Monday, November 18, 2013

Atlantis, Season 1, Episode 8: The Furies

The team has a job – to escort treasure to the city of Heliopolis across the desert (the chest of wealth is the brideprice for his son, Philamon) – something Hercules considers completely and utterly suicidal. Until a vast sum of money is dumped in front of him, Hercules agrees to the job. Even if it does come with a failure clause of having fingers removed.

Of course Pythagoras isn’t overjoyed by this – and as they travel down the streets (they’re sneaking around Atlantis again? Is this a requirement or something? They’re not even doing anything nefarious this time!) Hercules having to undermine is previous, apparent, courage by having him scared by a goat. Along the way home, Jason catches and nearly stabs Pythagoras’s brother – Arcas.

He comes home with them, parties much more than Pythagoras and he and Hercules gamble into the night – also getting Hercules to agree to bring Arcas with them to Helios. Pythagoras doesn’t seem to be his brother’s biggest fan.

So concerned is Pythagoras that he goes to see the Oracle. He asks pretty clear questions, she responds with cryptic rambling. I’m pretty sure the show wants me to believe the Oracle is actually magical or psychic in some way, but she talks like a fairground card reader and Mystic Meg is more clear with her predictions.

The caravan they’re supposed to join with this chest leaving at dawn and they’ve all wandering around in bright sunlight for some time now so they finally drag themselves to the horses. They load up, meet the soon-to-be-groom Philemon and Arcas starts a fight with a man carrying a murderer’s brand before the caravan master breaks it up and lays down the law – he decides who travels with them and in the desert they do what he says. There’s a woman on the caravan who asks Jason to place the saddle blanket on her horse either because she’s woefully inept or because she’s flirting with him – I suspect the latter.

Jason is bemused by Arcas’s anti-murderer prejudice because he’s Jason and he makes good use of his bemused look. Pythagoras expositions that their father was murdered, Arcas was very young and it affected him badly. As they leave the city the caravan master explains the murderer – he’s Otus, was a slave (on the same island Pythagoras grew up) and had his tongue cut out for being outspoken – and then got his revenge.

At the first stop, the brothers show they actually like each other, the soon-to-be-groom thinks it’s unlucky to have a woman with them and she and Jason flirt some more. But Hercules notices something off about her – he dresses as a highborn lady but her table manners are not refined.

They stop for the night and Jason tries to get Pythagoras to talk about the obvious rift with his brother but he remains reluctant to talk. They are ambushed by raiders and they fight, Hercules carrying the case and Jason showing off his sword skill (his development from being utterly inept to a hero is explained by a quick “been practicing”.) The soon-to-be-groom is attacked and knocked to the floor – only to be rescued by the suspicious woman in silk who also has considerable fighting skills. Hercules’s suspicion is only more aroused by the woman’s (Baucis) fighting skills

They rush into the cave where the bandits will not follow – the cave is sacred to the Furies who punish murderers. Jason (in his role of outsider-when-it’s-convenient-for-exposition) asks what the Furies are – and is told they’re not gods (hmmm) but unstoppable vengeance spirits pursuing murderers who can only be recalled by the true forgiveness of the person who called them.

Alone, Arcas goes to a statue of the Furies and makes an offering to them invoking them to hunt down the murderer of his father.

When they leave the cave the next morning they find a dead bird – apparently an omen of bad things (hey, maybe the Oracle could just through dead chickens at people? It’d be as enlightening as her usual babble). They set off, spooked by spooky whirlwinds which are indeed spooky – and Baucis runs off with the chest of gold. Or with the chest, anyway, Jason listened to Hercules’s suspicion and swapped the contents of the chest. And the wind and dust continues to be ominous and spooky.

They travel further and find a dead body, recently killed thief – and Baucis. Alone and battered from fighting the thieves. The caravan master wants to leave her since she tried to steal the gold (and did steal the horse) but Philemon offers to let her share his horse. The caravan master continues to ride on but now heroic Jason speaks up – leaving her alone with no supplies in the desert will kill her. The words of the hero sway mean caravan master and she rides behind Philemon for future true love and scandal.

After all that foreshadowing of spookiness, when they stop for the night in a cave, a screaming wind appears above Pythagoras and tries to drag him up into a tornado – only Hercules and Jason grabbing his legs save him. The Caravan master finally stops dismissing it as the “desert” and announces the furies are here and someone must have summoned them.

Arcas is quick to volunteer quite happy with the whole thing (seriously? This man’s supposed to be Greek? Summoning any Greek deity is dangerous – no matter what their role is, you can never be sure they won’t turn into a swan and do perverse things to their sister). Also, since Otus is from their island and the Furies are here, Otus must be the killer! He attacks Otus before being stopped again by Pythagoras. Pythagoras killed their father – he claims it was an accident.

The Furies appear again, Baucis hoping for sunrise (the Furies are the daughters of Nyx so fear the day) and Pythagoras wants them to leave him but that’s not happening. Not when we have a Hallmark cure just waiting as soon as Arcas forgives Pythagoras. Let’s get these tropes on track shall we? Pythagoras again claims it was an accident and that he was defending their mother from their father who was drunk, violent and abusive. He pushed his dad who then fell and hit his head.

Jason tries to get Arcas to forgive Pythagoras but he hits Jason and walks off. Jason sends the others to bring Arcas back but he and Hercules won’t leave Pythagoras. The Furies attack again, hurting Hercules and Pythagoras runs off so they aren’t hurt further. Jason follows him, leaving Hercules to recuperate. He urges Pythagoras to hold on until sunrise – but Pythagoras tells him that they will just return every night thereafter until he dies.

Hercules is more cunning – he staggers out into the open and Jason and Pythagoras have to help him back to the shelter of the rocks – as Hercules tells Jason, Pythagoras would never leave him. Hearing this, Jason threatens to go to Helios alone, leaving Hercules, is Pythagoras gives himself to the Furies.

The rest of the group catch up with Arcas and Baucis makes a trite plea for forgiveness – having him return to offer his forgiveness just before the Furies drag Pythagoras from Jason’s grasp. But words aren’t enough – they have to be meat. Jason loses his grip and Pythagoras flies to his death – but Arcas grabs his hand. In trying to save Pythagoras’s life, he proves his forgiveness.

To Helios – Arcas and Pythagoras have a bonding moment and Arcas decides to remain there to make his own life and never be seen again. Philemon decides he doesn’t really want to marry a woman he’s never met and runs off with Baucis. Which means our heroes can’t deliver the gold and return it to Atlantis meaning they won’t get paid (what? Why not? It’s his son’s running off that stopped the delivery, not them – and they’re returning it! Fingers and money should be kept!)

Couldn’t we have called them “Erinyes” since we’re going Greek, not Roman? They’ve been calling Poseidon, Poseidon, not Neptune after all.

Philemon and Baucis – I love these little mythology shout outs and wish they’d happen more often.

Arcas is also mentioned in mythology… though I think it’s just a randomly picked name

While Hercules continues to be the clumsy, lazy, cowardly comic relief – it’s good to see his loyalty and some cleverness in bringing Pythagoras back to safety.