I've been enjoying the Shipper Seasons anyway, but this has been my favorite episode so far. I was reading the printed pages at a cabin in Sedona with some friends, and there was one time when I had to put down the pages and mutter, "that's brilliant," (the part about bringing Xena and Ares together through their fears). I liked the design of the episode, the way it felt to read, and the way it all came about.
I think that at least within the world of the Shipper Seasons, Tartarus has to have become Hell. I just watched Mortal Beloved, and there were parallels between the dark stream at the beginning of this episode, and the stream on the way to Tartarus, complete with ferry. I'd be okay with that! The order has changed; therefore the names for the afterlives has also changed. Xena made a good point toward the end, that although the Olympians couldn't have power in this new world, that didn't mean they needed to be trapped within their nightmares. They still deserved to live.
I loved the way Gabrielle described Eli: "He always knew what was right and even though he never spilled a drop of blood his whole life, he was such a strong person." That describes the Eli in my head. He always made a decision about what was right and acted on it. He wasn't always objectively right (such as Gabrielle and the pacifist way...although I thought he was too hard on himself in Fallen Angel), but he knew that sometimes one has to have a single focus, right or wrong, in order to get something accomplished. That worked for Eli's task. I'm not sure what it'll mean for Eve's task. I'm intensely curious right now about what Eve's role is going to be in the future. She's not a single minded pacifist like Eli, and the direction of the GOL isn't going to work for her, but she still has too much within herself to conquer (as opposed to outside herself, like Xena's past misdeeds) that it isn't yet safe for her to be a warrior like Xena. I don't know where that leaves her, but I can't wait to find out.
Yeah, I'm looking over the script again as I write, and I notice the words "Tartarus" and "Hell" are used interchangeably. I don't know if that was on purpose or not, but I think it works well.
It was a change to see Gabrielle distracted from a fight and Eve have to toss her a weapon, rather than Xena distracted by Gabrielle and Gabrielle toss her a weapon. Before, I wasn't sold on the idea of Gabrielle having her own trainee, but I can see her having a lot to teach Eve. Gabrielle's been there, and learned a little about not distracting those who fight and figuring out how to help without violating Eli's teachings.
The Hebrew was a very nice touch. Doesn't Ares know Hebrew, though? Ah, well. Just like Gabrielle's analogy of rivers leading to a sea, thanks for not mentioning dams, I think the world is a narrow bridge leads itself to a lot of philosophical daydreaming.
And, we come to my favorite part: the nightmares!
Xena's was spot-on, and I never get tired of Xena's philosophy toward her past crimes. She knows that just like Joxer and blood innocence, she has no choice but to live with the things she's done...it's hard to explain. When one has no choice, one makes a choice--deals with things as they come up and finds a way to carry the rest, because one has potential in the future.
Head #4: Why do you fear what you are?
...Raphael: have no fear.
Xena: I'm not that way anymore [I'm not afraid of the darkness within me]
I believe that with moral questions, there's a dilemma between what one does and who one is. They're related, but they're not the same thing. That's why Xena could still be held responsible for her crimes in Forgiven, but be able to tell Tara to do good and then she'd be good. I think we see a Xena in this episode who's made that distinction for good, who isn't running from the things she's done, but doesn't...doesn't fear her own heart anymore, maybe. And yes, I think that getting to and past that point would be the only way she could love Ares. (She'd still have to forgive him for the things he'd done, but she'd no longer have to fear the impact of his goals and philosophy on her.)
Ares' dream was equally insightful. I think it had only been during that past couple of years that he'd realized he cared what Xena thought of him, that he realized that her love was something that couldn't be coerced or bought (and the way she treated him during some S5 episodes just reinforced that). Here, we see that his greatest fear isn't that Xena and Gabrielle are Like That, but that (1) Xena has no room in her heart for him (since Gabrielle already fills that spot), and that (2) Xena will never understand and acknowledge the changes in him, and (3) most importantly, Xena never did or would love him. (And actually, I think she already did. I think in season 6, she at least loved Ares in the same way Gabrielle loved Joxer--she didn't want it to turn into anything physical for mistrust of Ares and fear of what it would do to her, but she cared that he was happy, and she knew he'd given to her without asking for anything in return.) I loved the way that, through conquering that old image of Xena, Ares was able to realize it.
LOL, y'all might turn me into a shipper yet...although I still think there's a long way to go before they can be together, you've convinced me within the context of this story.
Considering Xena's recent return from the dead, I thought Gabrielle's nightmare would be about losing Xena permanently (or through her own fault). But when I saw the direction her dream took instead, I was surprised, and now I think I understand. I think the thing that bothered Gabrielle most about the Dahak incident wasn't the fact that she was raped on the altar, but that she thought it proved that Dahak's darkness had been inside her all along. It made her doubt herself...and I don't think that's selfish or self-centered. One has to know one's own place in the world to be able to impact it, if that makes any sense. So when she saw Hope, she thought, at least in part, that she had the chance to take in Dahak's (and her own) darkness and turn it to good. The show never answers the question of whether or not it was possible. It was right for her not to try, IMO, because even if it was possible, the cost in other lives would have been too high. But I can imagine that "could I have done something else" would have haunted her afterwards. So, within the Shipper episodes, Hope was a demon initially, only born as a human. That would fit with the way that I read GH (although it would shut down a few great debates in the main forum!), and it must have been such a huge weight off Gabrielle's shoulders to learn that.
