"The Myth of the Maze"
Original airdate: Week of November 28, 1999
by Michelle Erica Green

Grecian Hunks and the Minotaur

"The Myth of the Maze" Plot Summary:

In Athens circa 3000 B.C., two men are trapped in the Labyrinth. "Without the golden twine, we'll never get out of this place," one moans. The two take torches and find a glowing ball of thread, but a strangely-shapen arm appears to take it. As an animal roars, one of the men gasps, "My God."

Bimbette Lynette is filling in for Claudia again, since Sydney has sent her assistant ahead to Greece to get ready for her visit. "I'd do anything a man with an English accent asked," coos the substitute, giving him a package for Sydney with which Nigel fans himself. He flees to the safety of Sydney's office, where the professor is on the phone with Claudia. But Claudia spots a very attractive guy across the sand. "Gotta go," she says, hanging up the phone. Sydney says she believes a little responsibility might make Claudia grow up, then admits that Claudia's father is the biggest donor the university has so she has to put up with her.

As the gorgeous stranger gives Claudia a necklace with a carving of the Minotaur on it, Sydney opens a package containing photos of that very item. Nigel knows the myth of the Minotaur, conceived by Queen Pasiphae and hidden away by King Minos in the Labyrinth, where a ball of golden twine helped humans escape its clutches. Sydney has also heard a legend about a key to the maze, made of marble with a Minotaur carved on it. It sounds like the necklace in the photo. "But who would be sending it to you?" asks Nigel. "And why?" wonders Sydney.

In Greece, a huge crowd of under-20s frolics on the beach. Claudia arrives nearly two hours late for her meeting with Sydney, wearing a bathing suit, looking disheveled. She announces that she has met the handsomest man in the world, who gave her the necklace with the Minotaur carving. Nigel is shocked that a stranger gave Claudia such a necklace, but Claudia assures him that they didn't have sex or anything...because they didn't have time. Sydney asks to borrow the necklace to show to Alex, the professor who invited her to Greece.

As Claudia reluctantly agrees and heads off with Nigel, the man who gave her the necklace appears to Sydney. "The handsomest man in the world!" she exclaims, and he responds that she is beautiful as well, but Sydney quickly explains that he was identified to her as such. The man explains quickly that he sent the photos and gave the necklace to Claudia as a means of getting it to Sydney, because he was afraid to approach her directly. He warns that she must find the maze and the ball of twine before others do, then disappears. Sydney witnesses another man cocking a gun, and leaps on him, knocking him to the sand. But the thug runs away as well.

Sydney shows the necklace to Alex, who tells her that only one quarry in the world produces the kind of marble of which it is made. "In Crete," guesses the professor, but her old friend warns her not to get any ideas about finding the Labyrinth. After all, it's just a myth. Alex guesses that she was given the piece by Stavos Vardalos, son of Dimitri Vardalos, the wealthiest man in Greece. He warns her not to get involved in the family feud and tells her that she's invited to a dinner with the Minister of Culture, which Claudia conveniently forgot to tell her about.

Sydney drags Nigel out shopping, trying on one hideous dress after another until she settles on a skin-tight translucent number that she's practically falling out of. "You look lovely," reassures Nigel when his boss announces she can't even walk. At the party, she sees Alex talking to a man she assumes must be Dimitri and realizes that he's in on whatever conspiracy he'd warned her to stay out of. Privately, Dimitri accuses Stavos of theft. "The necklace doesn't belong to you, it belongs to Greece," retorts his son. He adds that if he's a thief, then he has more in common with his father than he thought. Dimitri tries to have his son thrown out of the party, but Sydney beats up the thugs removing him when they attack Claudia for defending the attractive youth. The tight dress rips.

Sneaking back into Alex's office, Sydney and Nigel find a hidden closet containing priceless antiques...including a map made by Daedalus, the architect of the Labyrinth. Alex comes in with a gun, announcing that everyone works for Dimitri - he's like a god on Olympus - but Sydney retorts that her old friend has sold his soul to buy all the things he used to research. Stricken with conscience, Alex starts to lower the gun, but Stavos bursts in and the two men struggle. "He works for my father." "He lives off him!" Sydney stops the fight though she does not completely trust the boy either, unsure why he wants to protect the maze from his father. Whatever personal grudge Stavos may hold, all agree that Dimitri will exploit the relic if he finds it before they do.

