We are the children of the stars, yearning with something ingrained but voiceless. I speak that basic truth: the cosmos is our rightful home, each being equal among the vastness. No false borders of family, tribe, or nation – free to choose.
The more the gravity and desperate others pull us down, the more the need to soar, to break away and float into the blue and gradual, welcoming black. Not the cold associated with the latter either; no emptiness or desolation above as far as imagination flies. The vast teems with light, energy, and life, speeding islands in the endless ocean of our ancestors.
There we belong; there we are true us. Hatched on Earth’s shore, we crawl to the sea of space and must swim. To remain behind is not in our nature; the call to return is strong. Denying it to self is foolish; to others criminal.
We will break free, it’s inevitable. We will rise, sooner than later. The rock we leave behind will always call to us and we are an eternal part of it. Our birthplace: yes. Our home: no. We are the children of the stars.
Teachers are for the willing. Often, we are blind and our minds are not receptive to learning. Without knowing, we pass on the opportunity. And as the saying goes, she offends easily and comes around only once.
Master is an old chicken in search of a young egg. The mystery is his purpose and he and Gabrielle even have a discussion about it. Needless to say, nothing comes of it, but it piques our curiosity greatly.
Love guides Praxiteles; Master has no such or any visible motivation. Out of the blue, he picks the bard – highly unlikely that. My thinking here goes along the lines of heroes attracting attention, divine and other, making the Master an agent or interested party with something to gain; something begging for an answer.
The battle is a ruse. Interestingly, both Gabrielle and Master know that, but both play the roles expected of them. Why do I say that? The real meat and potatoes are in the discussions about the battle and the casting of Gabrielle in the person of Xu Shen. There is more of that in the adventures ahead, for obvious reasons, albeit with less and less objection. There will be one distinct change, but have patience, it must come at a proper time. You will understand why, then.
There are liberties taken and the three main philosophies intermingle to enhance comprehension. Generally, the tales serve the millennia-honored tradition of gathering around the hearth or fire and passing the cultural torch via storytelling. Same function here, serving as the springboard for ideas.
This episode: righteousness in service. However and whatever you define it, there are various angles shown for your opinion. Like Gabrielle, you decide. But first, you have to be willing. Are you willing? Discuss in FORUMS.
To show without context renders a thing useless. You ask why the Ancient Chinese speak the way they do, why they view the world thru a certain lens. This episode introduces the driving force behind that – philosophy.
Roughly, there are three main schools: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Not religions; the first one is not, contrary to popular opinion and the other two carry a distinction between philosophical and religious.
Hollywood and popular entertainment do a great disservice, taking the defining elements and simply parroting them. We accept without seeing the deeper meaning; we see what but not the why.
The Muse refuses to compromise for the sake of convenience. The beliefs, values, and morals, and their wellsprings are here. It does make for slower, harder viewing but at once it elevates the show. Xena: Warrior Princess 2.0 is better this way. Instead of merely mindlessly consuming, you think.
Gabrielle is us, learning this strange, unfamiliar culture by tiny steps. She quickly realizes that existing without adapting will not work. That does not mean she has to abandon her principles and embrace the alien. The bard seeks her own way, a blend of East and West – uniquely original, uniquely Gabrielle. Discuss in FORUMS.
The way that becomes a way is not the Immortal Way the name that becomes a name is not the Immortal Name
The maiden of Heaven and Earth has no name the mother of all things has a name
Thus in innocence we see the beginning in passion we see the end
two different names for one and the same
The one we call dark the dark beyond dark the door to all beginnings
Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously.
Lead a moral life,
Be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
Develop wisdom and understanding
Lao Ma does not trust Xena; she suspects bad intentions and plans accordingly. The initial time Warrior Princess is shown the Chin door, an escort of six young recruits suffices. Predictably, the warlord murders them.
Why not sacrifice few more? Why a general and forty men, veterans all? Surely, even with her reputation and martial prowess, that’s overkill. Ah, but you miss the point. Zhang spies on Xena to determine whether she is a threat and to what extent – the soldiers are there to keep him alive for reporting back.
To his horror, he learns that sweet, innocent Gabrielle wields the power in this relationship. She is the one that tames Xena. Makes sense, an Amazon seducing and binding a powerful woman to her will. Even in Far East, the women warriors have a reputation and here Lao Ma installs one into future Empress.
The general draws the wrong conclusion: if A > B, then A is greater than B at her best or worst (depending on your perspective). If Xena Khan is terror personified, what does that make Gabrielle? There is a venomous snake in the palace, running free with no one the wiser.
