The Warrior Princess and God of War are heading in different directions; he is the same and she is not. Xena repeatedly explains how things stand after her adventures with Gabrielle and Athena; Ares listens but refuses to hear the words.
I am not that which I was and the woman you remember does not exist. I look like her, I sound like her, and I have her memories, but I am not her. Ares, you are in love with the past.
The God of War does not get it at first. Orphan of War ends with Xena closing their chapter and moving on; here, she tries and tries until she gives up and follows suit. I believe she feels something for Ares, with the amount of chances he gets. But there is more to it.
Gabrielle’s gift to Xena is truth and the scenes between them are a reminder of that; they keep each other honest. Later, Warrior Princess hammers it home until Ares’ thick skull finally registers what she is saying. The gradual dawning of the light happens subtly under our noses until the key moment.
Xena comes completely clean regarding her relationship with Gabrielle and admits certain truths not necessarily to Ares, but more to self. She has a candid look inside her own soul. This is Xena’s revelation and once out and set in stone, there is no return. The God of War is next.
Ares faces a choice that determines his future with Xena. Lie or evade and lose her or come clean and live with consequences. Earlier, Xena and Gabrielle opt for sincerity. Later, God of War does the same. He earns broken fingers and shattered jaw for it, but those are only the surface signs.
Ares, whether he admits it or not, hurts inside; Gabrielle and Xena left their mark on him, guiding him back to humanity. The emotional pain over what he did to the Warrior Princess tears into him and shows the God of War what it is to truly love and care for another. Ares cries. Discuss in FORUMS.