Does anyone remember the episode of ‘Xena, Warrior Princess’ where Gabrielle had thrown away her staff, I think it was just after the ‘India’ cycle, and taken to attacking bad guys with fine powder blown into their faces from a set of pan pipes? Oh dear, oh dear! I even recall thinking at the time, as I watched the episode in stunned disbelief, “This is the pits. What that script-writer needs is a really good enema. Things can only get better from now on!”.
Then within a few more episodes, the Amazon warrior with her sais was born. Talk about a turn-around. I take it that there is absolutely no chance Gabrielle’s character, of that pan-pipe playing period, will ever re-surface in a work of fan-fiction? (that’s a plea, not a question!).
Talking of pan-pipes, there’s also the episode (come on, you know the one!) where they are walking through a small gorge, only to be faced by a gang of dead-beats intent on making them pay to pass; using a wagon loaded with logs or something as a road-block. The point being that Gabrielle, as we first catch a glimpse of the gorgeous gal (OK! OK!, I was younger then. Considerably younger! And yes, I love alliteration) is busy blowing a delightful ditty on some pan-pipes. If you call the fact that her lips remained about a foot away from the musical instrument at all times actually playing it? Not to mention that the tune we heard was completely out of synch with her lip movements! What we are talking here is a fiasco.
Then, in relation to the ‘India’ episodes, a small question. Does anyone recall that for the duration of the cycle, I’m speaking from memory here, Xena had her hair drawn back? So her forehead was constantly visible for the first time; giving her, I thought, a remarkably intellectual look which seemed to change her whole personality?
I know, I know, a quibble. But the world is made up of quibbles. Apropos of which, what about all those times we see the ladies sitting at their camp-fire either in the evening or morning? That wondrously well-maintained camp and fire. All mod con’s, in fact. Rolls of blankets enough to have stocked a medium-sized merchant’s shop. Bundles of saddle-bags enough to equip a squadron of cavalry. Pots and pans and frying-pans (Gods, I know—frying-pans. 101 Things to do with a frying-pan. I think Xena and Gabrielle covered them all). It didn’t matter where they were, desert, forest, plain, mountain; or the season, hot or cold, they always had enough equipment to make a really good camp—along with there always being enough twigs and sticks to start a bonfire. Why were their pack-horse trains never seen? I think we should be told.
Then, in the early episodes, how did Gabrielle keep up with the horse-riding Warrior Princess? I only ask. There’s Xena, as happy as a lark, thundering across the tundra on Argo going full belt for the horizon as if the IRS were after her; and Gabrielle, happily sauntering along in her long ankle-length skirt and swinging her trusty staff, always making it to the important dramatic scene alongside her dangerous companion. What are we talking here? Time-shifts? Worm-holes? Or did Xena go on a 50 mile trek sideways; only to return the way she had come, to meet the blonde-haired one a mile and a half from where she had left the walking tourist? This needs an explanation—I’m waiting?
Then there is the Curious Question of Gabrielle’s Horse! When, as an Amazon warrior, Blondie was finally allowed the dignity of owning her own horse just exactly which horse was it? Was it the same horse from then on? I think not. It changed colour. It changed height. It changed personality, from an insipid nonentity to a high-bred ‘bite your head off as soon as look at you’ mustang. And in some later episodes Gabrielle had a horse, whichever it was at the time; while in other’s she was horseless once again, for no discernible or logical reason. I mean, what was going on there?
And finally, Gabrielle’s fighting abilities. I speak principally of her latter capability of using her sword or sais. In some fights she appears to be a pacifist; fighting with the flat of her sword-blade, or more often with the reversed handles of her sais; apparently content to give her opponents some really nasty bruises. Then in other fights she’s as mad as a march hare, sticking Romans, dead-beats, banditti, warlords, and assorted others, in their guts right up to the hilt; and getting covered in blood while she strides of, snarling, looking for her next victim. I mean, what are we to think?
And then, of course, there are the numerous times Gabrielle hauled Xena’s immobile, wounded, fevered, or just plain dead, body over vast distances and steppes to revive her; while Missy Xena, in the last two episodes (I can’t bear to name them) simply turns on her heart-mate and blithely says “Oops, I’ve been a bad girl. Goodbye, Gabrielle, forever”, and saunters off to her death—literally leaving Gabrielle to pick up the pieces, but not before having to single-handedly face off a samurai with her katana. So much for soul-mates and everlasting love!
Bah! Grumble! Quibble! Humbug! And “Oh Gods, I do not believe it! That didn’t really just happen, did it?” And there’s probably more, but I’ve run out of patience. This is why I write fan-fiction—to right all the wrongs off-loaded onto our favourite duo by those idiot script-writers. Ah, me.
'An Aerial Taxi' By Phineas Redux
This is an Uberfic set in Great Britain in 1942. Zena Mathews, a young New Zealand woman, and her navigator Gabrielle Parker work as pilots in the British Air Transport Auxiliary. They are taken on as members of a secret Government organisation, part of SOE—Special Operations Executive, operating beyond the Civil Service radar where no records are kept.