Whoosh! Issue 60 - September 2001

XENA'S REDEMPTION SONG:
TOO MUCH LOVE WILL KILL YOU

By Samantha Cabrera-Diaz
Content © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2001 held by Whoosh!
4321 words


Introduction (01)
My Personal Xena History (02-15)
FRIEND IN NEED I (16-18)
FRIEND IN NEED II (19-22)
To Die Or Not To Die, That Is The Question (23-31)
At the End (32-36)
Biography




XENA'S REDEMPTION SONG:
TOO MUCH LOVE WILL KILL YOU



Introduction

You wouldn't hit a cute, pregnant action hero, would you?
Gabrielle and Xena start the journey together.

[01] I saw FRIEND IN NEED I and II at a XenaFest in London Friday, June 23, 2001. I was in a state of shock. I knew I was going to cry but I did not know it was going to hurt so much. I cried all the way back home, and I cried myself to sleep. I did not even have breakfast properly the next morning. I poured pineapple juice in my cereal and, when I realized what a stupid thing I was doing, I started crying again. "How can you be so silly", you would ask, "crying like there is not tomorrow just because some TV show is over?" I have my reasons. However, I should not start at the end, Gabrielle would not like that.


My Personal Xena History

[02] I first saw the Warrior Princess a lazy Sunday afternoon in my hometown, in the Canary Islands. We are seven small dots on the map of the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the North African coast. It might have been 1997, I am not sure. I used to be active on weekends. That is how it is like when you are still a student. It was just by chance that I was home and turned on the television. Then, Lucy Lawless appeared on a hilltop at the head of an army. "Who's that woman? She's something else!" She was beautiful, intelligent, and powerful. Moreover, she was bad! It was not your typical Sunday afternoon kiddies' TV material.

[03] Somehow I managed to watch the Xena trilogy on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, over the following weeks. Then the Spanish public channel that aired Hercules started to air Xena as well. I am not going to lie to you and say that it was love at first sight. I missed random episodes of the first half of Season One. I was not as devoted to the show as to tape it if I was not home. Nor did I talk to people about it.

[04] Many things were going on in my life and I opted for a radical change. I dropped out of law school because I was not meant to be a lawyer. I moved to England in search of greener pastures and time to think of what to do with my life. It is not easy to start out in a foreign country where you barely speak the language. I was lucky to have my best friend living there, though. She helped me to get a job and a place to live. Things did not look so hopeless any more.

[05] Then, I rediscovered a couple of old friends one Saturday night while I was channel surfing on Channel 5. They were Xena and Gabrielle, of course, but they had different voices. On Spanish TV, all the foreign programs were dubbed. They were having a re-run of the first season that summer of 1998. I remember watching THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105) and that Xena's ex-boyfriend was black and gorgeous. I was gladly surprised. TVland is normally very concerned about the politically correct and racial issues. I had never seen an inter-racial relationship portrayed on TV like that. Xena did not give it a second thought and I liked her better for that. I also liked her for being a strong woman, kicking *ss. Gabrielle, however, was always my favorite. I could see the world through her eyes. She liked to write stories like I did. She had left her parent's village for the first time and she was living the greatest adventures of all, life with the Warrior Princess. She had the courage to follow her heart and that was who I wanted to be.

[06] The nature of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle never was an issue for me until I saw Xena's reaction to Gabrielle's death in IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124). I realized that was a love story, and I am a very romantic person, your regular Sense and Sensibility kind of girl. I believe in true love and that, no matter what happens, your soulmate is out there somewhere. These days, that is like saying you believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Yet, I will not settle for anything else, let me dream on. Otherwise, what is the madness we call life about? You do not have to be gay to see the love between these two, either. It shines through them.

