Whoosh! Issue 59 - August 2001


By Darshann Smyth
Group Therapy Project
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
2299 words

Light at the End of the Series (01-02)
Death (03-04)
The Truth (05-09)
Two More Puzzle Pieces (10-12)
Death in the Xenaverse and Elsewhere (13-19)
Thanks to the Creators (20)


Light at the End of the Series

With a lot of time on their hands during the trip, long debates ensued regarding parasols and hats-as-parasols
Calm before the storm.

[01] Seeing this finale felt like going into battle. I had been spoiled about as much as possible before actually viewing it, yet it was still the most difficult two hours of television I have ever had to watch. It took me a good 24 hours from my viewing, almost a full week from being spoiled, to be truly okay with it and to find that light at the end of the series.

[02] I began to see the light after I got home from the Xena party I had attended with my own thoughts and tears. Part of what was so hard about this was that our collective perception of death had collided with the Xenaverse reality of "death don't mean diddly". Death means plenty to us in the real world and it is not merely Xena who died, but the series as well. This is the end of a series and a part of all of our lives that we have loved and cherished for varying periods of time. Something so deep, it has taken on the feel of an actual REAL person. This fact has made Xena's death more difficult to look past and if you cannot look past the "death" of either, you cannot see the light. I hope my words help a few to also look past it and find the beautiful message at the end of this series.


[03] The concept of death in Western culture is a difficult and feared thing. We see it, no matter our religious affiliation or background, as an end. An end we wish to avoid, a burden, if you will. We do not necessarily all intellectually 'believe' death is an end, but, in our culture, death is inevitably synonymous with loss. When Xena died the hardest part to take was not her actual death, which was grisly, but that Gabrielle appeared to have lost her. Gabrielle had to experience Xena's death and go on without her. She, in this series from start to finish, was supposed to be us. It is through her eyes that we saw the story. Therefore, through Gabrielle's heart and eyes we felt Xena's death.

[04] The point of the episode, however, was that Gabrielle was not losing Xena. Gabrielle will never lose Xena, even if Xena is dead and Gabrielle is alive. This is a difficult concept to grasp for a Western society, and even more difficult to see as a satisfying end for our duo. To make matters worse, on the surface, it appeared that Xena died for a pointless reason. The truth was not that simple.

The Truth

[05] In the beginning of the series, Xena was a warrior finding her way to redemption. A personal journey with the result selfish in nature. Selfish? Yes, selfish. Is it truly the right thing to do good for the sake of your own redemption? It is not. You should not only do good things for what you get in return. Of course, there is a world of good that comes out of this journey of Xena's, but in the end, it is not the ultimate lesson for the warrior princess, or for us.

[06] In the beginning, Gabrielle is searching for herself. She sees the world in a way that very few see it. She has a purpose in the world that is far beyond that which she could have found in her little village. She is a spirit filled with love and light and she wants to share this with the rest of the world. She simply does not know how to do this in the beginning. In the beginning, neither had yet found true love.

[07] Through their journey together, each moved further down their individual paths. Xena became closer and closer to finding that elusive redemption and forgiving herself for the sins she had done. Gabrielle found more and more of who she was and what purpose she had in this world. Her journey was more varied and complex than Xena's. She found out that she was a leader, a writer, a lover, a friend, and always a gentle soul. Both of them also found true love in each other. However, beyond that was something neither expected. From each other, they learned things they never would have known or understood without the other.

[08] Xena learned from Gabrielle that the reason to help people, to battle for good, is not to redeem yourself or to make up for your sins, but simply because it is "the right thing to do". From Xena, Gabrielle learned that there is a warrior within her and that she can use this part of herself to make the world a better place. Not that it is the only way for her, but it is now one of her many skills.

[09] Near the end of the finale, Xena attained redemption. Gabrielle found that she was not only a proficient warrior, but could actually fill Xena's boots. At this point it SEEMED Xena could be brought back to life, redeemed and ready to rejoin her newborn warrior bard on their continued travels. Yet, she was not. There were still two more pieces for both of them and us, to 'get'.

Two More puzzle Pieces

Gilbert and Sullivan rejects
Teahouse of the Spirit World.

[10] For whatever reason, in the Japa spiritual world, it does not matter that Xena caused this travesty with an understandable mistake. It does not matter that she has set the souls free. These souls will not rest in peace until their deaths are avenged. Is this Xena's responsibility? No, it is not. Her slate has been wiped clean. She is already redeemed. Yet, had Xena returned knowing she could have done something to give these souls peace, she would in the end have ignored the very thing Gabrielle has been trying to teach her all along. You should do in this world that which is right, not based on what you gain or what you lose, but simply because it is the right thing to do. With this final act, Xena finally truly embraced the very essence of the Greater Good.

