Oh gentile readers... this one is going to be rough. Please, before we get into this, get your tissues out and maybe a stuffed animal or two. By the time we are done, you are going to need them. What you need to know so far: Hercules is in love with Medusa, and so he had a witch cast a spell on her so she would fall in love with him too. Medusa was slowly working towards forgiving him for that one, and they have been building towards a good thing (even though Medusa is way out of Hercules' league). Hold on to that image as long as you can, okay? Comfort at the ready? Good! Here we go!

Medusa is sneaking through the market square... or maybe over a rooftop, or somewhere else with a lot of scarves... or are those rugs? I'm confused. She looks worried, though, and I've heard such terrible things about this episode, my heart is already in my throat. When she gets yanked out of frame, I panic, but it's just Hercules who gently throws her down onto some rugs? A bed? Details, people, details! It doesn't matter, though: Medusa is happy and so am I. Hercules leans in for the kiss, but Medusa turns her head away. She tells him she has 'such feelings for him' and he's happy to hear it. It's not really a positive comment, though. She says she's heard so many stories about him and--goof that he is, Hercules totally misses this isn't about all his good deeds and general awesomeness. It's about all the women he bedded, his drinking, his gambling, and all the other wonderful things that make Herc, Herc.

Finally catching on to the fact that this conversation requires more than his continued attempts to kiss Medusa, he calls all the rumors lies and goes in for the kiss again. BBC, I am really trying to root for Hercules and Medusa, but if you keep this up, I will fail.

Medusa makes him promise to speak the truth and he says he does drink, and gamble, and all the other things, but that it's all in the past now. Now there is only Medusa, because he's in love. She promises to put the stories from her mind and all is well. Then, before Hercules can claim his kiss, he gets hits over the head by something and someone, and Medusa screams in terror.

Hercules is brought to on his knees in front of Kyros (Anton Lesser), somewhere in a hallway or tunnel. Seriously, Atlantis, what is it with the vagueness this week? It seems Hercules still owes Kyros a debt, and now it's time to pay up: with his life. Or, you know, by braving the Underworld to retrieve 'a box' he is not to open. After all, the man who boasts about slaying the Minotaur should have no problem figuring this task out. Hercules is not really feeling it, but when Kyros' thugs bring out Medusa, there is really not a lot he can say but 'deal'. He has until midnight tomorrow. Hercules tries to attack Kyros but is once more knocked out for his trouble. Sigh.

The next morning, Pythagoras discovers they are all out of non-moldy bread and ushers Jason towards the door so they can visit the market. They find Hercules on the doorstep, bound and gagged, and he tells him about Medusa, the box, and the deal. He also drops the 'Hades'-thing, and Pythagoras would like to point out that rescuing Medusa is probably wiser. Unfortunately, Kyros already told Hercules that if he tries that, she will die. Jason wonders how to actually get into the Underworld. Hercules tells them there are a few ways, actually: dying is the least preferable one, and he knows no other. Pythagoras has a lead, however: Eunapius (Julian Glover), a servant of Persephone, who sometimes divulges the way into Hades to the most loyal of Her subjects.

Eunapius is praying at the shrine to Persephone when the boys shake him out of it. As a note, Hellenic praying is done standing up, not kneeling down. The boys ask for a way into Hades and Eunapius (whom I take an immediate liking to) says there are many ways to die and many people willing to kill. When Hercules describes he would also like to come back out, Eunapius agrees that that is, indeed, a bit more difficult. He also says he can't help them and Hercules pulls a sword on him. If my girlfriend was held hostage, I would most likely also be beyond reason, but it still  irks me to see him talk to a priest like this. That said, the priest can take excellent care of himself: out of nowhere a couple of archers appear and suddenly the boys are far outnumbered and outgunned. Nicely played, my dear priest. Nicely played. As a sidenote, Pythagoras' hair is wonderfully fluffy today.

Jason has another verbal go at it but is nearly shot for his efforts. His awesome swordsmanship allows him to deflect the arrow and the priest is impressed enough to at least hear him out. He takes a bit of convincing--something that comes with a lot of warnings against the plan--but eventually Eunapius agrees. They must purify themselves first, then burn a lock of hair as an offering to Persephone, and then sip down a kykeon potion that will put them in a state of near-death. Once they are ready to leave the underworld, they must sound a horn Pythagoras--who is going to stay behind--won't hear but he will be 'alerted by crows'. At that time, Pythagoras must feed both Jason and Hercules his own blood and they will awaken. Pythagoras must also provide both Hercules and Jason with a coin to pay for their way into the Underworld. So said, so done in the comfort of their oikos, and it sounds like a terrible plan.

