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Season 5, episode 14
Series 514
1st release: 02/08/99
2nd release:
Production number: V0327
Approximate shooting dates: April-May 1998
Last update: 02-18-99

SUMMARY by Bluesong
COMMENTARY 2 by Niloofar

Michael Hurst (Iolaus/Iolaus 2)
Bruce Campbell (Autolycus)

Jodie Dorday (Lucretiana)
Russell Dixon
Simon Gomez (Temple Guard)

Written by Noreen Tobin & Gene O'Neill
Directed by Charles Siebert

(Hercules kicks Iolaus' rear, and Iolaus falls into a lake.)
(Iolaus 2 turns his head around.)
Hercules: Iolaus.
(Iolaus 2 laughs.)
Hercules: Iolaus.
(Iolaus throws a small rock, which ricochets off a tree and hits him in
the head.)
Iolaus 2 (to Hercules): We make a good team, don't we?
Hercules: That's right.
(A metal panther attacks Hercules, who dodges its claws.)
(Autolycus swallows the ruby.)
Iolaus (to Autolycus): Where's the ruby?
(Iolaus performs the Heimlich Manuver on Autolycus.)
(The ruby flies from Autolycus' mouth and lands in Hercules' hand.)
Hercules: Yuck.
(The metal panther attacks Autolycus.)
Autolycus (to Iolaus): There's no such thing as a curse!
(The metal panther leaps at Iolaus, and Iolaus ducks.)
Falafel: Iolaus?
Iolaus: Huh?
(Iolaus with aviator-type goggles on.)

Iolaus 2 asks Hercules about the adventurous old days with Iolaus and Autolycus.

Hercules reminisces about a typical day filled with desperate villagers and derring-do with his late friend, Iolaus.

While traveling with Iolaus 2, Herc recalls a "typical" day with Iolaus. It involves a stolen gem, Autolycus (of course), and a curse that could destroy an entire village.


Summary by Bluesong

Iolus returns! Sort of. The parallel universe Iolus takes the original's spot in this episode, which also includes Autolycus. Hercules and his new-found buddy discover that Autolycus has swiped a ruby from the forehead of a black panther made of stone. Unfortunately, whoever steals the ruby becomes cursed, for the panther will spring to life and kill the thief. Even more unfortunately for Autolycus, he swallows the ruby to keep from being discovered as the thief by the town guards. Meanwhile, Hercules has developed some kind of problem with the word "no" and some woman thinks she's marrying him. Hercules, Autolycus and Iolus visit the sick in the infirmary. Autolycus has strange repentent ideas and lightning strikes the infirmary as the thief asks for a sign. Iolus tries to play the lute, looking for something that Hercules can't do. Hercules tries the lute and turns into a rock star (complete with electric guitar sound). Iolus says Hercules can do everything. Back at the temple, Hercules and Iolus rig up a net made by Hephaestus, but Hercules' girlfriend trips into the net and springs the trap just as the panther comes to life and attacks Autolycus. Hercules fights the panther, then plays the lute to soothe the savage beast. Autolycus burps up the ruby and Hercules throws it back into the panther's forehead. The panther turns to stone again. Hercules and Iolus visit the grave of the "real" Iolus and the "fake" Iolus says he'll do his best to be Hercules' buddy and he hopes some of the "real" Iolus is inside of him.


Synopsis by Hawk.

We begin our tale with Hercules and the Jester waking up in the morning. The Jester is already awake and Hercules, still groggy from just having awakened, thinks it is Iolus. Then he remembers that Iolus is gone and the Jester is with him now.

The Jester is having a lot of trouble dealing with his new life with Hercules and feels he is living in Iolus' shadow. He looks and sounds like Iolus, but he is not Iolus by a long shot. For one thing, this Iolus can cook! Still, he tells Hercules that he's having difficulties and that maybe he should just move on. Hercules respects his wishes, but asks that the Jester accompany him on a short journey as well as listen to what he has to say about his old friend. Thus begins this tale that is reminiscent of Xena's "A Day in the Life". Hercules begins to describe the things that he and Iolus used to do. For instance, the old Iolus used to like to sleep in and he wasn't the best cook in the world.

