A page for 'Shippers
For the longest time, Ares was one of Xena's many nemeses. Almost every time they met, Ares would attempt to seduce Xena to be by his side, then they would fight, with Xena as the victor. For a while there were even thoughts that Ares could be Xena's father (and he'd better not be!) An analysis of their early relationship, can be found at the following site: Xena and Ares : A Match Made in Hades .
Season 5 of Xena seemed devoid of subtext, much to the dismay of many Xenites. However, there was a new relationship which caught my eye. Or maybe not entirely a new relationship, but a continuation of something that had simmered for so long, something suddenly thrust into the limelight with heartbreaking intensity.
Ares is in love with Xena.
We all knew it, but didn't really believe it. Ares was the God of War, unburdened by such mortal foils such as true love. His love for Xena could be called many things: obsession, flirting interest, or even as a means of entertainment. While he tried to corrupt her (and Gabrielle) over and over, it never happened, and we presumed that that was the extent of Ares' love: for something he could never have but wasn't too upset over it either. After all, why should he care?
But he did care. And through an amazing sequence of events, it was revealed just how much he cared. He betrayed his own kind (his own family!) over and over, resulting in their deaths and the end of the reign of the Olympian gods. And why? For Xena.
This relationship becomes heartbreaking because of Xena's continued refusal of Ares, not only by her own choice, but through what fate has already decreed for her. Gabrielle is her soulmate: they both know that and they know that they will be together forever. So any hope Ares has is transitory at best.
And there's more than this. We've been granted a glimpse into
the future where a god-like Ares was trapped for centuries, presumably
by Xena. Locked away from everything. Why? How?
We don't know but it certainly doesn't bode well for any kind of happy
coupledom between Xena and Ares.
He can't bring himself to let her know how much he needs her. It scares him. So he hides behind a deal, the deal he offers to her endlessly. "Come with me, have my child, and I'll save you and Eve." He clings to the concept of having Xena's child and when Xena suggests that the reason he wants a baby is to ensure his own immortality, he readily agrees. Because Ares cannot admit to Xena that the real reason he wants her child is so that they can be together, perhaps even a family, and something about a family suggests forever.
The idea of saving Xena and her daughter provides a convenient opportunity for his endless proposals. And the more he uses this, the more desperate and scared he appears because he cannot lose face in front of Xena, Warrior Princess, and admit that just maybe, he needs her as a man. He comes off as stubborn and arrogant, unfortunately, this is the only perception Xena gets. If she gave in, then Ares would be using her and for this reason alone, Xena can never give in.
Ares is not used to rejection, which is why his persistant offers are so pathetic. He's never felt this way before and doesn't know how to deal with it. Yet for Xena to truly love him, he has to show her that he's not all bad.
And what of his constant attempts to corrupt Xena? I think Gabrielle said it to him best when she suggested that he wasn't only in love with the Warrior part of her, there had to be something in her now which kept the flame of love alive.
You feel so sorry for Ares, because nothing hurts more than the pain
of rejection, and his fear of this is so clearly seen in the final showdown
Xena is what's stopping this happy little coupledom. She has every right to hate Ares for the past things she's done. But perhaps she's holding on to that hate a little too strongly. Xena knows how to forgive - Eve is a wonderful example, but she's been betrayed by others and found it in her heart to forgive them (through Gabrielle's help).
Then there's Xena herself to consider. She was once as 'evil' as Ares yet she's been redeemed and forgiven by countless others. Why can't she extend that courtesy to the God of War? One answer is because Ares is still bad. Or is he? During the 5th season he performed few evil deeds. Sure, the murder of Eli was a big and horrible one but after that he seemed to be on Xena's side. Surely Xena could have recognised that?
A poignant moment came when Ares threw at Xena, "How does it feel to love someone who rejects you at every turn" (during Eve). He was talking about Xena and Eve but it's equally applicable to Ares and Xena - she is constantly shooting him down because she cannot see beyond her perception of him. She has the opinion that Ares is Evil and nothing will change that.
Or does she? In amongst the endless forward and back over "give me a child, Xena", she attempted to seduce him. And she felt something, admitting as much to Gabrielle. She dreamed of Ares, erotic dreams. There's some kind of lingering attraction there based upon nothing but chemistry, and it's a chemistry Xena won't allow her head to acknowledge.
The change finally came when Ares sacrificed his immortality to save
both Eve and Gabrielle, two people who Ares has demonstrated a past indifference
towards. For the first time, Xena realised that there was something
inside Ares that was honest. That maybe he did love her despite everything
he'd done and said. It was a much needed step in the right direction.
Okay, they have a history going back a long way (and there was a time when Gabby/Ares seemed a cute couple!) But let's concentrate on Season 5, when things began to change.
This episode showed us much of what we'd seen before: Ares attempting to seduce Xena to be by his side. The innocent Xena innately trusted him, and more importantly, Xena did not kill Ares when she had the chance with the god-killing chakram in her hand.
"Seeds of Faith":
Ares confronting Xena and asking who the baby's father is. Jealousy, perhaps? And then there's the priceless answer of "Gabrielle" and the oh so cute smirks between all three parties.
