I realize it's for fanservice, but is there any reasonable explanation why Xena's armor is so... impractical?
It's not like she needs it, she can catch arrows with her bare hands.
Well, the boots and skirt are actually a step up from the sandals and skirt that would have been more accurate for... some of the years that the show mayb e sort of theortetically takes place during, sometimes. Pants would be too hot for an athletic combat style like hers, and she's on the road a lot where cleaning up is difficult. The exposed arms are pretty normal, for all of the reasons already listed. The exposed shoulders and cleavage... besides the aspect of ventilation/cleanliness, I think it might serve as a target, to make sure missiles are aimed high, where she can see them and grab/ dodge, instead of at her abdominal region, where they might pass unnoticed through the the armor, or perhaps injure a spinning, kicking leg. Not to mention, she's Xena, so I'm not she even CARES about armor. I think she just wears the outfit to pick up girls.
Not impractical at all, considering her fighting style. If you're going to be flipping around scissor-kicking dudes in the face you're gonna want clothes that offer maximum freedom of movement.
Did the opening narration bother anyone else? "A mighty Princess forged in the heat of the battle." She was not a Princess. She lived in a village with a mom who owned a tavern and a father who was devoted to Ares.
She was forged into a "mighty Princess," perhaps.
The title "Warrior Princess" was given to her by Alti. It's never adequately explained, though; it was mostly an artifact from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where Xena and her title originated.
Correction: Callisto didn't rape anyone. By that point, she was redeemed and became an angel (thanks to the efforts of Xena herself), and later, made Xena magically conceive a child with her spirit to take a second chance at a mortal life. Also, when they first met Eve as an adult, after the timeskip, she was raised as a ruthless pillager like Xena herself once was; it was only because of Eli that she got her chance at atonement.
Gabrielle wasn't asked, she was tricked into magic glowy lights that made her have a surprise baby. IIRC, Xena wasn't asked either, simply touched by magic glowy lights that made her have a surprise baby. She was, at least, more willing to be in an angel's hands than Gabrielle was to be in a demon's. But neither of them consented beforehand to be used as baby-vehicles, and it is a little creepy that the instances are treated so differently just because Callisto was pretty at the time.
In the first episode of the fifth season, Xena assumes all responsibility for the person Callisto became when she takes Callisto's place in Hell. Presumably Callisto and Xena felt that knocking Xena up with Callisto's soul was a better way to repay the damage Xena did to Callisto the first time around. And strangely enough, for Xena it probably felt like redemption: "In her past life, she was a savage, brutal warlord; we're counting on you to prevent her from turning out that way again." As for the consent issue...did God rape the Virgin Mary? Hopefully there's some divine intuition or something that tells angels when impregnating a mortal is a good idea.
Callisto had nothing to do with Xena conceiving Eve, that was all "God". It was only after that had been done that the same entity decided that Callisto's soul would also be reincarnated as Xena's child.
There were a number of hints that Hope might not have been quite so Always Chaotic Evil - she clearly did want Gabrielle's love and approval. However, she was too powerful to be controlled long enough to be reasoned with.
Could be more of a female variant of Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, though. Remember that Hope strangled a man to death a few hours after she was born.
It's all rather odd, however, that Xena and Gabrielle never question the possibility everything Eve-related could be a repeat of everything Hope-related. The basics are the same: a being possessing amazing power and devoted followers sires a child, with the ultimate endgame being wiping out "lesser gods." You'd think after the hell they went through in Season 3 that Xena and Gabrielle would be a bit cautious.
Eli told Gabrielle that she must stop hitting bad guys with a staff because that is violent. She must kill both good people and bad people with sais because sais are non-violent???
The sais came after Gabrielle's peace arc. She dumped her staff, got a magical compact, did yoga, watched Xena get her spine broken and become crippled due to her (Gabrielle's) refusal to commit violence, snapped and killed a bunch of people before being taken down, was crucified, pulled into hell, rescued to heaven, and brought back to life with a pregnant (and not at 100%) Xena. Picking up the Sais was Gabrielle realizing she cannot be a person of total peace, and she accepts violence in defense of others. It was completely logical with her character arc.
