"Web of Desire" Plot Summary:
Hercules and crew take refuge from a storm in a cave, and meet up with Nebula, pirate captain of the Leviathan and last survivor of a crew of twenty which stole King Zolas' treasure. Every man on Nebula's crew has been killed or kidnapped by Arachne, a giant half-woman half-spider who ensnares men and forces them to bear her children Alien-style, by gestating them in their bodies.
Hercules and Nebula come up with a slow scheme for drawing her into the light which will kill her, but when she traps Iolaus (after killing the rest of Herc's crew, by web or by poison), they speed up their plans, eventually burning Arachne to death - though not her nasty arachnid children. They escape with Nebula, intending to return the treasure but not to prosecute her, and she and Iolaus plan to spin a love nest of their own.
This fairly goofy episode had some of the best one-liners of the series. Stumbling into Arachne's collection of men wrapped in spider silk, Herc exclaims, "This is one big web site!" When Arachne toys with him, announcing that she could try to seduce him for days, he responds, "Sorry, but you're going to have to play with yourself." And the Dread Pirate Nebula gets in on the fun, too, when she whacks off one of Arachne's limbs: "How long does it usually take you to shave those legs?"
My favorite moment, though, is the luscious slash suggestion as Nebula, witnessing a "very firm" handshake between Hercules and Iolaus, asks how long they've been together. Iolaus, not even pretending to misunderstand but refusing to get defensive, asks whether she's trying to get a rise out of him, to which she responds by sidling up against his crotch and announcing that if she were trying to get a rise out of him, he'd know it. Still, she won't risk her neck to save him from Arachne - though she later does for Hercules, who'd risked his own for Iolaus. Such touching mutual affection.
I loved Nebula, hope to see her again on this show or preferably on Xena since she appears to be a great match for the warrior princess, skill for skill. And I liked all the icky little spiders...the directing on this episode was exceptionally good, maintaining just enough horror-movie effect without letting it interfere with the humor. I tend to watch Hercules intermittently waiting for Xena to go on, but this season is making me a believer.