Atlantis series 2 episode 8 review: The Madness Of Hercules

Atlantis is indubitably stronger than it was in series one, but cancellation means it won't get a chance to capitalise on that success...

This review contains spoilers.

2.8 The Madness Of Hercules

The Madness Of Hercules deals with the aftermath of The Oracle’s death, Medusa’s return and the arrest of Jason, sentenced to death by the corrupt Melas and unable to speak to his beloved Ariadne, who is suffering in silence and trying to maintain some form of order in an Atlantis without an Oracle.

As Jason languishes behind bars, the friends are divided. Hercules goes on the search for his lost love, the Gorgon Medusa, and must comfort her as she struggles with her actions. Seemingly cured, she’s the one person who can free Jason, but only by sacrificing her own life.

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With Ariadne unable to do anything to prevent the execution of her love, Cilix and Melas, two of her closest advisers, continue to push Pasiphae’s agenda, invoking the wrath of Poseidon and the people upon the young queen and driving her to act against Jason to appease the Gods.

Pasiphae, meanwhile, is manipulating things behind the scenes, with Melas’ daughter, Cassandra, being used as leverage. Trapped between the will of Ariadne and Pasiphae, Melas struggles to do what is right, all whilst the duplicitous Cilix counsels and cajoles.

As the heroes fight their own emotional battles, Jason and Hercules find their worlds collapsing, but Hercules has a plan that may just save his best friend whilst still protecting the woman he loves, only to find himself captured and accused of treason!

With those loyal to Pasiphae moving against Ariadne, the Queen is arrested, Hercules and Jason are on the run and only one person can save them all, but not before Pasiphae gets her heart’s desire.

Much of the early part of this episode is spent on the morality and politics of Atlantis under Ariadne’s monarchy, with love playing a strong role – love for the individual, love for the kingdom and love of the Gods. After the scene is established, The Madness Of Hercules moves into more comfortable territory, with action, adventure and fighting underpinning the machinations of Pasiphae, Ariadne and their respective supporters.

Again, Atlantis manages to be an engaging, if somewhat uneven, romp, covering many ideas in its 47 minute runtime, ending on a cliffhanger as Sarah Parish steals the scene with no words.

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Ken Bones is a commanding presence in this episode as the beleaguered Melas, whilst Mark Addy abandons much of the buffoonery that has sullied the character of Hercules as he must decide between his friend and his love. Elsewhere, Jack Donnelly gets the thankless task of spending much of his time behind bars and it feels like he’s a tad nonplussed considering his plight; it’s Addy, Robert Emms and Jemima Rooper who bring the humanity to the story.

Without a doubt, Atlantis is in a better place than it was in series one, with a compelling story and confident performances. With only five episodes to go to the series finale, having been cancelled by the BBC, it’s a shame that it won’t get the chance to capitalise on this series’ success.

Read Dave’s review of the previous episode, A Fate Worse Than Death, here.

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