Saturday, July 4, 2015

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 13: Truth

The only thing worse than recapping Olympus is realising that it wasn’t on hiatus last week so I now have to endure two episodes. The best thing is this is the season finale so soon I will never have to tolerate this nonsense again.

For some reason Hero is strangling Daedalus, it seems he stole the ring naughty man. The ring can bring the world down, or so he claims. They fight over the apocalypse ring before Hero strangles Daedalus, apparently to death

Why? It’s Olympus – there is no why. Also this hasn’t happened yet because now we have a flashback to the end of last episode and the gates opening and Chronos appearing. Chronos is a liar – he calls them wise. Such lies he tells. Anyway he’s the door man, showing them the bridge to Tartarus they can cross for their heart’s desire

It’s now Oracle’s turn to lead them – and the kiss opened the door because it is “true” because they still love each other. Of course he still loves Ariadne and wants her to lead him to her. Ouch. Lots of bitterness.

And then they’re back to hating each other. I’m emotionally consistent, I hate them all all the time.

Looking into a strange mirror all of them suddenly realise they don’t know how old they are – the test may be to find their own truth. Instead they look at the ring which is very very dramatic when unveiled in the timestop world – making a menacing noise and glowing as the world shakes. Medea is against using the huge death weapon

Hero solves the riddle and they go into a different world – where Medea warns them if they look down the Forbidden world may burn out their eyes. So they walk through a chasm maze blind with their eyes closed, relying on Oracle to guide them with woo-woo. That woo-woo also splits them up

Daedalus ends up in a desert world with his own clone wearing a business suit. No really, a modern business suit who points him towards the truth he’s looking for – which horrifies him – because it’s a plane. An actual airplane. His clone shows him what mankind will go on to create.

Oracle sees giant Gaia who apologises for how much Oracle sacrificed and decides to show her truth “in all its iridescent glory” – except the truth is that all there is is “dust and death” she can only find meaning and truth in the land of the living – don’t expect to find Heaven in the next world, make your own heaven.

Medea her two little kids who declare themselves to be imaginary – the truth which leads them to disappear

Hero gets Ariadne and goats for some reason. But she doesn’t recognise Hero – she loves Dionysis and calls the goats her kids.

After that brief interlude they all come back on the other side of the maze. Honestly how many times do they have to be told to give up. Now is the time for the judgement of the gods or so Medea claims – which implies they are dead. Daedalus refuses to be judged by the gods and wanders off planning to chose his own death and refusing to face judgement – but actually just a trick to steal the ring. Hero chases after him and we’re back to the beginning of the episode

Medea goes up some stairs to judgement – and is judged by her dead children, the kids she murdered. One votes for damnation, the other salvation leaving Lykos to tie break – she threatens him with a knife, clearly not considering him to be one of her sons. They ask if she will love Lykos, but she can only say she will “try”. Lykos votes damnation.

Hero and Oracle end up in judgement together – on a floating raft. Together. And Hero gets to tell Oracle that he killed Daedalus. Gaia appears to say that it’s Oracle’s job to judge Hero. Which is also her test to see if she can avert her terrible vision of the world ending, Hero decides to ask her to damn him for her own sake because they’re on the love side of their hate/love thing. I agree! Do it! Do it! Do it!

Completely unsurprisingly, she refuses and choses to sacrifice herself. AAAAAAAAAARGH. Gaia lays on the judgement asking if she chooses man over her and Oracle says yes. Absolutely no-one will be shocked that it’s all a bluff and choosing mankind was the right answer. See this is why they’re on a raft – when they vomit from the twee it’s easy to clean up

Some flashbacks and Hermes drops in with a message about Hero’s destiny – to kill Zeus, which they can’t do. The Lexicon is a big test to see if there’s a human capable of it and they now want him to kill the imprisoned Zeus with the ring of the Magi.

Oracle gets beaten up before they’re reunited and Hero asks my question – why the hell did she not damn Hero. Of course she has no good answer for that. Only now she doesn’t trust him, of course.

The Oracle is also angsting because she wasted her life – all her life dedicated to the gods who cares nothing for them.

Finally (via golden apple) to Zeus’s prison – an imprisoned giant man who is half snake for some reason. He tells them how he had hoped Hero would be their salvation and warns them that killing him will do naughty bad things – and he asks Oracle her name.

She is Pandora. About time. He also calls her his first woman, his Eve (oops, someone just spilled judeo-christian mythology in this Hellenist setting). Hero won’t tell his name – but Zeus says it is the name of the first man. And Hero says he wants to free Zeus – if Zeus will kill his children and let humanity have free will without being preyed on by the gods. Zeus agrees, calling himself the one true god.