"God Fearing Child":
The first real admission. After an intense exchange of words in which Ares couldn't bring himself to tell Xena what she meant to him (in the tunnels of Tartarus), he then says softly to himself, "I love you, Xena". Too late. [The way he says it sends shivers down my spine every time - regret and open honesty for the first time.]
She knows when Ares is there, as evidenced by her neat backhand. Xena dreams of Ares and these dreams are ... rather ... erotic. Xena certainly seemed to enjoy it at the time.
"Amphipolis Under Siege":
This marked the first time that Ares took a stand against the coming Twilight to protect Xena, by betraying his own sister. Not to mention the entire seduction sequence! Xena and Ares getting hot and heavy and the almost-sealed bargain (until interrupted by an explosion courtesy of Gabby.) Either Xena can act really well, or she was enjoying herself...just a little. *g* As she admitted to Gabrielle later, she "felt something".
"Looking Death in the Eye":
This episode contains scenes that will break your heart. After Ares witnesses the "deaths" of Gabrielle and Eve, he appears just in time to stop a distraught Xena killing herself. He asks her not to, but then realises she must. And then he carries her reverently to the place he's prepared for Xena and Gabrielle for eternity.
How many hearts were breaking at the sight of a dead Xena in Ares' arms as he trudged through the snow? It was a beautiful, beautiful moment.
He tells Xena: "I handled you all wrong. She knew what you needed - unconditional unselfish love. I couldn't give that to you. I appreciated you in ways she never could - your rage, your violence, your beauty. When you sacrificed yourself for others you were hers, but when you kicked ass, you were mine." And how true that is.
Unfortunately, it's a revelation Ares seems to forget through the ensuing 25 years of lonlieness....
"I mourned you for years!" Ares definitely had his heart broken when Xena 'died'.
A poignant moment when Ares taunts Xena about loving someone who will never love you back. There's real pain in his words.
At last, he gets through to Xena. At last, she looks at him with something other than disgust or indifference. She says "Thank you" and she means it, and the gaze between them says a thousand words. Ares has put everything - his life, essentially - on the line. He has nothing left. No power, no illusions to hide behind, because after killing his own sister because he has "a thing" for Xena, surely she would believe him now? Not to mention his sacrifice to save Gabby and Eve. Ares seems so scared in the moments before Xena approaches him, he's holding his breath, knowing that if he's shot down yet again, he'll be devestated. But it seems Xena has finally realised that Ares, despite his attitude, really does love her and perhaps is nice underneath the tough exterior.
After all they've been through, it's time to make a fresh start.
Hopefully, they can make it work.
A pivotal moment between Xena and Ares occurs in the first episode of Season 6. [The scene can be downloaded couresty of Xenamedia ] For the first time, Xena goes willingly to Ares, takes his hand, kisses him. (Sighs and thuds of Xena/Ares 'shippers could be heard around the world.) "You always got to me," she admits.
But then came the crunch. "You're bad for me," Xena says. Um...hello, Xena? If you changed then why can't he? This line honestly makes no sense and it seems a cop out by the writer to explain why Ares doesn't join the happy band. I'm sure a much better excuse/reason could have been given even though we don't want to hear it.
"One in a thousand?" Ares asks about his chances.
"One in a billion," comes the killer response.
And I'm still left wondering why. Xena admitted that Ares got to her; she's kissed him on more than one occasion and didn't seem repulsed by it, so what's the problem? Is it because she's betraying Gabrielle? But that's a grey area, and if she is, then she shouldn't even be kissing Ares.
So...one in a billion. I'm with Ares on this, it means there's
a chance. Xena smiles and shakes her head as he says this, not
she's saying there's no chance, but because she realises that Ares will
never give up and she shouldn't expect anything else. He's almost
like a devoted puppy and that knowledge gives Xena a security she never
Looking to the Future
I would now like to direct your attention to "The Xena Scrolls" (S2) and "Deja Vu All Over Again" (S4). Two episodes set far ahead of the traditional X:WP timeline, in which four beloved crucial characters are still around. This includes a god-like Ares, who has his powers restored and his obsession with Xena hasn't abated.
So what happens? Will the final episodes of X:WP explain this or will we forever wonder? In "Deja Vu" Ares doesn't even seem to care that she (argh!) looks like Joxer, he still wanted to see Xena, to duel with her and relive all times. From all impressions, he'll be waiting for the next incarnation.
Maybe that time will be the "one in a billion".
I have not yet seen season 6, so this is based upon reports from others. Apparantly, Gabby and Virgil are getting rather friendly. (Despite a ::thud:: dance between X&G.) Okay, so if Gabby gets a man, then why can't Xena? And the only one for Xena could be Ares - no one else knows her and understands her and has that depth of history with her (except for Gabrielle).
Can you see the four of them setting up house together? It could be cute. *g* And here's the perfect picture to go with the speculation (but why is Gabby curled up on him?):
But of course it won't happen and I'm left wondering how it will all end, and enjoying the tragedy and angst of Xena and Ares.
My Xena/Ares themed Fan Fiction.
Final Note: The author of this page fully supports Xena/Gabrielle and this is not intended as an attack on subtext fans. I just happen to have a 'thing' for Ares. *g*
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