"God Fearing Child" Plot Summary:
The Fates examine lifelines and announce that a child not begotten by man will end the reign of the Gods. "Nonsense!" says Zeus, declaring that all life on Earth exists because of him and reminding Hera that he has always been the master of fate. Hera reminds her husband that he once told her all things come to an end.
Elsewhere, Xena and Gabrielle feel the baby kicking and greet Hercules, who exchanges jokes with Gabrielle about their new haircuts. Over one another's shoulders, he and Xena see a group of villains preparing to attack. During the struggle, one of their enemies reveals Zeus' decree that Xena's unborn child must die. Hercules realizes the villains are Zeus' personal soldiers - if one is killed, the rest become stronger. He advises Xena to hide so he can go have a talk with his father, but Xena has other plans: she wants to get the Helmet of Invisibility from Tartarus, then attack Zeus with a rib of Chronos. Hercules reminds her that if her baby is born in the land of the dead, it will be stillborn.
Beside the lake which leads to the entrance to Tartarus, Xena worries that her baby will always have to struggle to be happy. "I couldn't save my son," she recalls. Gabrielle accepts her share of responsibility for that, promising to dedicate her life to the baby. The two enter Tartarus with Zeus' soldiers in pursuit, but as they pass the tormented souls there, Xena recognizes Solon. Cutting him free from his cocoon-like coffin, the warrior princess asks her son why he isn't in the Elysian Fields, and weeps when he tells her he refused to enter the land of forgetfulness if it meant he would forget his mother. He fears that Xena no longer loves him since she has another baby on the way, but Xena tells Solon he proved to her that there was good inside her, and she thinks about him every day.
Hercules barges into Zeus' temple, yelling for his father. The king of the gods appears, claiming that Xena's child is an abomination that heralds the death of the gods. His son agrees with Hera that the time for their destiny is at hand, but his father scoffs that Hercules walks through life enjoying the advantages of divine blood, all the while sneering at the gods. When neither he nor Hera can sway Zeus from his plan to pursue Xena's baby, Hercules says he will never consider Zeus his father again. Once his half-brother has gone, prodigal son Ares pops in to chat with Zeus, complaining that Dad always liked Hercules better. Zeus reluctantly agrees to Ares' demand to be allowed to kill Hercules while Zeus is busy menacing Xena - a woman Ares says he is "rather fond of."
Ares taunts Hercules, claiming the half-mortal is still alive only because the god of war feared angering their father if Hercules died, but that's no longer a problem. He throws a fireball at Hercules, but Hera appears to knock out Ares with a fireball of her own. She knows why Hercules has come to the Forest of the Titans, and offers to help him find the rib of Chronos. Since Hercules saved her grandson and reunited her with Zeus, she no longer despises him, though Hercules is skeptical. She tries to prove her good faith by telling Hercules the story of Chronos' rib, which the elder god used to tear a hole in the darkness to create the sun. Hera feels badly about betraying Zeus, but once she forgave her husband for betraying her with mortal women, she realized she was proud of their creation of humanity.
Xena and Gabrielle take Solon through the Underworld so they can lead him to the Elysian Fields once Xena finds the Helmet of Invisibility. Hades traps her in the chamber with the artifact, saying she will spend eternity there, but when the warrior princess begins to fight, Gabrielle puts on the helmet and helps Solon escape. Fleeing both Hades and Zeus' soldiers, Xena and her son run into Ares, who assures them that in the Underworld, his own powers don't work. He wants only to protect Xena and her unborn child, whose birth will make him mortal - if he must die one day, he wants to stay with her. "Then say it. Say you love me," challenges Xena. When Ares hesitates, she scoffs, "I'm pregnant, not brain damaged," and stalks off with Solon. Once she is gone, Ares says, "I love you, Xena."
At the portal to the Elysian Fields, Xena and Solon meet up with Gabrielle. The warrior princess is having labor pains. As Hades pursues, Solon tells Xena a secret, and she says it's a good idea. Then she gives her son the Helmet of Invisibility, telling him to wait for her command, then rush through the portal to the Elysian Fields. Gabrielle and Xena fight Zeus' warriors and Hades throws a fireball at Xena, but she deflects it with her chakram right back at the god of the dead, who collapses. In the Elysian Fields, a happy but confused-looking Solon asks his mother when he'll see her again. In labor and in pain, Xena cries and promises to return.
