“Two Sparrows in a Hurricane”
Friend in Need Reviewed
“Take me with you , teach me everything you know.”
“When I look at you I see the purest, the kindest person I have ever known, someone who’s full of wonder and stories and would never give up on anything or anyone.”
“ I want so much to be like you.”
“And I want to be like you.
“You talk about trying to find your way, but to me...you ARE my WAY.”
“I love you, Xena.”
“I love you too, Gabrielle.”
“You are my whole life Xena.”
“I finally realized what it was you gave me....a light of my own.”
“I fear what is done today, may not be undone.”
“Even in death Gabrielle... I will NEVER leave you.”
“A life of journeying has brought you to the farthest lands, to the very edges of the earth.”
“And to the place I will always remain - Your Heart.”
“Where you go, I’m at your side.”
“ Somehow, I knew you’d say that.”
This episode - A Friend in Need part 2 - It is the very last stitch in an intricate tapestry, who’s fabric reveals a story filled with the colorful adventures, love and courage, of two amazing women of ancient times - Xena and Gabrielle. Two lives who have taught us so very much, not through words but through example. This episode was the story of the final days of their first lifetime together.
I must say that all week after viewing FIN 1, I have honestly been dreading this last hour of Xena...but as with everything in life, the unexpected proved to be far greater than I ever could have imagined myself. A Friend in Need was perhaps one of the most incredible undertakings I have ever seen on television. It was shot with such detail, care, love and respect. It brought tears to my eyes over and over... it was intricate and beautiful! This episode said all that needed to be said, and did all that needed to be done. It’s story resembled a tiny tear balancing on the tip of a thorn. It was fierce and rough, yet gentle and beautiful all at the same time. Woven together with the skill of a master. With a love of both craft and characters. It was brilliant and as Lucy said - “defiant”.
Yes....we lost her. But... It was HER choice. Her choice of WHEN , her choice of HOW , and her choice of WHY.
It was also with Gabrielle’s consent, and accepting....and love.
This is why we all must accept this final chapter and know in our hearts that everything happened precisely as it should. Precisely.
And know also, that the girls will “Always”... ”Always”.... Be Together.
What follows is an injection of thought after I have written all I needed to write regarding this final episode, and I wanted to express it in this spot, at the beginning.
I cried many times while writing this piece. At first the bitterness and hurt after watching this episode blinded me. Then, as I moved through the story as a writer I began to see and feel and understand and recognize what a gift this episode truly was. After accepting the fact that both Xena and Gabrielle were absolutely content with the actions they took and the decision they made, I came to realize that the hurt, the loss, the disappointment inside of me, wasn’t for Xena or Gabrielle - but for myself. My loss of someone “I” loved and my dreary perception of a loneliness that simply wasn’t there.
We were given answers to questions that none of us wanted to face, but in time, (and there never would have been a good time for this), these questions would have been something we all would have wanted answers to, and it would have been too late to get them. We would never have known. Never. This particular subject and this particular ending, was something that Rob Tapert could not leave open to the bardic rivers of the Xenaverse...he couldn’t. It was too precious. And the End believe me, could have been much worse on the girls if its story were not placed in the loving hands of Rob Tapert.
He gave the girls every ounce of care, honor and respect they deserved, and made this first ending, of their most precious lifetime - perfect for them. And if we weren’t thinking so selfishly we could see that it was the perfect ending for us as well.
It was the story Rob Tapert started, the story he told and the story that he had every right to end. Just ask yourself....don’t you think you would have wanted to know when Xena or Gabrielle died. Who died first? How did it happen? If Xena died first, what were her last thoughts, was she being tortured, was she helpless or full of fury? Was it her choice or not? Did she die the way she wanted and with dignity and who killed her? Where was Gabrielle? Did Gabrielle see the end? Did she blame herself for Xena’s death and how did she cope with the loss? Was she distraught and crushed and did the light inside of her go out? What? Where did Xena’s spirit go after she died and could she communicate with Gabrielle. Did Xena really stay with Gabrielle even in death, like she said she would? What? Did the two girls get to say goodbye? Was one left in utter darkness and despair? Did Xena ever finally allow herself redemption before her life was over? Did Gabrielle finally put all the pieces together in her life and did she ever find her way before Xena left her? Did they end up together forever...even in death? Don’t you guys think you would have wanted to know? Don’t you think you would have wanted it to all work out for the girls just the way Rob Tapert so painstakingly made it so?
Rob Tapert had only so many pages upon which to write what he wanted to say lastly, regarding the journey of Xena and Gabrielle. There is no guarantee a movie will ever be made, for life is full of many twists. This was it. He ended this ancient journey with the same care and love with which this great story was told. For this I thank him. And I thank him for the answers to questions that I would have never have found the courage or right time to ask, but would have needed to have known.
And ask yourself this....If it were you a top that mountain with the girls that day, knowing their decision and acceptance, and YOU had been given the power to make the final call. Would you have honestly had Xena live on? Would you have condemned 40,000 souls, to have Xenas’ life extended to make yourself feel better?
When you try to answer this with all honesty....you might just come to the same realization I did after writing this piece.
“That perhaps I should come to expect more from myself - And nothing less, from them.”
“In a flurry of snow...
two breaths of wind unite
and become as one...and
then disappear into each other.” - Akemi
And so the story goes...
