Monday, November 4, 2013

Atlantis, Season 1, Episode 6: The Song of the Sirens

Hercules is being oiled up for a wrestling match – fat jokes, of course, go here. He’s going to wrestle someone called the “Destroyer” and Jason, Pythagoras and Medusa are not confident this will end well.

He wrestles – and he actually does surprisingly well; the show skipped making him look completely inept for once. Of course, he still loses. To rub salt in the wound, the winner picks up Medusa and shows her off to the crowd while she laughs.

Jason and Pythagoras take him home and try to convince him to stop risking himself trying to impress Medusa – of course Hercules denies it. They leave him and discuss the whole romance – they can see why Hercules is attracted to Medusa, but can see nothing in Hercules to attract her to him and he has no prospects or stability to offer her. They both pity him for his doomed, unrequited love. All of which Hercules overhears.

The Oracle summons Jason to deliver a vitally important, urgent warning! He has an enemy… oh and she’s female and not Pasiphae.

Why, Oracle, where would we be without your clear and insightful information?

Hercules lets Pythagoras know he overheard him before going to the Temple to pray to Aphrodite. On the way out through the market one of his friends, Elias, stops him and warns him that Aphrodite is unlikely to bless him in his love – but there is another way, enchantment. He tells Hercules of one of the Witches of Colchis living nearby. And the price is his most precious possession.

Hercules sets out – and back home Jason and Pythagoras notice Hercules has taken his sword and bag, which they’re worried means he won’t be returning after hearing what they said about him.

Hercules travels a considerable distance to the cave to meet Circe of Colchis and gives her his most precious possession, the last link to his father telling us exactly how much it meant to him, the history behind it and what his father meant to him (I’m taking this as meaning his father isn’t Zeus?). She also thinks his friends support Hercules, just a random aside, before handing over a jar containing the Song of the Sirens which should enchant Medusa so long as Hercules is the first thing she sees after hearing the song.

He returns to Atlantis, makes up with Pythagoras and Jason before sneaking into the palace and using the song on the unsuspecting Medusa. After the song he walks out for her to see him and then he promptly babbles away. She agrees to meet him later, apparently affected by the song.

That night, Medusa arrives, much to Jason and Pythagoras’s shock. Hercules takes her out, calling her “my love” while she fawns over him. They have a fun night out that ends with them at a quiet overlook where Hercules father used to take him where he learned to appreciate things while he had them. Later Medusa talks about how lonely she was in Atlantis and how she even considered leaving – and kisses him goodnight.

The next morning Medusa wakes them up with a huge basket of good food: stolen from the palace kitchens. Hercules and Medusa are all happy and sunny – until Medusa passes out. He carries her back to Pythagoras who examines the rash on her arms – he’s never seen anything like it. Pythagoras does what he can with herbs and medicine but he tells Jason that she is afflicted by witchcraft and only witchcraft can cure her.

Hercules, crying, confesses all to Pythagoras and Jason (though he notes they don’t understand: Pythagoras cares only for his triangles and Jason is good looking enough no woman would turn him down). Hercules suggests returning to Circe but Jason questions whether he can trust her given what she’s already done.

All night the three work to try and cure Medusa but come the morning she’s even worse than she was the night before.

Hercules returns to the cave and she taunts him that Medusa does love him – he tries to attack her which doesn’t go well. She rants and raves at him, but it basically comes down to he’s a fool and she only helped him to trap him so his friends (Jason) will come to his rescue.

Jason and Pythagoras notice Hercules is gone and set off after him, leaving Korinna to tend Medusa. It’s only when they’re on the road and being followed that Jason realises Pythagoras has no sword. It’s probably lucky then that the thing following them is a pig (a pig? And Circe? Nice Odyssey reference) – which continues to follow them, even joining them at camp when Jason reveals his ominous warning from the Oracle.

They wake up and the pig has eaten everything except an olive. Pythagoras has a shocked moment – someone who is persistent, greedy and will eat everything but black olives and who drinks all the wine is a good description of Hercules (it’s also a good description of… a pig. That just happens to have missed one olive along with the other detritus. Seriously, who sees a greedy pig and is shocked and surprised by it being greedy?) Jason also recognises the pig’s flatulence. Yes he does.

Of course, learning your best friend is now a pig prompts some pig jokes – they could at least be good ones.

Circe summons a lizardy flying wyverny dragon thing from her pond which flies off hunting Hercules and Pythagoras. It attacks Pythagoras in a fluffy of dodgy CGI, giving Jason chance to heroically slay it. Pythagoras is hurt in the attack, ensuring that heroic Jason must heroicly go forth alone like a big damn hero.

He confronts Circe in her cave and she calls them allies because they want the same thing (exactly what does Jason want? He has expressed no wish to go home, no real underlying goal in Atlantis beyond a rather nebulous and never pursued “I want to find my father”?). Circe talks about how she once had a home, a husband and her face wasn’t scarred – apparently because of her sister who is consumed by pure hatred and should die. Die at Jason’s hands, specifically. Jason doesn’t do the killing for vengeance thing but she points out it’s her price.

He returns to discuss it with Pythagoras who says he couldn’t be a murderer either – even if it would save Medusa and Hercules. Jason fears that that means he has deserted his friends, that he was being selfish (I can see it in a way- putting his own conscience ahead of his friends’ lives. Except, y’know, murder and all).

Jason returns to Circe and agrees, adding that they’re not allies and he’s just doing it for his friends. Circe binds their pledge in the name of Hecate, giving him an injury on his arm as a reminder of his oath (presumably it won’t heal until he completes his task). And the sister he needs to murder? Pasiphae.

Back in Atlantis, Medusa starts to recover – and she is extremely not happy with Hercules

Jason goes to see the Oracle who dramatically despairs that he failed to heed her warning and now bad things will happen.

Ok, big kudos for some major mythological links here – by most accounts, Pasiphae and Circe are sisters – and Circe does turn people into pigs.

I suppose I should be a little disappointed that I have spoilers, but I’m more gleeful at the references than anything.

I’m glad Hercules’s love magic is being treated with the contempt it deserves from Medusa, but I fear them making up. I hope we see the full consequences of it in coming episodes. I also hope we see a woman who isn’t an enemy, ineffective or a victim and, ideally, a Black character who lasts more than an episode. It’s nice that we do have regularly appearing minor characters but they are very minor, especially since the other POC on the cast are largely confined to the palace and only Ariadne has anything approaching a major role.