Great Expectations (01-03)
Everything's Changed ... Everything (04-07)
The Finality of Being the Last Episode (08-09)
Is It Art? Does It Matter? (10-11)
Healing the Wounds (12-17)
Everyone could benefit from a little therapy.
 On Saturday, June 16, 2001, I drove to Dallas to watch for the second time the beginning of the end of Xena: Warrior Princess, otherwise known as "The Last Battleground" by television hype, and A FRIEND IN NEED I (133/621) by episode name. The group of friends I was going to meet was planning on coming back to my house that evening, partying and spending the night, as my satellite picked up a wild feed at 7:40 a.m. on Sunday morning, June 17, 2001 when we would watch A FRIEND IN NEED II (134/622).
 Everyone was in good spirits and with good spirits in them, awaiting the finale of the series. There was an underlying sadness, but Rob Tapert had promised he would not kill either one of the characters and we anticipated a happy ending with a ride off into the sunset. I suppose most of you know by now that the ending was NOT one we EXPECTED, at least not us stupid, naive, believers in truth-- those of us who actually held to the idea that Rob Tapert would honor his word to the thousands of loyal Xena: Warrior Princess fans.
 Sunday morning started off fine and we were all in good moods, all 16 of us, considering we were gathered around a 52" television set to observe the end of an era. What happened in the next 60 minutes after the main title flashed on the screen changed everything!
Everything's Changed ... Everything
 I started out watching on the big screen in the living room with all my guests. When the samurai cut off Xena's head, I ended up going into the bedroom. Two of my friends had already decided that was a better place for them to be, too. My partner was also there to comfort me during the final portion of the show.
 As has been mentioned before, the fans have supported Rob Tapert through thick and thin, good and bad these past six years, and what he did to us during the series finale was atrocious. I will not even allow my nieces (8 and 5), who we have made into Xena fans, watch the show. TPTB (The Powers That Be) used to proclaim that they did not make the subtext main text for many reasons, one of which was that young people watched the show. Any parent who would let a young child watch their hero be decapitated and hung out like a slab of meat, called a whore, and whipped naked with a whip of fire and then never brought back to life appears to need some parenting skills. Anyone who has the desire to desecrate a hero in that fashion needs his head examined.
 Consequently, we not only lost a well-loved show, but Xena met an unnecessary and untimely death from which she will not return, and all apparently because of an accident. Now her lover must travel through life for the next however many years alone, with only a ghost to talk to and comfort her. Xena's redemption, the way I understood it, was to come through unselfish love, which she definitely had for Gabrielle. The two of them together were doing more good than either one of them could possibly accomplish alone.
 Sunday was a day and evening full of tears and sorrow. People left much earlier than expected. Partying was not something any of us were in the mood for. It had become a very somber wake. We were without appetites for sun, fun, water, and food. We did have long discussions and some even watched the show a second time, unwilling to believe their eyes and ears. I steered clear of the TV on the second showing, not quite ready to be emotionally assaulted a second time around so quickly.
The Finality of Being the Last Episode
 Had these episodes been the end of a season they would have been marvelous, giving us something to look forward to when Gabrielle found a way to bring Xena back, but as the end of the SERIES it sucked big time. The only praise I have to give is that Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor turned in absolutely flawless performances with all the emotion and skill we have come to expect of them. The pyrotechnics and choreography were excellent. Rob Tapert ruined the end of the series by making the wrong choice. We like our heroes to live, to walk, or ride off into the sunset with the love of their life beside them.
 Since the series ender, I have turned off my Xena statue, I am not ready to hear her talking to me constantly and I do not feel like giving back the usual quips of "Yeah, I know you have many skills" when she does talk to me. I am sitting in a shrine, surrounded by six years of memories. Although most the memories are marvelous ones, the one that haunts my brain makes looking at the calendars, clock, chakram, statue, 12" and 6" dolls, mouse pad, key chains, standing cards, fan club boxes, glasses, shooters, and video sets a room of torture.
Is It Art? Does It Matter?
 Some people in Los Angeles who were privy to a private screening have lavished accolades upon Mr. Tapert and Company. The praise was indeed well deserved as far as it encompassed the technical aspect of the entire production. However, I do not believe that the journalists and critics who wrote the flattering articles were true fans of the Warrior and her Bard. They went to see an artistic production and were definitely not failed in that respect.
 Had they gone into the theater wearing their hearts on their sleeves as did the HCNB ("Hard Core Nut Balls") as Ms Lawless once so lovingly called her obsessive fans, they would have seen a much different show. From the inception we all knew that this was the series finale, that this would be the last time we would see our heroic duo together on the small screen, aside from the perpetual reruns that filter through Television land. That being the case, they would have seen a show that brutalized their hero, tore the heart and soul out of her soulmate, and never gave her the chance to retrieve the love of her life. I reiterate, Mr. Tapert, we love our heroes and wish to see them live to a ripe old age, if only in our minds.
Healing the Wounds
 Originally, after viewing FRIEND IN NEED, I decided that WHEN FATES COLLIDE (130/618) would be my series finale because I could watch them ride into the mists of a wooded area in search of new adventures on the back of their beloved horse Argo II. After much thought, I decided to instead write my own ending. It turned out to be excellent therapy for me and I hope it will help others get over the traumatic events that took place in A FRIEND IN NEED II.
 I hope Rob Tapert gets what he deserves for disappointing the thousands upon thousands of people who made his dream into a reality. His only redemption in this, my humble opinion, would be to PROMISE us a Movie where he will BRING HER BACK! There I go again, the cockeyed optimist.
 To end on a positive note, at least Gabrielle can still see, hear, and touch Xena. On the negative side, however, is the fact that the bard is now in love with a warrior ghost. At best, this will make for quite a few seasons of fan fiction.
 Another positive achievement was that Lucy Lawless finally acknowledged on national television that her character was 'outed' in the final episode. Thank the gods for small favors.
 As for me, I have already figured out a way to bring her back, and it has definitely soothed my aching heart.
A woman of mystery.