Hercules and Xena Banner Exchange
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THE QUEST to put it simply is yet another tour de force by the wonder- ful people behind this show we love so much. Whereas DESTINY was a gut-wrenching, often shocking experience driven by the tormented memories of the Warrior Princess, THE QUEST is an emotional story which revolves around the quiet strength and courage of Gabrielle. The requisite action is there as are the lighter scenes we have come to expect of any episode featuring Autolycus, the King of Thieves, but it is the emotional scenes in this episode that XWP fans will remember for years to come...and the gift that is Renee O'Connor to all of us in her role as the bard.
There is one scene in the episode, after Gabrielle is made Queen of the Amazons, when she goes over to Xena's sarcophagus and tells her, "...they made me queen...ME...the little girl you found in Potidea...". As the viewer, when you hear this, images of that little girl come to mind, of Gabrielle as she was in early episode like SINS OF THE PAST, DREAMWORKER and THE TITANS - then you focus on the young Amazon Princess onscreen and it becomes very clear how much Gabrielle has changed, how much she's grown, how much she's suffered, and how much she's learned. Most poignantly, hoowever, it becames clear too that despite the changes, the bard is still in there, the girl from Potidea has been forced to grow up but her spirit remains as indominable as that of the Warrior Princess.
The episode begins with Gabrielle sitting up suddenly, awaking from a terrible nightmare in the middle of a dark forest with thunder illuminating her features. The pain on her face when she sees Xena's sarcophagus lying beside her is a harbinger of the many emotional scenes to come throughout this episode. We are treated then to the first of several sollyloquis ("...every night I see it happen...every morning I wish it was a dream...) the bard will speak as she tries to come to terms with her friend's death.
In the morning Gabrielle is confronted by a group of thugs vent on stealing Xena's corpse for profit. Gabrielle's showing in the ensuing fight should leave no doubt as the young woman's capabilities as a fighter. Gabrielle may not have a sword but I think she has gotten to the point where she could easily kill with that staff and if she does not it's because she chooses not too. At this point something happens in the episode which I'm a bit ambiguous about - as the leader of the thugs wirls to confront Gabrielle once more, Iolus appears and finishes him off. Gabrielle goes over to hug the hunter and as they embrace she begins to softly cry. She shows Iolus the sarcophagus. Hunter and bard have a short conversation in which Gabrielle regrets the things she never got a chance to tell Xena. At Iolus' urging, Gabrielle admits that she would have liked to tell Xena how empty her life was before she came, about all the leasons she learned...and that she loves her... Iolus' presence is WORTH this emotional admission by the bard - Renee again is riveting - extremely effective with her pained, gentle delivery. Still, Iolus' sudden appearance and even quicker disappearance is strange to say the least. His excuse in leaving is that he wants to tell Hercules about Xena's death before the muscled one hears it from someone else. However, it is hard to understand how just having helped the bard fight off some thugs and seeing the emotional state she's in, that he just leaves without at least offering to help her get the body to Amphipolis. A definite plot weakness there...
In any event, Gabrielle goes on and soon meets up with a party of Amazons who've heard of Xena's death. The Amazons want to give Xena and Amazon burial but they've also been looking for Gabrielle for another reason. Ephiny (the Amazon who had the baby centaur in ITADITH) is there. She informs Gabrielle that Queen Malosa (the Amazon Queen) is dead and that another Amazon, Valaska , is the temporary ruler until Gabrielle takes her place as the Queen. Valaska is among those in the party. Her interest in Gabrielle returning is that she needs the bard to OFFICIALLY relinquish the right to the crown. Seeing the concern in Ephiny's eyes, Gabrielle agrees to go with them...
Meanwhile, Autolycus, King of Thieves, is busy trying to steal the dagger of Helios, a mythical weapon which supposedly is the key to some ambrosia hidden away somewhere. Let me interject here by saying that I LOVE BRUCE CAMPBELL!! His Autolycus is simply delightful. If the producers of this show wanted a recurring male character I wish they would use him instead of Joxer! When Xena's spirit gets into his body, his movements, expressions and one-liners are FANTASTIC!
Autolycus eventually gets the dagger and then has an eye-opening conversation with Xena's spirit while looking at his reflection in water, in which she asks for his help to try to retrieve some ambrosia and keep the Amazons from burning her body.
