Stock in "The Relationship" went up like a wildfire after the DESTINY trilogy aired in February 1997 (DESTINY, #36; THE QUEST, #37; and A NECESSARY EVIL, #38) .
What relationship do you ask? Do you even need to ask? And you consider yourself an obsessive fan?
Not only did we find out all this neat new stuff about Xena and WHY she was the way she was (like her clothing choices, unique fighting techniques, her nerve pinch, and why she was a really, really bad girl for a while) but we also found out that her relationship with Gabrielle is a tad more complex than companion, confidante, and Lyceus replacement. Can you now say, M'Lila replacement?
The M'Lila incident gives us more insight into Xena's compulsive/obsessive need to constantly rescue Gabrielle which is a primary theme of the show. Is Xena's forever saving of Gabrielle her attempt to save M'Lila as well as Lyceus?
By the episode REMEMBER NOTHING (#26), Xena learned the bitter truth that no matter what she could have done, Lyceus was still dead meat; but, at the same token, Xena understood that she still had a chance to save Gabrielle (even a couple of times per episode!). But the introduction of M'Lila in DESTINY added a fresh nuance to Xena's rescues of Gabrielle. Whereas Lyceus was driven to his death by a love of freedom, his own devices, and the unfolding of his destiny; M'Lila lost hers due to loyalty to Xena, because of the vagaries of chance, and the unfolding of Xena's OWN destiny. In this instance, M'Lila was Xena's first victim as a ruthless warlord, even though it was beyond Xena's control. Thus, M'Lila becomes more sympathetic than Lyceus because while Lyceus died defending himself, M'Lila died defending another. But both were killed as direct results from decisions made by Xena.
The correlations between M'Lila and Gabrielle are the stuff of an essay, so I will list only a few. The similarities range from the profound to the mundane.
(1) Both had the capacity for self-sacrifice: M'Lila for Xena and Gabrielle for Terreis in HOOVES & HARLOTS (yes, I know Gabrielle also did this for Xena quite a few times, but I am looking for parallel actions). Gabrielle's act of self-sacrifice created an Amazon Princess and M'Lila's created a Warrior Princess.
(2) M'Lila took a deadly arrow meant for Xena; in the beginning of DESTINY, Gabrielle takes a knife wound to protect Xena. Also, in the same episode, M'Lila used herself as a shield to protect Xena, while Gabrielle made a shield of herself over Terreis in HOOVES & HARLOTS.
(3) Both women became captivated with the warrior princess and showed loyalty above and beyond the call of duty because of that enchantment. M'Lila lost her life for it while Gabrielle found liberation.
(4) M'Lila was an escaped slave and Xena saved Gabrielle from slavery.
(5) Both women several times saved Xena's life regardless of the peril to their own.
(6) Xena did not understand M'Lila because she did not speak her language; Xena did not understand Gabrielle because of Gabrielle's radically different world view. Xena was obviously attracted to both in part because of her inability to 'read them like a book' as she was able to do with others.
After DESTINY, Xena's compulsive need to rescue Gabrielle can now be seen in context with Xena's loss of M'Lila.
The trilogy continued with a very intense time for Gabrielle, and THE QUEST ended with Xena ultimately saving Gabrielle from the loneliness of a world without Xena.
The final installment, A NECESSARY EVIL, was one long drawn out Gabrielle rescue (it was easily the Bolero of Gabrielle rescues). From the first few minutes of Velasca's "I want Gabrielle" to Gabrielle plummeting into a lava pit with Xena bungee cord jumping to the rescue, A NECESSARY EVIL drove home the point that Gabrielle rescuing is a fundamental part of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. The M'Lila backstory, however, added rich subtlety to this otherwise cliche plot element, and helped make the trilogy into quite a grander and far-reaching event than it could have been.