Duplicating Oracle’s vision, Hero frees Zeus. Snakey Zeus rises up, yelling “I am the light”. And the show ends. I suspect this is a not-subtle “Zeus becomes Jehova, the one true god” thing.

For which I am very grateful.

I am going to try and dredge up a positive – in that this show had a lot of potential. Actually it had a lot of potential for two shows

A show with the politics of Athens, Medea and Pallas plotting for control, manipulating Aegeus, Hero coming home to throw a whole new player into the game, Minos laying siege on the outside, Lykos fighting for recognition – that would be an interesting show if developed (and with better CGI, acting and actual plot)

A show where a cursed Hero, an anti-religious scientist, brutally practical witch and deeply religious Oracle all face personal conflicts and revelations and they discover the true meaning of the curse and holy quest? Yes that could be a good show (with decent acting, better CGI and a coherent plot)

Of course we got both. They were mooshed together clumsily to such a degree that the whole first half of the season was rendered utterly pointless. That’s the sort of thing you can do in season 2, but in season 1 it just left me feeling like I wasted a whole lot of time and Aegeus, Minos, Lykos, Pallas, Xerxes could all have been completely removed from the story, Athens could have been completely removed from the story and nothing would have changed. They were irrelevant. Which leaves us with a 6 episode series, more or less, and not a good one.

Of course we also got terrible acting and some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a decade. It was laughably terrible

The plot was clumsy and broken. Not only did we disregard the first half of the season (which actually had a coherent plot – a siege), but then we just wandered around with no real idea what they were doing except lexicon stuff. It’s that vague. Do they want to become gods, do they want power, do they want to bring back the dead, do they want to kill the gods, do they want to save the gods? All? None? It varies from week to week – they just end up chasing the Lexicon with no real indication why- or with motives that change every week

Those shifting motives and characterisations also pretty much drive the plot. Daedalus pulls out revelations pretty much based on nothing, keeps yelling about the gods being “natural” even with the endless proof that they really aren’t and throws in a lot of loathing of the gods which seems to come from nowhere. Hero has the most ridiculous relationships ever – he loathes Ariadne (who, recall, tried to rape him) and then suddenly loves her, which is revolting. He now becomes willing to do anything to bring her back for REASONS. Then he loves Oracle, then abuses her. Then loves. Then hates. Then loves, then hates again. Then more abuse. While Oracle at least tries to hold on to her anger for a little while but then loves him so much she’s willing to quite literally turn her back on her god

Maybe some of this could have worked with better acting and some actual development of their emotional characters. But we got none of that. The closest we had was Medea who was Too Good For This Shit. Instead everything was told, not shown, revealed in long rambles or cryptic clues and just hurried through – that goes for the world building as well as the character development.

Looking at inclusion – we had 2 Black characters: a Black priestess that Aegeus slept with and abused. It looked like they were going to develop a plot line with her but, instead, she was thrown into the plot box after playing Jezebel for no good reason. I love that Gaia was a Black woman, but she had too small a role and seemed to combine both Mammy and Magical Black woman in one giant package – again, with some development this could have been more awesome.

Most of the main cast appear to have been cast to look olive-skinned Mediterranean. Some of them are POC, whether they’re POC-who-have-convenient-olive-skin-tone or POC-meant-to-be-playing-POC is more vague.

With Lykos we had a potentially interesting gay man – beginning to show he was capable and proving himself skilfully. Then it was all kind of broken – we had the completely unnecessary and rather bizarre homophobia of this Hellenic session, we had his uncle’s bizarre gaydar (he must be gay! He doesn’t want to murder naked men!), we have him being the one son Medea shunned (and yes, that is relevant) and then completely out of nowhere we slathered incest all over his romance because REASONS. To finish it off, because he was part of the first plot line, he ended up being completely irrelevant, was killed off almost as an afterthought and generally went from being “potentially decent main character” to “quickly dismissed minor character loaded with tropes.”

The women of this series all show potential strength – but then all just kind of collapse messily. Ariadne and Medea and Oracle are all cunning, clever, skilled and definitely have their own agendas. They’re intelligent and use their brains to force their way to power, often by manipulating others in this deeply patriarchal setting…

And then they kind of dribble away: Ariadne’s competence is consumed with her becoming The Love Interest which quickly removes every other aspect of her personality. Medea loses all shades of the power driven, complex woman (and her sister – what happened with that plot line?!) in exchange for helping and guiding Hero. And Oracle literally gives up her lifetime’s dedication for the sake of a man who doesn’t even like her very much