Secrets and the desert prove deadly friends.
The desert is always depicted as a vast and changing entity in cinema and TV and Atlantis is no exception in the eighth episode of the BBC One series.
Two episodes in a row the fantasy-drama has delivered a simple yet on the whole solid episode – this week thanks largely to a more character – led script from Julian Jones a strong supporting cast and the layered acting of Robert Emms as Pythagorus.
Pythagorus gets an unexpected visitor in the form of his brother, Arcas (Skins Will Merrick) who volunteers to join the group on another of their money-making jobs; transporting precious cargo of gold across the desert to Helios to secure the bride for one of motley crew of companions, Philemon. It’s clear early on Pythagorus’ brother doesn’t share his calm nature or intelligence and carries an anger about the murder of their father when he was a boy. Pythagorus is clearly haunted by the memory and carries the burden of the truth. With one of the travellers a convicted killer from his village, a chain of events is set in motion when Arcas jumps to the wrong conclusions thus endangering the entire group.
During their journey across the hot desert they come to rest in a temple dedicated to The Furies, “spirits born of the blood of those that have been murdered.” Arcas summons the daughters of the night (The Furies) to avenge the death of his father. In doing so he also unleashes a pandora’s box as we discover that it was in fact Pythagorus who killed their father in self defence to protect their mother from his father’s drunken physical abuse.
The elements that make this episode work so well, is the sense of a real strong band of characters. This week’s group I actually prefer to our usual band of characters; they were likeable, rounded and interesting and I finally felt I cared about the group of people and their story. We had a strong leader in Nilas (Darren Morfitt); a genuine more heartfelt budding romance between the characters of Philemon (James Rastall) and Baucis (Hasina Haque). Baucis a character deserved of a more substantial role in the series; plus a strong proper mythical nemesis in The Furies. Although the reveal of Pythagorus’ confession wasn’t exactly a surprise, it was a brave move for the family drama. Robert Emms carried much of the episode as he portrayed the turmoil with ease and sincerity.
We never really learnt the purpose or reason of Arcas’s surprise visit. And to assume that his father’s killer just happens to be amongst the caravan of travellers, is a huge stretch. Atlantis suffers from inconsistency and a basic script – meaning It’s very easy to work out what’s going to happen in each episode. I don’t mind knowing, as long as the episode takes me on an enjoyable journey, however, it’s not enough to create excitement or intrigue for future episodes.
A nice little insight from the Oracle this week regarding the fact Pythagorus has never before seeked out her guidance. Does the mathematician not believe or is he afraid? She sensed “a darkness in his heart” presumably about the murder of his father, but it’s definitely an avenue that could prove interesting if explored further by the writers.
Presumably Jason’s deal with Circe is being saved for the finale, however to omit any word of it makes me wonder why it wasn’t just introduced in the penultimate episode instead of laying a seed that never grows. No sign of the Atlantis royals this week either, and in all honesty, I didn’t miss them! If the writers could just plug the seesaw of inconsistencies and give it some much needed DIRECTION by putting as much effort into the script as they have in the production values, the second series may prove to change many viewers and critics opinions to steer the skeptics and well-wishing supporters to Atlantian fans.