GUEST STARS, CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EIGHT FIFTH SEASON EPISODES by Jeff Jenkins
TALES OF THE HERCAVERSE
Nicko Vella. (Mabon)
Benedicta Joseph (Brigid)
Alistair Brownin (Bronagh)
Tony Hopkins (Agenor)
Edited by David Blewitt
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Chris Long
Iolaus: Hercules! You've got to help me!
ON AN ALL NEW HERCULES--
IOLAUS IS ALIVE--
Nebula (to Iolaus): You're not real.
OR IS HE?
(Nebula in bed surrounded by flames.)
HAS HERCULES' PRAYER TO THE GODS FINALLY BEEN ANSWERED?
Hercules (to Iolaus): If you're in there, fight!
(Iolaus throws a cloak.)
(Hercules punches Iolaus in the face.)
OR IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF HIS WORST NIGHTMARE?
(Iolaus walks through a wall.)
Iolaus: IT ISN'T OVER, UNTIL I SAY IT'S OVER!!!!!
AN ALL NEW HERCULES!
TV GUIDE PROMO
Dahak dons a familiar face to battle Hercules, Morrigan and Nebula.
A dark vision sends Herc from Eire to Sumeria, where Nebulais in danger. Behind the trouble: Dahak---in an insidious disguise.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 11-16-98
An AA average of 4.5
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) X-FILES 10th with 6.2
(2) XENA 18th with 4.7
(3) HERCULES/STAR TREK DS9 19th with 4.5
(4) ER 21st with 4.3
Summary by Bluesong
Hercules returns to the Emerald Isle to see about Morrigan. She seems to be adjusting nicely. She asks Hercules to stay with her and not return to Greece. While he thinks about it, he and Morrigan help villagers rebuild from Caesar's pillage in an earlier episode. He and Morrigan go a picnic, and a storm comes. While they take refuge in a cave, Hercules has a vision. He tries to get to the Druids but the cave has been sealed. He breaks through and finds all the Druids dead, except Maven, who is dying. Maven tells Hercules that Dahak killed them all. Hercules decides to follow his vision of Nebula in a burning bed back to Sumeria. Morrigan goes with him to avenge the deaths of the Druids. When Hercules arrives in Sumeria, he finds Nebula locked up in a room, gone mad. Hercules talks to her, and she tells him she has been seeing strange visions of Iolaus. Hercules goes to the tombs, where the body of Iolaus lies, and Iolaus appears to him. Dahak has taken over Iolaus. Hercules fights Iolaus/Dahak for a long time. Iolaus/Dahak vanishes, saying he is going to Greece. Hercules, Morrigan and Nebula vow to go to Greece together and stop Dahak or die trying.
Synopsis by Liz Sheppard
This commentary is by --.
COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EIGHT SEASON FIVE EPISODES:
This commentary is by Jeff Jenkins.
Note: I'm touching base on the first eight Hercules episodes this season, not just DARKNESS RISING. If you watched all eight episodes, you'll understand some otherwise unfamiliar place names, etc. mentioned on the show.
Congrats to Hercules so far; a job well done! After last year's Adam Sandler-esque comedies (PORKULES and ONE FOWL DAY in particular), the writers managed to end Hercules' 4th season on a good note, particularly TWILIGHT and REUNIONS. So far, the trend has continued with FAITH, RESURRECTION, and DARKNESS RISING being the heavyweight episodes so far. RENDER UNTO CAESAR, DESCENT, NORSE BY NORSEVEST, and SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE get a nod of the head. They failed to advance the main storyline, but show Hercules redeveloping character, so they didn't win the NCAA Championship so to speak. GENIES AND GRECIANS AND GEEKS, OH MY was interesting, but it's importance to the overall story is nil.
And away we go...
Powerful, powerful episode. Number two so far in my book. The beginning of RESURRECTION used FAITH to show how Hercules changed with the death of Iolaus. The ending scenes of FAITH, though, showed how Herc felt when Gilgamesh plunged a dagger through his best friend's heart. Hercules cradled Iolaus in his arms, begging him not to die, which is of course, impossible to stop. (Note: the way Hercules holds Iolaus and the way Herc speaks is very similar when Iolaus died the first time in HERCULES AND THE AMAZON WOMEN.)
