With Hercules clinging to the belief that Pythagoras could make good on his promise to find a cure, we met Robert Lindsay as Dedalus. Brilliantly cast in full-on mad inventor mode, this acerbic character took an instant dislike to Jason. He did however tolerate Pythagoras long enough to unlock the terms of a cure; Medusa’s only hope will cost Hercules his life. While Dedalus’ appearance was a scant one, dropped a passing line about his son Icarus, so we imagine that is a tale for another time.
Burdened with a troubling secret (again), Pythagoras could not bring himself to admit the truth so the lovelorn Hercules hared off to find Medusa. He was unaware however that the unscrupulous Crios who sold him the information omitted to mention a gang of murderous hunters he might encounter on the way.
Jason and Pythagoras followed and all three were promptly ensnared. Set loose as hunted prey and with Jason badly wounded, their salvation from the Scythians came at the hands of a mysterious huntress, Atalanta.
Intensely played by Nora-Jane Noone (The Magdalene Sisters, The Descent), she felled the Scythians and provided Jason with magical healing before promising their paths would cross again. In a show so bereft of heroic female figures, this can only be a good thing as she saved this episode from being merely a lads’ run-around in the forest!
Inevitably, Hercules overheard Pythagoras unburdening his secret to Atalanta, triggering an attempt at self sacrifice in the episode’s closing moments. While the noble sentiment rang true, Hercules going off half-cocked after accidentally eavesdropping was terribly predictable (and familiar).
The only true surprise here was Jason’s invulnerability to Medusa’s curse, further proof of his divine mixed parentage we imagine but we found it bizarre that neither of his comrades questioned how it was possible?
As a threat, the Scythians were little more than a distraction. These murderous hunters were apparently not bright enough to notice Hercules up a tree, so it is a wonder they maintained such a fearsome reputation! Also troubling was that after felling two with his bulk, Hercules did not think to steal their weapons.
Despite some touching scenes at the campfire and emotional moments as they finally found Medusa, what disappointed us most here was the return of Mark Addy’s Hercules to the role of comedy buffoon replete with armpit smelling and bird muck jokes. We hoped that both he and the show had grown beyond this sort of thing.
Aired at 8.15pm on Saturday 7 December 2013 on BBC One.
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