The Devil in the Shape of a Woman
"Be Deviled" Plot Summary:
In prison in Mycenaia, a girl named Arciana announces her plans to find the sword of Hera, which will make her powerful. When a man scoffs at her as the weaker sex, she rips out his nose ring with her teeth, then fights several guards and leads a jailbreak. Elsewhere, Hercules and Iolaus have just left a play which bored Iolaus to distraction. Hercules says that he missed the moral about the virtue of refusing to benefit from the suffering of others. When they are asked to go to Mycenaia to help recapture the escaped prisoners, Iolaus agrees as long as he doesn't have to see any plays there.
A demon comes out of a fireplace, kills one man, and tells another he needs a message delivered to the son of Zeus. As the Hercules explains the legend of the sword of Hera to Iolaus, a Serena look-alike appears to him. Holding out an apple, she recites a dramatic dialogue about the snake in the garden. Hercules has flashbacks of his dead wife and demands to know who the impostor is. "Call me Sin," she suggests and then asks for help in finding their common enemy Xerxos. Hes has escaped from her realm, the place where Hades sends people too terrible for Tartarus. Since Hercules is already on his way to Mycenaia where the murderous villain is headed, he agrees to help, but refuses to work with Sin. She vanishes. Iolaus learns that Xerxos is the equivalent of the bogeyman, a demonic villain with no virtues that said of his family's murder, "I enjoyed it."
Hercules and Iolaus discover the corpse of the man Xerxos had asked to "deliver a message" to Hercules. "I enjoyed it," reads the message on paper in the man's teeth. Sin tells Hercules that Xerxos took the power of her realm when he escaped, so not even a god can stop him. She taunts Hercules, saying that his pride has cost innocent lives in the past and may again if he won't team up with her. Still, he resists.
Meanwhile, soldiers come into a town seeking Arciana. Xerxos claims to have seen her, but when he leads them out of town, he begins to slaughter them. Hercules and Iolaus hear the fight and catch up with Xerxos. They fight and Hercules impales the man on a spike. Xerxos merely takes on his demon form, repairs himself, and tells the son of Zeus he's going to have to do a lot better than that.
Sin arrives, laughing at Hercules and offering once more to share her power with him. Reluctantly he agrees. Kissing him, she breathes her force into him. Also, she warns Hercules that Arciana, the leader of the prison break they're trying to clean up, is Xerxos' sister. Hercules tells Iolaus that he plans to kill the girl when he finds her, which shocks Iolaus. An increasingly angry Hercules insists that they have the same bad blood and that's reason enough for her to die.
Arriving in the same town where the guards sought the girl, Hercules beats up a man demanding to know where she might be. Iolaus warns Hercules that this must be an effect of Sin's power and repeats the moral of the play about not accepting a gift paid for by the suffering of others, but Herc only snarls.
Sin meets Xerxos. Rather than returning him to her realm, she reveals that they are in cahoots. Instead of losing souls to Hercules' creeping do-goodism, she is waiting for him to take a life in anger so that she can take him to her realm. She doesn't understand why Xerxos wants to see his sister, but reminds him that it doesn't matter. His soul is hers forever after they meet. The male demon goes to visit his parents' graves, then confronts the head of an orphanage where his sister was raised. When the man admits that he occasionally used the lash on Arciana, Xerxos threatens him with the strap, then sets the place afire. Hercules wants to go after the demon immediately, but Iolaus insists that they must save the children first.
Appearing to Arciana, Sin offers her help, but Xerxos' sister just sneers. She does accept the information about where to find the sword of Hera. Arciana finds the relic just as Iolaus warns her to avoid her brother's path. She attacks Iolaus but her distraction allows Xerxos to trap her. He tells his sister that she's become more and more like the brother she hates. Hercules arrives and turns into a demon like Xerxos, brushing aside Iolaus when his friend says he'd rather kill Hercules than allow him to damn his soul. The two demons fight on the ground and in the air while a troubled Arciana ponders her brother's warning not to follow him down the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire.
Xerxos injures a wing and falls, leaving him open to attack by Hercules. But when Sin cheers him on, the demi-god regains his senses, realizing that Sin has set a trap for him. She warns him that one day the anger in her heart will win. Hercules informs her that he has no intention of ever seeing her again. After the demon takes her brother back to Hell, Arciana puts flowers on her parents' grave. Hercules has decided not to take her back to prison because she has been punished enough and has truly reformed. Left alone, the two heroes apologize to one another for threatening to kill each other. Iolaus tells Hercules that he's ugly when possessed. Hercules points out that Iolaus was just as bad, but as Iolaus reminds his friend, "I was DEAD!" Bantering, they walk off.
The Devil had a busy week on Hercules and Xena, tormenting both heroes, but I have to say that compared to "Fallen Angel," Hercules' problems seem trivial indeed. We've seen him tempted with dark powers before, and we've seen him tempted by Serena before, and we've seen him possessed before, so while the story was entertaining and Sorbo did a good job as a demon, there just wasn't anything earth-shattering here. Since this is one of only eight remaining episodes of the entire series, I guess I was hoping for the start of an exciting arc, not just a demon-of-the-week story.
Is Sin another incarnation of Callisto's "Lord," or just another minion like Callisto herself became before her redemption? I liked the Garden of Eden imagery, and although it's a cliche to have the hero tempted by a woman, it's interesting to assume it's the same Devil as on Xena and therefore an equal-opportunity tempter. (At least on the companion show, the Devil was smart enough to realize that not even Gabrielle's dead husband could distract her from her present loyalties).
Had this episode aired two seasons ago, before Hera's descent into Tartarus, it could have featured her as the evil woman instead of the devil. It's odd that the opening credits still mention her evil minions, and that bad girls are still seeking her sword. Sorbo's wife Sam Jenkin Sorbo played Sin, and had nice chemistry with Hercules, but ultimately it's not clear why Herc needed a story like this as his series winds down. If he survived Iolaus' death and resurrection, if he managed to be the Archangel Michael's Christ-figure, how could anyone believe a demonic lookalike of his dead wife could lead him astray?