Xena: Warrior Princess

"You know where I'm headed there'll be trouble." - Xena

Xena: Warrior Princess began in 1995 as a spinoff of Hercules the Legendary Journeys, where the character of Xena originally made her debut in a three episode story arc. Xena was once a powerful warlord and the show was about her quest to make amends for her past and find redemption for herself. The series spanned six seasons and followed the travels of Xena and her best friend Gabrielle trying to right the wrongs of the world. I preferred Hercules to Xena, but this show will always be memorable to me and I very much enjoyed lots of the episodes, especially in the earlier seasons. We actually saw Xena first and only ended up watching Hercules after seeing him and Iolaus in the episode Prometheus. It was very fun to watch these two shows back to back in the Action Pack block and I miss that kind of TV programming.

I felt the show was very strong in the earlier seasons where Xena's character had a clear goal and backstory. I really liked watching her slowly try her hardest to make up for her past deeds little by little in any way that she could, while still knowing she could never truly atone. I enjoyed Gabrielle's character and the talents and goals that she had for herself with her writing, wanting to see the world, and learn as much as she could from Xena. As the series progressed it just felt to me like it lost its way. Xena acquired quite an expansive backstory that no one could have ever accomplished in one lifetime, with her journeys and the impact she had on the lore of Rome, China, the Valkyrie, and her original story as a warrior in Greece. It was also odd how there was so much material that could be pulled from Greek mythology and yet the writers chose to have characters spent much time outside of Greece. By the end of the show it had changed so much that Xena, Gabrielle, and the whole show resembled nothing from the original characters or premise.

The whole tone of the series was very odd and disjointed throughout the episodes. One example is how the very dark and depressing episode where Xena's young son is murdered is immediately followed by a musical episode. Or how the same series can have episodes where Xena has three separate women who are her identical lookalikes, and also episodes where she slaughters the Gods of Olympus. Although the main cast and guest stars were extremely talented at both the dramatic and comedic episodes and could easily pull them off, it was just confusing how you'd never know what you were going to get with any particular episode. Hercules' show also had this tone problem but to me it was much more extreme with Xena. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the different types of episodes (The Bitter Suite is one of my favorites), but it's just something that is noticeable especially upon rewatch.

I did enjoy the friendship of Xena and Gabrielle in the first few seasons. It was fun to watch them slowly become comfortable around one another to becoming the very best of friends. They both respected each other so much and had so much of themselves to share and help the other grow. As the series progressed, however, there were times when it was just so unbelievable that they could remain friends through all the lies and deception, and the consequences of those actions. By season 4 there was a whole story arc where Gabrielle seemed to reject Xena's very way of life, and yet Xena still stuck by her side.

One storyline that vastly changed the course of the show was when Xena was pregnant with Eve. Not only did Xena and Gabrielle lose 20 years with their friends, home, and daughter, but it changed the mythology of the show with the exit of the Greek Gods. I did not like how we came to know these characters throughout both Hercules and Xena's series and they were killed off one by one by Xena. It was very hard to get behind her on this, even knowing she was doing it to protect her daughter. It made it even more difficult to accept after seeing how callous she was towards Gabrielle's daughter who had a similar prophecy surrounding her. I liked the character of Eve and enjoyed her scenes with Xena, but I just did not like the whole storyline where Xena not only brought about the end of the Olympians, but also how many of the events, characters, and storylines started to have a religious slant. It just didn't fit the tone of the show I had signed up for.

The characters were one of the strongest aspects of the show to me. I loved the interactions between Xena and Gabrielle early on and really liked it when Joxer became a part of their core group. His antics could get tiresome but overall he was a very sympathetic character and I was glad he was able to find happiness with Meg after Xena and Gabrielle were frozen. He never wavered in his friendship to the two women and even took care of Argo in Xena's absence. Although he never became a mighty warrior, he was a very important person in their lives and kept their memory alive while they were away. Another character I really liked a lot was Ares. The contrast between his appearances on Hercules and Xena was so interesting because he was mostly comic relief or an antagonist on Hercules, and he bounced between being a friend and foe on Xena while also being a potential love interest. His character growth on Xena was really interesting to watch, how he went from someone so arrogant and willing to do anything to get Xena back to his side, to giving up his godhood to save the lives of Gabrielle and Eve with no expectation of anything in return. In doing so, he ended up turning his back on his family of the Olympian gods and his complete identity as the God of War to side with Xena. One of my favorite scenes in the show was when he asked Xena if he ever had a chance with her and she responded 'one in a billion'. It was cute how he was satisfied with that since it meant that there was in fact hope.

Although I didn't watch Xena in its entirety during its original run (we stopped after season 3 and then watched the whole series much later), I felt that overall it was a pretty good show with some really great stories. It is a very memorable and special show to me and we loved talking about the show with our cousin who was a huge fan. I remember one conversation at Christmas involved a deep discussion on if we liked Ares' hair better short or long. While Xena is not my favorite show, I still have very fond memories of it and enjoyed watching the whole series.

Favorites
Liz
Jen
Character
Xena, Ares, Joxer
Xena, Ares, Joxer
Season
1
1
Episode
The Path Not Taken, Prometheus, Been There, Done That, The Bitter Suite, Eternal Bonds
The Path Not Taken, Prometheus, The Prodigal, Remember Nothing, Been There, Done That, Coming Home
Relationship
Xena and Gabrielle, Xena/Ares
Xena/Ares