This review contains spoilers.
1.13 Touched By The Gods – Part 2
It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a first series for Atlantis. There’ve been a few ups, a number of downs and far too many stomach churning moments. It’s not been a great rollercoaster, in all fairness, but it’s kept on going and, right now, we’re at the end of series one, with series two coming.
First, this week’s action. Having been betrayed by her favourite handmaiden, Ariadne has been sentenced to death and it’s up to Jason, who has really landed her in this predicament in the first place, to rescue his beloved and save the day.
Ariadne’s fate is to be roasted to death in a big metal bull, though Jason feels he can bypass such a fate by handing himself in. She’s given up hope and, whilst her fate may be sealed, she wants her father to be looked after.
With The Oracle warning Pasiphae of what is to come, the Queen won’t rest until she stops the man who would stop her, but Jason isn’t the only one threatening her quest for power.
Pasiphae leads the search for Ariadne whilst her husband lays dying, unaware that The Oracle plots to save the King and has sent Jason to meet his father, who is secreted away in a leper colony.
As Jason and company help Ariadne escape, Jason is knocked unconscious and about to be executed at Pasiphae’s hand, with his life saved by his father who reveals that Jason is their son! Given that the series started with Jason in modern times, was he from Atlantean times and sent into the future? If so, how?
All of this isn’t important, though, as Pasiphae is about to discover that her husband, the King, isn’t as close to death as she had imagined and has a few select words for his wife and Jason.
Atlantis series one ends on a high with a final episode that fulfils the ambitions of Touched By The Gods, Part 1. Whereas many of the episodes felt poorly paced and underwhelming, this two-part story really had an epic feel with set pieces and performances to match.
Sarah Parish and Juliet Stevenson’s exchange is a wonderful moment and a true high point for the series. The Oracle’s cryptic messages are laced with aggression, whilst Pasiphae brims with arrogance. Together, they are truly strong women, with Aiysha Hart’s Ariadne being a third and having some wonderful moments of her own – she isn’t restricted to a wilting maiden role, even when she’s being emotional.
With only a few moments of dialogue, Alexander Siddig puts in a beautifully regal performance. His condemnation of Pasiphae’s actions drip with royal poise, without tipping over into melodrama. His performance, very much like Parish’s, commands the screen.
Jack Donnelly’s performance actually feels heroic here! Along with Addy and Emms, there’s a sense of gung-ho heroism that should have been present all along. Some of his delivery may still be a bit lacklustre, but he’s improved with this role and will hopefully be more comfortable next time round.
The guest star for this week is the always reliable John Hannah, as Jason’s father. Another strong performance from a known name led to a gloriously emotional exchange between Parish and Hannah.
Though many episodes in BBC’s fantasy period pieces have featured chases through forests, Atlantis hasn’t really managed to find its footing with something that should be familiar territory. This episode, however, with its night-time setting, managed to deliver a chase sequence that was gripping, along with a number of other set pieces that felt dramatic. The rescue of Ariadne is well shot and incredibly tense and remains unmarred by the hokey acrobatics that has plagued other action scenes.
The hokey acrobatics have been replaced by well choreographed fight sequences that, whilst lacking bloodshed, feel suitably violent and fitting of the timeslot.
There are still a few unanswered questions, especially relating to Jason’s apparent parentage. Did the script writers forget he’s from modern times or will his time-travelling become important later on? Just how will Pasiphae’s fall from grace affect her position? Can Minos really keep Ariade and Jason apart?
Series two could be interesting! In the meantime, we have The Musketeers to look forward to.
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