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Season 5, episode 13
Series 513
1st release: 02/01/99
2nd release:
Production number: V0716
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 02-12-99

SUMMARY by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 2 by Anthony Santomenno

Michael Hurst (Iolaus)
Kevin Smith (God of Love/Ares)
Gina Torres (Empress)

Kevin Sorbo (The Sovereign)
Paul Norell (Alt. Falafel)
David Mackie (Hemnor)
Frederick Benford (Local)
Gary Elliot (Peasant #1)
Rodney Cooke (Farmer)
John Lawler (Hortius)

Edited by Steve Polivka
Story by Paul Robert Coyle
Screenplay by Gerry Conway
Directed by Bruce Campbell

(*Note: Hercules is wearing the Sovereign's costume throughout the promo.*)
(The Empress laughs.)
Ares 2 (to Hercules and Iolaus 2): Do these make my butt look big?
(Hercules raises his eyebrows.)
(Iolaus 2 looks confused.)
Hercules: It's weird, isn't it?

(*Note: Hercules is wearing the Sovereign's costume throughout the promo.*)
(The Empress laughs.)
Empress: Let the games begin.
(The Empress kisses Hercules.)
(Hercules punches Ares.)
Ares 2: Why can't we all just... get along?
(Iolaus 2 looks confused.)
(Ares laughs.)
Ares 2 (to Hercules and Iolaus 2): Do these make my butt look big?
Empress (to Hercules): Meow.
Hercules: It's weird, isn't it?

Hercules travels back to the Alternate Universe and meets up with Ares, god of Love, and the Jester.

Both worlds will be destroyed if Hercules cannot rescue the Greek gods from a parallel universe.

Hercules travels to the parallel Netherworld to rescue the gods of Olympus before both worlds are destroyed.


Summary by Bluesong

The portal to the parallel universe appears and starts sucking stuff up. Hercules checks it out and jumps through it. He lands in the netherworld and finds Iolaus and the Sovereign. The Sovereign is unconscious. Hercules decides the parallel Iolaus is alive because he was in the netherworld where the rules don't work. Hercules and Iolaus go to the parallel world. Ares jumps through the portal, chasing Hercules. Hercules learns that Nebula is the evil empress in the parallel world. Ares and the Sovereign fight because Ares has hinds blood. Ares stabs the Sovereign with the hinds blood knife and kills him, giving Hercules a stomach ache. Hercules pretends to be the Sovereign and greets Nebula, then locks her up in his bedroom after learning the other gods have been trapped by Ares in a labrynth. He goes to free the gods, with Iolaus tagging along. Ares and Nebula do the nasty, courtesy of the parallel god of love. Ares finds Hercules in the maze, and they fight. Hercules frees the gods. Iolus goes back with Hercules to the son of Zeus' own world.


Synopsis by Hawk.

Our story begins with Hercules giving us a recap of past events. He tells us about the Alternate Universe, that everyone has a double in this alternate universe, that if you die here, your double dies there, and the existence of the sovereign and how he trapped him between the two worlds.

A portal opens nearby and villagers alert Hercules. He has been pondering where the Gods of Olympus have gone and thinks he knows the answer, so he dives into the portal and travels to the other world. There, he finds the Sovereign lying unconscious and the Jester (Iolaus' duplicate) in hiding. After talking with the Jester he learns that the Sovereign had been overthrown by (Alternate) Nebula and they had been tossed into this prison. The Jester knows a way out. He didn't tell the Sovereign how to get out, but he shows Hercules the way. I found it interesting that throughout this episode, Hercules called the Jester Iolus. Perhaps that's his name, but it came very easily to Hercules.

During all this, Hercules wonders how the Jester could still be alive if Iolus is dead. He figures that the rules work differently here, but I'm not convinced yet. I still think that Iolus is alive….somewhere.

Back in Greece, Ares shows up and sees Hercules dive into the portal. He remarks that Hercules is about to spoil things for him, so he goes after him.

Now Hercules and the Jester arrive in the town outside the Sovereign's palace. The Jester falls, hurts himself and people begin to laugh at him. Hercules asks why he lets people treat him that way and he begins working to try and build up the Jester's self esteem. This goes on throughout the episode. Hercules is such a nice guy isn't he? He convinces the Jester to act as his guide while he is there. He thinks that the Gods of Olympus are in this alternate world and he intends to find them. He also finds out a little more about the new Empress Nebula.

