The Struggle is All. - THE DELIVERER

By: Lord Nelson
As predicted by both Xenastaff and the two stars of the show, The
Deliverer has proven to be the most controversial and compelling of all the
episodes of Xena:  Warrior Princess.  Nobody has taken a wishy washy stand
upon it and to my mind that is one of the greatest strengths of both the
Xenastaff and the show.  
Xena:  Warrior Princess has never, ever been simple minded, lowest common
denominator entertainment.  From the very beginning in the three Hercules
episodes in which Xena was introduced, Xenastaff has always challenged us.
This show ENGAGES us despite the whooshes, sometimes silly asides, and
outright broad comedy.  This show has always made us think and feel.  It
makes us think and feel because its characters have never been exemplars in
a perfect fantasy world, where all our desires, political, emotional, or
otherwise, are achieved.  They are people with flaws and faults.  However,
it must be remembered that these are not AVERAGE people.  Xena and
Gabrielle are HEROS---people with immense moral courage, physical courage,
and great, great gifts.  Xena and Gabrielle are MORE than us.  Defeating
bad guys and crushing monsters are small change to the great mythical
heroes.  The greatest of heros fight the war WITHIN and triumph.  Xena has
always been fighting that war, and now Gabrielle, as much as we all want to
protect her, must fight that war as well.  
  Xena: Warrior Princess has always been a commentary on the human
condition, and one of the most salient parts of the human condition is
struggle.  Life is NOT easy.  Life is often offensive, just as rape is
offensive.  Life is hard, even for the happiest of people.  Even in the
happiest of cultures, people must STRUGGLE to express themselves.  They
must STRUGGLE to grow.  Yes, sometimes they even must STRUGGLE to survive.
War, famine, rapine, and murder EXIST and must be struggled against.  The
effects of those things upon a person's soul must be STRUGGLED against.
Those people who cannot stand up for themselves INSIDE themselves end up
leading sad, ineffectual lives, or they end up dead.  People suffer.  This
is as it should be, because without struggle and suffering there can be no
transcendance---no apotheoisis---no chance of reaching the godlike quality
that exists in us all.  Xenastaff is to be praised mightily for staring at
the struggle of life so unflinchingly.
Gabrielle has had it easy; she's only faced two major traumas in her life.
 Now litterally she is being tested by flames, and as such, the person who
cares about her most in this world will be tested too.  Xenastaff has
thrown a fantasy that is more real than reality in our faces.  Xenastaff
has CHALLENGED US to suffer with our heros.  We have a choice.  We can
suffer with Xena and Gabrielle or we can turn tail and run.  I intend to
struggle alongside them forever.
I grieve for Gabrielle and for Xena.  Xena has suffered from the moment we
met her.  Her character is ABOUT suffering.  I weep for her because she
must now endure the greatest suffering she has ever endured. I ache when
Xena suffers.  I grieve for Gabrielle because now, at last, she feels the
consequences of her choice to follow the Thracian Warrior Woman.  Xena is a
professional warrior.  Killing is her stock and trade.  It was absolutely
inevitable that Xena's belief that killing is sometimes necessary would
make Gabrielle kill.  Gabrielle chose for good reason to kill Maridian, she
thought that she was justified.  Gabrielle thought her entire view of the
world was at risk as well as a man she cared about.  She WAS justified only
to find out that her killing Maridian was a part of a vast plot to dominate
reality with evil.  Gabrielle has been presented with a challenge that
average people would find impossible.  GABRIELLE IS A HERO!  Despite the
heavy price she must pay during her struggle, SHE WILL WIN!  Of that I have
absolute, unshakable faith.  This is mythmaking on the grandest scale and
makes any simple argument about politics, culture, gender bias, homophobia,
racisim or all such concerns wither away into irrelevence. 
 This is no soap opera with flat, uninteresting characters making arid
decisions about events we could care less about.  Such shows do not even
THINK about what Xenastaff is attempting.  Xena:  Warrior Princess is about
the struggle to bring MEANING into people's hearts.
I cannot come up with enough praise for this episode.  There has been much
wonderful analysis of the events of the screenplay.  I won't repeat them.
The climactic betrayal landed upon me as if the sun, the moon, the planets,
and all the stars dropped on my head.  I have yet to recover.  I am weeping
as I type.
There is nothing to be said about Renee O'Connor's performance.  I can
only come up with shattering.
Lucy's Xena still astonishes.
Jennifer Ward-Leland radiated pure power and pain.  The historical
Bouadicia had her husband and four daughters raped and murdered in front of
her eyes by the Romans.  She herself was raped.  You could see the
bitterness and pain of that behind Ms. Ward-Leland's eyes the entire time.
Everybody outdid themselves.
There was an epic sweep and terrible power in the photography and
direction of this episode.  Oley Sassone is a great director.  I couldn't
bear the intensity of the last fifteen minutes of the show.  Most of that
lays in the lap of Robert Field.  The sustained tension he established
through his editing was awesome.
I emailed Tyldus and called him a "Cold Son of a Bitch."  I meant it as
the greatest possible compliment.  Fortunately, he took it that way.  I
ADORE the script, and HATE what he did to Gabrielle.  I forgive him.  For
Gabrielle and Xena to reach the apotheosis of their destinies they must
endure searing pain.  I understand that and welcome it.
This was the greatest 44 minutes of television I've ever seen.  Remember
all of you on Xenaverse and elsewhere, the opening credit narration ends
with "HER COURAGE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!"  I implore you all to have the
moral courage to stand and fight alongside Xena and Gabrielle as they go
through the hell Xenastaff has planned for them.  It will be worth the