Atlantis episode 6 review: The Song Of The Sirens

Review Dave Adamson 2 Nov 2013 - 21:10

Has Atlantis reached a turning point? Here's Dave's review of its best episode yet...

This review contains spoilers.

1.6 The Song of the Sirens

The episode starts with plenty of flesh on show… belonging to Hercules, as he wrestles The Destroyer and, despite a valiant effort, is defeated by the man mountain.

Hercules, it seems, is still smitten on Medusa, much to the concern of Jason and Pythagoras. They fear it is a foolish dream and that his heart may be broken, through no fault of the oblivious girl. As they share these fears, they are unaware that it is they who are breaking Hercules heart, as he overhears every word.

The Oracle calls upon Jason, as her dreams foretell a danger that is approaching, a woman lurking in darkness. Meanwhile, Hercules seeks freedom from his feelings, taking the advice of a trader who sends him to seek out someone who may help him get what he wants… her name is Circe and she’s more than happy to trade what Hercules really loves for the love of Medusa.

The Song of Sirens unleashed, Medusa falls, unwittingly, in love with Hercules and the pair spend time together, sharing stories and little else. It’s a chaste affair, but soon Medusa falls ill and Hercules must save his love.

Circe has other ideas and plans to lure Jason to a meeting that will set him on a dangerous path, casting Hercules as a literal pig and proving that friendship is the strongest bond of all.

For five episodes, it’s been a struggle to really connect with Hercules, with Mark Addy reduced to well-acted, shallow and oafish behaviour. Episode six brings us a comparatively towering performance, full of drama and emotion that flesh out his character. To make this even better, we have a much more convincing performance from Robert Emms and Jack Donnelly that, for the first time, actually gives the impression that Hercules, Pythagoras and Jason are friends and care for each other.

The scenes between Medusa and Hercules are beautiful and a testament to the acting skill of Jemima Rooper and Mark Addy. They manage to make the unconventional pairing touching and delightful to watch, with Hercules’ distress that he may lose his beloved nearly heartbreaking.

Lucy Cohu is brilliant as Circe, bringing real fire to the role. You may recognise her, just, from the role of Alice Carter in Torchwood: Children of Earth, or from Ripper Street. She is simply stunning, even with the disfiguring make-up, and, with Circe’s deal with Jason still to come to a head, she’ll hopefully return and we’ll see Circe confront either Pasiphae or The Oracle.

The episode doesn’t throw away any of what has made Atlantis an uneven series so far. There’s a bit of humour, but not too much and it’s doesn’t feel forced; there’s action, in the form of wrestling, a confrontation with a Harpie and Circe wielding her power, and it doesn’t feel out of place or pointless.

Almost half way through the series, this is the best Atlantis has been. It’s a simple enough tale of universal truths - friendship, love and hope - that is effectively told and well acted.  It doesn’t sag, doesn’t slip into farce and doesn’t become pantomime.  It’s a strong outing for a series that has, up to now, been incredibly variable and a tad underwhelming.

Perhaps this is the start of something new...

Read Dave's review of the previous episode, White Lies, here.

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Surprised by that review, as I've found myself agreeing with Dave's opinion of the series so far almost to the letter. But I thought tonight was the worst episode yet. We had an icky story with Hercules essentially trying to control Medusa's behavior, a plot-point completely ripped off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (although without the charm), the world's least surprising reveal and a solution that saw our hero agree to murder someone... With the ludicrous addition of the Oracle suggesting that somehow this was reeeeeally bad - What, because agreeing to murder somebody was already a good idea!?

Yes, Addy was good with what he had to work with but Donnelly and Emms were as flat and lifeless as ever.

As for Medusa, she ended up as nothing more than a plot device. After being given the Atlantean equivalent of Rohypnol AND having her life put at risk by Hercules, she's not even given a scene to confront him and instead we just get Pythagoras passing on a message!??!

Even by Atlantis's very low standards, this week was 45 minutes of sheer dirge.

