|Personality Clash: Jason vs Heptarian|
First things first: the concluding episode of the Atlantis season finale, Touched By The Gods, is the first episode to come even vaguely close to the promise tantalising dangled before us in the pilot episode, The Earth Bull.
I'm not saying it was great, but it was certainly a cut above the majority of this season of barrel-scraping awfulness.
While it still suffered from many of the same symptoms as previous episodes (dull, two-dimensional lead character; bulk of the action taking place in the dark or the same small patch of woodland; epic amounts of padding; the predominance of a drab, brown colour palette etc), writer Howard Overman actually managed to surprise me with a twist I did not see coming when the subject of Jason's heritage was tackled.
It is, of course, slightly ironic - but in a Greek tragedy kind of way - that it was Jason's quest for his father that brought him to Atlantis and while he hasn't once mentioned it in subsequent episodes he actually met his father - as played by the fantastic John Hannah - in Touched By The Gods (part two) but just didn't realise it.
Following the events in Touched By The Gods (part one), Ariadne was sentenced to be cooked alive in the "Brazen Bull" by her wicked step-mother Pasiphae - but Jason and co aim to bust her out and flee to a leper colony at the suggestion of the Oracle (little realising, of course, that the leader of the leper colony is, in truth, Jason's long lost - and forgotten - father).
The rescue goes remarkably well and our heroes make it to the colony before they are tracked down by Pasiphae and Heptarian.
Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, the Oracle and her high priest discover Pasiphae's scheme to poison the king and set about reversing the damage she has done.
If all this season's episodes has been as good as this, I might have been inclined to give Atlantis a second look, but Touched By The Gods (part two) - even with its unexpected revelation - was an exception, rather than the rule, in a programme that regularly hit new levels of low for a genre show.
To turn things around, as happened in Merlin between the first and second seasons, would require a near-total overhaul of the whole framework of the show: a new lead actor, better plots and scripts, massive amounts of character development (just what exactly does the character of Pythagoras add to this show?), more interesting and colourful scenery and costumes, an upgrading of the special effects (so we can see monsters in the daylight, for instance), a rethink of the backstory etc
I was genuinely shocked to learn that Atlantis had somehow earned itself a second season, but I can't see it getting a third unless it addresses the major flaws at the heart of the show.