Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 2 Episode 3

What's in a Name?

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Sep 18, 1995 on USA
out of 10
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Episode Summary

What's in a Name?
Hercules' good name is sullied when his mortal half-brother, Iphicles, steals his identity. As Iphicles joins forces with the evil warlord Gorgus and prepares to marry Rena, Gorgus' stepdaughter, Hercules sets out to defend his name. But Gorgus and the warrior Pallaeus capture Iolaus and throw him into the perilous catacombs. Hercules then has to descend into the labyrinth to save his friend. Fending off booby traps, flying blades and the Mandrake monster, Hercules frees Iolaus. Iphicles' ruse is then discovered by Rena and which prompts him to fight side-by-side with Hercules to regain her love. Finally Gorgus and Pallaeus are defeated.moreless

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  • Hercules' mortal half... half-brother that is.

    "What's in a Name" finally brings Kevin Smith into the world of Hercules and Xena, but not as Hercules' half brother Ares, as Hercules' OTHER half-brother Iphiclies (yes, by some weird coincidence his unrelated half-bros look exactly alike, lol). It seems young Iphiclies (who, as he's dressed here REALLY looks like Herc's brother) has fallen in love with a warlord's step-daugther Rena. Unfortunatly, he lies to her about his identity. Kevin Smith does an amazing job here. What surprises me is even though they cast him as Ares less than a month later for Xena, it's another whole season before they allow Ares back into Hercules in Kevin Smith form. I guess mostly because they were still using him as Iphiclies on Hercules and they didn't want it to be confusing. But anyway, Kevin works as Iphiclies. He's sympathetic, in a way, as the man who will always pale in comparison to his superhero half-brother. He's just better as Ares, God of War. He's just not "fun to watch" here. This is another "Hera" episode where-in she gifts the jealous Pallaeus (Ross Duncan) a mandrake with the power to kill the real Hercules. He initially tries to use it on the "fake" Hercules in order to destroy him and win Rena's heart. Of course this is how he discoveres Iphiclies is a fake and moves on to the real thing. When it finally is released, the Madrake creature seems like a VERY weak opponent for Hercules and it's hard to believe this is coveted as some ultimate weapon. The most winning part and only amusing part of this episode is Iolaus, who gets jailed by the Warlord and must be rescued by Hercules. Starving in the cell, he comes up with clever ideas to steal the guards food that almost work time and time again. Even once he gets out the cell, the gag of him "starving" and being denied food by unexpected interference (caused by a fight) continues. As always, Michael Hurst is just fun to watch. Along with Kevin Smith, Ross Duncan (Pallaeus) goes on to have another role in the Herc/Xena universe. In fact, he has several. Most notable and regular though is the role he had on Young Herc as Fiducius. I really found it hard not to imagine the busy body Academy administrator as I watched him here.moreless
  • Hercules learns that his half-brother Iphicles is claiming to be him, and is planning to wed the stepdaughter of evil warlord Gorgus, in this so-so episode that somehow feels that it should offer up more than it does...moreless

    This is the second episode to be directed by Bruce 'Autolycus' Campbell. Like his first directorial effort, the first season's 'The Vanishing Dead', it feels that there is a decent story that doesn't quite transfer overly well to screen.

    Hercules finding that someone is claiming to be him should be some good mileage for a story, but somehow here it just doesn't seem to offer all that he should. At times it feels almost melded on to the rest of the episode.

    From the plot outline, you might half expect it to be a traditional 'evil twin' episode, but you'd have to wait for the alternate reality story arc in the show's fourth season for that!

    Iphicles is played by Kevin Smith, who would soon go on to play God of War Ares. As seen here, he actually does look like Herc's half brother.

    Michael Hurst as Iolaus offers up the episode's best (and funniest) moments as, captured and starving, he tries to come up with ways to get his hands on food.

    After she was mentioned in the previous episode, 'All That Glitters', this is another Hera-centric tale, as she offers up the Mandrake as the latest would-be slayer of Hercules.

    The Mandrake itself is well animated, but seems too small to be much of a real threat to Herc and co.

    All-in-all, this is not a bad episode as such; it just feels that so much more should have come from the concept.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Kevin Smith, who played Iphicles, is usually more known for his role as Ares, Greek God of War. Iphicles is his first role in the Hercules/Xena Universe.

    • Actress Liddy Holloway makes her first appearance as Alcmene, Hercules's mother. She is the third actress to play the role, which she plays through the end of the fourth season, with her last appearance in the episode "Reunions". She is the final actress to play the role of the adult Alcmene, though a fourth actress played Young Alcmene in the series.

    • Nitpick: There is only one guard in the episode who had a projecting point on the top of his helmet, so it was awfully convenient he was on hand for it to be used as the key to Iolaus' cell!

    • Goof: When Pallaeus is holding the small pronged trident against Rena's throat during the fight in the dungeon, the trident which is supposed to be made of metal, wobbles noticeably.

    • Goof: During the fight scene in the marketplace, before Iphicles makes his entrance as the false Hercules, watch as one of the soldiers is thrown against the well. It slides slightly under the impact.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Hercules: (tripping another pitfall in the labyrinth) Who makes these things?!

    • First Soldier: Who are you?
      Hercules Just someone who hates fights.
      First Soldier: Yeah? Well maybe you should stay out of them.
      Hercules: Believe me, I try, because I'm always worried that someone's gonna get hurt.
      First Soldier: Oh? You mean like this? (he lunges at Hercules, who throws him into a wall)
      Hercules: Exactly.

    • Hercules: (after bumping into a skeleton in Gorgus' labyrinth) Just once I'd like to battle a villain who insisted on sunshine and fresh air. (looks at the skeleton) Excuse me.

    • Iolaus: (to the prison guards) You know, I really wasn't kiding when I said I was hungry.
      Gruff Soldier: (having told Iolaus to catch a rat for dinner) Yeah? Well, I wasn't kidding about the rat!

    • Hercules: Why does this always have to be so hard?
      Iolaus: Because if it was easy anyone could do it.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Actress Liddy Holloway makes her first appearance as Alcmene, Hercules's mother. She is the third actress to play the role, which she plays through the end of the fourth season, with her last appearance in the episode "Reunions".

    • Disclaimer: No Mandrakes were harmed during the production of this motion picture.


    • Iphicles: (pretending to be his brother Hercules) Hades was worse than your foulest nightmare. It was pitch black, sweltering hot, and evil lurked around every corner. So I had to find Cerberus the three-headed dog and bring him back to King Eurystheus without using any weapons.

      This is a retelling of the Twelfth (and final) Labor of Hercules.

    • The Mandrake Root is well known in medieval folklore. It was sought by alchemists and magicians for it's many powers. It supposedly let out a shriek when being uprooted, killing the one who dug it from the ground. It was a deadly poison, but also used in love potions.