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

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?

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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.

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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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