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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.

Clare: MARCUS! This episode was mostly fascinating to me because it walks a fine line between a explicit straight relationship and an implicit queer relationship. While Gabrielle doesn’t have much to do in contrast to the A plot, it kind of speaks volumes that she waits for Xena. I mean, we’ve seen Gabrielle wait for Xena before, but she usually has stuff of her own to do while waiting or we just don’t see her (as in the previous episode, "Warrior... Princess".) We have not gotten shots of Gabrielle longingly waiting for Xena to come back from the war from the dead yet. Really devoted waiting is a very wifely thing in Greek literature. I’m not sure if this is intentional—the Xena writers have a shall we say loose interpretation of what counts as Greek mythology—but it makes my heart happy. I mean, when Xena comes back, Gabrielle shyly tells her that seeing her after getting knocked out was "a pleasant sight."

Renay: Predictably, because I am me and ask too many questions that are irrelevant due to 90s TV Logic, my first thought was, "How is the heck does Xena know exactly how to get to the Underworld?" and my second thought was, "Unless this ends in Gabrielle breathing life back into your body, Xena, I AM SUPER DUBIOUS ABOUT YOUR PLAN." But I agree about the fact that her vigilance is notable. They may have a loose interpretation, but I say we claim this one on their behalf because it's so wonderful.

Clare: Oh, man, they have to do magical CPR on each other at some point, right? That would be AMAZING.

I do really like Marcus. I think he’s a really engaging character, Bobby Hosea is a really fun actor, and Marcus’ relationship with Xena is really interesting and poignant. They kick butt! They make out! They banter! They discuss the ethical dilemma that Xena is now devoting her whole life to!

Renay: So far in the show, Marcus is my favorite of all the men in Xena's past. I can't discount Hot Dad from Episode #2, Darius, but since he's from the present I will just create multiple columns and have several favorites.

Clare: Hot Dad is very important. We can sort them by category, a la an awards show. Marcus wins overall, Hot Dad wins in the category of “living dudes.”

Renay: What struck me about Marcus in this episode is that we see him take a similar journey to Xena's, albeit aborted and a bit too late for the living people he left behind. Before he died, his last choice was for Xena's cause, but this time the cause in which he makes the right decision isn't hers, but his own. He could choose to continue making immoral decisions as he did when he was alive, and reap the benefits, but instead he chooses the moral path. That, to me, is what moves him up. He's truly worthy of Xena at that point.

It's just too bad he's super dead.

Clare: I totally agree. I it’s important that Marcus is dead! I don’t want to boil him down to a beard—because he’s not, his relationship with Xena is really important and in no way unqueers her, that’s not how that works—but it’s nonetheless true that Xena having such an impactful male love interest in the first season might obscure the queer subtext to some viewers. His ghost literally makes their relationship safe.

On the one hand, WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE MADE SAFE? On the other hand, the episode does literally end with Xena womanfully mourning Marcus in Gabrielle’s soft arms.

(Sidebar: I wonder how sexuality plays out in the world of Xena? I imagine quite close to ours, because of how camp the show is, but I wonder if it ever takes into account how sexuality in antiquity doesn’t map neatly onto our current map. Quick, bring me the Xena fic written by Greek historians!)

I find it endlessly hysterical that Xena’s swimming costume appears to be made entirely out of leather. GIRL. And watching Xena and Marcus kick sub-PlayStation 1 level harpies in the face was totally rad.

Renay: Everything about the Underworld was amazing and camp and wonderful. I'm not even sure those were Playstation 1 level graphics. It felt even more raw than that and so great. I was legit worried that Marcus was going to bite it (again??) by getting dropped in some lava, so between that and the sound effects it worked! Also, thank you, writers, for making sure to insert that Marcus-loses-his-vest moment. This fan appreciates your eye for picking excellent moments for objectification.

Clare: That moment is so great, because the show takes a moment to soak it in and show that it’s doing that on purpose. Thanks, writers.

Renay: Oh, and I found the mid-episode fight scene hilarious. "Why are we fighting each other!!" Xena asks. "We should fight the bad guy who decided to hoard power instead!" Immediately all the extras start...fighting each other. I know, I know. 90s TV Logic, Renay, let it go...

Shamefully, I should have seen the ending coming. Did you see the ending coming? Because I was all, "No don't tell your plan out loud when the villain can become invisible!!!" This show has found the perfect naive babe in me, I will fall for all their switcheroos regardless of the fact that I KNOW BETTER AT THIS POINT. What is wrong with me?

Clare: No, I didn’t see it coming either! I am very susceptible to 90s TV Logic, having not built up an immunity in my childhood. I think I got really sucked into the story. It’s really easy for me to suspend my disbelief while watching Xena for some reason; it appeals to some part of my lizard brain where it can override all sense. I imagine this is what gearheads feel like when they watch, say, Fast and Furious.

Fun fact: Michael Hurst, whom we last saw as Hercules’ buddy Iolaus, plays Charon. This is also the first I’ve heard about WETA Workshop being involved in the show, which makes sense. Oh, New Zealand in the nineties. Soon, Peter Jackson will own you.

Renay: A rare glimpse into a long lost culture Before Peter Jackson...

Clare: FEMSLASH ALERT: I just wanted to mention that when I went to FlameCon, another congoer and I talked about Xena. She assured me that seasons two and three wail on the FemSlash Klaxons like nobody’s business. OH YES.

Supplemental Material

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


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