Back with the Amazons, Gabrielle is doing some major soul-searching while trying to come to terms with her grief about Xena's death. Eventually, after realizing just how dangerous Valaska is, she agrees to take the throne and orders Ephiny to make preparations for Xena's cremation - she will take Xena's ashes back to Amphipolis and then return as the Amazon Queen. Needless to say, Valaska is furious when in the coronation ceremony, instead of giving her the royal mask of the Queen, Gabrielle starts to put it on herself. There is a dangerous confrontation here which Gabby faces with new-found confidence and steadfast determination. When it's over, she stands as the new ruler of the Amazons.
Meanwhile, Autolycus has sneaked into the Amazon village wearing a strangely familiar costume <:) He gets to Xena's sarcophagus but is discovered by Gabrielle who thinking he just wants the body for profit, throws him in jail. Later, as the Amazon's are beginning to burn Xena's body, the King of Thieves escapes and Xena takes over jumping, kicking, fighting and throwing that Chakram as only Xena can. With every move that Autolycus makes Gabrielle becomes more and more convinced that it is, in fact, Xena in there with him until finally, when Autolycus starts to escape on Argo, dragging the sarcophagus behind him, the bard makes her decision and jumps on the sarcophagus, escaping with him. Valaska immediately brands the young Queen a traitor arresting Ephiny and the other Amazons loyal to Gabrielle even as she prepares to go after Gabrielle.
Now comes *THE SCENE*. The scene that will be talked about for weeks and months and years to come among XWP fans - the scene that defines the production team of this show as one of the most courageous and daring working in the industry today. When they stop in the forest at night, Xena asks Autolycus to let her speak through him. She then instructs Gabrielle to close her eyes and think of her. When the girl does so, suddenly she seems to be transported into some other dimension. While the bard's eyes are still closed, Xena appears before her and calls her name. Gabrielle's reaction when she sees the warrior will touch ANY person who's been seeing this show for a while and invested any type of emotion into these characters. Renee's acting is simply magnificent - immediately upong seeing Xena, the bard's eyes well up with tears and she chokes up...WOW. She tells Xena that there are so many things she wants to say to her but Xena stops her with a smile, pointing out gently that she doesn't need to say a word. Xena can see in the bard's eyes all Gabrielle wants to say. Gabrielle whispers that she cannot loose her again, then Xena points out that she'll always be there for her and leans in to kiss the young woman. The camera cuts back to the forest then and we see Autolycus holding Gabrielle, kissing her on the lips. Suddenly his eyes open and he pulls back a bit confused. He looks at the bard and simply says that he hopes she and Xena worked things out. Gabrielle smiles and responds that they did. What can I say guys...on a realistic note here - a score for the alt. contingency - the intent of this scene is clear and its impact is very profound. Nothing subtle here that I can tell. On its most basic level though - it has nothing to do with the physical - it is a representation of the love these two character have had for one another for a very long time and we've only had glimpses at in episodes like IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, REMEMBER NOTHING and GREATER GOOD. Beautifully done.
Gabby and Autolycus do manage to find the cavern where the Ambrosia is located but before they can get to it, Valaska captures them and decides to try to get the Ambrosia for herself. In a hilarious scene (cleavage SAVES the day!!! >:) Autolycus manages to pick the lock to the cell block door and as Ephiny and the other Amazons fight Valaska 's crew, he and Gabby go for the Ambrosia. Valaska is already near the food of the gods, hanging from some vines over a pit of fire and stakes, when thief and bard get there. Having been somewhat tortured by Valaska , Autolycus has a broken hand and cannot reach the Amazon so suddenly Xena's spirit goes into Gabby. In the bard's body, she launches forward grabbing a vine and starts to climb up to B'laska. The two have a heart-stopping battle in which the ambrosia is released only to hit Gabby's chest and head down into the fire bellow. Xena defeats Valaska who is impailed on the stakes below when she falls. Unbeknownst to all though, a piece of ambrosia falls near her still- moving hand.
Ephiny brings the sarcophagus with Xena's body in it. Gabrielle, now in control of her body again, retrieves a piece of Ambrosia that had fallen into her cleavage (cleavage saves the day again ;-) The rest is history... The episode concludes with one final emotional moment between Xena and Gabrielle.
