Group Therapy #295-298
From: Melissa Palozie
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2001 7:57 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I have been a loyal fan of Xena from the first moment Lucy Lawless was on Hercules as Xena. I found it an inspiration that a woman could be forceful and actually be "as good as, if not better" than a man in hand to hand combat (not to mention the ability to outwit, too). It has been a long time coming that a woman can have a powerful role on TV, and not have to be "sissy" so to speak. I grew up watching Wonder Woman & Charlie's Angels. Look back on those shows and witness how they fight. It reminds me of a silly, comedic, cat fight, with them trying to keep their femininity at the same time being "tough" for that era. Then you have Xena, who comes out with a sword, swinging it wildly, even better than a man. She gets right down and dirty, slitting throats, punching lights out, putting on the 30 second death pinch (which, in my opinion, beats a Spock bite any day), and still looks noble, and beautiful. Something for all women to look up to, she is independent & has a mind of her own. No man is going to tell her what to do. Lucy did the show justice!!!
I've even been blessed with the opportunity to see the show when it aired for the very first time (I had no idea it was Xena, I though it was Hercules) and fell in love with it immediately!! I was hooked with Sins of the Past, and the redemption theme. There was a mystery about Xena, and I couldn't wait for it to unfold.
I have always loved the relationship between Xena & Gabrielle, and feel that it was "uncommon" to find someone in this world to always watch your back as those two did. I know that I might upset a lot of the lesbian community with my next few paragraphs, but that is not my intent. I truly did love the relationship for all if stood for. I feel you fall in love with the person, not the sex of the person. Society upset me about this relationship. The series (per Robert Tapert in interviews I've read on Whoosh) was originally intended to be a relationship that of a sisterly love. Society was not ready for that. How in the world could two women travel the road and fight evil without a man in charge? Two women & no man to guide them? How absurd, yelled society! One woman was physically strong, had a military background, the other subservient, willing to learn and do without violence, and had calming affect on the other, society said "well, they must be lesbians!".
Xena and Gabrielle were immediately labeled as lesbians. The thought of two women that were strong and independent and depended on each other without being lesbians must have been inconceivable by society. I wonder how the old sitcom Kate & Alley made it in the 80's! It makes me mad that in the 21st century the thinking is such of that. This type of thinking makes me think of the rock group Heart. Two sisters that invaded the rock scene with such intensity, with loud guitars and strong vocals, must be lesbians. The tabloids had a ball. That was about 30 years ago, and is seems that nothing has changed.
When will times change so that women can be strong and independent and have meaningful friendships with other women and not be labeled a lesbian. All women should rise up against this stereo-typing for it hurts both lesbian and heterosexuals alike. I've known many gay women that are for more feminine than me, (me being a heterosexual, married, mom) that have expressed the turmoil that society says "you must be a She-man to be a lesbian", and many heterosexual women that were "not so feminine" (like me, I like to work out and have a muscular frame) that have been labeled as lesbians. Society has gotten a smidgen better with the concept of homosexuality, but still has a long way to go. Stereo-typing is a criminal act in my opinion. When can we all just accept one another for what we are?
As far as the show goes, it has opened the doors for many new strong female characters, but there is still always a man in charge. Xena, Warrior Princess, was definitely, a one of a kind show.
Thank you for letting me vent.
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 12:07 AM
Subject: Comments on FINs for Whoosh
Whoooooeeeeeee! I've been discussing this ep with my buddies for WEEKS now! Infurkencredible!
FIN was a magnificent ep and a magnificent end to the series. It's a beautifully rendered microcosm of the entire series. It has a compelling story with tantalizing and tormenting holes in it. Some of the characters have teasingly unexplained backgrounds, leaving the viewer unable to completely untangle their motivations. It has acting that ranges from line readings that bounce you right out of the story and make you groan to performances in scenes that are so totally true and realistic and absolutely heart-rending that they make you want to never leave the world that the actors, writers and producers have created for us. It has effects both cheezy and "WOW!" inducing and silly and cliched suspense building sequences (the literally cliff-hanging Gabrielle with her boot nudging the nested urn comes to mind). It has typical visual horror movie tricks (Tapert/Raimi's trademarked "run the camera along the ground towards the building to show the coming of the monster") mixed in with stuff I've never encountered before in a TV show. It contains vicious, ugly, brutal images juxtaposed with stunningly beautiful and erotic visions. And fight after fight after fight after fight. And in the end, it breaks your heart. In other words, it's a pretty typical dramatic episode of XWP. (But one with shots of the Aurora-WAY kewl!)
This ep is also imbued with an outsider's take on Asian sensibility and a to me unfamiliar set of cliches, standards and typical scenes from Hong Kong action movies. (Or so my buds who are into that genre say.)
