I want to state clearly a thing that happened in “Forget Me Not” that I never realized before the podcast pointed it out.
Gabrielle imagined Xena having sex with Lao Ma. That’s what got her all, well, hot and bothered (I just listened to the Fins commentary so I’m all about sex puns!). Gabrielle was so jealous of Xena having sex with another woman that she went Rift-tastic. It’s there. In all this flying fabric metaphor that the podcast is helping me understand. I’m learning new language to talk about an old thing.
A very old thing. 😉
So back-to-back episodes. “Forget Me Not,” where they played it “straight” (tee) with Gabrielle’s, “I hated her for loving someone else.”
“Fins, Femmes, and Gems” which was going to be all about Gabrielle’s obsession with having sex with Xena. Seems pretty linear! Even if the sex obsession of “Fins” was just an idea someone threw out in the writer’s room, and not a Thing, there’s a through-line. A horny Gabrielle through-line.
That is crazy for Season Three. Yeah, by Season Four this is all old-hat with Xena walking into eternity and Gabrielle’s everything, and yeah Rob Tapert and Melissa Good have kind of ret-conned the love story back to “A Necessary Evil” in the Virtual Seasons, but all this amazing stuff is happening in Season Three that didn’t quite click before.
The podcasters asked fans of “Fins, Femmes, and Gems” to articulate their appreciation of the hackneyed episode, and I think it’s connected to The Rift and Season Three.
I’m not a fan of “A Day in the Life.” It’s too early, there’s not enough development. Kelinswriter says I don’t like adorable things, which is definitely true. “Fins, Femmes, and Gems” has this kind of existential psychology and characterization devoid of plot. Just the characters being. And being slightly wrong. Slightly off. With all of the adorableness of “A Day in the Life” with the life-saving and the wrestling and the lines. The podcasters don’t say “romantic” as often as they say “extra” in this episode, but they say it. It’s sweet. It has depth. It opens with Aphrodite being great, which just puts me in a good mood. And ends with some “Been There, Done That” snuggling that puts me in a good mood.
(Do you think this was custom-made for the show, or they found it somewhere?)
But MOSTLY it is the absence of other things that makes it so relaxing. The absence of the Rift, the absence of plot, the absence of “Forget Me Not” and “When in Rome” which were pretty soul-crushing episodes. It’s like a mint julep on the porch, but with Season Three characters, who are so much better than Season Two characters. Who are almost Season Four characters. Characters I want to spend time with. The Lyceus thing is really poignant, just as it was in “Remember Nothing.” It’s all very pleasant. And it’s so similar to “Quill” and airs so close to it, I think I lump them in together. Which episode about Aphrodite, fishing, and an weirdly-sexualized Gabrielle is which?
Watching “Fins, Femmes, and Gems” doesn’t hurt. And it’s kind of funny. And has my favorite goon.
Meta/Fandom thoughts: I like to be immersed in very active fandoms where stuff is still happening. I like to be at the water cooler very Monday for Game of Thrones, for example. I like the complete picture of what’s happening in society while the episodes air, what people think about, it and all the memes.
It’s exciting. But I’m seeing, through this podcast, that’s just the surface stuff. Sometimes, the surface stuff is obscuring the deeper stuff. The stuff that only comes out through interviews, reflection, distance. Tell-all books. Emotional reaction is great, but so is criticism. In short, I voted for the “melodrama” minisode. The podcast is great because it lets me relive what I love, but I’m also watching a new show through their eyes. A pretty great show!
“When in Rome” interstitial: Dan Carlin did a Hardcore History podcast called “The Celtic Holocaust.” Six hours of Vercingetorix and Caesar. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m sure it’s phenomenal.
Back to Sex: It’s clear Xena has a type. A young, nubile, going-to-destroy-her life type. From M’Lila to Akemi. So, is Gabrielle just another one? One in a long line, and not remarkable otherwise? This idea is explored in “The Dirty Half-Dozen.” And probably in a lot of Conqueror fic. Does it cheapen Gabrielle? Is it accidental? Is it meta? Is Xena constantly trying to recapture her lost youth?
A question we’ll confront soon enough.
As a conclusion, let me share my appreciation for all the singing that’s been happening lately. Especially “Memory.” Or “Memories.” All the rest, too!