Whoosh! Issue 14 -
November 1997


Whoosh! Series
By Debbie White
Copyright © 1997 held by author
2775 words

Editor's Note: Changing Times, a regular feature of Whoosh!, examines episodes of the internationally syndicated television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, and considers the changes happening individually and between the two characters, Xena and Gabrielle, along with discussing the clues offered in each episode about their pasts.

The episodes will be reviewed in the order they were originally aired. The reviewer will approach her material as if she did not have knowledge of the upcoming episodes. Insights to subsequent episodes will not be made in the earlier episode but in the latter ones. The series, Xena: Warrior Princess, will be treated as a story where gaps must have explanation and what is there may be given more meaning than originally intended.

DEATH MASK (01-12)
     The Changing Xena (02-09)
     The Changing Gabrielle (10-12)
     The Changing Xena (14-18)
     The Changing Gabrielle (19-21)
First Season Review (22-24)
     The Changed Xena (22)
     The Changed Gabrielle (23)
     The Changed Argo (24)

Changing Times:
And A First Season Review


Oh yeah? Well, mom likes me best!

A family portrait -- left to right, Toris, Argo, Xena, Gabrielle.

[01] DEATH MASK (#23) fills in some signficant blanks in Xena's history. Xena has to confront Cortese, the warlord who led the attack on her village (Amphipolis) and started the warrior princess on her path of evil. If that were not stressful enough, Xena also has to confront her brother, Toris, about how to deal with Cortese. Gabrielle learns more about being a warrior and how much Xena does care for her family even if Xena rarely speaks of them.

The Changing Xena

Made for a woman.

Cortese has Xena tied up at the moment, but that won't last long.

[02] Xena confronts her past right from the start. Xena and Gabrielle are walking along, minding their own business, when some raiders decide to attack them. Xena and Gabrielle easily beat their attackers, but Xena puts the pinch on one of them immediately. She asks about the metal mask the raider is wearing and does not seem too surprised when told that it is the mask of Cortese. She is visibily angered, though it is a carefully controlled anger. She tells Gabrielle that she has never stopped looking for Cortese.

[03] Xena tells Gabrielle for the first time that it was Cortese that attacked her village and started her on the path of evil. Also she neglects to tell Gabrielle that she had another brother (besides Lyceus) until Toris baits them into talk with him. Obviously, Xena does not talk about her past unless necessary, even to Gabrielle.

[04] When Xena and Gabrielle meet up with Toris, he has been stalking and planning to murder Cortese for years. He has infiltrated Cortese's raiders in an attempt to get near enough to Cortese to kill him. Toris pushes and prods Xena by calling her a killer and blaming her for Lyceus' death. Finally he admits he ran from the village when Cortese came because he was a coward.

[05] It is interesting to note how Xena reacts to Toris. At first, she gives him gloomy looks, obviously blaming herself for some of what happened and controlling her anger about the rest. Later, she talks with him, pointing out that she kills only when she has to, not 'premeditated murder' like he is doing. When he attacks what Xena is teaching Gabrielle, she tells him that Gabrielle knows more about justice and wisdom than either of them ever will. When he says he is upset about running away while Lyceus died, Xena tries to help by saying he only was doing what he thought was best. Even at the very end, Xena holds in her hate and anger she has been holding for Cortese for years and not only does not kill him herself, but tries to keep Toris from murdering Cortese. Xena is truly looking out for someone else now, even as she is having to fight her own desires.

[06] As part of convincing Toris not to kill Cortese, Xena does some reflection on what caused her to turn evil. She tells how she never had time to feel. She stayed and fought Cortese because she felt she had to. After winning that fight, she led an army to take the surrounding villages as a buffer so her village would be safe. Now that she realizes part of what made her turn towards evil, she manages to use that to keep Toris from a similar fate.

[07] The funny thing is that she shows both her ruthless side and her good side while fighting in this episode. She does not kill Malik for wanting to 'get right to it,' but simply knocks him out. She uses towels to fight the good guards when Toris is willing to kill them. She will not endanger the villagers just so that she has a place to fight from. She walks into what she knows is a trap in order to help Toris. On the flip side, she is willing to torture the good Captain in order to find out where Cortese is. She would have liked to hurt Cortese when she does find him, but since she cannot, she settles for hanging him (painfully) on a hook. When Toris still wants to kill Cortese, she takes him down and presents him to Toris in a bow, well, tied up. At least she does not kill in cold blood and uses the pretense of torture rather than actually doing it, so she is improving.