I like the way Xena was there for her, too. Just there, not being demonstrative with words or hugs. It's exactly what we saw in the show, with my imagination being able to supply so much more in the way of companionship and emotional support.
Eve's greatest fear was that she had succeeded in the things she tried to do. Wow. That's an awfully heavy burden, yet it's hers to carry.
I loved the way that Xena and the others thought first of Zeus and Hera, then went to save the others. Hey, though, where's Aphrodite? I can't imagine her sitting this one out if she knew about it (did Xena deliberately not tell her to keep her from well-intentionedly getting in the way?) Back to the gods. The scene at the end, with Athena coming out of her dream and reconciling with Ares, because she needed him, was gorgeous. I never liked the Athena I saw onscreen, but this makes her a lot more human in my mind. (And I'm a sap when it comes to the brother/sister dynamic anyway!) I'm glad Ares got a few things worked out with his family.
The ending raised an interesting question: is the GOL such that if you disobey him or his angels, you're automatically thrown into hell? That's something I hope to revisit on the religion thread eventually, but just within this story, that seems like the way the world will work. Does Xena hope to do something to circumvent it (as in, the GOL won't be the one in power when she dies), or has she long-resigned herself to going to hell? The show would support the latter, but I can't imagine living that way.
Anyway, wonderful work on the episode, and I hope to be commenting some more before 4 more months pass, LOL.
A TERRIFIC episode! Thanks to Aurora and Amber for the marvelous writing (girl, they don't call you the Queen of Dialogue for nothing!) and to Tango for the incredible idea. This whole arc, starting with "Harbinger of Twilight," is just fantastic. It would have made for truly great television... and...leave it to Shipper S7 to come up with a FAR more daring subtext moment than anything we actually saw onscreen during six years of X:WP!
BRAVO!!! An excellent episode!! This 2-parter really kept me at the edge of my chair (and not b/c the back of my chair broke and I'm suffering major back pains..... although it's true, now it's official: I'm 17 and OLD!) Back to what I was saying. I seriously this arc!! Kudos to the writers
K, first off. I agree with ya LK about the subtext thing....
But we got an equally hot scene from Ares and Xena.....no it was more than EQUAL!!
Also I'm glad that XWP is now back to the world of Greek Mythology and pulled farther away from the Christian arc (it was so not working) Like I always say, Xena is about Greek Myth and always should be.
Glad to see that the number one Xenaverse rule works for Gods too......"No one ever truly dies"
Ah, yeah. Ares and Xena have quite interesting dreams, don't they?
Well done to Amber and Aurora!! (Personally, I love the "incredibly dangerous, highly skilled minions"! )
Some excellent stuff here! I particularly liked the dream sequences, and the point where they realized they weren't dreams, and got a tad embarrassed...
A very good follow-up and I really love how this episode fits together with Harbringer. Well Xena, Gabrielle, Ares, and Eve journey to Hell and of course I love the visions about their "fear." Gabrielle with Hope, Eve facing Livia, Xena facing her past, and Ares facing rejection by Xena. I was a little stunned when I read a line that I didn't remember last time I read it:
Xena starts to kiss Gabrielle passionately
I was shocked! I had to scroll up and make sure that it was the SHIPPER Seasons! I never remember seeing this! Luckily it was just a HORRIBLE nightmare (only kidding X/G fans)
Anyways the rest of the episode was written out very well, as they eventually free the rest of the gods. I like how Xena decides to right her wrong, restore the gods that the God of Love made her kill. And thank the gods Eve is following along with this! I am glad she wasn't depicted as a brainwashed follower of the God of Love that won't think for herself that some fan fics make her into
The end was sweet, Athena hugging Ares with tears in her eyes. Kind of like, "I know I screwed up, forgive me bro?"
Out of the whole episode I only have two nitpicks:
1. The giants that guarded the Gates of Hell or whatever. They seemed too...I don't know...cheap. I mean just as being described as giants with one hundred arms. I just get a really goofy picture in my hand. I guess I just would picture them to be more...demon like instead.
2. Ares healing Gabrielle and Eve. Happened way too fast. Sees Eve and Gabrielle lying on the floor dead and immediatley up his immortality. I mean it should have been built up more, him searching for Xena, wanting to know what happens. Then checking to make sure their dead, think about it, and then maybe give up his godhood. I guess all I am saying is that it seemed to much like a daily chore. Gotta ressurect Gab and Eve again!
Other than that the episode was great!!! I love the whole "bring back the gods" idea and when I read these episodes I just wonder, why couldn't the TPTB have wrote something like this? I give it a 9/10
Hats off to ALL who worked on this episode! Excellent as always