The beautiful Gina Torres is playing the part of the Empress and is she looking hot! You want sex? You like leather and chains? This Queen has plenty to spare. Her red leathers, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels makes this beauty a site to behold! Ok, ok…I'll calm down.

At present, she is amusing herself by holding a game show entitled "Wheel of Misfortune" whereby contestants are asked a question. If their answer doesn't satisfy the Empress, the game show host Falafel spins the wheel to determine the method of execution. See? This girl knows how to throw a party.

Back in the prison, the Sovereign awakens in time to meet up with Ares, who has stolen the Hind's Blood pendant away from him. This isn't good either because Ares is probably the last person in either world you want having possession of the Hind's blood…blood that is poison to the gods. With his typical flare, Ares pours a little on his dagger and attacks the Sovereign. They go a few rounds but Ares stabs the Sovereign with the dagger, apparently killing him. Elsewhere, Hercules feels this same pain but he doesn't die. Now I'm wondering if the Sovereign is really dead. He should be, but Hercules still lives.

Anyway Hercules and the Jester sneak into the Sovereign's suite and meet up with Ares, God of Love. (See even Ares has a duplicate in this world). I hate this guy though. He's such a…sissy. However, he knows that Hercules intends to impersonate the Sovereign and agrees to try and help as long as he doesn't have to do any actual fighting. He also tells Hercules that Nebula allied herself with Ares (God of War). Hercules realizes at that point that Ares killed the Sovereign. So Hercules dresses like the Sovereign and heads off in search of the empress Nebula.

He walks into the throne room to find a very psychotic Nebula thrilled to see him. She greets our hero in a rather enthusiastic manner and is now very impatient to bed this hunk. At this point I'm beginning to worry a little about old Herky-boy because this chick is into whips and chains, but Hercules manages to handle things and get some information to boot. She tells him that the Gods of Olympus fled to her world when Dayhak arrived in theirs. Soon Ares arrived and persuaded her to help him trap the gods so that he could return and become the King of the Gods in Greece. So they trap the gods in the Labyrinth of Eternal Memory. This way everybody wins. She gets to be Empress and he gets to be Ruler of the Gods in Olympus. Pretty good deal eh? So Hercules, impersonating the Sovereign, proves who's the big dog of this world by telling the guards to lock the Empress away….in his bedchamber. Yeah, you da bull Hercules. LOL!

Later Hercules and the Jester are searching throughout the labyrinth for the gods. The Jester tells Hercules that Zeus designed this labyrinth when the Sovereign was a little godling but that it drove him insane. At this point I'm thinking that the Jester must mean the "Alternate Zeus" and that they are telling us viewers this for a reason. Keep your eyes peeled gang because his might be important later on.

They enter a chamber and walk right into the largest snake I ever saw. Yep, the special-effect boys have been working overtime and they do a pretty good job of creating this monster. It looks a lot like a giant Moray Eel except that it's oh… 40 to 60 feet long and has big, nasty, sharp pointy teeth. Oooo! It attacks and Hercules uses his wits to defeat the slimy thing. Did Hercules kill it? You'll have to watch.

Back in the Sovereign's suit, Nebula awaits the big guy. Ares (God of War) shows up, asks why he can't do the wild thang with Nebula. She tells him that its because he looks to much like Sissy-boy and she can't stand that. So Ares informs her that she has been deceived by Hercules. She is furious and they are about to pursue Hercules, but the God of Love shows up and casts a spell on Nebula. Now Nebula is on fire for Ares and our lovable God of War gets his wish; over and over and… well, you get the point. It must have really been something because I'm sure at one point I heard a cat scream. LOL!

Meanwhile Hercules and the Jester continue searching for the gods. As they travel the corridors of the labyrinth, we see visions of the Jester's past being played on the walls around them. Then they begin to sink into the sandy floor as if they'd stepped into quicksand. Hercules realizes what is happening and tells the Jester to stop dwelling on the bad things that have happened in his past. He tells him to focus on the future, to look forward to something good. This works and they rise up out of the sand and are now able to continue on.

