Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 1 Episode 17

The Gauntlet

Aired Monday 5:00 PM May 01, 1995 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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  • She's back. The evil lady Warlord from "Warrior Princess" has a change of heart... sort of.

    The first season of Hercules closes with the two part story that will spurn a companion series."Gauntlet" part 2 of the Xena trilogy features the return of the Lady Warlord. She's much more the noble warrior in this even while leading a band of vicious bandits (of the type she will commonly fight against in the run of her series). She's also a lot more Butch then she was in "Warrior Princess", more like the Xena I know and adore from her own series. For that reason alone, this is my favorite of the Xena Trilogy. Early into the episode, after raiding a village, Xena encounters Salmoneous, who she sort of takes on as a personal prisoner. But she does so for her own amusement and hardly mistreats him. Despite Salmoneous being a prisoner, you can tell they're becoming fond of each other as friends. The characters/actors have excellent chemistry as good buds and it's clear this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since Salmoneous is Hercules' friend he turns out to be the bridge between Xena and Hercules. However, the break between Xena and the dark side starts with Darphus, Xena's second in command. While Xena is away Darphus slaughters a village, including women, children, old folks, and babies. Like I said, Xena's a noble chick... so that's not okay with her. She comes upon the ruined village and finds a single baby alive. Darphus is ready to kill it and Xena won't allow it. I guess her men saw this as "weakness" and so aligned themselves with Darphus and made Xena walk a fierce Gauntlet that she barely survives... but she does survive (duh, she's Xena).

    Hercules, meanwhile, is traveling with his cousin Iloran (Dean O'Gorman). They are pursuing the evil warlord and when Herc discovers it's Xena it becomes a personal issue. Only he discovers (through an escaped Salmoneous) that Xena is not really his enemy, Darphus is. Despite their issues, they end up uniting against Darphus. Eventually Xena kills him, but thanks to Ares it doesn't stay that way, he raises the guy from the dead and gives him his pet dog to play with.

    While like I said, Xena is very likeable bad guy here, barely anything like the evil unfeeling woman we see in "Warrior Princess". She is also clearly very young in some scenes. Unlike in Warrior Princess, there's almost a childlike innocence in her eyes at times. She can be fiercely wild (like when she attacks Hercules), strong and silent (like when she takes the Gauntlet) and at other times almost sweet (when she turns to Herc and ask what she's expected to do now that she's turned away from her old life) and it's still very much in character for her to be so. It's hard not to fall in love with Xena after this episode, it's no wonder Hercules does... for a little while at least.

    In a bit of Trivia worth mentioning. Dean O'Gorman (who plays Herc's cousin) will also come to play Young Homer in a Xena episode, but is probably best known in the Herc/Xena world as Young Iolaus in the Young Hercules series. So even though Iolaus wasn't in this episode, his Younger version sort-of was.
  • Warrior Princess Xena is betrayed by her lieutenant, Darphus, and forced to walk "the gauntlet", before she ends up fighting alongside Hercules, in this classic episode that sets Xena on the part to redemption...

    After Xena's so-so introduction in 'The Warrior Princess' three episodes ago, here we get to see her in all her powerful glory, in this excellent episode.

    The teaser scene, as Xena leads her army into battle, is impressive and breathtaking, and gives a much greater sense of her leading a formidable army than the events of 'The Warrior Princess' did.

    After the rather out-of-character Xena seen in 'The Warrior Princess', here we are introduced to the more human side to Xena. Although a definite villainess, she is shown to have some moral compassion, in giving targeted villages chance to buy their escape, and letting women and children escape her wrath. (Of course, all this helped the fact that her own television series was well in the pipeline by this stage!)

    Robert Trebor as the captured Salmoneus is excellent and really funny, and plays off Lucy Lawless very well. Salmoneus had a couple of appearances in 'Xena: Warrior Princess' before Joxer was brought in to effectively fill the role, but I always longed to see more of the Xena-Salmoneus pairing, as it is very watchable. In fact, I would rank this episode as one of Salmoneus' very best.

    The gauntlet scene itself is one of the best shot and most powerful of the series.

    As she reappears, Xena is dressed in an unusual gold armor uniform, the only time she was ever seen wearing this.

    We also see that Hercules is one of the few people able to escape the throw of her chakram (complete with a rare effect of following it as it hurls towards him).

    [spoiler] At the end of the episode, Darphus is resurrected, making way for the season finale. This is a two-parter in all but name. [end of spoiler]

    The acting, and the story-line, and the general presentation make this great episode one of the very best of Hercules' first season, probably even of the entire series.
    I would probably rank this as the best of the original Xena trilogy, and the most consistent with what the character would develop into in her own series.
  • After Xena is exiled from her army through a brutal gauntlet that she survives ordered by her insubordinate partner, she teams up with Hercules against her former army to stop them from slaughtering another village.

    I have to admit, even though there is so much brutality and seriousness in this episode, i really must appreciate the comedy Salmoneous brought to it. I thought he was just absolutely hilarious. So a door is open in this episode in which we get to see into Xena's soul a bit. We find she does have some sense of morality, since she is against murdering women and children, and wants her soldiers to follow her out of loyalty instead of greed. After she is betrayed by her army, she actually survives the beating her former soldiers gave her. Darfus went against Xena's orders and attacked before the set time, and slaughtered men, women, and children, and then burned the entire village. When Xena rescuse a baby that one of her soldiers thought he killed, her army takes it as a move against them. Xena fights Hercules but later joins him in battleing her former army and Darfus, who Xena kills. We find out that the baby she saved belonged to the man that attacked Hercules and his cousin, thinking they were the ones who destroyed his villiage and killed his wife. We find out the baby Xena saved was this man's son, so she returns the baby. Darfus is brought back to life at the end of this episode by someone sent by Ares, god of war, who appears to be from the underworld. This person gives Darfus control of a ruthless beast to again attempt to bring down Hercules, who now has the help of Xena.
  • The real introduction to the character that was strong enough to get her own show, Xena.

    I did not feel the version of Xena in her first episode of the trilogy, The Warrior Princess, reflected who she truly was (and neither did the follow up episode Unchained Heart, for that matter). When you think about it, all 3 episodes we're almost like 3 different Xena's: a result of Lucy Lawless still developing the character she had been given to who was originally Vanessa Angel's (needless to say, thank God Lucy go to play Xena!) and of the uncertainty of a role a female should play in a male dominated envirnment. In The Warrior Princess, Xena is the typical femme fetale, standard female villian. The Gauntlet is where we see a real woman warrior, the one would continue to see on in the spin-off show. And finally, a revert back to the typical female character -- a fluff, Hercules Cheerleader girlfriend to make her more 'likeable' it seemed; as though they were scared that they had possibly made her too rough. Interseting to note that TWP and UC we're both written by the same person, whereas TG was by another (and how evident was that?!)

    The Gauntlet is easily the best out of the 3 Xena episodes, and although a lot of Lucy's acting was a bit hokey and inconsistent (as a lot of Season 1 of Xena would be), it is still enjoyable. The gauntlet Xena has to walk through was extremely well down, and the beautiful music that was accompanied by it, inplace of plain hitting effects, (Joseph LoDuca is a genius!) is what makes that scene. Somehow with the punching effects muted, the haunting music seemingly made it harder to watch.

    Some minor nitpicks would be Lucy's war-cry, which was rather...underdeveloped at this time. This and that horrid 2nd outfit Xena would wear at the end, but I s'pose thats not really important lol :)