This review contains spoilers.
Ariadne, it seems, has finally risen in stature to the role of Queen, beloved by her people. With the Coronation Games only a few days away, Ariadne must choose a champion whilst she hides her love for Jason and her intent to hunt down Pasiphae.
With Jason selected as her champion, Hercules’ secret is making him an angry man, much to the disapproval of Pythagoras. With the secret now shared, and Hercules reinforcing their position as protectors of the secret and of Jason’s destiny, Hercules sets out to train Jason and they come across Telemon, another warrior intent on winning the games.
Pythagoras doesn’t trust Telemon, though Hercules thinks differently. It’s made even more suspect when Telemon is revealed to be a prince, just what Ariadne needs to improve her standing as leader of Atlantis. Thankfully, Telemon, it seems, feels the same… though everything isn’t as it seems.
Against the backdrop of combat, a story of intrigue builds as the truth about Telemon is slowly revealed, but it seems that Telemon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Whilst this episode may have been more about the triangle of Jason, Ariadne and Telemon, it was Robert Emms who continued to shine as Pythagoras, the moral compass between the heroic Jason and opportunistic Hercules. Mark Addy’s more serious turn in this episode is welcome, as is Jack Donnelly’s focused portrayal of Jason, with more action and intensity than we’ve seen in previous episodes.
Previously seen in Robin Hood, Vikings and Camelot, amongst others, Telemon is played with wonderful charisma by Clive Standen, an actor with a CV including several historical television roles. Hopefully, his character will be around for some time to come as his story, as it developed through this episode, left many questions unanswered and it would be a shame to lose a character that drives such a wedge between Jason and Ariadne.
Having seen gladiatorial games before in Atlantis, season one fans may wonder if the forward-flipping Jason would return. He may not do slow-motion somersaults, but this gives Donnelly the opportunity to be at his most imposing during the combat scenes.
On the subject of combat, the duels are effectively shot, though a tad repetitive. Well choreographed and loud, they look brutal without being visceral. There was a touch too much slow-motion for my taste, but the majority of the combat sequences were great to watch, despite the majority of the opponents being little more than background characters.
Focusing on characters that we care about – Ariadne, Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules – Richard McBrien has created a tightly plotted episode that is well paced from an action standpoint, with an underlying story of love for each other and Atlantis, and the mystery of a new character, Telemon continues Atlantis’ strong second series.
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