Eventually Ares and Nebula realize that she had a spell cast on her by the God of Love to distract and delay them. So Ares takes off after the two heroes.

Hercules has found the Gods of Olympus by now. They are entrapped in a silver sphere that looks oddly like a Styrofoam ball with bits of broken glass glued on it. It even sounds like it when they pick it up and bobble it around. I guess they must have spent most of their special effects budget on the monster and the vision and had to make do with what limited funds they had left when creating this sphere.

Anyway, the room is circular and has several exits. Hercules grabs the sphere and leaves through one exit, but immediately enters through an opposite doorway. They try this several times with the same results. They seem to be trapped. Then Ares shows up. He has the Hind's Blood dagger with him and he attacks Hercules. After a long fight, Hercules uses his wits (seems to be a common theme here) to defeat Ares.. Hercules takes the vial of Hind's blood from Ares and tucks it away, then looks for the dagger. He turns to find that Nebula has it at the Jester's throat. Hercules tosses the sphere behind him and it comes in through a door immediately behind Nebula, hitting her on her noggin and knocking her down for the count. It rebounds off her head and comes right back to Hercules through the door he originally tossed it.

Then he destroys the sphere, releasing the Gods. They must have had enough time in that sphere to figure out which doorway to take because they leave immediately Hercules takes the Hind's blood dagger and pounds in into a stone pedestal in the center of the room. NOTE: File this information away gang because I'm betting we'll see this dagger again. Xena will probably figure out where it is and send Joxer after it.

So Hercules tells Ares to say 'hello' to the gods because he knows they are looking forward to meeting with the God of War soon. He also remarks that the gods owe him big time for what he's just done. Could this favor be the way we bring Iolus back to life? It could happen! Keep the faith gang!

Nebula is tossed into prison and I don't know who they leave in charge. The Jester then reveals that when they were sinking back in the labyrinth, he had focussed on how nice it would be to return to Greece with Hercules. So Hercules and the Jester return to Greece, and new adventures. Yay!


This commentary is by Xorys.

Well... I thought Gina Torres was terrific. I even liked the slightly vulnerable side she showed here (whilst I *hated* the wimp act she did in Darkness Rising). But I didn't like her "court"... I'm sorry, I can live with good honest sadism, but I find that sort of affected, powder-puff, low-rent-Fellini sadism really distasteful!

And all these rules they keep making up about the alternate universe business are giving me a headache! So now you die when your counterpart in the other universe dies, unless you're in limbo between the worlds when the counterpart dies, or the counterpart dies in limbo between the worlds (and optionally fish of the day may be substituted on Tuesdays...)

In general, I liked the ep ok. Iolaus 2 was quite engaging. Kevin Smith was fun in his dual role. I was almost sorry they killed off the Sovereign.

And now we've got yet more hind's blood to keep track of... Can we assume that the knife stabbed into the altar in the labyrinth can't be used again? (If not, what's the point of stabbing it into the altar?) And what is Herc going to do with the pendant (other than tucking it into his pants...)?

Did you catch the Bitter Suite dialogue from the lovers in the market place: "How could you?" "How could *you*? It's all *your* fault!"

But couldn't they have given cap-and-bells a name of his own? Is it going to be "the adventures of Hercules and Iolaus 2" now? And speaking of which, how come the credits sequence keeps going on about Hera every week, since she seems to have been permanently banished from the scene now?


This commentary is by Anthony Santomenno.


In the first Alternate Universe episode, "Stranger In a Strange World" (HTLJ #64), it was established that everyone in this universe has a double in the Alternate Universe, and that when one person dies, their double in the other universe dies at the same time.

In "Armageddon Now" I & II (HTLJ #71 & 72), we discovered an exception; you can survive your double's death (or your own death if it occurs in the past [SEE: Time Travel] if you're in interdimensional Limbo. If you emerge into the real world (either one) before this is corrected, you die.

Now, Iolaus is killed in our "Hercaverse" while the Jester (Iolaus II) is in Limbo and the Sovereign is killed (by Ares--we won't even speculate on how the Sovereign got the Hind's blood back!) while he is in Limbo and Herc is in the Alternate Universe. Both Herc and Iolaus II survive. How can this be? Through the wonders of Alternate Universe technology, we see that Limbo is the great equalizer and buffer between worlds.

