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|So, why this site?
Why these stories?
(c) 2012 Ronald B. Howes, Jr.
Why, with all the other websites and virtual seasons out there,
(some of them very good), do I keep coming back to this one year
after year, and why did I latch onto these stories like a
desperate man looking for water in the desert, after we had all
done the same and finally stopped screaming "NOOOO!!!" at the
television after the end of the sixth season??
For me, it all came down to two simple things; character
development and story lines. . . .
But why those reasons make sense requires a bit of background on
why a middle-age geek engineer type began watching Xena in the
For many years my only interest in television was sci-fi and such;
Star Trek, The X-Files, and, of course, the greatest sci-fi show
of all time, Doctor Who.
(BTW, if you have never seen this show and want a good precursor
for Xena, Buffy and all the rest, check out Leela, the good
Doctor's companion from the 1977 season - now there was a
leather-clad-stab-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of woman!)
I stumbled onto Xena by accident one Sunday evening in the summer
of 1997 after my nightly walk with our Sheltie just before bed. In
our television market, Hercules and Xena aired Sunday evenings at
9 and 10. I had heard vaguely of both shows but had never seen
either, and I had turned on the television just for a quick check
of the news before bed.
By chance, that night the set had been left tuned to the shows'
channel, and lo and behold, there was this odd show that I figured
out fairly quickly had to be the "Xena" one. The episode may have
been "Ten Little Warlords", but I'm not sure about that.
I have read the Greek myths, and I did not recall anyone named
"Xena", or "Gabrielle", however, and what was with the funky sound
effects, anyway? So, my first reaction was a bit non-committal,
although two attractive women in leather did catch my eye.
Nevertheless, I only watched maybe two minutes of the show, after
which I turned the tv off and hit the sack without another
A few weeks later the same thing happened again - walk dog, turn
on tv for news, funky show is on . .
Only this time I remember the episode clearly - it was, of all
episodes to see for someone who had seen a grand total of two
minutes of Xena, "The Xena Scrolls".
So I wasn't even sure this was the same show at first. Uhh, yea, I
think those two women are the same actresses, but the characters
are completely different, and who was the dude with the fake
French accent? And Indiana Jones themes?
I actually watched several minutes of this episode, trying to
figure it out. Was this the same show? Or was this some kind of
fantasy adventure anthology? And again, what was the deal with the
funny sound effects?
And it was right there, more out of curiosity than anything else,
that I decided the next week to get home from my dog walk early
enough to watch the show from the start to see the lead in and see
what it was that I thought I was watching.
So OK, there was no Xena or Gabrielle in the Greek myths, but hey,
the guy playing Ares looked the part, and the fight action was
great. But Aphrodite - I had always envisioned her as a tall woman
with dark hair and a long flowing gown, not a valley girl in a
negligee. Notwithstanding that, generally everything on the show
seemed to start hanging together, and within a month I was hooked.
It took me the next two years to catch up on all the reruns before
I had the complete arc of the show.
And that brings me back to those two things I mentioned in the
beginning, character development and story line.
The thing that I really began to appreciate about Xena was the
gradual growth of the two lead characters, and how each character
changed over the years.
In my mind Xena's character did not change so much as her
background was gradually revealed to us. I must apologize to all
the Hercules fans out there, but we saw almost immediately that
Xena had much more to her background than Hercules did. Dark,
forbidding, hints of a violent past, and the whole theme of past
evil deeds, later turning to good, but ultimately having to endure
necessary punishment for those evil deeds was laid out.
But Gabrielle - ah, there was a journey of a character!
We saw her start as the young, good hearted, virginal, innocent
girl who yearned for something more exciting in her life. She
started following the same dark, strong warrior we saw, but also
discovered Xena's past and character just like us.
We saw her grow as she experienced love, then loss, then hatred,
then the horror of her first kill, the ambiguous morality of
finding that sometimes you have to choose between what works and
what is "right", the soul searching in deciding whether the
warrior's way or the non-violent way was best for her, and
ultimately growing into a warrior in her own right, so much so
that even Ares, at one point, decided to abandon his pursuit of
Xena and make "that irritating blonde" his protégé.
And, finally, at the end of Season Six, it's all about her. The
innocent girl was now the powerful warrior, albeit with a
different past then Xena's.
So, when I read "Honor Bound", I thought it fit perfectly
Gabrielle's struggle to find a new way for herself after her
friend and mentor was gone, and, for me, it was the logical
continuation of her growth going forward.
That's the first thing that sealed it for me.
