Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Death in Chains/ Second Hug

Very nice episode... and a wonderful ending! This is subtext at its best. The scene goes like this: Gabrielle is sad and crying because her new friend has to leave with Celesta... and Xena approaches her to give her support. Suddenly, Gabrielle just does what she needs most: she embraces Xena and stays in her arms, sobbing. Xena's face expresses a multitude of feelings: surprise and sympathy for her feelings and the need to protect her and a bit of uncomfortability and awkwardness at the novelty of the situation and at her own inability to deal with strong emotions, and also, we can see, a secret happiness that Gabrielle trusted her and needed her and embraced her. We can see all this, in Xena's eyes, in a few seconds! Bravo, Lucy Lawless! Amazing performance. And congrats too to the writers and director, for such a subtle moment.

First hug

There are a couple of things about Prometheus' episode that I forgot to mention in my last post. First one is about what is depicted in this picture. (I posted a similar one yesterday. By the way, I get the pictures from Ausxip Media Library. Thanks a lot to them for putting together such a terrific collection!).
So I was thinking that, so far as I remember, this is the first time that Xena and Gabrielle hug each other! Am I right? I don't remember any other hug before... And this occasion is very special: Xena and Hercules are heading to a very difficult mission, that could cost the life of one of them. Gabrielle and Iolaus are staying behind, because he is badly hurt. Gabrielle asks Xena not to cut Prometheus' chains (because it could kill her), and she just hugs her and asks her to be brave... it is very sweet! I particularly adore how Gabrielle's hand stays on Xena's stomach for a few seconds, when they are saying goodbye after the hug.... Awww!!!!
Another thing I wanted to mention is that, according to Lucy Lawless, this episode (8 from season 1) had just aired when they first heard about the "brouhaha" from the lesbian community regarding Xena and Gabrielle's relationship... I like very much what she says about this: first they thought it was completely crazy (in a way, it was), and after a few minutes, they started saying: 'wait a minute... it is actually perfect!', which of course is very true!!
I would have loved to witness those very first conversations and comments about the Subtext in Xena... but well, at those times I was unfortunately completely clueless about Xena and the subtext... however, I have the chance now to offer my own humble thoughts on the issue and my own reconstruction of Xena and Gabrielle's love story.
So I wonder why episode 8 was such a milestone... maybe it had to do with those little details that had been hinted at in the previous episodes, which showed what a great and special friendship Xena and Gabrielle had... Maybe it had to do with the fact that there were, at those times (and nowadays) very few shows centred on a relationship between two women, let alone a lesbian relationship. Therefore, I think lesbians were particularly keen on finding representations of themselves on screen, and this little action show with such a charming couple of friends, who were travelling together and camping together and sharing so many adventures just proved to be the perfect show for them. And, for instance, the fact that Xena was shown to be just a tiny bit too jealous of Gabrielle and Phyleus sharing a bed in episode 7 could have helped a little...
Ironically, episode 8 was very straight. But at the same time, it showed one of the first goodbyes between Xena and Gabrielle, and one of the first expression of physical affection, and one of the first times that Gabrielle was afraid of losing Xena. Just too much for an avid lesbian spectator, waiting to discover any lesbian subtext out there! ;)

Monday, 2 July 2007


Another straight episode! Both Xena and Gabrielle hit it on with guys... and this time they are none other than Hercules and Iolaus! Well, that's handy: we have everyone in both shows sorted out. Have we? Well, maybe, but just a little bit queerer than it seemed... ;)

Well, another way of looking at this sort of episodes is: OK, OK, let's make them straight for a while, let's get over with it quickly, so that we can move on to more interesting stuff, such as... Xena and Gabrielle's relationship! Of course, the development of their friendship will be much deeper than any other story they will have.

And this episode, apart from providing a straight safe point, also gives us some crucial hints at what will become Xena and Gabrielle's eternal bond: their being soulmates. Is there a nicer summary than Gabrielle's words? (NB: This comes from Aristophanes's speech in Plato's Symposium. For some people, this myth is about the origin of people's different sexual orientation. We know how it applies to Xena and Gabrielle...):

G: “Once, a long, long time ago, all people had four legs and two heads. And then the gods threw down thunderbolts, and split everyone into two. Each half then had two legs and one head.But the separation left both sides with a desperate yearning to be reunited. Because they each shared the same soul. And ever since then, all people spend their lives searching for the other half of their soul."

Nothing to add to that!

The Titans

What a charming episode! It is one of the first to be centred around Gabrielle's character, her process of learning, and her friendship with Xena. There are many lessons learnt by Gabrielle on this episode: about the dangers of power, and the deceiving of appearances, and the fragility and strength of friendship. Along the way, we get to see Xena jealous for the first time! Gabrielle suggests that she can sneak into the Titans's cave and get the chant that will turn them back into stone-- but Xena does not want to even hear about it: too dangerous. Too risky: she does not want to lose Gabrielle. But Gabrielle thinks she just does not trust her, and she gets upset. And Xena is clever enough to keep quiet and give her time to realise why she did it. She seems very much in control, at this point. However, Gabrielle ends up spending the night with Phyleus (although in theory, nothing happened), and at the following morning, Xena sees them together... and we can see a flint of emotion on her face. Subtle and stoic, but it does affect her! Very telling. At the end of the episode, Xena tries to talk to Gabrielle about their small rift, and they make up:

X: “Why did you risk your life by going into that cavern alone?”
G: “I wanted to make up for what I did, so that you wouldnt hate me.”
X: “For your information, I could never hate you. Your heart’s always in the right place.”
G: “Even when I tried to rule the world with the Titans?”
X: “Everybody makes mistakes.”
G: “Well, what about when I got myself kidnapped so I could stop a war.”
X: “Hey, that took a lot of guts on your part.”
G: “What about when I, I got your horse’s reins tangled?”
X: “Look-- the point is, we’re friends. And, we shouldn't let things like that come between us. Come on. Gabrielle?”
G: “Yeah?”
X: “Don’t you ever touch my horse again.”
G: “Right.”