"Somewhere Over Rainbow Bridge" Plot Summary:
Loki supervises the forging of a golden mask which he says is a gift for his father. Meanwhile, in Asgard, Odin tells Hercules that two parts of the prophecy leading to Ragnarok - the twilight of the gods - have been fulfilled, and that the final tragedy will be the death of light. Neither Odin nor Hercules knows what it means, but Hercules says that if they can figure it out, they can probably stop it. Later, he stands on the frozen Rainbow Bridge between the worlds and talks to Freya, who reminds him of his mother; she begs him to return Thor to Asgard. Hercules tracks down the banished son of Odin and frees him from Loki's chains, demanding that the God of Thunder think of the Vikings whom he's sworn to protect, who are now in despair.
Hercules goes to see the Norn, but when he arrives at her circle, he sees Loki fleeing in the form of a wolf. The Norn tells Hercules that Loki's fate is not yet written, but Loki gives Odin the mask he had forged, which blinds the King of the Gods. Hercules realizes that Odin's blinding must be the dying of the light from the prophecy, and tells Freya that Thor blames himself for the prophecies coming true. While Hercules goes back to Thor, Loki screams that Freya always loved Balder best, and the dark god who helped Loki slay Balder asks whether the trickster will be prepared for the end of the world. Loki demands assurances that he will be protected, but the dark god promises nothing. Loki blows on a horn that Odin hid in the earth, and Asgard ices over.
Hercules takes Thor to see the fate of the Vikings without his patronage and to retrieve the hammer he hurled into a stone, but Thor sees the sky darkening and realizes that Ragnarok has started. Loki taunts that Thor's place is in Asgard saving the other gods, but he's started a fire in the great Viking hall: all the people will die without Thor's help. Hercules tells Thor to go to his family and he'll take care of the Vikings, but Thor insists that he must save his people, sending the Greek hero to Asgard instead. Hercules finds Freya nearly frozen to death and Odin dying, but Odin says he's glad Thor chose to save the people: he tried to teach all his sons to stand up for the weak, but only Balder listened.
Meanwhile, Thor is holding up the Viking hall ceiling singlehandedly. Hercules arrives to help, getting all the people outside, but while the heroes are separated, Loki strikes Thor with a poisoned dart like the one he used to kill Balder. Thor tells Hercules that he has saved his heart, if not his life, and dies. Hercules realizes that the pages he saw from the Norn Book of Fate were given to him by Loki the trickster, and takes them to the Norn, demanding to know whether she painted them. She says she only paints what she sees, but Hercules realizes that the paint itself creates fate: Loki painted what he wanted to see, and it came true. He goes to Loki in Asgard with a container of paint, accusing him of forging fate; they struggle and the paint spills. Loki flees to beg aid from the dark god in his cavern, taking out his own stash of paint, but Hercules follows him and buries the trickster in a cave-in which Loki himself began by blowing Odin's horn.
Hercules asks the Norn to fix the Book of Fate, but she says that's not for her to do. Realizing that he's been telling the gods to make their own fates all along, Hercules repaints the pages himself, starting Balder's death. He finds himself back at the moment he killed Balder, but this time he tosses the poisoned dart in Loki's general direction and announces that it was poisoned by the evil brother. Balder thanks Hercules and teaches some values to the not-yet-reformed Thor, who takes him to Asgard. Hercules says goodbye to the Norn and heads for his boat.
The end of the world was sort of a letdown, but overall this was an enjoyable episode with interesting parallels to Hercules' own mythology. Loki's a great character who seems more Greek than Norse, given his oedipus complex and his insane jealousy over his brother; interestingly, he's in a similar position to Odin as Hercules is to Zeus, mostly ignored beside the full gods and largely discounted by Dad as a potential power in the world. We never did find out who Loki was working for, though considering that next week's episode is a Dahok story (looks like he takes the form of Iolaus this time around - hey, at least Michael Hurst is back), I'm betting we can all guess who triggered Ragnarok.
The interaction between Herc and Thor was nothing we've never seen before - two reluctant heroes taking potshots at each other before joining together to save the poor dumb people who can't get along without them - but Thor was appealing with his rams helmet and those long locks (I'll give the Norse gods this: they are HOT), and he was rather sweet discovering that he really carest his followers. The snow looked extremely fake, especially inside the palace at Asgard, but otherwise this episode was well-directed and I loved the visual imagery from the Book of Fate. I doubt Herc will ever return to the far north, so I'm not expecting any repeat or consequences, but as a two-part lark this was quite entertaining.