1.01 - Treasure of Zeus

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Screencap from ep 1.01
Title Treasure of Zeus
Episode # Season 1, Episode 1
First aired September 12, 1998
Directed by Chris Graves
Written by Robert Tapert
Liz Friedman
Mark Edens (Teleplay)
Summary Strife goes undercover. Hercules, Iolaus, and Jason go after Zeus' Chalice. Ep 1 of 3.

FoxKids Spoilers

  • Strife, Ares' nephew, convinces Hercules to retrieve a chalice of Zeus's from a cave which belongs to Hera, hoping the traps within will kill the young hero.
  • Strife (Joel Tobeck) masquerades as an academy cadet and coerces Hercules into mounting a quest to find a chalice that once belonged to Zeus, but is now in the possession of Hera, who hates Hercules.

TV Guide Promo

  • God of Mischief, Strife disguises himself as a cadet (Nysus Gaius) and tricks our hero, Hercules, and his best friends, Iolaus and Jason, into removing a beautiful vase (chalice) from Hera’s cave. Hercules’ mission - to take the chalice to his father, Zeus - turns deadly when a wooden Phoenix comes to life and attacks our heroes.
  • Strife gets some help from Ares and poses as a student at the Academy. Ares and Strife have a plan to trap Hercules by giving him the location of a chalice that once belonged to his father.

Synopsis

Title card - End credits can be found here.

      Inside an impressive throne room with swords and shields on the walls, Ares practices sword fighting with a suit of armor that moves by itself, while Strife lounges in front of the throne and complains that he's tired of being a nobody. Ares suggests that he kill a mortal son of Zeus, and Strife replies, "You mean Hercules." Ares has an obvious deep-seated hatred for Hercules, and claims that Hera wants him gone too. Strife is wary of the protection order Zeus has on Hercules, that any god who disobeys will spend eternity in Tartarus. Ares replies that obviously they can't attack him directly, but "sometimes a little strife can lead to a major catastrophe."

      Hercules is tossing hay in a barn when he is attacked by an unknown assailant. They fight with no clear winner. Alcmene breaks up the fight with a bucket of water, and the assailant is revealed to be Iolaus, who claims to have been testing Hercules's reflexes. Alcmene gives Hercules a mop and Herc uses it to knock Iolaus on his butt. "Expect the unexpected."

      Alcmene bids Hercules a safe trip back to the Academy, and Hercules gripes about how Zeus has never been there for either of them. Alcmene wishes that Hercules wasn't always trying to impress Zeus. Herc and Iolaus leave for Cheiron's Academy.

      Night has fallen and they stop at an Inn for some food. Inside, a pair of satyrs are eating. Hercules and Iolaus reunite with Jason, who is glad to be back at the Academy where he's just another student and not the Crown Prince of Corinth. Kora arrives to take their order, and Jason is suddenly happy to mention that he's a prince and he could give her a tour of the palace if she wants. Iolaus tries to put their food on his tab, claiming to be tight with the Inn's owner, and Kora reveals that she is the owner.

      Strife enters in disguise and, per obvious arrangement, the satyrs trip him. Hercules, Iolaus, and Jason are about to face-off against the satyrs when Kora notices and kicks the satyrs out. Strife introduces himself as 'Nysus Gaius'.

      At the Academy, the cadets are training with many different weapons. Hercules is sparring with Nysus, and knocks him to the ground. Cheiron, their centaur mentor, watches their training and offers advice. Nysus and Hercules spar again, but this time Nysus starts talking about Zeus and a chalice he made that is hidden in a nearby cave, and Hercules is obviously distracted by the mention of his father.

      After sparring, Hercules approaches Nysus, wanting more information about the cave and the chalice. After he leaves, Ares's face shows up in a bucket of water, asking if the plan went smoothly. Nysus confirms that Hercules is hooked "like a little fish, waiting for Hera to fry."

      Hercules sneaks out of the Academy after curfew, and Iolaus and Jason catch him. Herc tells them about the chalice. Iolaus and Jason are skeptical, but they tag along. Iolaus calls dibs on any gold that might be in the cave.

      On the way to Hera's Cave, Hercules, Iolaus, and Jason find and pick up spears. Over the cave is a huge phoenix, and the guys throw their spears at it to prove that it isn't alive. Hercules leads the way into the cave, lighting a torch with his gauntlets, and both Iolaus and Hercules almost get hurt by traps.

      At the end of Hera's Cave there is a red chalice sitting on a rock, lit from above. Hercules picks it up and, assuming it's holding rain water from a leaky cave, Iolaus dumps the contents out on the rock. The rock bursts into fire, and the fire quickly grows. The boys stare in shock for a moment, and then run for the entrance of the cave as a huge fireball chases them out. They barely make it outside before the fireball explodes from the cave, burning the phoenix statue, and the boys reminisce about that time they were served beans in the Academy for a week.