Credit goes to Lisa Klink for a fine script here. Sort of what Steven L. Sears did with THE DELIVERER: go down one path from a fork in the road, then suddenly skip to the other path. Gilgamesh's struggle with the gods is the main focus for about 60% of the story, until he conks Hercules on the head with his crown and drinks the nectar from the chalice. After Gilgamesh mentions Dahak, the episode storyline changes full circle. And Iolaus' death created another storyline: what would Hercules do without him? We know that answer now.
Hercules: as I said, he changed radically here. After Gilgamesh kills Iolaus, Hercules displays a level of anger rarely seen on the series. It sort of ranks with the cold fury and disgust Hercules had for the old, evil Xena, when he called her a "murdering b*tch." Hercules only does things like these when someone really peeves him off good.
Iolaus: Michael Hurst gets another gold star. Cupid strikes Iolaus and Nebula, and they both see each other. The love bug was definintely in play here. Out of love, Iolaus made the ultimate sacrifice, saving Nebula's life, but doesn't know the consequences which will occur in DARKNESS RISING.
Nebula: fun episode for the new Sumerian Queen-- at first. She tells off Imuru, the royal emissary, when he sees her arm-wrestling, and then she had to get serious. Nebula peeved off Imuru well when she broke tradition, and led men to rebuild a broken aqueduct. And after Iolaus dies, she's depressed, but takes it much better than Hercules. By the way, Nebula's "Iolaus!" remined me of Xena's "Gabrielle!" from SACRIFICE II.
Gilgamesh: Tony Todd does it again. He made a powerful appearance as Cecrops the Lost Mariner, and another one as King Gilgamesh. He's also a lot like Hercules-- prefering thinking to brute strength, as he keeps the real reason why he wants the nectar of the Sumerian gods a secret from Hercules.
FAITH, DESCENT, and RESURRECTION may have been a three story arc, but in this case, it was like A, B, and C, but B isn't really necessary. Only two things needed to be known: that Hercules at first denied Iolaus' death, and then blamed himself for it. Knowing Herc killed Dumuzi to free the souls Dumuzi had captured added another labor to Hercules' legend, but it didn't advance the storyline ahead. The end scenes led into RESURRECTION.
The Hercster: notice the pain he's in when Dumuzi tells him his search for Iolaus was in vain. This statement destroyed what was left of Hercules' self-confidence; it also led to Dumuzi's demise, too.
Mentioning Nebula: radical change from a good Sumerian Queen to a soulless evil zombie. She tries to destroy Herc, but Hercules gets the best of her, of course.
About the zombies: I think Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi have been looking at their "Evil Dead" Trilogy and borrowing some stuff off it just lately.
Number one on the high ranking episodes so far. Hercules denounces who he is, what he does, and says the he doesn't give a flying Harpy in Tartarus about what the gods do to humankind anymore. When his family dies in THE WRONG PATH, Hercules declares he will destroy Hera's seven temples, and in TWILIGHT, Hercules only punches a rock in after Alcmene dies. Does this mean that Iolaus has greater priority in his life than his wife Deianeira, children Klonus, Aeson, Ilea, and mother Alcmene? I ain't touchin' that question with a ten foot pole.
Kudos to Nicko Vella here as Mabon. Mabon got Hercules to finally admit he had lost his way, and Mabon showed Herc the path again. Hercules was also reminded that his fight with the gods was part of his identity, his person. Mabon was one of Hercules' greatest friends, and somewhat of a mentor to him, until Dahak killed Mabon and the Druids in DARKNESS RISING.
Iolaus, Iolaus, Iolaus. I mean, Great Iolaus' Ghost! Michael Hurst puts quite a bit of emotion into the relatively small part he had. Iolaus basically tells Herc that dying was a danger of being a hero, and he knew that, so Hercules should stop blaming himself. After a lot of doubt, Iolaus proved to be a strong force in Herc's will, and Hercules reaccepted himself for what he is.
Morrigan: evil woman, or misunderstood? The fight she had with Hercules ranks up with other fierce female fighters, such as the Enforcers (THE ENFORCER and NOT FADE AWAY, where Iolaus coincidentally dies for the second time in the latter episode...), Callisto (SURPRISE), and of course, Xena's battle with Herc in THE GAUNTLET. Morrigan's conversion to good was more believable than Xena's; it took her until about midway through RENDER UNTO CAESAR to get over Kernunnos' blood-withrdrawl, while Xena somehow converted between THE GAUNTLET and UNCHAINED HEART after killing Darphus (the first time).
