Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer DVR Dump: Atlantis 1.08: "The Furies"

“We are men of pluck, mettle, and unerring courage.”

After two episodes which really propelled the series mythology forward, “The Furies” was kind of disappointing in the sense that it was a rather stand-alone story. We get nothing in this episode about King Minos or Pasiphae or Jason’s larger destiny. Instead, our trio is trying to earn some money by completing a rather difficult delivery job. One thing the episode does have going for it is that it provides a great deal of background on Pythagoras. We learn that Pythagoras has a younger brother, Arcas, and their father was murdered. Arcas was young when this happened, so he is still really bitter over it. Pythagoras remembers how abusive their father was to their mother, though, so he is much less sentimental and angry.

The episode opens with Hercules lining up a job for the group. A rich guy’s son is getting married in the town of Helios, and the trio are hiring to help guard the “brideprice” (a trunk of gold) as it is transported across the desert for the wedding. The night before the journey is set to begin, Pythagoras’ brother, Arcas, shows up. He turns out to be a gambler to rival Hercules, so naturally, Hercules likes him a lot, and they spend all night drinking and gambling. Hercules is slow to wake up the next morning thanks to all the debauchery of the previous night. Arcas is now going to join the group on their expedition.

Before the group sets out, Pythagoras pays a visit to the Oracle. He is very nervous, both about traveling across the desert and having such prolonged interaction with his brother. This doesn’t really make sense until we learn what we learn later in the episode about their family history. The Oracle basically says that Pythagoras is going to go on a “journey of the soul” in the course of their trip through the desert. We also meet the rest of the traveling party. There’s the leader of the group, a rather stoic sort. There’s a silent man who bears a brand on his arm. And there’s a very mysterious woman.

As the group is about to leave, Arcas gets in a fight with the man with the brand on his arm. It turns out that the brand is a “murderer’s mark,” and Arcas hates murderers. We learn, as I mentioned in the introduction, that Arcas’ hatred comes from the fact that his father was murdered. Pythagoras explains that Arcas was too young when the murder happened to know what their father was really like. Because of what happens, Arcas hates all murderers. The leader of the group tells Jason and Hercules that the murderer had a good reason for doing what he did and has done his penance. They all try to mollify Arcas with this information, but it doesn’t really take. Arcas isn’t getting into any more fights, but he’s not happy, either.

There’s also the matter of the woman in the company. Several of the men complain that she will bring them bad luck, but Jason and the groom are both especially kind to her. Nevertheless, she keeps acting kind of shady. Nobody even knows her name. As night falls, the group is attacked by thieves. What I found interesting about this scene is that the woman jumped in to fight off the thieves. She was as tough as all the guys. When the thieves are defeated, the group takes refuge in a cave that has a sort of angel-like statute in it. We learn that this is the Cave of the Furies. The group leader swears it never has given him any trouble, though.

The woman and the groom briefly are separated from the group. She takes a drink from the groom’s wineskin and says her name is Baucis (appropriate, given the whole wine-drinking thing). Later, the group sits around the fire, and we learn what exactly the Furies are. If invoked, they will seek vengeance for a specific murder, and they won’t stop in their quest to kill the murderer unless the person who invoked them truly forgives the murderer. Naturally, Arcas is quite keen to hear this story, given his hatred of murderers and all. The group leader says that the Furies are harmless as long as nobody is stupid enough to actually invoke them. Guess who is that stupid, though? Arcas, of course! He wastes no time in invoking those Furies while everyone is asleep. He wants revenge for his father’s murder.

The next day there are numerous creepy signs that the Furies have been invokes, like a dead bird outside the cave, and the wind whipping up occasionally. The group tries to ignore it, though. Some drama with Baucis also serves as a distraction. At one point, she rides off on a horse with the chest they were all supposed to be transporting. Luckily, Jason put the actual gold in a separate bag and was using the chest as a decoy. After another wind in the desert incident (stronger than the first), the group finds Baucis. The leader wants to leave her in the desert to die because he doesn’t trust her not to try and steal the gold again. The groom and Jason, however, convince the group otherwise, and Baucis is once again allowed to travel with them.

Later at night, the Furies strike again, this time more powerfully than before. The insistence behind the attacks convinces Arcas that the marked murderer in their party must have been the person who killed his father. Arcas is about to strike up another fight with him when Pythagoras puts a stop to it with a shocking admission. He killed their father. It was an accident which happened in the course of trying to protect their mother from one of his rages. You would think this would put a stop to the Fury attacks, but it doesn’t. Arcas is steadfast in his anti-murderer stance, and he leaves Pythagoras and the rest of the party to the Furies.

The attack keeps intensifying, and something has to be done. They might survive the night, but the Furies will keep attacking and attacking until Pythagoras is dead. The groom and Baucis go after Arcas to see if they might be able to get him to change his mind while Hercules and Jason try to protect Pythagoras. Pythagoras wants Hercules and Jason to just leave him to his fate, but they don’t. Eventually, convinced by the groom and Baucis, Arcas comes back. He says he forgives Pythagoras, but the Furies don’t leave right away. Arcas has to truly mean it. Eventually, after they have a heart-to-heart, Arcas does truly forgive Pythagoras, and the Furies relent.

The group and the gold finally arrive in Helios. Many things have changed, though. Arcas wants to stay in Helios and make a new life there. He does so, and he and Pythagoras have a nice goodbye. Also, the groom has fallen in love with Baucis, so he’s no longer the groom. Hercules, Jason, and Pythagoras now have to transport all the gold back to Atlantis. And because the wedding never took place, they probably won’t be getting paid. Just their luck!

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