Atlantis: 207: “A Fate Worse Than Death” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
After the saddening news that Atlantis was being cancelled the second series returns for its final half, starting with ‘A Fate Worse Than Death’.
The first half of the second series ended rather well, in my eyes, opening the doors to all kinds of possibilities and potential within the story. This has been shown greatly with this secondary opener which depicted more deceit within the walls of Atlantis. It also reaffirmed my hatred for Pasiphae, well acted by Sarah Parish. I always say that if an actor can make you love them as a hero or despise them as a villain then they are doing a bloody good job.
As confirmed in ‘The Grey Sisters’ Jason and Ariadne have finally come together to prepare for marriage. This of course wasn’t without consequence as the backwards ways of the past sprang up to deny them of love through the two tragic lovers requiring a blessing from the Gods. The Oracle was very much in favour of carrying this out in order to help out but Pasiphae on the other hand wished to do everything in her power to prevent this from occurring.
‘A Fate Worse Than Death’ turned into a tense and tragic narrative, pushing Pasiphae’s boundaries as villain and Jason’s role as hero. His desperate search for the Oracle was completely in vein which served as the disappointing factor because he didn’t win. It was a nice bold statement for the show’s return I think, allowing you (the audience) to know where we stand in this turning point. What made matters worse was Pasiphae’s defiance and desperation throughout. Her willingness to prevent the wedding was powerful and extremely frustrating on my part because I just want her plans to be halted and her death to follow (again, great performance Parish). Like with her confrontation with Jason during ‘The Grey Sisters’ she stood before the Oracle and tried her best to intimidate, whilst the Oracle tried to stand tall and without fear.
Even the threat of being cursed by the Gods didn’t scare Pasiphae as she already planned around this event by using someone to do the dirty work of killing the Oracle. This made her all the more cunning and rather psychotic in her attempts to take the throne, even blatantly announcing that her son was no exception to death by her hands.
This was where the tragedy really started to pour out of the narrative and leave you feeling rather anxious for the next set of instalments. As promised within the teaser trailer at the end of ‘The Grey Sisters’ Medusa returns. Cursed with being alone in a cave and unable to gaze into the eyes of the one she loves, Hercules, Medusa fell quickly to the offer Pasiphae gave to her. Unbeknown to poor Medusa was that she would be using her deadly powers once more on the Oracle, a mistake she dearly regretted. True to Pasiphae’s word Medusa was lifted from the curse and once more allowed to see Hercules, a moment I found touching. Sadly this hasn’t brought her happiness as her actions have caused a rippling effect on the events around her. Medusa’s life is even in danger because of this.
We now have two tragic love stories within the mix again. Hercules, as most of you will know, wasn’t high on my least for favourites when this show started. However over its course he has progressed and become a likable character that can show compassion. Medusa brought this out of him and it was upsetting to see her being taken from him in Series One. Now once again she has been taken from him because of Pasiphae; using her to aid the devilish woman’s plot to cease Atlantis. I felt sorry for Hercules as he attempted to keep Medusa safe.
In the end she isn’t a monster. She is innocent and was used, blackmailed into doing crime (one she wasn’t fully in detail of) in order to free herself of a curse that wasn’t her fault. Medusa has been given so much bad luck over the course of the series and you can’t help but feel sorry for her. And Hercules too. Now he must stand by and watch as everyone around him curses Medusa’s name for her foolish crimes. This I believe will create some brilliant tension within the coming episodes. Allegiances will be tested between him and Jason over the fate of Medusa. Jason will want to kill her for the death of the Oracle (and the damaging effects to his long-earned marriage) whilst Hercules will want to protect the woman he loves most.
It was nice to see Pythagoras try and help during this conflicting matter but as Hercules rightfully stated, he doesn’t know anything. Pythagoras has never experienced love and so will never know what Hercules is going through. Still, Pythagoras stands as a tool to keep story-treads in motion, and proving he is loyal to his two friends (though I still believe his character hasn’t found a true place within the narrative, making him practically irrelevant). His best moment was him realising (too late unfortunately) that the real villain during this episode was High Priest Melas. This one served as a surprise to me as his character had always stood by Ariadne with the best of intentions.
But, sadly, my trust in Melas shifted as this particular narrative played out and I began suspecting he would be revealed as a traitor (and he was). This was something that bugged Pythagoras throughout the journey and finally when Jason was arrested and charged with the death of the Oracle it all clicked and linked together. This reveal started to make me wonder if anyone in the show wasn’t corrupt as this running thread has been used so much throughout this second series. In some ways it’s getting tiresome to see everyone turn out to be Pasiphae’s servant for unimaginative reasoning.
As things stand we have Jason being accused and sentenced to death (for crimes he hasn’t done) by Melas in order to aid Pasiphae in preventing the wedding. This was a cold move and Melas’s nonsense about the Gods judgement really made me feel mad, especially since there was no fact to his words and he knows the truth; that the Gods blessed the marriage of Jason and Ariadne. It’s one of those storylines were you hope that the villains and liars involved get what they deserve. As it stands Ariadne is powerless to stand against the High Priest and Hercules could well be powerless to protect Medusa (although as the minute nobody knows he is hiding her but I reckon it won’t take long for Pythagoras to figure things out).
In my eyes ‘A Fate Worse Than Death’ was the best possible way to bring back the show after its short break. With the knowledge that the show will soon be coming to an end I grow wary that events will not be fully finished, leaving us with either an abrupt or un-concluded story. If either one of these outcomes occur (which I believe are inevitable due to the circumstances of a premature ending of the series) I will be unhappy with the BBC for not giving the show a fair chance.
Perhaps allowing Series Two to play out before judging it on poor ratings would’ve have been the best option. It was pitted against ITV’s crap-time Saturday television, which people will watch (though I don’t know why when quality programmes are on elsewhere), which would’ve made it hard to grab views but that was inevitable unfortunately. You can’t judge a series just because it can’t pit against them kind of shows when they will always in this day and age be high up on the ratings boards. I guess we will have to see how things pan out. Considering I was unsure about Atlantis’s direction this current series I’m impressed how much of a u-turn it has had and how much it has got me engaged again. Keep it up Atlantis and go out with a bang.