Atlantis episode 12 review: Touched By The Gods - Part 1

Review Dave Adamson 21 Dec 2013 - 21:00

The penultimate episode of Atlantis' first series delivers its strongest episode for some time. Here's Dave's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 Touched By The Gods - Part 1

We'll start with a recap of the action. Fate comes a-calling this week, as Jason has to carry out his oath and kill Pasiphae. Whilst Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras plot to kill Pasiphae, she is tending to her husband as his end draws near. She is still plotting his demise, whilst our three heroes plan to break into Pasiphae’s chambers and kill her.

With this level of plotting, what could possibly go wrong for anyone?

The Queen is unaware of the plot against her and continues to stoke up her position of power, though a botched assassination attempt does shake her resolve slightly and she sets out to discover the identity of her would-be-executioner, deploying the best men of the royal court to find out who would be so mean as to try to murder her whilst she slept.

It was an insidious scheme, you see, featuring knock-out gas and plenty of planning. All of which seems to have been forgotten by the time Jason and company get into the court itself. Instead, they opted to just knock out the guards with their fists and hide around corners to avoid detection. It’s a good job Pasiphae didn’t interrogate any of the guards, as she would have seen huge lapses in what passes for security in Atlantis.

Sadly, names are not forthcoming and the search reveals nothing until Ariadne’s handmaiden discovers some incriminating evidence and the King’s daughter is tried and found guilty of treason.

This is Atlantis at its most tense.

Once again, however, it’s the farce that gets in the way of making the story great. A tense sequence as our heroes attempt to break into, and subsequently escape from, the palace is ruined by a couple of farcical moments and humourous comments.

Thankfully, this week, we are treated to much more action, with more screen time for the royal family and the return of Circe adding to the dramatic stakes.  This does, however, further reinforce the feeling that this series would be more interesting if the focus was on the political machinations of the royal household and less about Jason and his oafish friends.

Jack Donnelly manages to make us care for Jason as he struggles to carry out his oath and then must live with the consequences of his actions (or lack of them). This isn’t to say that his performance is awe-inspiring, it’s just not as bland and insipid as we’ve seen previously.

Emms and Addy are, once more, relegated to second tier, comic characters. It doesn’t feel like they’re part of the action, coming across as being more “along for the ride.” It’s a shame as we have seen Addy’s Hercules becoming more fleshed out and Emm’s Pythagoras develop and additional dimension to how he appeared early on in the series; none of this is seen here.

It is really Parish and Hart that carry an episode that is heavy on the drama, with a gloriously evil performance from Sarah Parish and a strong turn from Aiysha Hart. The latter is particularly good in her scenes with Jack Donnelly and even more so when coupled with Parish. Parish plays the court scene with relish and Hart switches from faux-innocence, to hatred and then to emotionally wrought (though never quite as crushed as you’d imagine some sentenced to death would be), all whilst Parish looks on with malice.

Disappointingly, for now, it appears we’ve seen the last Lucy Cohu as Circe. She is disposed of in disappointing style, with little fanfare and in a sequence that is only saved by a fight with three skeletons. Jason may have had a problem killing the Queen, but killing the person to whom he had sworn an oath… he’s fine with that.

With Minos close to death and unaware that his daughter’s life is in jeopardy, Jason having his heart torn out (figuratively speaking) by his actions and their effect on Ariadne, and Pasiphae now in the perfect position to gain all the power, one more episode will bring us to the end of series one and leave us in an interesting place for series two!

Read Dave's review of the previous episode, Hunger Pangs, here.

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Strongest episode? Strongest!!!?

I know it's not like there's any competition as every episode of Atlantis has been as utterly mediocre as another, but even by those low standards, this was uneventful, pointless, badly written, badly acted tosh.

Donnelly and Hart continue to try and out-bland one another, the comedy was a) not technically comedy (on account of it not being funny) and b) completely inappropriate in the context of Jason's plan to murder the queen in cold blood.

The until-now completely forgotten promise to Circe turns out to be nothing more than a means to put Ariadne on trial, whilst Circe herself is dealt with far too easily. And crowbarring in some Haryhausen-lite skeletons does not make an episode exciting.