He tells him that he used to have trouble trying to get Iolus to wake up and do his early morning exercises. Iolus was sneaky and would do just enough to make Hercules think he was going to do his whole routine, then after Hercules went for a run, Iolus would go back to sleep.

He also tells the Jester about a morning that started very similarly to this one. In a town somewhere, a sacred ruby in a museum is stolen from its setting on a large onyx figurine of a panther. Legend has it that if the ruby is removed, that the panther will come to life by dusk and kill everyone in sight. A runner is sent to ask Iolus and Hercules for aid. Hercules tells the runner to go back and tell the people that they'll be there soon and for them not to worry because the "gold shipment" will arrive at noon. The runner looks a little confused but agrees to relay the message.

While telling this story, Hercules learns that the Jester (also named Iolus) , though a bit of a wimp, is actually a pretty good inventor. He invents the lighter and also eyeglasses. So the guy does have some skills other than simply being a fool. (And he's not really a good fool). I think poor Joxer has the market cornered on that department.

Hercules returns to his story and in it, Iolus remembered that it was in this town that a girl named Lucretiana had developed a crush on Hercules after he had saved her life. He really gives our hero a difficult time about this and claims that Hercules has a problem saying "no" to people. This is what gets them in most of the hot water they find themselves in.

And now we come to the already infamous "bath Scene" that everyone has been talking about. This thing is supposed to be loaded with subtext much like the bath scenes that Xena and Gabrielle have. Well, I'm sure someone will manage to find some subtext here, but I certainly didn't see much. It seems that after their morning exercises, Hercules used to enjoy a quick dip in the ice-cold river. Iolus, on the other hand, was one of those "I had a bath last month" type of heroes. Nice guy…but a bit smelly. He doesn't want to take a bath, but Hercules shames him into approaching the water. By now Hercules has gotten out and toweled off. Iolus takes off his shirt, leans over to look at the water and Hercules pushes him in with his foot.

End of scene. (Sorry Xenites…I didn't see the subtext here). Maybe someone else will. *Grin*

During all this we learn that the ruby is cursed and Hercules suspects that Autolycus took it. See, only Autolycus is arrogant enough to think that the curse wouldn't affect him. We also learn that Hercules has "many skills" too! After Iolus complains that he ripped his pants in the pond, Hercules offers to sew him a new pair. Iolus declines after Hercules tries to take his inseam though. (There's your subtext gang). *Smile*

Anyway, on their way to the town, the boys spend their time telling bad jokes and throwing rocks. They do pretty much the things that most boys would do during the long summer days. Finally they arrive at the town and the girls mob Hercules. Lucretiana fights her way through the mob to get to Hercules and Iolus goes off in search of Autolycus. It seems that now Lucretiana wants to marry our hero. Boy she doesn't know what she's getting into because Hercules' wives have nearly the same life-expectancy as Gabrielle's boyfriends!

Iolus finds Autolycus waiting near a obelisk for the gold shipment to arrive. Iolus laughs and tells him that they only planted a rumor of a gold shipment to draw him out in the open. He wants to know where the sacred Ruby is. Autolycus says he doesn't have it and offers to let Iolus search him. Iolus frisks the thief and finds pearls, silverware, a key to the city, but no gem. He tells Autolycus that the ruby has a curse on it and Autolycus scoffs at the idea, saying that's just superstition to keep the local yokels at bay. That's when the lightning strikes the obelisk, smashing it to pieces.

Now Hercules shows up and tells Iolus that Autolycus probably swallowed the ruby. He hangs Autolycus upside down to try and force the ruby to come out but to no avail. So then they make him eat prunes. (See, prunes are known for going through you like greased lightning). What is it about Tapert and toilet humor these days? I'm sorry but I can think of other things I'd rather see my heroes deal with that this.