[08] Another interesting theme going on is the prisoner one. Xena knows what raiders will do to women, yet uses that into the camp as Toris' prisoner. Once there, she looks around and sneaks on out. Xena walks into a trap set for her and then uses it as a way to get back into the castle - as a prisoner. It's a tactic we have not seen her use before.

[09] In the end, Toris is going home. Xena is about to send a message home with him, but stops. When asked to come with him, she says she and Gabrielle are headed the other way. Xena still does not feel at peace with herself, even after confronting Cortese. Instead she stays on her road of redemption.

The Changing Gabrielle

If only my skirt were shorter...

Gabrielle is much more a physical force to reckon with.

GABRIELLE: Okay, if someone shot ten arrows at me, how many do you think I would miss?

XENA: Only one.

[10] Gabrielle is becoming more and more of a partner and friend to Xena. When the raiders attack them on the road, Gabrielle is able to hold her own. She is smart enough to tell Xena to stay close, though. Gabrielle is dedicated enough to practice with her staff when waiting for Xena to complete a mission. When they save the village from raiders, the villagers later acknowledge that Gabrielle was a part of the rescuing team. Xena was even teaching Gabrielle how she catches arrows and was kind enough to not overly deflate Gabrielle's pride when she managed to stop one arrow. She learns more than weapons skills from Xena, though. As she tells Toris, she also has learned about inner strength.

[11] Gabrielle is also starting to understand when she needs to be around to help and when to leave. When Toris and Xena first meet up, they are tensely quiet. When Gabrielle is told to feed Argo, she gets the hint that Xena wants to talk with Toris alone. When Xena wants her to go and guard the village, she tells Xena "..that's your way of saying it's not safe to be around you right now. Well, have you ever thought that it's never safe to be around you?" Gabrielle stays around that time. When Toris and Xena are going to break into the castle, though, Gabrielle knows she would be more harm than help and volunteers to guard the village.

[12] It was funny how Gabrielle was acting like a sibling towards Toris. When Toris acts worried, Gabrielle overdoes acting worried just to show him up. When Toris and Xena have a major fight, Gabrielle comes back into camp and has what she thinks is a fight with Xena. Is Gabrielle trying to get attention back on herself or make Toris feel guilty? Maybe a little of both.


Ever notice how really hard it is to get a good perm in
Ancient Greece?

Ephiny and her baby are a symbol of hope

[13] DOCTOR (#24) is another interesting episode (but then, aren't they all?). Xena learns the price of her pride, her limits, how much she cares for Gabrielle. Gabrielle learns how to go on despite the pain of healing others and shows how much she cares for others. Despite all of this, the story mainly is around Marmax. It really is the story of how he learned that war and killing is not the answer.

EPHINY: I don't despise you. But you've got to think of the children. Is bloodshed all you want them to know?

The Changing Xena

I had no idea battle armor could smell like

Xena shows her many skills, as Lucy Lawless shows many levels of acting ability.

ANNOUNCER (teaser): A warrior who would not fight the war, but was determined to end it.

[14] Gabrielle states that someone has to stop this civil war and Xena takes it on as a challenge. In TIES THAT BIND (#20), she stops a war by taking over the army. In SINS OF THE PAST (#01), she takes on the entire raiding party in order to stop it. In DEATH MASK (#23), she pits the raiders against the soldiers before making Cortese stop it. Fighting is Xena's style, but without a nudge from Gabrielle, Xena refuses to take sides and fight. Maybe it was because she had Ephiny to take care of and fighting would not be safe. In any case, Xena discovers their companion is the general of the Mitoans. She knocks him unconscious, stabs him in the shoulder, then takes him (and Ephiny and Gabrielle) to the healing temple of his enemy.

[15] Xena sees the head priest simply praying for healing and nothing much else getting done, so Xena takes over. The Mitoans are being left for dead, so Xena gets to use her skills on one of them to prove she can heal people. She calls Gabrielle over to help, then orders two under-priests to help her, which they gladly do. She then goes on to do tracheotomy, identify gangrene and amputate a leg, invent CPR, know what to do about concussions, know to use cobwebs to stop the bleeding, stitch up wounds, set and brace broken bones, re-inflate lungs, and use hypnosis to help do a C-section. Xena even gives away her sword to be used as a brace in her effort to heal everyone. She says she learned healing on the battlefield, but either she has had more learning than that (how many C-sections do you do on a battlefield?) or she invents cures rather quickly and effectively.

[16] While doing all of this healing, she is forced to admit her limits. One patient dies. The head priest points that out to Xena and Xena responds that he simply lost too much blood. The priest says, "You can't heal that, can you?" to which Xena admits sadly, almost guiltily, that she cannot. Later, Xena gets the under-priests to help with the other patients in the temple. When one goes to help a dying patient, she tells him that the patient is too far gone. She tells him that he has to pick who lives and who dies. She again admits she cannot help them all, and she can only pick and hope that she is picking the right ones.