The other was the care in how the story arcs in VS 7 and 8 were
crafted and the good grasp the various writers had of the
flexibility and exploratory nature of some of the themes in the
original show. They expanded on those ideas and, in my opinion,
created episodes just as outrageous, as exciting, and as powerful
as anything that was done for the television series. (Although I'm
still not sure about the hot air balloon - still thinking about
that one . . !)
I also liked how the native peoples and environments of the story
arc in the New World were meshed nicely with the background of
Xena and Gabrielle to create new adventures without "jumping the
shark", which could have easily happened.
Finally, these written stories - screenplays, actually - allow
something an actual tv show does not - let the power of one's
imagination roam free with as much or as little fabric as you wish
to add to them. Of course, that would apply to the other virtual
seasons that have emerged on the internet, but I thought the
authors of this site did a better job of striking a balance
between too much detail and too little in the story lines.
So, if you are new to the site, enjoy. See what happens when
Egyptian mummies meet Greek warriors, travel to the America's,
find the Fountain of Youth, wear buckskins, finally find out how
Ares got into that tomb in "The Xena Scrolls", find out what
happens when you combine a big dog and a scary castle.
And if you, like me, have been coming here for a while, keep
coming back. I think it's the best.
Articles on Honor Bound part I (701) and Honor Bound Part II (702)
The concept for Honor Bound
came easy. It was planted within my mind shortly after FIN II
aired. It was obvious TPTB left the door ajar for Xena’s return. It was
just a matter of pushing the door open and trying to make sense out of
chaos. Not an easy task. We first had to figure out a way to bring Xena
back that was within the framework of FIN. We did a lot of research on
ancient Japanese religion and customs. Japanese culture and beliefs are
complicated and riddled with numerous ceremonies, and the fact that they
have over 250,000 kamis and a ceremony for each was mind boggling.
Selecting the most appropriate ceremonies was quite a task!
Overall, the reaction of the
fans has been overwhelmingly in favor of how the writers handled the
storyline, and the review by our reviewers has been very complimentary to
say the least. However there were reservations on how we had decided to
handle Gabrielle’s character, particularly in part one of the virtual
series opener, and we’d like to address those concerns here. Gabrielle’s
grieving process was complex and all accounts had to be taken into
Although Gabrielle knew that
for what Xena had to do, she had to join the spirit world to get close
enough to Yodoshi to destroy him. But Xena had told her they’d find a way
for her to come back. Harugata and the young monk confirmed that after
Xena’s death. So there was hope. There was a way.
Finding Xena’s body in the
condition she did was unexpected. Shocking. Sickening. Gabrielle nearly
cried, but she didn’t. She nearly threw up, but she didn’t. Instead she
repressed those feelings. She let her anger give her strength, much the
way Xena’s anger gave her strength at the murder of M’Lila in “Destiny”.
Either way, Gabrielle still had hope. There was still a way to bring Xena
Then the news from Xena’s own
mouth. She could not come back. She had to do the “honorable and right
thing to do” so that the souls of the 40,000 kami could enter into a state
Gabrielle’s hope was crushed.
Her hope of having Xena back in her life was ripped away from her. She
knew it was wrong. She knew it was unfair. But she complied with Xena’s
wishes. And it hurt. It hurt like hell.
Over time that hurt, that pain,
was turned to anger. Anger at what had happened, anger at herself. And
that anger began to turn to guilt. Guilt for not being by Xena’s side
during the battle that took her life, for not fighting and dying beside
her, guilt for not putting Xena’s ashes in the fountain of strength, guilt
at obeying Xena’s last wishes even though she knew it was wrong and
unjust, guilt at not going with her gut instincts.
Then with Ephiny’s words, hope
reared its head again. She had to guard the ashes or she would never
succeed in bringing Xena back. Now we complicate her reactions with worry
and fear of failing her friend once again.
Several people have
said that Gabrielle seemed out of character, not the strong and decisive
woman she had finally become. However, these readers perhaps have never
lost someone who was very close to them, someone who was their rock, their
reason for living, and their soul mate. We have tried to depict how
Gabrielle must have felt after FIN II, how she must have felt lost and
alone, anger and guilt both preying on her mind.
Then when Gabrielle was given
the hope that there was a way to bring Xena back, she jumped at the
chance. Her determination and will came back. She became focused on
finding out how to restore Xena to life. For in her heart, she felt Xena
had been wrong in accepting her “end”, that her sense of honor had bound
her unjustly to an undeserved fate. So, her challenge was to find a way to
bring Xena back that would show the warrior princess that Xena, for once,
did not have the final answer. That in fact, Gabrielle was the one who was
So, if Gabrielle sometimes
seems indecisive or unsure, or even “whiny” like one reader said, it’s
because she had to grow into the realization that Xena was wrong in this
instance and had to be shown what her true destiny should be.
