Xena and Gabrielle survey the situation at Higuchi.
 I am Jackie, a hard core fan, and my partner Moni is a more casual viewer. We are coming from different levels of Xena: Warrior Princess fandom. We talked at length about the series ender, read the critical reviews, listened to, talked with other people both personally and on the Internet, and read comments by TPTB (the powers that be).
 The first order of business after FRIEND IN NEED was dealing with my feelings. Eventually we got down to why TPTB (the powers that be) ended the series the way they did. When I decided to write my feelings for Whoosh, Moni wanted to add her theory as well.
 Group therapy is a good idea. Writing this out will be cathartic for me because I feel so helpless in this situation. I was in shock and tears for days after FRIEND IN NEED. I could not believe how horribly it affected me. All the tears actually scared me. I felt silly. After all, it is a TV show, but the pain was real and deep. We talked about how Xena and Gabrielle could seem so real to me.
 It has been six years and I know everything about Xena and Gabrielle. I know all they have been through, their little habits, mannerisms, private talks, fears, insecurities, and sense of humor. I love them. What happens to them affects me personally.
 I was disappointed by the story and saddened by the end of FRIEND IN NEED. The story had no heart or satisfying closure, and too many images and messages were disturbing, gratuitous, and downright malicious. Since when does vengeance equal redemption or justice? That is not what I understood the show to be about. If as RJ Stewart says, Xena is a war criminal and not redeemable by good deeds, then what was this show for? If Xena was that unredeemable, she was never worth Gabrielle's love and concern, or ours. Renee O'Connor has said, "it is always about the love" not revenge or payback. Eli certainly thought Xena was worthy of redemption and life.
 What was so heroic about what Xena did at the end of FRIEND IN NEED? Nothing. Gabrielle gets to battle on alone with only ashes and memories while Xena gets to watch and lounge around with Akemi. Some big sacrifice. I could have accepted the death of Xena, and Gabrielle picking up her mantle in a well-told story that took into account what Xena had become. I could see Xena dying in battle (not suicide) or even coming full circle by taking an arrow while defending some poor road traveler, rather than (willingly) and uncharacteristically being tricked into a sacrificial revenge. However, Rob Tapert went back to the SINS OF THE PAST Xena, and had her make a grandstand sacrifice that completely ignored the past six years.
 Why was there such brutality in FRIEND IN NEED II? Why show a woman who stood for empowerment stripped and whipped and humbled before a manly ghost who calls her his whore? Why have her bloody headless body stripped, defiled, and strung up? We have seen the horrors of war on the series, but there was a conscious decision to end it this way. Is this what Rob Tapert believes Xena deserves? Is this what Lucy Lawless feels Xena deserves? Do they find no problem with leaving the viewers with these images in the end? Rob Tapert knows we love Xena, or at least I thought he did, and that she is one of the few female heroes. What is his message in having her destroyed this way and for having us witness Gabrielle's anguish? All this and Xena has to remain dead.
 What about the young people who think of Xena as a hero? Rob Tapert seemed so concerned about them regarding subtext. More concerned about a kiss than a beheading? Interesting. The "kiss" in FRIEND IN NEED was passionate and sweet, but still one sided and cowardly given a motive other than just a kiss.
 Tapert says post FRIEND IN NEED, "I thought Xena dying in the midst of battle worked for me. People would say it was too ignominious to have her dragged around like a slab of beef, but I think it was what fueled Gabrielle to take the steps to be motivated". What? Gabrielle needs to see Xena's brutalized body to be motivated? Where has he been all this time? Does he know Gabrielle? Motivated for what, more revenge? Tapert also says that Xena passing the mantle to Gabrielle is an important part of the journey for him. Yes this could have been quite beautiful and dramatic. However, in FRIEND IN NEED, Xena did not pass the mantle or lose it in battle, she gave it up. Gabrielle gave up, too. Apparently, all that motivation wore Gabrielle out.
 In LEGACY Xena would not let Gabrielle die for an accident. Yet, here they both give up. Xena makes this fatal decision based on that trumped up guilt trip fueled by Akemi, and Gabrielle accepts it. Xena pays for her part in this whole affair. She put out the village fire, and died to release the souls. That is not sufficient for something not her fault? This writing stinks! It is ridiculous. Xena has been evil and wrong but never stupid. Gabrielle had the power in her hands to bring Xena back and did not. Unbelievable.