Yes, Lao Ma confirms bard’s fighting ability with her little test. Yet consider that Greece treats Amazons as warring savages, little more than animals which tear at each other and neighbors. That view is exported abroad.
What no one is aware of, giving Gabrielle a significant advantage, is her humanity and diplomatic talents. Zhang is smart; he connects the dots. To affect such profound change in Xena Khan, the woman who transforms her is special beyond measure. And dangerous; extremely dangerous.
Lao Ma brings the seeds of the dynasty’s destruction right into the heart of the empire. Gabrielle the physical threat is completely and utterly eclipsed by Gabrielle the mouth. Let the games begin. Discuss in FORUMS.
Like all orphans, the boy’s fondest wish is a rescue by his parents. One day, they will step thru those doors, look at him and smile, and he will just … know. The past forgotten, he will gain a family and love. Unfortunately, in Real Life, the orphan grows in an institution or bounces around foster homes.
The tradition of monasteries and religious orders to gather recruits from discards of society is well-documented. Get them young, indoctrinate their impressionable minds, and viola – converts. Yes, but keep in mind that the outside offers a far crueler fate of starvation, slavery, or death. The proper safety net does not exist until we close in on modern times and even today things are far from perfect in that regard. You don’t want to be alone in this world growing up.
Sent off to remote location and kept in the dark to keep those pesky succession questions at bay, Solan finds a family of sorts with the monks. They are not bad people; they interests simply lie in the spiritual. With all the vows and observances, it must drive the restless boy wild, but it’s all he has and knows. And then Xena shows up, rips him away from a safe place, and takes him to another country.
Saying the boy is not jumping for joy understates the sentiment by miles. Solan hides in the discipline, building a wall of meditation and silence against his mother. Mirroring the pleading in Return of Callisto, Xena’s frustration with her son reaches a boiling point and she seeks help.
That’s in character. Xena breathes warlord and patient label does not apply to her. Gabrielle and Athena do their best to tame that aspect of her personality, but unscheduled appearances happen. Touch or threaten her family and you will find out how quickly the Warrior Princess turns deadly.
Enter the bard. The scrolls are propaganda, written by one of the finest minds in the art of PR that walked the Ancient Greek soil. They are also something else – a window into the soul of a remarkable human being, a woman whose core revolves around unconditional love.
It’s no coincidence that Solan binges on the scrolls at his first go. Wouldn’t you, after walking for years in the desert of gentle neglect, overindulge in the oasis of love? Xena’s son does and in the process begins to think of Gabrielle as his real mother and Xena one of many. How come?
We hold an ideal of things in our head. Real Life often shatters that illusion and we grow increasingly jaded. No Tooth Fairy, no imaginary friends, no Santa Clause – cynics are children who grow up. Solan finds the mother of his dreams and she is not Xena. Discuss in FORUMS.
Meleager predictably fails twice and Hercules takes a dive off a cliff courtesy of Talos. Clearly, lone cowboy does not get the job done. A mighty team assembles, concocts a plan (go Xena), and sets forth to defeat the rampaging monster. Done deal but for the details, right? Not.
It’s a heroes’ row: Xena, Hercules, Autolycus, Nebula, Meleager, and Solan. Wait, the boy? Sure; who better to approach and befriend the automaton? Xena’s son does not appear a threat, unlike the rest. Except Meleager the Mighty – he survives where other heroes perish for the same reason.
Why does Talos go bad after years of faithful service to the citizens of Crete? Lots of possibilities, including Hera, but I stake my money on loneliness. Centuries pass in solitude – even a robot will go a bit wonky.
Talos does exist in myth, a bronze giant with a vein running from his neck to his ankle. His weakness, similar to Achilles, is his heel. A single bronze nail secures the fluid that gives him life. Some versions have Talos injure his heel via an accidental cut or scrape and effectively bleed to death.
The choice of the Titan scroll is deliberate; same for the boy. I believe the conclusion rings more authentic and dares to defy convention. Instead of watching Xena and others destroy a unique creature by tearing it apart while still alive (setting deserving or not aside) we witness Talos make his own fate. And Solan learns a lesson about life and heroes that will be with him for the rest of his life. Discuss in FORUMS.
Let’s pause for a moment to Thank You everyone following and contributing to the series rewrite. Now, onward to 100!
This deep into the project allows different perspective. Creating an adventure is actually the easiest task, Muse willing. Words are simple and plentiful. Research, watching the original numerous times for nuances and inspiration, rewrites, blog, commentaries, and admin stuff take the majority of the time. As in Real Life, preparing and supporting the task exceeds writing.
