"The Quill Is Mightier..."
by Michelle Erica Green

Don't Tell Me What To Do

"The Quill Is Mightier..." Plot Summary:

Xena fans trash a temple to Aphrodite, writing pro-Xena graffiti everywhere. Ares tells the outraged goddess of love that Gabrielle, who writes Xena's legend, is the real problem. Aphrodite drops in on Xena and Gabrielle and curses Gabrielle's scroll when Xena, tired of being written about, suggests that Gabrielle try fiction. Gabrielle writes that while Xena was off fishing, she woke up with a jerk and was attacked by barbarians. Then she is attacked by barbarians after she wakes up...without Xena, and in the presence of Joxer. She realizes that everything she writes will come true, in whatever literal sense the gods choose.

Trying to be responsible, Gabrielle writes that war lost all its power...and Ares promptly drops to Earth, his powers gone. Fearful of the damage she could do, Gabrielle then writes that the force which enchanted her scroll lost all its power...and Aphrodite falls on top of Ares. At this point, Gabrielle tries to summon Xena, only to bring her wanna-be friend Minya instead.

Joxer asks Aphrodite for romantic advice and tries to write Gabrielle into love with him, but succeeds only in conjuring three naked apparitions of her. Gabrielle sends them to the cave where the barbarians have been banished, and hides the scroll in Joxer's scabbard...which he promptly trades for a necklace to woo her. When the group goes off after the scroll, Aphrodite must endure the indignity of hearing that she smells bad and Gabrielle finds herself attracted to Ares.

After fighting off barbarians, naked Gabrielles, and the peddler, Gabrielle writes that the scroll came to Xena, thus bringing Xena to them. Xena realizes that in order to break the spell, Gabrielle needs to write the truth rather than fiction, and has Joxer dictate to her the events while Xena fights off Ares' army, using the seafood she caught because Gabrielle wrote that she was fishing. Aphrodite and Ares get their powers back, take care of Joxer and the army respectively, and leave the mortals alone.


The beginning of this episode was absolutely hilarious, the kind where you shriek aloud. The image of Gabrielle waking with a jerk and finding Joxer...then writing that drinks were on the house, and it starts raining beer...even Aphrodite dropping on Ares was funny, and I got a kick out of Gabrielle writing in pictographic language which nevertheless created verbal puns. Then it got just plain nasty. Gabrielle as a trio of silent, naked go-go girls, all the remarks about how bad Aphrodite smells...when Joxer started making fish jokes, I decided the show had gotten too misogynistic for me. Not even Xena talking gooey to Gabrielle could make up for that, especially since Ares was hitting on a willing Gabrielle during much of the latter part of the episode.

I usually can't stand Joxer, but they used him well for visual humor; I loved the image of him wearing the ancient Greek equivalent of those caps that hold beers with long straws attached. And it wasn't out of character for him to wish for a naked Gabrielle, but did we have to get three of them in singing-group fashion? And did the real Gabrielle have to have the hots for ARES? I don't like it when the show attempts to be funny by sabotaging the regulars. Xena wasn't around enough to get into any real trouble, but this episode could have used a genuinely funny character like Autolycus or Salmoneus, rather than ridiculing a bunch of women.

I did like the Greek drama-esque aspect in that people got EXACTLY what they asked for...like Midas turning things to gold with his touch so that he couldn't even eat, Aphrodite and Ares were caught in their own trap. Yet Ares scarcely suffered, other than not getting to make war for a day, and since Aphrodite needed to learn not to envy a mortal woman, Xena is by extension as smelly and disgusting as we were told that the goddess was. I don't get why this series wants to drag its heroine down in the dirt so often this season.

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