Group Therapy #230-239
From: Mary Grace
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 6:54 AM
Subject: finale ripped my heart out...
After watching the final episode of "Xena Warrior Princess" I felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest, tore into pieces, and stomped on for good measure. Wow, what an ending to a television show that effected so many of our lives. Not only was I mourning Xena's death on the show but the end of my weekly 42 minute (commercials edited, of course) vacations from the turmoil of real life.
I liked the way the finale began with Gabrielle and Xena settled down for the night, contemplating a possible vacation, the type of things people do everyday. I'm glad they at least began their last adventure together in Greece, I only wish they would have stayed there. I was disappointed that half of the show had Xena teamed up with Akemi instead of Gabrielle, come on, it was going to be the last we get to see of our heroes and they have to spend most of it apart?
The "water/strength giving kiss" was awesome. The "kiss" was filled with compassion and love with a hint of desperation in Gabrielle's eyes, waiting and searching for Xena's recovery. Renee and Lucy played the scene perfectly, as always.
The death of Xena wasn't a shocker, but for her to stay dead certainly was. I grieved for Gabrielle's loss and subsequent loneliness and yet applauded Xena for doing the final right thing. Lucy and Renee gave these characters their souls and it is because of this that this episode and the entire series has moved me so much.
I do like the way it ended with Gabrielle heading toward new adventures with Xena's spirit by her side. It seemed to be the perfect set up for a spin off, "The Battlin' Bard of Poteidaia" .dare we hope for such wondrous things?
This series was so special that I don't see how Rob Tapert could have ended it any other way, anything else would have been predictable, just like all the other shows on TV and we all know that "Xena Warrior Princess" was so much more than that.
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 8:02 AM
Subject: My heart aches!
I been watching xena for six years i have never missed one episode, i have all her tapes from season one to season five i also order season six, I belong to her fan club. I have all her stuff. Lucy and Renee thank you for six wonderful years, I enjoy every minute, I love every episode.
Xena and Gabrielle would never made it with some one else. It takes a lot of guts to be out in the cold with that skimpy costume. I hope i can see you again on TV or the movies, you guys are very talented and great actors. May god bless you and your family and keep you in his tender care, love always loyal fan. Mr. Tapert i didn' like the ending, xena can't die please bring her back, one more episode, that's all i asked.
I admired you for creating such a wonderful show, but xena shouldn't stay dead please do another episode and bring her back, xena doesn't deserve to stay dead she change her life became a good person she fought for the greater good she gave her life for others, god says if you repent you will be forgiven and she repent many many times, didn't Eli say love is the way. She free the souls gave her life for them . please bring her back, make the episode that Gabrielle was having a dream about xena getting killed and she had to stay dead then she wakes up tells xena about the dream she had,let them live. ended by xena and Gabrielle going on the boat on there journey. Xena in my heart you are not dead, you and Gabrielle will be in my heart for ever. I will missed you, TV. is not the same with out you. Please Lucy, I'm begging you , convince your husband to give us one more episode bring xena back, make her live, mend this broken heart.
From: Peg Steigerwald
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 10:38 AM
Subject: The Yin and Yang Of It All
The Yin and Yang Of It All
The notion that television is passive entertainment is false. Viewers bring so much to a story. We all see and feel different things and that's the beauty of the medium. But it's risky business to add layers to our heroes -- witness the intensity of emotion on the Xena: Warrior Princess message boards over the last weeks as many viewers' expectations about the series finale were dashed.
