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Season 5, episode 12
Series 512
1st release: 01/25/99
2nd release:
Production number: V0718
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 02-12-99

SUMMARY by Bluesong

Danielle Cormack (Ephiny)

James Gaylin (Nagus)
Jonathon Roberts (Kurth)
Clint Sharplin (Opakus)
Jonathan Bell-Booth (Zek)
Taungaroa Emile (Liesas)
Paul Appleby (Pretur)
Darian Siley (1st Gang Member)
William Smith (Paradas)

Written by Paul Robert Coyle
Directed by John Laing

Ephiny (to Hercules): Even you can't stop a volcano.
(Mount Pelion erupts.)
Man: Hercules!
(Someone falls into the volcano.)
Nagus: Look out!
(Hercules brings a young man to the ground.)
(A building explodes.)

Hercules (to villagers): Gather your family and head for high ground!
(Hercules stands with Ephiny.)
Hercules (to villagers): Some of us might not come back.
Nagus: I won't let you do it!
Ephiny: Hercules, even you can't stop a volcano.
(Mount Pelion erupts.)
(Hercules and Ephiny dodge falling rocks.)
(A horse rears up on its hind legs.)
(A body lands on a boulder.)
(A man screams.)
(Another man fights Nagus.)
Man: Hercules!
Nagus: Look out!
(Someone falls into the volcano.)
Hercules: No!
(Hercules brings a young man to the ground.)
(A building explodes.)

Hercules, with the help of the Amazon Ephiny, the Centaur Nagus and a youth marked for murder, must stop a volcano from destroying the people of Mount Pelion.

Ephiny and Hercules fight a volcano!

With a volcano about to blow (and destroy the village below), Herc, the Amazon Ephiny and a mixed bag of recruits coordinate a plan to redirect its lava flow. Herc's plan involves explosive crystals from Atlantis.

Hercules assembles a team to stop a raging volcano from destroying Mount Pelion.


Summary by Bluesong

A village, threatened by the impending eruption of a volcano, prepares for two things: a hanging and evacuation. Hercules arrives to help, and runs into Ephiny. She is concerned because her son, Xenon, is out hunting with his cousins. Hercules decides to try to divert the lava flow by using exploding crystals he brought from Atlantis to blow a hole in the ocean side of the mountain.

He asks for volunteers to haul wagons with the crystals up the mountains. He gets three, but needs a fourth. He decides to ask for the condemned man, who killed the son of a centaur. The man and the town elders agree. They load up, and run into hot water geysers caused by the volcano's heat. One man is killed, and the horses bolt. One of the carts explodes. Several members of a village gang attack the cart with crossbows. Ephiny sneaks up on them and takes them all out while Hercules tries to keep the crystals from blowing up. One of the horses is shot. The convict jumps on the other horse and rides away. The dead centaur's father finds the convict, but doesn't kill him. Ephiny catches the convict. Hercules asks the centaur father to pull the remaining wagon. They reach a rickety bridge, and unload the crystals to carry across. The gang leader cuts the rope. Ephiny hurts her leg on the bridge. The centaur and the gang leader fight. Hercules, the convict and centaur father leave Ephiny behind and go to the top of the mountain with the cyrstals. The convict takes the crystals and flings himself into the crater, creating an explosion. The lava runs out to sea.


Synopsis by Hawk.

The story opens with scenes of a volcano about to erupt. It has panicked the villages who live below and Herc and Ephiny have begun to help them evacuate. Herc decides to try and divert the volcano's flow. He shows Ephiny several buckets he has hidden away. Inside the buckets are several crystals that are submerged with water. We learn that the crystals came from Atlantis and that unless they are cooled by the water, they will overheat and explode. Of course, even if this were true, the small amount of water he had cooling them would soon boil and the crystals would overheat and explode. But this is fantasy and so it works! His plan is to climb near the top of the volcano and place the crystals in a certain location that will allow them to blow a hole open into the side of the volcano. This will allow the lava to flow harmlessly down to the sea and away from the village.