I found the ending incredible. I was stunned but totally satisfied. What a GREAT ending. Hell, a series that actually HAS an ending! The reason that I love this ending is that it does indeed finish the story it set out to tell us in Sins Of The Past. This ep wraps it up. To jargonize, it provides closure. Her story actually finishes out. Xena chooses to be redeemed by sacrificing herself for others. Holy Jesus! (So to speak...)
This ep is yet another homage to prior eps that litter much of the often-retro season six. FIN is of course The Debt redux And now that the series is over, I can state that The Debt makes it as my all time favorite--nothing else I've seen in XWP has ever achieved the overall excellence and the emotional impact of The Debt for me. (Although the presentation of mysticism, the spirituality and the hidden undercurrents of the soul existing beyond the physical realm and continuing to be an active and powerful player after death that imbue FIN, makes The Debt by comparison a hopelessly old fashioned, linear "filmed play". There's not much there that couldn't have been presented on stage. Okay a BIG stage. But I still love it anyway.)
I dislike most homages in general, preferring original stories and creative rather than imitative work. With the abysmal track record for me of XWP's homages of other people's work of any season, combined with the numerous wilting, tepid and not-nearly-so-good-as-the-original- homages-to-their-own-show-eps of season six, for this homage to be good in my eyes meant that it had to be spectacular indeed. And for me it most certainly was. Unlike all of the other self-homages of season six, this one comes very close to being almost as good as the original material. (The next runner up for me is MHR/ADITL. The rest mostly sucked, I thought.)
But this ep--I literally found this ep stunning. My first reaction was VERY mixed. I HATED some of the images. But I loved that she chose redemption.
Did I enjoy seeing Xena's headless body hung up like a butchered cow's? Of course not. I NEVER like seeing her brutalized. I hated seeing her brutalized in The Gauntlet, watching her stagger down the lines of her men as they beat her with fists and sticks. I hated it in Ties That Bind when Ares threw her to the ground and she was on all fours before him in front of the whole town as he grabbed her hair and pulled her head back so that he could snarl threats in her face. I hated it in The Way when we saw Xena armless and writhing, dying and suffering on the floor before Indrajit. I hated it in the vicious fight scene in Between the Lines when Alti was mopping the floor up with her and so obviously enjoying beating her senseless and rerunning all those other brutalizing moments for her to remember and hurt over. I hated it when Callisto cracked her back in IOM and we watched a stunned and broken Xena crash to the ground, slamming her face down on the dirt in lingering slow motion, followed up by the soldiers dragging her through the mud to the cross, her legs dangling and useless, a warrior utterly helpless and unable to retaliate. I hated the first time they strung her up like a side of beef, when they hung her upside down in Gurkhan as men beat her badly enough that the blood dripping from her wounds created a livid, viscous puddle underneath her swinging, dangling, damaged head and hands. I hated the long lingering shots and tight close-ups showing her horrific pain in the crucifixion scene in WFC and the physical and mental degradation and humiliation that were heaped upon her in that ep, the shots of her enemies laughing at her and scorning her as she hangs in agony before them.
I hate it ANYTIME they brutalize her. I have just never liked seeing Xena trashed. And I didn't like it here either. But trashing Xena is and has always been part of her story and part of this series. I just don't linger over those scenes a lot. I don't watch the Way much even though I think it's a great ep because of this--that scene of Xena mutilated and dying on the temple floor is just too wrenching to want to look at very often.
And yeah, I am certainly aware that the big difference this time is that normally she physically overcomes all of these attacks/attackers and wins out in the end. She still wins this time. But this time she chooses to win spiritually.
As she does sometimes (like in Gurkhan, for example) she chose again to give herself up to her violators. It was part of her plan, her strategy. But when she makes the second choice to redeem her soul, this act fulfills the promise and the premise of the whole series. She chooses to save those souls out of love for them. She can't just turn away and leave them lost. She has regained her humanity enough to make the choice this time to finally expiate her sins and not accept the reprieve Gabrielle has fought for for her. She truly understands and embraces the Greater Good this time. The old Xena would never have made this choice, this sacrifice. As a friend of mine said, Xena chose this redemption, she picks this as her redemption, as her atonement. The fact that she chose it herself, rather than having it forced upon her makes all the difference to us.
Xena ACHES over all the bad she's done in her life. Suddenly hearing about the huge number of people killed in a fire she started hits her REALLY hard in this ep, at this stage of her redemption journey. Watch Lucy's face when she shows Xena learning about the 40,000 deaths. She is sickened. How many times has this happened to her before--sins of her past coming back to haunt her? (Sometimes literally, as presented here and in Dreamworker). Certainly Cirra was the first time we heard about mass destruction wrought by Xena suddenly showing up in people's lives. And this thread of ancillary damage of unknown murders and destruction set in motion by the presence of Xena continued throughout each season and culminates in this final ep. The buck truly stops here.