GENIES AND GRECIANS AND GEEKS, OH MY
I don't know what to say. They interrupt the two-episode arc, RESURRECTION and RENDER UNTO CAESAR, and placed a comedy. TPTB wanted Caesar during sweeps week along with A GOOD DAY, I know. The only good thing: neither Hercules or Iolaus showed up. If they did, the storyline would be muddled pretty badly. Okay for a comedy, though.
Autolycus: Bruce Campbell shines as a "d*mn it all!" kind of thief when he discovers he isn't just invisible, he's intangible as well. Autolycus enjoyed it though, since he could walk through walls and make fun of Sultan and Sultan's guard alike. His quick thinking saved all the trapped men in the Genie's lamp.
Salmoneus: Robert Trebor has a field day as his child-like and macho Salmoneus wreak havoc with the normal Salmoneus, the Sultan, and Autolycus, not to mention a few disgruntled blondes.
If you liked Cracked Fairy Tales on the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," this might be something for you. Makes me think that the writer was reading Aladdin from Scherazade's 1001 tales while smoking something, though.
RENDER UNTO CAESAR
The sweeps week show. This episode made it crystal clear that Hercules was back on track (he said he was the Celts' Chosen One in RESURRECTION). Herc deals with Julius Caesar, helps Morrigan to accept her role to guard Justice, and all in all, has A GOOD DAY (sorry, couldn't resist it). Loved it when Herc turned the hull of Caesar's boat into Swiss cheese; almost an ancient Roman Titanic disaster.
Credit to Tamara Gorski on her portrayal of Morrigan; definite withdrawl problems, but Morrigan manages to overcome it and kill Kernunnos when he proves that their daughter Brigid was a thing to him, nothing more. During the episode, she sort of replaced Iolaus by Herc's side; furthermore, it became a bit apparent that Morrigan was interested in Hercules. On the other side of the coin, Hercules later misses his family when he spends time with Morrigan and Brigid.
Caesar, Julius Caesar. Not as much as I expected from him; he just sat around the boat and watched his trained centurions and legions of soldiers get beaten up by an army of untrained Celts. Thinking about it, a message to Caesar: your men need a bit of a brush-up if they are defeated by villagers. Also, Julius Caesar's logic and/or wisdom seemed to take a holiday here. He seemed to be thinking with vanity in his head and pride in his heart. If you don't believe me, than why did Caesar destroy the paper that Hirtius the scribe had written their journey to Eire on? Tell me that.
NORSE BY NORSEVEST
Interesting episode indeed. Up in Norseland, even gods can die (and not because of a dagger with the blood of the Golden Hind on it), and life is how Darwin put it: survival of the fittest. For Hercules, he finally meets a benevolent mortal god, Balder, and Herc only came because of a vision in which Balder said, "Help me, Hercules!" NORSE BY NORSEVEST reinforces Herc's role as hero, as he deals with a traditional conspiracy plot with the traditional back-stabbing son of Odin, Loki.
The annual character report...
Hercules: Herc's back in the saddle as he journeys off to Norseland to save Balder. However, his coming fulfills two of three tragedies to befall the Norse gods before Ragnarok: Balder's death, and Thor's defeat in a fight. Hercules was impressed by Balder, and more than agreed with Balder's goal to change the Vikings from a war-like people to a peaceful civilization. Zeus might have cared about humankind, but did nothing to stop Hera and the other gods from hurting them.
Balder: Rupert Cocks has a splendid brief moment here. As I mentioned earlier, Hercules meets the first god who actually HELPS people. Balder's confidence and open trust in Odin's decree that nothing should harm him was his undoing; it seems that no godly oath can break the power of the Darkness.
Thor: Anyone have the record for "Wild Thing?" The description fits Thor very well, as he only wants revenge on Hercules for interrupting Hilda's trial-by-ax and killing Balder with a dart poisoned by the Darkness. It seems that Thor has a bulging muscle in his head where his brain should be, and his anger towards Hercules leads to his defeat, the second tragedy of Ragnarok.
Loki: As I said, Loki is to Odin what Hera and Ares were to Zeus in REUNIONS. In other words, he wants to kill his old man. Loki wants Asgard so badly, that he would help the Darkness destroy Norseland just to have it. In this family though, Balder shows mercy, Thor shows strength, and Loki shows intelligence, cunning, and treachery.
Odin: Brief screen time, but he laments what has happened to his family. He tells Hercules he knows that Loki was behind Balder's death, and that he also knows his son is consulting with the Darkness to overthrow him. Odin also banishes Thor from Asgard for breaking his order that no one should fight Hercules. After Odin rids himself of Thor, he seems dejected and beaten; he tells Hercules that Ragnarok is inevitable. With that, the screen reads "TO BE CONTINUED..."
SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE
The wrap-up of this two-parter series. Balder's death at Hercules' hand, Thor's defeat by Hercules, and Odin's blinding by Loki start Ragnarok; "Twilight of the gods," as Odin put it. Loki's plan has succeeded; the final nightfall looms over Norseland. Ragnarok was unique; it seems that Norseland was originally nothing but ice, and Ragnarok means that the ice has returned to reclaim what once belonged to it.
Hercules: The Big Man rescues Thor, who was chained up Prometheus-style, at the request of Thor's mother Frigga. It's a long road, as he finally makes peace with Thor, finds out why Loki was behind Balder's death, and tries to prevent Ragnarok. He fails, and the ice takes over Norseland, freezing Odin and Frigga in Asgard, and then learns about Norn paint. He almost kills Loki, uses the Norn paint to change the Norn Book of Fate, goes back in time, and prevents Balder's death. More or less, a carbon copy of END OF THE BEGINNING, where Herc travels back in time because of the Cronostone, and saves Serena's life by giving up everything he ever had with her. (Which is more powerful, the Cronostone or Norn paint? The answer on the six o'clock news.)
Thor: It seems he finally got a brain, as he calls a truce with Hercules, and saves the Viking in a burning hall just like Balder would have done. However, he falls prey to the same dart that killed Balder.
Loki: Would've gotten away with his plan if Hercules never found about the Norn paint and solved the Norn's riddle. His treachery shows no bounds, as he gives Odin the deadly mask and tells his father to put it on; it will answer the riddle about the third tragedy of Ragnarok, he implies. The answer indeed lies within the mask-- when it blinds Odin. After Hercules changes the past though, and exposes the fact that Loki tried to kill Balder, Loki runs away to fight another day, not his brother, Thor.
Odin: More than dejected, make it depressed. The only clue he has about the third tragedy of Ragnarok is a riddle, and the mask Loki has forged blinds him, which actually is the third tragedy. Very sentimental scene as he dies with the frozen Frigga in Asgard, moments after sending Hercules back to help Thor.
In the extra stuff department: I do believe SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE wins "Most Fake Blood Used for a Single Injury" award after Odin is blinded.
Iolaus returns from the dead... or does he? This is the question of the episode promo, and the episode itself pretty clearly says Dahak is inhabiting Iolaus' body. DARKNESS RISING has a pretty complex storyline just like FAITH (maybe because Lisa Klink wrote both episodes). Storyline one: Herc returns to Eire and with Morrigan helps clean up the mess Caesar left behind. Two: Hercules has a vision of Nebula in danger, then dreams of the Druids being killed. Three: Herc and Morrigan find the Druids dead, and decide to sail to Sumeria because of Hercules' vision. Four: Hercules finds the possessed Iolaus/Dahak that has been tormenting Nebula, and battles him futilely, and Iolaus/Dahak escapes to Greece.. Five: Hercules, Morrigan, and Nebula make an oath to stop Iolaus/Dahak, or die trying.
Hercules: What can I say? At the beginning, Herc spends quality time with Morrigan and Brigid, and feels the emptiness Hera caused him by killing Deianeira and his children disappear. However, though, when Hercules finds Iolaus/Dahak, the gap in his life may have closed a little, but the wound is still fresh, so to speak. Hercules can't bring himself to kill Iolaus' possessed body, since he knows exorcising Dahak from Iolaus is the only way to save him. He clearly needs his best friend back by his side; neither Morrigan or Nebula could fill the void.
Morrigan: Definitely gone good, but still hated by the Celts. Just like Xena, she has a hard time convincing Bronagh that she is sorry for killing his sister. To prove it, Morrigan helps the Celts rebuild the village Caesar's army destroyed. Also, she has definitely accepted her role as Guardian of Justice. It shows through when Morrigan bitterly laments not being by the Druids' side when Iolaus/Dahak killed them, even though she would've died as well. Other than that, Morrigan didn't see any battle action this episode, and I hope it'll change when she reaches Greece with Nebula and Hercules.
Nebula: Great performance by Gina Torres. Her portrayal of a nearly-crazed lunatic Nebula is convincing, and it seems like she jumps at the drop of a pin. She recounts her affair with the newly-dead Iolaus/Dahak to Herc in a daze. It seems that she told Iolaus/Dahak off, and he set her bed where she lay in seclusion on fire, which was Hercules' vision. Beyond that, no battle action for the Sumerian Queen either.
