Friday, May 29, 2015

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 8: The Madness of Hercules

Hercules goes to where he has hidden Medusa – but she is devastated over having killed the Oracle (and eternally cursing herself) and there’s little he can do to comfort her. Pythagoras is definitely becoming suspicious of his sneaking out

In Atlantis, preparations are being made for Jason’s execution by red hot bull. Jason has 2 days before he is executed.

Pasiphae is controlling Melas by kidnapping Cassandra, the next Oracle, she’s like a daughter to him and he’s also sworn a holy oath to protect her (one would have thought he had also sworn a holy oath to protect the current Oracle). Melas tries to absolve himself by accusing Pasiphae of not telling him she’d kill the Oracle but she easily shoots down that terrible excuse. He makes a desperate attempt to get Pasiphae to order clemency for Jason though Pasiphae insists Jason has to die for “Blasphemy” (which is bizarre since they both know he’s innocent). They both also seem to think Ariadne has given up – that’s a whole lot of dubious decision making right there

Ariadne does make a plea to Melas but, despite his guilt face, he refuses. He continually tries to use the excuse of the gods’ will (interpreted by him, honest) to excuse himself, Ariadne is not impressed.

Pythagoras and Hercules get an audience with Ariadne to try and plead for Jason because they’ve both somehow forgotten that if she could she totally would pardon him. She certainly can’t act unless they have Medusa’s testimony. She refuses any clemency

They take the news to Jason and he decides it’s because she doesn’t love him any more – y’know the more politically inept and ignorant Jason behaves, the less he looks like a good candidate for the Queen to marry. Perhaps a post of Royal Arm Candy can be created? Rather than coming up with a plot to escape or prove innocence, Jason decides he simply must know if Ariadne loves him or not

When you’re burning alive inside a metal bull, love won’t do much to keep you cool.

Hercules finally cracks and tells Pythagoras he saw Medusa, but he cannot give her up and bring her to the city to be executed. In a stellar performance, Hercules is tortured by the choice but finally agrees to see Medusa and tell her what is happening.

He goes to see her and she declares how much she loves him and how lucky she is that she has him – that’s the knife in his heart slowly being twisted. He cannot tell her about Jason’s execution. The next day he continues to lie to her, telling her the city blames Pasiphae.

He bull is prepared, Ariadne forced to be part of the ceremony despite her cold gaze for Melas. Cilix, Pasiphae’s agent, over-eggs things by telling her how much she’s doing the right thing. With a crack voice she accepts that what must be must be.

Jason makes a plea for an audience with Ariadne – and she refuses.

Hercules goes for a new plan – arranging to be arrested so he can organise a jailbreak. Which he does most excellently until they get surrounded by an overwhelming number of guards. Ah well, it was a good plan at least. This means Hercules is due to burn in the bull as well.

Pythagoras pleads for them with Delmos, but can’t even see them to say goodbye.

In prison, Hercules is full of regrets but Jason reassures him – Hercules has always been a good friend to him. They’re led to their executions, Jason trying to make eye contact with Ariadne, but she remains emotionless. The ritual begins while, at home, Pythagoras despairs.

At least until someone leaves a letter outside of his door.

At the prison the guards are unconscious - and Delmos opens the prison and gives Hercules and Jason new clothes to wear. Nice Delmos, I underestimated him. Aided by Delmos and Pythagoras they escape and we have a dramatic night time chase through the warren like streets of Atlantis. Of course, Ariadne was behind it as well and Delmos has well and truly displayed his loyalty.

Out of the city, Hercules isn’t entirely convinced Ariadne helped (and worries about Pythagoras) but Jason’s faith has been restored. Hercules continues to worry about Pythagoras and, because they’re both politically inept, they both wonder why Delmos has his men looking for them. Seriously Ariadne, Jason isn’t a good match, he’s just not that bright; don’t let a pretty face fool you

Pasiphae isn’t happy and wants Councillor Cilix to blame Queen Ariadne. Medea is wary about Jason being out there but Pasiphae is sure that she can use Jason to bring Ariadne down. Cilix tells Melas to tell everyone Poseidon is seriously pissed by Jason’s escape. Being a good little minion, Melas agrees and fakes an augury.

At least Ariadne and Delmos have finally seen that the very obvious traitors are traitors. The council meets and Cilix tries to cast blame at Ariadne. But when they demand she swear on the golden bull she refuses – declaring Jason’s innocence. Which is hugely blasphemous and hubris and definitely naughty bad wrong and Ariadne gets arrested.

Actually, Jason and Ariadne are a great match. Let them marry and have beautiful but very very very stupid children. All Delmos can do is send word to Pythagoras who is way too smart for these people.

Pythagoras goes to Jason and Hercules to tell them that Ariadne is even more of a fool than Jason and the city would probably be better off with Pasiphae. Of course Jason wants to go back to the city and Pythagoras mentions Medusa – they have to find her

In the city, Delmos is also thrown in prison.

Hercules goes and painfully tells Medusa – and it’s painful and beautiful and harsh.

But when they return to the city they find it oddly empty – except soldiers running through the streets. And when they reach the temple, Cilix, who has somehow gained the loyalty of the guards, hails Queen Pasiphae.

I suppose a religious trial doesn’t require reason, just the fiat of the priest, but I would think someone would have asked exactly how Jason turned the Oracle to stone. I also think some more people would have twigged on Melas being compromised (honestly he may have a new tattoo on his forehead announcing he’s a traitor. And doesn’t anyone notice the new Oracle has gone missing, especially since the old Oracle is now an ornate rockery?). I also expect that the actual priest of Poseidon may be somewhat perturbed speaking bullshit in his god’s name. Isn’t that hubris? Don’t the Greek gods object to that rather excessively.

But then this is an Ancient Greek setting, I suppose the gods being fickle and random isn’t exactly unexpected.

I’m really glad to see a full scene with Hercules being competent – it’s great to see, he’s too often played as the bumbling comic relief. Sure his rescue attempt didn’t work – but it wasn’t for wont of skill and planning. His conflict with Medusa is also wonderfully powerful. This scene is why this episode gets the points it does – because the rest was pretty appalling. The plot made little sense, people acted with little thought or planning and I don’t even begin to grasp how Pasiphae could take over so easily. It’s clumsy and cobbled together and makes me wonder if the writers knew it was cancelled at this point and rushed towards a conclusion.