Xena kneels in the misted forest and like so very long ago in a Once Upon a Time beginning, our Warrior Princess buries her armor with a heavy heart. It is quiet, she glances one last time at her sword and then places it atop her armor and with her Chakram, spreads the darkened soil over top of the old friends. The Chakram however is slid into its familiar resting place at its master’s side.
In the misted canopy of the forest, the first rays of early light break through the trees and shine down upon the warrior, silhouetting her form, as she stands alone in the light of her last sunrise during this life. She stands tall and heroic and is no longer of the dark - she is of the light - and it joins with her, and she with it...and they become one. And so it came to pass in this final episode that Xena’s life was to be represented by the light of the sun and her time with us dictated by its’ passing. The sun was Gabrielle’s focal point in saving Xena’s life, the sun was Xena’s timekeeper, and its golden presence throughout this episode also represented her essence, her life.
THE DRUMS BEGIN TO BEAT.
And so the day begins. Xena moves into combat, her senses heightening with each and every step, sensing her enemy, and the DRUMS BEGIN TO BEAT in a slow rhythm....like a heartbeat, for this is what they are meant to represent. The beating of Xena’s heart. Acknowledging each and every last moment of Xena’s life. Each beat sounding to us as the moment draws near. Xena senses the army’s presence and listens to the sounds behind the sounds and puts together the puzzle of the monster which lies waiting beyond the mist. THE DRUMS BEAT FASTER.
Gabrielle, far away...stops in mid step as if sensing something. Recent images of Xena flash through her mind without her beckoning. The picture is clear. She says Xena’s name...
Xena finds a target in her mind and reaches for her Chakram for the last time and releases it as she always has....and it goes seemingly guided by her will...as it has always done, and it meets its far away mark and then returns to it’s masters’ skillful hand. The final throw. The catalyst erupts in an immense explosion and the battle is on! THE DRUMS BEAT HARDER AND FASTER. Xena runs toward her enemy and preys on them like a silent panther in the night. She knows she will face thousands and yet she has not lost an ounce of courage. As if like the wind itself a barrage of arrows starts to bombard the Warrior Princess...yet she moves forward into them, deflecting them, catching them...like she always does.... She is struck. Yet she moves forward. They keep coming. She is struck again. The pace quickens, the DRUMS BEAT LOUDER AND FASTER... Xena moves forward.
Gabrielle, hearing and seeing the explosion at the exact moment of her realization....yells Xena’s name into the forest. Her face is frantic. Her instincts fired and knotted. She runs.
Xena is struck and as each arrow penetrates...she simply breaks off the tip and moves on....uncaring... focusing on her target. The arrows keep coming, and so now does the army of a thousand strong. Xena grasps her sword tightly and moves with unrelenting courage into a sea of Samurai warriors. She fells them one by one by one...undeterred...her darkness building inside her...her skills at their very heightened best. She is the best! THE DRUMS POUND. She is the greatest of all Warriors. THE DRUMS POUND FASTER. She is a hero. More men fall. She is a mother. More men fall. THE DRUMS POUND HARDER, FASTER. She is a great leader. More men fall in the fury. She is a mentor, a teacher, a best friend......she calls out Gabrielle’s name! She swings, and swings her energy buckling....she fights harder....she calls out Gabrielle’s name again, filling her mind with thoughts only of her soul mate. THE DRUMS BEAT ON... Xena fights. “Gabrielle!” She senses the moment. Xena stops, chooses HER time, and stares straight into the eyes of a nameless warrior. She chooses now. And with Gabrielle in her mind and heart...she allows him the fatal blow. THE DRUMS STOP BEATING.
This is where the episode immediately broke off to commercial. The bluntness. <I hit pause> Xena was dead. We just watched our Warrior Princess die. My god! I felt my heart sink and my gut knot. She was gone in an instant....one swipe. “Xena”. I muttered. The end was so blunted by the commercial. I just sat there stunned...empty...gob smacked! “Xena”.
Then I continued...thinking my heart was going to get peeled like an onion. <play>
Calling Xena’s name, Gabrielle rushes into the quiet battleground. Something is wrong and she knows it, but won’t let the thought linger. She quickly comes across the Chakram resting in pooled blood, as if waiting. It is lifted from the place of Xena’s last stand by Gabrielle’s hand, and it is cleaned and carried off with trust and care. Gabrielle is scared. She searches. The Chakram knows...it... just... knows.
This is where the episode shifts gears and idles down beautifully. We are taken from a fast, furious and ugly place of Xena’s death....and quickly shown Xena arriving in a very peaceful place full of tranquillity....or so it seems. TPTB were brilliant in giving us no time to really feel the brunt of Xena’s death before showing us that she was alright and in a good place, finally meeting up with Akemi, the one person who so long ago, taught Xena how to love. I felt better at once, as was the intention. Xena looked content and happy at seeing her dear friend Akemi. But she is also sensing a difference in this journey to the underworld. Akemi tells her that her body is only a projection provided by Yodoshi and as long as you have it - you are at his will.
“Will?” you say? Old Yodoshi is about to get a big dose of some big time “will” ,only he doesn’t know it yet First....Xena must cast a veil. The bell rings, and Yodoshi is summoned and he comes like a stalker and bursts upon the scene greeting Xena violently to show his dominance over her. (ya right!) Xena does not fight back. Instead she does what Lao Ma taught her long ago - she shows submission to her enemy. But this was not to heal...this was to conceal. Yodoshi suspects nothing. Xena is going to destroy him. The plan is set into motion. Xena heads into the forest.
