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Clare & Renay's Adventures in: Xena

In a time without a Black Widow movie on the horizon, two fans in turmoil cried out for a heroine. She was Xena, a mighty female protagonist forged in the fires of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The action, the camp, the queer subtext. Her adventures will rock their worlds.

Xena: Episode 103, "Dreamworker"

Clare: Well, after we complained about the "YOU'RE DANGEROUS! YOU NEED TO LEAVE!" reception Xena and Gabrielle are getting, we get an episode where they're simply treated as interesting new strangers and then the saviors of the town. Ha!

Renay: INTERESTING STRANGERS...who can maybe serve as sacrifices. XD At least we've broken the trend of people yelling "get out!" Let's hope it stays broken for a few episodes. :)

Clare: I adore that this episode is about Gabrielle beginning to learn to defend herself without killing. There's a lot of delicious layers to it, really. I got a little tripped up about the moral code Xena presents her with and how that relates to the gods' concept of blood innocence—apparently, as long as you don't personally murder someone with your own hands, it doesn't count. (Although Gabrielle rolling her eyes at the idea of all the items on the list being "Run!" and then being surprised by a compliment by Xena was adorable. Let the femslash bell ring from on high!) But it's very important to Xena that, if Gabrielle becomes any kind of a warrior, that she becomes a good warrior. Xena is trying to live up to her newfound ideals, but in Gabrielle, she can, essentially, create the kind of woman she wants to be. I don't think Xena consciously realizes that yet, but it does put their relationship more into the mentor/mentee relationship that you were picking out in the pilot. I still think it's a lot more equal than the traditional Obi-Wan/Luke situation, since Gabrielle is helping out Xena emotionally.

The fact that Xena immediately turns around and kills a highwayman after she lists out Gabrielle's survival options is funnily paced, but also shows that Xena considers herself too far gone, even as she tries to make amends for her past. And we get that in the dreamscape tunnels (why are they tunnels? Oh, right, budgets) in that most time-honored of sf tropes—the evil doppelgänger! I like that the show is complicated Xena's relationship to her past self. On the one hand, she does characterize her as a disease, which is a handy way to dance around the morals of a heroine who was, until very recently, a ruthless warlord, but, on the other hand, she does accept her doppelgänger as an integral part of herself. Without her darkness, she would be dead.

(Also, is it just me, or did they imply that Xena pulled a Judith on the man who slaughtered her village before becoming evil? That is awesome.)

Renay: Okay, so spoiler: I find dream sequences really awkward and squicky re: humiliation for reasons that aren't even clear to myself. Sometimes I just have them and can't explain it—I suspected the slapstick in this would get me more than random stuff like that. So a lot of Xena's storyline, even though there was pretty interesting stuff going on (like the Judith thing you mentioned, which I agree with! and the doppelganger bits) but on the whole I spent most of the episode when she was dreaming or being drizzled suggestively by the old guy with my hands over my face trying not to expire.

Clare: Everybody's got their weird squicks! Bless your stamina for getting through it for analysis and sweet, sweet femslash.

Renay: The part of the dream sequence I did like was Xena and Gabrielle talking while Gabrielle slept, which bridges them. Xena is obviously coming to rescue Gabrielle physically, but Xena needs support, too, mentally/emotionally, and that harkens back to the more equal relationship you've been seeing, and here's where it really clicked for me, too. Because I suspect if Xena were a man there would have been less emotion in this scene, less shyness—I really find it interesting that Gabrielle points something out about herself but then gets bashful and says "don't look!" (re: toes, what a weird bit of characterization, show), but at this moment, Gabrielle is sharing dreams with Xena, and in theory anything could be on display. She puts up a lot of bravado in front of Xena, so now I'm curious if this sort of thing is going to come back again, that vulnerability.

Clare: I like your analysis of that moment in the dream sequence. It's a really potent signifier for how physically vulnerable but how emotionally strong Gabrielle is.

Renay: I did like all of Gabrielle's quick thinking each time she was faced with a battle that was impossible. We get some foreshadowing here, right? She breaks the sharp end of the spear to create a staff to defend herself with, and I am pretty sure she actually uses a staff as the show progresses? She's slowly translating her quick, witty quips toward having quick hands.

Clare: Exactly! I believe she does end up using a staff, because she can disarm without killing. (It's gonna be so interesting to see how Gabrielle blends those two things together by the time she ends up a warrior on her own terms.)

