Watching the Show (03-12)
The Story and the Reasons (13-24)
The Relationship (28-30)
The Kiss (31-36)
On to the Metaphysical (37-44)
FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS AFTER SEEING FRIEND IN NEED
 Initially I felt shocked, nauseous, enraged, sad, in deep pain, royally manipulated, and crying revenge! I thought, male writers killing off a female superhero and in such a convoluted poorly written story thinly disguised as Xena finally feeling she has redeemed. How could they betray Xena, Gabrielle, the whole reason for the show, as well as their fans? It appeared they did not understand their characters, their impact, and us.
 It is difficult to describe those first days because I could not stay in the feelings that were evoked. They were too intense, overwhelming, and painful. It was like watching a loved one, in this case the show and both characters, be brutally murdered, and being powerless to do anything about it. However, I have spent the last few weeks sorting through it all, trying to understand why these two fictional characters had such an impact. Why do I feel betrayed? What in me is so profoundly stirred up, and what can I learn from it?
Watching the Show
 As I watched Part I, I began to get upset. After 6 years, we were preparing ourselves psychologically to say goodbye to the show and the adventures, to Xena, Gabrielle, their relationship, and, to whatever they have meant to each of us personally and collectively.
 We were saying goodbye to a show that for the first time ever on television showed two strong independent women. The impact of that, both individually and culturally, to women, straight and lesbian, as well as to men, as well as to children, was/is immense. As someone whose role models of women and men on television was Father Knows Best, I cannot emphasize the importance of that too much. It has been a major breakthrough for all of us. I applaud the creators for taking it on. It was definitely timely.
 I/we trusted the last show would be great, the summation of all of those years and sharing the journey together. Yes, over the years there were problems with consistency, with quality, with the ambiguity of their relationship, and with integrity of the characters. The male writers did not always ring true in their writing of and dialogue for these two strong women.
 However, this season we saw many satisfying shows. Shows that were funny, poignant, intimately loving, and just good adventures. However, there also were words/actions that showed a self-centered, I-am-not-bound-by-any-rules Xena, that were disturbing. ("The Genesis and Deconstruction of a Hero" in the July 2001 Whoosh #58 is excellent on this point.)
 As the story unfolded, it had a feeling of darkness to it like no other show before. It was the last show but the writers were taking us to a new, foreign place, to new characters, to a society that was a very intense, sexist patriarchy, where revenge, pride, suicide, were valued. Neither an especially enlightened nor uplifting place for any of us to be or visit. We needed closure but being forced to deal with everything new. Of course, had it been closer to home, the gods or Eli would have intervened.
 We are introduced to the reason Xena returns to Jappa, someone who appears to be a beautiful young innocent woman who actually is very deceitful. She tricks Xena into showing her the pinch and into killing her. She betrayed Xena in the past, so this is a friend to help now? Xena is usually wiser than that.
 We are entertained with visual beauty and great flying stunts as we hear/see about Akemi and as Xena and Gabrielle save the city but dishonesty and violence permeate the story. Things were beginning to feel really off to me. I also felt something vital was missing and added to this uneasiness. It was the intimate interaction between Xena and Gabrielle. Yes, Xena says, "I love you" and we see glances, but there is not the usual sharing of words, of closeness, that shows us that love and respect. Xena is pulling back and becoming increasingly cryptic, not a good sign at all. Something big, serious, and dark is happening.
 This turn of events felt more upsetting because the previous two shows, not counting SOUL POSSESSION which was clever about Xena and Ares in the past but felt like a very undeveloped filler, were very poignant and tender. They focused on Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, their commitment to each other, and the teasing and caring in their daily interactions, along with the usual action story.
 Of course, by the end, we know what Xena is going to do although Gabrielle does not. This is a return to the old patronizing Xena, not someone who trusts her partner, who was saved big time by her just a few weeks before, and who is her soulmate. However, there are conjectures to why Xena would not have wanted to tell her. Motives, however, later.
 I was sufficiently upset and not trusting of the writers that I read the spoilers for Part II. I did not want to see it cold the way I was feeling. After reading Shana's piece in the Whoosh episode guide, I did not want to scream. I wanted to throw up and then scream. I felt visually shocked and assaulted, emotionally abused, and psychically violated. Moreover, enraged! Why?
The Story and the Reasons
 Once I could get past the unnecessary graphic and overwhelming violence, not even discussing here the psychological stuff that comes up when the super hero is killed and at so overwhelming odds no matter what the reason, and just consider the story, I was very disappointed.
 The writers were not very original, in fact, felt lazy. It looked like they had put their time and energy into pandering to Hollywood big screen action at the expense of a good, intelligent story. Plus, the absolutely crucial part of the story, and culmination of all of those years, is why she has to stay dead and Gabrielle's reaction, and it all was given about five minutes of time. A big disservice to us all!
 Obviously, their intent was to kill Xena off in a redeeming way. However, they did it by fitting an inconsistent, makes-no-sense story around this intent, and twisting the characters to fit it no matter how much their integrity is compromised.
