she set out to kill using Xena. If none of this had happened, the town would not have been burned, all those people would not have died, and Xena would not have been in the predicament she was in. Therefore, the reason Xena is dead is that this vengeful young woman set the path in motion several years earlier.
Respect vs. Disrespect
Akemi is always a step ahead.
 Because of Akemi, Xena p*ss*d off the people who made this super strong sword. Why is this important? When Akemi was talking to Xena at Akemi's grandfather's shrine, she told Xena her sword was not good enough to fight, that she needed a stronger sword, and where she could get one. She hit Xena where it hurt most, her pride, and Xena wanted that sword. Not satisfied with that, Akemi goes on to tell the young and egocentric Xena that only men could have that sword. Thus, a challenge is on. By winning the challenge and taking the sword, she lost the respect of a group of people who definitely would have wanted her "head" at that time.
 Furthermore, it is believed by some that the leader of the Samurai Army disrespected Xena's body by taking her head, but as he said, it was a great honor to fight such great opponent. When Gabrielle defeated him, he asked for the same treatment he had given Xena. For us though, as well as Gabrielle, his treatment of Xena and her body was disrespectful, even though it sounded like he felt what he had done to Xena was a sign of respect. Because we do not understand their traditions and ideologies, it is hard to know if this was a sign of respect or disrespect.
 Let us look at some of Xena's actions that distinguish her from others and made her such a great target, not counting, of course, the fire that killed 40,000 people.
 First, we have to go back to the moment Xena took the special samurai sword. Her first action what might have been construed as an act of disrespect or as an act of pure defiance or bravery. Whichever way you look at it, there was this young woman facing the mightiest and best master swordmakers, defeating them, and taking their great, powerful sword. No woman had ever dared to challenge for the sword. She did and she got it. Then, the sword was used to give honor, or at least try to give honor, to someone who did not deserve that honor, a woman who had killed her father.
 Finally, Xena's strongest act of bravery or defiance was to stand up to this mighty army alone. She was telling them that she was stronger and mightier than they were, that she did not need an army to fight them. Here again is a WOMAN standing up to a mighty army, doing some real damage in the process. Being shot several time, still fighting and almost mortally wounded, she still challenged their leader. Talk about a total and complete show of bravery and strength as a warrior. This is something that many of them might not have even dare to do, but Xena did it and, in the end, she paid for her actions.
 Was this act reason to disrespect Xena or to honor her? Yes, it goes both ways. She was a brave warrior WOMAN who defied the master swordmakers, stole their prized possession, and stood alone against a mighty army.
 If we take a look at how Gabrielle found Xena's body, we find that the head had been preserved in a cushioned shrine. Her body was hanged above ground so it would not be hurt by others or eaten by the animals. He had her body guarded to avoid its destruction. Were these signs of respect or disrespect? This is something that requires more research and its own dissertation at another time.
 Why did the leader of the Samurai not want Xena to come back from the dead? He had defeated her once. Having her return from the dead would have been a dishonor to him. However, in the same situation, he wanted Gabrielle to let him die with honor like the warrior he was.
 Then we come to the question, why did Xena want to stay dead? This is not hard to understand. By staying dead, she avenged all the souls she had killed and was finally at peace with herself because she had obtained the redemption she so long wanted and needed. A very fitting end to a very tortured soul that made a great character, who opened so many doors for other characters like her to have a place on our television.
 If I had written this episode, would I have ended it this way? My answer would have to be YES. Bringing Xena back would not help the situation any. She would still be Xena. She would still be at risk of finding someone she has wronged who would want revenge. There would still be no peace for her and there would still be someone out there who would want to take her on just to prove he/she were better and badder than Xena ever was. It is better for Xena to stay where she is happy with the thought that she has paid her debt to the world and happy in the thought that she will always be with Gabrielle.
 I still hurt when I think of the way she died, but I understand why it all happened, and in the end, I am grateful that such a character was brought to our television. I am very grateful that there was someone out there who thought there was a place on our television for a female hero with a very dark past and who was willing to take a chance not only with the character, but with the actress who portrayed her. I am also grateful they put in the path of this beautiful and dangerous character such a great and marvelous soul as a companion, someone who taught our tormented character that love, even for just a second, was something we could all obtain. She taught our hero that sometimes the hardest decisions in life are the right ones, and even after death, she would be loved.
 I am very grateful they put this gentle and beautiful character in the hands of another beautiful and talented actor. This combination made for a very exciting, marvelous show that gave us six wonderful years.
 This TELEVISION SHOW gave us so much more than JUST a television show. With the birth of this show, many of us found strength to fight our own internal demons. Some of us found love and friends that we will have forever. Others discovered their hidden talents in fan fiction, music videos, art, and many other areas. These characters brought so much joy to so many.
 For many, these characters were our friends during those bad times when the world and life seemed to be overwhelming. They gave us moments of laughter and joy. They also gave us some moments of true despair and anguish when the Rift took place. We took so much from them in our own lives.
 Now comes the hardest thing for all of us, harder for some than for others. We have all, in one way or another, lost a friend and a companion. Therefore, our mourning period has started. We all have been saddened by the death of our hero. We all have cried and sat in the dark, shaking our heads and said "why this ending?" For some, the answers came easier than for others. For some, the answer will never arrive.
 From here, we will all move to being angry. We will be angry with the writers who wrote the end that led to our beloved character's death. We will be angry with the producers who allowed this to happen. At some point, we will even be angry at the stars for not stopping this from happening. But then, as time goes on, we will all end up in some way or another accepting the fact that she is gone. We will accept that we have some really good memories of this show, that we have learned and grown so much from watching this show, and that the best thing this show gave us was the fact that friends were made and loves were found because of this show.
 We sill sit back down, watch the reruns of the show, and remember the great times at the conventions, online, and on the phone with those friend we made. We will see a particular episode and remember things that made that episode so special for us. Or on those days when life is just too hard to even deal with, we will go to our video tapes and pull those episodes that either made us laugh or made us cry, so the hard times in our lives don't seem so hard.
 As I step down from my soapbox, with my eyes full of tears and my heart in pain, I have to say Thank You for giving us such a great story of love, sacrifice, dedication, and bravery. Most of all, thank you for the memories. Thank you for all you have done in your six-year run. Xena and Gabrielle, you will never be forgotten and you will live on in our hearts forever.
Xiomara Suro. A View of Xena: Warrior Princess. WHOOSH #42 (March 2000)
Ms. Suro also writes reviews for the Whoosh episode guide.
Xiomara Suro (Beboman) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After retiring from the military and a 10-year stint in law enforcement, she went to hide in Nevada and now works in the surveillance department of a casino in a Nevada hotel. When she is not writing short stories, poetry, or commentaries for Xena episodes, she enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson in the company of her husband "Wolfman". She is the mother of two and the grandmother of two.
Favorite episode: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) and IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124)
Favorite line: Xena: "Be Nice". THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)
First episode seen: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) (after a bad spill on a Harley)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)