Nothing exists in the vacuum and other stuff encroaches. Personal life and a job come first and with this economy and the usual ups and downs of a relationship, that can be a rather large first. Patience.
YouTube banned the account without giving a reason, even thou the commentaries were disclaimed up and down the block and the use of pictures stopped in the middle of first season. I think some people didn’t understand the purpose of the project and endlessly complained until YouTube caved in.
Fear not, updating the website and will put all past and future videos directly on it. And as always, no ads – even if you grumble about occasional delays in posting, keep in mind the small business that allows me the freedom to do that. Life is compromise.
Battle on, Xena
Xena first adventure without Gabrielle brings a lot of familiar faces together: Hercules, Autolycus, Solan, Meleager, and Nebula (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys). There are limits with such a wide cast yet a nice change from Xena and Gabrielle focus of most episodes (opinion may differ).
The challenge lies in transitioning from Chin to Greece without skimping on Solan’s development while leaving room for the gang to strut their stuff. By and large, missions accomplished. The fun but difficult part centers on creation of multi character conversations; there words, insults, and innuendo fly fast and heavy. Autolycus shines here, with some of the best lines.
The clever twist deals with Talos’ fate; you expect one thing only to get another. Throw in various subplots, tying lose ends or setting up the future and it does appear to get busy. Actually, quite a bit happens without seeming that way.
The banter is the highlight. Autolycus and Nebula move on after this adventure; Meleager and Hercules stick around. True, it will not be as lively, but reinforcements are on the way. In a way, the gang offers the Muse an opportunity to experiment with an ensemble or at least elements of it.
Did I say earlier that Gabrielle is absent? Her influence remains strong and guides things. Almost as if she has a hand in the outcome – makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Discuss in FORUMS.
Gods are highly territorial, especially in established, mature civilizations. The Roman Empire has terrain to burn – after the fall, half of it survives for a thousand years as Byzantine Empire. The Greek Gods morph into Roman equivalents, with the same deity transforming and transitioning over the years.
Athena has ticket to travel and uses it frequently. However, her seemingly unlimited reach has boundaries, Silk Road being a chief example. There, other divine beings vie for followers and faith; intrusions, no matter the reason, are violently met and repelled. Where Gabrielle goes, her wife cannot follow.
More than that, there is the promise of a normal life. Admittedly, the meaning parts company from the standard definition – this is Xena’s life and nothing is ordinary, and yet it is. Larger than life characters attract similarly oversized issues, true, but it’s often the simple human concerns that weigh the heaviest.
Xena and Gabrielle travel alone; Goddess of War says goodbye again. One day, we fear, the bard is not coming home. Discuss in FORUMS.
“It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide” defines one of the four great, classical Chinese novels. The romantic version: the noble struggle from division to unity. The reality: bloodbath, millions dead.
The Great Wall comes into true being during the Ming dynasty, centuries later. There are Mongolian emperors during Chin’s lengthy history, the population blooms massively, and the divisions are not there during Xena’s time. The original weaves a fairy tale, ungrounded in reality. You cannot take Chin with a band of raiders, unless you are Genghis Khan and your humble band outnumbers locusts.
2.0 occurs in the time of upheaval and strife, placing the Warrior Princess right into the bloody heart of the civil war. Caesar’s lessons take root, unconventional thinking shows up, and the brilliant strategic mind begins the unification of Chin. Xena does not fail – her allies betray her again.
You stupid, stupid woman; your hatred destroys you more surely than any opponent.
True, she brings it on herself. The paranoid, controlling personality picks the wrong warlord for the face office. Borias, the one and future albeit short-lived Emperor, does not have the backbone or diplomatic skills necessary to handle the royal court of snakes. Xena does not help things by murdering his many wives and children, breaking him mentally; he does not recover, becoming a yes man.
The Warrior Princess’ Caesar experiment and later Ares and Gabrielle, amply illustrate that working with an equal or stronger partner benefits Xena greatly. She needs someone to stand up to her and rein in her impulses, hold her accountable, and challenge her. Being the force of nature that she is, it’s extremely rare to find someone like that.
Do note that none of the three above betray Xena. Caesar does misguided things out of love and because he is a vengeful bastard; Ares we leave for the fourth season; and Gabrielle is the very definition of loyalty and faith in another.
Alas, Borias takes Lao Ma’s offer, thinking to protect his unborn child and secure the throne. He is not picky about which woman accomplishes that task, but the Empress is the quicker, more direct path. To his detriment, he forgets that Xena does not share. Discuss in FORUMS.