Xena's Tabloid Scandal!
"You Are There" Plot Summary:
Xena and Gabrielle return to the Norse lands to ask Beowulf to help them track down Odin, but Beowulf, no longer in love with Gabrielle, declines. As Xena begins to fight three Valkyries, a reporter wonders why Xena has returned, since Odin has sentenced Xena to death if she attempts to enter Valhalla. During an interview, the warrior princess tells the reporter he wouldn't know the truth if it bit him in the...well, the interview ends on a hostile note.
The reporter heads to Hades, where Charon says Xena always sent him lots of good warriors, but the recently deceased Caligula calls her a bitch. Odin refuses to appear on camera but sends an invisible messenger to warn the world that Xena is after the golden apples that can make a human into a god. The reporter knows that only Odin can become invisible, so the Norse god appears, claiming Xena wants to restore Ares' immortality and become his queen.
Gabrielle punches the reporter for suggesting that Xena and Ares have a sexual relationship, so the journalist heads for the farmstead where the ex-god of war lives. Ares laughs that Xena was never interested in being his queen, but the reporter finds Xena in the farmhouse and demands to know whether the pair are in love. In Heaven, the Archangel Michael notes that humans have free will and Xena exercises hers with abandon, putting her own interests above the interests of Heaven. "Who isn't she willing to screw over?"
When Michael kicks the reporter out of Heaven, he falls into Hell and learns that Lucifer blames Xena for his fall. The reporter then tries to ask Eve about her mother's relationship with Ares, but Eve becomes furious, forgets the Way of Love and uses language that requires considerable bleeping. When Gabrielle tries to set the record straight, she answers a direct question by denying that she loves Xena. Bursting in, the warrior princess informs the reporter that no one can love anyone right now, because the world has lost that gift.
A secret messenger tells the reporter that Xena is trying to restore an Olympian's godhood, but not the god of war. "Follow the love," advises the source. Tracking down a besieged Aphrodite, the interviewer learns that the power of love is tied to Olympus, and when Aphrodite lost her powers, she lost the ability to keep love alive for mortals. The reporter takes her to the ramparts of Valhalla, where Gabrielle and Beowulf wait out the battle inside. Xena emerges with the golden apples and with a chagrined Odin. They all watch in astonishment as Xena gives a bite to Ares, who throws a fireball and asks Xena to join him. But Xena gives the remaining half of the apple to Aphrodite, who eats and emits love in a cloud of colored glitter.
After Xena returns his apples, Odin learns that Grinhilda was the reporter's secret source and the person who helped the warrior princess breach Valhalla's security. Grinhilda tells the reporter that love depends on hate and forgiveness on anger, so Xena had to restore Ares along with Aphrodite. Eve asks forgiveness for her cruelty to the reporter and invites him to flagellate her. Ares wishes he could believe Xena restored his godhood because she cared about him, but he thinks it's all part of her atonement.
In a tavern, the reporter approaches Xena and Gabrielle to ask whether they are lovers. Xena tells him to mind his own business, but Gabrielle says Xena has just risked everything to bring love back into the world, so they should answer the question. Xena says, "It's like this..." but the camera experiences technical difficulties before she can reply.
This funny, touching, superbly done episode gives us Hercules' former sidekick Michael Hurst trying to ascertain the nature of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, wrapped around a plot that restores the godhood of the two best-known Olympians and demonstrates that Eli's may be the God of Love, but without Aphrodite's superficial warm fuzzies, anger often gets the upper hand. "You Are There" is clearly intended as a Valentine's Day episode; when Aphrodite sends love out into the world, it takes the form of little colorful hearts like the confetti sometimes thrown at weddings, and its immediate effect is to cause Beowulf to gaze romantically at Gabrielle while Ares looks lustfully at Xena. Obviously Eve's chaste babbling about the One True God doesn't equate with personal fulfillment. Even Michael can't seem to feel the love.
Delightful visual touches bring out the talk show cliches. Captions read, "Caligula -- Former Emperor of Rome (deceased)" and "Golden Apples (file footage)," while the interviewer gets hit in the head with microphones and scrambles to make sure the camera catches him catching Ares and Xena in what looks like a compromising tete-a-tete. Valhalla is portrayed by an artist's rendering since no mortal has seen it. Gabrielle and viewers are treated to several grainy monitor shots of Xena and Ares kissing during past encounters. Eve's response to the reporter's suggestion that she, her mother and Ares intend to engage in a "bloody menage a trois" requires so many bleeps that it's impossible to tell exactly which profanities she uses, though the "f"s are clearly audible at the start of several words.
Lots of little jokes make "You Are There" a delight. The Elijans have a symbol that looks like the fish Christians affix to the backs of their cars, only standing on its tail. Charon complains to the reporter that unlike generous Xena, Hercules never paid his fare across Styx. The reporter visits a whorehouse specializing in "Thor's Hammer" and "The Ride of the Valkyries," and finds Ares trying to dock his longboat. Finally, the reporter asks Xena and Gabrielle the big question, and the sidekick connects the answer to the love she so recently returned to the world, though naturally we don't actually get to hear the reply. As if we didn't know.