My comments are in teal. -Lori
From the Bard’s Quill
I knew the conclusion of Honor Bound was going
to be complicated. I don’t think any of us; Diane,
Iris, Chris, or
Magenta knew just how complicated it was going to be. Not only in
action and sequence, but in writing. As I mentioned in our article
on Honor Bound I, there are over 250,000 kami in the Japanese
culture and just as many ceremonies. We had to opt for the most
logical. And the most logical, in our opinion, was a purification
PROBLEM: Our research did not
locate the exact type of purification ceremony we required. We found
purification of grounds for the sumo wrestlers, construction sites,
homes and gardens, but not of an entire village, the villagers, and
dead spirits. We did find one item that said that the Emperor of
Japan at one time in history, took upon himself the sins of his
entire people and offered them up to the deities. Close enough.
We could have taken short cuts and eliminated
a great deal. However, if we did that, there would have been no
flavor - no ancient tradition - and it might have created gaps just
as we saw in FIN. We didn’t want that. We wanted to tie up the loose
ends in FIN and in HB as much as possible.
Some fans wanted to
know more about Yodoshi’s son, what he had been doing for the past
40 years, and where he might have been during the events in FIN I
and FIN II. We’d like to address that here.
Saburo was very young
when his father died. After Yodoshi became the Lord of the Darklands,
he had no need of his family other than to torment his daughter for
slaying him. We envisioned that Saburo grew up knowing very little
about his father other than to know he was a powerful lord who was
slain by his sister. Given the Japanese culture and its outlook on
patricide, honor and women, Saburo would naturally be supportive of
his murdered father. Saburo led pretty much a normal life until
Yodoshi was slain by Xena and the evil warlord needed help in
returning to his former power. Who better to help than a son who
didn’t know his evil ways? Therefore, Saburo never was involved with
his father until he was needed by Yodoshi. No need to bring him into
the picture until then.
As for Yodoshi and his
‘death’. To add to the mysticism created by Harugato and his
ceremony over the sacred katana, we felt there was definitely
something wrong with Xena’s ‘killing’ him. There had to be something
more to the words Harugato said over the katana.
Firstly - Yodoshi was already dead.
Akemi had killed him some thirty five years ago. How do you kill
something that is already dead?
Since, in theory, you
can’t kill something that’s already dead, the sacred words that
Harugato spoke over the katana were intended to give the weapon, and
the one who wielded it, power to “destroy” Yodoshi’s kami, to weaken
it to the point where capturing him would be possible.
Secondly - His kami was so tainted that not
even the deities of the hidden world would accept him into their
realm of the dead.
QUESTION: So...where DID his
kami go after Xena “killed“ him?
ANSWER: The ceremony and the
words spoken over the sacred katana could very well have been
similar to a spell that would, when Yodoshi was destroyed, capture
the essence that was once the Soul Eater. His kami was captured and
is being held prisoner in the sacred katana.
As for Xena’s
sacrifice. It wasn’t for Yodoshi she died, but for the 40,000 souls
he devoured. In dying, she was able to set them free by destroying
the form Yodoshi had taken. Destroying the form he took and
capturing his evil kami freed the 40,000 souls.
Regarding the samurai: There was no real
evidence that Gabrielle had killed him with the chakram. We don’t
feel that Gabrielle even expected to hit him,
but if she did, we know that Gabrielle’s
heart is good, and she wouldn’t kill him. A
just punishment for him would have been to stay alive and live with
the shame. Thus, we decided to bring him back.
As for why he didn’t commit
seppuku... In all honesty, he didn’t strike us as the type of
individual who would honor tradition. He struck us as the type of
individual who would have hunted Gabrielle to the ends of the Earth
in order to obtain his revenge for not giving him an honorable
death… not to mention showing him up in front of his troops.
conclusion, we would like to address some of the reader’s concerns
regarding our handling of Gabrielle’s character in HBII. Some might
feel that we portrayed her as weak and not forceful, that she alone
should have carried both episodes. With the complexity of this arc,
the traditions we researched, Gabrielle’s character had to be
portrayed as such.
She had to show respect to the elders, the kannushi and the guji.
When in a foreign land, one so embedded in traditions, being
forceful and/or threatening would not have assisted Gabrielle in
accomplishing her mission. That mission was to return Xena to the
~ Lori ~
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