‘Atlantis’ : 1.04: ‘Twist Of Fate’ Review

“Sometimes one must follow ones conscience, not ones duty.”

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I can see what the writers were attempting with this week’s hinting title, Twist Of Fate, but they might as well have just called it Three Men And A Baby; because that’s exactly what this week’s story is. One thing they have achieved though, is confusing me as to what the heck Jason’s purpose is (since dear old dad has been swiftly forgotten about). It appears no matter what Jason does, he unwittingly sets the tragedies in motion; He’s a well meaning hero but also the kiss of (future) curse / death for whoever he tries to save. Maybe dear old dad was saving the residents of Atlantis by taking his son away rather than protecting his son. No wonder he has so many enemies.

Jason, Pythagoras, and Hercules (which from here on in I shall refer to as ‘the boys’ or the gang for ease), discover an abandoned baby while out hunting for food in the mountains. Jason (Jack Donnelly) refuses to leave the baby to die, while Hercules initially is quite happy to walk away – that is until he sets eyes on the baby and suddenly his hard, selfish exterior melts into mush. So, baby in tow the boys return to Atlantis with a quest to find out who the baby’s mother is and fulfil the never-ending problem of the baby’s hunger, which Medusa seems the only one savvy enough with common sense to solve it.

What transpires is the baby is revealed as the son of the royal’s current visitors, King Laius and his wife Jocasta. Now for those who know their Greek mythology, the child’s swollen foot, along with the name of his parents would by now have given you a clue as to his tragic future identity – which is revealed by Laius’ servant, Tiresias and Pythagoras in the closing scenes. Tiresias explains to the boys and Medusa that the baby was left to die to thwart a vision of the future from The Oracle, who told the King his son would one day kill him and marry his wife: the boy’s mother Jocasta. However, Jocasta (who doesn’t reveal if she believes the Oracle or not) misses her child and on finding out the baby is alive Laius orders Tiresias to hunt for the baby and kill it. But in fact Tiresias, feeling guilty, is working with Jocasta (who doesn’t reveal if she believes the Oracle or not) who’s desperately missing her child. Together they plan to save the child and get him out of the city, which they eventually do with the help of Jason and co.

For those unaware of the child’s mythical story, the end reveal of Pythagoras naming the baby was cleverly kept back, but enough to send the audience running to Google to search out the outcome of baby Oedipus’ story. In some parts like mentioned above the series has hit it’s stride, but I’m not quite sure the point of showing Oedipus’ story when it’s unlikely we will ever see the future ramifications. In fact I think I would have preferred to see the adult Oedipus’ story instead.

I’m still disappointed at the underuse of Jemima Rooper, who although had more to do in this episode, most of it of no consequence other than being the token female, which of course means she must know everything there is to know about babies. I’m even more disappointed that the writers feel the only way to get a laugh is constant fart jokes. Is the series aimed at teenage boys? It certainly feels so. It’s a shame because the character of Hercules progresses emotionally this week but it’s undone by cheap gags. I want humour, but I don’t want to feel like I’m watching a load of immature lads. It’s funny once, continually it seems unimaginative. Robert Emms performance I’m finding a more interesting, as he is doing a better job of successfully portrayed a multi-layered, strong, yet sympathetic character, which I think is more credit to the actor’s portrayal than the script itself.

Donald Sumpter’s Tireias is the saviour of this episode, convincingly playing the role of a fearless enemy, only to do a total switch in humanity. A character the series would to well to return to.

My main concern (and I know I keep harping on a out it), is Jason’s apparent transition from modern-day man to someone who seems to be slipping backwards on the evolutionary scale. Why doesn’t he impart any of his wisdom of the future. I’m sure he could suggest ideas without telling them where he came from; he could have come up with much better and easier ways to care for the baby surely? Maybe Jason didn’t fit in the modern world because he was simply blinkered. He appears to have picked up no knowledge or skills that would have helped him in this world? I’m clutching at straws I know, but if I’m to believe that Jason is this heroic saviour I’d like to think that there is some intelligence there and that he isn’t just, well… Stupid!

At the moment the pace is still feeling like one step forward, two steps back, but being optimistic I do think there are glimmers of promise and from the synopsis of future episodes, the story will take a turn that may give this series much needed direction… We hope!