Herc Lands a Real Babe
"Porkules" Plot Summary:
While Ares sulks over Strife's death, Discord comes to recommend herself as his new second in command. She tells him she has a plan to make him happy, and he tells her to impress him. Elsewhere, Hercules and Iolaus are traveling to Alcmene and Jason's anniversary celebration when Hermes interrupts them with a message: someone has stolen Artemis' bow, and she wants Herc's help retrieving it. Hercules bets that Autolycus is responsible, and finds the King of Thieves about to rob a king's treasury to help the poor. Autolycus already sold the bow. He describes the purchaser as Discord herself shows up to shoot Hercules with the bow, turning him into a pig.
Ares is pleased, but still wants Hercules dead. Iolaus realizes that Discord must be in league with Ares, and tells Autolycus that he has to help get the bow back. The King of Thieves wants to flee, but reluctantly goes along. Discord visits her old lover Colchis, supposedly the greatest hunter in the world, asking him to find and kill Hercules. When Colchis sets hounds after Porkules, Iolaus and Autolycus fight with his men and are separated from the pig. Hercules fights off the hounds but is grabbed by a butcher and thrown on a cart with a girl pig named Katherine.
Iolaus realizes that they could track Hercules much faster with Hermes' winged sandals, which he puts Autolycus up to stealing. The two find Hermes watching women mud-wrestle and get the sandals by pretending to be masseurs. Meanwhile, Hercules is shocked to discover that his pig friend can talk, as can the rest of the animals at the slaughterhouse. While Herc warns the others of their doom and is taken to the chopping block himself, Autolycus puts on the winged sandals and learns to fly. He drops in on the butcher just before the man drops the axe on Hercules, and Hercules rescues Katherine and the other animals.
A parrot who can talk to both animals and people accompanies Autolycus, Iolaus, and the pigs to Alcmene and Jason's home, where Alcmene faints to discover that her son is a pig. Colchis tracks them and threatens to burn the house down, but Katherine runs out and pretends to be Hercules to save his family. When Colchis takes the pig to Discord, she can tell it's a girl; Ares says "You're fired," and burns the hunter up. While Ares and Discord argue about this action, Autolycus steals the bow, but gets caught and a fight ensues. Hercules trips Ares and the parrot steals the bow, which he tosses to Iolaus who uses it to turn Discord into a chicken. An angry Ares leaves with his new pet before Iolaus can use the bow on him.
Hercules promises Katherine that when he's human again, he'll take her home, then is turned back into a human. Autolycus points out that he took on three gods and saved Hercules' curly tail, but Hercules insists that the thief must return Hermes' sandals while he escorts Katherine. Alcmene and Jason, and Iolaus and Autolycus, shrug as he walks off.
The producers of Hercules had a problem this season - namely, how to fill air time when an injured Kevin Sorbo was unable to film the fight scenes and acrobatics expected of Hercules. They deserve an Emmy for the way they have coped. I didn't see all of Babe, so I don't think I caught all the pig jokes and farm animal references, but there were many. My favorite pork joke was when Discord demanded to see the sausage and Colchis started to open his fly before she clarified that she meant the pig, but Ares got in a number of good lines at his half-brother's expense and the pig itself gave a pretty good performance as Hercules.
This episode was written by Kurtzman and Orci, who parodied themselves two weeks ago in "Yes, Virginia, There Really Is a Hercules" by having their alter egos suggest a "Chimpules" episode to cover for Sorbo's absence. That idea sounded ridiculous; this one worked fabulously, carried by the hilarious Bruce Campbell and the supremely underrated Michael Hurst, who had nice chemistry as well as some fun innuendo flying between them. Ares' sulking and the dark sexual banter between Discord and Colchis provided breaks from the slapstick, and in the end, Sorbo's minimal performance was irrelevant. I don't mean to diminish his importance to this series: it's a tribute to him that he's created a Hercules so vivid that we can envision his presence even when he's not around. But the flexibility and skill of the supporting cast has been featured for several successive weeks now, demonstrating just how essential those players are to the success of this franchise.
Next week we get Part II, in which Ares gets revenge against Autolycus and Iolaus by chaining them together naked while Hercules tries to work out a relationship with his pig girlfriend. Can't you just picture Sorbo's earnestness, and Campbell and Hurst's wackiness?