Olympus: The Lexicon

In Olympus’ 6th episode, Hero gets to know what it’s like to have an awkward father/son talk and subsequently gets grounded. The Oracle can’t catch a break either; she gets duped. Wait a minute, wasn’t she an Oracle? A case of misinterpreting flying crows, I suppose.

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Flashback
First, it’s flashback time. The camera placed on a merry-go-round, we see King Aegeus explain what he’d just done to the woman who’d give birth to Hero, his first-born son. He’s basically a human pregnancy test, because she had no idea she was with child already. I guess kings can sense these kind of things, that’s why they’re kings.

Father to Son
Flashing forward to the present (well, Ancient Greece, or at least a version of it), having a father/son heart to heart isn’t quite the king’s strong suit. Hero’s a savage and a traitor, as far as he’s concerned, but then there’s always Medea. She’s actually turning into one of the good guys, holding the kingdom together, acting as a voice of reason. For as long as it suits her endgame, I’m sure, but still. She convinces Aegeus to try a little TLC on Hero. It makes her son Lykos mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore, but so what; he doesn’t have the lexicon. The king’s first order of TLC business: give his son a proper name. Hero, it officially is now.

Grounded
Being grounded, Hero’s dreaming some pretty vivid dreams. CGI palaces can do that to a man. At least we know he’s into watching Ariadne and The Oracle getting it on, and snakes. Or could the snake be a symbol of something else? Or am I reading way too much into this scene?
Hero’s made his mind up. He wants the lexicon out. It’s a curse. ‘Don’t you want to live like a god?’ Medea asks. ‘No’, he answers. Fair enough. He just wants to play in the woods like he used to, or something. It never gets quite clear what he wants or where he sees himself in a week from now, or even a day from now.

The Oracle
In Minos’ camp, sneaky Ariadne duped The Oracle. She had her believe that they’d caught Hero and were going to kill him. The Oracle told them he was the son of King Aegeus, held the lexicon, etcetera, and should be kept alive. Minos knew she’d lied to him, but after a funny distraction from Daedalus, The Oracle escaped into a wonderful new green screen environment. It’s cheesy, the computer graphics, but they grow on you. The backdrops aren’t exactly believable, and some are better than others, but it’s actually nice Syfy’s giving this amount of freedom to the CGI team. It looks like they’ve told them: ‘Create whatever you want, do it quickly, but please have fun doing it.’ And it shows.

Lexicon
So what’s this lexicon and how do you get rid of it? We’ll know next week. Apparently the beast we’ve been seeing these past weeks serves as its guard. He stands between Hero and the ‘riddle’, whatever that means. He kind of shows up randomly, though. Can’t Hero have one nice kiss for once?
Obviously, The Oracle knows a few tricks to solve riddles – as we’ve seen this week as well, with an encrypted message to Minos – but first it’s Medea who’s going to try to extract the lexicon. With The Oracle on her way to the palace, I’m sure Medea’s going to fail and The Oracle has to step in. She has to hurry, because psycho blondie, AKA Queen of Gratuite Violence, is coming after her.

Olympus: Blood Brothers

The fifth episode of Syfy’s ancient green screen fantasy adventure finally takes Hero out of the forest and the seemingly never ending desert, and drops him right outside the palace walls.

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All That Came Before
It makes you wonder about all that came before. ‘Blood Brothers’ starts off with a very cringeworthy dialogue between two guards. The casting could be done a lot better, because it’s not the first time an episode of Olympus opens with a horribly acted scene. Moving on, the writers clearly wanted to speed things up. No more dangerous deserts and woods, it’s time for Hero to arrive at the palace, they must’ve thought. And so there he is. He’s even managed to outrun Psycho Blondie. Last week she appeared out of nowhere, killed a few people, and this week she’s nowhere to be found.

The Palace
Last week the palace garden, with all those blue pillars, started to look a bit more realistic. They’d used a crane shot and the scenes certainly benefitted. Unfortunately, this week it’s back to old-fashioned CGI amateur hour.
Speaking of computer generated wizardry, the fantasy show lacks some much needed fantasy. Apart from an Oracle with her visions and a tiny guest role of Cyclops, there hasn’t really been anything fantastical going on. It’s time to put another creature in there, because it’d be a shame if a one-eyed giant was all Olympus had to offer in that department.

R
While Daedalus is inventing some kind of Trojan Bull, The Oracle’s enjoying a very erotic lesbian foot massage. It is known that filmmakers who dare to put a female orgasm in their movies instantly get an R rating, but I guess, given it’s an orgasm of an Oracle and it makes her have another vision, that makes all the difference.