Gabrielle meanwhile, is still maintaining that Xena is still alive and continues to search the forest for her. Gabrielle will NOT be swayed. Xena, followed by Yodoshi’s girl, moves quickly through the forest as well. The forest is portrayed as a very peaceful setting at this moment...both girls are moving through it, but neither with direction...one in the spiritual realm and one in the living realm. Yet. They end up face to face, startled at the fact. It was if their souls new the direction and sought each other through instinct. They embrace, Gabrielle’s’ relief evident...and Xena assures her she is Al right.
Xena tells Gabrielle that she is going to kill the “Lord of the Dark Land”. Gabrielle holds out Xena’s Chakram, returning it to her as she has done on so many other occasions... “You’ll need this then.” Xena reaches for her weapon but her hand passes right through it. She cannot take it. Gabrielle takes a step back, realizing that Xena is dead. Her eyes well up... “How could you let yourself be killed?”
Xena feels Gabrielle’s ache. “Sorry Gabrielle. I couldn’t tell you, you would have tried to stop me - then we’d both be dead.” Gabrielle looks at her friend with pain filled eyes. Xena then tells her the whole story and reason behind her having to die to become a ghost. She also tells her soul mate that she hopes to return to life...to her.
Gabrielle pulls Xena close... “You are my whole life Xena - I won’t lose you.”
Boy, couldn’t you just feel your heart start to tighten again as you watched these two women who loved each other so much. This was NOT going well. I felt so bad for Gabrielle. But there was hope, at least for me, since I ‘m not a” spoiler freak”. Xena could come back. Both Gabrielle and I chose to believe that.
The ghost killer, Harukata, comes upon them and immediately Gabrielle swirls to protect Xena from him, the bard not privy to the plan yet. Through tear filled eyes she says in a formidable whisper... “Don’t you touch her.” (God I love those moments, when one of the girls is so protective of the other.) Gabs is made privy to the plan and in a flash Xena pounces on Yodoshi’s lurking fembod and sends her flying to her demise into the sword of the ghost slayer. It was good to see that Xena still had her special touch.
Now the next scenes were so beautiful and very meaningful to Xena. She was allowed, in this small window of time and circumstance, to unite the two women who are her soul mates and changed her life. Akemi was Xena’s spiritual soul mate who taught her to love, and Gabrielle is Xena’s life soul mate, who taught her to live. (And yes, I wished Lao Ma were there too! She was Xena’s spiritual mentor) And on this tiny bridge, in a set reminiscent of a painting, the two women met for the first time. And I loved that for the first time (I think) Xena called Gabrielle her soul mate.
“This is my soul mate - she’s a poet just like you Akemi.” The two women’s eyes met.
The moment was interrupted my Harukata and Kenji, there was the important matter of Xena’s return to life to address, and time was of the essence. Harukata posed a question to Gabrielle.
“I have one question. Would you risk your life for the return of hers?”
“Without Hesitation.” - G
Xena then brought Akemi to the middle of the bridge to meet Gabrielle. “The bridge” being very symbolic here, in that it represented the bridging together of two otherwise separate beings. In fact in the living realm...the real bridge between Akemi and Gabrielle was Xena.
Akemi bowed to Gabrielle “It is an honor to meet you at last.” Now, I can see that some of you might have been confused by Akemi’s use of the words “at last”. But remember back to FIN 1, from the very first moment that Akemi and Xena met, Akemi knew many things about the Warrior Princess. For just as Xena could be in tune with the sounds of nature and sensed things acutely.... Akemi was acutely in touch with places and beings that other people couldn’t detect. Akemi knew when Xena was coming for her, she knew Xena would protect her and grow to love her... and... She knew that one day Xena would be a great teacher. That meant she knew of Gabrielle. In this meeting, Akemi gifted Gabrielle with a special force in the form of a tattoo, I think of a Dragon, “a protector”, which she etched onto Gabrielle’s back and leg. This would turn out to be one of two great things that Akemi did for Xena and Gabrielle before the end of this episode.
Gabrielle was then filled in on what would be required of her to get Xena’s life and body back. She must find Xena’s body and take its’ ashes to place in the Fountain of Strength, atop sacred Mount Fuji. Which is 12, 388 ft high I might ad. Geeeezz! Her task was daunting, and she had only until sunset tomorrow to save Xena’s life. In parting, she vows to Xena that she WILL get her body back, and she WILL see her again on the slopes of Mt. Fuji.
It was at this point that each girl had a daunting task ahead of them. Xena was left to plot Yodoshi’s demise with the others. And Gabrielle had set out to find Xena’s body, a task, unbeknownst to her, that would bring the young warrior to her knees and challenge her inner strengths to her very core.
In the dark of the night, in the pouring rain and with fierce determination, Gabrielle enters the compound, which holds Xena’s body. She deftly disposes of the guards in a very Xena-like fashion and begins to search the compound. Almost without warning, Xena’s naked strung up body is revealed in the lighted fury of the sky and Gabrielle, who has seen it all...is brought to her knees at the sight of her best friend. She gasps, and fights within herself to maintain control, the storm beats against her. I thought this scene was filmed with the greatest atmosphere. The darkness, the hard rain, the thunder and the lightening, together creating the darkened, sad backdrop for this impacting moment. Tears made more significant by the pouring rain. Xena’s body lit by thunderbolts...it was all so raw. Gabrielle steeled herself and focused, and rose up into the rain drawing her sword, turned, and shouted into the storm... “Give me her head!” The rain fell. Xena’s body fell. Tears fell.