[17] In the end, Xena realizes her pride may have killed her best friend. She thought that she could protect Gabrielle from everything, so she takes her straight through a war-torn area just so they did not have to take the long route. When Gabrielle returns to the temple wounded, Xena at first is so frantic that she cannot think of what to do. She gets some control and starts stitching up Gabrielle. She even understands and respects Gabrielle's code enough that she keeps Gabrielle's attacker alive. Still, she blames herself for Gabrielle's wounds.

[18] Xena also finds out how much Gabrielle means to her. Gabrielle suddenly goes into convulsions and dies. Xena freaks out, but still thinking decides to blow air into Gabrielle's lungs. When it does not work, Marmax tells Xena to let her go. For a moment it looks like Xena might, then absolute refusal comes across her face. There is no doubt this woman is ready to go to Hades and back if she has to in order to revive Gabrielle. Xena yells at Gabrielle, pleads with her, even pounding her on the chest. With one last hard pound, Gabrielle is revived and Xena grabs her close and holds her. I rather wonder how they convinced Xena to ever let her go again.

The Changing Gabrielle

GABRIELLE: Life is only what you make of it.

Er...the blood's on the face, not the chest.

What could be more dramatic than Gabrielle's death?
Fans had yet to encounter Xena's difficulties in the Second Season.

[19] Gabrielle loses much innocence in this episode. When Ephiny says that Phantes was killed by Mitoans, Gabrielle asks why. When a patient dies under her hands, she does not want to give up. She later asks Xena why he had to die. She goes out to save a little boy and ends up being attacked and almost dies because of it. Again and again she is forced to see the tragedy of war.

[20] Still, she shows her great courage through it all. She follows Xena into a war because she trusts her. When the man dies, Xena tells her she needs to keep on healing people so Gabrielle keeps on at it. When she hears a boy needs her help, she is willing to risk herself to go and get him. When faced with an enemy, she only knocks him out rather than killing him, despite the fact she gets hurt because of it. Finally, she thinks she is going to die, so she summons Ephiny to give her the 'right of caste' before dying. Gabrielle dies and goes to the Elysian Fields, yet has the courage to come back from paradise to help her friend in future adventures.

[21] Gabrielle also shows some of the knowledge she has picked up along her adventures. She is right there handing Xena what she needs, obviously having learned how to assist Xena and heal people more than the few times we have seen before. Not only that, she is starting to understand what stories need to be told. Despite the mild taunting from Marmax, she keeps telling him a story with a moral he needs to learn. She calls Ephiny her sister and is willing to give Ephiny the 'right of caste', acknowledging her connection and responsibility to the Amazons. Gabrielle is starting to come into her own, now, by standing up for what she believes in and by taking responsibility for what she has done.

First Season Review

The Changed Xena

[22] Xena has changed, but still retains a bit of her old habits. She has come from the point of giving up in SINS OF THE PAST (#01) to now helping others find the way away from the hatred. She now respects Gabrielle and cannot think of a life without her as her friend. She now is thinking of the people she used to kill and risking her life to save them from warlords. She is starting to accept her family and get acceptance back. Though she will not murder people, she still can break into angry rages [THE RECKONING (#06)] and hurt good people if she has to in order to stop someone else [DEATH MASK (#23)]. She is also beginning to understand her pride and her anger.

The Changed Gabrielle

[23] Gabrielle has become a more mature bard and fighter. She left her village because she wanted adventure. Now she also travels with Xena because of friendship and the desire to help people. She left a suitor behind only to fall in love several times, once even with her old suitor. She went from a woman with a love of tales and a quick tongue to an excellent bard. She has become an Amazon princess. She has developed her skill with a staff and a code of honor. She knows how to defend a village and the rules of survival. She has learned when Xena needs her and how best to back her up. She has learned how to be a friend to a warrior princess.

The Changed Argo

[24] Argo has been and always will be a trusted friend and fellow fighter with Xena. That is the nature of horses.

I have GOT to call my agent!

Argo faithfully waits out many a Season Two episode.


Debbie White Debbie White
Debbie White is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and is currently studying Animal Science at Southern IL University at Carbondale. She is 20 years old, single, and has watched Xena since the first Sins of the Past (i.e., the beginning).
Favorite episode: REMEMBER NOTHING (#26)
Favorite line: Gabrielle: "If you don't know, it must be Xena." ORPHAN OF WAR (#25)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (#01)
Least favorite episode: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (#28)

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