A note to say that both washing as a way to cleanse and offering locks of hair are authentic traditional practices tiet to burial customs, although not exactly tied to journeys into the Underworld. Perhaps even more interesting to note is that kykeon (κυκεών)--a barley beverage preferred by Demeter, and drank by peasants--was used to break a sacred fast within the Eleusinian Mysteries. Kykeon was also used in preparatory rites for some of the most sacred--and secret--rites within Eleusis, and tied to Persephone, Demeter and Hades. The kykeon was made of barley, water, herbs, and ground goat cheese. Sometimes honey was added. Herbs that are described as part of the kykeon are mint, pennyroyal and thyme, although it seems any herb that was found to flavor the drink was acceptable. It wasn't lethal, and it also didn't put you into a coma, but at least it existed and had ties to the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The plan works: the boys end up at a pretty dreadful place: misty, full of boulders, and a little blue. Dead tree trunks and animal carcasses are everywhere. Greeting them is Charon (Trevor Allan Davies), who pushes his boat towards the shore and holds out his hand for coins. Both boys pay and they are off. Pythagoras is stupendously worried and suddenly hears a bird--just three seconds or so after the boys drift off to sleep. Thankfully he goes to check what kind of bird it is first, though. It isn't a crow and Pythagoras is relieved--only to fall off of the building, get a crate thrown upon him, and then the house is set on fire. What, by Hades, is happening?!

Meanwhile in the land of dreary mist, the boat ride is taking forever. It seems the dead are usually not in a hurry. They arrive eventually and wade to shore. It looks pretty much the same as where they left from and Hercules is not looking forward to returning here for all eternity one day. Suddenly, they are visited upon by husks of people, looking very much like mindless wanderers. They boys are worried enough to grab swords, but Cyrus (Ciaran Griffiths), who got mauled by a bull in episode three, chases the dead off. He says he will be their guide into Tartaros where the box is supposed to be.

Pythagoras is awoken by a neighbor and rushes inside when he hears the word 'flames'. The fire is out, but it seems the corpse bearers have taken the bodies to be buried. Oops! Pythagoras rushes off to stop the burial, because that would make things very, very, complicated.

In the mean time, Hercules, Pythagoras, and Cyrus are on their way. They are following the 'crack in the sky' to get there. Sky? In the Underworld? Alright, suspension of disbelief is a powerful thing. There is a lot of ominous talk as the men make torches to light their way. Once the boys reach a pit, they light their torches and descend... for a long, long time.

Pythagoras rushes through the streets of Atlantis to retrieve the bodies of his friends. He finds the corpse bearer's place and rushes in. Unfortunately, it's the wrong one. He has to cross the entire city again.

The boys finally reach the deepest part of the pit and come upon a grave-like contraption and a staircase leading further down. They make it in with their everburning torches still brightly burning and move on into low and dark tunnels. This does not look like a place where you would want to spend eternity, which is why it's a place reserved for the worst of the worst... and they are not alone in the tunnels. They come upon... something I can't identify. Whatever it is, it/they mustn't be awakened, so I'm sure we will find out soon.

Eventually, the boys reach Campe's lair, where the box should be. Campe--who is better known to us as Kampê (Καμπη)--actually resides/resided in the Underworld. She is a Drakaina, a she-drakon, who guards the Hekatonkheires and Cyclopes. In Hellenic mythology, she is described as having the body of a serpentine-haired woman from waist up, and the body of a scaly drakon with a thousand vipers for feet from the waist down. Sprouting from her waist are the heads of fifty of the most terrifying of beasts, and dark wings rise from her shoulders and above her head she lifted a furious scorpion's tail. Good luck, boys!

The box is easily located; it sits on a pillar in the middle of the cave. So far no she-drakon, but Jason doesn't trust this. It's too easy. As soon as he reaches out towards the box, he hears something... on the ceiling. And I must say: Campe's appearance doesn't quite fit the myth, but it's close enough and very, very, scary.

Cue the mandatory epic fight that ends with a game of 'toss the box' and the rather anti-climactic defeat of Campe--who shares that this box is actually the fabled Pandora's Box (which wasn't a box at all, by the way), and it must not be opened under any circumstances. If someone opens it, the entire world is doomed. Campe, by the way, is voiced very effectively by Gemma Jones, and she won't let the boys leave; the temptation to open the box is simply too great for human beings. Before dying (or passing out), Campe screams and awakens the things that should not have been awakened. Cyrus freaks the hell out.

Cyrus shouts at Hercules and Jason to sound the damn horn. They don't want to leave him alone, but Cyrus says that if they don't, the life will be sucked out of them and Medusa will be dead. Jason sounds the horn... but Pythagoras has just heard that the bodies of his friends have already been send off to burial... on the far side of town. Poor guy. The speed with which burials seem to take place in Atlantis actually is not reflective of general Hellenic practices, as you can read here. While on his way to his next waypoint, Pythagoras sees a raven and double-times it.

