As I said in a previous post I started watching Xena: Warrior Princess while I was finishing up my Bachelor’s degree. I think I started watching it in either the end of April or the beginning of May. I recently finished it last week and have some opinions on this popular 90’s TV show that I was dedicated to for a month’ish.
For those of you who do not know what Xena; Warrior Princess is here is a brief overview of the show. Xena first aired as a spin-off to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 1995 and ran for 6 seasons until 2001. There are 134 episodes, 24 episodes in season 1 and 22 episodes per season after that, and the episodes range from 45-48 minutes a piece. The plot of Xena: Warrior Princess is that Xena, played the by beautiful and awesome Lucy Lawless, used to be a terrible war lord and has decided to change her ways and fight for the side of good with her best friend Gabrielle, played by the stunning and lovely Renee O’Connor. Since this show is in the genre of action/adventure and fantasy many of the episodes involve large fight scenes, mythological creatures, and gods.
When I first started watching Xena a flood of memories came rushing back to when I was little and Xena was still on TV. I did not watch Xena very often when I was little, but I do have memories of flipping though channels, seeing some lady kicking some serious booty, and of course I really liked that. As an adult I really like that too, I mean Xena is one serious badass who kicks the patriarchy’s ass all over the globe! Even though Xena is known for her kick ass nature she is also pretty wise and helpful throughout the series with her small powerful remarks like this , “Don’t let pride get in the way. You tried something … and you failed. It happens.” Although Gabrielle was the Bard of Potidaea and the more philosophical of the two Xena had a quiet strength about her. Things like “Alright, the rules of survival: #1. If you can run … run. #2. If you can’t run … surrender … then run. #3. If you’re outnumbered, let them fight each other while you run, four is where you talk your way out of it.” and ” I have many skills.” are quintessential Xena lines that are pretty awesome things. I now use “I have many skills.” in daily life, Thanks Xena!!
Watching season 1 was super entertaining and fun. I liked seeing the relationship between Xena and Gabby go from badass warrior who is trying to repent for her sins and the annoying girl who is following her around to crazy awesome badass and her best friend kicking butt all around ancient Greece. After finishing season 1 I made the plan to watch all 6 season of Xena. I figured since season 1 was good what could go wrong… and there is where my problems lie.
As I watched season 2 I really started to love watching Xena! Both her and Gabby are really good role models for all girls/women to be true to yourself and the people you love as well as to not take shit from anyone! I mean who wouldn’t love that?? I even loved all the other characters added into the show throughout both season 1 & 2. People like Calisto, Xena’s archenemy who’s one goal in life is to destroy Xena and everything she loves, Ares, God of War and Xena’s ex partner in war lording, Joxer, the goofy sidekick who claims to be a mighty warrior but is a timid boy, Autolycus, the king of thieves, and many more made the show much more complex and helped show the emotions of the main characters. Season 1 and 2 really are the best of the series and showcase everything the show is meant to be.
As season 3 started the show started taking a turn into the weird. Gabrielle has a devil baby that ages super quickly, there is a musical episode (which I am in no way opposed because musical episodes are golden: see Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Once More with Feeling) , and Gabrielle and Xena hate each other for a while. I did not hate this season but it is obvious that the series went down hill from this point. I did get really confused multiple times during season 3 and I feel as though the producers of the show were trying to pit Xena and Gabby against each other to show what each of them felt the greater good was. This may have worked for some people but in my opinion it was too early in the show to pit the main characters against each other.
Progressing past season 3 it is easy to see they started running out of ideas. Many episodes near the end of the seasons are set in present time are either extremely weird or dumb. Here are some examples of downright strange episodes of Xena:
- Season 4 episode 22 titled “Deja Vu All Over Again” is when an American woman named Annie (played by Lucy Lawless) thinks she is the reincarnated warrior princess so she goes to a shrink who specializes in past experience phenomenon’s. Annie’s husband Harry (played by Ted Raimi) doesn’t believe her but goes along to the meeting for moral support. The therapist (played by Renee O’Connor) helps Annie by showing her flash backs into her previous life and all three characters find out that they are part of the Xena legend.
