After a gap of many months, Atlantis is back on our screens and the story resumes with the preparations for the wedding of Jason (Jack Donnelley) and Ariadne (Aiysha Hart). Howard Overman, the main writer, describes events in A Fate Worse than Death – the plot may be focussing on the intrigue around impeding nuptials but in the long gap since the previous episode (The Grey Sisters) the show has been cancelled.
Once Pasiphae (Sarah Parish) learns of the wedding, she sends in a crack team of assassins – not to kill Ariadne, nor Jason (though they could have); instead they capture the Oracle (Juliet Stephenson) to stop her announcing the word of Poseidon, supporting the marriage.
This is part of what seems to be a brave attempt to clear the decks of the series and re-align the intrigues. Deliberate or not this is unsettling (and more in the style of a US series) and no sooner has the viewer adjusted to events than there is a murder. Of course Jason is accused and the stakes are raised with him swiftly condemned to death. Just another day in Atlantis!
Plenty of plot, but very little for most characters to do. Mid-way in Medusa (Jemima Rooper) returns and seconds later is doing Pasiphae’s dirty work. Hercules (the ever excellent Mark Addy) tries to make contact but has little bearing on events. Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and Jason both have almost nothing to do and the whole episode seems to rush around giving all the characters a little bit to do as a reminder of how they are but doing little more than setting up another date with destiny in next week’s episode. Some characters do emerge forever changed, but there comes a point with shows when they succumb to change for change’s sake. With the announcement there will be no more, Atlantis avoids that outcome, but I hope the final few episodes do more than this one to justify the investment in viewer time.
For the show as a whole, there is clearly a fate worse than death – cancelation. Although this episode has its moments, there are many portents of its eventual demise.