Monday, October 28, 2013

Atlantis, Season 1, Episode 5: White Lies

A man sneaks into the palace to grab princess Ariadne… and give her a letter. What the post office not exciting enough? While she’s reading it the guards find him – Ariadne tells him to run and he manages an epic leap out of a window – only to be caught by an archer’s arrow.

He’s wounded and imprisoned and they question Ariadne about him – she denies all knowledge and claims he was a thief. Pasiphae doesn’t believe her and she and her evil minion Heptarian note Ariadne is more concerned about the man than her own safety.

Pasiphae has the man tortured to try and find the truth. A troubled Ariadne asks her loyal servant, Korinna, to help her before going to the temple to pray. Pasiphae finds her there just to exchange some quietly menacing posturing, as you do.

She returns to the prison to torture the man, Stolos, with magic – this time breaking him. He reveals he delivered a message to Ariadne from her brother. This rather upsets Pasiphae since she thought the man dead – she kills Stolos and goes to see the Oracle.

She’s not happy with the Oracle because she said Ariadne’s brother, Therus, was dead. The Oracle disagrees – “lost at sea” doesn’t necessarily mean dead – serves you right for trusting and Oracle of notorious vagueness! The Oracle adds how Pasiphae’s hunger for power will cause bloodshed and badness and gets threatened in return.

Pasiphae passes on the news about Therus to Heptarian who isn’t thrilled either, apparently he could tell some bad secrets to Ariadne. She tells Heptarian to take some soldiers and kill Therus before he tells the truth to Ariadne and she refuses to marry him (I was under the impression she was never a big fan of the plan and was being forced into it anyway).

Heptarian sets off with Ramos and a group of soldiers while Pasiphae taunts Ariadne about her “treacherous” brother.

Meanwhile our heroes are betting on gung beetle races; gambling all their money on Hercules’s sure bet. Shockingly, they actually win and actually win money. No, really.  While in the market spending their gains, Korinna manages to catch Jason. She tells him that she has a loved one outside the city (falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit so he can’t enter Atlantis) she must go meet – but the road is difficult and dangerous, she needs a guard – Jason. Of course he agrees.

Hercules and Pythagoras join him, Hercules dragging his victorious dung beetle with him just in case he’s not sufficiently ridiculous already. Along the way they find bodies of people attacked by bandits, apparently pretty common in those parts.

When they arrive at their destination, Korinna goes on alone to talk to Therus. After a while Pythagoras barges in and introductions happen.

Back in the city, Ariadne and her father, King Minos, discuss her brother. He is convinced Therus betrayed him because his co-conspirators confessed. Having seen Pasiphae’s methods, I am very unsurprised by this. He tells Ariadne how precious she is to him and Pasiphae, listening in, doesn’t look thrilled.

As the night progresses, Hercules and Jason realise that there’s no way Korinna and Therus are lovers – Korinna has lied to them. Soldiers arrive, Jason fights, Hercules is ridiculous and Therus and Ramos (the general of Atlantis) recognise each other. As they flee, Pythagoras and Hercules learn who Therus is.

Heptarian has the fun job of telling Pasiphae they’ve failed but she has a new plan – use Ariadne to draw Therus in.

Which seems to be working because at the hunting lodge they’ve taken shelter in, between Hercules rambling on about the damn beetle, Therus decides he has to go to Ariadne himself. For…. Reasons. He has 4 messengers there who can pass on any message but clearly only himself going to the city will do. The script says so. Jason and Therus get together, their single brain cells coming together in an awesome plan – let’s smuggle Ariadne out of the palace! (And go where? Does she want to go?)

Back to Atlantis and Korinna passes on word to Ariadne – who instantly decides she must go to Therus in the mountains. They sneak Ariadne out of the palace using a distraction. This worries Pasiphae and she seals the city. Sneaking through the strees, Jason seems troubled and Ariadne asks him about it. Really? This is awful writing. Does he look nervous and uncomfortable? Maybe it’s because he’s sneaking a princess out past armed guards in the middle of the night?! How is he supposed to look? Gleeful? Joyous? Happy-dappy-dancing as they skip along? But that would not have given Jason a chance to tell Ariadne he would help her without Korinna lying and how she can definitely trust him.

He takes her to his home while she changes clothes and he hurriedly cleans the place and excuses why Hercules keeps a jar of horse dung for his beetle.

In the palace Minos is angsting, worried he is losing his second child (Pasiphae tries to insist that Therus betrayed him). He thinks the gods are punishing him for what he did to win the throne – and that maybe the throne wasn’t the height of his desires after all?

More of Hercules being ridiculous about a bug and Jason and Ariadne trying to sneak out of the city. This trying to sneak out of the city game is becoming a weekly sport. Ramos finds them – but General Ramos is on their side, leading them out of a side gate. When Ariadne asks why, Ramos says “I serve the king”, clearly doubts about Heptarian and Pasiphae abound.

They head to the mountain cabin (where Hercules and his bug are still being ridiculous) and, seeing them arriving, Therus pours something into a cup of water. Brother and sister reunite after 10 years apart and Therus gives her the cup to drink from. Therus tells the truth of why he left – he learned that Pasiphae intended to kill him (I am shocked, shocked by this news) and then manufactured a murder plot to discredit Therus when he found out forcing him to flee. He warns Ariadne that she is the next obstacle between Pasiphae and the throne and will be the next target – she must flee with him. She refuses and then passes out. He drugged her to protect her – yay, AGENCY!

Jason gives chase and catches up when a bird spooks Therus’s horse. Time for a sword fight to protect the woman! Jason fights for Ariadne’s choice (which is something). Ariadne wakes up and tells Therus to stop – she can’t abandon the city to Pasophae, it’s her duty to stay. Therus agrees but asks if Jason is part of the reason she’s staying in Atlantis – she dodges the question.

Ariadne and Jason sneak back into the city and, after an awkward “you didn’t hear me profess love and devotion did you?” moment, Ariadne returns to the Palace, claiming she was in the temple with the Oracle the whole time and both she and Pasiphae dispense with niceties and pretence with their dislike. Minos arrives and Ariadne hugs him while he declares he loves her more than anything in the world while Pasiphae practices her lemon-sucking face.

In case anyone’s interested, Hercules bets his shirt on the next bug race and his beetle loses.

All this horror about Ariadne learning the truth if she meets her brother. Is there a reason why Therus can’t tell Korinna who, in turn, can then tell Ariadne? Or pass on a note? A book? Re-enact some evocative performance art?

And really Ariadne, how could you not trust Jason? I mean, they’ve exchanged almost 4 whole lines of dialogue! They have made significant eye contact in all kinds of public places! How could she not trust him! It’s not like he’s a complete and utter stranger she knows nothing about… oh, wait.

Ariadne asserted her agency and is determined to stay in the palace for the sake of the people – great, love it. Power, agency and determination to use her position for good. So let’s see it. Let’s see Ariadne involved in things other than sparring with her step-mother and making goo-goo eyes at Jason in arenas/throne rooms/etc. Let’s not have Jason, a newcomer to the DIMENSION, leading her by the hand through her own city. And/or let’s have Medusa involved more rather than as a person for Hercules to constantly pine after while adding to his own ridiculousness.

The only really CONSISNTANTLY active and capable and present female character we have is Pasiphae – the evil magic using step-mother.