Ring of the Magi

A bird with a snake in its talons slo-mos across the screen as people chant for the king of Athens. Oracle is terrified. The king aims his bow at the bird; the arrow sets the bird on fire, and the snake drops. Giant statues of the gods crumble around the king.

Oracle comes to. A concerned Hero guides her away from the edge of the giant hand our, er, heroes found themselves on at the end of the last episode. She doesn't remember running towards the edge, just that she's had this vision before, less powerfully. Daedalus makes a crack about the end of the world, but Oracle confirms it will be exactly that…though perhaps they're the ones to stop it! Daedalus mutters that, if that's why the gods brought them together, they're "certainly doomed." Hero would settle for moving away from sheer rockfaces, but before they can get far, Cyrus and the trackers block their way, swords drawn.

In the company of a couple of tiny voodoo dolls standing on an embroidered spider, Medea thanks the goddess for helping her priests and requests Aegeus' restoration. Elsewhere, Xerxes and Pallas shvitz as Xerxes uses a tortured olive-tree metaphor to imply that they should assassinate Aegeus and side with Lykos…up to and including getting rid of Medea.

Medea's handmaiden may have taken care of the problem for him by accidentally overdosing Aegeus with the "tonic." As she rushes off to mix up an antidote, Lykos admires himself in his new armor and accepts Kimon's flattery, then lays out his next clever battle maneuver for Pallas and Xerxes: poisoning the bulls the Minoans worship/plan to eat during a traditional feast the next night. Once again, the skeptical generals have to give it up.

Cyrus is speechifying at Hero -- who's literally between a rock and a hard place, what with the guard mushing his face into a boulder -- about how he might as well tell Medea where the ring is, as he can't solve the Lexicon without her. Daedalus' smart-ass commentary about effective interrogation is about to get him a Colombian necktie when Cyrus realizes who he is, so instead, he demands to know how Daedalus got there. Predictably, he doesn't believe Oracle's claim that Daedalus was flying, and threatens to tear her apart with whatever rope-based torture device she's tied up in. He thinks that will motivate Hero to admit how Daedalus really got to the forest, but Hero, as is his wont, says he doesn't care and shrugs for Cyrus to cut the rope. Cyrus calls his bluff and starts cutting, and the ropes start to stretch Oracle. Hero screeches for Cyrus to stop; he'll tell Cyrus where the Ring is.

As Medea frantically mixes an upper to counteract the tonic, Lykos comes in to ask about a poison that won't kill an animal, but will kill anyone who eats the animal. It's called blood root -- the same thing Medea's been using on Aegeus, so she thinks he's accusing her of drugging his father. He won't tell her what he does need it for, so she gets up in his face and says she'd never use such a toxic herb. Later, Medea finds that she's not able to reverse the effects, however; Aegeus remains inert. The handmaiden fans him as Medea books, telling the guards, "No one but me."

Hero has led his captors to a half-buried statue, claiming the Ring is on a ledge in a cavern reachable via the ear. Cyrus makes Hero go himself and declines to untie him, as he's lowered down via his restraints, Daedalus smugs that they could use a pulley system. Cyrus keeps borrowing lengths of rope from Oracle's and Daedalus' restraints to lower Hero down further. The rope whips out of Cyrus' hands, so the tracker shoves him in headfirst to bring Hero back. He calls back that he's okay, and he sees a light…just as Hero lassoes the tracker from behind and strings him up in a tree, allowing the three chosen ones to escape.

Pallas and Xerxes meet to whisper about Lykos, in whom they may have created a monster, and Medea, who's already a monster -- one they plan to eliminate, with an audience, in a manner implying the gods struck her down. Xerxes got the bloodroot they need, too. A suspicious rustling nearby doesn't stop them from talking about sending their queen down the Styx, so obviously this plan will go super-smoothly.

Later, Proteus reports they dosed the oxen without losing a man -- but Medea's not cooperating with the other part of the plan, which is to celebrate the prince's recent accomplishments with a feast of their own. She finally backs down, but tells Xerxes to carry the holy flame while she, not Lykos, sits on the throne. Xerxes acts like this isn't what he had in mind, but could just be pretending for her benefit…

The chosen ones have reached the forest of Troezen while, back in Athens, Lykos tries the throne on for size, with Pallas' encouragement, but it feels premature to him, and he orders Pallas to stop calling him "Majesty." Pallas thinks he can't afford modesty with his kingdom at war and his father dying.

