Atlantis: 2.02 A New Dawn: Part Two

Last week, the second season of Atlantis opened with an episode which promised much better things for the show’s future. Promises, however, can be broken, so there was no way to know if the improvement would continue. Fortunately, this time it has. A New Dawn: Part Two gives further cause for optimism by picking up where the first half left off and packing its 45 minute runtime with tension and action in equal measure.

The Palladium – the mystical statuette which ensures Atlantis will never fall – has been stolen. Jason has retrieved it but is now injured and trapped in the cave of the Cyclops, with only Hercules and Pythagoras to help him. With Pasiphae’s army at the city gates, and men fast deserting Atlantis, it seems that Ariadne’s young reign is going to be cut short.
That was where Part One left us, and Part Two wastes no time plunging us straight back into the action. With Jason incapacitated, it is up to his friends to see him safely back to the city. It’s a shame that Pythagoras isn’t given much time to shine and ends up being underused, but watching Hercules prove his peculiar brand of heroism against the Cyclops makes up for it. Ariadne’s story, in the meantime, sees her struggling with the dilemma of continuing a hopeless fight or surrendering to Pasiphae, and gives us another chance to observe her steely change of character.

These two plotlines – the attempt to return the Palladium and the defence of Atlantis – play against one another well, each driving the other. It’s a tense race against time, full of important decisions on both sides which could determine the fate of the city. Moreover, given the Oracle’s premonition and our modern knowledge of what that fate is, it’s a big question whether Jason’s quest will succeed or not.

It’s one of the few episodes of Atlantis which doesn’t have any real problems or plot-holes, and that makes it a joy to watch. It’s difficult to pick any standout sequences because most of them are so good, though the escape from the Cyclops is excellent for matching tension with humour in a way rarely seen. The real gold star goes to the battle scenes, however, which are both superbly choreographed and shot. It’s a credit to the show that it deals with such serious issues without ever becoming too dark, largely thanks to the fantastic humour generated between Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules.
Somehow, between all the action sequences, A New Dawn: Part Two also manages to provide plenty of human drama to keep it from being shallow. The doomed love between Jason and Ariadne continues, despite the hardening of her personality. Hercules, learning that he too is touched by the Gods, is growing from comic relief to fully-fledged hero, and Sarah Parish’s excellent performance as Pasiphae gives her an emotional reality that many villains lack.

A New Dawn: Part One made the promise of improvement for Atlantis, and Part Two is the first step in fulfilling that promise. It builds magnificently on the season opener and even manages to better it. Furthermore, it raises as many questions as it resolves, and thus should leave you eager to watch more. May the Renaissance continue; Atlantis has well and truly found its feet.

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