Atlantis: 2.10 The Dying of the Light

The battle for Jason’s soul has begun. After a series and a half of heroics from the main character of Atlantis, we see him take a darker turn in the tenth episode of season 2, The Dying of the Light. With the show cancelled at the end of this season, it’s still in question whether this character arc will reach a full and satisfying conclusion – but for the moment, it provides plenty of drama and seems to be building to a powerful finale.

With the discovery that Pasiphae is his mother, the Oracle’s prophecy has come true and Jason’s heart has blackened. As he slides deeper and deeper into despair, and is drawn into the darkness, the divisions among our heroes also grow deeper. Because Hercules is mourning the death of Medusa and blames it on Jason, it falls to Pythagoras to find a way to save his friend’s soul from the clutches of Pasiphae.

Ultimately his quest leads him back to the city, into the very heart of danger, and then on to the only person who can turn Jason back to the light: his father, Aeson. Despite featuring more action than the last couple of episodes, The Dying of the Light is still a character-driven episode that relies on human drama to generate excitement. Occasionally it falls a little short on this front, but when it hits its stride it provides some excellent moments which won’t be quickly forgotten.

Though Pythagoras takes the lead role in this episode, he is merely a vehicle for the story to progress, and the most interesting things happen away from him. The emotional sparring between Hercules and Jason provides much of the tension, and it’s fascinating to watch the two friends butting heads. Elsewhere, it’s excellent to see John Hannah return as the embittered Aeson, afflicted with leprosy and withdrawn from a world where he no longer feels he has a part to play.

Of course, it’s Jason’s descent into darkness that really steals the show. Viewers have become accustomed to seeing him heroically backflip and swashbuckle his way through many a swordfight, but The Dying of the Light opens with him ruthlessly slaughtering an entire Atlantean patrol without remorse. Medea’s claims that she and Jason are drawn to one another – a consequence of them both being touched by the gods – was one he vehemently denied in The Gorgon’s Gaze, but his dreams of her grow vivid as the blackening of his heart continues.

Whether The Dying of the Light will please the audience or not is debatable. On the one hand, there’s no doubt that it’s a good episode – smartly scripted, competently acted, and dramatically staged. On the other, it has been several episodes now since there was much action, and what there is here proves to be short and brutal rather than thrilling, and is used to help tell the story rather than provide excitement. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and as said this is certainly a good episode – but in the grand scheme of the series, may not be so vividly remembered as some others.

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