A warrior emerged and challenged Gabrielle expecting her to avenge Xena’s death. He taunted her with his enjoyment in killing her friend, and spoke further of Xena’s formidable skills. Gabrielle laughed in his face and told him he was a coward and a fraud and that he only killed Xena because SHE LET HIM. He laughed at Gabrielle. (god, if he only knew ..schmuck!)
The scene to follow was a very, very important moment for Gabrielle. She was up against a Samurai Warrior.... she needed to bring it all together right here and now. Gabrielle knew she was the only thing bridging Xena and her physical life. The very life that taught her everything she needed for this very moment. She focused and listened to Xena inside her...she pulled it all in....put it all together. - A distant echo whispered through the rain - “Teach me everything you know.” - Her instincts rose up inside her, ready for the challenge... focused... intensely concentrated. This was Gabrielle’s’ defining moment as a Warrior. She absorbed her surroundings, becoming one with them, her senses brought to razor sharpness... body ready...waiting...she listened....she felt.... Nothing could move without her knowing. Nothing. He struck! Gabrielle “acted”, not reacted. Her sword in a flash lay against the Samurai's neck. The Samurai, beaten and dishonored, asks her to remove his head and let him die with honor...this the man who killed her best friend, her soul mate. What would she do? This .... was...the... .moment. Who was she to become...we waited... The rain fell.
In that space in time....Gabrielle the Warrior... chose life.
Atta girl Gabrielle.
With that “one single decision” the bard, the queen, the warrior... completed herself.
In those few moments, the skill, the instinct and finally the code - were united. She was defined. Gabrielle had found herself, and the direction she would follow as a warrior. A great warrior, tempered with the light, not the darkness. She... chose... life. ( Welcome back Gabrielle.)
A sea of warriors opened a pathway for Gabrielle. There sat Xena’s head, seemingly at peace and cleansed by the rain. (Okay, is it just me, or does Lucy even look gorgeous decapitated..I mean, does the woman ever look bad?) Um...sorry....little break there....okay where was I...oh yeah... Gabrielle gently bundled Xena’s body and set out into the rain soaked night toward the sacred Mt. Fuji in her quest to restore Xena’s life.
I would just like to inject something at this point, something I thought was incredibly ingenious about the way this episode was written. I don’t know if any of you realized it or not, but this episode was written in such a way and with such care, that it did not allow, or entice you, to mourn Xena until the very end. Remember she died very early on in the episode. Yet aside from the exact moment of her death, I found I did not consciously mourn Xena at all until the very last scenes. I am amazed at this. It was a brilliant piece of writing that swept us quickly to Xena’s tranquil arrival on the other side and had our Warrior Princess not skip a scowling attitude - kick buttin' beat. In no time, she was united with Gabrielle and able to talk to her and hold her, just as before. She made plans, kicked butt , took control, lost control and interacted with Gabrielle just as she has always done in the heat of any mission. And when she regained her strength near the end and appeared once again as our powerful Warrior Princess in her armor and then kicked some major Yodoshi butt in all the trademark Xena ways...wow! I was right there, totally into it, totally oblivious to the fact that she was dead. This was all done on purpose. It was meant to have that affect on us, to reduce the sadness and the reality. It was a brilliant piece of writing and brilliantly executed. I’m very impressed, and also very thankful that they cared enough to do this for us.
Okay...where was I....right....
Back at the teahouse...Xena’s plan to trap Yodoshi was set into motion and just as quickly as it began and seemed to be successful....all hell broke loose in the ol' teahouse and it was evident Yodoshi’s power and fury was greatly underestimated. (It seems someone has been sipping from the Fountain of Strength.) Don’ t ya hate that! Well things took a bad turn. The ghost killer did not have the strength to combat that of Yodoshi’s, and it was left to Xena to battle her way out of another jam and it got ugly! She fought with all her might to protect her friends and even managed to seriously injure Yodoshi, but she did not have the power bestowed, to kill him. In the end only Xena and Akemi would remain alive. Xena looked worried... <the scene flashes>
It was night.
In a darkened scene, flames strike up in a pitch-black forest lighting Gabrielle’s face, and we see she has ignited Xena’s pyre. I found this cut from Xena’s face - to the flames - to that of Gabrielle illuminated in its light... to be very significant.
You’ll remember near the beginning I commented that Xena’s “life” in this episode would come to be represented by “the golden light of the sun.” We first experienced this connection when Xena stood in the early morning rays of sunlight on her last morning. The “light” in this scene represented her in “life”. The “light” from the flames of her burning pyre, came to represent her in “death”. Then following, the “light” from the sun, came to represent her in “spirit.”
As Gabrielle stood golden, in the light of Xena’s burning pyre - “I cannot let you die.” - a soft thought. Then images of Xena and old words, rolled through her mind. “If I have only 30 seconds to live... this is how I want to live them - looking into your eyes.” “Even in death Gabrielle, I will Never leave you.”
Gabrielle speaks into the flames... “You will return to me my friend.” Oh that music....
