The Gauntlet
Gauntlet 02
Xena's Army Attacks
Series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Season 1
Antagonist Darphus
Setting Parthus, Parthian Province
In-Universe Date Year 0
Production # 76612
Filming Dates 13 January to 20 January 1995
Original Air-Date 1 May 1995
Written By Robert Bielak
Directed By Jack Perez
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 12 of 111
Order in Season 12 of 13
Order in Franchise 17 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "The Vanishing Dead"
Next Episode in Series "Unchained Heart"
Previous Episode in Franchise "The Vanishing Dead"
Next Episode in Franchise "Unchained Heart"
Title Image
Gauntlet title

Salmoneus, desperate to survive Xena's onslaught, finds a new dimension to the warrior princess. Xena must face a challenge she never expected, while Hercules leaps into action to prevent a greater evil from being unleashed.


Xena's army has given a village an ultimatum, but the people have chosen to defend themselves and their village. One of her men, Cretus, tells Xena that the villagers would rather die defending the fruits of their labor than surrender it to renegades, to which Xena says they'll get their wish.

Elsewhere, Hercules meets his cousin, Iloran. He tells Hercules that there is trouble in the Parthian provinces, a gang of marauders has been attacking nearby villages and Parthus, where his mother lives is next. Hercules tells him they have no time to waste and the two set of for Parthus. Meanwhile, Xena and her army prepare to attack the village, as some of the villagers retaliate, Xena throws her chakram and disposes of them.

After the massacre of the village, some of Xena's men bring Salmoneus to her, he begs her to spare his life. She spares him because he amuses her. Hercules and Iloran come across the village that was attacked by Xena's army, Hercules asks who was responsible and a woman tells him "She was like a demon from Hades." Hercules realizes that the leader is Xena. Meanwhile, Salmoneus tries to make himself Xena's PR officer, even composing a theme song for her.

Hercules and Iloran are traveling through the woods, Iloran tells Hercules he thinks they are being followed, and Hercules says he saw him at the river. Xena and her lieutenant Darphus, plan their next attack, they disagree about the plan of attack and Darphus says, "Maybe one day we'll find out whose strategy is best." At night, Darphus tires of waiting for Xena and her scouts, and sets off with the men, telling them he wants the village destroyed; men, women and children.

The army attacks and slaughters the villagers. Xena arrives and demands to know what Darphus has done. He tells her it is a sign to anyone who would chose to defy them. She tells him he will be disciplined for his disobedience. As they argue, Xena hears a baby crying and goes to pick it up. Darphus commands one of the men to kill the child, Xena says if he harms the baby, he will die next.

The following day, in the woods, Hercules captures the man who was following him and Iloran. Hercules questions him about where Xena is. He tells Hercules that he is too late. Hercules and Iloran see the smoke rising from the destroyed village, Hercules frees the man and he and Iloran race to the village. Hercules swears that the same thing will not happen again.

In a cave, Salmoneus brings a shepherdess to help Xena care for the baby she rescued. Salmoneus tells Xena that Darphus has been stirring the ranks about her saving the baby. As Xena goes to discipline Darphus, he and the other men rebel against her and Darphus orders that she is to run the gauntlet. The soldiers form two lines, Darphus draws a line in the earth and orders Xena's armor to be removed. She proceeds along the rows of men, as she is partway along one of the men beats her, she fights back, but the other soldiers join in. badly beaten, she manages to pull herself across the line and collapses. Darphus and the other men, thinking she is dead laugh and begin walking away, as they turn to leave Xena rises from the ground and Darphus orders her to be killed, the men say they will not because she fought by the rules.

Hercules and Iloran race through the forest and Iloran is hit by a flying arrow. Hercules chases after the archer and asks him who he is, the archer pulls on a rope, causing a boulder to fall and hit Hercules, knocking him to the ground. Hercules manages to disarm the man, Spiros, who tells Hercules that he killed his family, Hercules says they were burying the dead. Spiros tells Hercules that he had to leave the village to get help and left all the people he loved and now they are dead. Hercules promises that they will find Xena and her army.

Salmoneus flees Xena's camp and walks into a trap in the woods, meanwhile Xena returns to the cave and the shepherdess warns her that Hercules is on his way. Hercules, Iloran and Spiros find Salmoneus and Hercules cuts him down. He tells Hercules that the army is on its way to Parthus. Darphus prepares the army to go against Hercules, saying they "will squash him like a bug." Salmoneus tells Hercules that Xena is not as evil as he thinks and that compared to Darphus "she looks like the Goddess of Love and Light."

The group meets Xena and she and Hercules begin fighting. Salmoneus suggests they should be fighting Darphus, their common enemy, not each other. After a long fight, Hercules beats Xena, but spares her life, telling her "killing isn't the only way of proving you're a warrior, Xena. I think you know that." He asks her to join him in fighting her army. She refuses and Hercules lets her go. Hercules and the others fight some of the men who are hiding in ambush and Salmoneus frees some of the army's horses.

Later that evening, with the Parthus evacuated of women and children, Hercules prepares the villagers in defending the village against the army. As the army advance on the village, Hercules and the others are able to fight them off, as the battle continues Xena appears and fights the men alongside Hercules. Xena and Darphus notice each other while fighting and attack each other. After a brief struggle, Darphus is killed. Hercules tells Xena he is glad she came back, she says she had to stop the army because "they weren't true warriors." Spiros comes and says Salmoneus told him about the boy Xena saved at the village. He asks if the baby has a birthmark on his leg, Xena confirms this. Xena says she risked her life to say the child and asks Spiros if he would do the same. He says he would and is prepared to fight Xena to get him back. Hercules asks, "Xena, why are you doing this?" She tells Spiros, "You've shown me all I need to know. Just raise your son to be as brave as you." Hercules says goodbye to Spiros and Iloran and asks Xena, "So what now?" Xena asks if he wants them to find out together.

Back on the battlefield, an emissary of Ares pulls the sword from Darphus' chest and brings him back to life. He tells Darphus that Ares wants him to kill Hercules, then he can have his revenge against Xena.


(no humorous disclaimer.)

Background InformationEdit

  • Dean O'Gorman would go on to play several roles throughout the franchise. The most notable is young Iolaus.
  • Xena claims she never killed women and children. XWP's later seasons establish that this was in fact, not true, although it is made clear that she never killed non-combatant women or children intentionally, though she did try to kill Thalassa.
  • Salmoneus references his previous encounters with Hercules from "Eye of the Beholder" and "As Darkness Falls".
  • Joseph LoDuca wrote a song called "The Gauntlet" for this episode. It is available on the XWP Soundtrack Volume One.
  • It isn't entirely clear who – or what – revives Darphus at the end. Fans (and this wiki) generally assume that it is the Blue Priest, given the non-human nature of the figure's hand and that character's eventual return. It's possible, however, that it was Ares himself, perhaps in a different form. The entity Loki was colluding with in "Norse By Norsevest" had a similar look, but that is almost certainly coincidental.
  • Chakram count
  • To kill villagers
  • To try to kill Hercules
  • In another attempt to kill Hercules, but failed when Hercules deflected it and sent it to a tree.

Memorable QuotationsEdit

"Xena! Coming to your town! Xena! Don't you wear a frown!"
Salmoneus, writing a theme song for Xena
"I swear by my mother, this won't happen again"
Hercules to Iloran upon seeing the village massacre

Links and ReferencesEdit

Guest StarsEdit

Other CastEdit



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