Atlantis: 202: “A New Dawn: Part 2” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
My biggest worry from last week’s instalment was the fear that the concluding part of this two-part opener would be filled with the same problems that the first part had, thereby dampening my experience further. To my surprise, however, “A New Dawn: Part 2” was a massive improvement and left me most entertained.
My bugbears of the first episode seemed to have been lifted in favour of good storytelling by the writers. The rushed nature and crammed action that made last week’s episode uneasy to watch, along with the lack of information onscreen, got replaced by actual engagement and interest, something that was lacking in the season premiere. I will admit that the first part of the story concerning an unconscious Jason being carried around by Hercules and Pythagoras was quite unnecessary and ruined the flow of the action going on at Atlantis. It seemed to be there for clichéd purposes rather than actual story development. With Jason being prophesied as some sort of warrior for the Gods and Atlantis’s only saviour it made these scenes all the more ridiculous and cringe-worthy due to the fact he’s out in the first round by one arrow no less. This, to me, spoilt some of the story and made a mockery out of Jason’s strong abilities as a character.
If anything it was there to give Hercules and Pythagoras something to do as they were more background noise in the first part, merely there to hold Jason’s hand as it went about his quest for Ariadne. Well at least Hercules did something, i.e. tried taking on a Cyclops bare-handed, whilst Pythagoras stood back and appeared to be the weak individual of the trio. Speaking of the Cyclops it was a shame that the creature was used in such a poor manner. From the trailer I was hoping the beast would be a part of Pasiphae’s army but alas stood in as a distraction piece in order to keep Jason from reaching his goal until the point in the story where he was meant to arrive.
The action sequences depicting the battle in Atlantis were the highlight of the episode and really felt cinematic, reminding me of such films like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Troy. These scenes hit all the marks for grand battle sequences and really emphasised the peril of the situation with the countless lives lost and the enemies moving closer and closer to their goal through the adventure. Within these scenes Dion shone out as the star of the episode, giving his all to prevent the enemy breaching Atlantis and killing his Queen. Ariadne even got some moments to shine as her character got pushed into a difficult situation which made her question her place within the thrown and how to portray her role as Queen. The story made her character extremely vulnerable but at heart she remained strong for the right reasons whilst at the same showcasing her lack of leadership and the ability to act outside of the box. Her claims of not becoming like Pasiphae were tested right at the end when she ordered Dion to kill her step-mother upon her capture, pushing her character into some interesting character development.
It was interesting to see Sarpedon’s story have a twist within its development. As seen with ‘A New Dawn: Part 1’ he instigated the fall of Atlantis in a bid to gain his revenge after Minos banished him. This was helped by Pasiphae blinding his judgement through her deadly promises in order to use him as a tool for her own goals. In the end though the old man decided it was best to tell Ariadne the truth about his betrayal and find a way to redeem himself from his treachery. It was an intriguing little arc to watch and it was sad to see his character wasted. At first I was annoyed that his character bolted from being bad because his story had more potential going down that route but the idea of redemption and him becoming saddened by his conscious decision to burn down his old home made for the better storyline in the end and gave him far more character and soul. Sadly he was met with a gruesome end by being stabbed slowly through the neck by Pasiphae after his failed attempt to assassinate her.
Jason’s character finally got back on his feet half way through and that was when the story really picked up. Upon finding the deserters, Jason poetically gave a heroic speech to reclaim the soldier’s faith in fighting for Atlantis through the retrieval of Palladium. This was definitely a key moment within the episode, and within Jason’s character development, which really showed that his character had strength and the power to enforce courage into the hearts of his comrades, stirring them towards victory. Sadly this speech was his only outstanding moment within the story because upon joining the battle he was simply too ‘good’ within the fight. I know I complained earlier that seeing him injured was a mockery to his abilities but when seeing him fight without any sense of tension or injury he simply becomes too god-like and the scenes become tedious to watch because you know he’ll come out on top unscathed. There must be a balance. I think seeing Jason wounded, just a little bit, would’ve shown that he is still a mortal but at the same time emphasising that he’s strong enough to go on and fight beyond most men. It would’ve even gone to show the seriousness of the situation by implying that even the hero was wounded by this intense battle. Instead he walked away without a scratch making it seem pointless.
I suppose we should’ve all expected that the deserters would turn up just as the battle seemed the most bleak, resulting in the enemy being mortally defeated with high casualties and then them forced to retreat in shame. In many ways the adventure of this story followed the simple requirements of cliché plot-points. The hero was away on a quest to save the kingdom, and in the process delayed, thereby allowing the enemy to strike damage to the kingdom. The hero triumphantly returns and leads the army into battle but not before meeting with one last fierce battle that nearly causes them defeat. At the last moment a hidden army comes out, persuaded by the hero to rejoin the battle after hope is returned, and the battle is won. Now by no means did this make the episode bad because it was the best episode of the series by far but it makes it seem to lack imagination and originality by following the rules already placed, making it far too predictable and familiar. In other words safe.
As said in my last review, my biggest worry about this massive opener is the low quality of the forthcoming episodes. How do the stories top such a big opener? Answer: they can’t. The next few episodes will be lighter stories and won’t seem as grand in nature. The plus side is the opener left a lot threads open for further development which I think will lend to this second series being superior to the opening series due to the fact we have content to work with and progress throughout the stories. I think we are in for a dark series, filled with deceit and emotional revelations.
I continuously feel sorry for Jason because he does his best to please Ariadne and win over her heart with her only to rebuff his affections. The worst part is she constantly acknowledges her feelings towards him, giving Jason a false sense of hope that they can be together, but allows honour to stand between them. I think even Jason is fed up with this excuse now and poor Ariadne is left heart-broken that her duties as Queen slowly consume her freedom. Judging by next week’s episode, Jason will feel some frustration due to Ariadne growing close to a new contender to win her heart. It makes you wonder when the poor guy can get a break.
My favourite part about the episode was Hercules witnessing Pasiphae rescuing Jason by killing one of her own. I loved how his curiosity made him force the Oracle into telling him the truth behind Jason’s connection to Pasiphae. It was great to see the story-arc reopened and put into the centre of the storyline. Pasiphae even had a moment of emotion when she thought she’d found Jason’s corpse only to be relieved that the body was someone else. I really like this idea of Hercules becoming a more important character now that he holds such important information and also the fact that the Oracle has told him that he was chosen by the Gods to protect Jason. From this scene alone I feel reassured that the series is back on track after its blip last week and we are in for some treats along the way. Or the story-arc will come crashing down on itself through bad execution. But we can but hope that the series does its best.