Hero
It’s peculiar that, 5 episodes in, I still have no idea what makes our hero Hero tick. He’s pretty naive, fearless, quite strong, but what does he hope to get out of his reunion with his father? And what’s he going to do with this lexicon thing, that’s somewhere inside of him? I’d be little more careful with something that can give people immortality, if I were him. The trust in the family he’s never even met is a bit, well, like I said, naive at best.

Olympus: Minos

The fourth episode of Olympus puts its focus back where it belongs: Sonya Cassidy as The Oracle. It would actually be safe to assume Cassidy’s the lead character of the show, instead of Tom ‘Hero’ York. 

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Sleep, Sweet Lady
Because our beloved trio has been captured and separated, the episode’s missing the amusing back and forths between Hero, Oracle and Daedalus. It’s the perfect opportunity for Olympus to show what it’s made of. ‘Minos’ has a serious tone and apart from a few laughable scenes, pulls it off quite well.
But before we get to the good stuff, we’re treated with a very confusing scene about a triple murder. It’s the introduction of a new antagonist, a blonde woman, who shoots first and asks questions when everybody’s lying dead on the ground. She wants to know where to find Hero and in order to persuade an old lady to tell her, she kills both her sons. That makes no sense. When the lady – very surprisingly – doesn’t want to tell her anything, she’s killed too. This must be the worst interrogation in Greek ancient history. Then, the ice cold bitch warrior kneels beside her victims and says: Sleep, sweet lady.
What in the name of Zeus was that about? Anyway, a new frightening enemy has arisen.

Virgin
All rise; there’s a new king on the block. Minos actually looks like a king, for a change, instead of some dressed up personal fitness trainer born 4000 years too early. He’s got one slight disadvantage though: he can’t get it up.
The Oracle plays a dangerous game, as Minos’ prisoner, but then again, she’s an oracle, so in how much danger can she be? One new thing we’ve learnt about her: she’s a virgin. ‘Her gift depends on it’, apparently. Tough luck, Hero. Especially with all of her new, revealing clothes. Sonya Cassidy has got the best television cleavage in many, many years – and I’m including Game of Thrones.

The Escape
While The Oracle is winding King Minos around her finger, Hero is being tortured – in more than one way – by the king’s daughter. They believe he’s a spy and if dangling a black snake above his head doesn’t make him confess, sex obviously will. But judging by his behaviour, he doesn’t even know what sex is, so he’s thrown into a hole in the ground.
He gets rescued by the worst choreographed sword fight ever, tells The Oracle she can’t come with him, but we all know she’ll find a way to go after him anyway. And save him from The Confusing Blonde.

Olympus: Ring of the Magi

Olympus’ third episode takes ‘caught – escape – caught again – escape again’ to the next level. The lead characters (Tom York and Sonya Cassidy) should be more in control, instead of sensing someone’s after them and then getting ambushed anyway.

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The Big Giant Hand
Last week we left Hero, the Oracle and Daedalus on a big giant hand. Where lesser shows would cheat and just catch up with them down the road a week later, Olympus tackles the obstacle head on. Although, they’re not conquering the hand shaped mountainside, as I’d hoped. Instead, they’re – surprise – caught again and brought back into – surprise – the forest. Before that, the Oracle had another one of her visions and saw the end of the world. I wonder how that’s going to play out. Could a vision be wrong? Misinterpreted? I suspect we’re going to have a Galadriel speech any time soon about what an Oracle can actually see: ‘Things that are, things that were and things that may not have come to pass.’

The Big Giant Ear
In the forest the fellowship stumbles upon a big giant ear. It‘s a very silly scene. It’s where Olympus turns from an adventure series into an episode of Teddy Ruxpin. The bad guys are easily fooled and the good guys are on their way again. The only thing missing is a giggling human sized octopede.
Most of the comedy this week comes from Daedalus (Matt Frewer), who’s having a ball playing a smartypants genius. The Oracle and Hero are kept very low key. Apart from searching for a ring – to unlock the lexicon – they’re only reacting to the situation, where protagonists should at least try to move the story forward themselves.

The King
In the palace, Prince Lykos has quickly gone from shy mama’s boy to very articulate war strategist. Too bad his father’s suddenly back into play. There he was, not just alive but alive and kicking. He’s going to need his energy, because Xerxes is trying to get rid of him. Or is it Pallas? I can’t say for sure; these two soldiers look so much alike.

The Ring
Can we go now? That’s what this episode felt like. It’s almost like Olympus put itself on pause. After a lot of filler, Hero’s got the ring, so unless somebody mentions another piece of jewellery that he supposedly needs, time to get moving. Immortality doesn’t wait forever. Okay, maybe it does and that’s the whole point, but you know what I mean.

