A somewhat disjointed episode hit our screens tonight, with perhaps too much going on for us to really follow and in such a small time for it to be executed. Nevertheless, it was an admirably written instalment, with an interesting plot and brought not only new characters into the mix, but old ones as well. Perhaps, the biggest revelation of the night was Medusa's emotional return.
To begin, I would like to stumble my way through the things that bugged me this week and then discuss the pros. Firstly, the episode had a lack of coherence. Scenes jumped from one to the other in a matter of seconds across locations we haven't even heard of yet. This was Howard Overman's attempt at fitting a lot of body into a small space of time. The final reveal of Melas' betrayal was left bland and nonsensical by this sticato imagery and it left a sour taste. In addition, Pythagoras has become as interesting as a snapped twig - his scenes are few and his theories and deliberations just show how routine his character has become in the first and second series. From now on, I will find it difficult not to cringe at his every word.
On a more positive note, Medusa's return was a strong point, and allowed Hercules' character to become flawed once more, a complexity we haven't seen since his fatal problems in the first series. His scenes with Medusa were well done - both emotional and controversial. The fact that Hercules has now resorted to lying to his own friends shows there's a lot of potential for this series to stretch out a bit more than it has. The Oracle's death was brutal, to say the least (and to add to it all, as she fell backwards, it seems her head was severed from her body). More importantly, I really enjoyed the revelation about Melas, who's service has been commended by the Oracle before, but has now been revealed as a lie. This shows how brittle, perhaps, Ariadne's control has been on her allies in the city. The cliffhanger may leave on an awkward moment, but it's intriguing all the same to see Ariadne forced to comply to Melas' pleas for the gods.
Behind the story and all its complications, however, I've found something else to enjoy just that bit more. The direction in the series has been without fault. The Oracle's ceremony in the woods was cleverly filmed by Lawrence Gough, who's new blood has brought a fresher feel to the production. Also, Rob Lane's music has reached a crescendo in this episode, with some positively eerie and some dramatic scores to boot, transforming what seems quiet and dreary scenes into works of art. When the music is utilised properly, it can create wonderful things in the mind.
To conclude, A Fate Worse Than Death is neither bad nor great, it's in between. With the series now axed, I see no way that the next few episodes will increase my hopes of a more sound and assured script where the line "There's only one way to find out" is absent. Of course, with the impending arrival of Season 5 of Game of Thrones, I may be asking for too much, but Atlantis DID have the potential to become a superb series, but it wasn't really meant to be. However, I may be entirely wrong, and the final six episodes may prove me so, but I highly doubt it all the same.