Back To School
"The Academy" Plot Summary:
Attacked on the road to their old school, Hercules and Jason bring the new Iolaus to see the academy where they met and trained under Chiron. They are greeted coldly by Chiron's son Tabor and a girl named Seska, who inform Iolaus that although Tabor may be the son of a centaur, he's the one who's a horse's ass. The girl is contemptuous as well of Jason's titles as former King of Corinth and leader of the Argonauts. A senior named Xylus offers to introduce Hercules to the new headmaster, but Hercules jokes that he can find his own way to the principal's office.
Upstairs, however, the battered headmaster is preparing to flee the school. Hercules gathers the cadets to announce that in the headmaster's absence, he will take over; when Iolaus criticizes his friend's speech, Hercules appoints him an instructor. Xylus smarmily pledges allegiance and gives the heroes a tour, but when Hercules sees that the music room has been turned into an armory, he demands that all the weapons be burned and the children be taught to read and write before they fight. Because Iolaus has rapport with the little ones, he is put in charge of elementary education.
Jason meets up with his first love, Lilith, who left the Academy to rejoin her Amazon tribe. She tells him that they have always shared a bond...then introduces that bond, her daughter, Seska. Delighted to learn he has a child with Lilith, Jason tries to bond with the girl, but finds her less than interested in courting paternal approval after a life among the Amazons. Tabor advises Seska to reconsider, insisting that he would give anything to spend another day with his own father. However, the young man resents Hercules for setting an example for Chiron which no mortal could ever live up to.
The small children play endless pranks on Iolaus until he resorts to singing and performing tricks to teach them - very effectively - but when Xylus' friends put henbane in Jason's food to humiliate him, Hercules expels the lot of them. The school is then restored to its former status as an institution of learning, but Xylus and his friends plot revenge, trapping and wounding Tabor. The group launches an assault on the school. Iolaus saves the younger children from a pair of runaways via a food fight; Lilith and Seska use Amazon skills to wipe out most of the bad boys, and Jason bonds with his daughter while assisting her in a Xena-style run; Hercules finds that Xylus' only real strength is in his weaponry, and defeats him with skill.
After the victory, Hercules announces that he is leaving Jason in charge of the Academy. Lilith tells Jason she's glad this means they'll be seeing a lot of each other. Hercules and Iolaus say goodbye to the kids and head off.
While this was a screamingly predictable episode, "The Academy" did feature the charming idea of having Ryan "Young Hercules" Gosling play a youngster who finds Kevin Sorbo's Hercules hopelessly out of date. Unfortunately, that wasn't funny enough to carry the episode - nor were Michael Hurst's antics and singing, though those did create a welcome break from the endless scenes of kids rehearsing with staffs like Gabrielle's. It was obvious from early on that Jason and Seska would reconcile, that Tabor would come to respect Hercules, that Zylus would be taught a lesson in respect for his elders...and that people would say lines like, "The only way to learn is by making mistakes."
If one can get past all the educational cliches about intelligence, courage, and hard work, there's certainly enough battle action and babe action to keep most viewers' interests. Hercules' relationship with Jason has always been quite strange, since his boyhood friend married his mother; now that his mother has been dead for a couple of months and Jason is looking up old girlfriends, it's even stranger. I guess head of an academy is a fine way to use the skills Jason honed as King of Corinth, but one would think he's want to found a university or something. Seska seemed like a tough enough chick, but not all that bright, plus it was mystifying both why Lilith left Jason without a word all those years ago and why he accepted her and their daughter back into his life without a peep of protest. "The Academy"'s a fine episode; it's just not particularly memorable for comedy, profundity, or character development.