[07] By the time Channel 5 started airing Season 2, I was hooked. I work shifts and I tried to be home every Saturday night. I did not say anything to anyone at work because I was a bit embarrassed, to be honest. Xena here is supposed to be a children's show and I am in my late twenties. At the end of the day, I have to at least be seen acting like a proper grown up. But somewhere down the line, when I started to meet other fans in the newsgroups and at the "By the Gods" evenings in London, I concluded that something that brought so much joy and fun into my life was nothing to be ashamed of. You should celebrate it. So I built a website and I started to wear my Xena T-shirts to work. Appearances be d*mn*d.

[08] In January 1999, my dear grandmother passed away. She meant a lot to me. She practically raised my brother and me after my mother left us when I was six. I could never do wrong in her eyes, even when I misbehaved. She taught me to love unconditionally. I was not able to attend her funeral. They never told me until the next day and then it was too late to catch a plane back home. When I first found out, I was so in shock that I could not even cry. I went to work because I did not want to spend the day at home alone feeling miserable. Someone mentioned something silly and tiny that reminded me of her and I could not stop the river of tears that followed. When I got home, I played the tape of BLIND FAITH, which was the Xena episode that week at Channel 5. I laughed aloud for the first time that day. Then, I wrote a poem saying goodbye to my grandmother, telling her how much I was going to miss her (and I still do), and how I was going to remember her. I cried all the way through writing it. I had never felt like that again until the day I watched FRIEND IN NEED.

[09] Paul Hilling, of the Xena nights in London, was kind enough to provide me with the episodes I had not seen yet, season 3 and 4. Before I saw MATERNAL INSTINCTS, I could not understand how Xena could get so mad at Gabrielle that she was willing to kill her. That is something about Xena: It does not matter how many synopses you read at Whoosh!, you have to see it with your own eyes. Xena never does what is expected from her, although sometimes when she does it you are just begging her not to go ahead. I will get back to that point later.

[10] I got up to speed with my American friends in the middle of season 4. I was one of the few that loved Gabrielle's new haircut, but I still got a bit worried when she went all "make love not peace" on us. That was a decisive moment between Xena and Gabrielle. That was the point where she would leave Xena forever to explore her own choices in life or she would abandon her own path to follow Xena's. You cannot love peace and the warrior, because the warrior is war. Yet, Gabrielle chose with her heart and I grieved for her during that bloody outburst in THE IDES OF MARCH, because she was giving away a part of herself.

[11] I must admit that Xena and Gabrielle meeting each other again in the next life of DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN served to soothe my pain that summer after watching them die on the crosses. FALLEN ANGEL was a magnificent comeback, but things were getting a bit complicated. Some writers left Xena and the old writers from Hercules (a show that had been canceled) came in. Unfortunately, they did not have a clue what to do with Xena and Gabrielle's relationship or how to write Lucy Lawless' pregnancy into the show. Robert Tapert managed to pick up the pieces after they got rid of those writers and RJ Stewart stepped back in.

[12] I was of the opinion that Season 5 was not such a disaster until recently, when I realized how great and all rounded Season 6 had been, so the previous one pales in comparison. I was a bit apprehensive about the 25 years into the future and the twilight of the Gods, but I must say that it worked beautifully.

[13] When I decided to go to my first Xena Convention, I chose New York, partly because I always wanted to see the big Apple too. I made all the arrangements with the help of some Xenite friends. I was going to meet some of them for the first time. I did not even know what they looked like, but I am, after all, an adventurer-wannabe. My trip to New York was a big success. I had a wonderful time with wonderful people that I have much in common and they did not mind my accent. I even saw in person the famous Meow-Mix, where we watched MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS, which I doubt anybody but Ted Raimi understood. It was worth it just for the sight of Renee O'Connor in those heart-shape sunglasses, though.

