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Best scene: Anything without Ulysses in it.
Most memorable line from this episode: I was too busy trying not to vomit to listen to most of the dialogue.
This boy of the week phenomenon is sheer madness. It brings down any ep in which it occurs coz noone is better for either of our gals than they are for each other. Plus this episode did major damage to the official Kirk Douglas version of the Ulysses mythos.
This week's typo:
The TV guide describes this episode as depicting sexual attraction between Xena and Ulyssess. Yeah sure.
Would pay two dinars not to have to watch it again.
c. 1998 Pammo
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My take on their current relationship is that Xena and Gabrielle both assume Gabrielle is straight. Xena is in love with Gabrielle. Xena recognizes her feelings for what they actually are, and Gabrielle may or may not know how Xena feels. Gabrielle is in love with Xena, but she doesn't realize she is. She thinks she is straight, because she hasn't ever considered anything else. (In long-ago Greece, this would be silly, but in Xena's Greece it seems likely that Gabrielle could be oblivious to the possiblility of a same-sex partner.) At some point Gabrielle will catch on, but she hasn't yet. Therefore, she will try to make Xena happy by setting her up with other people.
Back to the episode:
Xena stood way too close to Ulysses in their after-the-first-fight conversation, but I choose to rationalize this as staging to make it fit on the TV screen. I was more bothered by Gabrielle's "What a man!" Especially since he hadn't done anything special (in the whole episode, he never seemed very interesting; his body was there, but he seemed to be absent, imo).
I liked that Gabrielle did not become immediately helpless when she didn't have her staff in this episode. She didn't get into useless tug-of-wars, she found other methods to knock the stuffing out of the bad guys.
I liked the opening stop and smell the flowers interaction on the beach. I also the impression that Xena's responses were selected for their effect on Gabrielle, that she plays up her "uninterested in anything except battle" image for Gabrielle.
I found the bandaging of Ulysses to be nice and businesslike. When Xena bandaged Ares in Ten Little Warlords, I was uncomfortable with it. There was nothing overt, but I wanted her away from him before anything happened. I didn't have that problem with Ulysses, though I was expecting to. Since he is being pushed as a "love interest", I anticipated gratuitous touching, but there wasn't any.
When the Sirens sang, Xena should have clobbered Ulysses instead of competing with the Sirens. It was at this point that Ulysses becomes enamoured with Xena; no one can resist Xena's attraction when she tries to seduce them, and she seduced Ulysses away from the Sirens instead of using her chakrum to knock him out. This was rather unkind of her, but typical, I think. She needed to compete with the Sirens, to demonstrate her superior skills.
I'm not going to skate past Ulysses and Xena kissing while Gabrielle 'slept.' I noticed a lot of worry about how Xena could betray Gabrielle like this (before the episode aired). Given the "love interest" hype, this was a reasonable fear, but this was mostly hype and very little substance. Ulysses tells Xena he loves her and he kisses her. She didn't respond in kind. She did kiss him back, after he starts kissing her, but she did not in the slightest initiate that kiss. She did not lean towards him or do anything encouraging whatsoever. In fact, never in the entire episode did Xena encourage Ulysses in any way. (Her conversations with Gabrielle are a different story.) Xena's response to Ulysses was basically, "We'll see." This is the same response my parents gave me when the answer was no, but I didn't want to hear no.
I do think that Xena found Ulysses attractive, but at this point she is pretty well uninterested. When she tells Ulysses about Gabrielle believing everyone has a soulmate, I think she was feeling that she had already found hers. She understood his feelings, because she felt that way about Gabrielle, not because she felt that way about him. He took her response as evidence of reciprocated feeling, but it wasn't.
The end result of the, "I need to know," and "If your happy, I'm happy," discussion with Gabrielle is Xena telling Gabrielle that she loves her. She never says how she feels about Ulysses. She says she can feel something for Ulysses because of their love. Gabrielle assumes Xena loves Ulysses, and she pushes Xena that way. There is no evidence that Xena thinks she loves Ulysses. "Yeah, I guess I did" is about Gabrielle, even though Gabrielle takes it the other way. Xena never said anything about love with respect to Ulysses; twice in this conversation she expresses love for Gabrielle.
Because Gabrielle is clueless about their relationship, though, I think Xena begins to consider Ulysses as a possibility. Xena loves Gabrielle, but thinks they will never be more than friends. Every so often she gets her hopes up, but they inevitably are dashed. She doesn't see Gabrielle mirroring her words about Perdicus, even though Gabrielle brings it up. She sees Gabrielle telling her to forget her and move on to Ulysses. So she tries to, sort of. Since Penelope is still alive, this gives her an easy out.
Xena's words to Ulysses on the subject of their relationship are the words I choose to believe. She tells him she doesn't care for him, but that she wanted to let him down easily. She tells him to go back to his wife, because Penelope loves him and she doesn't. Xena's conversations with Gabrielle don't entirely support my position, but they can be interpreted in a way which is consistent with it. In the basement, Xena agrees that Ulysses may see through her actions and want to go with them anyway. She does not say that Gabrielle is correct in her interpretation, only that Ulysses may eventually believe the same thing as Gabrielle. Xena doesn't know what she will do if Ulysses wants to come with them anyway. When you can't ever have what you really want, at some point you decide to settle for second best. If Gabrielle will never want to be more than friends, Xena will at some point stop look elsewhere for romantic companionship. After nearly two years, Xena may be feeling pretty depressed about the chances of Gabrielle deciding it is Xena she wants.
On the ship, at the end, Xena is feeling bad, not because she is leaving Ulysses, but because Gabrielle doesn't want her. Gabrielle spends the whole episode pushing Xena and Ulysses together. Xena is forced to realize she may never get who she really wants, plus things don't work out with someone who could have been her second choice. Overall, not a good feeling.
I think it is very clear that Xena and Gabrielle aren't doing a very good job of communicating. I don't think that Ulysses says anything about Xena's tendancies toward extracurricular activity, because I don't really think that Xena and Gabrielle are together yet. Xena can't pine after Gabrielle forever.
Well, this is long and disjointed (gee, you'd think I was writing it in bits and pieces at work!) and I've probably forgotten lots of what I wanted to say, but I'll shut up now.
c. 1997Carmen S.
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