Ya know, Xena is surely one of the most star-crossed people that ever lived. Nothing in her life has ever been totally good and her horrific mistakes litter her landscape and blow up in her face constantly.
But this time she ends it. She makes reparations. She CHOOSES to die and not come back again. She breaks through the cycle of never doing quite enough to find her own peace.
I felt that having Xena make this decision about a disaster that was unintentional, one that Xena hadn't planned nor knowingly created made her decision even more heroic and poignant. She WAS responsible because she was there of course. But she was only there because Akemi picked her as a mentor, and Akemi picked her as a mentor due to her vicious reputation. Akemi knew Xena had the skills she needed to learn to kill her father. And then Akemi asks a favor (as so many of Xena's girlfriends do of her). She asks Xena to bury her ashes honorably. Leaving her mess for Xena to fix up and to face. And while cleaning up the mess, a drunken and impaired Xena blows the torch in self-defense and starts the fire that killed them all. While trying only to get them to back off. Typical. *Sigh*
This ending is just so furken true to the character. Is it a happy ending? No. An easy one? No. An expected one? No. A satisfying one? YES! It's the ultimate proof of what Xena says in the Debts--"I've learned to clean up my messes."
Was it done too chop socky/schlocky for me? Yeah. Am I sorry she's dead? WAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! But I LOVE that they ended it with Xena getting redeemed. Through a GREAT and NOBLE personal sacrifice. Loverly! Perhaps it is this act that gains her the status of Mother of Peace in her next incarnation.
I thought that Lucy did a beautiful reading of the line, "I can't come back--I can't". (I just LOVE it when she lets her voice break on lines.) She's had it--she's ready, she's finally willing to accept what she must do. What love compels her to do. Give up her life to redeem others. To set their souls free as she sets her own soul free.
I didn't see her "giving up" by doing this. I saw her putting what she's learned into practice. And with this act of love she buries the old Xena who created so much damage and hurt in the world. Truly, a new Xena was born that day. And we have here a totally confident hero who knows she's bagged it. She says to Akemi's spirit, "We'll meet again one day". She KNOWS she's been redeemed. (THIS life, anyway.)
She voluntarily accepts and embraces this sacrifice of her physical life to cleanse and restore her soul, to atone for the evils of her past, to recalibrate the score at zero for her next incarnation. (And how like Xena to apparently just ignore the whole "Judge me now, send me wherever" religious tradition and take herself off for a sea voyage with Gabrielle instead. Tote that bard! Lift that bale!)
This story is over. Xena is now finished with her redemption quest. We had a preview of this in Clones, when Xena dismissingly announces to everyone that "That old Greater Good thing-it just doesn't appeal this time around". My whole body went on alert when she said that (and some people say this show has no continuity--grin). And that is why that story CAN end with her riding away in a taxicab into the sunset with the little blond kid, either toasting each other with champagne or comparing urine samples (your choice) and enjoying the ride.
Now, if the current Xena had just gone off into the sunset with promises of further thrilling adventures, would I be as satisfied? No. I might be somewhat happier, but not nearly so pleased and fulfilled. Sure, Tapert could have left her alive. But then it would have "ended" by not coming to any ending just like all the other TV shows do. I expect more from XWP. And Tapert gave it here.
I just thank the gods that Tapert came through. I love that he had the guts to end the show this way. He knew it would bother some people. He knew he'd be vilified for it from those who think THEY own XWP. By those who don't think Xena's redemption was the main story or have forgotten in this New Age that in old-fashioned redemption, sacrifice and atonement are required along with complete and cleansing love. There are also folks who simply just couldn't stand to "go there." I have great sympathy for that last group. Like them, I HATE it that Xena's dead. But I love it that she's finished her quest and is redeemed. Through love.
Tapert stayed true to his vision and to this incredible character he and Lawless created. He didn't disappoint me at all. He gave me an ending that is artistic, true, soul satisfying and heart-achingly human. And I just love that. I give him a standing ovation for this one.
And I will be forever indebted to Tapert and Lawless for giving me five years of Xena Zest in my life. I expect it never to fade for me.
From: Jill Stevens Elizabeth Watts
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2001 4:50 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
A FRIEND IN NEED…INDEED.
Did you ever eat something so good that you savored it, only to get to the last bite and it leave a bitter taste in your mouth. That is how I feel about Xena, Warrior Princess.
I have been a loyal fan of Xena since her arrival on Hercules. My loyalty had never wavered… until the last episode. Question Authority they say; I question the writers of the last two episodes.
