Atlantis: 107 “The Rules of Engagement” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey
We’ve reached the midpoint now in Atlantis and it would seem things are really beginning to kick off and unfold. The BBC series based on the legendary Greek mythologies shows off its talents of being a genuine drama-series that is building a reputation that should be trifled with against rival Saturday night programmes.
Love once again plays a massive part within the narrative as ‘The Rules of Engagement’ moves Jason and Ariadne’s forbidden love into the centre stage for some well rounded development. It has been established throughout the series so far, especially in ‘White Lies’ when Jason nearly grew the courage to tell Ariadne that he holds strong feelings for her, that he is in love with the princess of the lands. This is one of your more typical love stories in which it tells of forbidden love of a boy, who holds no value within the hierarchy, who tries his best to win the heart of that he cannot achieve due to them being of royalty. Atlantis is no different to this structure. The story is most interesting for the simple fact that it continues to build the story arc of the show’s villainess Queen Pasiphae who continues to gain the powers of the throne by any means she deems fit. Due to Ariadne’s evil and twisted step-mother, she is unable to fall in love with the man she wishes to and is forced to bestow herself to the man she dislikes in order to please Pasiphae (for her own sinister means).
The story between Jason and Ariadne continues the ideas from last week’s instalment, ‘The Song of the Sirens,’ in which love will be won by whatever means are deemed fit by those who wish to claim the feeling of true happiness with the one they love. Jason is no different to Hercules, except for the part that he didn’t commit an act of using a dangerous curse. He commits a foolish crusade in which spells complete danger upon his own life in order to show to the one he loves that he truly has feelings for them. Jason had already been rejected near the beginning of the story due to Pasiphae threatening the life of Ariadne’s servant and good friend Korinna, thus forcing the princess to bow to her step-mother’s demands. Ariadne prepared to accept her fate and marry Heptarian.
Jason decided to enter the brutal fighting tournament in order to prove himself. This event led to a more adult themed story where death was more apparent and clearly visible at one point. The game itself represented the dark entertainments that the ancient civilisations (with the Romans being another prime example) had to offer in order to entertain themselves with. A tournament that resulted in a battle of share strength and wit over the possession of a knife in order to determine who was the stronger warrior. Along with this, the idea of the backward philosophy that the people’s minds had with their ideas about the Gods controlling their actions and destiny also played a huge part within the narrative. For all of the Greeks greatness, they shared many flaws with their narrow minded beliefs.
Due to the brutal games that Jason participated in, it made me for the first time believe that he was in fact vulnerable and showed weakness within his strength and abilities. After fighting the many mythological creatures throughout the series so far, it would appear a mere battle of strength against another human has proved Jason’s greatest challenge yet and each of his battles within the tournament reflected this greatly. The fights Jason fought in kept pushing his will and body to the limit, with him even enduring a dislocated shoulder within the first round. The most interesting part about this concept was Hercules coming out to being a more rounded character by having an emotional side further embedded within the narrative after the events of last week’s adventure. He showed a very caring side to Jason (obviously while Jason was asleep so he couldn’t see it) as he tended to his wounds.
More back-story was revealed on Hercules and the way his character thinks. We were shown that his stories were in fact lies from his own mouth in order to make himself believe he was something that he wasn’t, a person he wanted to be but couldn’t. This strong, athletic person who couldn’t be stopped by any other man is seen within Jason by Hercules. It was a touching moment for both the story and his character. Plus it allowed him and Medusa to get closer after their little ordeal in ‘The Song of the Sirens’ in which momentarily left her not speaking to him due to his actions. It was nice to see by the end of the episode that Hercules’ feelings were shown to Medusa. This in fact was done through the acts Jason was doing to prove his love to Ariadne which Hercules commented on to show that one will do anything for the one they love which reflected back upon himself to explain the actions he took within ‘The Songs of the Sirens’ in order to prove his love. Whether or not this is a solid conclusion to them finally being together is hard to tell at this moment in time but at least it’s a start.
The drama lay heavily within the growing story of Pasiphae’s plots to claim power over Atlantis as she continues to force Ariadne to marry Heptarian. Ariadne falls victim to her sinister hold over her as she constantly attempts to threaten her every time the princess attempts to deviate from her plans. Knowing too well Jason is a threat, a fact she tried to rectify in ‘A Boy of No Consequence’ where she attempted to prevent his victory against the bull via voodoo magic, Pasiphae tried once more to stop his intervention with her plans by threatening Korinna. The darkest part about this week’s story was when we see the tables turning in favour of Pasiphae when she makes a deal with the potions master who delivers to her a specially made poison that will slowly destroy the mind of that who drinks it. At first I believed this poison was destined for Jason in order to prevent him from defeating Heptarian in battle, which would’ve been disappointing due to it being a repetitive idea which had been done similarly in ‘A Boy of No Consequence’. Instead a twisting turn of events showed us the poison was actually destined for her husband King Minos. Without the King in place, Ariadne would become helpless with no one by her side to defend her and thus would allow Pasiphae to easily gain control. So it would seem things are really shaping up now within the series and things will shortly begin to kick off.
Obviously Jason ended up winning his battle against Heptarian, and of course he didn’t end up killing him as the rules state. Jason’s character doesn’t believe in murder and plus killing Heptarian would bring him more trouble rather than good due to the laws of the rich and powerful of Atlantis. This victory in turn allows Ariadne to grow the courage to speak her mind and she decides to choose Jason over Heptarian, declaring this decision in front of her father, step-mother and soon-to-be-husband. She cleverly got her opinion across by using the whole backward thinking of the Gods decisions over life and death determine all, thus it was they who determined that Jason would be victorious and therefore proving that Heptarian wasn’t meant to be her husband for being weak. I thought this scene was very amusing by putting the Greek’s beliefs in their Gods on its head in order to favour the character’s wishes. This in turn allowed for love to achieve a momentary victory and showed that one’s position on society’s hierarchy does not determine who one can fall in love with (thus love prevailed).
Though happiness seemed to come out of this outcome, it merely made me think “damn Pasiphae is a complete and utter bitch” as she used her evil ways once again to get a point across to Ariadne that she doesn’t know who she is dealing with by having innocent Korrina killed (a character who has proved to be both sweet and helpful to our heroes throughout the series so far). Along with this and her father being slowly poisoned without anyone’s knowledge, things are slowly falling in favour of the villain at the moment as her plans unfold and take shape. One thing that has yet to be touched upon since ‘The Songs of the Sirens’ is Jason’s deal with Circe in which he had to kill her sister Pasiphae in exchange for his friends lifted curses. I’m curious when this will return to the narrative and take shape. Soon I hope because Jason needs to step up, kill the evil step-mother, claim the girl of his dreams and save his kingdom from falling under darkness. But I’m sure this will all come soon enough, or in a couple of series time if the BBC decide to drag their new relic out (which is fine by me as long as the story continues to remain good).
Anyhow, Atlantis is continuing to excel itself and with each week and episode it simply grows stronger and continues to make its mark as being a good old fashioned television drama that kicks ass and shows the audience what it can do while proving to be entertaining and fun to tune into week in and week out.