I loved this episode! There was some lovely chemistry between Jason and Pythagoras, and Hercules had some touching moments. And it seems the story has a new plot line with Jasons promise... I am curious how that will develop.

I thought this episode was brilliant apart from the plot line which was disturbing it was a brilliant acted peice and Pythagoras just keeps on stealing the show

Even the review of this show is boring.

You clearly need to get a grip.

Yeah, Mark Addy's portrayal of the attempted rapist was really "touching". #thisissarcasm

You're right, this was a much better episode, fart jokes aside (Jason recognises Hercules because of the smell of his farts? Really?) , but if one of your main character's role in the script is "hey, how about I procure a magical roofie to get this non-consenting woman to be with me against her will?" then you have even more of a problem than you did with the lame dung beetle plotline. Not only that but his actions almost led to her death so every minute Hercules was on the screen I wanted to throw up.

In contrast, the scenes between Jason and Pythagoras were wonderful. Circe was also a strangely beautiful performance. If they'd only had a scene in there when Medusa or Jason or someone tore strips off Hercules for his selfish, misogynistic actions it would have been better.

Oh, and when Circe's plan became clear I heard a Middleman villain yell "My plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity, is it not?"

I actually enjoyed this episode a bit for once.

Looks like were finally going to see character development from the trio (especially jason) next week.

Oh, definitely a show for the boys. I mean, where would nation states be without elevating male comradeship to the height of emotional validity, while treating women as merely sex objects, whose dark and mysterious ways otherwise endanger men and the true love between them? Well, I suppose this is at least authentic classical Greek thinking about the subject.

Atlantis is an awful programme. Leaden paced, wooden acting, devoid of a script, and totally non-engaging. Another example of why the BBC's licence fee should be scrapped completely. I can only hope that they don't make a second season.

Season 2 has already been commissioned. The show is getting decent enough ratings. although I suspect that's partly down to scheduling.

Whilst there's a perception that going up against X-Factor is a challenging slot, I think it actually works in the show's favour. I'm sure a lot of people are watching Atlantis simply as an alternative to X-Factor.

Probably. But what a choice to make. Total Crap on BBC1 or Utter , Utter , UTTER Total Crap on ITV.

I cant believe its got a second series. It just goes to show that people will watch anything and people really are sheep and a bit stupid.

What shall we do tonight Darling? Go out for a meal? Watch a Dvd? Go to visit friends? Go to the pub? Go to the Cinema?

I know! Lets watch Atlantis on BBC1, because its on after the dancing and its not as bad as the X Factor and there is nothing else on so lets just watch it because its there!!!

Give me Strength....

Its not you I am having a go at Monkey Tennis...its just so frustrating to me that people watch crap like Atlantis and so it gets a second series, when if they did not watch it, and it was binned the BBC might put some effort into either a proper full season of Doctor Who, or some new quality Drama like the stuff from America. Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, Spartacus, BattleStar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire and so on...there is so much to choose from.

But we get Atlantis and have to pay for it....People really are thick....who in the name of Mike is actually watching this drek anyway? Kids? Families? WHO??????

Why don't you do yourself a favour, and stop watching it? Its so bad its not even so bad its good. If everyone stopped watching then they might think twice about season 2.

I live in hope.

Does anyone know what the over night ratings are / have been up to now? I am not talking about people who record it, or watch on Iplayer, I am talking about the people that actually sit down to watch it on broadcast...

Because I would love to know what percentage of the UK population has lost all sanity....

Like what exactly? He evolves from a plank of wood into a higher form of life like an amoeba? Its so bad a show it makes Neighbours the soap opera look like Shakespear.

I agree that the bbc's effort (and money) could be put to better use elsewhere. But its not THAT bad, its actually slowly improving with each episode, and judging by some of these comments and the review, people are enjoying it, so it must be doing something right.

Touching? He was an attempted rapist who showed no remorse until he found out that there were side effects! Obviously date rape is fine as long as it doesn't invoke a fatal curse.