One thing that is hard for me to do when I like a series is to stay focused on the parameters of the overall story as set by the writers/producers. I found this EXTREMELY difficult to do with XWP because I got too attached to the potentials in these larger-than-life characters. I confess! I'm totally guilty of grafting my 21st century sensibilities onto a warrior from 1500 BC whose sole (soul?) concern is redemption as defined by her ancient warrior code. (I don't have one of those)
I allowed myself to get wired about the likelihood of Xena's transcending the redemption and vengeance issues that plagued her young life. I wanted Xena to take the high road, to find peace in self-forgiveness, to really BELIEVE what she said in One Against an Army: "I'm done paying for past mistakes." I wanted the character to achieve something the producers, in all honesty, never promised and were not planning on 'bringing full circle'. It was always their option to keep her actions and growth trained on a certain predestined, fatalistic path. They invented a female warlord, forged in the heat of battle, in a time of turmoil, warlords, blah, blah...whose courage would change the world. The viewing audience could imagine all kinds of ways that could happen. But the producers defined that ultimate courage to be redemption by death, part of her code. They never intimated that they would have their actor project my century's values through a warrior whose values were, instead, exactly what we ended up with in the finale. Yes, I understand what they were doing. Xena came full circle, but it was a very small circle. I just wanted a more 'defiant', more enlightened character arc for Xena.
And so we have Xena, a pre-Mycenaen warrior, who wants to fully repent for past violence. This will be her unwavering path for six years and she will stumble plenty on that path as she tries to figure out how to achieve redemption while continuing in the only lifestyle she knows: warrior. She soon meets someone who can help find an answer. And we, the audience, happily watch as that answer is played out over time in a seemingly satisfying way.
She meets and gradually befriends, at a critical time, Gabrielle, a 'gabby' yet overly-intuitive-for-her-age girl, who initially wants to become a warrior upon seeing Xena in action. Xena is her ticket to adventure and away from boring village life. In their travels, Gabrielle slowly becomes privy to the immense depth of Xena's pain and reasons for it and, up until the finale, is increasingly successful in attenuating Xena's mental, physical and spiritual angst in ways that Xena doesn't seem to be able to do for herself. It's a hard job being Xena's friend, but Gabrielle is happy in her role as student and friend and she too is evolving. Their love and respect for each other's strengths grows as expected between true friends.
Here's the rub. To be life-enhancing, the world needs both Yin (the female principle) and Yang (the male principle) to be afforded equal respect. To be sure, we don't want extremes of these to rule. We can't grow in a world of sheep, but neither are we thrilled with our overly aggressive power to devastate the planet with one well-placed thermonuclear device. Xena's path is fully Yang-centered, and Gabrielle's path is, at heart, Yin. While Xena teaches Gab the way of warfare and self-protection in a world she perceives as primarily life-threatening, Gab teaches Xena the way of peace, love and forgiveness in a world she will always view as fundamentally good, just as she sees Xena as fundamentally good and deserving of forgiveness and all the good things life has to offer.
I was pleased to watch as Gabrielle, not without scads of soul-searching, absorbed more Yang into her world view. She was well on her way to becoming the enlightened warrior; what Xena could have been without the scarring imposed in the Evil Xena years. I'd hoped that Gabrielle's example would eventually show Xena the way to peace of mind; to finally allow herself to balance the Yin and Yang within. I felt encouraged that she would eventually overcome her addiction to constant redemption. Clearly she was on the path to self-forgiveness and rising above the strange need for constant self-flagellation. But somehow, in a vulnerable moment (or a contrived one, if you choose to read the script that way) she was unable to bypass one last, seductive cup of Vengeance Theory with a Grace chaser, which consumed her on her last day of life.
This was a show that pushed the proverbial envelope. But, in the end, the storyline was anything but defiant. It caved in to its Yang beginnings, which should come as no surprise in our world. Look at your history books. Hell, look at today's newspaper. Look at the movies. It's much easier to write Yang. And it sells much better.
To be truly innovative, really courageous -- to really push the defiance envelope, this series needed to have Gabrielle 's influence win out in the end, because that was the only way Xena could truly, spiritually win. Instead we were left with one young crippled spirit and one misguided dead one. Xena fell off the wagon one final time and was unable to get back on because the pull of her warrior code coupled with murky notions of redemption, and grace through vengeance as foundations of The Greater Good suddenly, oddly, inexplicably carried more weight with her than did the enlightenment afforded by unswerving love and self-forgiveness. Suicide redeems nothing. It's living that's hard. Only Xena the redemption junkie could intentionally smackdown Gabrielle in such a profound way, at such a late stage of the game. What was particularly distressing was the contrast this ending had with the initial campfire scene, where Xena seems radiantly happy making plans for a positive, trouble-free future with the bard. The junkie thought she was cured.
