Luck, Be A Lady Tonight
"Hero's Heart" Plot Summary:
Wealthy Lexus is visited by Fortune, who tells him that his luck has run out. He loses his money and his home, and then, while traveling with his wife to live with his brother, is trapped on a disintegrating wooden bridge. Hercules and Iolaus, who are in a bit of a row because Iolaus is tired of being in Herc's shadow, try to save the couple, but while Hercules is saving Lexus, his wife panics and Iolaus can't prevent her from falling to her death. He decides people would be better off if he stopped pretending to be a hero, and breaks with Hercules.
Fortune visits Hercules to tell him that the woman's death is not Iolaus' fault and she wants to make things right. Though Hercules begs her not to interfere any further, she then visits Iolaus, who tells her of his wish not to remember the woman's death. He also says that things would be better if he'd never met Hercules. Fortune tries to make him forget the woman, but she inadvertently makes him forget Hercules as well; Iolaus can remember nothing since he was fifteen, robbing a jewelry stand. Concluding that he is a thief, he heads for the seedy town of Nemia, where he hooks up with a prostitute and tries to ingratiate himself with a local crime lord, Xeno.
Hercules, meanwhile, is also on the way to Nemia, protecting a shipment of money from a local king who wants to help the people of the city without getting directly involved in its politics. His traveling companions are a boorish driver and a pregnant woman looking for a lift; he misses Iolaus, and without his friend to scout for him, the cart is overtaken by thieves. Hercules is shocked to find that they're led by Iolaus, who's now Xeno's Number One, after exposing the treachery of his predecessor. Remembering nothing about their life before, Iolaus attacks Hercules, but he can't bring himself to kill him and returns to Nemia.
Hercules pursues, learning that Xeno has been taken by his former Number One, Thanatos. He and Iolaus rescue Xeno and have the thugs imprisoned - as well as the former crime lord, who warns Iolaus to seek out a different line of work, since he's obviously a trustworthy man. Hercules summons Fortune, who restores Iolaus' memory; the latter decides that he can live with the death of the woman because Hercules believes in him.
I have nothing deep or profound to say about this episode, which featured a tight, engrossing plot and an excellent performance by Michael Hurst as the amnesiac Iolaus. I liked the gimmick of post-traumatic amnesia via deus ex machina; that way Iolaus got to forget who he was without anyone having to worry that he's going to lose his memory every time he's involved in something traumatic, which one would expect to happen to heroes far more often than it does on this show. The moral about believing in oneself was hokey but painless.
I'm not sure what the point of all this was, though: if it was to demonstrate that Iolaus is a hero in his own right, it didn't quite succeed. Though he was honest as a thief, he was also brutal, and his seemingly innate sense of who the good and bad guys were didn't really make up for the ease with which he slipped into a world where the people he worked for hurt other people on a regular basis. Ultimately Hercules had to bail Iolaus out, both with his new "friends" and with Fortune, so Iolaus still comes across as the far needier member of the pair.
I didn't much like the token damsel in distress - why are pregnant women always portrayed as helpless? The whore was a lot more fun...it's nice to know that Iolaus did not forget how to show a lady a good time, but I guess he must have learned that younger than age 15! Overall, the episode did a good job balancing Hercules and Iolaus' scenes, and featured a fun Indiana Jones-ripoff sequence where Hercules pulls himself onto a cart via a whip.