THANK YOU! Thank you thank you thank you.

I honestly feel ill at how many people haven't picked up on this blatant piece of rape apologia. It really was a "pity the rapist" story, where Hercules was portrayed as a desperate man who was driven to procure the potion because he wasn't young or attractive and being a Nice Guy wasn't working at getting the woman he's been stalking to fall in love with him. The culmination was that awful scene where he essentially told Jason that he had no right to criticise him because he's too attractive to ever need to resort to raping anyone. Ugh, just vile.

I take your point about Hercules. It is so difficult to see him as a hero now after those actions. Essentially a Middle aged man has used underhand means to force a young woman into falling in love with him unwittingly. In a modern day democracy he would be locked away for a very long time.
Forget his 'distress' at potentially losing his love because one can only assume that if it wasn't for the deadly and warty side effects of the magic that Hercules would have quite happily continued his morally repugnant love affair.
In the episodes defence the ending finally made Jason look emotionally vulnerable as opposed to a cocky handsome lad having wacky adventures with his misfit mates. In fact this 'deal with the devil' at least gives people a bit of intrigue for future episodes as before the series as a whole has felt like a bunch of inconsequential standalone episodes. Also Jason killed a monster which he should be doing far more of instead of bull leaping and babysitting.
There are still huge problems though, the most interesting character in the show is the Queen and she did not feature at all and has not featured enough in the series, (that looks to be changing next week) Atlantis has few strengths so it needs to use the ones it does have more. Also there is still too much toilet humour and chuckle brothers style physical humour. The one liners are even worse than the cringeworthy nonsense Brucie comes out with on strictly. In short it must be a hilarious show if you are 6 years old. And how comes Jason never makes any references to the fact that he is from the 21st century? If you didn't watch the first episode you would have no idea.
I get the feeling that there is a fair amount of padding involved in this series in order to fulfil the 13 episodes the BBC must have wanted. I say that because out of the 6 episodes so far I feel that only 3 of them have moved the plot forward in any significant way. These were the first episode to set the scene, the second episode as an introduction to Medusa and this one to introduce Circe. With good quality series you get the impression that almost no episode is wasted. Atlantis has wasted 50%

This is a bit of a stretch, but I assumed that Jason does not want to reveal the fact he is from the future due to his proximity to Pythagoras. He'd never get him to shut up asking about the future, but he wouldn't be able to tell him anything for fear of changing a key figure in the development of mathematics!

I think that summed it up nicely.

Except for the perpetual "gay shock" jokes. Besides, Jason is supposed to be from the future with all his future morals or something. They weren't much on display in this episode.

I agree with you this was the first episode where i caught myself trying to skip parts and it was just lame the whole porky pig thing and stuff. the queen being the epic bad person lame and stupid. they killed Merlin for this someone should be FIRED NOW!!!!!

Scrap the BBC licence fee and it will pretty much become like ITV full of reality TV shows or like Channel 4 with fifty adverts every five seconds during Doctor Who.

Sorry, no he wasn't. Hercules genuinely loves Medusa, and rape is the last thing on his mind. Their brief affair after she was enchanted proves that too. So let's move beyond simplistic feminist nonsense about rape, and deal with just his ignorance of the "if you love it set it free" mantram instead.

It isn't "rape apologia" at all. But it is a case of wrongly trying to force an issue (love) and getting the consequences you deserve.

I've enjoyed all of them. But I do find them... far less inspiring as watchable TV than, say, Agents of SHIELD, on just before this.

Circe turning men into pigs and other wild animals is straight from the original mythology. So not sure why you found that a problem. Circe is clearly not trustworthy, so everything she said is "pinch of salt" time, surely? Why does she really want Pasiphae killed? And why by Jason, especially?

Yes, the "but I loved her" excuse is absolutely accepted in all courts of law as a reason for acceptable rape. It's only rapists who don't claim to love their victim that get convicted.

