During the first few minutes of this story, I expected to sit through a boring episode. But it turned out to be one of the best in quite a while.
In the first half of the story, Kevin Sorbo is once again absent due to health problems, as he takes an injured man to a nearby temple and is notably absent from most of the first act. However, later on he returns, and this turns out to be the most that Sorbo has featured in an episode for quite a few episodes.
The episode also marks the return of Gina Torres as pirate Nebula (first seen earlier in the season in 'Web of Desire'), establishing her as a recurring character. Nebula makes a good supporting character, and I look forward to seeing her again in future episodes.
The disgruntled war veterans of the episode, headed by Hercules' old friend Ajax (another old friend that has never previously even been mentioned!), have strong parallels to the way Vietnam veterans and the way many of them war treated after the war had finished. Thankfully, this being television, all of the feuds are wrapped up in 45 minutes.
As I said above, during the early stages of this story, I wasn't really taken in and thought we were in for a boring episode. But when things move to the prison on the island, things really start to liven up, and makes for one of the most exciting and most enjoyable stories in ages.
The sand-sharks are very similar to the creatures that Hercules encountered in the great third season episode 'Mercenary'. On both occasions we only get brief glimpses of the creatures, as they live beneath the sand. In this episode they are referred to as "sand-sharks", and indeed to have fins that stick out of the sand as they travel along. Maybe they are a different variety of the same species.
Either way, the sand-sharks make for a great threat, and it has been quite a time since we have seen some real monsters for Hercules and Iolaus to battle.
All-in-all, this is definitely one of the best episodes this end of the season. In fact, I may go further and say it is amongst the best of the season overall. And it's nice to see Kevin Sorbo back in action a bit more.