Iolaus/Dahak: I'm being remined of "The Exorcist" here. He spins his head around, changes voices, and alters his facial features. My diagnosis: Iolaus has one bad case of evil spiritual possession. To me, it looks like Dahak's daughter Hope is a little more sane than her father. But I have two new questions about Dahak now. One: Why did he need numerous blood sacrifices in SACRIFICE II if all he needed was a warrior's heart in FAITH? Two: Why did Dahak kill the Druids? Mabon said they were the Guardians of human virtue, and if Guardians of virtue for the entire world, Herc might have a smidge of trouble coming up soon. On the extra commentary side: Iolaus' newly transformed face reminded me some of the Harpies from MORTAL BELOVED and Cupid's alter-ego in THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER. Also, check out the Stronger Than Hephaestus' Metal Black CoatTM Iolaus/Dahak uses to cut down a pillar, and the uncanny ability to change from his black garment to normal clothes by falling on the ground.
Mabon: Special report here. Mabon was a mentor to Hercules, as he set Our Hero on the right path again. However, Mabon is now dead. But before he dies, you can see that even though Mabon is the Druid of Knowledge, he is just a child, and scared to know that he will die. And with that note, I wait for this story arc to continue after FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST JOINING US... in 1999.
As I said before, Hercules has taken a nice idea, and strung it out into several story arcs so far. It's one thing, than another, and than another, in other words. Many roles were well cast, with Nicko Vella as Mabon, Tamara Gorski as Morrigan, Tony Todd as Gilgamesh, and of course, Gina Torres as Nebula. Thanks to the Hercules writers for fleshing out these ideas, and I hope it'll continue with the rest of this season and Season Six, supposedly the last season. Note to the Xena writers: follow the lead. And to wrap this long commentary up, I believe that at this moment Hercules is beating Xena to the punch for the first time in about three years.
TALES OF THE HERCAVERSE
11-15-98. Missy Good. Remember last week, when I commented that Iolaus was doing some classic possessed/head spinning/frothing behavior? Well, they just made his head spin. (laughing) Michael Hurst does a nice dementia, I'll give him that. He's got a nice cape too - it's got an edge like the chakram. And we get to see just how like Daddy Hope really is.. they use the same battle techniques. Lots of sharp objects in streaming array. I never pictured Dahak quite that crazily demented, though.
11-10-98. Hercules gets a new leather costume for this adventure. Perhaps Morrigan is starting to take him shopping?
11-10-98. Here's some information about the REAL Dahak from KSZone.
The term Druj, Lie or Deceit, is often used as a designation for Angra Mainyn or for a partictflar fiend, or again for a class of demons the most notorious of whom is Azhi Dahaka, a figure we have met before (pp.37 43). Dahaka, with his three heads, six eyes and three jaws, is painted in clearer and more mythological colours than most of the demons. His body is full of lizards, scorpions and other vile creatures so that if he were cut open the whole world would he filled with such creates. On one occasion he offered in sacrifice to Anahita a hundred horses, a thousand oxen and ten thousand lambs, praying that he might be allowed to depopulate the earth-his constant desire. On another occa~on he approached Vayu with sacrifice from his accursed palace with its golden beams, throne and canopy, but his destructive desires were scorned by both of the heavenly beings. Filled with the urge to destroy, this offspring of the Evil Spirit sought to extinguish the sacred flame, but was foiled by the hero Yima. He had his revenge, for he not only stole the daughters of the great ruler but also sawed Yima himself in two. The sweetness of his victory was short-lived however, for the hero Thraetaona liberated the maidens, and imprisoned Dahaka in Mount Demavend. Here he remains until the end ofhistory when he will again attack the world, devour one third ofits creatures and smite fire, water and vegetation until he is finally slain by the resurrected Keresaspa.
From "Persian Mythology" by John R. Hinnells
11-08-98. From Missy Good. I was watching bits and pieces of the Herc ep while waiting for Locked Up and Ted Down to start, and caught the spoilers for NEXT weeks Herc up, in which Michael Hurst returns. Note, I said Michael Hurst returns, because with all the wild eyed, spittle flying, head revolving, bugged out evil attitude, I'm fairly certain it's not Iolaus, unless Io's been dead in a VERY bad place, and has just come back in a really, really FOUL mood. Herc has a nice new black vest, though. Much better looking than the dead yak he was wearing in this weeks Viking saga.
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