Atlantis (BBC America) Season Finale 2014 Review “Touched by the Gods: Part One/Two”

I apologize for the lack of a review last week– I was vacationing while Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules were majorly botching an assassination attempt. Since there was some cool stuff in Part One, I do want to briefly touch on it: the skeleton fight was amazing. The rest was the usual slapstick style fun mixed with a creepy performance by Lucy Cohu as Circe. The show cut her loose way too soon; I know Jason is our touched by the gods hero, but I was rooting for Circe to stick around a while longer. Anyway, did I mention the skeleton fight? Because that was the best thing that happened all season, noticeable CGI and all. Atlantis has proven to be an entertaining adventure series despite its many first season stumbles and I can only hope season two continues to put new twists on familiar parts of Jason’s journey.

Now onto this week’s episode. I was so wrong. The Oracle is not Jason’s mom. Pasiphae is his mom. I honestly did not see that twist coming, and I could not be happier about it. She cursed her husband with leprosy to ease her path to power, and believed her son to be dead. The look on her face upon realizing that Jason was her child was beautiful; the perfect mix of longing, regret, horror and pain. Even though Jason failed to kill Pasiphae, he’s still destined to be her downfall. Suddenly, the palace goings on carry so much more weight. How will Pasiphae deal with this revelation? What would Ariadne do if she knew the man she loved was the son of her stepmother (who has now tried to kill every member of her family)? I am shocked by how much I want to know the answers to these questions.

The saddest twist of fate this two-parter offered up was Jason still being blind about his identity. He found his father and his mother, but he has no idea who they are. He killed both his aunt and his cousin unknowingly. Again, out of nowhere, Atlantis managed to be subtly heartbreaking, twisting a knife I never saw coming. Watching Pasiphae see her son happy and alive at the end, knowing that he hates her and is foretold to be her undoing was crushing. When the season began, I had no idea I could appreciate Pasiphae for any reason other than ability to be hilariously ruthless at all times. Suddenly, she is the most layered character in the series, thanks in no small part to Sarah Parish’s balanced performance. She went from embracing the inherent silliness of the political machinations to slipping into the role of mother torn between love and a thirst of power with ease.

As for the trio, they remain mostly unchanged. Saving Ariadne was just another adventure for them. They all returned safely to Atlantis, the King was revived despite the Queen’s best efforts to off him and all is right in the world of Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules. As far as they know. On the other hand, we can see the darker parts of their story encroaching upon their idyllic, bromantic existence. Medusa is still in the caves, no doubt slowly going mad, the possibility that Jason will still have to commit matricide looms over his head and next season’s adventures will likely become deadlier than ever before.

For me, the biggest surprise of all is that I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. Atlantis doesn’t have the week to week quality of early Misfits or Doctor Who, but it has its own sense of charm. It’s a bit rough around the edges– lovable, odd, occasionally stumbling toward greatness. It was a strange journey, but I’m glad I stuck it out to the end.

What did you think of season one? Will you be coming back next year?

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