      The sun comes up and the charred phoenix statue cracks and breaks, revealing a live phoenix. The phoenix lets out a warbling cry and takes off into the air, flapping its wings.

      The boys are about to sneak back into the Academy when the phoenix attacks from above, snatching up the chalice and Iolaus. Hercules lassos the phoenix, and it drops Iolaus and begins to fly away with the chalice and Hercules hanging from a rope around its neck. Strife watches gleefully.

      Continues in 1.02 - Between Friends.

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Quotes

Strife: I'm tired of being a nobody, Ares. I mean - 'Strife, the god of war's nephew' - What does it say to anybody? I mean, I’m ready for the big time. Why can't I be, uh, ‘Disaster’, or, uh, ‘Catastrophe’? Okay, well, that’s hard to spell.
Iolaus: All right, all right. We’ll come with you. But, if there’s anything in the chalice - like gold - we split it three ways.

Hercules: Two ways - all I want is the chalice.
Jason: One way - I'm just coming along to keep you jerks out of trouble.

Iolaus: I love you guys.
Iolaus: Remember that time when they served us beans in the dining hall for a whole week straight?
Jason: We had a blast!

Trivia & References

New Guy - This episode is the first time Kora is introduced.
Recycling - The plot of Hercules stealing a chalice made by Zeus is echoed from the Young Hercules (Movie Pilot), where Hercules broke into Ares's treasure vault and stole a green urn made by Zeus. That urn held a cyclone inside.
Nod to HtLJ - Jason's remark to Hercules, ("How's your mother?"), is an inside joke, considering in HtLJ "2.21 - The Wedding of Alcmene", Jason and Alcmene eventually marry.
Continuity Warning - In all the flashbacks in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Jason has been the King of Corinth - but for most of the series he's still the crown prince.
Continuity Warning - When did Jason and Alcmene meet? In Young Hercules (Movie Pilot), Jason and Hercules seem to be meeting for the first time, but in 1.01 - Treasure of Zeus they're close enough that Jason is asking how Alcmene is. To further complicate the timeline, in HtLJ "2.21 - The Wedding of Alcmene" Alcmene says that Jason was the one who brought the news that Amphitryon was dead, even though Amphitryon died when Hercules was a baby and Jason doesn't seem more than a few years older than Herc in Young Hercules (Movie Pilot).
Continuity Warning - As Hercules is sneaking out of the academy to go to the cave and Iolaus jumps on him, Hercules seems to "catch" Iolaus for just a moment (putting his arms around Iolaus's legs to make sure he got a good grip) before grabbing Iolaus's arm to flip him.
Reality Check - Ares tells Strife to, "...dare what no god has dared before: destroy a mortal son of Zeus." But have there really been no other mortal sons of Zeus killed by gods before Hercules? According to Wikipedia, Amphion and Tityos were killed by Apollo and Artemis. Akheilos was killed by Athena, while Iasion was killed by Zeus himself. As for if any of these murders were before Hercules's time is anyone's guess.
Continuity, Yay! - Hercules and Iolaus's lines, "Expect the unexpected", is a reference to Cheiron's advice in the Young Hercules (Movie Pilot), "Always anticipate the unexpected."
Unanswered Questions - Outside of the phoenix cave there were three spears and a sword stuck in the ground, and a helmet hanging off of one of the spears. If the weapons were left behind by some other victims of the phoenix, how did the helmet end up on top of the spear and why aren't the wooden spear handles charred? Was this some kind of memorial to fallen warriors? Or merely a warning to potential treasure hunters? Who left these weapons behind?
Continuity, Yay! - As the boys race out of the cave, being chased by a fireball, they remember to jump over the spike-pit trap that Iolaus had triggered on their way in. This is a detail that could have easily been overlooked or forgotten, and I'm glad it was not!
Reality Check - When Strife introduces himself under an alias, he calls himself Nysus Gaius. Why does he have a first name and a last name when none of the other characters seem to possess a surname? According to Wikipedia, family surnames weren't widely in use until around the 9th century, so it's probable that Strife should have only picked one name for his alias, not two.
Greekisms - Strife's pseudonym, "Nysus Gaius", is a greekified version of "Nice Guy."
Continuity Warning - As fire pours out of the Phoenix Cave and the camera pans up to catch the last of the explosion and smoke, a stationary light can been seen briefly in the corner of the screen. It is too small and low to be the "moon", and is presumed to be a light on the set that accidentally got caught in frame.
Déjà Vu - Fake Skourous wears an armor chestplate that is nearly identical to the one worn by the Floating Suit of Armor.

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