He needs four volunteers to help he and Ephiny. What he gets is two of the roughest looking scumbags you ever wanted to see. One was an ex-soldier and the other looks like some thug who wants to be a hero. Then a young man volunteers. Herc is somewhat concerned about his age, but the lad assures him that he's old enough to help. The rest of the men assembled refuse to help. Herc still needs one guy to help though.

Now, a twist is thrown into out little story whereby a certain man named Kerth has been captured and sentenced to hang for killing the son of a Centaur named Nagus. And although the volcano is about to blow, a group of thugs seem intent on hanging this man instead of helping evacuate the villagers. Nagus wants blood more than anything at this point. So Herc goes and talks to the criminal. He convinces the guy to come along and help them carry the crystals up the mountain. In return, Herc promises to put in a good word for him and perhaps the villagers will reconsider hanging him.

So they begin to travel up the volcano with four wagonloads of these unstable crystals. They have to avoid all manner of obstacles; rocks, geysers and the like along the way. Herc walks ahead and clears a path so that the wagons can ride more smoothly. One of the men steps on a heat vent and scalding water burst forth, lifting the guy into the air. Of course it kills him but it also manages to scare the horses. A couple of wagons take off and one threatens to overrun the youngest of the men. Herc dives at the guy and the wagon runs off the road and explodes. Now Kerth thinks Herc and the others are all dead, so he decides to take off. Ephiny, however, isn't about to let him get away. Then Herc and the young man crawl out of the wreckage shaken, but alive.

Along the way, Herc and Kerth talk and we learn that Kerth didn't really mean to kill Nagus' son. He was drunk, got into a fight and accidentally killed him. Herc points out that his mistake was in getting drunk and getting into a fight.

Meanwhile Ephiny and the younger man are talking. We learn that this guy is a farmer and only came along to prove to his father that he was more than just a farmer. Ephiny tells him to go home; that the world needs farmers. Surprisingly this kid bolts at this opportunity. Some hero.

So now there is only Herc, Ephiny and Kerth. Herc continues to lead the way, tossing paper-mache boulders out of their path while the two remaining wagons follow. Water is sloshing out of the buckets and the crystals are threatening to overheat and explode. Then Kerth looks down and sees his wagon's wheel just roll off! It just rolled off! The wagon threatens to tip over, but Herc runs up and stablizes it. So now they have to move all the crystals over to Ephiny's wagon.

We find that the gang who had tried to hang Kerth are following along and Nagus is with them. They begin to shoot arrows at the wagons and Herc rips off a board from a wagon and uses it to deflect the arrows, while Ephiny runs up to attack the gang. In the confusion, Kerth unhitches a plow horse and rides away.

Ephiny does a great job in this ep. She's looking good, showing no signs that she's recently recovered from her broken arm that Xena recently gave her. She got longer hair, a new suit of armor and shows some moves I've never seen. Predictably, the thugs attack her one at a time, so she dispatches them easily. Finally the leader shoots his crossbow at her but he misses. Ephiny dives for cover, plucks a long blade from a plant and strips in a certain way as to launch a sliver of the blade toward this guy. The needle pierces his hand and he runs off like the coward he is. Nice moves Eph!

Now, Kern gets thrown from his horse and who should find him but Nagus. He starts to attack, but Ephiny shows up and Nagus turns and goes away. Is Ephiny cool or what? Later they all get back to the wagons and we learn that the last remaining horse has sustained an injury during the fight. An arrow has pierced its shoulder and there is no way it can pull the wagon up the slope. So they decide to try and convince Nagus to help.

I don't really understand why the strongest man in the universe can't pull it himself and Nagus asks him that very question. Strangely enough, Herc avoids the questions and somehow convinces this centaur to help. During their talk, we learn that Nagus' son had fallen in with these thugs and he feels like a bad father. Meanwhile Ephiny has to keep Kerth from running away again by telling him that since he took a life, he owes the world a life in return.

So now they are all together and off they go. Ephiny and Herc clearing a path and Nagus pulling the final wagon. Kerth is along for the ride. At this point the thugs decide to abandon their leader, so they run off and the leader thug is all alone. He still wants to kill Kerth. I was beginning to think that maybe he really killed Nagus' son and was afraid Kerth would remember it, so that's why he wanted Kerth dead.

