Pasiphae opted for a superbly gruesome execution for her stepdaughter; Ariadne was to be slowly cooked to death in the belly of a bronze bull. The description of this torture provoked an instant reaction from Jason as he considered handing himself in and this in turn prompted a great grandstanding moment from Hercules pledging his loyalty, though it was undercut swiftly by food and wine-based jokes.
Bringing the Oracle back into play, and reminding us of her enmity for Pasiphae, we saw her becoming involved in events for once. While her priest tended to the dying King Minos and discovered the source of his malady, she assisted Jason with directions to a place of safety.
The rescue of the Princess was accomplished in style with the help of a raucously drunk Hercules, a flaming arrow and the collusion of guard captain Ramos (Joe Dixon), who remained loyal to his King rather than the usurping Queen – a loyalty that later cost his life as they made good their escape.
Hiding out in a silver mine, and leper colony, we finally caught up with the missing elements of Jason’s backstory. Unbeknownst to the lad himself, we met his father Tychon (John Hannah) before they were hunted down by Pasiphae, resplendent in a regal breastplate with a phalanx of troops at her command.
At the end of some impressive smoky battle sequences, where even Ariadne got her hands dirty, the Queen looked set to finish Jason off. Tychon’s last minute revelation that Pasiphae is Jason’s mother floored us; we had long been expecting the Oracle to be revealed in that role.
While much was made of the fact that Jason and Pasiphae are ‘Touched by the Gods’, and we have frequently seen examples of Jason’s supernatural abilities, that Pasiphae holds such powers comes as a surprise, unless perhaps they are the source of her family’s abilities with witchcraft?
Regardless, it should make for an interesting dynamic for the show going forward, especially now that Jason appears to have despatched her right hand man Heptarian and the Oracle predicts that his destiny is to destroy his mother.
The restoration to health of King Minos also augurs well. He returned on blazing form in the final scenes, both thanking Jason and warning him off Ariadne at the same time. We loved the irony that neither Minos nor Jason realise that he is in fact a suitable potential suitor for the Princess due to his undisclosed heritage.
While there was no further progress on the Medusa storyline, there was at least a mention and the restatement of Pythagoras’ promise that he will continue to pursue a cure for her condition.
Leaving plenty up in the air, as well as delivering (to us at least) on some of the initial mysteries of Jason’s parentage, ‘Touched By The Gods’ was a enjoyably dramatic story that shows Atlantis is a show with potential, so long as it plays to the strengths of its capable cast and does not try too hard to be overtly comical.
Aired at 8.15pm on Saturday 28 December 2013 on BBC One.
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