The guys realize they need to start running again. Pythagoras discovers the bodies were buried already and while he desperately digs, Jason and Hercules desperately blow the horn. I'm still not entirely sure what is coming for the boys, but it's not going to be good, that is for sure. Pythagoras has opened the graves and cuts his hand. He feeds the both of them a drop of blood and Jason and Hercules quickly say goodbye to Cyrus before being transported into their bodies.

Back at the (charred) oikos, the three of them debate what to do now. The box can't be given to Kyros (who will open it on the spot) so what then? Jason says they will have an identical box made with a surprise inside to give them time to get Medusa out. Hercules thinks it's too dangerous but Jason reminds him that Medusa would never want them to unleash terror upon the world in her name by having the box opened. Hercules can't argue with that, but he is very unhappy.

The fake box is done quickly (like seriously, how many hours are in this day?) and Jason promises Hercules no harm will befall Medusa. They hit the streets and are intercepted by Kyros' thugs. They ask to get taken to him. In the underground tunnels (hallways?), Hercules has Kyros produce Medusa and he hands her over unharmed. Jason then hands over the box--and Kyros happily accepts it. Of course, he opens it right away... and there is a snake in it that is not so much a distraction as a... sorry, I have no idea what use that snake was. What happened to explosions? Angry wasps? Chocolate? All would have been more effective, honestly.

Hercules sends Medusa out of the hallways (tunnels?) and towards home before rejoining his friends in the fight. Medusa does not want to leave but eventually does go. Hercules says that after this, they will be together forever and I watch enough television to know that never ends well. Fighting ensues and the hero of the day is Pythagoras, who manages to down not one but two of the thugs by hitting them over the head with a jug. Jason kills Kyros and wishes him a fond farewell into the dark of Hades.

As soon as Jason hears Medusa is on her way to the house, he realizes the box is there, hidden under a floorboard under the table. Medusa, indeed, is called to it. It's not so much a call but a whisper of something... a promise, an attraction. As the boys rush through the streets, Medusa finds the box. She takes it out and runs her hand over it, enchanted by its whispers. Overcome, she opens the lid.

The boys come home to find the box closed on the floor and Medusa gone. They hear a scream and rush out, finding a bunch of human-looking statues on the way towards the sound. Pythagoras is worried, and so is Jason. Jason is from our world and knows the myth of Medusa--he told the Oracle so before--so he knows that it has happened: Medusa has been turned into the monster she was destined to become.

Hercules demands to know what has happened, but doesn't wait to find out. Jason runs after him, because he knows that if he lays eyes on Medusa, he'll turn into a statue too. He instructs Pythagoras never to look at Medusa while picking up a shiny shield. Hercules finds Medusa, who is hidden in the darkest corner she can find. She's terrified but Hercules doesn't understand how bad the situation is--and how dangerous. Thankfully, Medusa has covered her head, and Jason is in time to hand Hercules the shield. He pleads her to show him what has happened but she takes a lot of convincing. Again, my hat off to Jemima Rooper for selling Medusa's terror. She eventually shows him her head--covered in snakes.

Medusa says she is running away. She says Hercules must forget about her, think she is dead. Hercules tells her he can't, he won't. He says it's his fault and he will find a way to lift the curse. Medusa runs away and Hercules is heartbroken.

Jason takes the box to the Oracle and says she must store it somewhere no one will ever find it. She says it will be done and picks up the box. Before she can leave, however, a tearful Jason grabs her arm and asks if she knew this was going to happen. She reminds him they both knew what would happen to Medusa, but tells him she didn't know how or when it would happen. Jason asks her how the curse can be lifted and she says it can't be. She reminds Jason that he knew the box contained a great evil and that this is Medusa's faith. Destiny can't be escaped... because Medusa's fate is tied to his. Jason catches her slip-up and questions her on it. Realizing she has said too much, the Oracle tries to think before speaking this time and decided not saying anything is the best course of action. Jason doesn't allow her. The Oracle formulates her next words very carefully. Eventually she tells Jason a terrible truth: there will come a time when he will have no other choice than to kill Medusa. If he doesn't, thousands will die and Atlantis will be destroyed. Jason says he will let Atlantis be destroyed if it means breaking this fate decided for him. He curses her and the Gods and heads out of the temple, leaving a shocked Oracle behind. "Do your worst." He tells the sky, and thunder and lightning roll overhead.

Next on Atlantis: Pythagoras thinks there is a cure, there is talk of hope, people fight, and a gorgeous woman with a bow tries to shoot someone. Saturday on BBC One and a new recap on Monday. How are we doing, everyone? Did the tissues come in handy? I'm officially shattered, so there. Next week had better fork up some hope for our sweet Medusa, Atlantis, and I really hope the Gods don't take too much offense at Jason's words. Are you looking forward to next week?