This review contains spoilers.
1.5 White Lies
First up, let’s recap the action of this week’s Atlantis.
Whilst a mysterious stranger breaks into the palace and attacks Ariadne, Hercules is betting on beetles. The intruder passes a note to Ariadne, before being injured and caught, setting Ariadne on her own mission, whilst he suffers at the hands of Pasiphae and her dark ways. Thankfully, Ariadne has a plan that involves duping Jason into escorting her handmaiden and it is soon discovered that the poor, mysterious stranger was delivering a note to say that Ariadne’s brother, Therus, the betrayer of his Kingdom, is actually very much alive and well, seeking justice for the lies that have been told about him.
Ariadne’s brother is seeking his sister and Pasiphae isn’t happy because she was the one that set him up, casting aspersions on his integrity, leading all and sundry to believe he was a traitor and had plotted to kill Minos, his own father and the King of Atlantis. It turns out that it was actually an entirely different story, with Pasiphae plotting the killing and needing a scapegoat when Therus discovered the truth.
It was a story of intrigue, the shifting nature of power, the love of family, the betrayal of trust, and the essence of heroism. In short, it had everything that makes Greek mythology – actually, mythology of any kind – still relevant today.
The episode boasted a meaty performance from Sarah Parish as she demonstrates how dangerous and duplicitous Pasiphae can be, whilst giving Aiysha Hart the chance to show the strong woman that Ariadne needs to be. There were also the next stumbling steps in the romance between Ariadne and Jason, as Jack Donnelly clumsily expressed his feelings and Ariadne clumsily hid hers. Finally, far too long was spent on a story about a beetle, probably just to give Mark Addy and Robert Emms something to do.
White Lies is a great story on paper – a tapestry of intrigue and deceit that needs unpicking in order to see how it all fits together should have made gripping television and had the potential to be a wonderful story arc. In execution, however, it plodded, was dull, and too much time was spent on the beetle story.
Jack Donnelly’s performance was unfortunately wooden, Darwin Shaw’s Therus wasn’t much better and it doesn’t help that the dialogue and storytelling feel wooden, too. Parish, Juliet Stevenson, Alexander Siddig and even Mark Addy, do what they can to bring the talent, but it’s a struggle even for their skills.
The confrontation between The Oracle and Pasiphae should have been a true meeting of powers – Stevenson and Parish deliver their lines with gusto, but it just felt underwhelming. There wasn’t a spark there, despite Parish being on form and Stevenson being characteristically good; the dialogue and characterisation let them down.
In the end, the reason for Therus’ exile is revealed with Pasiphae’s part in proceedings brought into stark contrast for the already-suspicious Ariadne. Therus may hope he can return, Ariadne may promise to keep in touch, Jason may desire Ariadne and Pasiphae may desire power; but, it’s really, really difficult to care.
Read Dave’s review of the previous episode, Twist of Fate, here.
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