The group goes over the conflicting myths which say that Minos had the Labyrinth built in his native Crete, but Daedalus never left Athens because of a pathological fear of sea travel. Stavos translates an ancient document: "As in the light above, so in the darkness below." He remembers having seen those words recently, but can't remember where. Sydney, who is still overdressed for the occasion, says they should call it a night, but when she leaves Alex's place with Nigel and Stavos, Claudia confronts her boss for stealing her boyfriend. That triggers Stavos' memory: he saw the prophetic words in the park where he gave Claudia the necklace. The group rushes off together, with Claudia insisting on chaperoning.

Stavos finds the quote on an ancient temple which he says was dedicated to Prometheus, but Sydney wants to know why there's a bust of King Minos on top. Tearing the bottom off her skirt, she climbs up to find a niche which fits the key on the necklace. A hidden door opens, leading down to the Labyrinth. The group enters and discovers conveniently placed torches. Since Sydney had the foresight to bring fishing twine, Nigel ties it to a vase at the entrance and they set out to look for the golden twine.

The group find bones and a complete skeleton, but Sydney says the bones aren't even human and the place feels staged. "The world's first haunted house," says Nigel. The artwork on the wall depicts minotaurs, but also a variety of distorted human forms. Sydney realizes there was never a monster in the depths, just people who were deemed too distorted to see the light of day in beauty-worshipping Greece. The group finds a gathering place hidden behind a wall which the key fits - "As in the light above, so in the darkness below." Nigel puts down the fishing line and finds a pot which hides the golden twine.

"Your father will be pleased," says a voice from the hallway. Stavos looks up to see the thugs from the party. Sydney attacks when they reach for the golden twine, ultimately trapping the men in the hidden chamber. But they grab the spool of fishing twine and reel it in, destroying the path to the surface. Claudia panicks when Sydney says the torches will only last for another half an hour. Despite the incredulity of her companions, the professor decides to test the golden twine's alleged mystical properties...and sure enough, it begins to roll on the floor, leading them to the entrance.

Unfortunately, Dimitri is waiting for them. He promises that the maze will be unharmed as long as he gets credit for the discovery, and claims the golden twine as his spoils. Stavos spits at his father. Gleefully Dimitri picks up his treasure, but the twine crumbles to dust in his hands. "The gods created the twine to guide those of good heart," snaps Sydney. "You will always be lost." Defeated, Dimitri stomps up the stairs, leaving his estranged son and the relic hunters to follow. After their departure, the golden twine reassembles itself.

Back at the beach restaurant with Sydney and Nigel, Claudia waits eagerly for Stavos...who arrives with another woman. Dr. Fox tries to console her young apprentice, but Claudia refuses to believe that Sydney knows enough about men to bother with, and she sneers at Nigel when he opines that she didn't even know the young hunk. "He was a god," moans Claudia. "Gods make lousy boyfriends," Sydney notes. But Claudia, who refuses to learn her from history, spots another hunk on the beach and takes off after him. The older pair order a round of Greek Tragedies.


My credulity was stretched to the breaking point at several points during "The Myth of the Maze," starting with an ancient Greek citizen exclaiming "My God!" and heading right on through Sydney's apparent abandonment of the two thugs behind the wall in the Labyrinth. I liked the revision of the story of the Minotaur, where we got a logical explanation for the ancient tunnels but not for the mystical ball of twine. Okay, it was cheesy that they invented a secret key to simplify the story, but the conflicting myths of Daedalus made for a good tale.

On the other hand, I saw no evidence that Greece has changed since 3000 B.C., when the unlovely had to hide underground. Every single person on the beach and in the restaurant was young, buff, tan, and showing a lot of well-oiled skin. We were treated to close-ups of butts at volleyball games, in lawn chairs, on towels, in slinky dresses...you get the picture. I don't mind occasional worship of Tia Carrere's magnificent physique or occasional shots of Nigel's shapely buns, but if there's supposed to be a serious critique of perfect body-worship going on in an episode like this one, it sure gets lost in the shallow young scenery.

I'm not sure what the point is of having Sydney all but declare her assistant a bimbo who can't even send a memo across campus, only to depend on her for important recon on an overseas mission. And Lynette's got even less upstairs. Someone needs to give these girls more than pert appearances and a knack for wisecracks, or they're going to get annoying very fast no matter how cute they are. It isn't sexist precisely, because the pretty boys on this series get scoffed at just as much as the pretty girls, and Nigel gets to play the ditz on a regular basis. But it's a fine line, and the more Relic Hunter toes it, the more viewers are going to wonder if they're being talked down to.

Relic Hunter Reviews
Get Critical