Atlantis: 209 “The Gorgon’s Gaze” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
Atlantis has shown a lot of progression over this second half and each episode stands better than the last. The narrative is tense, creating a vibe of uncertainty as to where the plot will take us. ‘The Gorgon’s Gaze’ took the rug from underneath our feet and threw a curve ball into the mix, challenging the future of the show in terms of character trust.
This week’s episode stood as an emotional journey in which concocted a series of events that will determine the fate of many different characters. As seen at the conclusion of last week’s episode (‘The Madness of Hercules’) Pasiphae has made her move and seized control over Atlantis, and as expected her tyrant fist has spread fear over the people as they suffer under her wrath. Ariadne, meanwhile, has been locked up in prison and made to endure endless pain every time she defies Pasiphae.
The cruel element comes into play when Pasiphae deliberately attacked Delmos in order to try and break Ariadne’s will as queen. This stood as a far worse torture as Ariadne’s defiant answers were affecting the lives of those she holds dear. Sadly Delmos took the fall. Despite this, it was a great piece of development for his short-lived character as he showcased a strong sense of loyalty, and not because he was simply obeying his duty but because he believed in his queen and wanted her to continue standing strong against her enemy.
It was a great moment to see the new Oracle (Melas’s daughter Cassandra) announce her first words from the Gods to be anger towards the false queen Pasiphae. Even the Gods condemned her actions and wanted vengeance. Of course Pasiphae, in a huff, had the new Oracle thrown in prison for making apparent false claims. Pasiphae grew slightly fearful because the people of Atlantis would revolt against such a claim by the Gods and thus decided to attack Ariadne in order to make her submit her throne. This episode showcased Ariadne’s strong will and her development as a character. Despite seeing Delmos die in front of her (at the hands of Pasiphae) she remained strong and listened to her captain’s words of wisdom and continued to fight for her people and deny her enemy of victory.
The rest of the narrative focused on Medusa and her continuous suffering due to being tricked into killing the Oracle. It was sad to see her admit her feelings to Pythagoras. Medusa was in pain and didn’t want to continue with her life because her guilt destroyed her happiness. Despite wanting her future with Hercules she felt she couldn’t enjoy her happiness as long as her crime went unpunished and so wished to die in order to do something right. This deceit forced Pythagoras to go against his friend (Hercules) and infiltrate Atlantis in order to retrieve Pandora’s Box (the mystical device that brought about Medusa’s curse back in Series One).
Pythagoras was given some good moments during this part of the narrative and it also brought back characters Daedalus and Icarus (Pythagoras’s father and brother respectively). Their involvement was a nice little change to the establishment and really showcased the vast nature of the world that Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy and Howard Overman had created over the course of the series. It’s not a perfect world and narrative threads are sometimes left unanswered whilst certain characters disappear from our screens and are never seen again, but despite this Atlantis still stands as a strong television product that delivers what it intends.
It was a cruel moment when Medusa drugged Hercules in order to keep him in the dark about her plan (knowing too well it would break his heart and would try and stop her). You instantly knew from the way she told Hercules to ‘always remember that she loved him’ that she was going to die. This was her way of saying goodbye in the most polite way possible. It was a terrible dilemma for Jason to face in order to save Atlantis. He clearly didn’t want Medusa to take the fall but was swayed by Pythagoras’s words of logic. Medusa sadly became a Gorgon again and asked Jason to behead her in order to use her as a weapon against Pasiphae. It was a horrible imagery seeing him walk away from the cave with her head in his hand. It was subtle. We didn’t need to see the beheading as this piece of imagery told us everything in an emotional manner that had clear meaning.
Jason’s assault upon Atlantis felt rather cold and dark for his character. He turned everyone that stood in his way into stone and made his way closer to Pasiphae. As I suspected he wouldn’t be able to kill her with Medusa’s head due to Jason being immune (passed on by his mother due to them both being touched by the Gods). Also it was clear that Pasiphae wouldn’t meet her demise due to the series still having four more episodes. This and of course Jason had failed on multiple occasions before to kill Pasiphae due to his instinct neglecting him to do so.
Finally the cat was out of the bag when Pasiphae revealed the terrible truth. I knew that this duel between them would end like this. Jason had the evil woman where he wanted her but couldn’t commit with the kill and then the truth was told to him which determined the outcome. He couldn’t kill his own mother and this (I believe) will cloud his decisions for the remainder of the series. It will drive him and other characters to interesting scenarios which will threaten the trust of the honourable trio.
The crowning moment of ‘The Gorgon’s Gaze’ was Hercules being told that Medusa had died. His heart broke. The emotion delivered from Mark Addy was just fantastic and you really felt his pain. It lent even further towards tragedy when he threw Pythagoras against the wall in anger due to his friend essentially betraying his trust and allowing the love of his life to commit suicide. I felt perhaps Medusa should’ve told Hercules the truth and allowed herself the chance of redemption through Hercules’ love. Together they may have been able to get past the guilt and pain but instead Hercules has been left alone again through cruel circumstance and it makes you wonder how much more the poor man can take.
A lot happened in this episode and it’s hard to say where things will go from here. Without a doubt the series has been getting better and I still stand to reason that the BBC made a foolish mistake in cancelling the show whilst it was at its prime and striving towards a great pace in development. Either way I’m looking forward to see what’s to come in these last four episodes, and judging from the ‘next time’ trailer things are going to be heating up and friendships will be tested.