As for the "how she behaved while she was enchanted" argument, that's like a college date rapist giving someone a roofie and then going, "but she totally acted like she wanted me".

She didn't want him so he drugged her and only felt bad about it when he realised she was ill. The analogy is completely apropos.

I don't agree. We see the way he behaves with her after she is enchanted (not "drugged" )- he clearly does not take sexual advantage. It's actually a sweet scene between the two of them. Just a shame it's a fake (on her side) because he enchanted her. And now she knows about that, it'll never happen for real. But we don't expect him to start stalking her, or kidnapping her, etc.

Final post on the subject because we're in "agree to disagree" territory but your argument boils down to "he's not a rapist because he didn't have time to get around to it". Which is why I said he was an "attempted rapist". And considering how sympathetic the text was to him on this issue then "rape apologist" seems apt.
There is not ,nor has there ever been, anything romantic or sweet about a man who imposes his will on a woman in this or any other way for the sole purpose of meeting *his* needs and with such a lack of consideration for her wellbeing.

Spiralx i will not act like i know all the mythology so i am sorry on that complaint i did not know. i agree with a lot of what you said and the questions you asked are good ones i hope we get answered this year

I don't think you're getting my argument at all. So yes, we'll agree to disagree.

"Simplistic feminist nonsense"? Wow, really nailing your colours to the mast there.

He may have loved her. Abusers often "love" their victims and use this to justify it, and it's absolutely no excuse.

He doesn't take advantage of that scene? Well, he takes her on a date and kisses her knowing full well she's under a consent-overriding spell. If you think that was sweet I think that says quite a bit about you. And what exactly do you think his endgame was?

Yes I do think it was sweet. And creepy. And sad, because we know it's a fake. His end-game? To be with her, because he loves her. The fact that he went about it completely the wrong way is made quite clear.

I think you mean Shakespeare...

Wow was this episode disgraceful! What part of the BBC thought it was perfectly fine to essential have the 'good' character become an attempted rapist? Wow he showed remorse when everything didn't go to plan, that's great. Drugging someone to love you is fine as long as the person loves them and show remorse according to the BBC. Yay, great message you are sending there.

Also the lead can't act and the writing is dull as hell. I want my TV licence fee back if you are wasting it promoting rape culture and fat jokes.

It is actually below average for the BBC. Only gets around 4 million live viewings.

You don't expect her to start stalking or kidnapping her? He drugged her I highly doubt his morals are that great. Also the way you are thinking is naive, do you really think if his plan had gone smoothly they would have never had sex? Either drugging someone to love you is incredibly immoral and the BBC essentially just sympathised with him.

The most accurate description of Atlantis is have every heard lmao.

I*

Predictive text my fault..stupid modern phones..

"Atlantis" quite clearly isn't "Game of Thrones". Try going with the story as it is intended, not imposing your own adult hang-ups on it.

Is that all? Thats pretty poor then. Its hardly a success. When Doctor Who was down to 4million and below in the 80s it was axed.

Double standards at the BBC , now there is a surprise...

I think it is being skewed by Strictly. As far as I know most channels use BARB data, which isn't tape checked AKA they don't actually check what time the show starts and ends - just go by the pre-scheduled version. This doesn't really matter for most shows unless they air straight after a live show like Atlantis (Strictly). Strictly runs over a lot, usually by 5-10 minutes. As BARB doesn't check for this Strictly's massive ratings get taken into account with Atlantis', which completely skews it making it look like it gets around 6 million overnight viewers.

Althouh there are companies that tape check the data (e.g. Attentional - also what Digital Spy use) and these show a massive drop in Atlantis viewings (to 4 million) - but not really any other show on Saturday strangely enough. However as I said most advertises, sponsers and companies in generally only care about BARB as far as I know as they are usually the most accurate (unless it airs after a live show). We are just unfortunate (or Atlantis is fortunate) for its scheduling. Sneaky BBC is sneaky.

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