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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 107, "The Titans"


Clare: Basically, this episode is about Gabrielle feeling inadequate in Xena's eyes, which is not true at all. Luckily for Gabrielle, she wanders into a religious ceremony where she frees three Titans and gets command of them, so, for once, she's technically more powerful than Xena. Gabrielle's little change in expression from "OH MY GOD THOSE ARE TITANS!" to "oh yes of course I am a goddess do my bidding" is lovely. The episode does end by Gabrielle apologizing for being power hungry, but she doesn't come off as power hungry, just luxuriating in new power that is, of course, new agency.

It made me really realize how young Gabrielle is in comparison to Xena; not so much in terms of age, but in terms of experience. (Also, Gabrielle is a lot shorter than Xena! What a fine couple they make. <3) Xena has had years of being on her own, separated from her family, and she's so physically powerful and adept that she never really has to worry for her physical safety. I mean, she starts a fight with over ten dudes by throwing her weapons on the ground and attacking leg-first. But Gabrielle just has her wits and a fast mouth. When Xena is tempted with power, it plays to her darker side; when Gabrielle is tempted with power, it plays to her fantasies of being a capable adult like Xena. Xena's wildest, darkest fantasies are of ruling the world with an iron fist and slaughtering all that oppose her; Gabrielle's wildest, darkest fantasies probably involve boffing that cute priest, punching dudes, and having admirers. Which is why Gabrielle sometimes thinks she's in a mentee/mentor relationship, when Xena knows that they're actually besties for life. ("I could never hate you." <3) I look forward to this gap closing over the years.

Renay: One of the main things about this episode was the sheer brutality of the Titans themselves, contrasted again Gabrielle's gentleness and Xena's strength. A lot can be said of Xena's inner demons, her ability to take on a group of bad guys with her bare hands, and I'm sure plenty of people have written essays comparing/contrasting Xena-before-Gabrielle with Xena-after-Gabrielle. But what I took away from the Titans was the parallel between the three that are freed and Xena herself and how different "strength" and "brutality" are.

Although I don't suspect there's anything to it (I'm so excellent at reading too much into things), the three Titans for me represent both sides of Xena and Gabrielle and what might happen if Xena chose to return to the path she was on before quitting her campaign and seeking forgiveness outside war—how easy it would be for the brutal side to take over, smother the part of Xena who doesn't want to hurt innocent people any longer, and terrorize Gabrielle. In the end, Xena is a very strong person, and that strength is what keeps her from reverting to her old self. The show has pitted her against her old, brutal self before (dream episode), and I just like the idea they might be saying something here about how much harder consideration, peace, and communication is than sheer brute force.

Clare: This episode is mostly Gabrielle-centric, but Xena gets a few good moments as well, like her sheer joy at taking on those dudes in the beginning and tricking the Titan. She's finding a way to translate her immense skills, and she's loving it. Awww, Xena. We also see her tending to the wounded and apologizing to Gabrielle for being a butthead. Although to be fair, every time Xenasays "don't do something stupid!" Gabrielle immediately turns around and touches something she's not supposed to.

Renay: Although Xena's not here much—it is, as you say, Gabrielle's show—I also sort of see her all over this metaphorically? AM I JUST LOOKING TOO HARD FOR THINGS? This is a 90s show. I'm used to 2007 - 2014 television. Maybe I am trying too hard. #vodka

Clare: I was hoping for something a little more interesting when virginity was brought up—like that was just an assumed part of the contract—and I'll admit, I cheered when Gabrielle said that she'd slept with the priest and was no longer a virgin. HA! It seemed very much in character for Gabrielle to see that as a liability and go about divesting herself, especially when an adorable Italian Tom Hiddleston fell into her lap. But that was a fake-out. I do like that she had a moment with Philius at the end—only, of course, to ward off a kiss to ride off into the sunset with Xena. Ugh, cuties.




Supplemental Material


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

Date: 2015-04-30 02:44 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Xena: Xena Gab Argo)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Renay, of course 90s tv writers use metaphors*! Your interpretation of the Titans is really smart. Especially given the contrast between the titan who wants to kill 'em all and the one who likes the idea of using his strength to help people. Or at least protect them from his horrible fellow titan.

When Xena is tempted with power, it plays to her darker side; when Gabrielle is tempted with power, it plays to her fantasies of being a capable adult like Xena.

Yes, excellent point. But at the same time, as this episode shows, Gabrielle also is naive about the way exercising power can harm other people -- I think she believes that as long as her intentions are good, she'll do good. Learning otherwise is an important part of growing up for her and becoming the capable adult that she wants to be. I find it fascinating the way she negotiates that problem over the course of the series.

*Which isn't to say the writers intended this particular metaphor, but it's clear they are very interested in the "great power, great responsibility" thing, and the metaphor totally works.

Date: 2015-05-02 06:39 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
I tend to doubt all my opinions about readings of visual media. It's a curse. *g* This was the episode I thought about the most so far! I hope there are more like it. :D

Date: 2015-05-03 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
Yeah, I think that's really true of Gabrielle; she knows she's good so anything she does must be good, right? But it's not that simple.

Date: 2015-04-30 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't have anything helpful to add but I love this post

Date: 2015-05-02 06:39 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Thank you! :D

Date: 2015-05-03 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com
Thanks so much! <3

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