First, a whiny manipulative kid betrays Xena’s trust. Then you have Xena cut her hair and paint her face like a clown, all of which I can only presume happens during her drunken stupor, at the loss of her great love… Lao-Ma. Wrong!.…M’Lila? No!…shaman girl?, That wasn’t it! How about Callisto? (certainly could hold more water) …Alti?, ahhh of course… Gabrielle! Who you say? You’ve got to be kidding…Akemi.
Meanwhile, Xena is trying to have a peaceful memorial for her friend (and I use that term as loose as it gets) only to be attacked, may I say that again, ATTACKED, by the villagers. Accidentally a fire is started from Xena defending herself, and yet she’ll have 40,000 souls, may I say that again, 40,000 SOULS, to account for later in life. Let me be very clear about this point. These are 40,000 souls that are killed when Xena (weaponless) is attacked and a fire is started. Not 40,000 souls maliciously cut down in the prime of their life by a blood thirsty Xena the previous month. No, those souls are left thrashing about limbo land waiting for vengeance that will never come. Which reminds me, I thought Xena was Greek, not Japanese. So why does she honor their beliefs? Nor did I think that Xena was attached to any particular religion. If she was, why didn’t she stay dead one of the last four or five times she had the opportunity.
I watched the episode more than a month ago and am still thinking about it. Xena had to know that she could save more souls alive than dead. Redemption from the past does not always equal death. Redemption can be found, as Xena had, living a life for the Greater Good. Even if Gabrielle knows all she knows (which by the way was conveniently presented). If Xena had died for another person, perhaps some of the suggestions made earlier, then I could have bought it…maybe. Rob Tapert and R.J. Stewart have given us some great story lines in the past, but to end a series with a plot line that elicits such a bitter taste is truly sad. The only good thing I can say about the episode is that once again the actresses shined, and I’ll look forward to seeing them in new roles.
The success of Xena Warrior Princess was a combined effort between the creators, the actresses/actors, and the loyal fans! I think that Mr. Tapert and Mr. Stewart have forgotten this very important fact, otherwise they would not have ended such a great series with such disregard for their audience.
It certainly wasn’t a bitter suite end, it was just bitter.
Thank you for indulging my wordy opinion, may we always fight for the greater good.
Jill J. Stevens
From: Dafydd Thomas
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2001 4:33 AM
Subject: letters to the editor cut the cord
CUT THE CORD BOYCOTT!
We are sick, betrayed and angry. Xena wouldn't sit moping, she would kick butt. Boycott products advertised on Studios USA programs. That will hit them where it hurts. It will take a lot of coordination but the Web is supposed to be good for that. Build web-sites to list the products advertised by each network Then each month, we vote what products to target.
"Omigod, you killed Kenny!" "You B*st*rds!" So, Tapert violated and murdered his wife, AGAIN? That was a surprise - not. Once, Death was as dramatic as it gets. It meant something and carried a heavy emotional burden. Then, Tapert killed Xena and Gabrielle so many times that it cheapened any emotional impact. But this time it is different. It has to be an extra special magic death that actually counts, to punish them for THE KISS. Does Tapert believe that this sick pervo-fest is the ultimate ideal macho-male fantasy? And he's doing it to his own wife! Lucy, get the kids, get the cat and get out.
When I heard that the finale was going to be set in Japan, I knew it would be bad. Foreign expeditions (THE DELIVERER, THE DEBT, THE WAY) are always occasions for TPTB to lay extra misery and guilt on our heroes. But I never imagined it could be so bad. TPTB deliberately sat down and calculated how to defile everything XWP ever stood for and give the greatest pain to the greatest number. It was intended as an insult, there is no other possible interpretation. And Lucy agreed to it? That was the unkindest cut of all.
So, Hercules was completely wrong when he spared Xena for the sake of the good she would do. Gabrielle was completely wrong to say that Love can break the cycle of violence. We the audience wasted 6 years falling in love with XG in the hope that so much love and joy would enrich our spirits, when the whole point was that by torturing those we love, TPTB could torture us by proxy. There is no Redemption through Love. Love is the unforgivable sin that must be punished by the hungry ghosts.
And where did the hungry ghosts suddenly appear from? They were very convenient. IDES OF MARCH we had already seen Callisto, Caesar, Eli and Alti plotting the Crucifixion and could follow their machinations. That's the classic rule: hero and villain, drama grows from conflict. FRIEND IN NEED the hungry ghosts suddenly appears out of nowhere to punish XG for THE KISS. Way to build up suspense. And if the hungry ghosts were there all the time, why didn't they jump out to punish THE KISS in THE QUEST? At least that way, the show could have ended on a high note?. TPTB want hungry ghosts? TPTB want unrelenting vengeance with no hope of redemption? Let's give them hungry ghosts. Boycott products advertised during ALL Studios USA programs. Comrades, build your web-sites, gather information.
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