This episode is marks the return of Deric and Lyla from the Herc Season 1 episode "As Darkness Falls". The Centuar Deric and his now wife Lyla are now raising a son, Kefor (who's 3 years old even though Deric and Lyla ran away just a season ago). Unfortunately the town they've settled in is just as bad (if not worse) than the one they left and the couple finds themselves under attack by bigots. Salmoneus and Hercules arrive in time to keep Deric from getting into more trouble and save the town from being taken over by illogical hate for the centaur and his family. It was very jarring seeing Lucy Lawless at first as I'm watching the re-watching the episodes (both Xena and Hercules) in airing order on my Zune, so after coming from a butt-kicking Xena episode I couldn't help but wonder why Xena was letting these townspeople push her around, then I'm like "Oh, this is Lyla". So I had an extra giggle when Hercules and Salmoneus acknowledged she looked like Xena. Which is also the series itself acknowledging they recycle actors a lot. Lucy just happened to get recycled to star of her own show. The episode was pretty good over all, I bought Deric's pain at losing his wife. He and Hercules' fight against the bigotry of the town is compelling and real. Kefor is adorable and he and Salmoneus' baby sitting adventures, funny and entertaining, keeping things level and light in the middle of a lot of drama. At first I thought the early murder of Lyla was to avoid doing another Lyla episode as the character wouldn't exist anymore to be played by Lawless, but the cheesy and unnecessary twist at the end made that not so. Actually the ending was the weakest part of the episode. It was a really interesting story about over coming bigotry with characters who kept your attention and then they had to go and pull the same trick (sort of) that they pulled in the "Amazon Women" movie in order to heal the harms. Now maybe I bought Zeus did it to kind of say "sorry" to his son for not being there in the situation with Hercules' wife and children, but it just cheapens the whole story somehow that she *spoiler* just walks back in alive. Also Kefor's age makes me wonder about time-lines in Hercules/Xena and if we can actually say "just one year ago" because it was a season ago as they pull the same trick with Ares son Evander who goes from his first appearance as a baby to his second appearance as a five year old with only a season between the two appearances. I also believe Ephiny's centaur kid Xenan goes from infant to an older toddler in an illogical timeline. Oh well, that's kids on TV, they grow up quick.
After Lyla is killed in a fire started by bigots, Hercules and Salmoneous must stop her centaur husband Deric from taking his revenge and killing the group and allow the law to take its course, in this fair-average installment...
This episode is a sequel to the first season's excellent 'As Darkness Falls'. Although there are some nice references to that episode, you don't really have to have seen it to watch this one.
Lucy Lawless makes brief cameos as Lyla, first in the living and later as a ghost. The first episode produced for the second season, Lawless filmed the appearances just before she took up filming as 'Xena: Warrior Princess'.
Although she only has brief cameo appearances, it is maybe surprising that Lawless is tucked away with the co-starring cast on the end credits.
I like Hercules and Salmoneus commenting on how Lyla resembles Xena (but with a different temperament), a nice nod to how the series recycles actors.
Another moment of note is, after the initial brawl with the local goons, Salmoneus tries to high-five Hercules, who stands in bemusement; a sign of the series starting to put more and more modern day references in.
The story rolls along at a reasonable pace, with fair performances from those involved. It is one of those episodes that has a rather average, unspecial feel about it, but for what it is, it's a reasonable episode.
[spoiler] I wasn't keen on the episode's final scene, with Lyla suddenly being returned to the living by (the unseen) Zeus. I found this to be very abrupt and out of nowhere, and not necessary; it just raised more questions than it answered. Kevin Sorbo has also commented that he wasn't keen on this element. [end of spoiler]
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