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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 1x14, "A Fistful of Dinars"

Renay: Straight off the last episode full of stock footage of Xena being awesome and Gabrielle discovering more of her voice, we're tossed directly into the action as Xena interrupts a fight and inadvertently gets dragged into a hunt for the Treasure of the Sumerians in order to find the Ambrosia said to be tucked away with it, lest Disreputables eat it and become gods themselves. Her past also gets dredged up, as she and Gabrielle join up with two gentlemen of dubious reputation with clues to the treasure, one of which who happens to be Xena's former fiancé.

Clare: I am a stone cold sucker for historical puns. A Knight’s Tale is one of my favorite movies, and the fact that it "invents" the phrase "foxy lady" is just one of many things to love about it.

This episode reminded me slightly of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Not a specific one, mind you, as I’ve only played D&D the once in a Starbucks with a very finicky DM, but a warrior and an assassin bickering over the utility of their skill sets? Sounds terribly familiar.

Thersites is gross, as he’s meant to be, although I do appreciate that he takes pride in being an assassin. ("Murder… that’s for kicks.") Petracles, though, is morally interesting. In "The Path Not Taken," we met Marcus, another old flame of Xena’s from her warlord days, who wants to get out of the war crimes game but cannot.

Renay: Xena sure claimed a lot of hearts. And wow, do they sure end up dead real fast.

Clare: Xena is incredibly morally conflicted about what she did as a warlord, to the point that this show exists. And here we have a warlord presented as morally...palatable. I don’t buy for a second that he was just bluffing those villagers, but he does develop an actual affection for Gabrielle (because warlords are her type, heyo!), still wears Xena’s wedding bracelet, and stops Thersites from achieving godhood. The episode concludes with Gabrielle stating that Petracles was a changed man. So we’re presented with a morally palatable warlord, where the show has been very cut and dried about its stance on the morality of warlords before.

Renay: I'm actually hopeful that they're presenting more of the evil characters from Xena's past as morally complicated, because here it added quite a bit to the story. Because we see Petracles from both perspectives. To Xena, he's a manipulator and can't be trusted, and all her dealings with him assume that he remains the man who mistreated her. Gabrielle, who generally tries to have faith in people, is wary but curious and very attracted. Her "hi" to him when they first meet made me go "NO DON'T TRUST THE WARLORD" and "oh no, they're gonna be cute together." The entire episode is a back and forth, the show asking the viewer whose perspective is correct: Gabrielle, who may be naive and at risk, or Xena, with experience but a long grudge?

I think the show validates Gabrielle on this score, although to my eye it may also validate Xena, because nothing was stopping Petracles from playing his hand about his fondness for Xena with the bracelet before he bit the dust. So it kept it ambiguous too long, and when someone remains ambiguous until the end, it's probably better to stay at least a little wary. You made your choice!

Clare: Gabrielle proves her mettle as the bard of the party (I told you it reminded me of Dungeons and Dragons!) by bluffing her way into a temple, which was a great scene. It’s nice to have Xena defend her utility, especially because Xena used to doubt it. And now they’re inseparable.

Speaking of inseparable: check that love triangle between Gabrielle, Xena, and Petracles. I would only activate the Fem!Slash Alert for Gabrielle’s rescue from the bridge, though, because Xena is hellbent on rescuing her girl.

Renay: I did like that, that although he changed their dynamic with the triangle, Xena stayed mulishly and dangerously loyal to Gabrielle whenever she was threatened. No, she doesn't care much for your kind of treasure, Thersites, but there is a type she finds extremely valuable...

Supplemental Material

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

Date: 2015-10-01 01:00 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Xena: grinning at enemy)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Yaaaaayyyy. These reviews have gotten me to rewatch quite a few early Xena episodes that I never rewatched before, and it's been lots of fun. I just watched one last night, a few episodes ahead of where you are, and I can't wait till you get to it!

A question: I would never comment with straight up plot spoilers, but I was wondering how spoiler-averse you are about comments about foreshadowing, or things that are developed and expanded on later? Like if I said, "this episode explores X theme which becomes much more prominent in S4", would that be spoilery for you?

Date: 2015-10-04 05:35 pm (UTC)
litomnivore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] litomnivore
Oh, I'm so glad! It's such a fun show.

Hmm… Renay will have to weigh on this as well, but personally, I'm fine with the latter; not mentioning specifics, but that X will become more of a thing later.

Date: 2015-10-05 07:44 am (UTC)
renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
Yeah, I agree with Clare! That would be cool. :D


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