Final comments - this episode belongs to Renee and Bruce and they come through brilliantly.
more by Lunacy
Lunacy's Fan Fiction Reviews
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It was as delicious as it was frustrating. Why oh why canít our love babes have an on screen kiss? I mean a real one. Ya know, full-on. How many on screen heterosexual kisses do you think you've watched during your lifetime? Go ahead and make like McDonal ds and count in terms of billions.
Why does the tuber consistently barf out only one world view? And why is it that it isn't my world view?
THE QUEST FOR A REFLECTION OF AN EXPANDED REALITY
In the Amazon hut that houses Xena's deceased but amazingly not decayed corpse, a pensive gABrielle paces around Xena's sarcophagus while she unconsciously pets the round killy thing and talks to Xena's big black body box.
gABrielle: Xena, I know you must know that you are my most beloved lover, even though I could never say that when you were alive, due and owing to that uptighty and mostly nasty segment of society that has to have every televised image exclusively their way, or no way.
She pauses briefly at the end of the sarcophagus and thoughtfully cocks her head to one side before she turns on her heel, continuing her conversation as she begins another round around Xena's non-smelly dead body.
gABrielle: Never mind that when we were growing up we had no real choices in TV land, and had to have all of their offensive and moronic images of the "ideal" woman crammed down our throats.
She pauses again, this time at the top of the sarcophagus, playfully twirling the chakram between her finger and thumb. She begins walking again.
gABrielle: And there were some doozers, let me tell ya...June Cleavage for one. And then there was Ginger. Remember all of the useful lessons she taught us about being in the wilderness, like the importance of wearing a full-length sequined dress and high heels on the beach? And I Dream of Jeannie. Now, there's a good role model for little girls, don't 'cha think, being captive in a bottle and having to address your partner as "master." I mean I could cut this show some slack if there were some type of sce ne going on and this was a consensual situation, but Xena, the bold fact is clear: that woman lived in a bottle and called that astronaut "master." Who's tired fantasy is that? Far be it from me to judge anyone's fantasy, of course, but why is it OK for t hat image to be on the tubus, and not the image of you and me kissin'? It's just not fair.
She pauses again.
gABrielle: I know you challenged that, my brave Xena.
She knowingly nods her wise and pretty head.
gABrielle: No wonder the whole world is soaking in your show in ravenous, starved gulps.
A heavy tear eases out of her eyes, and slowly crawls down her well formed cheek, before it cascades, curving down her chin, and then her neck and then into the BGSB, where it lingers briefly before complete absorption into the ill-colored lace-up sports bra.
gABrielle (crying): Xena, my beloved, when it was time for a change of the TV guard you were right there. You, my precious Warrior Babe, out there turning the tube tide for the better in noticeable increments, pretty much all by yourself. You contr ibuted so much to that cause. Ah but that's you my love, always doing more than your fair share for the greater good. Always.
She pauses. A cry crashes out of her throat as she tries to catch her breath.
gABrielle: By the Goddesses I love you Xena. You are my hero, my wanton strumpet, my most sacred and beloved lover. I'm so sorry that they never let me say that on TV. It seems so stupid now.
Her tears continue to flow slowly and without sound as she kisses the round killy thing. Gradually a small winsome smile begins to form on her sweet face. She walks to the head of the sarcophagus.
gABrielle (looking down at Xena's box): But damn, I miss you girl! Sunday mornings are the worst. You know how we used to lounge around in the bedroll until noon, indulging ourselves in all the warrior-at-play delights that you taught me during tho se first few months after my escape from po-dunk-a-dia?
She chuckles a hollow sad chuckle and gives the chakram a quick, flickering lick.
gABrielle (smiling fully and resting her head on the sarcophagus while hugging it and holding the chakram): Then I'd get up and cook you your favorite breakfast, dumplings with red stuff, while you laid on your butt and did your princess routine, r eading all of the latest altfanfic episodes.
She closes her eyes and pauses.
gABrielle: Remember baby?
