Monday, October 21, 2013

Atlantis, Season 1, Episode 4: Twist of Fate

The comic threesome are off hunting – well, in theory they’re off hunting. What Pythagoras hopes to hunt with a knife is beyond me, a very slow deer, perhaps? Jason has the bow but who knows where he learned how to shoot it.

The only thing they find is a baby. A human baby – which Hercules and Pythagoras assumes has been left outside, exposed, to die for various reasons (sickly, illegitimate, etc). Neither of them are eager to help since they consider it messing with fate and angering the gods (really, by this point if everything anyone said angered the gods truly angered them, Jason would be the top of a very very long shit list. But then, given these are the Greek gods, that’s not entirely impossible). Jason, of course wants to help and Hercules is charmed by the baby’s doughy cutness.

After the obligatory fumbling trying to look after a baby, Jason hits the market looking for baby food, running into Medusa and giving us a chance to see the new guests this week – King Laius is visiting King Minos. He disrupts everything because everyone has to kneel to him as he wends his way to the palace to be welcomed back with some not-so-subtle flirting from Queen Pasiphae towards King Laius (in case we forgot due to a chronic case of not caring. Queen Pasiphae is married to King Minos) – which does not go unnoticed by Ariadne. Laius’s own queen, Jocasta, looks away silently.

Medusa accompanies Jason back having guided what he should buy and Medusa instantly takes after looking after the baby. Since Hercules has a crush on Medusa, he naturally takes credit for saving the baby despite his reluctance. To be alone with her, he sends Pythagoras and Jason to where they found the baby to look for clues of his origin. She leaves when she puts the baby down to sleep, though Hercules tries to convince her to stay for food/drink/near begging.

She comes back for a shawl she forgot and overhears an unaware Hercules crooning to the baby about how beautiful Medusa is and how he wishes he could tell her how he feels – but knows he can’t because he’s “old and fat and she wouldn’t give me a second glance.”

Pythagoras and Jason find some pottery shards where they found the baby (watched by a suspicious old man) and bring them back to find Hercules asleep with the baby. They wake him and take the child (with Jason being sympathetic about Hercules and Medusa and Pythagoras throwing in another fat joke). Pythagoras pieces together the pottery – it’s a rattle in the shape of a pig and clearly from a wealthy family. Who could that be?

To the palace! King Minos is making an offering to Artemis (should have done that before the hunt, you may have caught something). They sit down to dinner with Queen nameless making it clear she’s not her hubby, Laius’s biggest fan and Pasiphae plans to go hunting with them the next day - after all, wasn’t Artemis a woman? Ariadne has the perfect put down “but her prey had four legs.” Nasty, Ariadne can dish it out it seems.

Pasiphae interrupts her dinner because she gets a messenger (via Tiresius, King Laius’s loyal vizier) – the suspicious old man watched Jason and Pythagoras. He was the one who dumped the baby, at Pasiphae’s instruction and saw “2 boys” in the area where the child disappeared – but doesn’t know for sure where the child is. King Laius is worried about this – but Pasiphae assures him they will find the child.

Our three heroes continue to fumble around looking after the child and have a sleepless night – but when Jason goes to buy more milk he finds the market full of soldiers. He hurries back and finds Medusa there, having already warned them. The boy is king Laius’s son – probably illegitimate since Laius is a womaniser but won’t want illegitimate children threatening his legitimate heir.

The guards knock on the door and Medusa sends the men out to a tavern she knows while she stays and speaks to Tiresius and the guards, pretending to live there alone. She manages to answer his questions before leaving – but Tiresius finds the rattle.

After many shenanigans with the guards, Jason and Pythagoras manage to reach the tavern where they are hidden (Hercules dodges another way and is separated but rejoins them). But in the palace Tiresius reports to Laius (who is beginning to have doubts) and Pasiphae (who helps reassure his baby killing doubts) about the rattle – his son’s rattle. Tiresius hires someone to follow Medusa.

Medusa arrives at the Tavern – closely followed by Tiresius and the guards. Hercules refuses to hand over the baby –saying he’ll die first and out steps Jocasta, claiming to be the child’s mother. The child was not illegitimate, but the Oracle told King Laius that the boy would one day kill him so he had the child sacrificed. Hercules hands the baby over to his mother. Tiresius, who regrets helping abandon the child, says he will delay the guards and help the child be taken from the city.

The child of Jocasta and Laius would be Oedipus.

Jason, being a big damn hero, agrees to take the child from the city and Hercules insists on going with them (and Pythagoras naturally joins). After much talk to convince Jocasta to let the boy go and planning on how to escape the city (and Tiresius revealing in an aside to Pythagoras that the Oracle also said the boy would marry his mother – definitely Oedipus). As they leave, Medusa grabs Hercules and kisses him on the cheek.

After dodging one encounter with the guards, Hercules pretending to be a drunk, they reach the gate. Jason provides a distraction, pretending to have the baby and when the guards chase him. They corner him but he incapacitates 3 armed and armoured guards with a washing pole he grabs and wields one handed before evading the rest of the guards with amazing gymnast skills and dropping the watermelon he had used to pretend to be carrying a baby.

 Hercules and Pythagoras leave the city. They wait for Jason, worrying, and in their bickering Pythagoras notes that Jason is special – not just young and fit, but beyond that. Jason joins them and they light a fire.

Back in Atlantis, Tiresius sees the smoke and tells Jocasta that the baby is free. Jocasta asks Tiresisus why he helped – he says he has to follow his conscience, not his duty. He assures Laius and Pasiphae that the baby is dead and Laius orders more offerings to the cruel gods who cursed him.

The 3 heroes arrive at their destination – and name the child Oedipus (because of his swollen foot) before handing him over to Jocasta’s family. They return to Atlantis with Hercules rushing to Medusa and Pythagoras, again, saying it won’t end well

At any point, at all, is Jason going to lament missing the luxuries of being a citizen of the 21st century west? I mean, this was a man who had sufficient resources to get his hands on a submarine for his own whimsy, so I doubt he lived a deprived life. But not one minute of regret that he no longer has air conditioning? Washing Machines? Modern plumbing?

It is actually possible to raise a child and be male. Shocking, I know, according to these programmes men flail around helplessly when presented with a baby until a woman swoops in with her magical femaleness and inherent knowledge of all things baby.

I do appreciate some actual Greek myths though. As in, more than just grabbing the names – Jocasta, Laius and Oedipus have much more links to their original story rather than just being names (Tiresius? Not so much). A small thing to praise –but still something I appreciate as a fan of mythology.