Atlantis: 208: “The Madness of Hercules” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
As established in last week’s episode (‘A Fate Worse Than Death’), Jason was arrested for crimes he didn’t commit and sentenced to death at the hands of the Bull. Ironic really since last series Ariadne was due the same fate and now the tables have turned and it is up to the other to save the day.
Atlantis has become somewhat frustrating of late due to the aggravating plot concerning Pasiphae. It appears that there is no one left who isn’t corrupt within the city walls of Atlantis and our heroes are fighting a losing battle. Once more the primitive factor returned this week with Melas and Celix (Pasiphae’s puppet) attempting to do whatever they can to ensure the worst outcome for both Jason and Ariadne. Despite Ariadne being Queen it would appear that that is a redundant title according to everyone else’s concern because nobody listens to her, making it all the more easy for Pasiphae to get her way. It’s a stupid system really and displays perfectly how backwards humanity was when confused by reality and fiction. The Greek’s devotion to the Gods made them too perceptible to the false information derived from Charlatans.
At the word of Melas (who continues to annoy me due to his recent treachery) the council obeyed his word just because he claimed “the Gods had spoken”. It irritates me to watch this unfold and that the world can be turned upside down by basically blaspheming their own Gods through misusing their words against others. This entire ordeal could be undone if Melas spoke the truth, that the Gods did bless the marriage and that Pasiphae is behind all the crimes committed.
Hercules was given the driver’s seat for this particular narrative as he was confronted with the choice between telling the truth and keeping his one true love alive. It was a horrible dilemma to face. He’d only just got Medusa back in the previous episode and now his best friend (Jason) was to be executed for a crime he hadn’t done all because Medusa had been manipulated to kill the Oracle. Both people are innocent in technical terms. They are both pawns to be used by Pasiphae in order to claim her victory.
I liked how Hercules decided to rescue Jason, even concocting a false bar fight to get him arrested in order to commence his rescue attempt. Of course (in a cliché turn of events) Jason and Hercules are captured. It still stands that Mark Addy is the best actor of the group. I don’t normally go into acting but I do agree with some claims that the acting can come across as a bit wooden. Addy stands out through his veteran acting skills, outshining the protagonist (Jack Donnelly) who can appear to be almost artificial within his performance from time to time.
There were moments where Jason and Ariadne’s love was tested due to the Queen giving the impression that she wasn’t going to save her lover from his fate. Ariadne has always come across as a strange character to me because of her constant change in emotion. Her apparent backstabbing did appear genuine to me and I actually believed she had given up hope. Maybe not because she no longer cared for Jason but simply realised she was powerless against the superstition of the God’s wrath. Of course (again cliché) Ariadne aided in Jason and Hercules’ rescue and this time they escaped Atlantis. This plan was helped by Delmos, a character I wasn’t too sure about in last week’s episode because of where he stood in terms of loyalty. ‘The Madness of Hercules’ showed him off as a loyal soldier to his Queen and even took torture in order to protect her. It was simply nice to see someone within the show who was still willing to do what was right and not be bribed by Pasiphae’s insanity.
Pythagoras once again showed little interest to me because his character continues to be bland and serves no real purpose other than filling in for needed roles to progress the narrative. Also his ‘know-it-all’ attitude bores me. He always believes he knows the answers and the best possible solution when some of the time he has no experience on the matter to even comment. His continuous bantering about what Hercules should do and what the right choice is was all in bad taste because he had no real idea what Hercules was going through.
Even when Medusa agreed to return to Atlantis to confront her crimes Pythagoras continued to say ‘this is the right choice’ to which I’m glad Hercules responded to in a negative way, explaining that the choice isn’t any easier despite being the right option. Pythagoras has no consideration sometimes and this narrative was no exception for him being a somewhat cold and unemotional character that is trapped within his own little world of science. The only redeeming factor the episode showed for his character was him becoming frustrated at his powerlessness in being able to save his friends from their fate.
The problem with this narrative was it all lent nicely towards Pasiphae’s take over. With Jason condemned as a criminal and Ariadne aiding this convict (going against her own laws as Queen) she easily pushed forward to bring down her enemies and gained the crown. Through more false accusations Melas managed to arrest the Queen, leaving Atlantis wide open to the wrath of Pasiphae.
I have no idea how Pasiphae managed to assume the throne at the end (hopefully this is explained) but it just shows how backwards the world of Atlantis is in which it allows an evil tyrant the power to do what she wants. Pasiphae has continuously been allowed since the very first episode (‘The Earth Bull’) to get away with murder. Even after being exiled she has managed to manipulate the council, nearly invade the city and even had the Oracle killed whilst maintaining a secret base of operation within the city walls. It just appears complete madness how she has managed to stay alive and now she has achieved her goals with ease because characters have allowed her to.
This is why I’ve found the show to be frustrating to watch and I just hope this series ends with a satisfying conclusion. Pasiphae must die. End of. For Pasiphae to go unpunished would be a crime and I would be left absolutely disappointed. Things must end on a good note otherwise the cancellation (by the BBC) will be even more damaging. There’s nothing worse than a show ending with an unresolved narrative (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is one of the best examples for this, that cliff-hanger was painful).