Gabrielle’s hand slowly closes the lid on the urn. The scene fades away...
Xena cradles Harukata’s head in her lap (and yes it was still attached to his body. Ya never know in this episode.) Just before his death, Harukata fights to express his words and tells Xena that she must also drink from the Fountain of Strength on Mt Fuji, which will give her the power to distract Yodoshi and get close enough to kill him. Thus releasing all the souls from Yodoshi’s enslavement. The sword was blessed by Harukata and ready to go. It was now up to Xena to kill Yodoshi and free all of their souls.
Okay, this all seemed pretty run of the mill for our Warrior Princess... Come to the rescue, kill the bad guy, free the souls, say goodbye to Akemi and then get to the fountain just in time to meet Gabrielle and get your life back. No problem! At least that’s what we were all intended to think at this point.... but did you see the looks on both Akemi’s and Xena’s faces. It was just after Harukata had died. His death changed everything for Xena. If you look now, in retrospect you can see the exact moment Xena came to a painful realization, and Akemi also, she looked at Xena with such a painful love, like she felt so bad for Xena at the turn of events, and now, we all know why. If you really look hard at this scene you can see the hints that told us that something really important had changed, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it and figure it out. That was the intention. This scene was set up so that we could sense something heavy had happened but we were not given enough information to process and figure out and it didn’t seem all that important, because it was hidden beneath the main plot. “This scene” was meant to reveal the plot and to “conceal” the twist... the biggest twist in the whole episode as a matter of fact. A twist that could ONLY be revealed at the end.
You see, Xena was never meant to kill Yodoshi. That was not why she was a ghost in the underworld. She was there to use her exceptional skill and experience to execute a plan to trap Yodoshi in such a way that Harukata could get close enough to kill the mighty soul stealer. Harukata was always the chosen one destined to kill Yodoshi, release the enslaved souls and avenge them against the wrong they were done by being captured and enslaved by Evil Lord. No one ever expected Xena to return to these lands. Ever! She was not the one expected or chosen to avenge those 40,000 souls. It was Harukata. But when he died all that changed. She was it. And she knew it. So did Akemi.
This whole thing was not about redemption for Xena. It was ALL about correcting a wrong and freeing those souls and having those souls rest in a place of peace. She vowed she would not rest until the deed was done.
Now right here didn’t ya just get a feelin' things weren’t playin' out too well.... blah...
Atop Mt Fuji a spear hits the side of Gabrielle’s’ horse and they tumble. Our friendly neighborhood Samurai stood poised for attack on the rocks. The Sun was passing overhead. Gabrielle, urn in hand stood braced. “I will not allow you to find the fountain and revive your friend.” Well.... those were sure the wrong words to say to her weren’t they? This guy HAS to go! Gabrielle managed to fight this guy quite adeptly with urn in hand. This was quite reminiscent of a certain warrior who often fought off thugs while carrying a load. Well... eventually the urn went sailing to the upper deck with the two warriors in tow. Gabrielle (kudos to Renee for this scene) kicked major butt...um...or face! You Go Girl! Oh..oh... The urn was knocked over the cliffs edge and her friend’s fate rested on a ledge below. The plot thickens. The sun passes further in the sky. Okay! Is nothing going to go right here! This is NOT good.
Yodoshi meanwhile, unlocks the fountain waters, eager to heal himself, but as the water gathers Xena quite suddenly appears and sends Yodo flying into the nearby rocks. He is battered, and losing strength rapidly. Xena waits beneath the fountain for the water to fall - the pool fills, come on, come on.... flowing over, come on... and down the fall toward the waiting Xena Yes! Aaaaah... Yodoshi freezes the flow just before it reaches Xena’s mouth and he blasts her far into the air, Xena yells and lands crashing into the rocks. She is broken and weak. This isn’t going well at all. The sun begins it’s slow descent toward the horizon. Please don’t set. Please don’t set. Please don’t set.
Gabrielle hears Xena cry out and is torn only for a few breaths between Xena’s ashes and Xena herself. She rushes to find her soul mate knowing Xena’s life remains on the ledge below.
Yodoshi barley able to move notices shards of ice from the fountain lying near him but before he can reach it, Akemi rushes her father with his own sword. She is cast back violently....
Gabrielle finds her battered soul mate near the Fountain and rushes to her side... Time is both the friend and enemy at this point. Xena smiles through her pain at the sight of her friend and struggles to talk... Everything is reaching a real peak now! Xena struggles to ask Gabrielle for water from the Fountain of Strength...
Yodoshi places the ice in his mouth....
Gabrielle runs toward the fountain and places her hand into the water...
Yodoshi rises up against the sky, his power restored. Now here is where Akemi truly shows her love for Xena. She knew the stakes, and the burden that now lay upon Xena’s shoulders, and in trying to kill her father, Akemi fought to release Xena of this enormous sacrifice. For the one who kills Yodoshi would also be the one to avenge the wrong of Yodoshi’s wrath against the souls. But Akemi, armed only with a determined heart, was simply no match for her Evil father and as she fought, her courage gave Xena and Gabrielle the greatest gift - the gift of “time.”