Hercules and Hera find the rib of Chronos, but Hercules is sure there's a catch, and Hera agrees: Zeus will have guessed where she took Hercules, and will be ready for his son's attack. She says she has learned a lesson she once tried to teach Hercules: "Parents should never outlive their children." Hercules tells his stepmother that he can never forgive her for murdering his family, but he is thankful for her help. When the fates fortell the birth of Xena's child, Hercules lifts the rib of his grandfather as a weapon against his father.
Zeus arrives to fire a lightning bolt at his son, but the rib deflects the charge. interrupts the search with a lightning bolt. Hera aims a fireball at Zeus to allow Hercules to escape. She tells her husband that she won't be responsible for the death of another innocent child. Zeus says he's disappointed in her and sorry that their eternity together has been cut short. "This is the first thing I have done right in an eternity," Hera assures him. "And the last," adds Zeus. They kiss, rising into the air and beginning to spin around until Hera disappears into the whirlwind.
Xena and Gabrielle flee Tartarus, but the warrior princess is in labor and has trouble fighting until Hercules arrives to toss her the rib of Chronos, with which she kills Zeus' soldiers. Xena asks Gabrielle to leave so she won't get caught in the crossfire if Hercules can't stop his father, but Gabrielle refuses to go. Zeus arrives, knocking the rib from his son's hand, and the two struggle while Xena prepares to push the baby out. When Zeus sees the child - a girl - he storms past the prone Hercules to attack it. Then Hercules gets his hands on the rib and stabs Zeus with it.
Lightning strikes, clouds thunder past, the earth shakes so hard that Hades feels it down in the Underworld. Zeus tells Hercules that even though the mortal may have renounced him, he will always consider Hercules his son. Every son must eventually take his father's place, as Zeus did with Chronos. "You have never disappointed me," admits the king of the gods with his dying breath, telling Hercules that his actions that day have made his father proud. The Fates cut the thread of life. Ares looks at his mortal hands. Zeus dies, vanishing into dust and light, and Hercules murmurs, "Father." The skies clear.
A smiling Xena holds her baby, but she cannot help but notice Hercules grieving nearby. She says she is so sorry about what has happened. Hercules recalls that he always told people they could live without the gods; now they're going to find out whether it's true. Xena says she has named the baby Eve because Solon suggested it. When Hercules wanders away, Gabrielle follows. Alone with her daughter, Xena tells Solon that they will all be together forever. Then she sits watching the cloud patterns in the sky.
Forget "Full Circle"; this episode marks the conclusion of Hercules, The Legendary Journeys. Xena's reunion with her dead son and the birth of her baby made for a moving story, but it was overshadowed by the end of history for the Olympians, which wrapped up most of the loose ends of Hercules' life. Never again will he battle the wicked minions of his stepmother Hera, who died his ally in one of the few developments allowed her character. It is fitting that Zeus' illegitimate son made the king of the gods pay for the murder of his own father - and it's not even that much of a stretch, given the myths of Oedipus, Perseus, Theseus, Achilles, and all the other Greek heroes whose best qualities were rolled into Hercules in this retelling.
I had thought we'd seen the last of Solon in "The Bitter Suite," when the dead boy appeared to reconcile Xena and Gabrielle. But that conclusion was a little too pat, so it was wonderful to see Solon and Xena both confront the unresolved issues between them - particularly the boy's fear of losing his mother forever, now that she's having a replacement baby with the soul of Solon's murderer's assistant. Ironically, Xena tells her son that she always saw him as a vision of hope - the name Gabrielle gave to the demon child who killed the boy. I'm not sure the reference was deliberate, but I would like to think it was. Pain like that doesn't usually just go away one day, it keeps recurring and coming between people no matter how hard they try to put it in the past, so it struck me as very responsible to bring up those old wounds as Xena prepared to give birth.
There were strong parallels between Xena's confronting her dead son and Hercules confronting the stepmother who murdered his own children. I was very glad that he refused to forgive her - what she did was unforgivable, but not impossible to understand, given the way Zeus treated her for so many years. It's about time he paid for his crimes, but it also makes sense that Hercules would struggle even with that eventuality. Not so Ares, who of course could think only of himself - his announcement that he loves Xena, too late for her to hear it in order to protect his pride, is really a reflection of his own greed and possessiveness. I could believe Ares would sacrifice godhood if it would entrap the warrior princess; at this point I think he'll take her any way he can get her.
Yet the patriarchy is dead. "God Fearing Child" felt like a concluding episode, even though Hercules is already off the air. Not a very happy ending for him in spite of everything, and it will be strange to see where Xena goes from here with her daughter, born into a world of strife with or without the gods.