She stands fully upright again, and looks at Xena's box.
gABrielle: You know my sweet, I think I fell in love with you when you kissed me on my wedding day. Of course I couldn't tell you that then, or kiss you back the way I really wanted to, because of those rapscallion one world view mean-heads. But now Xena , my darling, I have to believe in my heart that then you were in love with me too.
Her head drops slightly forward for a moment before she looks up at Xena's box and begins to speak again.
gABrielle (resolutely): Yeah, Xena, if the choice is between the learned helplessness and compulsory heterosexuality offered by June, Ginger and Jeannie, I'll take you and the Amazons any day.
gABrielle: So this is my new home, Xena, here with my community. Solari, Ephiny and Xenon, my chosen family. I'll rule the Amazons as the partnerless queen because sadly there aren't thousands more like you. And the truth is, short of marrying Artemis, I'll never find anyone like you to love again.
She sets the chakram on Xena's big black box and hugs the box, chakram and all, before slunking out of the hut with a heavy heart.
THE QUEST FOR A REFLECTION OF AN EXPANDED REALITY: ACT II
gABrielle has just left the dead body hut after reminiscing to her dead love machine mama about good old fashioned sexist, heterosexist TV, where she honestly expressed her preference for Xena over all other pop culture small screen babes. Still distracte d by a reverie of sadness about Xena, and disgust about the mostly one-sided view that dominates the tuber, she is unaware of a stealth figure who moves cat-like just out of her sight range. Suddenly Velasca jumps in front of her from behind a friendly tr ee and grabs her by the neck and left earlobe, swiping her leaf necklace and her cool-o leaf earring.
gABrielle: Let go of my ear, you power hungry light-haired brunette crab apple.
VELASCA: Give me that jewelry. As the wanna be Amazon queen I have the right to everything.
gABrielle: Oh for the love of Isis, Velasca, I'm in a sad reverie about Xena and misogynist, homophobic TV, and I'm not in the mood for any hooey. Now give me that ceremonial jewelry back. And I mean it. Believe me, I won't be as patient with you as I wa s with Tara O' Rag Haira.
VELASCA: Ya want it back, huh? Well come and get it, ya misty-eyed little shrimp.
gABrielle: Misty-eyed little shrimp is polite verbiage for what I am. You have until the count of ten before I banish you to the Brady Uber forever, and believe me Milk and Christmas Carol won't put up with this type of acting out from any girl, Amazon or not.
She pauses mid diatribe, pondering whether or not to digress, and chooses the former.
gABrielle: Just ask poor Marshland. She keeps her dykliness hidden from her own parents for fear of reprisal. How sad. When fear generated by the nuclear bomb family is coupled with mass media messages of exclusive heterosexuality that rarely if ever ref lect all of the wondrous, positive contributions that lesbians and gay men make in this world, is it any wonder that gay teenagers are ten times more likely to commit suicide than non-gay teens?
VELASCA: Damn good point, gABby. But...
gABrielle (lunging at Velasca): Not that you provide one of those positive images, being a thief and all. Now give back my tasteful leaf necklace and ear bobs by DeQueers.
VELASCA (stepping away from gABrielle): Hey!
gABrielle: Give 'em back and become a positive lesbian role model, or suffer in Uber Brady Hades for all eternity.
VELASCA: Well, that's it then.
gABrielle: What's that supposed to mean?
VELASCA: It means that I win by reason of insanity. While I agree with you 100 percent about the media's role in the lack of visible lesbian and gay role models, all this prattling on about Ubers and Bradys seems to indicate that you're not fit to rule t he 'zons. What in the Tartarus is an Uber and Brady, anyway, some new torture device invented by Callisto?
gABs contemplates this with bardic intelligence, and realizes that the entire bad TV genre may well be an invention by Calli to drive her and other thinking lesbians insane. She quickly files this thought in her "queries to ponder in the future when I'm n ot in such a tight spot" brain file. Craftily she catches Velasca off-guard as she snatches the precious decorative leaves and scampers off to the Queenie podium to accept the mask as Queen o' the Gals.
VELASCA: I can't believe this. You! Queen of the Amazons! This is an unfettered abomination! Give me back those accessories Blondie!
