"Married With Fishsticks"
by Michelle Erica Green

The Little Mermaid

"Married With Fishsticks" Plot Summary:

Gabrielle envies Xena's maternal instincts when Eve won't stop crying until her mother arrives. Joxer arrives and shows that he'd make an even worse parent: his idea of baby food is baby back ribs. Meanwhile, Aphrodite and Discord quarrel because Aphrodite has made one of Discord's favorite bad guys become a romantic idiot. They toss fireballs at one another, one of which hits Gabrielle when she and Joxer walk along a nearby dock. She falls into the water and begins to dream . . .

In her dream, Gabrielle is a lovely mermaid, who sports legs on land but a fish-tail in the water. She has amnesia, and is shocked to learn that she is married to a man named Hagar who's a dead ringer for Joxer. They have three children: Flipper, an adolescent seal with the face of an ape, Urchin, a pre-teen with spiky scales on his head, and Roe, an infant who resembles a crustacean. Since Gabrielle's mermaid name is Crustacea, one might say the baby looks like her. Hagar feeds his wife an elixir which is supposed to help her recover her wits, but we soon learn that Aphrodite and Discord - or Crabella and Sturgina, as they are known under the sea - are providing him with the potion to repress her memories, because she's a dead ringer for his real wife, who walked out on him. Hagar needs a wife because he is running for President; he needs both the image of a stable domestic life and someone to cook and clean for him.

Crustacea is terrorized by her wild children and confused by her friends Crabella and Sturgina, both of whom want President Hagar for themselves. When eventually she insists that the kids behave and Hagar help with the chores, he develops so much respect for her that he cooks her favorite foods and begins to woo her. However, her two "friends" trick Crustacea into falling into the pool at the club where she has taken Roe for a Swimboree class, and an octopus nearly kills her before Crustacea destroys it. At home, Hagar vows his love, and the two decide to reaffirm their marriage vows. However, Sturgina and Crabella have replaced the elixir with a potion to help Gabrielle recover her memories, and as the ceremony proceeds, she sees a wicker hanging that reminds her of Xena's chakram.

A series of flashbacks ensue, in which Gabrielle remembers fighting at Xena's side and hearing the warrior princess call her name. She stops the wedding, to the relief of an increasingly guilty Hagar who has been trying to tell her that she isn't really his wife Crustacea. Crabella and Sturgina offer themselves as potential mates for Hagar, but he takes Gabrielle's advice to try to reconcile with the real Crustacea. Gabrielle bids farewell to the children and reaches for Hagar, then wakes in the real world to discover Joxer giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation. She kisses him, then comes to her senses and punches him out.

After Aphrodite reveals that Gabrielle was unconscious for a full minute, Xena asks her friend whether there's anything she wants to tell her. Then Eve cries, and Gabrielle asks to hold the baby. Eve settles happily in Gabrielle's arms and Xena's skepticism vanishes as the two women walk off with Joxer following.


An episode for all the Gabrielle/Joxer fans of the world, "Married With Fishsticks" had enough cute moments to make up for the unpleasantness of that pairing for Xena/Gab 'shippers and those who just find Joxer annoying. The colorful, over-bright cinematography was really superb, with the most vivid Hawaiian decor and gratuitous Elvis impersonations ever seen on TV. Gabrielle looked rather charming in the awful bimbo-blonde wig, especially doing a Lolita imitation sucking on a lollipop with heart-shaped sunglasses on as "Stayin' Alive" played in the background. The fish schticks weren't as annoying as in "Fins, Femmes, and Gems," which made Aphrodite look stupid and gross; here, she had a perverse Southern Belle charm, while Discord was her usual charming bad-girl self.

But despite Ted Raimi's sincere, evolving charm, Renee O'Connor looked unconvinced and resistant to the love story. And we really have to buy the love story, because otherwise Gabrielle just looks delusional. I can't say I blame her since O'Connor surely knows a number of fans will despise this episode on principle, but it kind of ruined the fun to see Gabrielle not really having fun in such a setting. I don't expect any long-term consequences of the episode so I won't lose any sleep over this, and I will never forget Raimi wearing the worst Hawaiian shirt under the sea, but there has to be a better way to get Gabrielle leied.

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