Gabrielle's part in this disturbing ending was in not remaining true to that wonderful, gabby, litigation style that would put Johnny Cochran to shame. She could always out-debate Xena when she needed to. If she didn't downright disobey and resurrect Xena, she should have at least put up one of her brilliant defenses. What happened to the Gab that said in The Ring "I never listen!!" and ran off to save Xena's life, risking her own? This script wouldn't let that Gabrielle speak for her friend's life in the marvelous way she did at Amphipolis in the first episode. Xena's death bugged me enough. Gabrielle's living death is totally unacceptable. For those who say that Xena had to die in order for Gabrielle to grow, I don't buy it. How does it make sense that your spouse, parent, child or sibling die in order for you to grow to your full potential?
I wanted XWP to move beyond the parameters of the original idea, not to simply come full circle but to break out of that circle. Indeed, to invite the character of Gabrielle into the storyline all but insures that enlightenment and transcendence is what Xena's path is all about. But Yin and Yang remain unbalanced in this script and ultimately this series, just as they do in our time and through time. Where's the storytelling 'defiance' in that?
From: Jedi Knight
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: Contribution to Group Therapy Issue
I read with dismay about fans who were so upset by the lack of a "happy ending" to A Friend in Need that they were turning their backs on XWP and on all of the entertainment and the wonder that it had provided to us for the last six years. Some, I understand, even destroyed their Xena memorabilia in protest.
Mourning a loss involves several stages, the first being denial (which manifested itself in watching the episode, despite the spoilers), and the second being anger. It is to those fans now seething with anger, whom I hope to help past that stage, that I offer the following parody of a famous response to a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, written by Francis P. Church in 1897:
Gentle Reader, those who claim that XWP has been destroyed are wrong. They have been affected by the desire for full and immediate gratification that is associated with our current age of instant communication and information. They see a talented actress portraying a heretofore unseen symbol of the awesome strength of the "weaker" sex, and think that she *is* the symbol that she is portraying. A symbol is the product of a mind, and all minds, Gentle Reader, whether they be women's or men's, are limited. In this great universe of ours, a single human mind is a microbe in intellect as compared with the boundless world about us, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Gentle Reader, there is a Warrior Princess. She exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Xena! It would be as dreary as if there were no Xenites. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which imagination fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in the Warrior Princess! You might as well not believe in fairies. You can watch every second of video tape, and analyze each word and nuance, but even if you demonstrated that she could never return to her bard, what would that prove? Characters other than Gabrielle right now cannot see Xena, but that is no sign that there is no Warrior Princess. The most real things in the world are those that neither women nor men nor gods can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the Olympian gods could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it at all real? Ah, Gentle Reader, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Warrior Princess! Thank the heavens! She lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, she will continue to make glad the hearts of all who dream.
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 11:15 AM
Subject: Death of Xena
I am deeply disappointed. I expected more. I am left with the same shock and loss Gabrielle must have felt. Nothing like just pulling the rug out from under us. We wanted Xena to declare her love to Gabrielle and have the two of them ride off into the sunset...happily ever after. Was that too much to ask??
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 9:00 AM
Subject: Group Therapy Issue Submission- "Kiss the Finale Goodbye!"
KISS THE FINALE GOODBYE!
I’m not sure what bothered me the most about the season finale, that the Xena beheading was so tragically graphic or that the “fountain of strength” kiss was really a romantic kiss made to look like something else. Less minor, there were many inconsistencies evidently apparent to the “long timers”. For instance, where the heck did Akemi come from? As a result, I’ m turning back the clock and am pretending “When Fates Collide” is the season finale.
