Reviews: Xena Warrior Princess

Twilight of the Gods

Of all the plots and arcs in the Xena series, the 'Twilight of the Gods' is the most infamous. A good question to ask would be: why?

  • The hypocrisy of destroying the Gods so man is his own master, director of his own fate, lackey of no God turning all people to the worship of a God who, while praising love and peace and free will, requires absolute devotion, servitude and obedience from man as well as the death of His rivals?
  • Killing an entire race of beings - the Gods - in the name of 'Love' and 'Freedom from Tyranny' (Gods who, while being Jerk Asses a lot of the time, have relatively little impact on human life as a whole except for requiring the odd sacrifice or supplication...and priests)?
  • The discontinuity with former seasons where Gods were established as personifications of aspects of humanity, with the loss of godhood leaving that aspect uncontrolled/insane?
  • The 25 year Time Skip, which not only has long-term consequences and Unfortunate Implications which are often ignored, but screws over Callisto's soul again!
  • The ridiculous Deus Ex Machina way Xena got the power to kill Gods (because... Eve??) and the pathetic way the Gods were taken out holding the Idiot Ball?
  • The openly Christian subtext with the 'God of Love' hijacking the series, focusing on the superiority and goodness of God and the 'Way', and the falseness of other faiths - containing some very disturbing and hypocritical Broken Aesops?

Actually, no.

I mean, the things I listed were all bad, but I love this series and would gladly sit through said bad for the good... So what crossed the line?


Well, that's not exactly right. Eve's actress. The character of Eve is weakly written (needing Deus Ex Machina to give character growth), but considering this is Callisto's reincarnation, her personality and essence should be the same, giving a huge canvas to work with. Instead, it was painful to watch Wilkinson's acting. She wasn't eye-gouging terrible exactly, but after the brilliant acting of Hudson Leick, I found myself unable to reconcile who Eve was in-universe with what I was seeing on-screen.

Disappointing, idea-starved and pretentious. Without strong acting to hold this sketchy arc together, it fell to pieces. Luckily it was self-contained...Wait.

Season 3 Episode 12: "The Bitter Suite"... Aptly named.

In this musical episode, Xena and Gabrielle confront one another and they find redemption through song. The idea, conceptualization, music and production values were all excellent, so what could I have a problem with? The hypocrisy.

I thought this episode would be about Xena learning to deal with her hate and anger - long-term issues for her - and to forgive Gabrielle. Or maybe about both learning to deal with their inner pain. But Gabrielle has to deal with her hate for Xena?...Why? What for? For taking her to Brittannia - which Gabrielle chose to go to of her own free will - and then not babysitting her while she goes off with people they both trusted somewhere both thought was safe? So it's Xena's fault for everything with Daehak? Bullshit. Absolute bullshit. I concede blame where blame is due, but making Gabrielle blame Xena for not only her own past mistakes but having to deal with the consequences of those mistakes just stinks of hypocrisy and petulant whining. I was pretty thoroughly disgusted. Gabrielle's petulant 2-D hatred and accusations being put on the same level as Xena's just trivialised Xena's own deep-seated suffering and hatred, making what has been a real issue for her seem as stupid and silly as Gabrielle's.

Instead of a deep diatribe on the complex issues of hate, Gabrielle's own laughable blaming of Xena and the writers' handling of it made the entire episode seem childish and utterly idiotic. Oh yes, don't work through your issues by listening to each others' grievances and talking them out, just sing that you forgive without any acknowledgement of the guilt or discussion of the issues. What should have been a touching reconciliation basically looks like the writers ran out of ideas. I more sympathised with Xena after the prior episode, but I still thought that what Gabrielle went through was horrendous... now my sympathy for her is gone completely and I'm seriously wishing Xena would go dark side and behead her just to shut her up.

The fact that XENA of all people sung the "yes, I lied, please forgive me" song had me screaming in anger and vivid hatred at the episode writers. Not ONCE did I hear Gabrielle offer any apology for what she did to Xena and XENA is the one who is apologizing. Well, in one episode I went to hating at the very least the episode writers, which is just wonderfully ironic.

Gabrielle and Xena, sitting in a tree.

Once one of the most popular shows in the World, Xena still holds some value almost 15 years after it's beginning. The themes are sweet and the action scenes never disappoint. For a live-action show set in the mid-nineties, the fighting is well-choreographed and consistently fun. Also, there is Les Yay. Dear Lord, the Les Yay. Gabrielle and Xena are inseparable and the subtext is astounding.