Review time again. Here are many thoughts, and slightly less pictures, of epsiode 2.5 - Day of the Dead.
And lots of spoilers, obviously.
Shirtless Award: no one
Most Pointless Death Award: Dion
Most Moving Death Award: Eurydice
Adorable Award: Hercules and Pythagoras
Hercules: When is it ever bats?
No doubt anyone who has been in e-mail contact with me since the weekend is probably fed up of hearing this, but in my opinion, episode 2.5 is almost certainly the best episode of series 2, and quite possibly the best episode of Atlantis, ever.
It was an episode which delivered pretty much everything – some genuinely tense moments, action, character development, some incredibly touching moments, shocks, a very moving death scene, some well timed and well pitched light-hearted moments amongst all the action, and it was also an episode that gave all of the main cast something to contribute (and anyone who has been following these review posts will know I’ve been griping about certain characters being neglected thus far in series 2).
But before we go any further, let’s just take a moment to note the death of Dion, who has been quietly awesome and competent all series so far, and suffered a rather ignominious death here. I had actually predicted a few weeks back in one of these reviews that Dion was almost certainly going to die before the end of the series, but I had thought it would be towards the end, and that it would be suitably heroic while defending Ariadne or something. I did not expect him to die from a random battle injury in a relatively pointless way. And I certainly didn’t expect him to then come back as a zombie and attempt to kill the very people he had sworn to protect, forcing his ex-comrades to kill him (again). That was brutal. There’s no other way of describing it. I can’t help but feel that he deserved a better death than that.
Staying with the subject of characters dying, the new ‘continuing arc’ format is working very well for the show in terms of the guest characters. We met and got to know Orpheus and Eurydice and Diagoras in the previous episode, so it meant far more when first Diagoras and then Eurydice fell victim to the undead, far more than it would have if the show had been following the ‘adventure of the week’ format and we had only been introduced to them at the start of the episode. Eurydice’s death was genuinely, and surprisingly, moving.
So, onto the plot. Pasiphae raised an army of the undead, but aislinarchives asked the question – why? Pasiphae was seriously injured herself at that point, so must we assume that as she was the summoner, the undead would not attack her? Because otherwise she basically committed suicide. Also, she knew Jason was there, and Medea. In episode 2.2 we saw Pasiphae kill one of her own soldiers in order to save Jason, so it appears that somewhere on her priority list is the item labelled ‘attempt to preserve life of own son’. Unfortunately, it appears that the item on her to-do list marked ‘kill Ariadne’ rates higher than any other goal, including not killing her son and her sorcerer sidekick, as she essentially left Jason and Medea to be killed. Other than a burning passion to kill Ariadne and take the throne of Atlantis, I have no idea what’s going on in Pasiphae’s head any more.
Medea, on the other hand, is getting quite interesting now that we’ve seen a bit more of her. Forcing two people who are normally enemies to work together in a survival situation is a fairly standard trope in such shows, and anyone with even a vague knowledge of mythology knows that Jason and Medea is a thing, but this wasn’t really the most auspicious start. I have to say, though, assuming she was telling the truth, Medea did actually seem to have some valid and reasonable reasons for why she was working with Pasiphae, and while it’s possible that Jason may have managed to make her question that even a little bit, it’s refreshing and far more realistic that she doesn’t just turn against Pasiphae just because Jason saved her life. If she is beginning to question her allegiance, then it’s going to take a long time and a lot more than one act of kindness (and of course the reactions of the rest of the gang didn’t help).
Also worth asking is whether or not Medea knows that Pasiphae is Jason’s mother? I think it’s likely that she does, because in 2.2 Pasiphae told her she had a son who was in Atlantis, and Medea saw her save Jason, so she can probably put two and two together. But she chose not to share this with Jason when he was making his less than flattering opinion of Pasiphae known. But if she does know, that’s a dangerous card that she can use to hurt Jason at a later date.
There does seem to be a disturbing theme developing this series, though, that every time Jason shows someone mercy, they turn round and stab him (or someone he cares about) in the back, almost literally. It happened in 2.1 with the Colchean soldier, and now again with Medea. Hercules has commented on more than occasion this series on Jason’s tendency to look for the best in people, but if this keeps happening every time he ‘looks for the best in people’, might we see Jason start to change and become harder, less forgiving?
Oh, and staying on the subject of Medea, I do have one complaint – if she is supposed to be such a kick ass powerful witch, why did she need Jason to rescue her from the undead?