Olympus: Daedalus

Where the pilot episode of Olympus – The Temple of Gaia – was extremely busy trying (too hard) to make a grand first impression, episode two – Daedalus – takes a step back. It’s all the better for it.

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Rushed
Olympus tried to completely overwhelm the viewer last week, demonstrating all the wonderful pleasures of CGI. Cyclops, kingdom backdrops, fairytale forests, skyscraper statues. In Daedalus we get all of that and more, but the episode feels less rushed. Everyone’s taking their time, while the story progresses and deepens. The dialogues are more natural, the actors are more in tune with their characters, and the moments of humor are funnier.

Daedalus
Tom York and Sonya Cassidy are still kind of on the run. We know now York has to meet his father – the king – whether he likes it or not, unlock something called the lexicon inside of him and become immortal and/or give other people immortality.
Cassidy, being the ravishing Oracle that she is, sort of guides him. Her visions aren’t exactly useful hints, as far as we can tell, but they seem to give her clear enough messages anyway.
As they’re half busy escaping, half figuring out where they want to go, Daedalus literately flies into the story. Matt Frewer (The Librarians, The Knick, Falling Skies, Eureka) plays the absent-minded inventor. This third addition to the team gels very well and gives it a bit of an off-beat voice.

The king is..?
The king is… not quite dead, but lying in bed all day. Long live the king? Despite the storyline in the palace involving a king who doesn’t really look sick and doesn’t have anything interesting to say, interesting things do start to happen there too. His son steps up, goes against his mother and leads the army. At least in tactical terms. That’s where the drama is; prince versus queen. Hopefully that’ll be the focus in the episodes to come.

The Cassidy Factor
The master card of Olympus however remains Sonya Cassidy. This lady hits all the right notes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s been offered A-list parts in A-list series already. Two episodes in, I wonder if we’ll see her again in the (possible) second season.
I wish her work that doesn’t involve acting in front of a green screen for 99% of the time, but it’s a loss Olympus probably wouldn’t be able to recover from.

Game of Olympus

Thursday night was a big night for Syfy. A new massive period action series aired, called Olympus. Ancient Greece never ceases to become the perfect decor for movies and TV series.

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While the current Greece is facing bankruptcy, and should provide enough material for all sorts of drama, Hollywood’s dead set on the mythical creatures that once roamed its lands. One-eyed giants, big beasts with several snake heads, Gods, kings, you name it, Ancient Greece supposedly had it all.

Broken statues
Apparently, it was also scattered with broken pieces of enormous statues. In Olympus we’re treated with landscapes filled with heads the size of apartment buildings. Carving out hundreds of Statue of Liberties seemed to be the only thing they used to do. They’ve clearly taken a page out of the Lord of the Rings movies, however, Syfy’s hit the copy paste button far too many times.
Through these fields of crumbled gigantic Caesarian sculptures, the hero (Tom York) is taking the oracle (Sonya Cassidy) to a place to perform her mind reading tricks.

Soap opera
On the other side of the story we find the king’s household, which is best described as the Ancient Greek Bold and the Beautiful. Syfy wanted its own PG-13 version of Game of Thrones, and has actually succeeded in doing so, but the scenes within the kingdom walls are rather laughable. It’s dull and poorly lit as well. Let’s go back to the hero and his beautiful prisoner/companion.

The hero
Because it’s Syfy, everybody’s young, attractive and relatable. Their clothes look pretty new and their bodies, despite the absence of shampoo, razorblades and makeup, quite clean. York does a decent enough job as the hero – whose name will turn you into stone, so let’s not try that – and you could’ve recognised him. He had to pass off as a young Adam Rayner on FX’s Tyrant last year. A bit of an odd casting choice, given the fact that he doesn’t look anything like Adam Rayner.

But the real star of the show is Cassidy. She previously starred in British television shows no one’s ever heard of outside of the UK, like The Paradise and Vera, so this could be her big break. And it should be. She’s believable, adorable, feisty and beautiful. If she doesn’t keep your eyes glued to the screen, nothing will. This young lady will switch over to a quality series like House of Cards so fast, Syfy’s head will spin.

Green screen
Syfy doesn’t have the means HBO has, so where Game of Thrones is simultaneously being shot on about 9 continents (give or take a few), Syfy has to resort to green screen. Unfortunately, it shows. Especially in the closeup and medium shots, it’s obvious the actors are standing on a Hollywood backlot.

But all soapy stuff and digital amateurisms aside, Olympus does manage to transcend mediocrity. With special thanks to Sonya Cassidy.