TV REVIEW: Atlantis, Series 1, Ep 2 – ‘A Girl By Any Other Name’

BBC Atlantis logoWhen an old man tracks down Jason to help find his missing daughter, the young hero can’t help but want to assist the man despite the arguments of a greedy, cowardly Hercules. What starts out as a relatively straightforward task turns out to be decidedly more complex as the trio find themselves entangled in the rites of Dionysus and a stranger with an infamous name.

The episode jumps right into action as we follow a young woman running from something in the forest under the cover of night. She eventually trips and for a moment, thinks that she’s escaped but it’s not her lucky day as she screams at the sight of the creature that’s been pursuing her.

Back in Atlantis, we can add irresponsible to the list of adjectives to describe Hercules. We see a very bored Jason covering for his drunken comrade by guarding a shipment of frankincense in his absence. Hercules ends up falling asleep on the job and after a funny moment with a goat realizes that the goods have been stolen. In their home, he hides when he thinks the angry merchant has come to collect his debts but it isn’t him. Instead, an old man has come seeking Jason’s help in finding his daughter who’s been missing for 3 days.

Despite Hercules’ attempt to take advantage of the poor man by charging him, Jason takes on this pro-bono job and sneaks into the palace with the help of a servant. He’s going to have to work on his stealth skills because he’s caught by Princess Araidne, who contradicts her words of warning by wishing the young hero good luck on his mission.

A servant named Celandine is persuaded to take Jason to the place where Demitria was last seen. But you can tell that she’s up to no good and turns out that we’re right as she tries to kill him. Unwilling to give up her secrets, she downs a lethal poison, dying instantly. Upon further inspection, Pythagoras determines that it was hemlock (sound familiar?) and that the engravings point to the woman being a Maenad, a fanatical worshipper of the god Dionysus.

The young woman we first met is trying to dig an escape route out of her cell but upon hearing drums, hides her handiwork, joining a larger group of chanting women. Any man who enters the temple has a death wish and we witness this in action. Later on, Hercules is tricked into becoming a sacrifice but is saved by the young woman. Determined to return the favor, the boys head to the temple and promptly get captured.

Realizing her secret is out, the young woman spits out that Dionysus is not her god and is thrown into the well of Satyrs. Jason jumps in after  her and a strange thing occurs when they refuse to attack him. We also find out the young woman’s name. Medusa. Jason has the same reaction as the audience – where’s the snake-haired witch of legend?

They find Demitria, whose unwillingness to go back to Atlantis earns her a knock in the head courtesy of Hercules. The quartet is chased through the forest and the Maenads try to attack Jason with the Satyrs. To their surprise, they won’t go near him. He knocks out the head priestess and some of her followers and tries to reason with Demitria but she threatens to drink the hemlock vial. Defeated, Jason is saved by Medusa, who kills the head priestess but not before she is cursed. It looks like this is where the legend of Medusa begins.

Just as Jason is about to break the bad news to the old man, Medusa steps in and weaves a tale of his daughter being in love, so he can pass in peace. The Oracle tells him that his destiny is interwoven with Medusa’s and that he’ll soon figure out that he’s no ordinary man.

That being said, while I understand that this episode was meant to introduce Medusa before she was famous, overall the story was flat and there didn’t seem to be much character growth. I usually give new shows about 3-6 episodes to reel me in, if the pilot/premiere episodes isn’t completely atrocious that is. Atlantis has a ways to go before it becomes as beloved as its time slot’s predecessor.

Rating: 2/5
Reporter:
  Sharlene Mousfar

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