Anyway, while waiting for the inevitable to occur, Iolus buys a lute. He figures he can learn to play and that would be something that Hercules can't do better than him. So he buys one and starts learning to play it. Lucretiana shows up and drags Hercules off to meet her family and get married. Autolycus is sweating this curse now and begins all this stuff about enjoying life and appreciating nature. He marvels over the beauty of a dandelion and the structure of rocks and insects. Nobody's buying it though.

Hercules returns after having given Lucretiana the slip. Someone asks him to come visit his sick daughter and they agree to go to the hospice and visit the ill. Hercules stops in to see the little girl, Autolycus manages to con some dying old man out of his will and Iolus gets stuck with this rude, bratty kid that likes to throw porridge.

As they leave, the curse sets in again and lightning strikes the hospice, setting it afire. They all have to rescue the patients from the building and Autolycus feels the urge, so he makes a hasty retreat. After they save everyone, Iolus continues plucking away at the lute. Hercules asks if he can try. He strums it once and hits a power chord that takes me back to the days of the hair bands of the 80s. He shows us that he has "even more skills" by ripping out a series of riffs, scales, and chords to the delight of the startled onlookers. He's so good in fact that he plays lead, rhythm, bass, keys AND drums with this lute! He does his best imitation of Jimi Hendrix's "behind the head" playing and Gene Simmon's (of Kiss) "tongue gimmick". I'm waiting for him to smash the thing a-la Pete Townsend and Iolus just looks on in disgust. Hercules has topped him again and he's still living in the big guy's shadow. Good thing Iolus had a sense of humor because, in a scene from ! ! the Beatles' "HELP", the female groupies begin to chase Hercules all over town as the music begins to play in the background. Hercules shows his savvy by using various methods to elude his pursuers.

Iolus eventually finds Autolycus and learns that he still hasn't gotten the ruby back. They all return to the museum and Hercules has rigged up a net that Hephaestus has given him. The net is set up over the panther so that when he leaps from its pedestal, the net will fall and capture him, holding him long enough for them to hopefully return the ruby. Lucretiana shows up demanding that they return to the wedding and gets caught in the net, Autolycus begins having stomach cramps and then the panther chooses that moment to spring to life! Hercules and Iolus begin fighting this thing and Autolycus, fearing for his life, climbs up to where Lucretiana is being held in the net. She falls into Hercules' arms and he gets her to safety while Iolus does his best "dog imitation" to distract the panther.

Hercules returns and uses Iolus' lute to calm the panther down. "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast" and it appears to work…until Hercules breaks a couple of strings on the lute! The panther Autolycus and rips his pants, he falls and the ruby gets caught in his throat and he begins to choke on it. Hercules fights the panther while Iolus invents the Heimlich maneuver and tries to remove the ruby. Hercules is beating this cat up and as I look in the background, Iolus is pounding his fist onto Autolycus' back. I know he felt that the next morning too!

Anyway, the ruby pops out and Hercules catches it. He then throws it at the panther and it returns to the setting in it's forehead. Now, with the ruby back in place, the cat returns to its pedestal and the threat is over.

Later we learn that Lucretiana calls the wedding off because Hercules lives a dangerous life. Autolycus finally runs off in search of a private bush and Hercules gives Iolus an Afghan he had knitted for him as a form of apology. (Lets see Xena do that). *Wink*

So now we return to the present as Hercules and the Jester arrive at their destination. It seems that Hercules wanted to take him to a memorial for Iolus and also take the time to tell him about his friend. The Jester confronts the memorial and tells Iolus that although he knows he'll never be able to replace him, he hopes that a small portion of Iolus remains alive within him. And as Hercules and the Jester leave in search of further adventures, I'm left wondering if maybe Hurst and the writers are trying to tell the fans something in this final scene.


This commentary is by Xorys.

