Atlantis: 2.06 The Grey Sisters
Last week’s The Day of the Dead had everything you could ask for in forty-five minutes of television, and best of all it ended on a spectacular cliffhanger. Following up such an episode was never going to be easy, but The Grey Sisters does an admirable job. It’s a little slower paced, and is lighter on action than any other episode this season, but the emotional currents flow stronger than ever to make it just as powerful as its predecessor.
Medea earned Jason’s trust throughout The Day of the Dead – only to betray it in the episode’s final seconds by stabbing Ariadne. The Queen of Atlantis is now badly wounded, and even the ministrations of the Oracle cannot stem the bleeding; Medea’s dagger was cursed with Colchean death magic. In desperation, Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules set out to seek the advice of the Grey Sisters – the Fates – who are the most powerful seers in all of Greece.
The quest that follows feels closer to the quests of Classical Greek mythology than what Atlantis has hitherto produced; the proclamations of the Fates riddle it with pitfalls and hard decisions. It has a good slice of legend thrown in with the inclusion of the Stymphalian birds, too – but they serve the purposes of the plot rather than the other way around, which is not only as it should be but runs contrary to how it was in Season 1. It’s another sign of the show maturing and improving, choosing story over cheap thrills.
There are plenty of ways The Grey Sisters could have fallen flat on its face. It’s a very character driven episode, and without strong performances from the cast could have easily become terrifically boring. Fortunately, they more than rise to the occasion. The biggest revelation here is Jack Donnelly, who puts in his best turn as Jason to date. At times he has had a tendency to rush his words, thereby leaving the show’s main character lacking in heroic presence, but this is an episode that proves he has the necessary skill for the role.
Jason is the driving force behind the narrative, at turns filled with righteous anger at Medea’s betrayal and despair at his own foolishness. He is hardened by the experience, and willing to do whatever it takes to save Ariadne. He has always been the lead character and the good guy, but this is the first episode where he has truly seemed like the hero of legend. His confrontations with the Grey Sisters and Pasiphae may involve no swordplay – only words – but they are some of the best that Jason has been involved in.
Special note should also go to the Grey Sisters themselves. They are a wonderfully creepy trio, with their warped faces and manic, screeching prophecies. They have a relatively small part in an episode named after them, but that part is one of the highlights. The Grey Sisters may not be as memorable as The Day of the Dead, but it is surely as good as it and will disappoint no-one but the pickiest critic.