[11] To give up that which she loves most, being with Gabrielle, simply to give peace to these souls is the greatest act of selfless love there could be. It sucks, she is not happy about it, but it is the RIGHT thing to do. Gabrielle does not like it either and wants Xena to be selfish, wants to be selfish herself, and yet she knows this is the right thing to do. Therefore, she lets Xena go. Both of them make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of others, strangers. Strangers who in essence may have inadvertently caused their own deaths and may have even hated Xena. Xena and Gabrielle have both learned not only selfless love for each other, but for the world at large.

[12] They did this thinking that it would mean losing each other, perhaps forever. This is what makes the sacrifice so ultimately selfless. Nevertheless, in the end, it turns out it did not mean this at all. In the end, they were rewarded for their selfless acts. In the end, they finally both found their way to the Way of Love. This last piece, so often missed by the angry, betrayed fan, is that Love conquers all. Even death cannot overcome the love between Xena and Gabrielle. Because of their sacrifice and their selfless love for the world, they are returned to the very thing they gave up.

Death in the Xenaverse and Elsewhere

[13] In the Xenaverse, death and the afterlife are mutable, ever changing, and completely subjective depending on how, when, where you die and most importantly WHO you are. With Xena's death and her selfless act, she was sent to her 'heaven', which turns out to be Gabrielle. Anything else would have been 'hell' for them both, and so, the Universe made this the way of things until the time for Gabrielle's death comes to pass. The Universe rewarded them for their ultimate selfless act. Love does conquer all.

[14] In the last scene, Xena is still dead to the world at large. No one else can touch her, see her, hear her, or know her, except Gabrielle. To Gabrielle, Xena is still as if she were alive. She can still see her, feel her, touch her, talk to her, hear her, and love her in every sense of the word. On the boat, we see, as they now see, that no matter what, they will never be apart. Come death, life, pain, or joy, they will always be together. The last shot is simply pulling back out of Gab's point of view into that of the rest of the world. As with many film/TV endings, the audience is symbolically removed from the world of the characters', leaving them to carry on without us.

[15] So, will the world see Gabrielle as a raving lunatic from now on? What the rest of the world will think of this warrior bard and her invisible love, personally, I do not care and I doubt Gabrielle will either.

[16] As a gay woman, I fight against other's perceptions and problems with who I choose to love every day. Tough for them, but it does not lessen the power of the love I find. It does not make it wrong, it does not make it less enjoyable or real to me. If no one in the entire Universe recognized the love I had for another woman, it would be hard, sure, but it would not lessen the love. In fact, it might make it stronger. The same goes for the public's misunderstanding of the hard core Xena fan's love for the show itself. How many people outside the Xenaverse really understand or respect how we feel about this show or this community? Does it change at all our experience or the validity of either? Gods no, not even remotely.

[17] However, I like to think that Gabrielle will find other people in her life that will respect her enough to accept and honor Gabrielle's invisible soulmate as real. With the Amazons, Eve, Virgil, Hercules, Lilla, etc., I think this is likely. The rest will not matter and in time, she will earn enough respect on her own merits that the world at large will also accept this as a real thing. After all, half the known world in the Xenaverse has heard of Xena and her Bard traveling through Heaven and Hell together, would it be such a stretch for people to believe Xena would stay with her after death? They believe in odder things already.

[18] To be sure, this is not the Western view of death or the afterlife and so it is not readily understandable to the Western mind. It requires you to think about it, a lot. How many TV shows make you do that? The Eastern view, a view I happen to believe holds more truth than anything Western, sees death as not an ending, but only a change. It is not a burden. It is the start of a new journey. It is not to be feared or avoided, but to be embraced and revered. Those loved ones who die, stay with us while we are still living.

[19] It is a journey one must take in order to find the message in the finale and the series as a whole. Not only in the viewing, but also in your own self, afterwards. I hope you all take the time to find it, as the message is worth the pain.

Thanks to the Creators

[20] What a wonderful message, what a wonderful journey and love story. I thank TPTB (the powers that be) sincerely for challenging the world to re-examine death, life, love, self-discovery, and redemption. It has hardly been an easy road to walk, but the things in life worth having are rarely simple or easy to obtain.

"Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you."


Darshann Smyth Darshann Smyth

Just turned 30, I stumbled upon the series late in the game (early in the fifth season, talk about odd). Yet, I quickly become an avid fan. I own every tape, my walls are papered with the lovely duo, in fact you do not want to know what little is Xenafied in my daily life. I am obsessed and I am not afraid to say so. XWP single-handedly rekindled my long forgotten childhood dream of creating a movie or TV series. So now I am going forward into a career in film and television, hoping to someday make it as a screenwriter and rock the foundations of Western culture with my unique vision of the Universe. When I get there, you can bet I will be thanking Xena and Gabrielle for reminding me of who I was, am, and am destined to become.
Favorite episode: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
Favorite line: Xena: "Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you." ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
First episode seen: ANIMAL ATTRACTION (I know... second episode was Deliverer. I was hooked from there and have now seen every one at least five times)
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS

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