 After all, Lucy Lawless had said years ago that, and I paraphrase, the day Xena is redeemed the show will end. The show was ending, we had better redeem her. Ignore the fact that she had already righted hundreds of wrongs, was the mother of Eve, brought back from the dead by Eli, given the power to kill gods, fought angels, sacrificed herself to make amends to Callisto, and learned about her warrior dharma from Krishna. All or any could have been redeeming just themselves. Ignore the fact that Akemi was responsible for killing her father, never apologized to Xena for her actions, and that the fire was an accident. Xena did not purposely kill those people.
 No, there had to be one more time because it was the last show. It had to be something so horrific and fixed that she had to do, that she had to sacrifice her life and relationship with Gabrielle for others, and, for finally feeling redeemed. Unfortunately, the story did not work. Only Xena can save the souls, because the Ghost Killer did not want to die himself to do the job? She has to stay dead for the souls to be in grace. Where does that concept come from? Obviously only the writers' heads, not any spiritual religious tradition I have ever heard of. Enlightened beings who redeem their followers do so not because they died or stay dead, but because they are merged with the Truth, with Love, and channel that Love to the world.
 If they wanted to deal with karma, it was not true. I study eastern philosophy and meditation, including karma, and it is not about revenge or punishment. In fact, the writers' reasoning at the end of why Xena had to stay dead sounded like a very garbled mix of punishing Christian thinking and vicious deathgod worship, nowhere near karma or Truth, or the God of Eli and the Path of Love.
 Certainly there were thousands of people Xena had killed on purpose but their souls were not in danger, were not "out of grace". The story keeps not making sense. True, all along, there were things that did not "make sense" in the Xenaverse, but, they had an inner integrity that did. This story does not.
 Having her dead, yet living in Gabrielle's heart IS similar to how it is viewed when an enlightened Being leaves their body. Devotees experience that Being residing in their hearts, not as a thought or a memory, but as an energetic reality. Therefore, they are throwing in enlightenment for Xena at the end. I do not think so. It makes a nice-nice ending but...
 The truth is that the reasoning betrays everything that the show is about and Xena is seeking. The writers have her feeling redeemed because of vengeance. They throw her right back into the lowest and darkest place one can be and where she started. She crawled out of that place and was heading for the light with Gabrielle and others helping her along the way.
 If whoever wanted Xena or Xena and Gabrielle to die, okay. However, please do not sacrifice the integrity of the show for it. She could have died in a very uplifting way, one coming from an understanding of what moving towards the light, being redeemed by Love really means.
 Xena suffered from the limited awareness of her writers and were sorry they had her so boxed into her shame and unworthiness. She talks about creating your own destiny but clearly was trapped by her, or the writers', inability to shift her mental paradigms although she had the knowledge and power to.
 Speaking of which, I am especially disappointed with R.J. Stewart. He has written a number of episodes, which were excellent. Just this season he wrote some very good episodes that explored the adventure and the characters' interactions, like OLD ARES HAD A FARM and the Ring Trilogy. Sometimes he falls down at crucial moments of dialogue. He is not as sensitive to the female nuances and dialogues as some of the women writers. Like when Xena is telling Gabrielle why she has to stay dead, she says "because of our travels together, I had to learn". This was an impersonal and selfish statement. It would have been more true with them being soulmates, lovers, and friends, to say, "because of our love, our relationship, our travels, I learned from you..."
 What they put Gabrielle through emotionally and then did to her character integrity at the end made me the angriest. A woman who has just lost the focus of her life, her lover, family, etc. does not go through all the stages of grieving in less than 5 seconds. Yes, Renee O'Connor did an incredible job showing us those 5 seconds, but Gabrielle and we were ripped off emotionally. They needed to cut the fighting/killing scenes and put in quality time covering the goodbye and the grieving.
 Worse, sending Gabrielle off to be a warrior in Egypt is not true to her character. Gabrielle is not merely a warrior, she is not Xena, and she is not driven by her past. She is a bard, a warrior, an amazon queen, a spiritual seeker, a strong, feeling woman whose world has just collapsed. I can hear her now on that boat as the shock wears off, howling, grieving losing Xena and saying, "Stop. What am I doing? I need time to grieve, to sort out who I am now and what I want to do."
 The men should have stuck to writing the fighting stuff and brought in Liz Friedman or Katherine Fugate to do the feelings!
 I am sorting through the challenges that came up here. I am mulling over the trueness of love and sacrifice in a relationship vis a vis the soul's needs. Was it the most selfish act Xena ever did? Alternatively, the most selfless? She lied and cheated to save Gabrielle's life in LEGACY against Gabrielle's desire to feel redeemed, because Gabrielle was the most important thing in Xena's life. Then tells her we all make mistakes, and she would grow from the experience. So, why is it different for Gabrielle and her now?
 Because of the outrageous number of souls involved? Personally, I think the real problem was the city had no decent fire provisions and had crowded housing. The city administrators were to blame!
 Alternatively, because she realized she had cheated and lied for selfish reasons and should have let Gabrielle die? Alternatively, because the writers thought she had to be redeemed no matter what and did not know any other way to do it? Alternatively, maybe two strong women who did not need men threatened them? No conclusions yet.
