FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS
Season 3, Episode 18
3 October, 1998
Reviewed by SLK
RATING: 8 chakrams
SCRIBES & SCROLLS: Written by Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster (with story input also by Rob Tapert), Edited by Robert Field, Directed by Josh Becker
PASSING PARADE: Ted Raimi (Joxer), Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite); Kevin Smith (Ares); Lawrence Makoare (Maecenus); Renee Schuda (Young Xena); Callum Gallagher (Young Lyceus)
STORY SO FAR: Aphrodite puts a spell on Gabrielle, Xena and Joxer making them obsessed with whatever they were thinking about, in order to divert them from the mystical diamond she has had stolen. Xena must overcome her obsession with fishing; Gabrielle her obsession for herself and Joxer his obsession as Atis the Apeman in order to recover the diamond and return it to the skies where it will guide mankind as the North Star.
DISCLAIMER: Joxer's dignity was slightly harmed
during the production of this motion picture. However, Gabrielle's pink nightie was
restored to its original condition.
REWIND FOR: Aphrodites invention of the clamshell walkman; a Quill is Mightier barbarian makes a return from the caves; a nice bardic ditty which somehow horrifies big mean Warrior Princesses; the look on Xenas face when Gabrielle works out the identity of her one true love (and it aint Xena); a priceless editing scene where Xena swings off with Gabrielle, right under Atiss nose; a rather lovely but unlikely pink affair that Gabrielle appears to have stashed away for night attire by the campfire?!; and, tell me, why is Joxer hairless?
"Ive got it: I know what to do. The North Star is on the verge of extinction, the fate of the whole world lies in our hands. Weve got not choice: Were going fishing." Xena being a little northern hemisphere-biased with her "whole world" line, despite the fact the southern hemisphere wouldnt have given a flying fish about whether the North Star blinked out or not. I guess she meant the whole known world.
"Well, listen to a story about Gabrielle, cute little gal thats lookin real swell, perfect hair, such a lovely lass, nice firm breasts and a firm young..." Gabrielle, showing why she normally sticks to reading her stories.
"I have something very important to speak to you about. Do these boots go with this skirt?" Gabrielle asking Xena to be fashion consultant (??!). And at last the bard notices the Wonder Woman boots were what last seasons fashionable Amazon queens around Greece were wearing, not this one.
Okay, was it just me, folks, or were the subtext and/or sexual innuendo meters hitting overdrive with some very fishy lines indeed? Ill let you all decide for yourselves with the following extensive choice:
"This is going to be the best day of your young life: come on Gabrielle, lets get wet." Xena to Gabrielle... I am not saying a word other than I am fairly certain Xena was discussing swimming at the time. Er, fairly certain.
"Come on, Gabrielle, get your gear off" Xenas line is even funnier given what Gabrielle utters (albeit to Joxer) next: "Oh youd like that, wouldnt you?" Now watch what a bit of gratuitous editing on the Channel 10 promos will do for those two lines...
"She wants me to fist a fish... I cant say it, much less do it." Gabrielle to Xena. Hey, I can barely type it.
"I look into your eyes, and Xena, I finally realised there can only be one person for me in my life... me." Oh that bard ... what a tease. Just ask Xena.
"Shes come for me; I knew she would. She cant live without me." Gabrielle to the hairless wonder about her multi-talented tree-swinging rescuer.
"Youre beautiful when youre angry" Xena returns the compliment a nutbreaded over-the-limit bard once offered the Warrior Princess.
"The only reason I do any good in this world is because I do it with you." Now thats a nice way to say goodnight, Xena.
Gabrielle, inspecting a mural of flexible zug-zug positions: "Thats not humanly possible."
Xena, boredly, without missing a beat (and very sure of herself): "Sure it is."
Gabrielle: "Too loud? Are you worried were going to get there and the fishll be gone?"
Xena: "Im worried well get there and the fish will be armed."
Its unusual to get an episode pitched at all age groups which everyone seems to enjoy equally but this one magically fits the bill. It is silly, silly fun and that which was lacking on the plot side was poured into the subtext side.
So far the only Xenite I have found who hated Fins, Femmes & Gems was a distraught, sensitive young chap who felt "utterly ashamed to be a man after seeing Joxer the Apemans portrayal". (He manfully sobs to me that even a diet of footy tapes and slabs of beer will not enable him to hold his head up proudly once more as a member of the male species.)
