"Love on the Rocks"
by Michelle Erica Green

Pour Me a Drink and I'll Tell You Some Lies

"Love on the Rocks" Plot Summary:

Hercules tries to teach the inept jester Iolaus how to spar so Iolaus can defend himself. When Aphrodite appears, the Jester is distracted and Hercules knocks him down. The Goddess of Love has come to warn her brother about a mudslide which requires his attention, so Hercules takes off to save a town, asking his sister to take care of Iolaus while he's gone. Iolaus tells the stunning goddess that he hasn't exactly been lucky at love.

Elsewhere, Poseidon's brother Triton tries to talk his daughter Nautica, a mermaid, into marrying a sea creature, but she insists that she wants to find her own mate. Discord appears to talk the mermaid into searching without her father's permission and gives her human legs so that she can get around on land. Because she's lovely and naked, she quickly becomes the most popular girl around, but she must avoid getting wet or her legs will transform back into a mermaid's tail.

Meanwhile, Aphrodite and Iolaus have encountered nasty thugs working for a warlord, and though Iolaus still can't spar on his own merits, a little magic from the Goddess of Love makes him a hero in a fight with them. Nautica, who witnesses the heroics, throws herself at him, and though this Iolaus' principal talent is still clowning around, he keeps her happy until she spots a fishmonger's cart with a pile of seafood, one of which she identifies as a relative of hers. When Aphrodite appears to Iolaus, she tells him that she had nothing to do with the attraction between Nautica and himself. When the former mermaid returns, believing as does Iolaus that their romance has not been manipulated by the gods, she and Iolaus discuss marriage.

But Discord, who's incapable of letting anyone live happily ever after, appears to the warlord and reveals her plan to keep Nautica on dry land until sunset. When the thugs return to announce that they were beaten by Iolaus, Discord sends them after Nautica. Down in the palace under the sea, Triton begs Aphrodite for help, explaining that Nautica's pure heart warms the sea and if she doesn't return before nightfall, the oceans will freeze. The goddess realizes that she must return Nautica to the sea, even if it means breaking the hearts of both Iolaus and the mermaid. But when she tells Iolaus the situation, he refuses to believe her, accusing the goddess of being jealous that someone fell in love without her intervention.

The thugs capture Nautica and take her to the warlord's hideout, where Discord informs the mermaid that she was just being used. Once Iolaus finds her necklace and realizes that his love is missing, he prays to Aphrodite's statue for forgiveness, and the goddess returns to help him find Nautica. When they track her down, Iolaus discovers that love has enabled him to fight like a true hero, but he is badly outnumbered. When Discord tries to interfere, Aphrodite jumps in and the pair use magic after hair-pulling proves ineffective. A barrel of water is smashed, soaking Nautica, who turns back into a mermaid. While the thugs stare and Iolaus looks at his love in horror, Aphrodite whomps Discord. Then Iolaus whomps the thugs.

Iolaus takes Nautica back to the sea, where he says he still loves her before she swims out of his life. Aphrodite weeps at the doomed romance, which appeals to her, but Iolaus accepts her loss as inevitable and notes that love has given him new confidence in himself. When Hercules returns, he says that the mudslide missed the town entirely; all he did was sign autographs. "Why do you smell like fish?" he asks his friend as the credits roll.


First of all, I would like to thank the writers of Whoosh!, the journal of the International Association of Xena Studies (IAXS), for their plot summaries. The first half of this episode was pre-empted in Washington, D.C. by a Baltimore Orioles game that ran over, so I was forced to borrow from Bluesong and Hawk as well as some newsgroup spoilers for the beginning of my own summary above. For those not familiar with Whoosh!, I highly recommend checking out the articles, reviews, and news about Hercules and Xena.

If the first half of "Love on the Rocks" was as funny as the second, however, I wish someone were keeping a catalogue of great lines - or, in this case, insults. Discord is a fairly annoying female character, dressing in S&M garb and sucking up to thoroughly unappealing men, but she's great with the zingers. "Think of her as powdered milk; you just add water," she cooes of Nautica. She actually meows during her catfight with Aphrodite, whose hair-pulling antics were hardly befitting the Goddess of Love, as Discord pointed out when she sneered, "What are you going to do, love girl, shower me with hearts?"

Aphrodite got a few good lines of her own in - "You've got a nasty case of crabs," she laughed when a filthy fish-net fell over Discord - though the best moment all episode was Iolaus telling her she needs to wear more clothes. This Splash meets Little Mermaid story, with stunning Discord in the role of hideous Ursula, posed the perfectly logical question: Hey, what would you do if a gorgeous naked woman wandered into your town and wanted to be your friend? Methinks Iolaus and Nautica both need some lessons in the difference between love and lust, but methinks as well that Aphrodite isn't the best person to teach.

The mermaid's resemblance to Jeri Ryan of Star Trek Voyager was disconcerting; I expected her to turn into a Borg when wet. But she and Iolaus had nice chemistry considering what a ditz she was, and the actress playing her was a terrific swimmer; I was very impressed at how well she maneuvered with that giant fish tail attached to her. Kudos to the costuming people as well. There wasn't much Hercules in this Hercules episode, but it's always nice to see Michael Hurst and we needed some character growth for the new Iolaus anyway, so it was fine.

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