 The kiss is tender, loving, lightly sensual, sweet to watch, and clearly something that Gabrielle and Xena have done for awhile. It was a positive gesture to fans, as they did not have to put it in. I thank them for doing it and making a statement about their relationship, a first in an adventure TV show for sure.
 So, why do I feel mixed about it? Because lesbians need positive images and that kiss represents what we do not have yet. Because it also represents the longest tease in TV history!
 But mostly because it brings up for me the history of the sexist images of women, and horrific ones of women loving women in TV or mainstream movies. In the 1930's and 1940's, the images showed women who loved women as sick and masculine, who ALWAYS was punished in the end, usually killed.
 Now that lesbian is chic we have the titillating criminal lesbians, the I-love-you-now-I-will-go-back-to-men theme, or, oh-yes-I-did-it-in-college-but-I-am-not-that-way now! We are bombarded with images and stories that reflect maybe .5percentage of lesbians in real life. Wait until someone comes up with a sitcom and we get all the stupid cliche putdowns going. Look! Being a lesbian is not a threat to men. Look! They are just as incompetent as other women. Et cetera.
 What would happen if CSI had a lesbian head, or Judge Amy had a female lover and stayed with her? As a large subculture in this visual society, we lesbians want images of strong functional women. We want images of women loving women. We are tired of changing the gender of one partner in a good movie to be able to feel it reflects our lives.
 If you do not understand this need, if you are a straight woman, then imagine everything you see or most of what you read has only two women as protagonists. If you are a straight man, then imagine only seeing two men constantly, yet you are attracted to the opposite sex. You never see those feelings or your relationships visually. You are never validated in the media. After years of that, how do you think you would feel?
On to the Metaphysical
 Regardless of the quality and ending of the story, it has had a deep impact on me. It really did blow off the screen and wipe me out for days. In spiritual traditions, it is known that there are actions or words that stop the mind's yammering and allows one to be in the eternal moment, the now. In that place, there is great awareness and power. Overwhelming shock or fear will cause it to happen, as well as performing spiritual practices, or being in the presence of an enlightened being.
 The violence and horror I felt watching the show blew open my usual everyday defenses and assumptions. I experienced a deeper reality. The show went from being entertaining and separate from me, to being very personal and powerful. However, there are more positive ways to get there.
 In that space, two things came to me.
 First, it is clear, especially from the ending, that the power of Xena and Gabrielle is more than the writers/producers/actors understood. She/they became an energy form and we all helped sustain it.
 We have been shown repeatedly, and part of the pull of the show, is that Xena understands and uses universal energy principles as do other of the show's characters. Xena knows, as many of us know, their reality, and certainly, science is beginning to "prove" the truths that all peoples have known for centuries. The mystical, occult, metaphysical, spiritual etc. does not matter what you call it, tells us there is more to life than the physical plane. Consciousness becomes manifest (creates the physical) through thoughts/words, will.
 We have thousands of people watching a show that depicts a warrior struggling with her dark side, heading for the light, and one who is further along on her journey. This is similar, according to spiritual traditions, to all of our own soul's journeys. Along the way, we see various cultures, wisdoms, and challenges that tap into all of our pastlife memories and ancient knowledge. We love her/them. They reflect our struggles, our highest aspirations, and us, both individually and in relationships. We are sending them energy by watching, thinking about them. A matrix is formed. We are all interconnected in a focused way. The center of our focus being them, or the Warrior and the quality she/they represent. It is all real.
 When Xena dies, and when the show ends, that energetic connective pattern, that matrix, is busted up. The deep feelings of pain and rage come from that energy disconnection. We are in tune with their goals and aspirations because of knowing our own deepest wisdom and feel clearly when they lack integrity, when they are out of sync with the rightness of a situation.
 The second thought that came to me, was the lesson from it all, is the intense awareness that the Warrior lives inside of me, inside of each of us. Gabrielle and Xena were "fictional characters" that tapped into that awareness and brought it to the surface. That I/we carry a sword of courage and determination and it is up to us to decide to use it and how we use it. It is time to let TV heroes go, and be our own hero.
 Although I am upset about the finale, I do want to thank everyone involved with the making of Xena: Warrior Princess. It really did take on and offer us so much that was never on TV before. The concept, including using two women protagonists, who were independent of men, was incredible. Many of the shows were great. Acting and the supportive departments were always good, including the music, costuming, scenery, and cinematography. The only problem was the writing and consistency. The point of view was battered more than was good for the show, the characters, and the fans. Or perhaps those problems were a producer problem?
 I applaud their efforts and opening doors for all of us. It is up to us now, to create/support gender positive, intelligent, funny, and challenging shows. This is especially crucial for lesbians, as well.
 A great big thank you to the folks at Whoosh for their incredible website, hard work, love, and commitment, and to all the contributors. Thank you for this forum. I know that my understanding will keep unfolding but this helps now in letting go and getting on with life in the "real world".
Jackie WeissA woman of mystery.