Atlantis episode 11 review: Hunger Pangs

With just two episodes to go in its first series, Atlantis continues to falter. Here's Dave's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.11 Hunger Pangs

This week’s Atlantis sees a poverty-stricken Jason stealing a loaf of bread to sate his hunger, clumsily escaping the clutches of the rightfully outraged shopkeeper, whilst dropping the bread into a trough of water. It’s a lesson to us all that theft is wrong, actions have consequences and even heroes that, at one point, could dine on their reputation cannot dine if they no longer have money.

That’s not the point of this week’s episode, however, the point is… Jason is buff.

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Hercules is drowning his sorrows, whilst Jason returns home with meat… meat that was overseen by a many-faced statue that looks ominous and foreboding and should instantly have acted as a warning to Jason. The meat, it transpires, was enchanted and it can of no surprise that, as Jason becomes more feral, it is he that has now become the victim of the anger of a goddess.

Jason has desecrated a shrine to Hecate and, being the expert in all things Greek, he has absolutely no idea what this means. Thankfully for our dim-witted, buff friend, Pythagoras does.

Enlisting the help of Ariadne, they plan to cure Jason of his malady, but this puts her life in peril and it’s only the buffoonery of Hercules and Pythagoras that stop her becoming dog food.

It’s a race against time to save Jason from being lynched by the city’s guards and prevent a pointless plot contrivance from killing him.

Atlantis continues to ride the rollercoaster of adequacy, seeing yet another episode where the bar is set at mundane. It’s the type of episode where you could go and make a cup of tea, come back and feel you’ve missed nothing interesting and it’s unlikely you’d be driven to watch it again.

After each transformation, Jack Donnelly appears in the nude, covering his dignity and showing off his buff torso. The transformation is barely shown and what we do see is tame by any standards. Donnelly does a decent enough job, showing a hint of skill when he comes face-to-face with Ariadne, but otherwise he’s just a decent body running around.

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The royal family return, with Minos the worse for wear and unaware that Pasiphae is contributing to his failing health. As has become standard for an appearance by the royals, these are the more interesting scenes, even though the exchange between Sarah Parish and Alexander Siddig does feel like a hastily inserted addition. There’s a sense that this story would make much more compelling viewing than the Jason story.

Pythagoras’ love of maths plays a big part in this episode, getting references in two scenes – geometry is used to help him clean a room and the swinging of a pendulum leads him to believe he knows how to measure the passage of time. Robert Emms is clearly having fun with his character, delivering a quirky, if somewhat stilted, turn.

Visually, there’s something about Atlantis that make all the environments look like sets on a sound stage. There’s rarely a feeling that it’s filmed on location and, for a bustling centre of trade and industry, it feels a bit empty. Whilst it may be visually interesting, it doesn’t feel lived in.

Unevenly paced, unevenly acted, this week’s Atlantis is yet another interesting premise let down by the delivery.  It never really gets going, though has yet another strong, if somewhat cliched story.  The ending is rushed and, despite what is happening to Jason, it’s difficult to actually root for his survival, or his love for Ariadne.

It’s just a melange of mediocrity, a much of a muchness, a medley of the mundane. You get the point. It  struggles to be anything and seems to suffer from scriptwriters who only occasionally dip their toe into the pool of interesting. Perhaps, by series two, they’ll dive in and bring together the skill of some of the cast, the potential of the world in which its set and the heritage of the BBC when it comes to fantasy and period dramas.

Two episodes to go… will we ever discover if Pythagoras actually desecrated Hecate’s shrine by pushing over her effigy and crushing one of her worshippers?  Probably not… 

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