Hercules Among the Druids
"Resurrection" Plot Summary:
A Celtic singer's voice rises during a Druid ritual, while the participants chant that from the sea, a hero is coming. Meanwhile, aboard ship in a gale, Hercules curses the gods and tells them to destroy the world if they want - he doesn't care anymore. The storm destroys the ship and throws him on the shores of Ireland, where a Celt tells him that the Druids have been praying for their Chosen One - himself. Hercules tries to shrug off the title even after the leader tells him that the Druids are being slaughtered by the gods and their messenger.
Morrigan, servant of the gods, pursues a young Celt and tears his heart out when he won't tell her where the Druids are hiding. Hercules meets a very young Druid who offers to help Hercules find his path, but Hercules turns him down, planning to leave Ireland until Morrigan finds him and attacks him. The boy, Mabon, summons the power of the land and tells Hercules that he must find his illumination to regain his strength. The son of Zeus scoffs at the riddles in which the young Druid speaks, but agrees to let the boy help him find his path. Mabon tells an aging Druid priest that he is not sure the Chosen One will help, but the old Druid says that his own death is close, and the boy must help the hero.
A Celtic man offers to lead Morrigan to the Druids and the Chosen One if she will spare his family. Meanwhile, Hercules receives lessons about following his instincts by training a horse, trusting his heart by breaking free from a frozen lake, and finally overcoming his grief. The latter occurs in a cave which Mabon says contains only what Hercules brings in; Hercules sees Iolaus there, cooking and joking casually with him. When Hercules says that this is all wrong because Iolaus is dead, his friend replies that that all depends on perspective - just because he's dead doesn't mean he's not with Hercules. He reminds Hercules that he died as he lived, fighting the good fight, and says he wouldn't change a thing.
Outside, Morrigan comes to take Mabon and tells him that if he won't take her to the other Druid leaders, she'll kill everyone living on the island. He insists that they would all rather die than live to serve the gods, rather than to tend the Earth as the Druids teach. He brings her to find the Druids surrounding the old priest, who is dying. Morrigan takes her sword and kills him herself, but he vanishes and she is filled with light as the others chant of rebirth. The leaders introduce themselves as Mercy, Innocence, Faith, and various other attributes. Mabon tells Morrigan that because she has killed Justice, she is destined to take his place now. When she threatens them, Hercules, who has singlehandedly fought off her minions outside the cave where he saw Iolaus, fights Morrigan. As she tries to strangle him, he hears a Druid singing and recalls Mabon telling him that he will find his strength with his illumination. His faith restored, he defeats Morrigan.
Mabon tells Hercules that he must stay and help Morrigan accept her new role as Justice. Hercules doesn't want the job, but the boy tells him that anything is possible for him and he will succeed because he always does. Then the Druids vanish in the woods, leaving Hercules alone with Morrigan.
There was a lot of hokey, New Age Druid talk in this episode, but if one puts that aside as one must put the history and mythology of Greece aside in order to watch this series, it was an extremely effective story. Morrigan is a great character - makes me think of an unreformed Xena with red hair - and while she gives lip service to the gods, it's clear that she doesn't follow their orders any better than she follows the laws of men. I hope Hercules doesn't regain his superhero persona and start condescending to her too quickly, because right now they're both off-balance in new roles and well-matched to become partners for a time.
I guess Hercules needs a partner, because it looks like Iolaus is staying dead for the time being. I assumed from the title of this episode that we would get him back by now; it's interesting how much I'm relating to Hercules' disbelief that his friend is dead, because I assumed that Iolaus, like Gabrielle on Xena, would be back in the land of the living by the third week of the season. I have been avoiding spoilers so I don't really know when if ever he will be back; if I stop seeing Michael Hurst's name in the opening credits I'm going to get really nervous. The reunion in the cave was deeply moving, reminiscent of a dozen Herc/Iolaus bonding scenes, and Sorbo played Hercules' denial and grief very effectively.
I thought the music and the overall look of the Druid rites were very well-done despite the historical liberties, and I rather liked Mabon - all-knowing child characters can be very annoying, but this one worked well. Next week we go back to the Mediterranean where Autolycus and Salmoneus are having a roaring good time getting into trouble stealing valuables so this series hasn't lost its comic sense; it's just developed a bit of a split personality. Considering that Autolycus, King of Thieves is the spinoff I would most like to see from this franchise, that's fine with me.