Atlantis episode 10 review: The Price Of Hope

Review Dave Adamson 7 Dec 2013 - 21:26

Atlantis' guest stars continue to outshine its story. Here's Dave's review of The Price Of Hope...

This review contains spoilers.

1.10 The Price Of Hope

First up, let's recap this week's action. Medusa can now turn men into stone, but that’s not stopping her best friends going looking for her.

Hercules wants to find Medusa, hoping that she can be cured of her malady, even though no cure exists, unless there’s something in Pandora’s Box that might help… because it was so successful when it was first opened.

Despite The Oracle’s protestations, she hands over the box and off the boys go to find Daedalus, the inventor. He’s an irritable fellow and the perfect man to discover the truth behind Pandora’s Box and the price that must be paid for the life of Medusa.

Hercules sets out to rescue Medusa, despite thinking there is no cure, and Pythagoras and Jason set out to rescue him by wandering through a forest and encountering a bunch of hunters who really quite like hunting humans before escaping, with Jason having been injured.

Having been watched for some time by a mysterious archer, the saviour finally turns up just in time to save Jason and Pythagoras. She’s Atalanta and she’s pretty good with a bow and arrow, as well as with mystical healing potions. Just what Jason needs.

So, it’s off from the forest to some caves, as it wouldn’t be Atlantis without both. There’s the hint of a seafront, though we don’t really see much of that before Medusa and Hercules are reunited, even though they can never be together.

Hercules is lied to again, we discover that Jason is immune to Medusa’s power and Medusa has become a wonderfully tragic figure. Next week, however, sees something quite dangerous that results in Jason being naked…

This week’s character actors were Jason Watkins, slimy and threatening as he ever was in Being Human, and Robert Lindsay. Finally, onscreen with Lindsay, Robert Emms gets some screen-time with a character that matches the supposed intellect of Pythagoras. Emms turns in an emotional performance as he lies to protect Hercules, and Addy swings between determined and disillusioned. Once more, Jack Donnelly, whose acting has been, very much like the series, variable, manages to demonstrate that, given the right dialogue, he can act well, though - again, as with the series - moments like this are brief.

There was silliness, involving Pythagoras walking in on Hercules and Jason in armpit sniffing and a bar brawl that was just farcical, despite a moment of threatening malice from Watkins. We were given excrement, a fall that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a cartoon and the comical nonsense that is the life of Hercules. Too much of the humour still fell flat, particularly the whole bar fight.

Whilst Juliet Stevenson had her customary couple of lines, there was a distinct lack of royalty again. It’s almost as if the political maneuvering of Pasiphae and Ariadne and the eventual fall of Minos have been cast aside in preference of extended scenes of running through a forest to the sound of drums.

We may not have had Pasiphae or Ariadne, but we did have another strong female with Nora-Jane Noone’s turn as Atalanta being a fine addition to the cast, even if it may only be for this one episode. The other strong female character, Medusa, sees Jemima Rooper in the shadows this week, but her performance bristled with emotion, as seen in that beautifully understated exchange with Addy.

Guest stars… it all comes down to guest stars. Atlantis doesn’t seem to have a problem recruiting incredibly talented actors to fill the roles, yet the core actors are under-served by the dialogue they are given and - often with the exception of Addy and, from time to time, Emms - struggle to breathe real life into the script. The guest stars make their lines sound better than they are, and it’s this gulf of talent that really shows how, more often than not, lacklustre Donnelly’s performance is. It’s not that he isn't a good actor, rather just that he just doesn’t seem comfortable in the role.

To sum up then, this week’s Atlantis wasn’t bad. That’s as good as it gets. Pacing is still an issue, with an interesting start and an interesting end, but a 'loose' middle that took too long to get going. Daedalus was an interesting character in the first third of the story, Atalanta was interesting in the second third and Medusa was interesting in the last, but this compartmentalisation of characters really made it feel like a microwaveable dinner - it sounds nice and looks good, but when it’s ready, it’s simply disappointing.

Read Dave's review of the previous episode, Pandora's Box, here.

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Disqus - noscript

"...but we did have another strong female..."

Huh? How can the show have 'another' of something it's yet to have even one of. Pasiphae is a one note villain. Ariadne is a bland love interest. Medusa is a bland love interest, plot device and victim/potential villain. And the Oracle is a there to push the plot veeeeeeeery slowly along.

To be fair, the male characters haven't exactly faired much better as far as character development has gone. But they have had more screentime and have pretty much done all the (proverbial) heavy lifting in each episode.

As a useful and competent female character, I can't imagine Atalanta will last very long in this show, even if she does surface again (no pun intended).

And yes. This week's Atlantis was bad. It was 45 minutes of not much happening, loosely driven by the still completely unconvincing romance between Medusa and the man who tried to brainwash her.

I wish women like you would just stop complaining for once. Its like every show I watch has a ton of feminist viewers winging about how women are portrayed in the show. Please just SHUT UP!

Great performances all round, especially from jack woodenly. The way he effortlessly captures every emotion possible in his facial expressions is beyond anything I've seen before. Bravo jack, bravo

Respectfully, a site like this thrives on discussion and debate - telling someone to 'shut up' simply because you don't share their concerns doesn't really cut it. There is possibly a reason why many of these threads contain comments from 'feminists', namely that many of these shows offer a pretty piss poor deal when it comes to worthwhile female characters. Personally, I don't live in a social world where women are inconsequential and lacking in agency, but then I don't live in Atlantis.

Another week, another dreadful episode.