My real question is why a disgustingly, blood quenched battle and beheading is allowed to be shown at 5 pm on a Saturday afternoon while kids of all ages are watching and a simple romantic kiss between “soul mates” is not shown.
The kiss was blatantly made to look like a romantic kiss. In fact, Universal Studios has a picture of the kiss posted on the official Xena web page. As a result, if one didn’t watch “A Friend In Need Part II”, he or she would never know that Gabrielle was really giving Xena water from the “fountain of strength”. In fact, they would think this is a romantic kiss. Funny thing is, I didn’t see any water exchanged between Gabby and Xena. Huh?
I came to the conclusion that the censors probably had a big part in why a romantic kiss between Xena and Gabrielle never happened without disguise. Tapert has admitted he wouldn’t mind showing a romantic kiss between the characters. In addition, the producers were seriously considering doing the third script by Melissa Good which included a big kiss between Gabrielle and Xena when all the sudden it was scraped. I read that Melissa Good said that the kiss would be too much for the audience. Well, I think it was too much to get past the censors. Tapert is a daring guy. If he could get away with it, I know he would.
So, should the censors be allowed to play with us like that? Is it that detrimental to the viewing audience to see two women who obviously love each other beyond life itself share a romantic kiss? Will this entice our audience and our children watching this show to go out and kiss a person of the same sex? Oh my gosh, that would be awful!
Yet, the censors allow showing a samurai chop off the head of Xena, show her headless body attached to a cross, and then show her detached head. If I were a child watching this I would be traumatized. In fact, I am an adult and I am traumatized. I can’t get that vision out of my head. This scene will last longer in my mind, maybe forever, than a lesbian kiss!
In fact, I look at the show from the perspective that Gab and Xena are lovers. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. I saw Xena kissing Prometheus, Aires, Antony, and Caesar. Sure I didn’t like it, but I continued watching the show because I knew there were more episodes that appealed to me. I didn’t hold it against the show and it also didn’t make me run out and kiss men. Yuk! (I mean that in the nicest way. : - ) )
My point, and I do have one. It’s all right that there was a lot of graphic violence in the finale even though I didn’t care for it. Xena was in fact, a warrior and death was eminent. She was a cat with more than nine lives and eventually, she was going to die in battle. But, I know acknowledging their love to one another with a romantic kiss could have pulled off. Perhaps, if it couldn’t be shown on television, it could be added to the DVD or video collection for season 6. (In fact, to please everyone we could have two different versions; one for the viewers who think they are and one for the viewers who think they are not.) For Gods sake, Gabrielle deserves at least one good kiss for having to travel the rest of her life with the ghost of Xena!
I really feel cheated in many ways. There was so much lesbian subtext and just outward references to them being romantically involved, especially this season. I feel I really deserved that acknowledged kiss. Let me refresh everyone’s memory.1. The dance in the “Heart of Darkness”I think the right thing to do with this episode, if they had to make this episode, was to have Xena and Gabrielle kiss at the end by the sunset. Xena says, “But, if there is a reason for our travels together, it’s because I had to learn from you enough to know the final, the good, the right thing to do.” I’ll tell you sister, the right thing to do at that moment would have been to give your patient and deserving bard a kiss like she never felt before.
2. The tub scene in “Legacy”
3. The entire Valkyrie trilogy.
4. The end gift scene of “Many Happy Returns”
5. The interview in “You Are Here”
6. The entire episode of “When Fates Collide”
7. Melissa Good, Melissa Good, Melissa Good
In conclusion, I have decided that I will forget that “A Friend In Need” even exists. I will even pretend that “When Fates Collide” is the season finale. If Xena has to die, she dies on the cross loving Gabrielle endlessly and that Gabrielle loved Xena so much that she would chance destroying the ENTIRE WORLD by destroying the loom just because Xena and her couldn’t be together.
Disclaimer: Good kiss, bad kiss, no kiss, blood, no blood, death. I still love you Rob Tapert. Thanks for 6 great seasons.
