Dahok, Dahok Everywhere and Not a Drop To Drink
"Faith" Plot Summary:
A Sumerian priest approaches Hercules for help, telling him that the Sumerian gods have abandoned their people. Hercules agrees to travel to see King Gilgamesh, though Iolaus warns that they're going to go down in history as the people who angered all the gods. They sail with Nebula, who reluctantly admits that she's Gilgamesh's sister when confronted by the priest; she left home because women in Sumeria are not allowed to have any power or independence. Hercules has a nightmare of his own shade standing in a ring of fire, warning him against his evil side. When he awakens, his hand has been cut by the curved knife from his dream.
Hercules and Iolaus meet Gilgamesh and learn that the king's anger over the death of his family caused him to turn from the gods, who have in turn devastated his land. He needs one who has the blood of a god to help him retrieve the sacred chalice of the nectar of the gods, which can save the land. While Hercules goes with him to the pyramid, Nebula reluctantly stays with Iolaus in the city, where the priests attempt to make her behave as a traditional woman. But the acqueduct fails, so Nebula rallies the people from their prayers to repair it. When they have finished, she and Iolaus admit their affection for one another and share a romantic interlude.
Hercules and Gilgamesh bond over stories of their mutual struggles and losses at the hands of the gods, and work together through a series of trials to get to the chalice at the top of the pyramid. But when they arrive, Gilgamesh hits Hercules over the head and drinks the nectar himself. A ring of fire surrounds Gilgamesh and his eyes glow red. Explaining that his anger at his old gods led him to a new master, he announces, "Soon the world will tremble with the arrival of Dahok!"
Though Gilgamesh abandons him in the flames, Hercules escapes and returns to the palace to find Nebula trapped on a table, with Gilgamesh calling Dahok to enter her as a battered Iolaus struggles to free her. The Greek hero fights the Sumerian king, but Gilgamesh has the power of Dahok in him. Iolaus kills the evil priest and frees Nebula, who tells him she loves him, but when Gilgamesh hurls a curved knife at his sister through Dahok's mental powers, Iolaus leaps in front of the blade. Hercules flings Gilgamesh into the fire but Iolaus dies in his arms.
A powerful, well-paced episode which benefitted from a bravura performance by Tony Todd as Gilgamesh. "Faith" reminds me a lot of the George Lucas films it borrows from, artfully blending humor, mysticism, and good old-fashioned family values. The steps in the quest for the holy grail were an obvious homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, particularly the "leap of faith" and the approach to the chalice - which resembled the false grail of that film. Todd has a knack for sounding remarkably like James Earl Jones, so his statement of Dahok, "It is his destiny," sounded exactly like Darth Vader saying "It is your destiny" to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.
Even though Iolaus has a nice relationship developing with Nebula, who's a terrific character - what Xena might have been like had she been born into an educated but restrictive noble family - the major emotional affiliation in this episode was between the two men. Nebula actually says "Iolaus loved you so much" to Hercules, who replies, "He was my hero." (Somewhere, I am sure, someone is making a "Wind Beneath My Wings" fan video of Herc and Iolaus.) Their relationship has parallels with Xena and Gabrielle's, not least of which is the fact that Dahok is responsible for the deaths of both heroic sidekicks. Next week Hercules will venture into the Sumerian land of the dead to save his best friend just as Xena journeyed this week to the Amazon land of the dead to save hers.