This topic isn't intended to be inflammatory, so apologies in advance if it rankles anyone.
I've just started a re-watch of the entire Xena series and one element which I wanted to focus on / pay attention to was the development of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship from a romantic perspective.
I was wondering when most subexters believed Xena and Gabrielle first became involved romantically and the nature of their relationship.
Without having given it much thought before, I'm inclined to believe that the events in The Quest made both Xena and Gabrielle realise that their relationship could and should be more than just platonic. I'd have trouble reconciling them as an involved romantic couple much before then due to Gabrielle's marriage to Perdicus and because they were both searching for love elsewhere in season 1.
But, shortly after The Quest is Ulysses where Xena is involved romantically with Ulysses. I guess Xena may have been deliberately trying to distance herself romantically from Gabrielle, perhaps because she feared hurting Gabrielle based on her past relationships with M'ila, Akemi and Annokin. Or maybe Xena and Gabrille were both still trying to work through their feelings after the kiss in The Quest and they hadn't yet embarked on a full relationship?
The following couple of seasons don't seem to pose too many problems, until we get to season 5. I was also wondering how subexters resolved Xena's relationships with Ares and Antony in season 5 if Xena was in a romantic relationship with Gabrielle. Did Xena and Gabrielle have an open relationship? Or were Xena's actions justified / excused because they were all "part of the plan" in the relevant episodes? I have trouble viewing Xena and Gabrielle being in a committed relationship in season 5 because Xena seems to be very disrespectful of Gabrielle's feelings, not just because of Xena's seduction of others but also because she seems dismissive of Gabrielle's valid concerns about the origins of Xena's pregnancy.
I guess Xena and Gabrielle could have been "on a break" in season 5, although that's hard to imagine given everything they went through in season 4. I could see them breaking up after Maternal Instincts or even Motherhood (which may explain Xena's seduction of Lucifer in early season 6), but I would have expected the events of Ides of March and Fallen Angel to bring them closer together.
Once again, I'm not trying to incite an argument. I'm just genuinely curious about how subtexters resolve some of the issues with the development of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship. Are certain episodes simply ignored? Is the episode order of some episodes re-arranged (e.g. Ulysses before The Quest)? Are Xena's actions excused because of the surrounding circumstances? Were Xena and Gabrielle free to take other lovers? Or did a wizard do it?