It’s our second week in Atlantis, the series that combines Greek mythology and Merlin with varied results, and another all-star of legend turns up: it’s Medusa! Meanwhile, newcomer Jason settles in weirdly quickly, Pythagoras and Hercules steal the whole show and the Oracle…is… quite… annoying… with… her… slow… delivery… of… information… full stop.
Hercules and the disappearing merchant
However, considering how vague the ending of A Girl By Any Other Name is, it might be impossible to give out spoilers even if I wanted to. For example, Hercules is on the run from a merchant after mislaying some frankincense, which gets a lot of set-up time, but turns out to have no point beyond motivating him to leave the city and help the others with their quest.
The introduction of Medusa lets them play off our existing knowledge of the myth, as she is played as a new good guy, but we know (and the Oracle at the end more or less confirms) that she’s destined to become the evil snake lady. Basically, it’s an even more snack-you-over-the-head version of the Morgana plotline from Merlin, but Jemima Roper seems quite good in the part, and it’s probably a good idea to add a female character to the main ensemble.
Their actual reason for questing this week revolves around finding a dying man’s daughter, but she doesn’t want to come back with them for… undisclosed reasons. It’s hard to tell whether this is a subplot for later weeks or simply lazy.
The uninterested time traveller
As I watch more of Atlantis, I find the bulk of my problems are with the lead character, to be honest. Not just the acting, although Jack Donnelly is sometimes flat, but because he’s such a vaguely heroic blank slate. Any opportunity to play up his 21st century origins is ignored (except when he briefly recognises Medusa’s name), instead he simply wanders around being selfless and humourless. His motivation to find his father is mentioned once, but since it doesn’t seem to be driving the show week to week, it’s hard to feel like it matters.
Sidekicks Hercules and Pythagoras have more defined characteristics at least, and Mark Addy gets solid chances to mess around, but all told, Atlantis still lacks either a driving plot to provide intrigue, or the humour and charm required to compensate. We’re not into Sinbad levels of awful here, but nor do I feel much drive to keep watching. Shame.