They somehow managed to make Medusa's iconic predicament all about some saggy old crusty drunkard pervert, and devoted 80% to some random manhunt - there to fill their running around quota.

Once again, Hercules was absolutely pathetic - especially in the scene where he heard Pythagoras reveal the secret, and then completely deflated in front of Atalanta - and remains unrootable and unredeemable.

Also, I almost thought Jason/Oracle scene was going to mention the whole 21st century/real world thing, or the Pasiphae assassination plot... but no, the writers seem to have kept that for the last two episodes of the series (one) and have no conception of build-ups/climaxes.

After a quick check on Wikipedia, I was actually surprised to see that Jones & Overman had written 10 episodes (out of 13), you'd think Atlantis had been written by guest writers or was a new BBC screenwriting scheme: "send us your scripts, 13 of them will be selected for BBC's Atlantis' first series!"

10. The forest.

Other than that, take last week's comments. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I was hoping Hercules would die to save Medusa. Although that would be less "a noble sacrifice for love" and more of "the least he can do".

Alright, I was a bit rude. But all this complaining is just getting so old. You don't see males wining over how men are portrayed on shows. I think the ladies are just looking for something to moan about. Typical...

I thought Medusa's tragedy was well portrayed, and Lindsay was reasonably funny in his guest role. I dont buy Hercules and Medusa's love for each other though, nor did I like the villains of the week (a rather stupid plot device to enable them to escape easily.) I want to see more of the royalty, I agree with that.

I know. It's so weird. People with nothing to complain about don't complain. Yet all these "ladies" just needing to "moan about" something are for some reason offended by the consistent removal, marginalisation and denigration of half the human species in popular culture. Not to mention people who leave comments on TV sites that amount to, "Well, you know, women!" without irony and without realising they've just perfectly embodied the problem.

Men. Typical.

PS That last was a rhetorical twist on your casual sexism, not sexism itself. Since you seem to fail to notice the difference.

That was a cutting and insightful remark with just two minor drawbacks. One, it's not the 18th century any more and two, I'm not a woman.

I quite enjoyed this episode, unlike most people here... It was never truly exciting, but the relationships between the three main characters are developing nicely. Hopefully, Atalanta will return and get a bit more screentime.

I think the biggest mistake in this episode was the inclusion of the Scythians (apart from the un-funny and misplaced humour.) The fight with the Scythians showed us precisely NOTHING about anyone and everyone knows that a gang of villains just aren't that interesting because you can't give them any personality.

What the episode should HAVE done was create a bounty hunter going after Medusa to be the villain. As a single character you can make him so much more interesting (enigmatic, quirky, insane, take your pick) and you could also show how Hercules was willing to go to two extremes - he is willing to die for Medusa, but is he also willing to kill a relatively innocent man to save her life. Remember, from his perspective, the bounty hunter is doing nothing wrong. He's simply killing a monster who has killed many people. It's only because we know Medusa that we realise the situation is more complicated than that.

If television has shown us anything it's that ambiguous assassins make really cool villains. Just think of 'The Operative' from Serenity - one of the most awesome and intriguing bad guys ever, in my humble opinion.

If you just got rid of the Scythians and created a villain who was interesting in themselves and their affect on the cast, this episode would have soared much higher. As it is, this is still an improvement over the early episodes, but it's far from 'good enough.'

Mate, WTF are you talking about?

...and three, STFU!

Can you pitch your ideas to the writers of the show? I am being serious here, we have established that the quality of this programme is nothing to do with the actors, and even the poor special effects don't make it any worse so it must be the writers. There seems to be a consensus amongst them to cram as much in a possible in a couple of scenes and just make fill the rest of the programme with shoddy effects and characters running. The writers need a good kick up the backside.

Wow...did you you just count to three!? Every day has it's achievements eh?

Not a bad episode, like the running joke with smelling the arm pits! Thought the last half the better shows what a great actor mark addy is as well as jemma rooper. Can't understand why have Juliet Stevenson in this and hardly use her.
Must be paid by the hour!

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Lets all pitch our ideas to the writers; series two might actually be decent if Den of Geek writes it!

Ha! I very much doubt they'd listen to a random guy on the Internet with no experience working with TV.

Because going with the experts is clearly doing them the world of good so far.

I'm not saying that they SHOULDN'T take my ideas. Personally, being the egotistical jerk that I am, I think they should appoint me head showrunner and give me a boatload of cash. I just doubt they'd listen to a random Jack.

I think the biggest mistake of this episode was to have Jack Woodenly (as he's been dubbed) as the lead. They've made the mistake 10 times already this season, when are they going to learn?

Unfortunately there's no resolution to this other than to kill him. Which btw I would totally be up for. This is how I think it should go.

Heptarian kills Jason. Pythagoras and Hercules go after Heptarian and kill him but Hercules dies of his wounds. Pasiphae kills the Oracle but then is killed by her daughter who is distraught at Jason's death, who then commits suicide. Pythagoras is then hit by a cart and dies.

Show some imagination. Everyone know TV deaths are always directly proportional to how a character or actor is hated. Look at Sliders - the character of an actor they hated had his brain matter harvested, went into a coma, came out of it only to be shot and then a planet blew up with him on it. Now that's commitment. Now try again. Think "overkill". Literally. Perhaps a plague that picks off the women (naturally), followed by the brutal murder of people trying to find a cure followed by an earthquake and a tsunami that washes everyone away. It is the lost city after all.

Nah, I just want to see them all die in the space of five minutes without getting glorious ends.

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