"Fins, Femmes, and Gems"
by Michelle Erica Green

Fish Schticks

"Fins, Femmes, and Gems" Plot Summary:

Aphrodite dances into one of her temples lamenting the boring tributes left by her worshippers. A thug-for-hire arrives with an enormous gem, the Mystic Diamond, which Aphrodite says kept the North Star lit in the sky. She tells him she wants it for her personal constellation and orders Mykenos to take it to her priest in Parnassus, though he offers to let her tie it to his arrow so that his shaft might bring her satisfaction. She giggles and then warns him that Xena will surely come after him, so she's going to have to sprinkle some Obsession perfume on her...it turns whatever the victim is thinking about into a full-time preoccupation.

Sure enough, moments after the thugs leave, Xena enters with Gabrielle and Joxer, exclaiming that she can't believe Aphrodite stole the North Star for her own glory. While they search the temple, Aphrodite sprinkles them with Obsession. Joxer is looking at a pictograph of the story of Attis the Ape Man, and confuses himself with the legend. Gabrielle has just caught her reflection in the mirror and becomes completely self-absorbed. Xena is standing in front of an offering of fish, and declares that, with the fate of the world in the balance, she wants to go fishing.

Xena leads the others to a lake where she used to fish with her brother Lyceus. Gabrielle declares that the lake is almost as lovely as she is herself, while Joxer eats bugs and envisions Gabrielle as Gaia, the earthy goddess whom Attis loved in the legend. Xena, who knows that the others are obsessed but can't see that she is as well, uses her chakram to cause an avalanche which will divert Mykenos into their path by the lake. She then dives in after fish, but Gabrielle is too busy trying to make love to her own reflection to join her. Gabrielle falls in and nearly drowns, but when Xena tries to resusciate her, Gabrielle chokes, "Not on the lips!", exclaiming that hers might get chapped. She then says that when she awoke and looked into Xena's eyes, she knew there could only be one person for her...herself.

Xena gets huffy and goes off to fish some more, recalling in flashback that she and her brother tried to catch a legendary big fish named Solaris in this lake. She creates a fishing kite made of parchment and cuts off some of Gabrielle's hair to use as bait, though the vain Gabrielle protests. Joxer, naked, swings in on a rope and kidnaps Gabrielle, but Xena is glad to have peace and quiet for a few minutes until she needs help with her kite. When Joxer takes her to his tree and offers to make passionate monkey love to Gabrielle, she insists that he clothe himself in her nightgown and waits for Xena to rescue her while Joxer attempts to summon the animals to do his bidding.

Xena doesn't want to stop fishing long enough to rescue the diamond, so she tells Gabrielle that only the perfect woman should possess the perfect gem. Gabrielle goes after the thugs, taking the diamond and beating them up. But when they pursue, Xena, whistling her theme song, sends Joxer to rescue Gabrielle because she can't be bothered to stop fishing. When the men get too close, Xena finally attacks them, but she loses Solaris in the process. She rigs a contraption to launch the diamond back into the night sky, but it dangles the diamond as bait over the water, and Solaris jumps out of the water to grab the diamond just as Xena cuts the rope that sets the catapult in motion. The fish and the stone both fly into the northern sky, where the North Star is returned to its rightful place and the fish becomes a new constellation.

Xena announces that she dedicates the starscape to Lyceus, then has a sudden insight - it wasn't fishing she was obsessed with, it was her brother, and her sense that she owed him something. She asks Gabrielle whether there's anything bothering her which she needs to get in touch with, and Gabrielle says there's nothing, other than the fact that no one gives her credit for anything and everyone views her as a silly sidekick. Both women are freed from their obsessions and lie down to sleep, with Xena promising to give Gabrielle more credit where it's due. Joxer is still grunting in the trees, but Xena says she'll fix him in the morning.


Somebody needs to tell the producers of Xena that the fish jokes are wearing a little thin. The last time we heard this many, in "The Quill Is Mightier," they were downright misogynistic, not to mention in bad taste; the ones in this episode were just not funny. And the monkey jokes, stemming from "Chimpules" on "Yes, Virginia, There Really Is a Hercules," are almost as bad. Please, someone pitch some humor which has nothing to do with animals.

This was an anomalous episode of Xena in that it was boring. There have been episodes which were not popular because of what happened to the characters, like this season's "The Debt," but at least those had intricate, engrassing plots and were visually lush. This one had a lot of the usual schticks - chakrams causing avalanches, a guy swinging by ropes in the trees, Xena and Gabrielle almost getting liplocked - but it also had a lot of slow time, with too many boring shots of Xena's kite and Gabrielle's midriff. I found the myth of Attis and Gaia rather touching, and wouldn't have minded seeing Joxer make a serious play for Gabrielle in his deluded state, but instead they just had him jumping around and grunting, making only slighly more of a fool of himself than usual. And the explanation that Xena's obsession with fishing really stems from her guilt-ridden feelings for her brother...give me a break. Gabrielle's motivations were entirely predictable, and Joxer, who had the most thankless role, didn't even get an onscreen moment of growth.

I did like the astrological mythology - the thought of Aphrodite stealing a star to enhance her own constellation is pretty funny, though that's more something I'd expect of Ares. Given the historical importance of the North Star, I guess we have Xena to thank for the Underground Railroad along with her thousands of accomplishments in her own era. That's something, at least.

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