Atlantis: 106 “The Song Of The Sirens” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey
Atlantis has proved so far to be a fulfilment of what I perceive good Saturday night programming to be all about. None of these rubbish reality programmes such as X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, but true dramas filled with enjoyment, adventure and fun characters that we can relate to and follow week in and week out (such as Doctor Who, Sherlock and The Walking Dead). That is why I believe Atlantis has so far been an enjoyable run (for me at least).
This week our favourite bumbling hero Hercules was placed vividly in the spotlight as his feelings and obsessions over Medusa grew almost out of control. Since ‘A Girl By Any Other Name’ when Medusa was first introduced, it has been heavily noted that Hercules had an interest in her. What I first thought was a simple attempt of his masculine nature trying it on with the new beauty of the town has now turned into something real and meaningful. Over the series his feelings have become genuine and he has at every turn attempted to show his said feelings to her by any means necessary; accept of course the direct way of simply telling her he loves her.
‘The Song of the Sirens’ had many moral ideas embedded within the narrative about love which I found very interesting and true. I could commonly relate to the ideas and lengths that Hercules went to in order to make his true love fall for him. But of course the moral was that he had to do it himself (and I’m hoping within future episodes this becomes apparent). Hercules had to show Medusa face to face that he had feelings for her. This is what I did when I fell in love (and I have never regretted it because now I’m with the perfect girl). Simply showing signs isn’t enough to show that you have feelings; it must come from the heart and be directed at the person you love. That is the moral of this story.
The morals also lay within confidence. Hercules, due to the words of his friends Jason and Pythagoras, didn’t believe in himself and felt that he was unworthy to be with Medusa. This was a sad turn of events because no one should feel unworthy to anyone. One must always be true to themselves, especially when it comes to love. The person you love must love you for who you are. This is what the story was all about. Hercules tried to create love between him and Medusa through a lie, witchcraft respectively, and though love and happiness might have seemed present, it was still a lie. Medusa’s feelings towards him were but an idea created through an illusion. Though at least Hercules, through all of his bumbling nature as a character, was redeemed by the simple fact that his love for Medusa is genuine and that when the curse took hold of her he wished to do everything in his power to save her from the said curse.
The episode wasn’t entirely about Hercules of course. Jason’s storyline was further progressed as he received another warning from the Oracle about his future. Judging by the next-time trailer from the previous week, it was inevitable that the Oracle’s vision had something to do with the witch, Circe, and the agreement made between her and Hercules. As it turned out my over thinking of narrative (thanks to years of watching films/television and my studies on my professional writing course) proved to be correct and that was what unfolded. Naturally making a deal with a witch, especial since it was Hercules, wasn’t going to end well and there would be consequences made that Jason would ultimately have to solve.
The revelations that unfolded were most interesting indeed, and actually quite surprising (with me originally thinking Circe wanted him dead or wished to harness his unique abilities in some weird witchcraft ritual), in which it lead to Circe wanting Jason to perform an assassination upon her sister in order to gain revenge for the cruel acts bestowed upon her, leaving her now alone and scarred in the mountains as a witch. Again I was easily able to identify what was going to happen before the revealing of who her sister was. Through the description Circe told to Jason it seemed obvious that Queen Pasiphae was the one she spoke of, which of course leads to some awkward problems for Jason to face in next week’s instalment ‘The Rules of Engagement’. Though the act of murder is wrong, the death of Pasiphae is a vital point in the narration as so far it has well been indicated that she is the villain of the show and is pulling the strings to make sure her plans are initiated by whatever means are necessary to her. The questions that lays is will Jason go through with it? A lot of dilemma has been placed on our hero’s shoulders and things are really beginning to kick off in Atlantis now.
This week’s episode really did reinforce the character types of our main heroes and their role within the trio/gang. Jason is without a doubt the protagonist and the hero, with Pythagoras being the helper of the group through his thinking and support while Hercules is the clown of the group – though to be fair he has his moments of heroism in-between his bumbling. As stated above, Hercules certainly had the spotlight upon him this week and it did give him momentary character development along with references to his childhood and father which gave nice little dives into his character, allowing us to learn more about him and why he is the way that he is. Perhaps because of his father’s apparent fibs it gave Hercules the idea of lying in order to make himself look good (though I’m still waiting for the episode that makes him the hero that Hercules is meant to be just to see how things play out, though the character contrast displayed at the moment is rather amusing to watch and just shows that mythology are just stories and can be misinterpreted through the long game of Chinese Whispers).
Comedy has served a lot of value within the storytelling of Atlantis and even in a serious plot that ‘The Song of the Sirens’ had there was still room for the typical fart gag and male humour. The whole part where Hercules was turned into a pig was comedy gold. Though it didn’t take me long to figure out that the pig was in fact Hercules (though that’s not entirely a bad thing, thus doesn’t spoil my viewing of the story, it just means I have a sharp mind and I’m able to anticipate narrative a bit more than some), it still proved to be funny. The scene in which the pig (i.e. Hercules) kept following Pythagoras was fun to watch. The frustration he displayed was brilliant and just allowed the serious age of the story to slide just for a bit to let us breathe and have a few laughs.
That is what the series does well at, having a nice little shift between comedy moments and serious drama. In some ways it gives the characters a little more humanity and believability. I was probably the only one who thought this but the scene very much reminded me of Doctor Who (‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ to be more specific), where Arthur the Horse kept following the Tenth Doctor through the corridors of the spaceship. Though where they slipped up was the opportunity of having the usual gag of animal returning to their human form, thus having Hercules humiliated as he stands before Pythagoras completely in the nude. Yes that scenario isn’t really necessary, and too many would seem it pointless and silly, but for the sake of the narrative a little clarity as to when the curse was lifted on both Hercules and Medusa wouldn’t have gone amiss. The narrative seemed to time jump a bit too much for us to really establish the sense of things being returned back to normal. One minute Hercules is a pig and Medusa is terribly ill and the next they’re all well and better again without so much as an indication to the change back into the norm. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it was lazy writing but I will point out it was a stupid bit of time cutting and messed with the flow a bit.
‘The Songs of the Siren’ was a good story full of interesting developments and ideas which has taken our favourite characters, played brilliantly (as always) by Mark Addy, Jack Donnelly, Robert Emms and Jemima Rooper, to their next stage within the journey. Atlantis as a whole is turning out to be a really good drama series filled with great characters, cast, locations and storylines. The only thing I can find wrong with the series so far is its special effects, which at times look very lazy and unconvincing for a massive drama that Atlantis strives to be. It almost lets down the fantastic sets and locations distributed in the rest of the scenes. Some are comparing it with Merlin in both a good and bad manor, but since I haven’t seen Merlin I can’t be the judge of its comparison. But what I do know is the two shows cannot be compared. They are different enough and even though Atlantis was perhaps marketed by the BBC as Merlin’s replacement, it doesn’t mean it is the same, merely similar in genre and content. As a fan of Greek mythology, I am really enjoying the series and cannot wait to see it progress throughout the remaining seven weeks it has left.