[14] Last year's Starfury Chariots of War II was only my second convention. It was a very different experience to the American convention. It was less regimented and more fan-friendly. But, Pasadena 2001, my third convention ever, was bound to be what I will remember in the years to come when I think of Xena and what she gave me: many friends old and new, memories to cherish forever, and Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor. They were the reason I had come and there they were, singing "Last Chance" by Donna Summer. I wanted to thank them for giving me joy all this time and I did in a way by being there. After they closed, singing "Last Chance", I started saying my good-byes and it feels like I have not stopped yet.

[15] Because of the way I get my tapes from America, I saw SEND IN THE CLONES, THE LAST OF THE CENTAURS, WHEN FATES COLLIDE, and MANY HAPPY RETURNS all in a row only last week. Everything was still fresh in my mind when I went to "By the Gods" Xena night. I arrived ten minutes before five, just in time to join the queue outside the Pages Bar. I met my friends there and, not soon after, everybody was allowed in at 5 o'clock and settled. They showed WHEN FATES COLLIDE, MANY HAPPY RETURNS, and SOUL POSSESSION. Then came FRIEND IN NEED I.


FRIEND IN NEED I

[16] There had been rumors since the middle of Season 6 that Xena died at the end of the series, but I honestly did not believe any of it. Although I am normally spoiler-friendly, I had been avoiding spoilers for the Season Finale like the plague. Perhaps, now that I can think about it, I was afraid that something like this might happen. However, I did not manage to avoid the spoilers completely. I clicked in the wrong link at MaryD's Website (http://www.ausxip.com) and I read the first few lines. "Xena dies and stays dead."

[17] I could not believe it and I stopped reading it. It was very silly of me to know that and still hope against hope that Xena would pull through, just because she always had. I can be very na´ve.

[18] At the end of the episode, everyone took a bathroom break or ran to the bar. I am not thirsty. I have a knot in the back of my throat. I know what Xena is going to do and I do not like it a bit. Where did I put my Kleenexes anyway? I managed to pull myself together just on time. After the bathroom break, the last new Xena episode I will ever see is here. "At least", I tell myself, "I did not have to wait a whole week to find out, count your blessings". A thick feeling of impending doom is hovering over us.


FRIEND IN NEED II

In addition to her numerous other inventions, Xena also invents shishkabob
Xena is killed early on in FIN Part 2.

[19] Within the first ten minutes of the episode, Xena is dead. I could no believe that Xena was dead. She lived by the sword and she died by the sword. I am devastated and everybody else is gasping for air.

[20] Near the end of the episode when Gabrielle realizes that the sunset is near and she says she has to get Xena's ashes before it's too late, and runs back to where she came from, I glance at my wristwatch. There is not much time left. The end of the episode is near. I am enjoying every second of this old fashioned Xena/Gabby action.

[21] As the sun goes down and Xena disappears, fading away with the light, Gabrielle sweetly whispers Xena's name for the last time. There is not a dry eye in the house. I am myself at this point crying like a baby. Yet, the next scene we see Gabrielle alone on board a ship, going back to Greece. Xena appears and talks Gabrielle, who smiles. Xena kisses the top of her head, but the camera moves out and we see Gabrielle alone, still smiling, holding Xena's urn.

[22] I just could not believe it ended that way. I could not stop the tears from falling. Some of my friends at my table were crying too. Others were in a state of shock. Not many people were talking. I had that, familiar by now, knot in my throat. There was suppose to be a raffle after the screening of the episode and I had bought some tickets, but it was already late. I had to catch a train back home and, frankly, I was not in the mood for anything. I just wanted to get home and be alone.


To Die Or Not To Die, That It Is The Question

[23] I did not want to say good bye to her like that. Immediately afterwards, while I was traveling back home on the train, all the way from London Waterloo to my village, I started to recreate those few last scenes once and again in my head and I got very angry. I concluded that I had made a mistake loving these characters so much, because at that moment I felt cheated and heartbroken. If she was destined to die from the beginning, why bother with six seasons of redemption?

[24] We all knew she was a war criminal and the writers never quite could deal with that fact properly, as you cannot justify murder. Yet since she had been through hell and back (literally), I honestly thought that she had been forgiven for what she did.

