Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 4 Episode 5

Stranger in a Strange World

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Oct 27, 1997 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
44 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Stranger in a Strange World

A lightning bolt from the dying Zeus opened a vortex to a parallel universe, where Iolaus was a jester and Hercules was the malevolent Sovereign. This alternate Hercules and the alternate Xena were lovers, and they were attempting to kill Zeus with Hind blood. Ares, meanwhile, was the God of Love, not War, and Aphrodite was a modest, sensitive Goddess. When the vortex reappeared, Hercules, Iolaus, the Sovereign and the alternate Iolaus all wound up inside and fought a furious battle. Each managed to return to his proper universe except the Sovereign, who was trapped inside the vortex.


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  • A portal opens up to a parallel universe, causing Iolaus to swap places with his jester counterpart. The 'real' Iolaus finds himself in a strange reversed world, where Hercules is the evil 'Sovereign' and no-one is their normal selves. A fun episode...moreless

    This is a good, fun episode that introduces the notion of a parallel universe.

    One major thing that has niggled me even since first seeing this episode is it being stated if one person dies in one universe, they will also die in the parallel universe. If this is the case, why aren't people suddenly dropping dead all the time?! The rather 'Star Trek'-y way that I've personally explained this away is that it only happens on the rare occasions when the two universes are directly in line to each other.

    Once you get beyond that nitpick, this is an enjoyable episode that doesn't take itself too seriously.

    I really like the imprisoned Iolaus' line "I am not a numeral, I'm a free man", a nice homage to the cult 1960s series 'The Prisoner', of which I am a fan.

    It is fun to see everyone acting as their own opposites; I've always loved evil twin stories. Kevin Sorbo even has the compulsory goatee beard as the Sovereign.

    Like my fellow reviewer, I am a big Gabrielle fan and was a little disappointed that she only had a one-line cameo in this story.

    This parallel universe is actually quite unusual in that in all other time-lines and universes and whatnots, Xena and Gabrielle are always instinctively drawn together.

    I also really like the moment when parallel Xena uses her shoe as a would-be chakram, and the line "I guess I must have more skills than i thought", a nice play on regular Xena's oft-used line "I have many skills".

    The only person missing from the parallel world is Salmoneus – I would have loved to have seen a parallel version of him, presumably kind and generous with his money.

    The story itself isn't bad. I find once the novelty of the parallel universe has started to wear of, it does start to sag very slightly in the middle, but picks up again for the end.

    You can tell they had a lot of fun making this one, and that comes across on-screen.

    All-in-all, if you're willing to look past a few nitpicks, this is a fun episode.moreless
  • Kevin Sorbo looked like he was having a blast, as was just about everyone else involved in this mad romp. Plus, we got the first introduction to a character that will bee extremely important in season five, Iolaus 2.moreless

    I really enjoyed this one, and I think everyone involved in making it did too, which definitely came across on screen. Kevin as the Sovereign got to stretch himself by playing a diametrically opposed character from his usual hero role, and Lucy Lawless was brilliant in her Louise Brooks wig- she has many skills, indeed! Michael Hurst had some fun moments as Iolaus, but he seemed to be much more serious as Iolaus 2. It was also hilarious seeing Kevin Smith in the Elvisesque God of Love, though the prim and proper Aphrodite was a bit of a yawn, especially considering how much fun Alex Tydings usually is as Aphrodite. As a big Gabrielle fan, I was a bit disappointed to see her only used as a one-off joke, but it was a treat to see Joxer the Mighty really being mighty! There were a few holes in the plot, but they weren't sufficiently gaping to spoil the fun. All in all, a fun episode, but one that would be enjoyed the most by someone who knows both this series and it's sister Xena Warrior Princess well enough to get all of the in-jokes.moreless
Kevin Sorbo

Kevin Sorbo

The Sovereign

Guest Star

Kevin Smith (II)

Kevin Smith (II)

Ares God of Love

Guest Star

Ted Raimi

Ted Raimi


Guest Star

Michael Hurst O.N.Z.M.

Michael Hurst O.N.Z.M.

Iolaus 2

Recurring Role

Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless


Recurring Role

Kevin Smith (II)

Kevin Smith (II)


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • In addition to the Strange World's Ares and Aphrodite having different roles, Hera 2 is said to be the Goddess of Music and Cupid 2 the God of War.

    • This is the only Hercules episode to feature the three major players of Xena within one installment. The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer all appear in this episode. However, they all play parallel versions of themselves. It is also the last appearance of Joxer on Hercules (though Ted Raimi did appear in a later episode).

    • The Ares God of Love outfit is a white version of Ares's original outfit (last seen in Xena's "The Furies").

    • Iolaus wears the red outfit that Iolaus 2 will be wearing in season five. Interestingly, he brings it back with him to the regular world, so Iolaus 2 must have a spare outfit.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Iolaus: Wait, wait, wait, wait! Who's the God of War around here?
      Ares 2: Shh! No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don't even think about him. The last thing we need around here is that maniac Cupid showing up. Mmm!
      Iolaus: Cupid? God of War? Weird.

    • Iolaus: (referring to The Sovereign and Xena 2) Their foreplay's gonna get me killed!

    • Iolaus: (referring to The Sovereign and Xena 2) Their foreplay's gonna get me killed!

    • Ares: (laughingly introducing Hercules to Iolaus 2) You lose your little buddy? Well, I found someone to take his place. (he laughs again)

    • Iolaus: Xena, you're with him?! (She kicks him in the crotch)
      Xena 2: When I want a eunuch, I'll ask for one.

    • Gabrielle: Where's the Trojan Elephant that stopped me?!

    • Hercules: Look, I don't know who you are or what you're doing, but we have to talk. Where did you come from?
      Iolaus 2: Uh, I got my start at The Comedy Cave in Hellespont. I know, it's a dive, but you gotta start somewhere, right?
      Ares: He starts to mime, he's a dead man.

    • Hercules: Oh come on. Me, a tyrant? I mean, you're joking, right?
      Iolaus 2: Oh no, you're a heartless psycho who'd kill at the drop of a mood swing!

    • The Sovereign: (after some rough foreplay with Xena) Oh, I could play like this all day! Unfortunately, I gotta get married.
      Xena: Oh, that's all right. We'll have plenty of time to play after that.

    • Iolaus: (singing to entertain the Sovereign) The Sovereign's his name, his game is fear and pain, he'll watch them die, won't even cry, he really is insane!

    • Xena: About ol' Zeus, is it true that he throws those thunderbolts because they're the only thing about him that's big and stiff? (giggles) Well is it?

    • The Sovereign: I may be a cur, but I'm the cur with the cure.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Disclaimer: No beard-wearing, love-spewing, smooth talking, Ares impersonaters were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

    • There was some disappointment expressed by the fans over the internet after this episode aired because the credits spoiled a joke. Anyone paying attention to the opening credits knew that Renee O'Connor was to appear in the show, so when the Executioner came on they knew it had to be her.


    • Xena: (after her thrown shoe takes out a guard) Oo, I guess I had more skills than I thought.

      This is an allusion to Xena'stag line, "I have many skills", used frequently on her own show.

    • Ioulaus: I'm not a numeral, I'm a free man.

      This shot of an imprisoned Iolaus is a direct homage to the 1967-68 show The Prisoner. The main character stating "I'm not a number, I'm a free man" was also used in the opening credits.