Atlantis series 2 episode 7 review: A Fate Worse Than Death

Atlantis' cancellation proves all the more disappointing when the show has so clearly upped its game, as A Fate Worse Than Death shows...

This review contains spoilers.

2.7 A Fate Worse Than Death

To start, a brief recap of this week’s action: with news that the Queen is to marry Jason, Pasiphae is not happy, not only because she is Jason’s mother, but moreover because of her desire to seize the throne for herself from Ariadne and take her – in her mind – rightful place as ruler of the kingdom of Atlantis.

It’s not from Pasiphae and her cronies that Ariadne must defend herself, her desire to marry a low-born is causing trouble internally. Despite this, she’s intent on carrying out her wishes, despite warnings from her own military adviser.

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As The Oracle takes the offering of blood which will bond the two lovers in the eyes of the Gods, masked assassins attack Atlantis, all while everyone waits to see if the Gods will approve of the union. Moments after declaring the news to her closest adviser, The Oracle is kidnapped, setting the stage for Jason to be heroic.

Pasiphae drawns upon an ally – one with a close link to Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras – and tragedy befalls a much loved character, whilst Hercules finds his heart, figuratively speaking, torn apart.

With the balance of power shifting away from the side of good, Hercules must betray his friendship to protect his love, whilst Jason promises that Pasiphae will pay, Pythagoras is torn between his two closest friends, whilst internal political and religious meddling threatens to tear apart the kingdom.

After a mid-series break, Atlantis returns with what will be its final run just as the series truly finds its feet with A Fate Worse Than Death. Continuing the series two motif of using less mysticism and fewer monsters in place of more drama, character and intrigue, this episode manages to be dialogue heavy, but rarely dull. Action is used sparingly, with much more focus on the characters and their relationships, good and bad.

Sarah Parish and Juliet Stevenson verbally sparring is a highlight of this episode, both strong-willed and level headed women exchanging cutting comments.  It’s been the quality of actors like Parish and Stevenson that has lifted the series above the tedium that it has occasionally threatened to descend towards.

Amy Manson continues to be a presence as Medea, whilst Aiysha Hart has come into her own as Ariadne. Atlantis has established itself as a programme about strong-minded women while the men use their brawn to get results.

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The return of Jemima Rooper, furthers the impression of powerful, yet damaged, women in the world of Atlantis. All the women are tragic figures – The Oracle by her faith, Pasiphae by her desire, Madea by circumstance and Medusa by her curse. 

It’s a testament to the writing that A Fate Worse Than Death plays, in places, like a solid period drama than a fantasy series and a great return for the series that will, hopefully, establish the direction of the second half of series two.

Read Dave’s review of the previous episode, The Grey Sisters, here.

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