Basically, it was a typical episode of Atlantis. 45 minutes of not much happening, culminating in a cliffhanger that it's near impossible to care about.

I caught a few minutes of the episode this week. The king was dying and his Queen and daughter were with him. I got bored with the lack of acting and turned over.

Its funny you say that because the king and queen are two of the only good actors on the show.

Does anyone on this site actually like Atlantis? Or are you a bunch of miserable bastards (like me), who just like moaning?

Will you be watching the second series?

Yes, I do. And I would like to say to all people who just come here to say that everything is so awful; why do you bother watching and commenting?
This episode was one of the strongest, in my opinion. I finally felt some chemistry between Ariadne and Jason. Ariadne is becoming one of my favourite characters; she was fierce in this episode! But everything was a bit predictable and they killed Circe too easily. However, next episode looks promising and we will know more about Jason's father at last!

not defending the episode, but they DO use the 'knock out gas' (an erroneous description, it functions more in the form of chloroform). They use it on three guards in that painfully drawn out comic scene, and then Jason uses it once more in the palace, before using it a final time to drug his friends in the morning. Jason DOES use his fists to knock someone out physically in the episode, but that is when he is trying to flee the palace and presumably has used all his seaweed. Again, not defending the episode, but I thought I'd clear that up.

Not to be picky (I neither agree or disagree with the review), but as to the difference between Jason not killing Pasaphae and then killing Circe is kind of, you know, ridiculously clear.

Killing Pasaphae would have been an act of cold blood. Unarmed, asleep and unable to defend herself and her death would have been nothing more than an act of vengeance. Basically, murder.

Killing Circe, however was an act of self defence. She had already, several times, told Jason she would kill him and his friends if Jason didn't kill Pasiphae (including only seconds before). Also, she had just telekinetically/magically launched several spears at Jason with the obvious intent of killing him. Self defence.

I understand not liking the series but pulling it down over that difference is a bit petty.

I was confused because when I watched the first few episodes I found those two to be the decent actors of the show. I also know them in different roles and know they can act. However their acting in that scene was that bad I had to turn over. Maybe that is what Atlantis does to actors?

As mentioned by numerous people previously. People are either watching the show because although it is dreadful there is little else on a Saturday night to be watching. They comment because the show is terrible.

Or like me they keep up-to-date with the reviews to see if there is any sign of improvement because they really do want to watch something on a Saturday, but not if it is as bad as Atlantis. Thus we sit here in anticipation waiting for a sign of improvement in the reviews and comments. 12 weeks in and I have yet to see a sign so I suppose I'll pin my hopes on season 2 since BBC decided it was a good idea to renew this utter garbage after just one episode.

I comment because I am generally amazed at how bad this show is Each time I see bits of it or read the review I it proves again how bad it actually is. The actors can't act, the scripts are bland and the action looks like it has come out of a kids cartoon. The character development? Non existent. I have yet to see a positive in this whole show. Usually even pretty dull and terrible shows have a positive somewhere. Usually they might have bad scripts but good actors etc... Atlantis manages to fail on all accounts.

As for this episode - between the 5 minutes of pain I went through watching the lack of acting in the scene I saw of it and people's responses on here and Digital Spy I can say I definately won't be making an effort to watch it. Yes this episode may be the best yet, but when you're saying that in terms of Atlantis that really really isn't worth much considering how terrible the rest of the episodes were.

The only way this episode works is to assume the main players are stupid. Ariadne, up until this point, was just a vague character whose soul motivation was fancying Jason because of his naked, manly chest. Now she has a bit of character, as stupid and vague. Leaving bloody rags in her bed for the maid to find, not coming up with the most obvious reason for it - "my period is a bit heavy this month" - then trusting said maid ( because that worked so well last time!)

Jason continues to behave with no logical characterisation (although there was a brief mention at last of his "arrival" in Atlantis, no doubt in preparation for next week), not killing Pasiphae but then killing Circe ( self dense really doesn't explain it. There are non lethal ways to protect oneself and Jason needed to keep her alive to save his friends.)

