Hercules consults an information vendor/spy master, Creos to find news of Medusa’s whereabouts – and he comes through. Hercules hurries to pass the news to Pythagoras and Jason who don’t believe Creos since he’s a known liar. And Pythagoras can’t find a cure for Medusa, though he can’t bring himself to tell him that. Pythagoras has only one lead…
Jason goes to the Oracle to try and get Pandora’s Box back, in the hope Pythagoras can use it to find a cure. The Oracle won’t because the temptation to open it is too high – Jason points out he was never tempted and we have another round of “but you’re so special Jason!” Jason asks why – guessing at his mysterious mother being the cause of his specialness, but the Oracle returns to evasions and crypticness. She does give him the box though… gods know why.
Jason and Pythagoras go to see the super genius Daedalus. His workshop is full of fascinating inventions Jason just has to poke (Jason, you come from a world with MP3 players, airplanes and Miley Cyrus. Nothing should surprise, impress or shock you). Daedalus pokes him repeatedly for poking his inventions – and rightly so. In response to Daedalus being tempted to open the box, they lock it and give the key to Jason (Daedalus doesn’t like Jason and drives him out making goat noises. I find this quite a reasonable response).
Daedalus is delightfully random in his genius and manages to translate some of the words on the box – of course it’s “when all seems lost, only hope remains.” (And we have an excellent little shout out to mythology and Daedalus’s son, Icharus). Pythagoras thinks this is a good thing but Daedalus rather awesomely points out you all have hope – even Hercules has hope – everyone has hope, the world needs less hope and more brains. He looks again at the box and translates the story of Admetus and Alcestis – which totally shows there’s a cure for Medusa!
Pythagoras is all confused so Daedalus explains – the price of the cure is Hercules’s life. Pythagoras goes to Hercules and Jason and tells them there is no cure and that Jason should give the box back. Hercules falls into a deep depression and Jason tells Pythagoras how Hercules is isolating himself and blaming himself for what happened to Medusa (it being his fault and all). They go to check up on him and find his room empty – and his sword missing.
They go speak to Creos, who they do not like and he tells them what he told Hercules – and that he didn’t lie. Of course, he also didn’t tell them about the band of Scythians on the way waylaying travellers. Jason threaten him and the man moves like a snake and puts a knife at Jason’s throat. Jason is quicker and pins him to a wall. Of course that means having to deal with Creos’s giant bodyguard. Blows seem to bounce off the man so they leave, rapidly.
Pythagoras and Jason set off after Hercules and Pythagoras fills Jason in that the Scythians like to hunt people for sport. And along the way they find an altar dedicated to Artemis, goddess of the hunt. They leave quickly but are followed by a woman carrying a bow
Along the trail they find what appears to be a woman whimpering in the road – Jason goes to check on her and finds a man wielding a knife. It’s an ambush and they’re captured. They’re taken to a cage where they find Hercules, already captured. The plan of the Scythians is to hunt them down and the last one to live gets to live.
Y’know, this whole “loving the thrill of the chase” seems a little weak when we consider they used deception and ambush to capture them in the first place. You use underhanded means to capture them so you can then release them and hunt them more excitingly?
The hunt begins and they run – Hercules eventually calling out he can’t go any further. Jason has Hercules and Pythagoras hide while he leads them away. Hercules and Pythagoras fail at hiding (of course) but Hercules shows surprising prowess in forcing the two Scythians to the ground and telling Pythagoras to run.
Jason runs chased by most of the Sycthians and a sound effects department that is overly enamoured of “whoosing” sounds. He manages to get a lead on them and covers his tracks – joining Pythagoras. They are attacked and Jason brings down all his opponents with impressive skill – but is stabbed in the leg in the process.
Hercules hides up a tree and the Scythians go past. Of course, having shown prowess in combat and brains, they then have the branch snap under him and a bird crap on him. Because Hercules actually being impressive for five minutes cannot stand! (The writers are not subtle)
Jason and Pythagoras manage to reach the altar of Artemis – where they are surrounded by Scythians. Pythagoras tries to bluff the Scythians – and they all start sprouting arrows. Loads of them die in seconds victims of a blur barely seen through the trees –until the female archer emerges.
She is Atalanta. Using apparently magic, she makes a potion salve to apply to Jason’s wound. He asks why she saved him – she tells him her goddess told her to and that they will meet in the future. She reassures Pythagoras that Hercules could still be alive and reveals that she was abandoned in the woods as a child – but always had Artemis by her side. Pythagoras confirms that she had to use magic to heal Jason. Pythagoras tells him Medusa’s story and, at Atalanta’s urging, also tells her how Hercules could save Medusa and the story of Admetus and Alcestis. This is overheard by Hercules, unknown to them, though he quickly joins the camp and pretends he didn’t hear.
Hercules and Pythagoras talk and even though neither of them mention the cure for Medusa, Hercules does say that Pythagoras is a good friend who always looks out for him.
The next day, Atalanta has disappeared and Hercules tries to convince them to take Jason back to the city with his wound – but he has been magically healed. They insist on going with him (no sneaky suicide for him).
They search the many caves on the coast, one of them home to Medusa, and Hercules awkwardly tries to make nice with Jason as well, his “I’m saying goodbye without saying goodbye” speech. They find a cave with statues and Hercules goes inside to talk to Medusa, though she has little hope left to her and is sinking into despair.
Outside Pythagoras tells Jason about the cure and Jason realises that Hercules knows – that his clumsy bonding was an attempt to say goodbye.
In the cave, Hercules tells Medusa to look at him, it’ll be ok, he’ll be fine and it will cure her. She turns to look and Jason hurries in and turns Hercules away – and looks at Medusa. Jason is not turned to stone. Jason tells her what Hercules was doing and she doesn’t want it – she couldn’t live knowing he had sacrificed himself for her. She’d rather be cursed.
Hercules again says Pythagoras is a good friend and tells Medusa he will keep looking for a cure.
In the myth, Admetus was fated to die but lived because Alcestis (his wife) chose to die in his place. Ironically, the happy ending came because Hercules dropped in, loved the spread Admetus laid out, and decided to beat up Thanatos until he brought Alcestis back
Atalanta! Yes, I’m a mythology geek but I do so love these shout outs! Especially since these shout outs are pretty close to the actual mythology.
I’m glad to see some glimmers of Hercules’s competence and even some depth to him – but he’s still the clown of the series.