Fishy Love Stories
"My Best Girl's Wedding" Plot Summary:
As Hercules and Iolaus go fishing, Iolaus remembers Nautica and gets mopey, which his friend notices and admits he has the same problem sometimes when he remembers his past. They overhear a brawl starting, but before they have trounced the last bad guy, a local warlord arrives and demands festivity: it's his wedding day, the whole seaside town is invited to the feast. As Iolaus wonders what desperate woman would be marrying such a slob, the bride to be makes an entrance. It's Nautica.
Iolaus tries to pursue her, but Hercules points out that there must be some powerful force at work: the oceans haven't frozen over. Guessing that his sister is somehow behind this, he takes Iolaus to find Aphrodite, but she sobs that Nautica's impending nuptials with Lysaka are too depressing to think about because she knows the former mermaid still loves Iolaus. She got Poseidon to stop the seas from freezing when Nautica left, but she had nothing to do with the engagement. Hercules wonders why Poseidon and Triton are not at the wedding and decides to visit Nautica's father personally to find out what's going on.
Iolaus sneaks around to talk to the bride, disguised first as a seamstress, then a French chef, nearly discovered by Lysaka but when the man says he's coming through the door on the count of three, he can't remember what number comes after two. When he and Nautica are alone, Iolaus learns that she feels obligated to marry Lysaka and won't consider changing her mind even though she still loves Iolaus. Meanwhile, Hercules sets off to Triton's shrine and saves a damsel in distress, who turns out to be none other than Serena, the woman who was his wife in a different timeline but who forgot about their love through the machinations of the Chronos Stone in this life. She is surprised to meet the son of Zeus and tells him of her plight: her husband was lost at sea and she wants to petition Triton to return him to herself and their daughter. Hercules invites her to accompany him to the shrine.
Aphrodite meets her brother at the shrine and whisks him off to Triton's home under the sea, where they find their cousin dying. Lysaka stole his trident and got Nautica to promise to marry him by saying he would give it back if she became his wife, but the warlord then destroyed the trident, which cannot be replaced since it was made by Kobiri, a spirit even older than the gods. Realizing that the seas will die with Triton and humanity cannot survive such a calamity, Hercules says he'll go to Kobiri himself. He invites Serena to come with him, hoping that her plea for her husband's life might move the spirit. She asks him why he's being so nice to her; he admits he was in love with the woman she reminds him of, but does not tell her that she was his wife.
Caught by lightning created by the spirit, Hercules and Serena fall together and share a kiss. But Hercules remembers her murder as well as their vows of love, and suggests that he should go on alone into the dangerous storm. Aphrodite meets up with him and watches in horror as her brother destroys Kobiri's temple, saying he'll knock the place flat unless the goddess answers him. Finally Kobiri appears, wondering why the prodigal son of Zeus cares about the life of a sea-god. Hercules appeals on behalf of all humanity and in the name of love, announcing that Serena deserves to have her husband back. Impressed that he would give up the woman he loves, Kobiri makes a new trident, which Hercules gives Aphrodite to give to Triton in addition to a request to free Serena's husband. He and his onetime wife then say farewell.
Back at the shore, Lysaka prepares to marry Nautica, who makes him repeat his promise to return the trident after they consummate the marriage. Iolaus arrives disguised as a priest to perform the nuptials, whispering to the bride to be that her fiance is lying to her. She tries to flee with Iolaus but Lysaka's men stop them, and the puzzled groom asks why she doesn't love him. Nautica announces that she loves Iolaus and wants to be with him, so the warlord sadly consents. "OK - hang them both!"
But when called to give the signal, Lysaka again can't remember what number comes after two, giving Hercules time to disrupt the execution and whomp Lysaka. "After the day I've had, I'm actually looking forward to this," the hero says. Iolaus feels that he can't ask Nautica to stay with him, believing she'd be a fish out of water in his world - a feeling he knows well, having crossed over from another universe. "How much do you love Nautica?" Hercules asks his friend. "I'd give up the world for her," Iolaus replies, and Aphrodite, overhearing, agrees to turn him into a merman so he can follow his mermaid under the sea.
Iolaus calls Hercules the best friend he's ever had and thanks him for changing his life. Then he swims away, growing a fish tail as Aphrodite's charm takes effect. Aphrodite comments that it's hard to say goodbye. "It's harder every time," Hercules agrees sadly.
This was quite a lightweight episode considering that it got rid of the new Iolaus, whom we were just getting to know and like. The previews reveal that the original Iolaus will be back next week, but I'm a bit confused about why they did the switch in the first place. Nautica's cute but she's no substitute for Hercules, who taught this Iolaus everything he knows about being a hero; I have trouble buying that he'd make a decision to live under the sea forever just to be with her, especially after his refusal to let her give up the sea for him.
The ease with which Hercules decided to ask his sister for help letting his friend go seemed ridiculous as well, considering that he'd just had to give up Serena for the third time. Maybe he realized with her that an alternate-universe double is no substitute for real memories, and applied that to Iolaus as well. It's a good message but if that's the point, it should have been emphasized more; we see people die and come back on this series more often than on Star Trek.
The episode had an odd balance of humor and pathos. Michael Hurst did a hysterical turn as a disguised seamstress (think Widow Twanky in servant's clothes), and a French chef whom I expected to start singing "Les Poissons" from Disney's Little Mermaid when he wasn't flipping his knife through the air trying to "accidentally" behead Lysaka. It is difficult to believe that someone as boorish and stupid as the warlord not only stole but destroyed Triton's trident; no wonder Kobiri seems so unimpressed with gods and mortals alike.
There were other cute references to the Disney film and some funny lines by Hercules ("No one ever wants to do it the easy way," he sighs before dispatching bad guys with his fists), but the jokes didn't integrate well with the themes of love and loss, so the episode as a whole fell rather flat. In particular, the women needed to be stronger characters: it's hard to see why these damsels in distress would be worth giving up a world for. Flighty as Aphrodite can be, she was the most attractive lady in the story.