[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 7, "The Rules of Engagement"

Courtesy of the BBC
It seems like Atlantis might have settled into a groove somewhat, which is really what you'd expect after half a dozen episodes. After some early alternating of quality, the last couple episodes have seen a level of consistency, which is the first step towards quality, so long as they can keep it up. And we got an episode devoted to the love story between Jason and Ariadne that is being forced on us, despite the fact that it still lacks any of the organic attraction that the writer's are building up between Hercules and Medusa rather nicely. It also, as a boon, is building on the continuity of the series, making the week to week seem less stand alone and more integrated. It's just a shame that the episode was rather dull.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that would never bring parkour to a knife fight.

I get the feeling that the writers have been divided into two camps. One digging through mythology books, and the other digging through history books, and when either side finds something obscure and interesting, they run off and write and episode around it. So, for the second time in this series, we've got an episode where Jason enters the arena. This time round, it's a pankration, the mixed martial arts of the Greek world. According to legend, the sport was invented by Hercules and Theseus (yet another Theseus connection to our hero Jason), in which only biting was disallowed. The skills they honed in the pankration would come in handy when facing their various challenges, and the sport was eventually added to the Olympics (which, it can be noted, was invented by the mythical Jason when he was crewing the Argonautica). The actual event was really just a no holds barred wrestling match, not a weaponed event, so for reasons of ratcheting up the tension (and making it more interesting to the audience), writer Richard McBrien turned the sport into a finesse knife fight. First blood wins. 

And that's fine. Liberal application of convention is the operating procedure for this show. Add a knife, suddenly a game of strength takes on a potentially deadlier, and thus more dramatic, tone. Unfortunately, the montages of Jason and Heptarian handily winning their bouts just couldn't hold my interest. Maybe it was the repetitiveness of the event, maybe it was the inevitability of the final match, and of the outcome that drained it of any actual tension. The only time I found myself engaged was when Jason did one of his absurd flip things, and his opponent swatted him out of the air like a pestering gadfly. The sequences destroyed the pacing of the episode, which was much better served by the character pieces, like Jason and Ariadne's clandestine meetings, or Hercules' attempts to repair his relationship with Medusa, or the single scene where Jason attempts to train for the event, which really should have had more time devoted to it (they've eased up slightly on Jason's inherent talents, perhaps to dissuade the notion that he is a godspawn), if only for the continued potential comedic opportunities.

The two romances of the series moved forward, though I'm still at a lose at to why we should care about Jason and Ariadne. Their attraction isn't based on anything other than an initial random encounter that, if I remember correctly, was just an exchange of lustful glances. To date, I don't think they've had a substantial talk about anything. Even the episode with her brother was mostly just dashing about. It's an attraction based entirely on nothing but a suggestion of nobility and the age old you-only-want-what-you can't-have, so as a viewer it just doesn't hold the interest. Hercules and Medusa is far more interesting. Despite  the fact that it started off as a one sided infatuation, their relationship has progressed into a reciprocated friendship if not a full blown attraction. And here, it was on a rough patch, as Medusa quiet rightly is still upset about Hercules' mind control adventure last week. And over the course of the episode, Hercules' good naturedness helps her to forgive him somewhat, if not completely. And considering that Jason's oath to kill Pasiphaë was completely ignored, I'll take as much continuity as I can get.

The politics of Atlantis continue to become more complex, as Pasiphaë's quest for a dominate legacy on the throne revealed another layer: she is poisoning Minos. Does this account for his wild fluctuations between over acting and behaving like a normal human being, or is it just putting a little extra salt in that beard of his? Korina's death was a nice touch, and considering how much the main cast has abused her friendship thus far, not entirely unexpected. But it does show how desperate Pasiphaë may become in the second half of this series now that her nephew is no longer in line for the throne (in real life, Ariadne would have had exactly zero say in whom she would be married to, but this is a modern interpretation, so I'll let that slide). With Pasiphaë's actions becoming more overt, Circe gunning for her, and Jason's parentage yet to be revealed, I'm beginning to wonder how dramatically the political landscape of Atlantis may change by the series' end. And if Ariadne's assertion that she is a princesses and Jason is just himself is a not too subtle hint towards where everything is heading.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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