Herc and the gang now have to cross this rickety old bridge. They decide the best thing to do is to carry the crystals across while Nagus pulls the wagon alone. Just to make things more interesting, the volcano rumbles and the ground begins to shake. They have very little time so they gather up all the crystals and head over. Predictably Kerth slips and almost falls but Herc catches him. Then he takes another step and nearly falls again! He drops a couple of crystals and the explosion rocks the bridge, threatening to toss them all into the gorge below.

At this point, the last remaining thug cuts the rope supporting the bridge. More crystals fall and explode, rocking the bridge even more. One side collapses and Ephiny hurts her leg but still no one falls. Nagus sees the thug and attacks him while Kerth saves Ephiny and they get off the Bridge. Herc goes back to help Nagus because this little gangster is beating the crap out of Nagus. Their melee pushes the wagon (still hitched to Nagus) toward the edge of the gorge and it threatens to pull him over with it. Herc beats up the thug, unhitches the wagon and allows it to drop into the gorge. It explodes upon impact, but good old Nagus is spared.

Now they take some of the rope from the bridge and they tie the crystal onto Nagus who carries them the rest of the way up the slope. There is some type of racial overtones going on between Nagus and Kerth and this part is really pretty dumb at this point. I think the volcano rumbled and Kerth said "Woa". This seems to have upset Nagus because he's horse-like. Get it? Yeah…me too. Kind of like watching a football game and a player breaks open. Someone in the crowd yells "Look at that boy go" and some of the minorities decide to get upset over this. I thought this was dumb just like I think this part of the episode was dumb and had nothing to do with the plot other than to try and make Kerth look like more of a jerk.

So anyway they finally reach the area just below the crater where they want to place the crystals. Only they've now lost so many crystals that Herc doesn't think that they have enough to do the job. So he decides to send them below while he goes on to the crater to throw the remaining crystals in. Nagus intervenes and tells Herc that he cannot survive it. Even if he did, the lava flow would kill him. During the argument, Kerth takes all the crystals and slips away. They see him heading toward the summit and so Herc and Nagus run.

Kerth doesn't just throw the crystals in however. He jumps in! I never quite understood his reasoning unless the guy had so little to live for that he decided to kill himself. But he jumped in and the explosion opened a hole allowing the lava to flow harmlessly into the sea. The village is spared! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back in the village, things are back to normal. Herc and Nagus talk some about forgiveness and all that "moral of the story" stuff and Ephiny goes home. The end.

Actually this was a pretty good story! Yeah, it had a few flaws and it wasn't part of an on-going saga like the Dahak thing. But perhaps we need a break from that sort of stuff. It was good, not great. I liked it.


This commentary is by Xorys.

It was nice seeing Ephiny again (she's always been one of my favourite characters). She seems to have changed quite a bit, though - I wasn't even quite sure it was her when I first saw her on the promo last week.

The plot was a rip off from a couple of fairly often done movie concepts: "condemned men freed from jail for a special mission" + "must transport the truckload of dynamite through the dangerous terrain", with a few other borrowed elements thrown in too. It was a bit formulaic, but I would rate it a fairly good HTLJ ep overall. It kept my attention throughout, though I would probably have wandered a bit if it hadn't been for Ephiny. And I actually got quite sucked in by the ending, with Kerth's climbing up to throw the crystals into the crater, and the "He'll never make it!" "He already has." dialogue (yeah, I know it's not exactly entirely original - but it still brought a tear to my eye, even with, perhaps even partially because of, Kevin's flat delivery).

It was nice that they at least made a slight nod to plot continuity by having Ephiny say "I'm sorry about Iolaus" when she first met Herc... but his response hardly seem adequate. And how come no one even mentioned Morrigan?

Ephiny's arms seems to have healed up quite nicely, anyhow... And Xenon must be getting a big boy now. I liked the bit when Ephiny was fixing the horse's hoof, and she said conversationally "My son just hates it when I have to change his shoes!" How unlike the home life of our own dear Queen!