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 12:00 PM
Subject: (no subject)
Now I'm as much a lover of Xena as anyone else, and I've defended the show against a lot of naysayers. However, the last ep. definitely left me with my jaw open. Where was the ending I actually wanted? Why did Gabrielle have to go through so much sacrifice just to end up alone? What was the whole point of her sacrificing her own needs, getting that tattoo, and collecting Xena's body if it meant that she'd have to spend a lifetime alone? I know the show's powers that be have made it clear that Xena and Gab will always be together, but i didn't like the ending. It was unfair. I know life isn't always fair, but Xena's having to make amends spiritually didn't sit very well with me. Especially since she effectively left Gabrielle, the woman she loves, the woman whose life she has completely and utterly changed, behind to carry on. What was the whole point of six seasons of their relationship when it ends for no real reason? Why the big lead-up within that last episode, of Gabrielle retrieving the ashes, if there's no payoff? I mean, if there was a spin-off of the show, with Renee taking over as Warrior bard, then I wouldn't have a problem with it all. But it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. What was the point?
Also,(and this is just my own personal wonder) the whole burning of Higuchi really felt funny, the flashback, I mean. Where did that fit? After Lao Ma? I would guess so. And I suppose it was after that whole Valkyrie incident too, since the cropped hair was so evident. I don't really think, however, that that whole flashback, visually, could have been accurate.
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 12:34 PM
Subject: Group Therapy Issue
While I find myself grieving over the loss of a beloved family member, I thought the last episode of Xena proved to be a fitting end to a wonderful and fantastic show. The Akemi character and the actress who played her were very appealing. Although admittedly the burning of the village during the monsoon with the great loss of life was particularly weak, the episode did tie the beginning to the end of Xena quite nicely. She finally truly atoned by willingly making the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice that she had demanded out of so many who were unwilling. The possibility of a sequel with Gabrielle and guest (ghost?) appearances by Xena was left open. Most importantly the death of Xena allows her to live in the only place she truly can live - in our hearts.
From: S. J. Gibb
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 12:25 PM
Subject: Group Therapy Issue Submission
Xena's Last Stand
How do I begin to face the end of a show that has touched my heart so deeply? How do I say goodbye to a show that depicted an unbreakable bond between two characters with such beauty and emotion, and combined it with fantastic kick-*ss action scenes? I struggled with these questions as I finished watching "Friends In Need Part I" and counted down the days until the final episode. I had vowed to remain spoiler-free throughout the entire sixth season, but as the finale airing drew closer, and my sorrow deepened, I felt ill-prepared to deal with any surprise endings. I was grieving over the end of the series; I didn't want to grieve over the end of the characters as well. After learning of the ending through a website commentary, I was initially saddened and disappointed, which soon turned to anger and betrayal. If Xena and Gabrielle couldn't ride off into the sunset together in search of their next adventure, why couldn't they have at least died together? Wasn't separating them the worst possible scenario? Didn't this season, more than any other, provide fan friendly story lines that led us to believe that our wishes were being heard? Were we cruelly set up only to be slapped in the face?
