We'd heard that the second season of Atlantis would have a much darker tone than the first. And from the opening minutes of this weekend's season premiere, things were already feeling moody and tense.
Here's where we're at when the episode begins. Although King Minos had recovered from Pasiphae's poison by the end of last season, he's now dead. And his body has barely had the chance to cook on a pyre before Pasiphae declares war on Ariadne. The princess may have been docile last season, but now that she's queen, she's ready to fight.
Battle is raging in a nearby town. Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules arrive at the house of Lord Sarpedon, and inform him that Ariadne sent them to his rescue. Hercules and Pythagoras were nervous to fight last season—but they don't hesitate to draw their swords as the team leads Sarpedon through the town's besieged streets. The biggest change this year may be Hercules' persona: he used to be a goof, but now he's the one scolding Jason for "playing the hero."
Despite Jason's last-minute rescues, they get Sarpedon to Atlantis, where Ariadne says she's very happy to see him. Apparently Sarpedon had some beef with her dad, but he's now happy to serve.
Or is he? Alone in his room, Sarpedon unlocks his chest. Curled inside is Medea, a beautiful young woman holding a knife. "Everything is ready," he tells her.
Medea sneaks through the palace until she finds the vault. She's after a particular trophy: the Palladium, an ancient statue with some serious-muscle powers. It's been said—by Pasiphae, earlier in the episode—that if the statue is within Atlantis' walls, the city will never fall. As soon as Medea touches the trophy, an earthquake starts rumbling through Atlantis.
Medea makes a run for it, and is pursued by a team of guards. They chase her to the edge of the palace walls. Medea jumps (actually, she does a flip—cause that's how she rolls), and is picked up by a giant bird before her body smashes on the rocks below.
Ariadne asks Jason & co. to retrieve the Palladium, and they agree. But before heading on their quest, Jason makes a pit stop at the oracle's candlelit abode. She gives him a vision of the future. It's bleak: he sees a city burning, Pasiphae looking smug, a ship with the word ARGO printed on its side, and Ariadne screaming "noooo" with blood on her hands.
The oracle says Jason can stop this fate if he embraces his destiny. Whatever that means. Quit being so cryptic, lady!
As they make their way to the Colchian encampment, Jason & co. are attacked in the woods. They easily kill the soldiers, with Pythagoras and Hercules demonstrating some serious new swordfighting skills. When the skirmish is done, however, one man is left alive and unarmed. He begs for his life. Jason says he can't kill an unarmed man—but Pythagoras and Hercules agree that they might jeopardize their mission if they let him live. Pythagoras tries to do the deed, but he can't. So they send the man back to his hometown.
Medea's accomplice is captured and tortured in a cell in the palace. Sarpedon—who is leading this whole infiltration—visits him. The accomplice explains that he didn't give away any secrets of their mission. "You are loyal," Sarpedon says. Then kills him anyway.
Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules arrive at Pasiphae's base. When night falls, they silently enter and sneak to her tent. Once Pasiphae has stepped out, they take down her guards and start poking around. It doesn't take long to find a locked chest with the Palladium inside. Pythagoras almost gets killed while keeping watch outside, but they eventually make a fun escape via catapult. All in all, pretty easy!
Except not. As they escape across the rocky hills, they're attacked by a group of Pasiphae's men. The sword-fighting part goes well—they easily take out the soldiers. But as they're about to move on, Jason takes an arrow in the leg. It's the guy from the woods! The one whose life they spared. Who is apparently a total jerk.
Jason can barely walk, so Pythagoras and Hercules have to carry him the rest of the way—including across a very rickety rope bridge. Before Pasiphae's men catch up, they traverse the bridge and cut it down, taking refuge in a nearby cave. But that doesn't stop Pasiphae. Using her witchy powers, she causes the hill to collapse, blocking the entrance to the cave with rocks.
Which means the Palladium can't be returned to Atlantis. Which means Pasiphae's men—40,000 of them—can launch their attack.
We're only one episode in, but Atlantis is definitely playing with more serious tones than last season. While Pasiphae was always a jerk, it's Ariadne who's showing some much-needed strength this time around. We're also curious to learn more about Medea. Who is she? Despite stealing the Palladium, she doesn't seem totally on team Pasiphae. Plus, she's got cool style.
Click here to watch this week's premiere!