The Xenaverse's pearly white ancient Greece finally gives us another character of color—and he's the corrupted priest. C'mon, he couldn't be the blind ex-priest? We'll see Nathaniel Lees again in different roles, but we've only see people of color being evil. Step it up, Xena.

Renay: We reached the Deep South via ancient Greece in this episode, because as it continued the blind priest became more and more twangy. HA!

Clare: That said, Gabrielle punching the priest's lights out is fantastic. As I've mentioned, I really hated Gabrielle when I first tried to watch this show in college. I didn't for the last two episodes, but I think this one really brought me around on her. Not just because of the punching, but because of her wits and the fact that her comedic moments seem less and less slapstick. The scene in the shop when she buys the breast dagger is great, because even though some of the humor is derived from the fact that she doesn't know what she's talking about, the laugh is never really on her. (And then Xena totally notices that her chest looks different. Ring that femslash bell!)

Renay: I was talking to a friend who watched Xena, and was telling them about this episode and how it had all these moments which felt as least vaguely sexually charged to me, and they were like "OH. JUST YOU WAIT." So I am curious what we're in for, because I found the two moments you cited pretty fucking slashy.


Clare: :D More blatant femslash? BRING IT ON. I've been having more Sleeping Warrior feels than usual lately, so I needs me a fix.

Next week: Based on the Netflix preview and this show's milieu, I assume they rescue Moses.

Supplemental Material

Much like Xena herself, Renay and Clare have powerful allies in their quest.

The adventure continues:

Xena: Episode 102, "Chariots of War"Xena, Episode 104, "Cradle of Hope"

Date: 2015-03-04 08:02 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
YAY! A new Xena discussion post!

She breaks the sharp end of the spear to create a staff to defend herself with, and I am pretty sure she actually uses a staff as the show progresses?

She does for a while, yeah. THIS IS NOT A SPOILER. (The hows and whys and so would be spoilers, though.) The way Xena and Gabrielle influence one another is wonderful. I don't think I've seen a show that quite accomplishes the same thing with its characters. But then I have a terrible memory, so maybe it did and I just don't remember.

I was talking to a friend who watched Xena, and was telling them about this episode and how it had all these moments which felt as least vaguely sexually charged to me, and they were like "OH. JUST YOU WAIT."

Sooooooooooooo "just you wait", yes. <3 There are GLORIOUS femslash moments in your Xena-viewing future. (The ones that stand out to me happen largely in season 6, though, so you've got a ways to go before you get to those. I hope you do. <3)

More blatant femslash? BRING IT ON. I've been having more Sleeping Warrior feels than usual lately, so I needs me a fix.

So blatant, yes. Gloriously blatant. It will only get more blatant. There are episodes you could watch with no knowledge of the show whatsoever and the femslash is still absolutely obvious. <3

Date: 2015-03-09 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
tumblr tells me that these episodes exist and I'm so happy about them that I almost can't believe they're real.

Date: 2015-03-09 07:52 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
They are definitely real! I've seen them! Multiple times! On various channels.

Granted, by the time season 6 rolls around, Xena may well have taken camp and "historically inaccurate" to a whole new level nothing has ever approached since but ALL THE GLORIOUS FEMSLASH. (I hope that should either of you decide that the issues Xena has get too much to continue watching, you'll still consider watching that trio of episodes from season 6 just for the glory of the femslash in them.)

And then someone told me the femslash was not supposed to be canon. How is it not canon?! That's the part I can't believe. (Well, I kind of can, I guess. But then I look at the show and go "Hooooooooow?")

Date: 2015-03-17 06:55 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I figure if I survive how awkward the first season makes me feel sometimes, the rest of the series can't be worse. ;)

I've seen quotes from the cast that SAID it was canon all over tumblr. Surely we're gonna trust them first, right? :D

Date: 2015-03-17 07:40 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
It... might? I admit my memories are fairly nebulous, but I do remember having more issues with some of the later seasons. I think it's season 4 or 5 that really gets me on the appropriation front.

I would and that's what I thought too, but apparently some of the creators thought otherwise? I don't know. It's just confusing to me and I don't have anything but hear-say about it, so I can't really look at context for it. :( Maybe there was our-world context for it that we lack or they just misread/misheard?

And I'm trying hard not to cite examples I remember so I don't accidentally offer you spoilers, but the further into the series you go the more saying "Xena/Gabrielle isn't canon" becomes... kind like saying that the pony in your icon isn't pink? I thought so anyway.


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