The episode which has earned a HISTORIC 7.7 Nielsen rating is THE QUEST (#37). This is simply amazing. The highest XWP rating up now has been around 6.3. The highest HTLJ episode was last year at 7.5. The tribble episode of this season's ST:DS9 was a 7.7. I am in shock. For a syndicated show to do something like this is incredible. XWP is hot in a way which even the wonks of MCA/Universal can understand.
Xena took top honors in THE QUEST with a mind-boggling 7.7. HTLJ came in 2nd with a 6.9 (its season high; it's all time high being 7.5 with THE ENFORCER from last year). ST:DS9 (DS9 is dead, long live DS9) came in 3rd with a 6.0. SINBAD came in 4th with a surprising 3.3. FX was 5th with 3.2. Poor BAYWATCH didn't make the top 25 (let's have a moment of silence).
But this is not the most EXCITING news of all. Before I break it to you, I want to remind you that this is highly significant because this episode was really a Renee O'Connor tour de force. It probably got a little ratings boost because of Bruce Campbell's appearance, but he NEVER has gotten ratings like this for any other show (we are talking 5.4 for the HTLJ 2nd season opener and 5.6 for ROYAL COUPLE). Also, DESTINY only brought in a 6.3 rating. It is very peculiar that the second part would bring in 1.4 (22%) more rating points for the second half (That is almost 2 million more). I truly think the internet and word of mouth really made it happen.
Also, before I break the big news, just ponder this:
For this batch of first run shows...which correspond with SWEEPS week, XWP has taken the top action hour space. To wit:
XENA SCROLLS: (1) XWP 6.0; (2) HTLJ 5.9
HERE SHE COMES: (1) XWP 6.1; (2) HTLJ 5.; (3) OUTER LIMITS 4.1; (4) BAYWATCH 3.9; (5) BABYLON 5 3.8
DESTINY: (1) XWP & HTLJ 6.3
THE QUEST: (1) XWP 7.7; (2) HTLJ 6.9; (3) DS9 6.0;(4) SINBAD 3.3; (5) FX 3.2
This is unbelievable. And with Lucy Lawless being the cover interview on TV Guide and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY running 5 pages on the show all on sale 3/3/97...I bet the CALLISTO repeats will out do its original by 1 or 2 rating points! I thought XWP would overcome HTLJ in the third season. Nope, XWP is now top dog if the boys and gals in the writing pit don't blow it.
Well, what was the really big news I forgot to mention???
XWP's GAA rating, which counts duplicative viewing, will be an 8.7. That will be the highest GAA for an action hour since the 9.2 season premiere of ST: DS9 in 1995.
XWP is a contender and it was a Renee O'Connor episode (there was so little of Xena that it was ridiculous... any idiot can see that O'Connor carried that show) that made it a contender. If I were her agent I would be asking for a big raise.
NEW YORK CITY XENAFEST
I will be holding court at the WHOOSH! table at the NYC XenaFest at the Hotel Intercontinental on March 22, 1997. Don't be a stranger. Drop by and say hi.
NEXT MONTH'S WHOOSH!
A couple of articles which were scheduled for this issue had to be moved to next month. I apologize to the authors and to those who were eagerly awaiting their appearance. Next month's WHOOSH, scheduled to be released April 1, 1997 (be there or be square!!), will include the following articles:
"Chainmail and its Uses on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS"
By Christi Clogston (email@example.com )
"Dark Warrior Pasts: Kira and Xena"
By Mary Draganis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The Perdica Collection"
By Mary Beth Cavert (BCavert@aol.com)
"Xena: A Demigod?"
By Bret Rudnick (email@example.com vard.edu)
"XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and the Mortality Rate of Significant Others"
By Tricia Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for reading and supporting WHOOSH!
Kym Masera Taborn
Chairman of the Board,
International Association of Xena Studies
February 26, 1997
NOTE TO IAXS MEMBERS: The e-mail edition of Whoosh #6 will be released whenever I get around to it!!! Bwahahahhaha.