TV Recap: Atlantis, “The Boy Must Die” (1.3)


Saturday 12th 2013, 8:30pm (GMT), BBC

Three episodes in and Atlantis finally has my attention. The difficulties I had with the first two episodes, namely the terrible acting and linear storyline, have all but remedied themselves. While Jack Donnelly is never going to win a BAFTA, the vacant look of surprise he appears to constantly wear has become less intrusive and more in keeping with the plot. The increased attention given to other characters is the key to Atlantis’ continuing upward trend.

This week was a week for romance. Not only did we properly meet Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) for the first time, but a sweet burgeoning love story is emerging between Hercules and Medusa (Jemima Rooper). A character we have only previously met in passing, Ariadne, the princess of Atlantis, becomes the catalyst for action. Her affection for Jason have finally come to the attention of others, increasing the punishment for Jason and co’s insubordination towards the Queens nephew, Heptarian (Oliver Walker). Unfortunately for Jason and the gang, not only is Heptarian betrothed to Ariadne, but he is also the “Lord of Poseidon”, a position that allows him special privileges and treatments within the city. Consequently, the slight altercation between him and Jason ends in the boys being sent “to the bulls”.

atlantis-101-earth-bull-13Here’s where the episode lets itself down a little. The tradition of bull leaping was indeed practiced in ancient times – more specifically on the island of Crete by a pre-Greek civilization known as the Minoans, named after their king, Minos. So far so accurate. But the tradition is mostly commonly thought to have been sport rather than a punishment of any kind. OK, but a Roman amphitheater, with a gladiator’s mantra at the beginning, really guys? Just do a Google search of Greek arena it’s not hard! That’s it nerdy rant over back to the story.

Despite the details that probably only annoy me, and a handful of other sad people, the plot of episode three sees Atlantis really hit its rhythm. The interplay between the characters, the development of new previously sidelined personalities and the genuine intrigue create a really interesting episode. While the boys battle to conquer the bull, we learn more about the female characters of Atlantis. We learn about the relationship, or lack there of, between Ariadne and Heptarion-but, perhaps more interestingly, we discover that the Queen is firstly not Ariadne’s mother, and secondly that she is some sort of voodoo wielding witch. This particularly female subplot contrasts nicely with the testosterone-filled battle to master the bull.

To appease Poseidon a team of six people must all survive leaping over the enraged bull. This is an old tradition but apparently in all that time not one group has ever considered teamwork as a way of surviving. The trainer looks on amused and intrigued as the people . . . help each other?! Who’d have thought such Disney-fied views of morality were so lacking in Ancient Greece.

“The Boy Must Die” is another step in the continuing upward trajectory of Atlantis, the characters are becoming more settled, the plots more complex and intriguing, and the dialogue less forced. Episode three leaves me genuinely looking forward to the next weeks episode, something I could not have said previously.

The Roundup

  • Hercules’ quote of the week: Jason: No man smels of fear like Hercules! Herclues: That id not fear, that’s a masculine musk . . . a natural aphrodisiac!
  • The Chest Game continues after a brief hiatus last week – 32 minutes 33 seconds until the torso appeared.
  • The “who am I” subplot is entirely forgotten this week, interestingly taking a break to develop more minor characters.
  • The romantic interests between Ariadne and Jason, and Hercules and Medusa continue to grow. The latter being set up for comic reasons now, but will hopefully develop in the coming weeks. With the threat of Medusa curse hanging over this subplot we could be in for some heartache in the weeks to come.

78/100 ~ GOOD. “The Boy Must Die” is another step in the continuing upward trajectory of Atlantis, the characters are becoming more settled, the plots more complex and intriguing and the dialogue less forced.

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Charlotte Keeys

Staff Film Critic. Visit my personal blog at Jackanory Reviews
Film has always been a massive part of my life, and now I am able to pester everyone with my views, not just my immediate friends and family - so that's great. I live in the UK and am based between Kent (in the south) and Edinburgh (in Scotland). I write for TQS Magazine, as well as indie newspapers and my own blog