A New Dawn (Part 1) by Howard Overman
The BBC’s answer to what will fill the gap on Saturday evenings when Doctor Who isn’t on, Atlantis is the third show (after Robin Hood and Merlin) to attempt this. Like both it’s predecessors, it had a mixed first season as it struggled to find its form. It had a lot of potential, too much juvenile humour, a few good episodes balanced by a few dreadful ones, and a few great performances from Mark Addy as Hercules and Sarah Parish as the villainous Pasiphae. There was a lot of promotion about season 2 being darker and more adult, and for the most part it delivers. It’s what they did with Merlin’s fourth and fifth seasons (which the same writers worked on) – which did help the overall quality even if it stifled some of its creativity.
As for the episode itself, it’s a decent one starting with a cast change from last season as King Minos’ funeral takes place, making Jason’s love interest Ariadne the new Queen but also giving Pasiphae her chance to strike back at the city. Pasiphae sends three agents, including a former exiled lord who swiftly gains Ariadne’s trust (Robert Pugh) and Medea, to infiltrate Atlantis. Medea steals the Palladium, a statue which the Atlantian soldiers believe makes the city untakeable in battle – once the soldiers realise it’s gone, many of them desert, leaving Ariadne with too few to face Pasiphae’s army. Ariadne sends Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules to retrieve the Palladium from the heart of Pasiphae’s army – an obvious suicide mission which Jason nevertheless accepts.
Standout scenes? Hercules and Pythagoras’ conversation about why they both follow Jason is both eye-opening and welcome (especially Hercules revelation he does this is an attempt to feel like the hero he’s always pretended to be). The scene where the three try to decide the fate of an unarmed enemy soldier (played by Pyp from Game of Thrones!), with moral Jason predictably refusing to kill in cold blood but Hercules and Pythagoras also finding themselves unwilling to kill an unarmed man, is a lot more grown-up and moralistic than anything we got last season. It also takes a dark turn when after retrieving the Palladium from the enemy camp, the same soldier shoots Jason with an arrow, only to be killed by a spear thrown by a furious Hercules. Bad points? Some very predictable plot moments and while the sword fights are well-choreographed, there are too many of them for a 45 minute episode!
The episode ends on a cliffhanger as Pasiphae traps the wounded Jason and his friends in a cave (inhabited by the cyclops!) before marching on the defenceless Atlantis…
Overall a good episode if a bit predictable, which matches the best Atlantis managed last season.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Next Time: The Heroes are cornered by the Cyclops as Pasiphae’s forces assault Atlantis…