By Xorys.

And who was who in Sky High?

Perhaps the most intriguing familiarity was Kerth, the convicted man - he was played by Jonathon Roberts, who should be very familiar to Xena fans as the wannabe world-beater Agathon from The Dirty Half Dozen.

Clint Sharplin, who played Opakas, the gang leader with the really bad teeth, has previously been seen as Kenickus (also a weasely gang leader, if memory serves) in Regrets I've Had A Few, and a Celtic Villager in Resurrection. He can also be seen playing a character called Nicely in the 1998 movie Heaven, a thriller, which co-stars Karl Urban (Cupid, Julius Caesar).

Jonathan Bell-Booth who played Zek, has appeared in several previous eps... he played Brother #1 in As Darkness Falls (an ep in which Lucy Lawless played Lyla, the Centaur Deric's wife), a Highwayman in Gladiator (which guest starred Tony Todd), and First Centaur in Centaur Mentor Journey. He was also seen in the X:WP ep The Black Wolf as the Chief Guard.

Taungaroa Emile, who played Liesas (as best as I can make out the spelling), previously appeared as Ximenos in the ep Ares (the one that had a monster, rather than Kevin Smith, as Ares). He was also in New Zealand film Once Were Warriors, with several other actors who've visited the Xenaverse.

James Gaylyn as the Centaur Nagus, Paul Appleby as Pretur, and Darian Siley as the first Gang Kid are all new to us, as far as I know.

Paradas was played by William Smith... there is a William Smith in Dumb & Dumber, but I'm not sure if this was the same person.

And of course Ephiny was played, as always, by the charming and forceful Danielle Cormack, who can also be seen in the ep Les Contemptibles as Lady Marie de Valle. She has also appeared on the New Zealand soap Shortland Street, as have most Kiwi actors (but not, as was pointed out to me, Lucy Lawless...) Danielle also appeared in two episodes of the series High Tide, playing "Jill McMillan" in the episode "Dead Heat", and "Meghan Kelly" in the episode "Sitting Ducks". At the movies, Danielle can be seen in Channeling Baby (with Joel Tobeck, known to us as Strife, and Amber Sainsbury who we saw as Regina in the HTLJ ep Lost City), in Via Satellite, in Siam Sunset, in Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, in A Game with No Rules, and in The Last Tattoo... unfortunately all of these essentially New Zealand "art" pictures, and they're pretty hard to find in Northern parts.

Sky High was written by Paul Robert Coyle who has previously written the HTLJ eps End of the Beginning, Regrets I've Had A Few, Stranger in A Strange World, If I Had A Hammer, Armageddon Now (both parts), War Wounds, Top God, Genies and Grecians and Geeks, Oh My! and Norse by Norsevest (Story). He also wrote the XWP eps Ten Little Warlords, A Necessary Evil, The Execution and Sacrifice Part 2.

The ep was directed by John Laing, who previously directed Hercules On Trial, Render Unto Caesar, and Norse by Norsevest, and also directed the XWP eps When in Rome... and Tsunami.


From Carla Capizzi. This episode is apparently an homage to a 1961 film "The Devil at 4 O'Clock," which starred Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra. That too involved an erupting volcano threatening a village, and a mixed bag of good guys and bad guys hauling explosives up a mountain to save the day. Some survive, some do not -- but the villagers are saved.

From Tami. Danielle looks incredible with long hair. Every time I see her as time passes, she's looking better and better. Ephiny has a new sword. It's different from the swords I've seen Amazons use in the past. For one thing, the hilt design is different and there is no labrys (i think that's the word) on it. A note: Centaurs wear shoes. Xenon hates it when Ephiny has to change his shoes. I didn't know this. I only knew that they didn't eat hay (XWP - H&H). I'm beginning to think that everybody in RenPic's universe can do gravity defying leaps and somersaults. But it was really cool (and so Amazon ) when Ephiny used a plant to turn the baddie leader away during a fight (she had lost her sword).


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