I Want One Moment In Time
"Regrets...I've Had a Few" Plot Summary:
Hercules rescues his old friend Jaris from crime lord Klaxon, and is introduced to the former's new baby, Bartok. On the way out of town, Hercules encounters Celesta, messenger of Hades, who tells him she has come to escort Jaris to the Underworld. Hercules begs her to give him one more day, to prepare for his son's future, and she reluctantly agrees.
Hercules flashes back to the first time he saw Celesta: he and Iolaus were students at a prestigious academy for warriors, and were attacked by a gang as they left for vacation. Hercules accidentally killed Bartok, a boy who was supposed to murder Hercules as his rite of initiation. Hercules took the body back to the home of Bartok's father Nehemiah and brother Jaris, but he couldn't bring himself to tell them that he had killed the older boy, and instead pretended to be Bartok's friend.
The adult Hercules tells Jaris that he saw Celesta, and Jaris declares that he's going to do something memorable with his life before he dies. Hercules remembers Jaris as a boy, blaming his father for his brother's death; he also remembers the lies he told the young Jaris about his brother to make him feel better about losing him, before Iolaus arrived to warn Hercules that the gang was planning to punish himself and Nehemiah both for Bartok's death. To his later shame, Hercules refused to let Iolaus tell Nehemiah how Bartok really died.
Jaris kills Klaxon and sets off after other thugs, determined to take as many of them with him as he can. Celesta warns Hercules that Jaris will be denied the peace of the Elysian Fields if he dies a murderer. Hercules recalls taking care of the boy Jaris before the gang arrived and asked Jaris to join them, but the youngster turned them down. Hercules confessed to Nehemiah and fought by his side against the gang, defeating the leader and helping to rebuild. Now he convinces Jaris to give up killing and spend his remaining hours with the people who love him.
The story of a man with 24 hours to live is hardly a new idea, but it's interesting seeing it from the perspective of an outsider who has the flashbacks for him. This episode is really about Hercules, not Jaris, so we didn't get to know much about the dying man; he seemed a decent enough fellow, but I didn't get weepy at his death (which was nicely understated, and wisely offscreen - we never found out what happened exactly, which I liked). I very much enjoyed the young Iolaus, more than the young Hercules - the former really seemed like the latter's equal when they were young.
Ian Bohen, who played young Hercules, was terrific. He didn't mimic Sorbo's mannerisms precisely, but he looked enough like him during the fight scenes that it was easy to believe in him as the character. He also held his own in the last scene with Sorbo where Hercules confronts his younger self after burying Jaris. The chemistry between the young Hercules and Iolaus worked well, and I liked the martial arts teacher telling Herc not to get cocky.
The message of the episode is trite...none of us can escape death, every minute of life is precious, spend it with people who matter to you...kind of an odd moral for this series, where killing off the last bad guy is often Hercules' own agenda. I wondered what it meant that Celesta indicated that that was a poor way for Jaris to spend his last hours. I also wondered about Herc's half-mortal status; he talks to Celesta as if he knows he has nothing to fear from her, but he is ultimately going to die, so he sounds as much in denial as Jaris. If I were baby Bartok, I don't think I'd look forward to Hercules' return, since his relatives seem to die when the hero's around; still, he's always been good with children, and we know he'll keep his promise to tell the baby about his father.