Monday, December 02, 2013

My Review of Atlantis's 1x09: "Pandora's Box"

Written by Howard Overman
Directed by Declan O’Dwyer

Hercules: “Why would you hide from me?”
Medusa: “I’m a monster.”

I don’t want to jinx anything just yet but this show actually be improving for the better? The last episode focusing on Pythagoras was the best one we had so far and this one would easily come in second place. I really do hope that after something of a lacklustre start this show has finally found it’s groove and we’re gearing for more solid storytelling.

At some point, Medusa’s fate was always going to happen and while the Oracle managed to convey that in the most annoying of ways to Jason, I was actually surprised the writers decided to go there this quickly with it. Perhaps they weren’t initially sure they would get a second season before deciding or perhaps this show only intends to run for two or three series but either way, it was quite a surprise.

The thing about Medusa is that she’s been the only really well written female character we’ve had on the show aside from Korinna and Jemima Rooper is such a charismatic and likeable actress, that Medusa has also been a joy to watch. In some ways, Medusa being cursed should’ve been obvious given that both she and Hercules seemed very much in love and we did after all get a mission to Hades for Pandora’s Box.

Knowing those facts though doesn’t disguise the fact that this could either be a wonderful turn of events for the show or a case of the show revealing it’s hand too quickly. I liked that when she became cursed, Medusa automatically didn’t resort to being evil either. She might have turned a few soldiers to stone but she was adamant about protecting Hercules and told him not to find her either.

More to the point, even though Jason made his awareness of Medusa’s fate known to Pythagoras and Hercules, I liked that he still wanted to help Medusa nonetheless. Although the scene where he lost his temper with the Oracle felt entirely flat, at least he’s not trying to accept his destiny all too quickly either.

However I do wonder though if the writers will actually come up with a temporary cure for Medusa or if this really is it for the character. If it’s the latter, then this show really does need to step up several gears and improve their female characters. Both the Oracle and Ariadne are in desperate need of personalities and Pasiphae herself is in need of some nuances as a villain. Either that or we need some newer female characters.

As for the Hades stuff – well, it was nice getting a chance to see Cyrus again and I liked that he helped with distracting Campe in order for Jason and Hercules to retrieve Pandora’s Box. The fact that Hades looked so appropriately gloomy and dark as well certainly worked in the episode favour too, so there’s that as well.

As for Pythagoras though – he did have the important task of guarding Jason and Hercules’s bodies while they were in Hades and the running about to retrieve them was amusing enough as well. I do however hope though that after the previous episode, he isn’t relegated to barely doing anything else though.

Last but not least – Hercules himself. Aside from his desperation to save Medusa – first from loan shark fella, Kyros and then from her fate, I actually am starting to like him more as a character. When Mark Addy is given decent material, he can be good and this was certainly a great episode for him. I would’ve liked to have seen a more natural progression from Medusa forgiving Hercules to starting a relationship with him but at least they have chemistry with each other and it did make her fate the more unfortunate because of that.

Also in “Pandora’s Box”

This is two episodes in a row without the likes of Minos, Pasiphae, Ariadne or Heptarian. I’m starting to think works better with them in small doses.

Medusa: “I hear so many stories.”
Hercules: “So many stories about my good deeds and heroic acts?”
Medusa: “Stories about your gambling, your drinking, your debts, your fondness for women.”

Is there anyone in Atlantis that Hercules doesn’t owe money to? Even the woman who woke up Pythagoras said that Hercules owed her cash.

Eunapius: “Who are you?”
Jason: “I’m a man who would anything to save his friend.”

Hercules: “So this is what it feels like to be dead? Different to how I thought it would be.”
Jason: “What did you think it would feel like?”

I think a lot of the CGI in this episode went to the look of Campe as Medusa with snake hair was only briefly seen.

Campe (to Jason): “You will not open the box. If you do, it will cause great suffering.”

Hercules: “Why in the name of the Gods are we in a grave?”
Pythagoras: “It’s a long story that involves a lot of running and a lot of digging.”

That’s two episodes in a row with an obligatory shirtless scene from Jason. I think the show is slipping there.

Jason (to the Oracle): “Curse you and curse the gods. Do your worst.”

Chronology: Not that long since the events of “The Furies”.

While “Pandora’s Box” was another story to get something of a creative retelling, this also turned out to be quite an interesting episode. It does make me hope that the series is heading into a more interesting direction with the more trite comedy moments being toned down and some actual darkness to slip through. The remaining episodes of the season should be the decider though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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