If she hadn’t have been there, then the whole thing would have crumbled and all would have been lost. It was her diversion of Yodoshi that gave Gabrielle enough time to get to the water and place it in her mouth. So even though Akemi CAUSED Xena and Gabrielle to be in this mess in the first place, which I’m not sure I’ve forgiven her for yet. She did redeem herself in twice giving them what was needed to save their ...ah.. “life” in Gabrielle’s case, and.. um... “spirit life” ...I guess... in Xena’s case. Geeez! Complicated.! Okay...
Yodoshi breathed in the last of Akemi's soul then turned toward the fountain and Gabrielle, unleashing a powerful force of energy hard into her back. The music, this scene, the slow motion, it was amazing! “The Dragon” Akemi gave Gabrielle, I’d forgotten about the dragon. As the force hit Gabrielle, it seemed to absorb Yodoshi’s blast and the Dragon power came to life, breathing out a fire of such intensity, that it sent Yodoshi crushed and broken into the rocks. Gabrielle then recovered and staggered toward Xena.
Okay everyone... breath... breath...
Okay, where was I....oh.... oh.... oh!! This part!!! “The Kiss” That wonderfully brilliant “kiss”. Thank you Rob Tapert!
I had to applaud TPTB when I saw this scene. They actually pulled it off!!! It was ingenious and a monumental gesture toward the fans.
Gabrielle dropping the water of strength into Xena’s mouth with a long, slow motion, multi-angled, lingering kiss. This was a masterpiece! And they managed it without rippling any waters in the multi-faceted fandom. Brilliant!! They must have racked there brains trying to come up with that one! Slam Dunk!
Now you don’t think I’m going to let this moment pass without telling you that this
“kiss” had a huge symbolic meaning for Xena and Gabrielle...
When Gabrielle staggered over to her injured soul mate and placed her lips upon Xena’s, releasing the “water of strength” in a loving kiss.... this whole scene stood to symbolize the “Strength” each woman has always given the other... and the “Love” from which that strength had always come.
“ One Kiss” - A thousand words melted down to two...
Strength and Love
Xena’s eyes fluttered open, and she whispered Gabrielle’s’ name in a tone so familiar from so many scenes over the years. Then! Xena was pulled up and in a magnificent super-heroic, ta daaaa! kinda thing... Our Warrior Princess was back!! Yeah! That’s our girl! That’s our girl! Xena stood in her full leathered armor, all her strength returned to her. God I loved this scene. Wow! In this one moment Xena was Glorified. She was Huge! Legendary, Heroic, and you just wanted to stand and cheer. Right outta the movies!! Awesome! And Gabrielle just looked at her... like wow! That was cool!
Now it’s crunch time. Gabrielle handed Xena the sacred sword and glanced at the setting sun, concerned with retrieving Xena’s ashes... but... Xena’s reaction and attempt at trying to tell Gabs something gave me the distinct impression that something definitely was NOT right! aaah man. Was Gabs a bat in her last life... because she is sure left in the dark a lot!
Before Xena could let Gabrielle in on the bad news, Yodoshi let be known he wanted to rumble! The big man was about to get a Big Dose! of our Warrior Princess. “Do NOT make me Zap you.!” Anyway...Xena had to go...and Gabrielle beat for the ashes, the rays of the setting sun on her path.
The next scenes were all SFX, and Lucy doing what Lucy does best! These “fight scenes’ were meant to be the mother of all the Warrior Princess fight scenes. It was all Xena! One Hundred Percent. Full on, classic Xena, in full on Battle mode with all the classic moves, all the classic looks and my favorite... our girl standing poised in front of a wall of flames... yeah! Did you notice the hair was old Xena, not pulled back at all. Right out of the credits! What a fantastic treat for all the fans. It was her last stand and a helluva one at that! We’ll never forget you Xena!
Meanwhile, back on the branch... Gabrielle stood balanced against the cliff as she tried to reach Xena’s ashes, and in true moviedom style... Just as Xena thrust her sword deep into Yodoshi’s gut.... Gabrielle kicked the urn free and caught it in the air. Okay... things are back on track here. I think!
Xena threw her body into one more rounding powerful swing of her sword, and slashed Yodoshi’s head from his body and he fell dead to the ground. From his body came the white wisps of souls, released from their darkness, and each passed by Xena.... free at last...
Gabrielle stopped dead on the ledge near the Fountain of Strength, her form outlined in the light of the setting sun at her back. The water fell long from the pool and at it’s base stood “you know who”, still crying over his spilt honor.
Gabrielle looked back at the sun and then to the warrior.
He spoke, “I deserve the dignity of a warrior.”
“Dignity huh?”. A hand clasped around cold steel. “Like you showed my friend.”
And with those words Gabrielle threw the Chakram for the very first time, and as it felled the man who took her best friends life... all that was Xena, had been given to Gabrielle.
As Gabrielle watched, the Chakram turned back. It knew. And in the golden essence of Xena’s light, the Chakram made its way back into the only hands in this living world, worthy of its hold. This scene was just so meaningful, and it just seemed like the essence of Xena was all around Gabrielle in the golden light. Gabrielle’s eyes went from the Chakram held tightly in her hand... to the slain warrior... to the sun. Such a connection.
Time was running out..
Xena watched as the souls swirled around in release. Then Akemi’s soul appeared and called Xena’s name.
“Xena... You’ve redeemed me..... You’ve redeemed them... You’ve redeemed yourself!’
“Go in peace Akemi.” “We’ll meet again... one day.”