[25] Nonetheless, let us face the facts, the life of a warrior is not a long one, and they are more likely to die violently. However, I am selfish and I could have lived happy ever after if I could picture Xena and Gabrielle still together somewhere, somehow, traveling the world, righting wrongs and loving each other.

[26] Why was so hard for Robert Tapert and Company to give the fans the end they wanted, Xena and Gabrielle riding off into the sunset? Maybe it is true that it was the easy way out, like Lucy Lawless said at the Museum of Television and Radio, June 19, 2001. I would still have been upset that their adventures were over, but I would not be here feeling so desolated. Pandora, according to the ancient myth, opened the box containing all the plagues for the body and all the sorrows for the mind. However, she closed the box before Hope flew out too. Mr. Tapert not only killed my hope but murder it with intent. He probably thought he was doing the right thing, which is the saddest thing of all. Maybe deep inside I will be able to agree with him some day. Not right now, not for some time, I am sure.

[27] Apparently, the writers (Robert Tapert and RJ Stewart) also considered a different end with Gabrielle dying. Maybe that would have work for me better in the sense that, at least, they were together at the end, but it would have been equally painful. Instead, we get a lonely Gabrielle sailing back to Greece and scattering Xena's ashes into the sea, talking to her friend's ghost because she will be forever in her heart. That was the most heartbreaking moment for me.

[28] It occurred to me that the whole six seasons we watched were not about Xena's redemption, which she could only achieve if she died for the greater good, as it became apparent at the end. Everything was about Gabrielle learning from Xena the art of war and Xena learning from Gabrielle the art of love. When she finally understood what love was and Gabrielle understood what meant to be a warrior, Xena's path was over and she was suddenly expendable, she finally had to pay for all her crimes. Maybe it was mostly about Gabrielle's learning journey, and I could not see it like that until now.

[29] Gabrielle will only live on hoping to find her soulmate again in her next reincarnation. They not only killed Xena in that life, they killed Gabrielle too. She will not be able to love another person that way. She will not be able to forget her. They leave Gabrielle no choice. She is never going to move on, although I liked the fact that she is the girl with the chakram now, her own woman. Nevertheless, she is doomed. For a minute at that fountain, I though she was going to commit suicide. That is not Gabrielle. Even if she were heartsick, it would be out of character. She is a fighter. To save Xena could have been so easy! She was only a step away. That is partially why it is so devastating.

[30] Besides, there were too many silly rules that Xena did not know about until it was too late. Like what Akemi did not tell her until about condemning the 40,000 souls if she came back to life. Akemi was much more to blame for the whole thing in my opinion. She was the one that triggered it by lying to Xena about her real purpose. It was very cruel to put our hopes up just to smash them in the last minute. Rules are made to be broken and Xena was never one to obey the rules if they did not work for her. She would work her way around them. If it were Gabrielle and not she, Xena would have found a way, I keep saying to myself. This is the Xena who had told Gabby that there were certain things beyond the greater good for her (See Legacy, season 6), like Gabby herself. It was almost like she could not be bothered this time. In retrospect, I can blame it on some of the plot holes that Xena has been renowned for in the past. It shows, however, lack of consistence by the writers and in the less appropriate moment. On the other hand, I can also justify it by imagining that she was tired of seeking redemption without finding it within. Xena's real problem was that she never really forgave herself. The last nail in the coffin was when she said to Gabrielle that she was doing this because Gabrielle taught her to do the right thing, leaving Gabrielle nothing to fight back with.

[31] As I reflect on what has happened, I am torn, to be honest. I did not want her to go like that, but I know she thought she was fulfilling her destiny, putting the greater good above all else. That is what heroes are all about. Perhaps I am angry with Xena for giving up, for leaving Gabrielle alone because I love them both so much and I wanted them to be happy. Nevertheless, I am proud of Xena for being a true hero until the bitter end.