By far my strongest comment about this ep, since it was thing that made the most impression on me, is that the feeble "rock video" in the middle was a crashing mistake! OK, I have no problem with them getting silly from time to time. But this wasn't just silly, it was *dumb*! It just didn't work for me, and it messed up the whole ep. Maybe it would have worked, in an ep that was some kind of musical spoof from start to finish. But in the middle of an ep that was otherwise functioning normally in the Hercverse version of ancient Greece, it just seemed too wierd... feeble lutes turning into electric guitars... and it wasn't even done consistently with Herc's character... and the music was bad... and it wasn't really funny...

Another weird thing... when I watched the show, at the point where Iolaus was talking to the red-headed boy in the hospital, their voices kept going off completely - that is, their mouths kept moving, but there was nothing but silence on the soundtrack. Was this some kind of censorship? And if so, can someone tell me what they were saying that my local station considered too shocking for the ears of their audience?

Apart from those two points... well, if you discard the rock video from consideration, I suppose it was an ok, middling HTLJ ep. It's always nice to see Autolycus, but I've been a bit disappointed by his recent appearances on HTLJ, and this was no exception - Bruce was fine, but the material was hardly inspiring.

On the bright side, I have no problems with the way Iolaus 2 is developing (although we can't really keep calling him that...) We'll need to see him doing more, in a serious ep perhaps - but I'm sure Michael Hurst is up to it, and I think he'll work out fine...

But how come they are *still* not saying anything about where Nebula, and even more particularly Morrigan went??


This commentary is by Niloofar.

I would like to start out by saying that I think TPTB played a very nasty trick with the promo. They showed clips of 'our' Iolaus, but made it sound like they were talking about alt-world Iolaus. Mean, nasty trick!

OTOH, during Herc's storytelling, there were quite a few Xena/Gab-like moments, and when it is all taken into consideration, it isn't a bad imitation for A Day In The Life, which is what they were obviously going for.

It turns out that alt-world Iolaus is a wonderful cook *and* inventor. Whoda thunkit?

After seeing Iolaus being used as a set of weights (to wake him up! Come on, did anyone *actually* believe that?!?)I couldn't help but wondering what kind of benefits Iolaus gets for his sidekick job. Hey Herc, ever heard of the phrase "rise and shine*? You should ask Joxer, he'll give you all the details.

Iolaus can cram 500 sit-ups into 3?!?! Without even breaking a sweat. And they call Herc a hero!

Rabbit--the other, other white meat. And exactly what is this obsession that TPTB seem to have with rabbits? (especially warrior-rabbits)

Hercules, strongest man in the world (we never said strongest *person* notice, just man) can't say no to a lovelorn girl....even though I saw him do just that plenty of times in season 2. Of course, maybe this took place before season 2....oh, well.

I have a slight problem with Herc getting mad at Iolaus for not wanting to take a bath. I mean, sure, if he smelled bad, but did he stink enough to make Herc's nostril's flare? So much for that mild tempered man we keep hearing about.

The story Herc is telling doesn't seem like a very good idea. Iolaus spends a lot of his time asking Herc for permission to do this or that. No offense Herc, but this isn't the best kind of thing to tell a person that is still recovering from Sov-shock. Greece to Herc, what were you thinking?

There is a part of the eyeglass invention that I just don't get. I have no doubt that alt-world Iolaus is clever enough to invent the glasses, but if he realized how bothersome it was to have to hold up, how come he didn't figure out a way to keep them up himself?

What is a thirsty Hydra? A de-hydra! When I heard this *joke*, I couldn't help but think that Joxer and Iolaus would have gotten along better than previously portrayed.

I don't really understand how they new *for sure* that it was Autolycus that stole the ruby. I mean, don't you think that there might have been...oh, a few more thieves than...one? The ruby sounds pretty famous.

Another thing--it seems out of character that Autolycus stole a cursed ruby. He strikes me as the type who would have known all about the ruby before he stole it.

You know, for a civilization without TVs, that stone and tree thing looked a lot like a certain commercial.

Why did Autolycus swallow the ruby...he could have escaped. If he wanted to steal the gold, then he could have left and then come back....from what he say, his reputation isn't exactly secretive.