Xena’s reaction to Akemi speaking of Xena’s own redemption, told the tale. It was never something Xena had sought in this whole thing. But in righting the wrong, it was something Xena was given.
With Xena’s lack of expressing release in being given redemption by Akemi, this made me think that Xena allowed herself THIS redemption with regards to all the souls she had just avenged, but she still did not allow herself redemption for all the lives she had taken in her lifetime. All she cared about in this mission was the fact the souls were released and her wrong was righted. And she would have been on her merry way if Harukata hadn’t died.
I really don’t think Xena ever thought she could do enough good in her lifetime to make up for all the pain and suffering she had caused. But she did have one thing left to give...
First lets clarify some words so we are all on the same playing field here.
“Redeem” - to make good.
“Redemption” - to be free from the consequence of wrong doing.
“Avenging” - to inflict punishment in return for, or take vengeance on behalf of ones self or another.
“Vengeance” - To inflict injury as a punishment for a wrong or injury.
Many people think that Xena’s decision to stay dead was the ultimate action to redeem herself. This wasn’t it at all. NOT AT ALL. This decision was not about redemption or even being avenged for that matter. It was about a “realization.”
First I just want to say that it was “Yodoshi” NOT Xena, who inflicted the wrong done to those 40,000 souls. Xena did not harm the souls themselves in any way, but she was was responsible however, for taking the “lives” of those souls in the living world. So it was the “wrong’ Yodoshi inflicted on the souls by enslaving them, that Xena was actually avenging. I think. So if Harukata had lived, the fact that Xena helped to trap Yodoshi and right the wrong, would have been enough to redeem her in this circumstance. But! Harukata died. The ‘Avenging thing” was originally not her burden to bear. It was Harukata’s. You want to know how I know this.... because way back on the bridge at the teahouse where everybody came together, Akemi, Harukata and the monk were all very keen to make sure that Gabrielle set out ASAP to do everything they told her to do, so Xena could get her life back in the end. It was not their intention at the time, that Xena stay dead. But Harukata died. Now the burden fell upon Xena, and because “she” killed Yodoshi - avenging the souls. “She” also had to be the one to stay dead if they were to pass to a place of peace. Or they would all be lost forever. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it!
So what I’m saying with all this is that after Xena killed Yodoshi, she righted her own wrongs from long ago, AND she “avenged” the souls against Yodoshi’s wrong doings. So she had done her original part in all this, PLUS she did Harukata’s as well. The wrongs were righted, Yodoshi was dead, the souls were avenged and released, and Xena was free of the consequences of her wrong doing. That’s it! She was free to walk away. No more guilt. No more obligation.
And this brings me to Xena’s decision to stay dead.
It was now Xena’s turn to take all she had learned from Gabrielle, and put it all together...
Xena’s decision was not made to seek redemption. She had that. It was NOT an act of guilt - it was and act of enormous Honor and Integrity. She could have walked away, but she didn’t. For the first time in her life, Xena found herself in a place “beyond redemption”. This was a place she could show the true colors of her heart without past burden. So when 40,000 souls needed to be saved from being lost forever... Xena looked within to the new person she had become, and did the Final, the Good, the Right thing.
She decided to give the greatest gift any living being could give of themselves - Their Life.
It was then that Xena found peace. Just as Akemi had predicted so long ago.
Redemption or not.
And so this brings me to Gabrielle at the fountains edge and the gentle hand that came to wrap around hers, and the urn, and pull them back from the water.
I’ve decided I’m not going to taint these scenes by trying to paint them with my words. These last scenes were so beautifully done, with every moment bearing its own meaning. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to watch them without a single tear, but that will be a long time coming. I love the “setting” and the intimacy of these scenes and I loved the fact that Gabrielle said she “didn’t care”, when referring to those 40,000 souls. This told me that for Gabrielle too... Xena came before the Greater Good. But Gabrielle was to fight her own legacy on this one. Xena had learned too much from her, and in doing so, Xena had come full circle within her heart from the darkest depths of hatred and violence to the lighted world of love and forgiveness. And in listening to her heart... Xena finally knew peace. This was Gabrielle’s gift to her.
“But if there was a reason for our travels together it is because “I” had to learn from “YOU” enough to know the final, the good, the right thing to do.”
“I love you, Xena.” “How am I supposed to go on without you?”
“I’ll always be with you Gabrielle.” “...Always.”
And so the sun set, and with it ... Xena’s physical life was gone.
But her spirit remained, heart and soul.
“A life of journeying has brought you to the farthest lands, to the very edges of the earth.”
“And to a place I will always remain - Your heart.”
“Where you go... I’m at your side. “
“Somehow, I knew you’d say that.”
Now TPTB made a real effort here to show that Gabrielle was okay. She was smiling and seemed very content and proud of her soul mates life. They also made a real effort to show that Xena was right there at Gabrielle’s side, just as she said she would be. But then TPTB blew that whole image all to hell when in that final scene, they showed her down on the boat all alone. This scene rips me to pieces and it is the hardest one to watch for me in the whole episode. But then... as the camera pans back, I see something. It’s the sun, a big beautiful rising sun, and Gabrielle’s ship turns toward it and sails into it’s light. It was then that I felt Xena was with her.
But besides all that gooey stuff, there is another reason I know Xena is with her.
Xena said she would be. Simple.
