This review contains spoilers.
1.2 A Girl By Any Other Name
Having won over the people of Atlantis, Jason is now part of a security business that bores him and keeps Hercules in wine and, according to him, women.
After Frankincense is stolen, an old man turns up seeking someone to find his missing daughter… so, that’s the Frankincense crisis over. Thus begins a detective quest of almost Murder She Wrote proportions, before we leap into more action.
Lured into the woods by an old woman, Jason doesn’t find Demetria, the lost girl, but does find mystery and death, whereupon we discover that the Cult of Dionysus are the villain of the week, with brainwashed, young women carrying out the despicable wishes of their leader.
Cue a quest to save Demetria, as Hercules tries to avoid responsibility and the heroes plan to save the day.
It’s another disjointed affair, where humour and action lay side by side in some sort of awkward union that just comes across as forced with huge lapses in internal logic – wasn’t it only at the start of the episode that Hercules was being chastised for his drunken behaviour? Yet he gets first watch at the camp… only to get drunk and wander off. It may have moved the plot to its next scene, but that’s not quite the same as telling a good story!
Returning to the camp after being away all night, Jason is initially reluctant to believe Hercules’ seemingly tall tale – after all, Hercules is a drunken oaf. Yet, off they go, following the buffoon into danger on the off-chance he’s telling the truth. Of course, he is, in this case, but it’s still stretching dramatic credibility.
It turns out that our heroes haven’t found Demetria, they’ve found Medusa and Jason is fearful of this revelation. She’s a feisty one, though it’s only in the last ten minutes that all is revealed – there’s no build up, it just sort of happens from Medusa saying her name.
With Demetria eventually located and taken from the hands of the cult, they seek revenge and a curse is unleashed upon Jason, only for Medusa to be the eventual, unwitting victim.
Episode one set out Atlantis’ lot in underwhelming terms, whilst episode two continues to make little headway. Jason, the boy from the future, may nip along to the temple to ask what his purpose is, but he seems quite content to abandon his twenty-first century ways for the life in Ancient Greece; it’s almost as if that’s not really a plot point anymore. It only really comes in useful in allowing him to ask more questions to fill in the sketchy grasp of Greek legend that the series seems to want to employ.
This week, Jemima Rooper brings considerably more talent to the screen than the story really deserves, whilst Mark Addy has the hapless task of making Hercules likeable whilst delivering dialogue that would seem hammy in a pantomime. Robert Emms has little do as Pythagoras, but does it commendably, whilst Jack Donnelly is… plain.
There’s a moment, late on in proceedings, where Jason delivers a speech, threatening Dionysus’ worshippers. Whilst the CGI creatures may recoil in fear at his words, Dionysus’ worshippers look on impassively. This, in effect, channels how the audience will probably feel towards Jason’s character in general. The performance lacks gravitas and depth, robbing this and many scenes of the intended emotion.
It’s not entirely Donnelly’s fault, either. The script isn’t up to the scope of the story and, whilst other series could hide it with humour or onscreen chemistry, it’s largely absent from Atlantis right now.
A disappointing second week, made palatable by Jemima Rooper and the tease of what is to come.
Read Dave’s review of the previous episode, The Earth-Bull, here.
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