I so want to give Atlantis a fair go. I wrote Merlin off in its first season and it grew from its humble beginnings to become one of my favourite shows. But its series 1 finale was excellent and honestly don't think that Atlantis is going to do anything other than limp over the finishing line. A shame.

yes dick head

if you think its boring then fock you

Go finger your mom

I enjoyed this episode: it was much better than the really terrible 'desert tornado' offering a few weeks ago. I just wish every episode had this much drama and less inconsequential arsing around. The relationships between Ariadne and her father should have been explored more prior to this episode and I had completely forgotten why Jason had made the bargain in the first place, but I thought the romance was well played this episode. I'll be watching next week with cautious optimism, hoping that next series uses this episode as a model and not any of the recent failures.

So you base your opinion on what others write about it and small bits of a few episodes?

No I base my opinion on what critics write, what viewers actually comment, the synopsis, what bits of the episodes I actually catch (I usually end up watching five minutes here and there) and the fact that I saw the first 5 episodes of the show. I think that's enough to be going on. I'm certainly not wasting 45 minutes of my time watching a piece of televised rubbish like Atlantis. However I may try and watch the finale, but I can't see me lasting long into the episode if there hasn't been a gigantic improvement.

In addition most of my problems with the show: the leads acting skills, the down-right degrading and creepy scripts, the lack of character development are all quite easy to gather from just catching 5 minutes of the show/reading synopsis/reviews. I hardly need to watch 45 minutes of a show to figure out if the lead actor (and quite a few of the other actors) still can't act especially after suffering through 5 episodes of his apparent 'acting'. I hardly need to watch 45 minutes of the show to figure out if a storyline was morally wrong or just plain rubbish. I hardly need to watch 45 minutes of the show to realise the characters haven't developed at all.

It gets better after episode five. I enjoyed episode 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12. Mark Addy and Robert Emms (especially in ep 8) are good actors, ocassionally great! Jack Donnelly's acting is improving... And what about Sarah Parish as the delightfully evil queen?
You cannot say a storyline is rubbish after 5 minutes of one episode, because a storyline runs through the whole episode.
Anyway, nobody is forcing you to like the show. You could read a book instead.

And yet you not only watched it through, but then came here to whinge. You really need to find something to do with your life.

Goodness gracious , Jamie. Enough, surely. Turn off that TV, read a good book, crochet something for the homeless, run away from home, DO something that isn't just hanging around waiting for someone else or something else to happen, on a set far far away...

You mean something other than taking the time to comment on week-old posts that you consider were a waste of that person's valuable time, yes?

I think you've been hoist by your own petard.

And nope. I don't know what a petard is either. You should Google it. It'll give you something to do with your life. ;)

I barely watch TV (in fact the Saturday evening drama used to be 1 of the 3 things I ever watched on TV). I rent my own house so it'd be slightly strange to run away from it. I hate reading so there is no such thing as a good book to me.

AKA taking debates about TV shows and make them personal (especially when you clearly know nothing of the person) is pointless. It isn't remotely relevant and going around telling people who you have never met what to do with their lives it is pretty rude. It is also weak and overly defensive move that is used a lot around the internet.

If I want to spend the whole of 10 minutes a week checking to see if there is anything decent on and replying to comment I will do so :D!

PS I also can't crochet :P

LOL Jamie needs a life or maybe Atlantis has really got to him emotionally somehow? I can't buy that he hates it when he is writing huge paragraphs about it. The haters of this show whine as if their precious Xfactor and Eastenders are better.

Then again these are the same people who thought The Hobbit was a bad movie. Maybe they should stop watching fantasy as they clearly hate the setting.

Any one with a view on the show is welcome to come and write a comment. I agree with MTs comments.

As I understand it, petard was an explosive device used to collapse tunnels that had been dug under castle walls to undermined them during sieges. Too much explosive or too short a fuse would result in the person setting the explosive being thrown into the air trying to escape it. Thus hoisted by their own petard.

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