This review contains spoilers.
In this week’s episode, a frustrated Pasiphae is awaiting news of the fugitives, still intent on killing Jason, though Medea warns that Jason may be the perfect ally – his heart has been darkened by the truth, and she feels he’s ready to be brought across to their way of thinking and all that may entail.
Meanwhile, Hercules, Pythagoras, Ariadne and Aeson, Jason’s father, are hunting for the lost – both geographically and emotionally – hero. Hercules realises that he’s abandoned his friend when he needed her most and vows to correct this.
Thankfully, Pasiphae has the perfect thing planned to take her mind off events – a gladiatorial spectacle. It’s a lesson for Medea, as Pasiphae explains that the event will placate the people and remind them that those who disobey her will be punished – words that cut deep, given Medea’s recent actions.
With Jason imprisoned, Pasiphae visits her son and tries to appeal to his need for love and the nascent feelings of parenthood that she is experiencing. She refuses to set a date for execution, despite the words of Cilix, and puts her faith in the words of the Gods, as channelled by Cassandra. Forced to speak on behalf of the Gods, the new Oracle reveals the truth of Pasiphae’s connection to Jason. Cilix forces her hand and, still reluctant to execute her son, she declares Jason must fight in The Games.
So, into the arena Jason must go, unaware that his father is also there. Whilst his fellow slave fights for his life, Jason surrenders his sword and stands defiant, though his sense of heroism can’t be hidden for long. Thankfully, his combat skills come to the fore and he’s able to dispatch his foe in rapid order, securing the admiration of his fellow captor.
With Aeson trying to convince Jason to remain on the path towards the light, it appears that Jason is lost to the dark. His words fall on seemingly deaf ears, though he offers his son a chance for escape and, with some help from Hercules, they flee Atlantis.
With Jason seemingly choosing his father over his mother, the reunion is short and bittersweet, leaving Pasiphae torn apart by the decision as she takes her fury out on Medea. Jason, however, has found renewed strength and purpose and a final confrontation can’t be too far away…
Atlantis has, probably unsurprisingly, continued with the darker drama that has been a motif of series two. Jason is torn between good and evil, with both his friends and Pasiphae (and her retinue) attempting to redeem him for their cause. The inclusion of John Hannah as Aeson, and a small scene with Robert Lindsay as Daedalus, adds to the sense of drama, as does Sarah Parish’s continued performance as Pasiphae and Mark Addy’s as Hercules – the quality of the actors and script removes any sense of pantomime that has occasionally marred the series and unbalanced the drama.
For fans of Jack Donnelly, he spends a while shirtless and looking rather muscular and manly this week, though the focus should really be on his understated emotional performance. Donnelly, with very few lines, manages to convey the emotion of this story effectively, capturing the essence of a man with a weighty destiny, torn apart by love.
The fight scenes in the arena are what we’ve come to expect from Atlantis; well-choreographed and violent, though with very little gore and blood. Donnelly looks, more so than in series one, like the action hero that Jason needs to be – a lithe powerhouse of a man.
The most disappointed realisation, as the credits roll, is that Atlantis won’t return for a third series. Initial episodes took a critical mauling, though the same was true of Robin Hood and Merlin, both series which improved on their early days – the latter, more so – as they progressed. This ‘reboot’ of the series deserved more!
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