On the ceremonial stage the Marquessa cum Amazon Queen gives the Queen Mum hand signal to notify Solari that it's time to light the fires that will turn her beloved Breastplate Fin to ash. Like a good butch Solari obeys with expediency. Refusing to be d eterred by gABrielle's elevated status on the Amazonian Queen stage, and having rejected the positive role model option, Velasca scoots up next to gABrielle and quickly snags the Marquessa's DeQueers earring.
gABrielle: Goddess, it's times like these that I really miss Xena.
The sarcophagus, which now sits atop a ready to torch pyre, rumbles from inside, unnoticed by gABrielle and the others.
gABrielle (pointing to Velasca): Isn't there any dyke here who can save me by forever ridding me of this pestilence?
Suddenly the lid of the sarcophagus pops off and in a nano second Xena is lalalalalalalalalalalalalala back flipping her way to the the stage, where she lands in between Velasca and gABrielle. She grabs Velasca's belt loop with one hand and tenderly holds gABrielle's chin with the other hand, as she turns her baby blues on her precious bard.
gABrielle: Xena, my love!
XENA (kissing gABrielle quickly): Hi pumpkin.
gABrielle cups her hands around Xena's face in bewilderment.
gABrielle: Xena! Is it really you!
Xena takes her hand, kissing her finger tips quickly while Velasca squirms and whimpers.
XENA: Well it's sure not Autolycus, even though he looks great in women's clothes.
gABrielle: By the Goddesses, Holy Hestia, praise Athena! My love! You're not dead!
XENA: I know baby, I just couldn't let that happen.
Xena turns momentarily toward Velasca, and then back toward gABrielle.
XENA (nodding to Velasca): But let me deal with Miss Grabby Pants here.
gABrielle: Sure, hon.
XENA (turning to Velasca): Quit acting like a warlord in a skirt and give my girlfriend back her jewelry.
XENA: Ya know Velasca, I hate to put the pinch on women, unless of course I'm playfully pinching gABby's fine tush as part of our intimate ritual love pat exchange.
VELASCA: Let go of me Warrior Babe.
XENA: There's not a chance of that happening until you return my sweet pea's Queen jewels. And Velasca, I will pinch ya if necessary, ya got that?
VELASCA: You mean that blood flow to the brain thing or that intimate ritual love pat exchange thing?
XENA: The former.
VELASCA: Oh aw right. Sheesh.
She hands the jewelry to gABrielle.
Xena releases Velasca, gABrielle takes the goods, and The Amazon Nation begins cheering wildly in a tenor remnant of the Poteidians upon gABrielle's return home in The Bitter Suite.
THE AMAZON NATION (chanting Bitter Suite Poteidian style): gABrielle! gABrielle! gABrielle!
gABrielle gives the Queen Mum wave to the cheering crowd of scantily clad babes and then turns to her beloved.
gABrielle: Xena you came back, but how my love?
XENA: Well it would be totally out of character for me to sit by and watch while someone steals your stuff and picks on you like that. Besides the speech you gave while I was in the sarcophagus really moved me. You're such a talented orator. Have I ever t old you that?
gABrielle smiles brightly and blushes slightly.
gABrielle: Well, no not really, but it's nice that you're saying it now.
Xena puts her arm around gABrielle's waist as they look out upon their chanting charges.
XENA: Well it's true sweetie. You literally talked me to life, which is a welcome change from the first season where all of your incessant chatting...well never mind. I'm just glad to be back.
gABrielle: I'm glad too sweetie.
XENA: You know, as you were talking I started thinking that if I were to stay dead the lesbians wouldn't have anything to watch on TV, except the WNBA, now that Ellen got zapped. I mean a gal can only watch her tape of Dax kissing her former husban d whose now a woman so many times. And the WNBA definitely has its built-in limitations. Know what I mean?
gABrielle: True enough. But Xena, how exactly did you come back? It couldn't just have been my rage-inspired nattering.
XENA: Well, I get by with a little help from my friends, ya know? A little gABy chat, a little tweakage from M'Lila and here I am.
gABrielle: Goddess that M'Lila is a sweetie. We need to have her over for dinner.
XENA: Agreed. How 'bout a fine meal and dumplings with red stuff for desert in honor of our cool friend.
gABrielle (giggling): Of course love. I wouldn't think of making any other desert.
