Atlantis series 2 episode 2 review: A New Dawn: Part Two

Atlantis continues the strong start made by its series two opener with a battle-heavy episode...

This review contains spoilers.

2.2 A New Dawn Part Two

With the city under attack and Jason trapped in a cave with Pythagoras and Hercules, Pasiphae has the upper hand with her amassed forces clearly outnumbering the best that Atlantis has to offer.

Jason and his companions risk their lives to bring The Palladium home and must escape from the lair of the Cyclops in order to do so, whilst Ariadne must fight enemies from within and without. Pasiphae is confident that Atlantis is hers and, as two armies collide, faith and love are tested, lives are lost and a secret is revealed that must be buried or darkness will fall upon Jason and his adopted home.

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The second part of A New Dawn capitalises on the success of the series two opener by giving us the sense of a suitably epic battle intermixed with a tale of bravery – from the heroic acts of a coward, to Hercules risking his life to save his friends, to Ariadne’s leadership. The emotions are running in a story of redemption and revenge that leaves us in no doubt that the future of Atlantis may be safe, but those within it are treading a dark path.

With two stories interspersed, neither feels neglected. The assault on Atlantis is a brutally visualised affair, more so for what it doesn’t show in the night time fight scenes and frenetic camerawork, whilst Jason’s escape from the caves has a much more light-hearted affair that doesn’t descend into pantomime.

It’s also an episode heavy on emotional dialogue, with intense exchanges between Ariadne and Sarpadon, keys scenes for Pasiphae, Ariadne deciding her own destiny as queen, and the friendship under fire of Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras.

Aiysha Hart really steps up as Ariadne as she skirts between moralistic and cold calculation, showing moments, late on, which would make Pasiphae proud. She doesn’t quite have the conviction of Sarah Parish’s performances as Pasiphae, but plays her conflicted role incredibly well.

Jack Donnelly’s worn and weary Jason continues to show he’s growing into the role and Mark Addy’s Hercules mixes self-deprecating humour and heroism, leaving Robert Epps to straddle the two as the level-headed companion. Donnelly’s delivery of his big speech may lack the punch it needs, but he’s far less stiff than he’s been in the past and a fiery, impassioned Addy is at his best when he confronts Juliet Stevenson’s The Oracle and learns the truth about Jason. Juliet Stevenson doesn’t get enough screen time, though she owns the screen when she is shown.

The battle sequences will, no doubt, draw comparisons with the assault on Helm’s Deep in Lord Of The Rings or the siege in Game Of Throne’s The Watchers On The Wall. Whilst Atlantis may not have the budget of its bigger brethren, it still manages to create a large scale feel within its world.

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With the series setting out its stall this early – strong characters, powerful emotions, a focus on power and control, the darkening of Ariadne and the revelation of Jason’s heritage – Atlantis series two is off to a strong start that will, hopefully, be capitalised upon by its writers.

Read Dave’s review of the previous episode, A New Dawn: Part One, here.

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