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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: Do not adjust your sets, folks! Previously on Xena, Xena got bodyswapped with her nemesis, Callisto—seemingly permanently, due to Lucy Lawless suffering a hip fracture that put her out of commission for a little bit.

Renay: I remain surprised that we haven't heard of an injury before this due to how Lawless flings herself around, regardless of the safety harnesses. But I love that they rolled with the setback like this, because it made some excellent drama! Callisto and Xena! ENEMIES. Gabrielle, trapped with the visage of the person who killed her husband!

Clare: So Xena (in the body of Callisto) receives an invitation to the Hunger Games by Ares, the God of War. But when she and Gabrielle arrive, she finds that the real Ares has lost his godhood because somebody stole his sword while they were messing about in Tartarus in the last episode. Someone is posing as Ares, and nobody is currently acting as the God of War. But without a God of War, there’s no peace, and those unaccustomed to coping with fighting and anger—like Gabrielle and Joxer—become violent and aggressive.

Renay: Now all I can picture is Gabrielle full of magical aggression yelling "I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!" For what? She doesn't care, as long as she can hit it.

Clare: This means we get up to investigative hijinks once at the tournament itself, as Xena and Ares attempt to locate Ares’ missing sword (representative of his godhood, for obvious reasons).

After the weighty moral questions of “Intimate Stranger,” it’s nice to have a more straight-forward, slapstick episode. The B plot mostly consists of Joxer and Gabrielle stumbling around in a violent haze, but since that’s how Joxer makes me feel all the time, I forgive her.

Renay: But remember, one day Joxer will make us feel something other than violence! People promised and I'm holding them to it.

Clare: I’ll believe it when I see it. In any case, it’s nice to see Xena playing fast and loose with Greek mythology more than usual, with Sisyphus having escaped the Underworld and made a deal with Hades in order to avoid his eternal punishment.

Renay: My favorite bit of this episode was all the dudes telling stories about Xena while she rolled her eyes at their embellishments. Like, lie all you want to, dudes. Xena's got more important things to do but she is still not impressed. Too bad most of them kick it (Xena doesn't even have to pick them off; they do it for her) because I would love to see a future episode where she gets to be like, "So I heard you were spreading rumors." just to watch the dude quiver in fear.

(Probably I get too much enjoyment of Xena terrorizing dudes.)

Clare: (You get exactly the right amount of enjoyment out of Xena terrorizing dudes, which is "all of it." She’s a feminine power fantasy for a reason!)

Renay: I benefit a lot from having no clue about the actual mythology, because even though I don't get to see how the writers tweak it I'm also never really like "wait, we're remixing what now?" I knew Sisyphus was the rock dude, but I didn't know the details of the rock pushing and had to look it up post-episode. It seems fitting that he would set up an elaborate ruse full of deceit only to fail in the final moments. This whole episode was like a rock right into his face. I see what you did there, writers.

Watching Gabrielle lose her temper, fight for control, but still have her "let's go get'em!" attitude was great. Even though she had to be sidelined with Joxer as the comic relief they still managed to "solve" the mystery of the terrifying monster and then ruin Sisyphus's day with the revelation.

Clare: I thought seeing sloppy, drunken Ares having to come to terms with all sorts of mortal indignities like "pain" and "hangovers" and "blood" is a nice touch. Although the part where we learn that he and Callisto had sex while Callisto was in Xena’s body is disgusting.

Renay: You know what, I watched this episode twice and somehow missed that delightful detail both times. Thank you, brain, for sparing me from a Bodily Autonomy Violation Hellscape.

I got such perverse enjoyment of watching Ares get kicked around and poked and beaten up (didn't he also get seasick? I will pretend so because ha ha ha!). Yeah, Ares! How do you like war, now? It's no wonder he wants it back given that mortality isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sorry for enjoying your pain, Ares. But his Magical Girl Transformation at the end was still nice. You clean up well for a big jerk, Ares.

Clare: Now I’m just picturing a Magical Girl Transformation where his goatee pulses rainbow light before cleaning him up, Sailor Moon style. And, at least, Xena gets her body back—in a clip recycled from the opening and a shot with an obvious stand-in. I can forgive the latter, because height difference hugs between Xena and Gabrielle are my ultimate weakness.

Renay: True! I will reiterate that I thought that the switch was amazing; the episodes with Xena in Callisto's body were some of the most emotionally gutting and well-acted so I approve of this arc 100%. I'm still glad Xena is back, though. :D

Supplemental Material

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

Date: 2016-12-16 04:48 pm (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
MORTAL ARES. I love mortal Ares. *chinhands* Also, I love bodyswap, and Callisto and Xena had a great one, I agree.

Were people really so foolish as to promise that your feelings would change about Joxer? I'm pretty sure that I just said that mine had, and that I found it bewildering and traumatic. (Also, it happened after two lifetimes of UGH JOXER, so it's not even something anyone can look forward to in any practical sense.)


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