Howard Overman leads the new series of Atlantis back to our screens with the first of a two-part story – A New Dawn: Part 1.
This does mark a new beginning for the show and a slight but important resetting of characters. Gone is Alexander Siddig’s King Minos, who has been dead for a year. Araidne (Aiysha Hart) is now queen and dealing with imminent attack from her father’s widow, the evil Pasiphae (Sarah Parish). Of course, the show is actually about Jason (Jack Donnelly) and his two companions – Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and the always-entertaining Hercules (Mark Addy).
The setup with the war allows us to quickly take stock of the main characters, and poor Queen Ariadne is side-lined by events and rather upstaged by those around her, including the duplicitous Sarpedon (Robert Pugh). A magic relic, the Palladium, is stolen and given to Pasiphae; this means the city is now vulnerable to attack so, of course, Ariadne sends Jason and his friends to recapture it from the heart of Pasiphae’s army. This is via a trip to the Oracle (Juliet Stevenson), who grants Jason visions of the rest of the series and some grim possibilities.
The rest of the story mixes standard ingredients – lots of fighting, slaying of enemies, sneaking around, and being trapped in a cave with a Cyclops. Everyday stuff for our heroes. Where the story does work is in giving time for Pythagoras and Hercules to remind us of the wider story hooks and explore their characters, particularly why they hang around with Jason. Jason in turn manages to get badly injured adding to their woes.
The show has now been written with the late evening broadcast slot in mind – the previous series was written for early evening but not transmitted then. One consequence is that Pythagoras is now more a man of action than before, killing a fair share of generic enemy soldiers.
The episode ends with Atlantis seemingly doomed, 40,000 warriors massed around its walls and Pasiphae on the cusp of realising her dreams of rulership. A good start to what promises to be an entertaining season of stories.
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