The CW made an interesting choice airing the two part miniseries Labyrinth. Interesting meaning confusing. Labyrinth is in the same vein as the network’s hit historical drama, Reign, but lacks the production and entertainment value to put it on the same level. The characters, although possessing a certain amount of charm, fail to create a lasting impression with viewers. The story carries some interesting caveats with its off the beaten path focus on the Cathar massacres during the Crusades, a history that is often marginalized – if remembered at all, but comes short in terms of execution.
Part one of Labyrinth moves seamlessly back and forth between present day and France in 1209, weaving together the stories of two young women – Alice (Vanessa Kirby) and Alais (Jessica Brown-Findlay). When Alice travels from London to France in the wake of her aunt’s death, she uncovers a relic at an archeological dig that links her with a relative that lived during the Crusades.
Alice finds herself seeing ghosts, literally, after she discovers the relic which belonged to Alais’s husband, Guilhem (Emun Elliott). From there she ends up the target of a group of religious extremists bent on discovering the truth of the Holy Grail. To make things interesting, in part two you find out that this group is divided when it comes to deciding what becomes of the grail. I know, shocking.
While trying to unravel the mystery that she has found herself stuck in, she meets Will (Sebastian Stan). Will isn’t exactly part of what is going on, but he’s definitely a victim of having poor choice in women. The chemistry between Alice and Will is subtle as the two quickly find themselves in the midst of an undefined relationship. Will, although superbly cast, is presented as a fairly typical knight in shining armor type, which is pretty perfect since Alice is definitely a damsel in distress. This stereotype is further reinforced by how independent and free thinking her centuries old female counterpart is represented.
The first part mainly sets up the story. It establishes the characters and the conflict, and leaves viewers with several open-ended questions that presumably the conclusion of the miniseries will answer. In fact, viewers are actually bombarded with questions. Some of which seem too coincidental not to be staged, and others that may or may not keep you interested enough to tune in for the second part.
Nothing about the initial half of the miniseries is particularly captivating and there’s a decent chance that viewers won’t tune in for the second half. Nonetheless, human nature being what it is, viewers rarely enjoy to be left guessing. Unfortunately with so much else lacking, this is really the strongest asset that part one of Labyrinth has as its disposal – if you tune in tomorrow night, you’ll be rewarded with a return on your investment in the form of answers.
In part two, the transition between present and past, which was fairly easy to tolerate the previous night, became a bit more jarring. The closer Alice gets to uncovering the truth, which I’m not sure we ever really got, the more lengthy Alais’s scenes became. Truth starts to be revealed, but only in bits and pieces, and there’s an overwhelming lack of cohesion between how we got from here to there. That’s not to say that viewers can’t keep up, it’s just that they might not want to.
In the end, it’s a toss up between whether Alice or Alais was the more interesting character. Although they both have their fair share of quirks, somewhere between the exhausting flashbacks and the half-answers, interest starts to flail, the story becomes disorienting and rushed, and it stops mattering either way.
Alais was definitely the stronger character in the first part, even living in blissful ignorance, she remained a woman who stood by her principles. That fades somewhat in part two. She finds herself being protected on several different fronts. She also ends up in the arms of her cheating husband, who she refused to withdraw her loyalty from even after finding out about his betrayal. There’s something inherently strong about forgiveness, but it also seems like a step backwards.
Although Alice’s story ends on a much happier note, her character is often motivated by others, several of whom she barely knows. Her journey is propelled forward by the influence of romantic entanglements – first, her break up which brought her to France on holiday, and then, Will’s propensity to connect the dots and generally project his curiosity onto Alice. Overall, she becomes washed out and fills less of a protagonist role. Instead she acts more so as the catalyst for the story than anything else.
There’s nothing outstanding about either part of Labyrinth. The acting is sub-par and the story becomes hard to follow as several key junctures. In addition, the ending leaves a lot to be desired. Although it arguably wraps up the mystery, it answers a lot of the underlying questions in a vague and thus unsatisfactory manner.
So did anyone watch this? because I didn't (and regret it because I missed said scene below)