See You In The Morning
"Been There Done That" Plot Summary:
Xena awakens to a gorgeous morning in a village where two warring families - Lycos and Menos - are on the verge of a bloodbath. Joxer is killed attempting to break up a struggle, and Xena and Gabrielle sadly cremate him at dusk. The next morning, Xena awakens...to find that the day before never happened, except in her memory. Joxer is alive, and Gabrielle and the rest of the village have no memory of the events which led to his death. This time, however, Xena's horse is killed, and the next time around, it's Gabrielle...
As Xena lives through the same day over and over, she finds that she can make changes in the events, but can't stop the entire day from repeating as if it never happened before. In her desperation to break the cycle, she kills the rooster which starts the day, kills townspeople, kills Joxer...all to no avail. Finally she discovers the problem: a pair of star-crossed lovers from the House of Menos and House of Lycos respectively believe that their families will never let them marry, so the woman takes poison which will kill her by the next day, and the man prays to Cupid never to let that day arrive.
Once she knows this, Xena is able to prevent the poison from being swallowed. She also makes peace between the houses by preventing an accidental death, revealing that Lady Menos saved Lady Lycos' life, and forcing the enemies to put down their arms. Thus the lovers are able to be together, the repetitions end, and Xena finally gets turnips instead of eggs for breakfast.
A plot summary does not begin to do justice to this screamingly funny episode, which did an admirable job of not giving its plot secret away too soon. If viewers knew from the beginning how the cycle would end, the repetitions might have gotten boring, but they were suspenseful as well as hilarious. Joxer's stupidity was used to hysterical comic effect, as was the love-hate relationship the women have with him. And for people who suspect there's more than just friendship to Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, this episode was a treasure trove of delicious innuendo.
Joxer was full of stupid suggestions which turned out not to be so stupid as the situation became increasingly ridiculous - he insisted that they should become a common target for the village's wrath, pointing out that "I know lots of people who've bonded over their hatred of me - you two, for example," a line which might also apply to segments of Xena's audience. He's the butt of a great many jokes in this episode - hit in the head every morning by a horseshoe, given a noogie when Xena discovers that he's alive, tossing knives around until confronted with a much more powerful weapon in a scene taken straight out of Indiana Jones movies.
Gabrielle and Xena were also the butt of a fair number of jokes; on more than one occasion, Xena left Gabrielle sulking while she went off to research the problem, and the miserable young lover told her that he never suspected she might be the hero who could break the spell because he was expecting Hercules or Sinbad. My favorite repetition was the one where Xena killed Joxer just after he woke her up, leaving Gabrielle stunned and speechless.
Still, there were more romantic moments between then women than conflict. During the first cycle (and the most serious, since we didn't yet know that Joxer would be reincarnated so quickly), Xena and Gabrielle curled up in one another's arms to sleep. When Gabrielle died in a later repetition, Xena awoke the "next" morning and embraced her passionately, only to be interrupted by Joxer shouting "Group hug!" and jumping in. Gabrielle's guilty expression and flustered behavior when Joxer asked Xena whether she had a hickey on her neck later on was priceless. Fans who were concerned that Joxer's presence might drive a wedge between the two women clearly have nothing to worry about; if anything, he provides an excuse for more flirting between them, since his obliviousness allows narrow-minded audience members to make the same blind assumptions as he does about the lack of evident intimacy.
It's hard to find anything not to like about Xena. Sure, the show plays havoc with mythology and depicts a lot of gratuitous swordfights. It also shows people caring about one another, communities coming together, and women who are equal to men, thousands of years before their counterparts on other fantastical series. If I had a daughter, I'd tell her to skip her homework for Xena.