Gabrielle’s innocence has been a key part of Xena throughout seasons 1 and 2. Gabrielle doesn’t kill people. Gabrielle tries to prevent other people from killing people. Gabrielle seeks good and justice for all people and in all situations. And, I think, Gabrielle’s innocence keeps Xena on the straight-and-narrow even as Xena does kill people, by checking Xena’s violent impulses at times and always pushing for nonviolent solutions. It’s a yin-yang situation, and it was pretty firmly entrenched by the time I got to season 3, disc 2.
And then, in “The Deliverer” Gabrielle committed murder.
It was a surprisingly powerful moment, really well-done, and I was nearly in tears. And I’m still impressed by it. First, because the show handled the shift from light-hearted to deathly-serious without being cheesy about it (well, cheesier than normal, anyway). And second, because the change was permanent.
I actually spent most of the rest of the show waiting for time to be undone, somehow, to restore the status quo, like it did the last time Gabrielle shed blood (in a “Wonderful Life” episode where Xena wishes she was never born– she takes back the wish, and undoes the timeline in which Gabrielle suffers.) I expected Gabrielle’s innocence to be like Dr. House’s misanthropy, or Mr. Monk’s OCD– without it, the show falls apart, and so the stories will always work to restore the status quo within a few episodes. House will never find happiness, and Monk will never find normalcy. But Gabrielle committed murder.
To a certain extent, I almost feel like it shouldn’t “count” as murder– a large group of people manipulated her and her situation until it was necessary for her to survive. But her innocence was gone regardless, so I suppose it stands.
The more I thought about it, though, the more it seemed analogous to rape, rather than murder. Outsiders forcing a loss of innocence, the blood, the shock, the lingering impact…the guilt, that she shouldn’t have gone with them alone, Xena’s guilt, that she should have protected Gabrielle better…the fact that the act impregnated Gabrielle only made the parallel that much stronger.
Gabrielle’s reaction to her hell-baby was also interesting. She knew it could only be the child of Dehak– the god of ultimate evil– because, well, she hadn’t slept with any human men lately, and, oh yeah, it only needed to gestate for a day. And yet she insisted that the child was her daughter, and was not evil. It makes sense, in light of her loss of innocence– an attempt to reaffirm her control over her own life, and to find some positive outcome from the terrible ordeal.
And yet, I’ve always had trouble sympathizing with innocent Gabrielle. She’s never annoyed me, but sometimes her moralizing seemed overly simplistic. And here as well, my first reaction to the pregnancy was, “They’d better figure out how to abort right away so they don’t have to kill something that looks like a baby.” Once she was born, and looked human enough, I was willing to sympathize with Gabrielle’s sentiment that the while was half-human, and therefore had the potential for good– but it was only a few minutes before the toddler killed one of her keepers, and I was back on the side of infanticide.
And I really, really cannot condone Gabrielle’s decision to send the girl off in a basket, and pretend to Xena that she was dead. I think if anyone could’ve raised her to be good against her nature, Gabrielle could have– but it’s not a task to leave to complete strangers who won’t even know of the danger. I think this is going to be a decision that will come back to haunt her, when the girl returns as a woman and a force to be reckoned with.
But even though I cannot agree with her reasoning, ever since that moment when her innocence was taken from her, I have sympathized with her emotions, to the point where I would say, it was good for Gabrielle’s piece of mind, and helped her recover from the shock and attempt to reclaim herself, so it couldn’t have been all bad.
And besides, Xena can kick the kid’s ass later.
(for more posts on Xena, look here!)