Atlantis: 2.04 The Marriage of True Minds

The gulf in class between Seasons 1 and 2 of Atlantis has so far been considerable; the show has turned around its fortunes in a remarkable fashion. The fourth episode of Season 2, The Marriage of True Minds, doesn’t match the first three for quality due to some iffy pacing in its middle act, but is still a fine effort that builds plenty of excitement for the future of the show.

Previous episode Telemon saw the titular character – a Prince of Aegina with ulterior but unknown intentions – win Ariadne’s hand in marriage, and The Marriage of True Minds picks up the threads straight away. To receive the blessing of Telemon’s father, they must travel to Aegina through dangerous territory, and Jason’s suspicions about Ariadne’s new fiancée fall upon deaf ears. The journey is undertaken – and soon ends in disaster when Telemon betrays them to the vengeful Pasiphae.
The episode begins well, distilling the three interweaving plots of Telemon to their base elements and bringing them together into one. The tension is allowed to build quickly; Telemon’s association with Pasiphae is revealed to the viewer early on, but our cast of heroes march into an ambush they don’t know is coming. Aided by some excellent cinematography, this soon gets the heart pounding before a sword has even been drawn.

It’s with what follows that the problems begin and the show falters. Clive Standen’s performance was the highlight of the previous episode, but Telemon’s treachery is revealed and resolved too easily to give him time to shine – though there is some promise that the character will return. Fortunately, Sarah Parish’s performance as Pasiphae is as enthralling as ever and helps to make up for Standen’s underuse.
The bigger problem is not with the villains but the heroes. With the tension broken and the action dispensed with, there is simply too much talk. The result is that the pace slows and the plot starts to lose direction. Jason and Ariadne gaze longingly at one another a lot, Pythagoras despairs and Hercules makes some quips, but the overall tone is too contemplative and largely treads ground already covered in the first third.

Even so, the episode never becomes boring, and never slips as low as the quality we saw in Season 1. The production values are too high and the cast are too assured in their roles for that. Furthermore, the final third picks up again and ultimately leaves us on a cliffhanger of literally monstrous proportions.
There are a few niggles here and there in this episode, too. Ariadne’s offhand comment that she knows little of Jason’s past reminds us, once again, of the largely ignored fact that he comes from the present day. Perhaps worse is the costuming for Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules, who look like they’re wearing clothes made from old hemp sacks. It seems strange that Jason – who was Champion of Atlantis in the previous episode – is unable to afford anything better, and that he would dress so scruffily on a mission to defend the queen.

These are minor annoyances, though; The Marriage of True Minds is a largely enjoyable episode which builds to a thrilling climax in the Necropolis of Hipparghos. Furthermore, it sets the stage for what should be another superb episode, if the teasers are anything to go by. We’ve seen little of Pasiphae’s young protégé, Medea, but it seems that is about to change. Atlantis may not have grown in strength this week, but one thing is for certain: next Saturday cannot come soon enough.

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