Hero approaches his home happily, only to see his mother snatched away from the window by a hooded figure; another knocks him to the ground. Mom wails that he "knows nothing of this," but the hoods want the Ring. Mom says bandits took it. These bandits decide to kill them both; in the scuffle that follows, the male hood and Hero's mother get fatally stabbed.

Cross-fade to Mom's grave, where Oracle offers condolences and Daedalus tactlessly wonders what happened to the cloaked woman that killed his mom (the one that got away). She must have bought Mom's story, or she wouldn't have left. Daedalus speculates that she's one of the Magi: Babylonian mystics who want to banish the gods from earth and establish their monotheistic religion worldwide. Oracle reacts incredulously and there's some har-har-ing about how absurd it is that one god could "do everything" -- but Daedalus continues that, if they want the Ring, that means the Ring harms the gods, not opens a door to them. Mom never lied to Hero, he sniffles; she must have been trying to tell him something, send a coded message. The three of them noodle it down to Mom's mention of Irene, the goddess of peace, who carries an olive branch. A light bulb goes off over Hero's head.

Xerxes confirms for Pallas and us that Medea took his bait, but Medea's doing some baiting of her own, mind gaming Lykos about whether he's leading that night's tribute to Apollo and when he's going to get back to work on the Lexicon. By the end of the convo, it sounds like he's going to insist on sitting on the throne after all…

Hero leads the others to a headless statue with an olive tree growing out of it. After sharing a platitude from Mom, he fixes to rappel up the side of the statue; down below, Daedalus rambles about acrobats and Oracle joins us in wondering if he ever shuts up. Not really, he admits cheerily. Hee. Dangling precariously from a branch, Hero reaches into a knot in the tree and grabs the Ring. Everything freezes again as the Ring seems to fight back, and he snatches his hand away and drops the Ring. He falls, followed by the Ring. Everything unfreezes, and he reports to Oracle that he's unhurt, and he found the Ring but dropped it. And now Daedalus is gone.

Medea asks the goddess for a sign, and is not happy to get a black dove. Cyrus isn't any happier that the tracker seems to have an infinite supply of black birds in his underclothes. And Daedalus, scrabbling along on a twisted knee, is equally unhappy that Hero's caught up to him. Where's the ring? What's Daedalus planning to do with it? Daedalus is babbling an unconvincing denial when Oracle catches up; Hero threatens to string him up from a tree, so he hands it over, but Hero is afraid to touch it, so Oracle carries it instead. Daedalus reluctantly explains that the Ring is made of a metal unknown to man, forged by the gods 30,000 years ago. It must hold terrific power. Daedalus wants to test it in his workshop for a month; Hero says he doesn't have that kind of time. As they're discussing the fact that the Ring wouldn't fit on a god's finger if it fits on Oracle's, Cyrus and Co. approach, swords drawn. Hero hears them and herds the others away.

Xerxes asks Lykos to carry the eternal flame. Lykos is suspicious, saying he's not the true leader of Athens; he'll carry the flame, but not as regent, because that's his mother's title. As the handmaiden settles in to watch Aegeus, Xerxes begins the tribute, and introduces Medea. Everyone shoots side-eyes at one another as she mounts the dais, and is clothed in her fancy robe. She sits in the throne, and Lykos comes in with the Apollonian flame. Medea notices she's all oily! The sleeves of the robe are tied to rungs on the throne! She sees a trail of oil leading from the flame receptacle to her robe, and screams at Lykos to stop! The trumpets drown her out! He's lowering the flame but his hand is stayed -- by an enraged Aegeus ex machina, who yells, "You mourn me already?!"

Aegeus rips Medea free of the throne and hurls her to the ground as the generals cower behind him. "I AM YOUR KING!" You can almost hear Lykos wetting his pants as Aegeus orders his family to kneel before him. Xerxes breaks the awkward silence by urging everyone to rejoice at Aegeus' miraculous, if rather hostile recovery.

In the woods, the chosen ones find themselves surrounded by warrior brutes while Medea sobs into her spider hanky. She's interrupted by Aegeus having a tantrum about his "courtesan," who's apparently disappeared. He sobs in Medea's arms as said handmaiden reports to Xerxes that she did as he said, but Medea overruled the bloodroot (i.e. she was ordered to kill Aegeus) with a different tonic. Xerxes says he understands why she didn't warn him, but after they exchange I-love-yous, he cuts her throat.