Monday, December 1, 2014

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 3: Telemon

Ariadne has a big ceremony that may be a coronation, presentation or just an excuse to get the shiny gems out. Afterwards she’s more concerned with Pasiphae not being dead or in a dungeon (or both, but that tends to get a bit whiffy after a while) as she tells Dion. Worse they can’t find any allies because no-one’s that impressed with Atlantis that can’t even capture one woman. On top of that, the Coronation Games are scheduled and have to go ahead without looking terrible. Dion thinks Jason should be their Champion because they really need to win. Ariadne thinks it’s a bad plan.

Pythagoras and Hercules also think it’s a bad idea because Jason and Ariadne pining over each other in the star crossed lovers manner is just so damn nauseating. Hercules also reminds Jason that people do actually die in Greek games, but Jason’s mind is made up.

Hercules acts out and spills the secret of Jason’s parentage to Pythagoras – including that they can’t tell Jason or he will turn to the dark side of the force. Which is a shame because as the son of Pasiphae Jason is technically royal so could marry Ariadne. Hmmm evil and married, good and pining love sick puppy? Choices choices….

While in the forest training, they hear combat and see a man being attacked by a gang of random brigands. They rush in to save him (continuing their impressive skill that they’ve acquired this season) and manage to save the man being attacked – Telemon, one of the competitors in the games. For reasons that escape me they decide to take him home and let him stay while waiting for the games.]

Hercules is a quick convert to Telemon’s side because of his gift of wine but Pythagoras is more suspicious – especially since Telemon has apparently come to Atlantis with no travel supplies at all.

The games begin with the contestants being presented (they’ve remembered to include not just POC warriors, but a woman warrior as well). And to confirm Pythagoras’s suspicions, Telemon is presented as a prince. Still Hercules tries to handwave it

Of course, a suddenly appearing prince has to be welcomed at the palace where Ariadne learns Telemon’s excuse of not being there with his father’s approval, wanting to escape the trappings of royalty and also flirt with Ariadne if possible (which also shakes the whole idea of his father not approving since apparently daddy wants to have an alliance backed by marriage).

Some fighting in the arena where Jason does well and then some intrigue behind the scenes, Areto, the female warrior, recognises Telemon as a prisoner from some salt mines – but he denies it. She wins her bout but is injured during it. Pythagoras goes to see her, helping her with her injury and learning that she is sure she met Telemon before. Telemon overhears their discussion.

Telemon wins his bout as well before going on to tell Jason that he wants to win Ariadne’s hand in marriage but he’ll totally remember Jason is his friend. Uh-huh, rub that salt in a little harder.

That night Jason wallows in moping and Pythagoras tells Hercules his suspicions of Telemon, and points out Areto had a brand from the salt mine on her wrist; Hercules noticed that Telemon wears and archer’s brace on his wrist despite it being the wrong hand and him not being an archer.

Telemon is in the palace continuing to try and win Ariadne’s favour making it clear that while there’s lots of political advantage to the marriage, he also wants an emotional connection because he’s sweet like that. He is also so completely evil he may as well have horns. Anyway Ariadne is all conflicted and consults Dion who basically says that it’s a great idea politically and saying no because of Jason is kind of not good for the city.

Back to the training barracks, Areto is predictably dead (I thought Telemon would kill her in combat but there was no way she was going to live through this). Telemon puts her death down to her weak and fragile femaleness. Pythagoras is much more suspicious – though Hercules has lots of doubts and is unwilling to accuse a prince.

More fighting where the obvious person wins against the random extra, more suspicion from Pythagoras about Telemon, more of Telemon telling Jason how much he’s going to marry Ariadne.

Pythagoras confronts Telemon and he does have a brand – but he explains he ran away from home when very young and made silly mistakes and his father insisted he be treated like everyone else who did illegal shenanigans. A random extra appears to conform Telemon’s story. Pythagoras is still not happy and still suspicious. Hercules warns Pythagoras against pushing it even though he shares the suspicions.

More of Telemon/Ariadne flirting and Telemon realising she loves someone else but she may love him in the future.

Jason wins another battle but is cut this time. Ariadne naturally goes to visit the shirtless Jason so they can have more star-crossed angst.

Back to the arena and Telemon wins against his supportive extra who looks very unhappy about it. Hercules joins the man, Leonidas, in the barracks and all but accuses him of throwing the match since he made many rookie mistakes. Hercules has an excellent fatherly demeanour and pushes the other man to admit that he threw the match because Telemon paid him.

Hercules and Pythagoras realise Telemon did it to ensure he could face – and kill – Jason, the only competition for Ariadne’s affections. Of course Jason won’t listen to them because story! While Telemon continues to press Ariadne adding how doomed she and Jason are.

To the arena and it’s Telemon and Jason (and Telemon with a hidden blade). Lots of fighting and Telemon tries to use his hidden dagger – but that fails because Jason is made of awesome and covered in awesome sauce. Jason wins. I’m sure we’re all shocked. Telemon declares Jason was just lucky just in case we missed that he was a bad guy. Jason is now champion (you’re shocked, right?)

Telemon still hasn’t given up on marriage and goes to see Ariadne being all humble and nice – and Ariadne accepts her proposal.

Even if Jason is royal, he’s still a terrible match for Ariadne – Atlantis needs allies, the queen marrying on of her subjects is politically useless.

I also really doubt the whole idea of a prince showing up at a city, without entourage or apparent accreditation and announcing “I’m totally a prince” and being taken at his word. Or, for that matter, his lack of entourage not being seen as some kind of insult (shouldn’t you bring a fruit basket or something?). But then, I also doubt a master plan that involves “I will murder her lover so she’ll love me”.

I feel that this whole episode was… predictable. Every fight was predicted. Telemon being evil was predictable (honestly, the man being good and decent would have made for a far more involved conflict), Jason, Pythagoras, Hercules – all predictable. It wasn’t bad – but if I said “Atlantis episode, prince out to marry Ariadne competing, Jason competing –predict!” I think most people would have easily written this recap without watching the episode. It wasn’t an awful episode… but it wasn’t special. In fact, didn’t we already do “evil guy in the arena fights and tries to kill Jason because he wants Ariadne” in season 1? Heptarian and the pankration?

I think Areto was sorely underused and this series badly needs an active woman, an active POC (Ariadne is a WOC but she doesn’t DO anything) and Areto, clearly standing out in that arena, could have been a wonderful addition to the cast other than a briefly appearing and easily discarded tool.

I am getting a creepy suspicion from these three episodes that Atlantis is using fight scenes – which are well done, well choreographed scenes (and I especially like how they do things like use shields as weapons. Unfortunately Jason also keeps doing these ridiculous jumping “stab-me-in-the-stomach” leaps) – to pad the episodes. They’re nice scenes. They’re well done scenes – but they’re also numerous and lengthy.