 Instead of celebrating Xena and feeling sad that the series is over, I was left to mourn the Warrior Princess dying for nothing and leaving Gabrielle alone. I was left with horrid images of Gabrielle throwing up at the sight of her soulmate's headless body. I was angry that Gabrielle had to endure handling and burning her friend's body, for nothing. I was angry that Akemi would trick Xena at Gabrielle's expense, and Xena never said a word about it. I was angry that TPTB would do this to Xena. I was mad that Lucy Lawless would allow the champion that bears her image, this icon of girlpower, that she said gave her everything, end in such a hideous, silly way. I was angry because Tapert and co. along with Lawless and O'Connor ambushed the fans in the last few minutes of the series.
 I was angry and hurt because I trusted, admired, and supported them all. They took the easy way out, not 'bold' as Lawless says or 'defiant' as Tapert says. Bold would be to allow them to endure, to go on as a couple. That would be bold.
 Renee O'Connor says it is about the love and she is correct. It is the love the fans had for this show that made it more than Rob Tapert ever intended. We had a larger vision for Xena and Gabrielle, thus all the fan fiction. Tapert allowed the characters to grow but in the end his limited vision ruled. Xena ended as she had started, a war criminal in need of redemption. Nothing had changed. Gabrielle did not affect her at all. Their entire journey was for naught.
 The only way she could be redeemed was to die a sacrificial unjust death. What a message and what a crock. Will I ever feel differently? About FRIEND IN NEED, no. However, I hope to be able to separate FRIEND IN NEED from my two heroes so I can enjoy them again someday. Right now though, I do not see that happening soon.
 I appreciate why so many love Xena: Warrior Princess and I have enjoyed many episodes myself. While I do not consider myself a big fan, I have watched enough to know that the people who produce this show are talented and creative. I also like the talented and beautiful Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor. I do agree with all the points Jackie made about the story. Xena was always too cunning not to be able to come out alive in this flimsy story. Xena, Gabrielle, and the fans deserved better.
 FRIEND IN NEED was a showcase for Hollywood. Tapert wanted to show Hollywood what he, Lucy Lawless, and even Renee O'Connor could do. The camera work was beautiful and the special effects more lush and Crouching Tiger like than Xena like. The acting was emotional and heartfelt, Lawless and O'Connor at their best. Viewer reaction? WOW! This guy can get viewer reaction! True, it is negative reaction, but that is what Tapert wanted. That is what he needed to further his career.
 Hollywood in six years never noticed or respected Xena: Warrior Princess. There have been so many excellent episodes and not one single Emmy nomination for performance or production. If Xena and Gabrielle had ended happily or even if in FRIEND IN NEED Gabrielle had tossed in the urn to bring Xena back, Hollywood would have cared less, just as always. If Xena had died in battle or Xena and Gabrielle both died, Hollywood would not have batted an eyelash. So Robert Tapert took Xena, his always-so-strong-never-give-up warrior woman, and not only fulfilled his original vision, which ironically did not apply anymore, but also did it in a way to be noticed. He beheaded her and showed her headless bloody body, and her friend's reaction. Make her too stupid to get out of death this time. Hollywood will not notice that part. They do not pay that much attention to Xena. However, the ire of the fans has made the papers and the talk shows and Xena: Warrior Princess has been noticed. That is why there is a contrived story, a quick fix treatment at the end, and a brutal humiliating death of the hero.
 Tapert did not write this episode to honor Xena or the series, or to bring closure to the beautiful relationship, or to leave the viewers anything to celebrate or miss. He wrote it to produce hurt and anger and press. Female hero, icon, kids looking up to Xena and Lucy Lawless, fans feeling betrayed, and people hurting, so what.
 I would not be surprised if Rob Tapert campaigns for an Emmy for this episode. That would be the ultimate slap in the face of the fans. So, be prepared.
A woman of mystery
Favorite episode: THE PRICE
Favorite line: "You don't know how much I love ...that." THE PRICE
First episode seen: A DAY IN THE LIFE
Least favorite episode: FRIEND IN NEED
A woman of mystery.
Favorite episode: HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS
Favorite line: Gabrielle: "I'll rise but I refuse to shine." BEEN THERE DONE THAT
First episode seen: A DAY IN THE LIFE
Least favorite episode: FRIEND IN NEED