"The sais came after Gabrielle's peace arc." Sais were totally part of Eli's doctrine. He watched her buy them and approved. She continued to be a skin-head racist, she continued to hate Xena, all according to Eli's faith. She killed the innocent Arab boy in the dust-storm saying "I have a Warrior's reactions, but not a Warrior's instincts." Boy was on Xena's side, he held a message scroll, but in the dust-storm it looked like he was threatening her with a knife, so Gabby killed him. That episode could have motivated Gabrielle to revert to non-lethal Staff, but she continued to obey Eli and continued to use non-violent sais.
Ides of March", Gabrielle takes up arms and fights for Truth, Justice and the Athenian Way. I thought that was the end of her being an Elijan.
There's some major dissonance over what's non-violent. The staff, which she uses to whack people and KO them (but they get up again) is too violent. Using her little compact to knock people out so that Xena can kill them, however, is acceptably non-violent. Admittedly her whole character arc there was sort of intended to show that this non-violence idea was ridiculous for the lifestyle she was leading.
There is no dissonance, the doctrine of non-violence is clearly explained. Siege of Amphipolis, a Peasant puts his hand in his pocket to get his handkerchief. "Gabrielle" kills the Peasant with sais and that murder is a non-violent act. Likewise, when the Amphipolitans murdered Xena's mother, they burnt her to death, so that counts as non-violent. Eli is prophet of the One True God, so any weapon that Eli approves of is by definition non-violent. I am a puny mortal. I think that KO-ing people is less violent than killing them with sais which proves my inferiority to the One True God.
In "Chakram," the same episode where she picks up the sais, she confirms that her departure from nonviolence in "Ides of March" was deliberate and permanent. When she finally came to the painfully obvious realization that traveling with someone who regularly engages in combat and refusing to strike another person even in self-defense were completely incompatible lifestyle choices, she chose Xena over nonviolence. There's a suggestion in one episode—possibly "Between The Lines"—that future incarnations of Xena and Gabrielle get to lead nonviolent lives because of the good karma they've been building up over the series(but we don't get to see those lives because those are the boring ones).
Although I found the Goliath episode interesting and "A Day In the Life" to be one of the all-time greats: I still don't quite get it. How exactly does flashing sunlight off mirrors compel giants to take their helmets off?
The reflected sunlight heated the air, making the giants hot. One of the quickest ways to cool off is to cool your head, so they logically removed their helmets.
What happens to the spirits of Olympians after they are killed?
That was never addressed. The Gods that Xena killed were very rarely even referenced after their deaths, let alone given an episode to depict any sort of afterlife. It's kind of a cool philosophical question: do gods have souls? Do they have their own afterlife? Do they go to Heaven or Hell like Callisto did? Xena doesnt know.
Not that she'd care. Killing someone once was always enough for her. Not that she didnt enjoy killing Callisto again. and again. and again.
Seems safe to assume they go to Heaven or Hell whichever is deemed appropriate. We know what happened with Callisto and aside from a formal seat at the table no distinction is made between her and the Olympians.
This is more a Hercules and Xena headscratcher but are the gods really cruel or are they just petty and bored? Unlike the humans who believe in an after life Ares knows for a fact that any good person who dies because his warlords burnt down a village are going to the Elysian Fields to experience bliss. Technically he's doing them a bit of a favor and he certainly isn't doing them anymore harm than you or I do when we start up a game of Warcraft and march dozens of elves off to their deaths.
They're both; their cruelty stems from pettiness and boredom. Ares gets bored, so people die horribly to amuse him. This is hardly an either/or situation. And let's be fair, paradise or not, to describe horribly murdering someone as 'doing them a favour' is, at the very least, a pretty callous (if not outright sociopathic) attitude. The creatures in Warcraft are animated pixels, the humans Ares' armies are butchering are living people. There's a pretty big difference.
So as we later find out Xena's Warrior Princess title comes from Alti, but in her debut episode in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys titled "The Warrior Princess" no less. Without ever having heard of her, or being told that is her title Hercule refers to her as a Warrior Princess as a nickname. Wait what?