Xena kisses gABrielle on the cheek and the gal crowd starts cheering again. An Amazon chorus that includes Della Street and Dax begins singing. Toward the back of the crowd Miss Jane Hathaway shyly slinks around in a tight brown wool skirt and flesh tone
pumps. On the nearby Amazon hunting grounds, just west of Centaur lands, Vidalis leads a merrily marching band of benign and melodic gay warrior men, who have recently escaped from the Brother Sun camp at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Through the d
eep green Amazon foliage the men can hear all the action, but they cannot see it. Likewise, they can be heard but not seen by the women. Both sides like it that way.
THE AMAZON CHORUS: (sung to the tune of the Poteidian "Welcome Home gABrielle" stanza in The Bitter Suite's "War and Peace" song)
Oh our little bard is cross
Her TV she wants to toss
Her sweetie's life was almost lost
But she's talked of bad TV
And she's traveled home to be
our beloved 'zon Queenie
XENA (singing to the same tune):
I was plucked out from the heart of your life for not so long
AMAZON CHORUS (with inspired enthusiasm):
Now we're grateful that you've talked her back to the place she belongs
For what is a panacea
surely awaits in the Amazon villa
AMAZON CHORUS (still joyful):
Welcome home gABS and Xena, welcome home!
gABrielle: (speaking to Xena while pretty idyllic music lightly fills the background): Xena! Look! That couple over there...It's Della and Dax! I haven't seen them since the Amphipolis Pride Parade in '96!
DELLA AND DAX (harmonizing):
Homophobes, Joxer and TV kings have made their mark on you
Along with Velasca and all of her thieving poo
If your child had lived she'd surely not be watching the tube
AMAZON CHORUS (maintaining their enthusiasm):
You and Xee love good TV
along with all the lezzies
While the hours away
entertaining us gays
You and Xee want to kiss,
a simple joy that would bring bliss
We're waiting, waiting all the time
But the meanies won't change their minds
We'd love a kiss kiss kiss!
THE MERRILY MARCHING BAND OF BENIGN AND MELODIC GAY WARRIOR MEN (singing with the vigor normally associated with such groups):
Pulverizing bad TV requires strategy
You two women certainly have the skills
Gals express our gay vision, don't deny your destiny
You and me want more
Don't give us the what for
VIDALIS (adjusting his hairpiece and using his soprano singing voice):
Cut the 'phobes down,
what a hoot
Equal time for us fruits!
THE MERRILY MARCHING BAND OF BENIGN AND MELODIC GAY WARRIOR MEN (excitedly):
Gay Warriors want more, more, more!
DELLA AND DAX (harmonizing):
TV is no friend it works to twist our minds,
though you've tried to change its stupid ways
MISS JANE HATHAWAY (singing):
Take this hammer,
it's just a case of killing to be kind
You and me want a kiss,
a simple joy that would bring bliss
DELLA AND DAX:
Sit and watch the babes go by
MISS JANE HATHAWAY:
Pray for a kiss until you die
Dykes want a kiss kiss kiss!
THE MERRILY MARCHING BAND OF BENIGN AND MELODIC GAY WARRIOR MEN:
We want more!
THE MERRILY MARCHING BAND OF BENIGN AND MELODIC GAY WARRIOR MEN:
THE MERRILY MARCHING BAND OF BENIGN AND MELODIC GAY WARRIOR MEN :
The Amazon Chorus senses the futility in this lyric argument and collectively reasons that while a kiss would be grand, more than a kiss would be absolutely beyond fabu.
As the singing comes to an end gABrielle smiles and turns to her beloved.
XENA: Yes doll.
gABrielle: Let's just go crazy here and do something totally over the top and have a passionate, unambiguous, full-on kiss while we each occupy our own body.
XENA: Oh Brava! Yes, let's.
The Amazon Nation breaks out in spontaneous cheers as the leather clad Warrior and beautiful Bard embrace and kiss the way women in love really kiss. They part and share a moment of heartfelt mutual adoration.
XENA: Well what about the more part...
gABrielle (laughing lightly as she traces the metal curly-ques around Xena's breastplate with her forefinger): Of course my Princess.
XENA: Yes love?
gABrielle: And after that let's go see High Art again.
XENA: Ahhh, it's so good to be back home...
c. 1998 Pursh
more by Pursh
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