Once Autolycus realizes the truth in the curse we get to see the Jimmy Swaggart routine again. How long do you think it will be before Salmoneus and Auto join forces to bring about the biggest get rich quick scheme in history?

When I saw Auto start to talk to plants, I began to get worried. Luckily, the "I'm mad" routine wore off with the curse.

That boy at the hospital was very belligerent, and I wanted to slap him. Good acting (I hope it was acting). I bet Iolaus was wishing that Herc never taught him the"never strangle children" lesson.

Seeing Herc play an electric lute (this from a guy that didn't think that surfing would ever catch on) and do some heavy metal/rock dance was just to freaky! It was also way to silly, for this ep or any other. Nice mob scene chase afterwards, though.

Other than the Bitter Suite, I think that this is the first time that they used English lyrics in a song. Weird.

I had to wonder about the price of the lute...2 dinars! Doesn't ale usually cost about 5? He must have bought the kazoo equivalent of a lute.

Wow! The kitty was able to pose before it froze!

There is still no sign of Iolaus returning. :( I am going to go ahead and make a few suggestions for alt-world Iolaus. Get a new outfit and change your name to Io...or Lausy....anything less confusing!


By Xorys.

And who was who in Just Passing Through?

The only really notable reappearance in this ep was Herc's enthusiastic suitor Lucretiana - she was played by Jodie Dorday, who has never appeared on HTLJ before, but is very familiar to Xena fans... Jodie first appeared as the dancing priestess, Io, in the ep Prometheus (and I must admit I found her annoying in this role). Then, in the role of Solari, she replaced Eponin as Ephiny's Amazon lieutenant (redeeming herself in my eyes), appearing in The Quest (where she sacrificed the pin of her bustier to Autolycus' escape efforts) and A Necessary Evil. She also appeared in Warrior...Priestess...Tramp, dancing and singing in Meg's establishment.

Bruce Campbell and Paul Norrell both of course have much to their credit, but I've discussed their resumes in the past.

The only other actor who you might recall from a previous ep was Simon Gomez, who played the Temple Guard, and who previously appeared as Saltar in the ep The Green-Eyed Monster.

The ep was written by Noreen Tobin & Gene O'Neill, who previously wrote Love Takes A Holiday, When A Man Loves A Woman, Armageddon Now, Part 2 (with Paul Robert Coyle), My Fair Cupcake, Twilight (with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci), Render Unto Caesar, and Let There Be Light. They also wrote the XWP ep One Against An Army.

And the director was Charles Siebert, who previously directed Prince Hercules, Medea Culpa, Top God, and Reunions. He also directed the XWP eps The Reckoning, Death in Chains, Ties That Bind, Orphan of War, Ten Little Warlords, A Comedy of Eros, and Gabrielle's Hope (with Andrew Merrifield). He can also be seen in person playing the role of Sisyphus in Ten Little Warlords, and he did the voice of Poseidon in Ulysses and Lost Mariner (the god of the seas was, of course, visually presented as a CGI effect).


08-21-98. At a recent convention (Phoenix, 05-1-98), Sharon Delaney stated that this was the "Day in the Life" homage episode and we would see such stuff as the guys doing their laundry. The excitement might be too much.

08-21-98. In April 1998, Bruce Campbell posted the following about JUST PASSING THROUGH on his website: "Autolycus must swallow a precious gem to avoid capture. And, all goes well...that is, until the curse sets in..."

06-07-98. At the Phoenix Creation Xena/Herk Con, Sharon Delaney, president of the Official Xena & Herk Fan Clubs, stated that one of the early episodes of HTLJ for the 5th season will be an episode called"A Day in the Life". She also stated that there will also be a bathing scene between the big guy and Iolaus. (This was posted on the NetForum). It looks like this episode will be a parody of the XWP episode "A Day in the Life" which was coincidently directed by Michael Hurst. There are rumors that Hurst will be directing more this 5th season, so perhaps this will be under his helm as well.


Autolycus' intestinal tract was well lubricated and, consequently, was not harm or blocked during the production of this motion picture.


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