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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: "Altared States" opens with perhaps the greatest opener we’ve seen so far: we go from gay subtext (a naked Xena to a naked Gabrielle, bathing in a pool: "Come on, you’ve been wanting to try this for ages!") to Xena emerging from said pool to punch a man in the face to Xena, now in her underdress, beating the living daylights out of five or more men with a string of three fish.

And Xena is cackling with glee the entire time. My queen.

Renay: When this episode started my jaw dropped. I went back and rewatched it three more times. I kept going, "There is no way this kind of gratuitous hamming reference to virginal lesbian sex would get through in 2015 MY GOD I LOVE THE 90s!!!" I love that it establishes they probably hang out naked in lots of secluded pools. Together. Just gal pals, swimming nude, no big deal.

Okay, and I cried laughing as she took out an entire group of thugs with a string of fish. I don't feel like we can mention that too many times. She owned them all WITH A STRING OF FISH.

Clare: Anyway, time for the story of Abraham and Isaac, kids! That’s right: it’s the episode of Xena you got to watch at church camp if you had a hip youth pastor in the nineties. (I assume? Although naked growling violent Xena may have ruled it out as appropriate viewing.)

Renay: Here's where I admit all Biblical references went over my head in a big rush of air. On the plus side, it probably made the episode more tense for me because I had no clue how it was going to end or what the heck was going on with this dude and his God. Although, friends, if you watched this at church camp, I want to meet that youth pastor one day and shake their hand.

Clare: I will also personally make your youth pastor an award. I was not prepared for Karl Urban to pop up in this episode as Mael, the older brother manipulating Anteus (our Abraham analogue) into killing his younger brother. (I actually called my roommate over to go "LOOK AT THIS BABY FACE.") I mean, I know Urban gets a recurring role later on as Cupid—thanks, tumblr!—but I didn’t realize that Xena occasionally pulls a Doctor Who. By that, I mean casting an actor in a one-off role and then liking them so much they bring them back. (In Urban’s case, for two characters: Julius Caesar and Cupid. THIS SHOW.) It’s lovely to see him just starting out (I’m assuming, because his skin is so dewey) being an unmitigated villain.

It’s also wonderful to see him straight-up Loki out of the picture a la Thor. "Where are you going, Mael?" "OUT!"

Renay: It took me until halfway through the episode to recognize Urban, and then I was like, "OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO YOUNG!" and fawned over him the rest of the episode because I could not get past him looking like an innocent lamb yet being an evil monster attempting to commit fratricide. Of all the rough and tumble men in this group, some of them who look like truck drivers who've done one long haul too many, they're going to follow Babyface?

Clare: This is another episode that deals with religion: both Anteus’ manipulated religion (via thunder sheet and "loud sound thingy") and... the one true God, who intervenes? I would have assumed that, like, Hestia answered the mother’s prayers, but Xena and Gaby raise their eyes to the sky like God heard them say a naughty word. Apparently, monotheism becomes a big deal in the Xenaverse later on, so this is something we should keep tabs on. So far, we’ve had the Ark of the Covenant and the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Renay: It also deals with poisoning, which is the conceit of how the loud sound thingy worked. Mael drugs Anteus for however long, weakens his mind, and then manipulates him with some second hand theatrical equipment into killing his son! Now, maybe it was just because I didn't know the mythology they were working with, but I found this pretty cold-hearted and had no clue how it was going to end (I thought the father would potentially kill himself first, not the kid). Luckily, this wasn't the only storyline about drugs.

Clare: After last episode, where we got scant Gaby and Xena time, it is delightful see them being friends and Xena deal with a very high Gaby. Sometimes I find the slapstick on the show a little much, but I found O’Connor’s high Gaby really funny and engaging. Plus, that last scene! Where Xena playfully teases Gaby by knocking on her head and Gaby swats at her. They’re so comfortable with each other now. MY BABIES.

Femslash Alert: A very high Gabrielle looks at Xena and just declaims, "You’re beautiful!" Yes, Gaby, she is so very. Also, while dangling on a rope on a well, Xena tells Gaby to climb over her body.

Renay: This episode was like maximum gay. Naked swimming, naked fighting, certain death followed by physical closeness. It was all my favorite things packed into one episode. Drugged Gabrielle knows her mind! Drugged Gabrielle wants to hit that. Don't worry, Gabrielle. I've been assured by Tumblr that you get your wish, in some form or another!

Supplemental Material

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

Date: 2015-12-14 12:40 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Default)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
This episode. It's so very gay. So wonderfully delightfully gay. <33333333 Plus bonus campy baby Karl Urban. And I had completely forgotten about this episode until I started rewatching Season 1 to go along with your recaps! What a happy surprise that was. :D :D :D

Renay, the mythology they were working with was the story of Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac.


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