I mean if any of you doubt this you are on “nutbread”. Think of who we are talking about here. I mean you can’t possibly think that Xena is not at Gabrielle’s side at this very moment. Look at the last six years and the world they live in, the places they’ve been...I mean NOT run of the mill. We’ve watched Xena kick butt from Hell to Heaven and everything in between. If the woman says she’s going to “always” be with Gabrielle, then she is going to “always” be with Gabrielle.
I mean our Warrior Princess just finished kicking the butt of the baddest, meanest force in her realm....what or who’s going to stop her from staying with her soul mate. Huh? Who and what army! I’m mean really people you know Xena and Gabrielle better than that. Not even a change of fates and completely separate lives could keep those two souls apart. So what’s with the doubt here people?
Gabrielle IS NOT ALONE!
Geeeezz.... she was smiling for god’s sakes. Xena is there! Xena is there! Trust me.
Here’s another hint, remember when Xena said goodbye to Akemi? You’ll notice she said “we’ll meet again... one day.” “ONE DAY” being the optimum words here. Xena didn’t say soon, or after I talk to Gabrielle, or see ya later at the inn....NO She said “one day” which meant she was staying in this realm, the realm closest to the “living realm”, closest to Gabrielle. Remember also that Harukata told Xena that the person who would trap Yodoshi, had to be a ghost. So Xena became a ghost. Her soul did not pass over with the others if you’ll notice.
Let’s get another thing clear here. Xena was only required to give her “life.” to avenge all those souls. Her physical self - was her “life.” She did not lose her heart and soul and her connection with Gabrielle. She is a GHOST. And just so we are clear a “Ghost” is :- (to quote the dictionary) “the spirit of a dead person. It is supposed to live in another world and appear to living people as a pale, dim, shadowy form, a faint image. So really Xena is just another Patrick Swayze, if you catch my drift.
Really... The only thing separating Xena and Gabrielle is - A sliver of time.
One soul will always wait for the other, and together they will pass to their next lives... Arminestra and Shakti... Mel and Janice... Annie and Mattie...
You see! Xena and Gabrielle will always be together. Always!
If there’s ONE THING you should believe in when you walk away from this show... It’s that.
I have not a speck of doubt.
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide eyed fears...
I’m here... nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears...
I’m here with you, beside you,
To comfort and to guide you...
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light.
Your safe no one will find you,
Your fears are far behind you...
Say the word and I will follow you...
Share each day with me... each night
... each morning.
Anywhere you go... Let me go to.
Love me... That’s all I ask of you.
Oh... and I did over hear this before the credits rolled up...
On the boat....
<Gabrielle turns to walk across the boat> <she stops>
“Do you feel that?” - G
“Yes” - Xena says quietly
“What is it? - G
“It’s me... your stand..” - X <Gabrielle interupts>
<Gabrielle smiles> “mmm... It feels warm, like the sun on my face.” - G
<Xena smiles lightly> <Gabrielle steps forward then stops suddenly...>
“Xena, I just realized something! “ I’m stuck with ALL the camp chores now, the cooking, the cleaning, the firewood and oh..aaah... all the hunting and fis...
<Xena cuts her off> “yeop... I think I’m going to grow to like this ghost stuff.”
“oh, ya will, will ya?” - G
“How about I go fishing today...” - G
“That be great!” - X
“And how about I cut their little heads off with this Chakrum... huh?”
<Xena growls> “You wouldn’t........Gabrieeelle”
“oh yeaaah”. “Slice aaaand Dice” “Perfect!” “Since we no longer HAVE A KNIFE!!” - G
<Gabrielle adds > “And it’s a good thing I guarded Minya’s frying pan so well... or I’d be stuck using my Sais to roast rabbit on the fire TOO! - G
<Xena laughs hard>
<Gabrielle looks puzzled> “What?” “What?”
“oh...oh... <Gabrielle suddenly realizes> “Not that rabbit thing again Xena! I told you he had fangs the size of acorns... and he jum..” <Xena cuts her off>
“yeah... yeah... and it was cold out there... and you couldn’t get a fire going... and the mosquitos were the size of eagles...” “Yeah I know... “ <Xena laughs to herself>
“Xena, you remembed that?” - G
“Gabrielle when it comes to you... every second we shared together is etched inside me.”
<Gabrielle rolls her eyes> “Gods Xena...”
“Your not REALLY going to use my chakram to cut the heads off fish, are you?” - X
“That depends” - G
“Depends on what?’ - X
“On whether or not you’ll promise to never mention that rabbit thing again...” - G
<Xena say sarcastically> “oh I promise Gabrielle... I promise”
<Gabrielle looks suspicious> “Good, it’s a dea..” <Xena cuts her off>
“Besides... I still have a certain “Nut bread” story to use...” - X
“And just think of ALL those practical jokes I can play on you on your birthday next year now that you can’t see me...” - X “
<The boat fades into the distant light of the sunrise...> <The voices start to fade>
“Gabrielle... i’m just getting warmed up... Believe me! “
“Oh don’t worry Xena... <Gabrielle rolls her eyes and mutters to herself> “ Do I believe you.” - G
“Gabrielle...?” - X
<Gabrielle rumbles back> “Yeah”
I didn’t know you knew how to sail a ship?” - X
“I don’t” -G
The ship heads....ur....um....zig zags... east into the light of the Rising Sun.
They’ll get by....they always have before.
And they pass
As all things do...
but Time and Love...
Okay. I’m done.
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