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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 2 Episode 20

Protean Challenge

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Apr 22, 1996 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
38 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Protean Challenge
Hercules' sculptor friend Thanas was framed for robbery and faced cruel punishment: the loss of both hands. When Iolaus and Hercules set out to prove their friend's innocence, they learned that the deformed god Proteus, who could change his form at will, had committed the crime. He was taking revenge on the village because Thanas' daughter Daniela had fled from him in horror after seeing his real appearance. Forced to battle "himself", Hercules made Proteus look upon his own reflection, and the ashamed god gave up the fight. All he ever wanted was Daniela's love.moreless

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  • Hercules and Iolaus' friend Thanis is accused of robbery, and Iolaus is witness to it. Then there are more strange cases of people acting out of character, and Hercules and Iolaus find their friendship tested, in this surprisingly enjoyable tale...moreless

    This review contains mild spoilers.

    At first, I wasn't expecting to overly enjoy this episode. The first couple of minutes, with Hercules and Iolaus working for their friend Thanis, set out to be a rather average episode. But to my pleasant surprise, the episode soon developed into a very enjoyable fare.

    From the off you know that something is not right, and the story unfolds steadily until it is revealed that appearance-changing god Proteus is behind all the confusion.

    With Proteus posing as both Thanis' daughter Daniela, as Hercules, and as Iolaus at different points, Herc and Iolaus' friendship starts to fall apart as they are set against each other. I found this much better done and much more credible than in the previous time something came between them, in the first season's 'The Warrior Princess' (Hercules and Iolaus briefly mention how Xena turned them against each other).

    Then there is the really amusing scene Hercules chasing the chicken, complete with motor and skid sound effects and 'The Dukes of Hazzard' horn. The villager asking for her chicken back is the icing on the cake.

    Michael Hurst is great when Proteus is posing at him, hissing and spitting like a mad thing.

    Rivaling the chicken chasing as the highlight of the episode is Hercules fighting himself (i.e. Proteus), with some impressive effects and a good fight.

    Proteus' true appearance is eventually revealed at the climax of the episode, bought to life with some good make-up. It reminded me of Gollum (and this was made before 'Lord of the Rings' was made into feature films).

    (As a side note, regarding the DVD presentation of this episode – I have the R1 Season Two box set, and on the menu page for this episode it has a photo of Hercules and Proteus' true appearance. For someone who hadn't watched this episode for a long time and forgot what happened, I found this to be a silly spoiler. Just a niggle. Anyway...)

    All-in-all, a surprisingly enjoyable episode, in fact one of the best of the latter half of the second season.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Bornus: Who do you think you are, butting in this way?!
      Iolaus: He's Hercules.
      Bornus: Right. And I'm Jason, leader of the Argonauts.
      Iolaus: Hey! I know Jason and believe me pal, you are no Jason!

    • Bornus: If you are who he says you are big fella, you wouldn't be standing in the way of justice!
      Hercules: Oh I believe in justice... as long as it's just.

    • Hercules: (referring to Thanas) What's going to happen to him?
      Magistrate: Oh, he won't be stoned. We aren't barbarians.
      Iolaus: Huh, that's a relief.
      Magistrate: Simply chop off his hands.
      Iolaus: What?!

    • Iolaus: I could have sworn that was you kissing Daniella.
      Hercules: I tried to tell you.
      Iolaus: Well I'm sorry, my hearing's not so good when jealousy plugs my ears.

    • Hercules: (when the God transforms himself into a rooster) Proteus, you chicken!

  • NOTES (1)

    • Disclaimer: No slightly discolored and impish gods who vaguely resemble any candidate in the 1996 presidential elections were harmed during the production of this motion picture.


    • Proteus
      In Greek mythology, Proteus is a sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea. According to Homer he was the son of Poseidon. In other theogonies he was the son of Nereus and Doris, or of Oceanus and a Naiad. He was also the herdsman of Poseidon's seals. He can foretell the future, but will change his shape to avoid having to do so; he will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing him, such as Menelaus, who wrestled him while on his way home from the Trojan War.

    • Disclaimer: No slightly discolored and impish gods who vaguely resemble any candidate in the 1996 presidential elections were harmed during the production of this motion picture.
      This refers to the presidential candidate Ross Perot, who has also been described as resembling Yoda from Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.