If Episode One of Troy: Fall of a City was ordinary then Episode Two was – no, not quite extraordinary, but certainly a lot more enjoyable.
To be fair, enjoyable is probably not the best word to use. Actually, it definitely isn’t. ‘Conditions’ was better because of the tension that arrived with the decision of the Greeks to demand Helen’s return to Menelaus.
That tension was based on one particularly awful scene.
The pan-Hellenic army is stranded on the shore. The priest performs sacrifices to gain the gods’ favour and the wind that will take them to Troy only to be informed by Artemis that their request will only be granted if Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia. The tension that came with this news was palpable. The writer, David Farr, and actors – particularly Johnny Harris as Agamemnon – have to be congratulated for their work in bringing it alive
It’s hard to top a scene involving human sacrifice but Conditions did well with the Trojan reaction to Helen’s arrival. Anger and confusion; vacillation and determination – especially from Priam – this made him look rather wishy-washy but I actually quite liked that approach to his character; it made him more real. This, of course, fits in with the ‘ordinary’ approach to the series – a quiet resolve from Paris and not just regret but desire to make things right from Helen.
Unfortunately for her, she can’t. When the Greeks met Priam they no not only wanted Helen back but, as reparation for the insult given to Menelaus, control of the Dardanelles as well. It started with a woman and will end with politics and economics. How very ancient and modern.
Speaking of which, it did occur to me while watching the episode that this representation of the Trojan War had more than a touch of the First World War about it. Helen, like Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was not the reason for the war, just the excuse. Bigger issues involving politics were at play. Odysseus ordering the Greeks to dig trenches (in preparation for a long siege) also brought the Great War to mind.
Two scenes really stuck out for me in this episode. One was Iphigenia’s death and the other the first clash between the Greeks and Trojans; specifically, the moment when Athena, Aphrodite and, I think Hera as well, walk among the soldiers selecting their favourite soldiers. The dialogue was, perhaps, a little cheesy but I liked this integration of the gods into the story.
The man finally appeared! He didn’t say much, but looked mean and determined. He killed someone at the end but only by throwing a spear through their head. Impressive, but Achilles fights up close not at a distance. We have yet to see his rage. Or, for that matter, Patroclus.
Credit Where It’s Due
Aphrodite (Lex King) Walks Among the Trojan Soldiers: Digital Spy
- This Episode of Troy: Fall of a City is available on the BBC website at iPlayer here for two months after the time of this blog post