And a question – how did the gang recognise her, or know who she was? To my knowledge, no one saw her when she took the Palladium, and none of the boys saw her when they sneaked into Pasiphae’s camp in 2.1. Hercules might have seen her loitering around beside Pasiphae at the end of the battle in 2.2 when Pasiphae stabbed the soldier to save Jason, but it was in the dark in the midst of a battle. True, Ariadne and Jason saw that she was with Pasiphae at the end of 2.4, so Ariadne certainly knew not to trust her, but that doesn’t explain the extreme reactions of everyone else when Jason finally turned up with Medea alongside him. It’s possible to argue that they might have taken their cue from Ariadne, but it was actually Hercules who threatened her first, and accused her of being a witch of Colchis (the implication being that was reason enough not to trust her). There is no evidence that Pythagoras had ever seen her before, even at a distance, and yet he immediately reacts when Medea appears. How did they know who she was? If, perhaps, she was a notorious and famously powerful witch then fair enough, but if that’s the case then the audience needs to know this. I think at this point I’m nit-picking, but it’s the little things like that which are niggling.
Onto slightly more light-hearted matters, this episode gave us so many gorgeous Hercules and Pythagoras bromance moments. In series 2 the more overt comedy aspects of their relationship have definitely been toned down, but in episodes like this that actually works far more in their favour. Rather than focusing on it simply for a laugh or a punchline (usually at Hercules’ expense), the emphasis now is on the mutual respect and affection between them, and the comedy is based far more on sarcasm and well observed put-downs. Mark Addy and Robert Emms continue to pitch it spot-on, and they make any scene with the two of them interacting a joy to watch.
A perfect example is the scene in which Hercules tells Pythagoras to get some sleep while he keeps watch. It contains everything that is central to their relationship – the way they worry and look out for each other without making a big thing of it, the mutual respect, the sarcasm, the gentle teasing, and the long established nature of their friendship meaning that they know each other’s habits and faults intimately.
Pythagoras: His fever’s worsened.
Hercules: You did everything you could. It’s in the hands of the gods now. When did you last get some sleep?
Pythagoras: I don’t remember. I’m so tired I can barely think straight.
Hercules: You should get some rest while you have the chance. If we are to get out of here alive we need that big brain of yours.
Pythagoras: What about you?
Hercules: Sleeping is for women and babies and men like you. Warriors like myself, we don’t need sleep.
Pythagoras: (incredulous) You sleep more than any man I have ever known.
Hercules: Maybe that’s what I want you to think.
Pythagoras: (pause, baffled expression) Why?
Hercules: (obviously caught out) Just shut up and go to sleep.
Oh, boys. You are just completely adorable.
Staying briefly with Hercules, this episode has shown, yet again, that in Jason’s absence Hercules is the one who comes to the fore and takes charge and leads the group. And it was Hercules who ultimately stopped the undead army by destroying the tomb lid with his superhuman strength. Go Hercules! Pythagoras, meanwhile, has reverted to his role as party healer and general walking textbook. Also, he still appears to be the character most likely to deliver bad news, or say the really horrible thing that everyone is thinking but no one else wants to say out loud (which results in several well-earned eye-rolls from Hercules).
“We must assume that they mean to kill us, and feast on our flesh.”
Pythagoras: Tombs... inside each one was a corpse which has now risen and means to feed on our flesh.
Hercules: What is wrong with you?!
I should probably say something about Jason and Ariadne. Jason, though, pretty much continues to just do exactly what he does all the time – fight things, save people, try to make people see things his way, and angst over his love for Ariadne. It’s unfortunate, really, that Jason is probably the least interesting character in the entire show, partly because the writers haven’t made him very sympathetic this series, and partly because Jack Donnelly is one of the least talented of the main actors in the show. Sadly, it takes more than just good looks and impressive stunts to make a compelling and likeable hero. Arguably, he was far more interesting in series 1 when there was still the residual effects of the fact that he came from the modern world and didn’t always understand Atlantean society. Now, however, they seem to have used the time pass from the end of series 1 to make sure that he is fully up to speed on everything, so you can’t blame his more rash actions on not understanding the consequences any more. Now, it seems, it’s just because he actually is rash and stubborn.
Ariadne, meanwhile, has really stepped up and is now acting like a hero and taking responsibility, which is a very welcome development. It’s rather a shame that she got stabbed by Medea in a rather shocking twist ending to the episode. They’re not going to kill Ariadne off as well, are they? Are they? Somehow I doubt it (Aiysha Hart’s name is now on the titles at the beginning of every episode, after all), but right now it’s tempting to say that unless you are one of the three male leads, all bets are off.
Don’t make Jason angry You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
And not wanting to be left out...
Hey, look! We can do mean and moody, angsty and brooding as well!