As the airing date of the final episode arrived, I settled in with my box of Kleenex and prepared myself for the worst. What I wasn't prepared for was to like this episode as much as I did, especially since I hadn't been particularly impressed with Part I. By the time the episode concluded, I felt it was actually a fitting end for the series. It stayed true to the history of the Warrior Princess that had been laid out over the past six seasons. In a May 1997 TV Guide interview, Lucy Lawless said "the day that Xena finds peace with herself will be the last day of the series." So it seems fitting that Xena should die. I don't think it's possible for Xena to find peace with herself in this life. She carries too much guilt. She's done too much evil. She's taken too many lives. And she knows her dark side still exists, always in danger of resurfacing. She can never forget her past deeds and she doesn't believe she should. She can never forgive herself and she can never accept forgiveness. Xena can only find peace in death, by giving up her life to "make right" some evil deed from her past. Only then can she receive her final reward, peace, which she could never allow herself; it could only be given to her through a higher power. By her own choice she has sacrificed her life to release the 40,000 souls for whom she feels responsible. She also knows that this time there may be no coming back. "I know what I must do, but I'm afraid that this day, what's done may not be undone." And this time it cannot, for even though she has been redeemed, there are still consequences for her past actions, there is still a price to pay, and maybe that price is this life with Gabrielle. After all, what else holds higher value? Who led her to this place where redemption and peace were even a possibility? Hercules may have unchained her heart and led her to the path of redemption, but Gabrielle got inside her heart and kept her on the path by refusing to let her walk it alone. She accepted Xena for who she was, and loved her unconditionally. As the bond between the two grew, Xena allowed herself to become more dependent on Gabrielle, and Gabrielle became more independent of Xena. Xena allowed Gabrielle to seek out who she wanted to be, to find herself, and to grow into the woman she chose to become--a battling bard. As the path reaches it's end, the teacher's job is done, and the cycle is complete: Sins of the Past: Gabrielle: "You've got to take me with you; teach me everything you know." Friends in Need Part I (RE: "The Pinch"): Gabrielle: "Why are you teaching me this now?" Xena: "I just wanted you to know everything I know."
So now the education is complete, and Gabrielle has grown into a self-sufficient, confident and noble young woman with many skills. The torch (or Chakram) has been passed. A new journey begins and a new hero is born. She can't be allowed to die. Xena would not have wanted her to die with her, especially while trying to make amends for a situation that Xena had caused in her warlord days. I believe it would have weighed heavily on her soul, even in death. As it was, she felt guilt over the years for putting Gabrielle in danger, for believing she led her away from her destined path of love, and for changing her life by allowing Gabrielle to follow her.
The growth, maturity and completeness of Gabrielle's character are further displayed in her reaction to Xena's death. My favorite line from the finale comes when Xena tells Gabrielle she must remain dead or the 40,000 souls will be lost forever. Gabrielle struggles with this and says, "I don't care about that. I only care about you." She eventually accepts that this is what Xena must do, and lets her go, spending the final moments of the sunset at peace in her partner's embrace. On the boat alone she appears upbeat, at peace, and ready to journey on. Of course, she's really not alone, and it's that scene that brings an uplifting closure to the show. They are together and always will be in one form or another, and from one life to the next. As I reflect on the finale and the entire series, I suspect that Rob Tapert & Company had always intended for Xena to die at the end. I now believe they tried to please the fans as much as they could in this final season without altering their vision of the characters. After all, Xena is their creation and we must respect that fact. As Lucy Lawless was reported as saying on this website at the MTR Event held on June 19th: "The show never took the easy way out." And it sure did not.
To those who are angry and disappointed with the finale, and to those who booed at the MTR Event, please keep this in mind: these folks gave us a fantastic ride for six seasons. I didn't like every episode, but I wouldn't have missed watching any of them. I am grateful for the work that was put into this series, the risks that were taken and the lines that were crossed. I love this show, and I love these characters. They grew and matured in front of our eyes, as actors as well as characters. They were heroic. They were flawed. They made mistakes, and they made them again. But through it all they loved each other and worked together to keep the relationship alive and growing. They were you and they were me.
And of course, if you don't like the ending, get on-line and fix it, or read from the large body of scrolls that have already been written about the battling duo. I sought out some "grief relief" by reading "Broken Thread" by Ella Quince. It's a beautifully written story that fits in well with the finale even though it was based on a first season Gabrielle. It is well deserving of the awards it has received, and it truly is a "must read." Ultimately, that is how I would like to see the story end, with a second chance, with Xena not having to have died at all because the battling bard was at her side.
So, I will break out my box of Kleenex, go on-line, and let the adventures continue.
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2001 11:52 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Your poll is curiously biased. (I haven't read anything yet re FIN in yours or by you.) But I was not 'surprised' or 'entertained', and I certainly wasn't either of the other two. Xena has died before (and may yet again). And the serious binding to the show of so many of we fans removes it from the charge of entertainment (except for channel surfers). The 'show' was the only serious adult fantasy on the air.
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