Limbo keeps the worlds separate and provides a handy-dandy refuge from the upheavals of current events (such as the Clinton Trial--but I digress). Acts committed in the "real world" do not impact upon Limbo, and acts committed in Limbo do not directly affect the "real world".

All that is fine and dandy, but it still points out one glaring oversight by the Herc staff (or maybe they're just changing the rules again). Namely, according to the "rules" established in "Stranger In a Strange World" (HTLJ #64) and "Armageddon Now" Parts 1 & 2 (HTLJ #72), Iolaus II should have dropped dead the minute he emerged from Limbo into his native universe. Is it because he stayed in Limbo so long? Is it because of Dahak? Maybe it's Michael Hurst's long-term contract.

A few brief notes about other issues...

As far as the Hind's blood is concerned, I'm sure that Hercules will stash it someplace safe. Considering all that's happened, you can never tell when you might need it. For now, he'll keep it far away from Ares or anyone else that might want to misuse it. Eventually, though, I think that he will have to destroy it.

The case of Iolaus II is going to be a tricky one. I mean, he wanted to start over in a new universe, and that's fine. But in the "Hercaverse", Iolaus was a great warrior, a hero in the truest sense of the word. His double will be standing in Iolaus' shadow until and unless he manages to make his own life.


By Xorys.

And who was who in Stranger And Stranger?

Paul Norell played the alternate Falafel, essentially reprising the role of Falafel which he has played on many previous HTLJ eps. He has also appeared over on XWP in the very Falafel-like roles of the Street Vendor in Cradle of Hope, Statius, the vendor of souvenirs and other dubious artefacts in Prometheus ("Is anyone going to buy anything?"), and the Peddler in The Quill Is Mightier. Paul can also be seen playing a "Bohemian" in the movie An Angel At My Table.

David Mackie played Hemnor, a role he has previously played in the eps Encounter and End Of The Beginning... sort of an oddity really - a recurring character so minor that he's hardly noticeable. David also played a Guard in Highway to Hades. And over on XWP, he has appeared as Rhodos in The Titans.

Frederick Bedford gave us his "Local". He was previously seen, recently, as a Villager in the XWP ep Daughter Of Pomira (where I originally misread his name as "Bedgord").

Peasant #1 was played by Gary Elliott, who debut was as the Shepherd in Genies and Grecians and Geeks, Oh My!

And the Farmer was rendered by Rodney Cooke, who has previously taken on the role of "Worried Villager" in Armageddon Now, Part 1, and the demanding part of "Man #1" in the XWP ep Been There, Done That.

Hawtis, the unfortunate victim of the Empress, was played by John Lawler, who appears to be new to the Xenaverse.

The story for the ep was written by Paul Robert Coyle, the creator of the whole "alternate universe" theme in the Xenaverse, essentially... he previously wrote 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 Part 1, Armageddon Now Part 2 (with Gene O'Neill & Noreen Tobin), War Wounds, Top God, Genies and Grecians and Geeks Oh My, Norse by Norsevest (with Gary Conway), and last week's ep, Sky High. Paul also wrote the X:WP eps Ten Little Warlords, A Necessary Evil, The Execution and Sacrifice Part 2.

The teleplay was written by Gerry Conway, who previously wrote the eps Norse by Norsevest (with Paul Robert Coyle), and Somewhere Over Rainbow Bridge.

The ep was directed by the King of Thieves himself, Bruce Campbell, who previously directed The Vanishing Dead, What's in A Name?, For Those Of You Just Joining Us, and Redemption. On XWP, Bruce directed Key To The Kingdom and The King of Assassins.


01-28-99. Although originally stated at some cons that Xena and Gabrielle would be in this episode, it seems that news was incorrect or they were written out. No Xena or Gabrielle kids. Looks like they are not planning a cross-over soon either.

12-31-98a. In a November 1998 e-mail, Bruce Campbell informed us that neither Ted Raimi or Hudson Leick were in STRANGER AND STRANGER.

12-31-98a. In an October 1998 e-mail, when asked by WHOOSH whether STRANGER was supposed to be a 3D episode as had been rumoured, and he said, "Yeah, but now it won't be 3-D...whew!"

12-31-98a. In October 1998, Bruce Campbell on his website, called this episode, "Another visit to the parallel universe."


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