Atlantis 1.05 “White Lies” TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer: Howard Overman
Director: Alice Troughton
THE ONE WHERE Ariadne’s disgraced – and presumed dead – brother makes a comeback, a situation with which Pasiphae is not happy about at all.
VERDICT To be fair, maybe in the “The One Where” bit above we should have said, “The bromance between Hercules and Pythagoras is threatened by the arrival of a racing beetle”. Because the Astrabucus B-plot was considerably more memorable than the meandering A-plot.
The episode starts well enough with a Spider-Man wannabe scaling the walls of the castle and delivering to Ariadne a message that her disgraced and presumed dead brother is in hiding not far from the city and wants to see her. This severely pisses off Pasiphae who had secretly engineered Therus’s downfall, and she indulges in some seriously unpleasant torture techniques on the messenger to try to discover her stepson’s whereabouts (the scene in which she appears to be wiping the prisoner clean, but is, in reality, collecting samples so that she can supernaturally make his blood boil in his veins is particularly harsh).(opens in new tab)
There are also a decent couple of Jason and Ariadne scenes which Aiysha Hart plays with just the right touch of indulgence and distance. Whereas in the first couple of episodes she just seemed stiff and aloof, we’re beginning to see the subtlety to her character now; she’s simply extremely guarded. Jack Donnelly, while improving, still acts a little bit too much like he’s just graduated from Grange Hill , though his comedy faces are becoming less OTT.
Aside from that, there’s little to recommend in the main plot. There’s little to dislike about it either. It’s just sort of… there , in a humdrum, utilitarian fashion, providing a bit of background for the arc plot without really ever providing any real drama itself. Therus – a desperately dull and barely-sketched character – simply lures Ariadne out of the city so he kidnap her and get her out of harm’s way, but she says no and he relents. That should have been a B-plot while Jason was fighting Harpies or something.
This is also the second episode in a row that has featured a disguise-assisted escape from the city, and one of the king’s men suddenly and unexpectedly turning out to be a good guy (different king, admittedly, but it feels like the same piece of plotting legerdemain). Atlantis has better be careful it doesn’t become too formulaic this early in its run.
It’s a shame, because it’s good to see Ariadne with a decent amount of screen time for a change, but “White Lies” doesn’t do her many favours. The fact that her best moment is when she finds a pot full of dung in Hercules’s bedroom says it all, really…(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
THE LAST LAUGH The whole beetle race B-plot seems to be an elongated set-up for a the final punchline of the episode, when Pythagoras names the beetle “Hercules”. Because, of course, there is a beetle called the Hercules beetle. The name Hercules gave the Beetle was Astrabacus, who was a Spartan warrior in Greek mythology.(opens in new tab)
FUNNIEST MOMENT For all Hercules’ and Pythagoras’s patented quippage, the funniest moment of this episode goes to Jason, and he doesn’t even open his mouth. He’s just checking out clothes that Ariadne might be able to use to disguise herself, and the suitability test includes sniffing them.(opens in new tab)
LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT There is some shockingly poor day-for-night footage at the end of the episode. Look at the pools of sunlight and the light falling across Jason’s face in the shot above.(opens in new tab)
BROMANCE Therus walks in on a “Do you two need a room?” moment.(opens in new tab)
RIM SHOT MOMENT Considering Minos’s beard is almost completely grey and his hair is almost completely brown, we suspect he’s been using Grecian 2000 (opens in new tab) . Geddit? Geddit?
Ariadne (to Pasiphae): “I don’t really care what you believe. I see you exactly for what you are.”
• Atlantis is currently airing in the UK on BBC One, Saturday evenings
• Read our other Atlantis season one reviews