Atlantis: 212 “The Queen Must Die” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
The dreaded day finally arrived in which Atlantis sunk from our screens once and for all. It is sad to know that such a fine, entertaining programme was utterly abandoned by the BBC when such fantasy shows are scarce on British television these days. This, as I’ve said from day one, was a huge mistake.
The series two finale (‘The Queen Must Die’) sought to tackle many of the ongoing plot threads that had occurred since last year’s opener ‘A New Dawn’. One of the more interesting ones was the relationship between Jason and Medea. In recent episodes Jason’s heart had blackened and Medea became convinced that their destinies would become intertwined. Surprisingly the finale showed a radical change for her character as she totally fell for Jason, becoming swallowed by emotions she couldn’t comprehend. This in turn turned her against Pasiphae, who ferociously threatened her life, and aided Jason briefly in bringing the evil woman’s downfall. It was a massive shame that more wasn’t explored between Jason and Medea as, sadly; this was going to be left for Series Three.
However, the interesting outcome of Jason and Medea’s romance brought about tension between Jason and Ariadne. Ariadne discovered through Pasiphae that the man she loved had been unfaithful. This was great to see play out. Despite everything they had been through it seemed that our heroes still had a long way to go before a peaceful resolution occurred. Jason had fought long and hard to win Ariadne’s heart and recent events had damaged their love through unforeseen circumstances that Jason could not explain. His feelings for Medea was a meddlesome game played out by the Gods and it would have been interesting to see where it would have gone had the series continued.
One of the greatest outcomes that came from ‘The Queen Must Die’ was Pasiphae’s capture. It was done brilliantly and really showcased the evil tyrant fall to her knees against Jason. Their face-off was a great pay-off. No bloodshed was made, simply Jason rendering her powerless. I also really enjoyed Jason’s goodbye scene to her. It was poetic and really established both of their characters; Jason, the hero that would sacrifice everything (including himself) to do what is right and Pasiphae, the villain that sought to do whatever necessary to achieve her goals. Both Jack Donnelly and Sarah Parish gave a fantastic performance as they released every ounce of emotion into the scene. This was a rare moment in which Pasiphae was shown to be weakened by emotion.
Pasiphae’s death followed. This was a moment I had been waiting for since Series One. It was another scene that played out perfectly. I first imagined that Jason would be the executioner, killing the villainess in their final confrontational battle but instead she was executed without an audience. This played out better in my eyes. It granted her a death worthy of her crimes, putting her to complete shame as she realised her end had come and was no longer in control. It was shocking to see Hercules be the one to kill her, adding greatly to the scene.
I enjoyed the reveal that Pythagoras was in fact in love with Icarus. This episode granted the character with an abundance of development through giving him emotion to play with. He was no longer wooden but three-dimensional. The betrayal caused him to suffer throughout as he felt backstabbed by the man he thought loved him. It was great to see Pythagoras use Icarus to aid in bringing the final downfall of Jason’s enemies. I also loved how Icarus was briefly cast away by his father, the man he betrayed for in order to keep alive. It showcased just how wrong he was and Icarus finally saw the full consequences of his actions, serving as a nice pay-off to this small arc within recent episodes.
As predicted, Cilix attempted to take the throne and tried killing off his competition. This was the part of the episode that really felt shaky because tensions were high and loyalties were spread thin, meaning it wasn’t clear who would take control of Atlantis. In a glorious scene Jason took the upper hand and put a stop to Cilix. The coward tried to beg for his life but in a turn of events Goran killed him. Goran really changed as a character by deciding to do what was right by swearing his allegiance to Jason and Ariadne. Over this second half he developed so much as a character and began to showcase a real voice which has led to him realising his mistakes and wished to end the bloodshed once and for all.
The narrative took a break from the tension and mellowed out for a while as it appeared that Jason, Ariadne and their friends had won the day and took Atlantis back. But fate wasn’t on their side and I was saddened to see the resurrection of Pasiphae. Hell bent on reclaiming the throne she once again forced the armies of Atlantis to bow to her whim and took the city back in a hellish fashion that ultimately ravaged it. It was sad to see the likes of Goran and Melas die at Pasiphae’s hands. He showed true courage in the end by looking the villainess straight in the eye and refused to bow to her anymore. Melas’s death was sad because he was never a true villain but simply forced onto the wrong side by Pasiphae’s evil threats. Both of these characters received redemption in the end.
This was the part of the narrative I thought would end in a massive, climatic showdown and Jason would once and for all put Pasiphae down. This was not to be the case. It was with great regret to see the remaining narrative fall apart by the mere implications that it was leading towards a third series, something that is no longer happening. There’s nothing worse than seeing a show finish a run knowing too well it will not be getting a conclusion. It is sad in Atlantis’ case because it was a truly entertaining series that was always developing and was heading somewhere. It was never the best piece of television but it was still solid enough to stand strong each Saturday night it was on and continued to show promise and direction.
One of the things that was concluded was the cementing of Pythagoras and Icarus’ love together. After Icarus risked everything to save Pythagoras life, in the elegant fashion of flying and dropping bombs, Pythagoras forgave his lover with a romantic kiss. As mentioned above this really brought a character out of Pythagoras and made me appreciate him because he gained depth.
Unfortunately we were then left with too many plot threads leading into the next series, i.e. Jason’s quest to find the Golden Fleece. This would’ve ultimately brought him to discover the source of Pasiphae’s power and granting him a means to finally stop her. It would have also meant that he journeyed to the place where Medea went back to. This would have brought him to seek out her help and ultimately bring about more tension between Jason and Ariadne. It’s fair to say that it would have been a good third series.
Some might say my verdict is strange. How can I be fully satisfied with an episode that doesn’t conclude the show with a satisfying ending, that leaves its plot open and most importantly leaves Pasiphae alive despite the fact I wanted to see her dead so badly? The answer is I’m rating this as an overall episode. As it stands it was an outstanding one (the best to date in fact) and really ended the second series on a high note. Judging it as a concluding narrative isn’t fair because it clearly wasn’t a concluding episode.
Had a third series been commissioned ‘The Queen Must Die’ would’ve been a brilliant hook to bring its audience back for the following episode upon the show’s return. It left me wanting more which was the best thing about the episode. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth and I felt it ended the show on good terms and I hope deep down that the BBC learns from its mistakes and brings Atlantis back one day (or at the very least Amazon or Netflix picks it up similar to what happened with Ripper Street). Until then I will wait and cherish what we were given, which was essentially a good series that died before its time.