At The End

Accidentally leaving the gas on before she departed, Gabrielle inadvertently is responsible for Higuchi burning down again
Gabrielle sails off into the sunset one last time, alone.

[32] Although FRIEND IN NEED left me in shock, I admit that it was a beautifully filmed episode. Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor were fantastic. I still cannot get over Xena's death, Gabrielle recovering Xena's body, or that last scene near the fountain. These actors gave a terrific performance, maybe their best to date. The sets were superb, the special effects, the props, the costumes... The story was an epic journey. If it were not for how it ended, it would have been one of my favorites. I doubt I will be watching that tape again anytime soon, not any Xena tape, for that matter. I am going to need some time to recover and grieve for the characters that were so dear to me.

[33] When I got home last night, I could not even bear to look at the Xena poster on my bedroom door. I could not help but thinking that it was not fair. However, I can no more be angry with Robert Tapert than starting to take down my posters. I understand perfectly that people are upset out there, but there is nothing that we can do now to change things, so getting mad at Mr. Tapert will not solve a thing. God knows that I gave away my heart when I fell in love with the show and I know Mr. Tapert was one of the main reasons we had that kind of magic. I invested emotionally in these characters and that was exclusively my choice, like it was yours. I do thank Mr. Tapert and the entire Xena cast and crew for making this possible. I cannot overlook six seasons of wonders just because I did not get the end that I dreamt. However, I have learned the hard way and I will never commit the same mistake. My personal advice for the future will be not to be too attached to any fictional characters. Life is hard enough already. I cannot blame anyone but myself. I should not have been so naive. Like Xena said once, from now on, I will not "give my heart just to anyone."

[34] Mister Tapert, I will be sending you copies of my therapy bills starting next Monday! Just kidding. I am hoping that writing it down instead and sharing it with you through Whoosh! will be a better and less expensive catharsis. I do feel better now than when I started writing. At least now I can joke about it and I am not crying anymore. It could be that I am starting to get to terms with it.

[35] The actors have left, the props have been auction on the Internet, and the Production Company is closed down. The show is definitely over. It is another lazy Sunday afternoon, four years after the first time I saw you, Xena. I guess not only you have come full circle. Thank you for everything, to you and Gabrielle. They will say it was only a TV show. You, reading this, and I know better.

[36] In the words of my favorite battling bard, who is now on her lonely way to the land of the Pharaohs: "There are two kinds of tears. Tears for those who leave you and tears for those who you never let go". I could not let go even if I wanted to. Good night, sweet princess. I will never, ever, forget you. Rest in peace.


Biography

Samantha Cabrera-Diaz Samantha Cabrera-Diaz

Sammy is Spanish, but lives and works in Surrey, in the Southeast of England. Like many on-line Xenites, she has her own website (in Spanish, siemprexena.net) and not much of a social life. But, who cares? She is happy! Her alternate self, Atenea la fantastica, spends time lurking in alt.tv.xena and belongs to the not-so-secret society "Great Goddess Gabrielle Honour Defenders."


Favorite episode: Any with evil Callisto, IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?, DESTINY, THE QUEST, A COMEDY OF EROS, THE DEBT, ONE AGAINST AN ARMY, BETWEEN THE LINES, FALLEN ANGEL, ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA, the Ring trilogy, WHEN FATES COLLIDE. Sorry, I am physically incapable of choosing only one. I will add FRIEND in need to my favorites when I recover from the shock, just for that scene with Gabby throwing the chakram.
Favorite line: Xena: "Gabrielle, if I only had 30 seconds to live, this is how I'd want to live them, looking into your eyes." FRIEND IN NEED;
Gabrielle: "Any path is okay, Xena, as long as it's with you." THE ABYSS
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (Hercules).
Least favorite episode: THE GIANT KILLER, THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM, MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS.

 

 

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