Reaction to REACTIONS TO DEATH IN 'THE GREATER GOOD' AND 'IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE'
by Anita Firebaugh (Bluesong@aol.com)
First, I would like to say that I really enjoy reading the journal WHOOSH, but also your comments on the various shows in the episode guide. The critiques are fabulous! But the real reason I was moved to send a letter was the article in the November issue by Anita Firebaugh on reactions to death. I felt that her study was incomplete in that it only focused on Gabrielle's reaction to Xena's death and Xena's reaction to Gabrielle's death. To really try to understand their makeup and depth of their friendship, she should have analyzed Xena and Gabrielle's reactions to the death of other people (the men) in their lives.
For instance when a man who Gabrielle is attached to dies (I realize she wrote this article before the death of Perdicus in RETURN OF CALLISTO, so I am referring to the death of Talos in DEATH IN CHAINS), she openly weeps, entreats, shouts "no!", and in general is highly emotional. While with Xena, she was very controlled, and her emotions muted. How she reacts is almost a mirror image of the behavior of Xena. Xena was controlled in the death of Marcus, but highly emotional and out of control with Gabrielle.
A lot can be said about the dynamics of the friendship, and may also make a rationale out of the tendency of Gabrielle to leave Xena for a man who represents a life she was trying to escape in the first place, or repeatedly tell Xena she'll be there for her, but can't keep her word. It just seems that Gabrielle is not that close to Xena because she is always expecting her to die, and therefore her feelings are blunted.
I guess that Renee O'Connor is told how to mold her character by the writers and directors, but it just seems that stemming from her reactions to death, her friendship with Xena seems so shallow and unimportant. Her emotions did not seem mature with Xena, because Xena was not a man and therefore worth wailing over.
Well, now that my tirade is over, I would like to say again, Ms. Firebaugh's article was so good that it did elicit a response, as I am a notorious non-participant in these things.
Keep up the good work and I will keep reading.
UCSF Dental School
Comment on CHANGING TIMES: SINS OF THE PAST
by Debbie White (email@example.com)
I just finished reading Debbie White's CHANGING TIMES: SINS OF THE PAST and really enjoyed her concise thoughts and conclusions. I did have one comment to add that you might find interesting in regards to this section:
" When Xena is refused forgiveness, and the villagers come to stone her (because of Draco's army), she says, "Take your revenge. It's true what they say, it's sweet." This may be an attitude that needs changing. More likely, Xena is being rather suicidal. She has been refused the forgiveness she so desperately wanted. Even though she said she was going to spend the rest of her life trying to take away the shame she brought on her family, she almost seems to be unable to accept the fact they will not forgive her. She uses this as a frantic way to test if they really hate her beyond forgiveness. She taunts them to go ahead and hurt her, and she's surprised when they do."
Although Xena seems to have many skills, judging people's true feelings towards her seems to be a "hit and miss"...often swayed by her confidence in herself. A really good example is the surprise she also has when her men turn on her in THE GAUNTLET. You can see that she truly did NOT believe her men would side against her! and she makes the same mistake with the villagers! So, I don't think she was really any more suicidal here than she is in THE RECKONING when she refuses to escape. I think she is struggling with the feeling that she may deserve to be mistreated for all the evil she has done.
Christine A. Wiatt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
More on DREAMWORKER
You wrote in the Letters to the Editor, WHOOSH #03:
"Then DREAMWORKER comes barrelling in. This is where she literally destroys the old Xena. After Xena wrestles with what she was, literally and figuratively, the new Xena disposes of the old, proving that the new Xena is not only stronger than the old Xena, but preferred by herself. Of course we all know the old Xena is always there, just waiting to sneak out when Xena is not looking. However, THAT Xena can only surface when the new Xena is in some type of unique stress. Therefore my conscious and sub-conscious observations.
After writing all that, I find we are actually talking about the same thing but in different ways. I agree with you. I have changed the episode guide to read that both Xenas beat each other to a pulp, which is more accurate than stating the sans leather Xena beat the leather Xena to a pulp."
I had a slightly different interpretation of this scene. It reminded me of the culmination of Ursula K. LeQuin's "Wizard of EarthSea", where our hero must acknowledge and incorporate his "dark side", a.k.a "the shadow", and only has power over it when he knows its "true-name", which is in fact his own true-name. In DREAMWORKER, Xena says something like "I may need you, but it is I who control You...you are the key..." So I saw this as a reference to the Archetypal principle without darkness there would be no light, that both sides of the self are needed. This is well-described in Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching":
the whole world recognizes the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is only the ugly; the whole world recognizes the good as the good, yet this is only the bad. Thus Something and Nothing produce each other; The difficult and the easy complement each other; The long and the short off-set each other; The high and the low incline towards each other; Note and sound harmonize with each other; Before and after follow each other
Rebecca Hall (email@example.com)
The editor responded:
Yes, again I agree. But it is not necessarily yin and yang or Zarathrustran where the forces are equals and work in eternal battle with each other. In DREAMWORKER, the forces of good and evil are not equal. Xena, time and time again, becomes the master of her dark side. The only two times she has lost it entirely (RECKONING and TIES THAT BIND), Gabrielle was the "key".
Gabrielle could not be "the key" in DREAMWORKER because the friendship was too much in its infancy. In DREAMWORKER, the key was not only that neither can exist by itself, but the key also was that the one that was stronger and hence would be the dominant of the two would be the good Xena. The bad Xena was trying to convince Xena that the dark side was what she really was and that alone. However, the good Xena said, no, the good is stronger than the bad. And the good prevailed by destroying the old Xena by throwing her into the door. I saw that as a metaphor for the Good Xena finally triumphant over the bad Xena. Putting her in her place, so to speak.
After that, the only times Xena did lose it were when Ares interceded and used brainwashing techniques on her. Again, Gabrielle's presence bailed her out both times.
A Bunch of Questions!
I love WHOOSH and XMR! All your hard work shows on each subscription. I hit your web site several times to get your back issues and I am surprised how many great pictures you have of the show. I really like your opening header.
Ok, back to the business at hand. I was wondering if you have an article about Xena's chakram. It seems to be an weapon unique to her alone. It would be very interesting to find out how she acquired it. Is it a gift from Ares? A weapon forged by the gods? Magically tied to Xena?
I was also hoping you can get in touch with the writers. I wanted to tell them what a great job they did on this seasons episodes. Each episode was very creative, suspenseful, and exciting. The CALLISTO episode kept me spell-bound. My favorite and the funniest (I think) is WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP. Joxer was very funny in that one. And Lucy had a chance to show her acting abilities. Perhaps next season, there will be an episode that explains how Xena acquired her chakram or a quest to reclaim her chakram (hint, hint).
Lastly, I want to wish Lucy, Renee, producers, writers, extras, stunt doubles, production staff, and special effects people a happy holiday and a great new year (I hope I did not leave anyone out). And of course you too Kym!
John Young (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Happy holidays to you, too, and thank you for your kind words. The editorial staff works very hard to bring WHOOSH out every month and we appreciate all the comments and warm fuzzies we get.
To answer your chakram question first, no one in IAXS currently has registered any topic which concerns the origins or history of the chakram (hint, hint).
Furthermore, for your information, some of the writers of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS do have access to WHOOSH. Of course, we cannot guarantee that any writers will read WHOOSH, but it is our suspicion that it "gets around" one way or another.