Interestingly, I note even the most ardent anti-Joxer Xenites tended to like this episode, and I am presuming thats because it showed him in exactly the light they picture him the rest of the time: Apelike, silly and relatively off to one side. But in all fairness, I thought Ted Raimi did a really great job this episode and actually had some pretty amusing one liners of his own to deliver for once: "Atis not afraid; Atis king of the jungle" (insert whistling arrow to thunk close to his nether regions), "Atis renounce throne". Ted has good timing and it showed. Witness him also freeing the fish and calling the less empassioned jungle critters to arms. Those grins just sneak on up on you.
Xena was more Meg than Meg in places here, jarringly so, but all was forgiven because she was so darned funny. The fish fisting line had me stupefied in surprise it had even made it to tape in the US, although heavens knows how vigilant Channel 10s censors will be here.
Witness also the first ever Warrior Princess pout as Xena beseeches with only a look for a lock of Gabss golden hair. Fisherfolk out there, please explain for me how likely it is a fish will find a diamond the size of Texas an appealing lunch snack.
It was nice to see what Xena was like as a young teen, and the young girl looked enough like her to fit the bill. I now defy anyone who has seen this and Forgiven to tell me if she looked even close to being the bratty Tara clone Xena claims she was in her reckless youth.
Gabrielle was a hoot as the self obsessed minx of "absolute inviolate comeliness". And she was utterly cruel to poor Xena in her declarations of her affections for... herself. Anyone who has ever denied the possibility of subtext in Xena might like to explain what that abjectly disappointed look on Xenas face, followed by her sudden getting the hell outta there manoeuvre was all about! The Xena bods are certainly toying with their subtext fans now.
It was interesting to get a peek at two of Gabrielles insecurities. One comes thanks to Xena: she refers to the bards "little problem". Ah ha, small womans syndrome, eh? Wed never have known... Youd think shed want to be on Argo all the time if it bugged her being short.
And two, the ending, courtesy of Gabrielle: "No one gives me credit for anything and everyone thinks Im a silly sidekick."
That sounded surprisingly tinged with bitterness. Shes been feeling this all along? I guess itd be hard traipsing around after Xena day in, day out and no one even noticing you or else theyre doing the Minya thing... "And youre... youre... um..."
So what Xena said next was pretty nice: "Gabrielle, from now on Im going to make sure everyone gives you a lot more credit for the things you do."
Though I do wonder how Xena would accomplish this goal without running ahead to villages to bribe/threaten the cowed townsfolk about what to say to the bard when she arrives (and how they have to be convincing ...or else). I mean Xena did say shed make sure everyone gave her credit.
Or will we be seeing some speeches from Xena that go: "Yes I know it looked like I single-handedly killed that two headed-minotaur but really, if Gabrielle hadnt been there to sharpen my chakram last night..."
Whatever. Cool. Everyone who has ever felt sidekicky some time in their life would have liked that moment. And you could just tell both Renees and Lucys hearts were in that piece of dialogue. One suspects they meet a few fans who tend to be a little more all over Luce, and dont give Renee her dues, huh?
If this actually was whacked in for our benefit then it does remind me somewhat of that bit in Xenas Scrolls where Xena almost defensively puts Dr Covington in her place when she tries badmouthing the bard as a useless tagalong blonde. I felt at the time, that line was an unsubtle message to fans to stop riding Gabrielle, who was only just starting to become more independent and hadnt yet lost her cant fight much, only gets in the way and talks constantly traits.
This line in Fins, Femmes and Gems could have been directed at the fans again, albeit more subtly now. Or maybe it really was just meant to be a revelation about Gabrielles secret insecurity. Hmm, she really is starting to look more and more human - both after last weeks ep and now this. Well, the character developments never dull, thats for sure.
In sum, this episode is just a light, silly romp, that gives everyone a bit of fun. The acting is fine (although Xena is a little out of character) and the dialogue is sharp and mostly unpredictable - which is a blessing, if not a miracle in the Xenaverse. Sure, the plot, what there was of it doesnt really go far. And with it came some unbelievable things: a diamond becomes a North Star; briefly angsty Xena owes her brother a debt of, er, unfulfilled fishing, and despite getting a double dose of obsession, Xena is the least obsessed. But, bah, it doesnt matter, it kept us in smiles and chuckles. And the only victims were those scarred from seeing Joxer naked and a lad I know still watching footy tapes to rediscover his manhood.
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