- Season 5 episode 15 titled “Marries with Fish sticks” is an episode where Gabrielle is trying to stop Aphrodite and Discord from fighting which leads to her getting knocked unconscious into the ocean. She wakes up with no memory and is married to a Joxer look-a-like in an underwater 60’s themed world. To say this episode was cheesy is an understatement, I mean there were weird-looking sea creature children!!
- In season 6 episode 20 titled “Soul Possession” has the same characters from the season 4 episode above and it’s basically just as awful and out-of-place. In this episode a lost Xena scroll is found and the reincarnated Xena and Gabrielle must stop Ares from finding it in present day.
- Season 6 episode 16 is titled “Send in the Clones.” In this episode a scientist and a group of geeky Xena nerds have cloned Xena and Gabrielle and are wanting them to become present day superhero’s. However the scientist ends up being one of Xena’s reincarnated enemies who is plotting to return Xena into her Evil former self.
In all of these episodes and in many others I often find the plot to be extremely hokey and a deterrent from the original Xena storyline. A couple of things that were odd and that I am on the fence about would be the whole Norse story line that happened in season 6 (a.k.a. more weird story lines from the writers of the show) but I did like seeing the Norse mythology of Oden, the Rheingold, Beowulf, Grindl, etc. As well as the multiple characters identical to Xena. I liked when it happened the first time in season 1 but after that it got strange and messy. One look-a-like is enough for a tv series, having 5 is outrageous!
Along with all of the weirdness that happens between season 3 and 6 the final ending of the show was a major disappointment. XENA DIES! I know what you are thinking, “Carrie, How could you spoil that for us?!?” Well dear reader, the show has been out for 14 years and on Netflix for at least 2 so…you deserve the spoiler. Anyways, yes, Xena dies, and I mean, yes she does go out fighting when it happens but it was an all around lame ending. The 2 part series finale takes place in China where Xena must defeat a great evil (as per usual.) However, to defeat this evil she must die, which has happened to Xena more than once, but this time once she defeats the big bad she has to stay dead to protect all the souls she has saved. Once I heard that I was stupidly shocked! How could she leave Gabrielle to live her life without her? How is Gabrielle survive without her soul mate? These are questions you have when you watch a show about 2 people who love each other for 6 seasons. As the final minutes of the series pass we see Gabby on a boat with Xena next to her talking about where they will be going next and no matter where Gabrielle goes Xena will be with her. the last shot is of Gabrielle on the boat with no Xena next to her smiling. And That Is It. It was Dumb! I feel like if I was a fan who was watching this show while it was still on TV I would be pissed! How could the writers not kill off Gabrielle to so they could walk off into the sun together? Or why couldn’t they have brought Xena back, while saving all the souls, and made it so they would stay in China and keep helping out there.
Out of all the reoccurring bad guys Xena faces( Cesar, Alti, Ares, Dehawk, Oden) I truly loved Calisto, she is dangerous, beautiful, angry, and a total loon! I really loved seeing someone from Xena’s past come back and kick her ass.. I also loved that Xena did not know how to deal with Calisto entirely. Yes, Calisto was bad, but she was only bad because of Xena so how could Xena defeat Calisto without hurting someone who was slightly innocent. It was also great seeing Calisto’s character evolve from crazy woman to crazy god and then to evil devil pawn and lastly to an angel. It was one unique character transition.
All in all I am proud that I finished watching all of Xena, even if I had to power through some rough patches. I now have a greater appreciation for campy 90’s TV shows and a love of Lucy Lawless, not that I didn’t love her before! I especially liked seeing her on Parks and Rec and thinking of how much of a badass she is in that show without being a warrior princess.
I am thinking of watching a couple more shows she is in like Salem, or maybe even trying to watch Hercules now that I have seen the Xena side of the story. Let me know if you have seen either of these shows and if you would or would not recommend them.