This review contains spoilers.
2.5 The Day Of The Dead
As ever, let’s kick off with a short recap of tonight’s action.
Pasiphae’s life is in peril and she uses the last of her strength to cast an incantation upon a handy sarcophagus, awakening the body within. Her magic rapidly spreads throughout the Necropolis, reanimating more of the deceased.
With Hercules and Pythagoras hunting for Jason, who has seemingly fallen to his doom, Ariadne fears she may have lost the man she truly loves. Together with Orpheus and Euridice, they must first fight the zombie hordes.
Jason, in the meantime, is facing a moral quandary as he finds himself trapped with Medea, Pasiphae’s aide, surrounded by more of the zombie hordes. The new arrangement, as Jason tries to save her, disorientates Medea’s moral compass – their unspoken truce is an uneasy one, but Medea’s compassion convinces Jason that she may be about to change sides.
As the living dead advance, the heroes must come together to escape the Necropolis, but first Jason must convince his friends not to kill the one girl who can save them all. Emotions are running high and, as they head to the source of the sorcery, Jason and Ariadne must face their feelings for each other.
The peril ended, Jason is betrayed and his love for Ariadne may be the true victim!
Instead of being an episode about zombies attacking in the dark – a televisual Night Of The Living Dead – this story is more an exploration of faith and love. There are touching moments as Euridice and Ariadne talk about love, whilst Hercules becomes quite paternal towards the Queen, Pythagoras and Jason. We finally have Ariadne declare her true feelings towards Jason, whilst Medea must contest with her true calling and the single-minded faith that embodies Jason.
As Medea, Amy Manson finally comes into her own as the unsure young girl questioning what she thinks is right. The final moments of this episode see her deftly switch gears and leave us in no doubt where her convictions lay.
A constant high point of the series has been Robert Emms’ performance. He’s great when he’s imploring Orpheus to tell him what is wrong with Euridice. His combination of compassion and necessity brings about a cold, calculating solution that seems to tear at the heart of the man and, with Mark Addy and Aiysha Hart also being on form, it’s hard not to feel torn. As emotional as this moment is, it’s Ronald Pickup as Orpheus, who steals the scene.
In The Day Of The Dead, writer Howard Overman manages to twist the zombie invasion story by making their hearts vulnerable – reflecting Ariadne’s weakness. The revelation that the undead are drawn to the light could also be considered a commentary on evil being drawn to the good of the series to consume it. Having Emms spout the type of exposition that you’d expect in horror films is a classic moment – especially when a disgusted Hercules asks “what is wrong with you?” whilst Pythagoras explains what’s going on – and seemingly adds to the nods that this episode is giving to the horror genre.
There are some missteps – Jason and co are reunited a bit too easily after Jason spots the others across a ravine and there’s far too much time spent between attacks where there isn’t a sense of peril, whilst the undead hordes never feel truly chilling – but it isn’t necessarily about them, it’s more about the humanity of the characters, their weaknesses and their strengths. Despite seeming to swap mythology for the odd soap opera moment, the second run of Atlantis continues to be a strong series.
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