"Render Unto Caesar"
by Michelle Erica Green

Rome Invades Ireland

"Render Unto Caesar" Plot Summary:

Hercules is caring for Morrigan, who is not only suffering from the wounds he inflicted upon her, but from withdrawal from the blood of Kernunnus. The Irish want to kill her in revenge for all the Celts she destroyed, but Hercules won't let them. Privately he tells the Druid boy Mabon that he suspects Morrigan may be a hopeless cause, and sure enough, when she awakes, she assaults Hercules, rejecting his assistance. The Celts insist that her gods have summoned an armada against them with four symbols on their flags. It's Caesar.

The Celts fight amongst themselves, but Hercules points out that if they don't unify now, they'll be conquered. While Kernunnus appears to warn Morrigan against her human side and demand her help in betraying the Celts, so that they will turn back to their old gods in fear of Caesar, the Romans destroy a village. Hercules insists that they don't have time to mourn their dead and launches an assault against the Roman boats, which impresses Caesar, who has already rejected a clansman's offer to trade information for a great deal of gold, choosing to slit the man's throat instead.

Morrigan enters Caesar's camp, beats up his men, tells Caesar she's not impressed by him, and informs him that Hercules is setting a trap for him in nearby tunnels. Caesar, who considers Hercules one of his few peers in the world, demands to know why Morrigan would give him this information; she says she has personal reasons, but doesn't reveal that Kernunnus insisted as a trade for his blood to which she's addicted. Hercules has anticipated her betrayal, however, and is prepared when the Romans attack. He goes to Kernunnus to fight for Morrigan, but the god introduces Hercules to Bridget, daughter of himself and Morrigan, whom he is holding hostage.

Hercules tells Morrigan he understands now why she's afraid to fight Kernunnus, but she agrees to go demand her daughter back. The girl does not recognize her until she sings a lullaby. Morrigan offers to leave Eire with Bridget, thus leaving the land without justice since she now represents that force for the Druids, but Kernunnus refuses to agree. Meanwhile, Hercules uses the corpses from the village massacre to set up another trap for Caesar's men; when they believe they have killed the Irish army as it slept, the soldiers pop out of the ground and ambush the Romans. In the midst of the battle, Kernunnus appears and throws Bridget off a cliff; Morrigan dives after her and is trapped on a vine. Hercules catches the girl, but must fight Kernunnus before he can save Morrigan, who refuses to let Hercules murder the god in cold blood but then kills him herself when he attacks. Mabon appears, telling Morrigan she has accepted her position as Justice, and she promises not to let them down.

Caesar has his scribe thrown overboard, insisting that history will never report that he went to Ireland. Hercules is made an honorary Celt and assured Morrigan that she will raise her daughter right.


Caesar is indeed having a busy week, fighting Pompey in Greece on Xena and fighting Herc in Ireland on this series. Not that I'm complaining, since the good guys usually win in the end and it's usually great fun to see someone as arrogant as Julius C. get defeated. But this episode seemed a little lightweight compared to its devastating counterpart on Xena, so I wonder what the producers were thinking putting them on the same week.

Hercules once more indulges his fetish for reforming bad women, but at least Morrigan is a worthy adversary, though now that we know her powers are entirely the result of her addiction to the blood of a god, it's a bit of a letdown. I was a bit disappointed in him going off to fight Kernunnus for her before he knew the real deal, and very pleased when he realized he was going to have to let her decide for herself what to do about her daughter. I was also pleased that she got to kill the creep in the end, though the brief damsel-in-distress scene beforehand was rather annoying; he saved the daughter, couldn't the mother have saved herself, thus demonstrating that she needs neither the blood of a god nor a man with the blood of a god in his veins to protect her?

This episode also dropped the ball on a much-anticipated confrontation between Hercules and Caesar; of course they've heard of each other, and we know Caesar is impressed enough with Hercules' legend to compare it with his own, but we don't really get a sense of what Hercules thinks of Caesar, other than the obvious dislike at the man for invading other countries. These two both engage in forms of imperialism - they could both use a lesson in The Prime Directive, but wrong series - and in some ways even their treatment of women has parallels (hey, they've both had their moments with Xena). I hope we get a more direct confrontation between these characters before the series winds, down, even if the idea of Hercules meeting Caesar is so preposterous on a historical/mythological level that the scribe might as well have reported that Caesar went to Ireland since no one would have believed what happened there.

The show has been careful to pronounce "Celtic" the way the Celts did and to have the natives call Ireland Eire, but the triple-goddess Morrigan was horribly diminished in this male-centered myth. Well, next week Hercules will be off fighting the Viking gods, including Thor, God of Thunder: is that a good way for him to work out his Oedipus complex, or what?

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