Jason has family issues!
(C) Urban Myth Films/Nick Briggs
Finally, quite literally, Atlantis manages to deliver a fast paced character-led adventure with less hammy dialogue and some half decent answers to some of the long overdue questions.
With the second series already commissioned it was obvious from the outset a cliffhanger was approaching, which turned out to be more of a twist than a cliffhanger but what this episode for most was a test to see if Atlantis could deliver a successful dramatic finale despite a lacklustre series of a few good episodes and a lot of non-starters. Could the ending set us up for the second series with a thirst for more?
With Ariadne accused of treason and facing execution via slow cooking in a metal bull (the Greeks are nothing if not inventive) Jason is determined to save her or die trying. The action scenes were deftly handed with Donnelly proving skilled in the fight sequences. But the imperative element that makes this episode so much better than the previous ones is all the characters are used well and actually interacting with each other. Something I’ve complained was lacking in previous reviews. I felt engaged in the story and the characters (well most of them. Sorry Hercules).
However, this being Atlantis there’s still moments that get spoiled by trying to inject childish humour into serious situations. And seriously, are we really expected to take Pasiphae seriously with her armour embellished with decorative cleavage. Hats of to John Hannah for keeping a straight face during that scene – which let’s be honest was the most crucial of the series so far. Everyone knows even kids prefer the suspense and the scary moments more than idiotic capers. Just look at Doctor Who; most fairytales and Disney films. They all have one thing in common: scary villains and characters we care about and root for.
So we now know Jason is the son of Pasiphae – not The Oracle as most expected. It’s sets an interesting conflict up for the third series. Unfortunately by deciding to keep this revelation from Jason it only serves to drag the plot point even further, which I don’t think is really necessary. If Jason knew, would it not make his feelings for Ariadne more difficult with them technically being step brother and sister? Plus Jason and Pasiphae will realise that he actually killed his cousin?
There still seems a tendency to camp up some of the lines. Sarah Parish being a particular offender for this, which is of course is partly a fault of the lines she’s given by the writers. I’d like to see the writers at least deliver some serious lines without making them sound like they should be being shouted out in a pantomime. Give the audience some credit! Less stating the obvious would be nice too. I know we need to be kept informed, but did we really need Pythagorus explaining Hercules was talking about Medusa when he was morosely looking over at Jason and Ariadne?
As for the aforementioned John Hannah, he brought a touch of class and mystery to proceedings. His solid performance would be a welcome return in the second series. Along with Pythagoras being given more of a role conducive with being a mathematical genius instead of Hercules fall man.
So do I thirst for more? Ermm, yes… kind of, BUT, and it really is a big BUT, only on condition Atlantis ups its game, provides more character interaction, gives its female characters some decent stories. But most importantly, we want consistency. Everyone expects the occasional dud, but they should be few and far between. Come on writers you’ve done it before I have faith you can do it again.