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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 106, "The Reckoning"

Clare: Why is Teracles' girlfriend a Viking? I realize that ancient Greek clothing is quite, uh, diverse in the Xenaverse, but that girl is wearing a Viking dress and sporting two perfect blonde braids. That girl should be raiding somewhere way more North. Although the villagers in this episode do sport a black guy, so Xena!Greece is mildly diverse! Yay.

Renay: This is the first episode to actively bore me, unfortunately. The best parts for me were when Gabrielle was defending Xena (or trying to) or Xena and Ares doing their verbal sparring, but everything else couldn't keep my attention. The fury from the villagers was a bit overwrought, I think. Beyond camp edging toward second hand embarrassment for me.

Clare: Largely, "The Reckoning" is about Xena negotiating the idea that might does not make right. Yes, she can slaughter everybody, use her Hulk strength (okay I guess that's a thing now!) to snap iron in half, and make her own law, but disrespecting the legal system would be to disrespect her new code of ethics. Even when Gabrielle—who can usually manipulate any system she comes across—gives up on it, Xena won't. Ares' offer of a new world order are pretty tempting, but that's not democracy, that's dictatorship.

You know, given the American obsession with ancient Greece as the birthplace of democracy, I wouldn't be surprised if this is a theme going forward—supporting democracy over dictatorship, even a benign dictatorship like Xena's.

Renay: I watched this episode twice trying to like it more, but alas, no go. I do like your thoughts about how the show treats democracy! I wonder if we'll continue to see that develop in how Xena handles controversies she runs into her travels.

However, this was the first sign of what I believe will be overarching plot: Ares and his attempts to get Xena to return to the fold. He set up a very elaborate situation in order to get Xena to choose to take up her old ways, and once again we see Gabrielle being a center for Xena (oh how I hated the scene where he set her on the men, because I KNEW Gabrielle was going to rush in, I KNEW it). Even though in the end Xena tricked Ares and beat him at his own game, I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of him, nor him trying to trick or trap her into a situation where she's required to accept his help. I DON'T TRUST YOU, ARES.

Clare: Ah, Ares, a guy in the worst stick-on beard I've ever seen. I was watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation concurrent with this where Deanna Troi, a lovely empath who reminds me of nothing so much as a sleepy cat, is getting aggressively hit on by a skeevy dude, and I just want to take that beard and stick it on him. Also: since I'm watching two shows from the nineties at the same time, watching anything in HD feels like getting my mind blown.

Renay: Maybe it's a trend. All the gods will have stick on beards?

Clare: He doesn't want Xena to be his queen, in the way of villains everywhere. He thinks she's the coolest and the prettiest and the most capable. He wants to turn her from a warrior princess to a warrior queen. (How did she get the warrior princess name, anyway? She's not royalty. I look forward to this mystery being solved!) He literally introduces himself as her biggest fan, and merely goes "WELL PLAYED!" when she tricks him at the end. He's clearly never going to get what he wants, but he seems to genuinely like and admire Xena. I dig it.

As for our Dynamic Duo, Gabrielle gets to be a lawyer! I'm really starting to love Gabrielle's optimism. It's not so much that she thinks everything will turn out fine; rather, she thinks that she'll always be able to figure something out. Which she does, after she exhausts the legal options. Much more shocking: Xena hurts Gabrielle. I actually gasped when that happened. On the one hand, I'm glad that got resolved really quickly (it's thematically important that Gabrielle believe in Xena when no one else does), but it does bring up the fact that Xena can really hurt Gabrielle. It takes a lot of strength to trust someone not to hurt you.

Renay: I think Xena hurting her here is interesting both from the perspective you noted, that Gabrielle has to trust that Xena WON'T hurt her but also from a characterization point. I'm wondering if we're going to start seeing Gabrielle get closer to learning physical defense and if this act will come up again...

Clare: Lastly: sound the femslash bell, Gabrielle holds onto Xena's belly when she rides behind her.

Renay: The femslash bells are starting to get loud. Before long we'll have to go trawling for Xena recs. ;)

Supplemental Material

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

Date: 2015-04-22 07:15 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Xena and Gab walking/riding away together, text says "Journeys" (Xena: Journey)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Ares' admiration for Xena is pretty awesome. I kinda like this episode? But I'm a sucker for the specific Xena/Gabrielle drama that episodes like this draw out.


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