UMass Lowell’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu team and women’s safety

Erica Taylor
Connector Contributor

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a form of martial arts that promotes the idea that a smaller and weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger and stronger opponent. While it is not as well known as other forms of martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be women’s perfect method of defense against potential assaults and other physical threats.

“The thing that people don’t understand is that Jiu-Jitsu means the ‘the gentle art,’” says Dr. Mike Bar-Johnson. Bar-Johnson is a UMass Lowell professor and the faculty advisor of the university’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu team. He says that this means it is a very non-violent art as one can submit the opponent without injuring them.

In particular, Bar-Johnson says this is the best defense against cases like date-rape, or situations with people one may know. Using Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques, a female can easily escape nonviolently from who is trying to hold her down without escalating the situation.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is specifically not about upper body strength, but about leverage and physics coming from the legs and core where women are often stronger than men are. That is why several students say that it is the perfect form of martial arts for women.

“I absolutely believe that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is beneficial for women’s safety,” said Angela Marino, the treasurer of UMass Lowell’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu team. “It teaches you certain techniques for fighting people who are bigger and stronger than you are which is really helpful against men.”

She also said that while it is a better sport and method of defense for women, it still is not easy to learn. Like any form of martial arts, it takes a lot of time and effort to get to a point where one will feel skilled.

Hannah Ewing, another member of UMass Lowell’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team, says that it is hard but she also believes that there is a misconception that it might be harder for women to participate, while in reality it is equally challenging for both men and women.

“It’s different from anything that I have ever done before,” she said.

Ewing believes that learning jiu-jitsu is beneficial for women’s safety, and that she herself felt safer since learning it. She said that, “It boosts women’s mental confidence and mental safety and that’s important and should be emphasized.”

She said that based on what she has seen a lot of women who participate in self-defense and martial arts may have had past experiences where they have felt unsafe. “I think it’s a great way for [those women] to learn how to be safe and it can be sort of a healing process,” she said.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu team at UMass Lowell is always looking to add more people to their roster, and generally do their sign-ups at the beginning of each semester. Dr. Bar-Johnson is an enthusiastic and friendly advisor and the team of professional coaches love helping people learn the techniques of the art. It is not just good for self-defense, Bar-Johnson says, “It’s very good cardio. When you’re in an active fighting situation you have to give one hundred percent all of the time.” He says that during their trainings, they probably burn around 1000 calories an hour. Send an email to to sign up for UMass Lowell’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu team or for more information.

Is technology changing the classroom?

Emmy Misail
Connector Contributor

Dr. Thomas Shea has been a biology professor at UMass Lowell for 24 years, and has watched classrooms transition from paper to PC with alarming speed. He has seen computers help his students reach amazing heights in the classroom, from conducting cutting-edge research to crafting good PowerPoint presentations.

But that influx of technology came with consequences. Now when Dr. Shea looks out at his class, he sometimes looks out onto a sea of cell phones. And as the use of technology grows, he has even noticed many of his colleagues banning all devices from their classrooms entirely, just to get even a fraction of students to focus on passing the class.

Many professors are calling to condemn personal technology in class; Dr. Shea, however, does not think the answer to better grades and better participation is to outlaw a possible teaching tool. In fact, he thinks his students’ fascination with technology is the key to teaching in the modern world.

Dr. Shea’s life science students are required to buy his very own online textbook. Almost the entire class is online: the slides, the book and the exams can all be found on a student’s laptop, computer or phone. The only in-class portion of the class is a lecture, where Dr. Shea goes through his PowerPoint slides and answers questions with a state-of-the-art microphone and a Neil deGrasse Tyson-esque wonder.

Dr. Shea often models asking Siri questions and encourages students to do the same. This can come as a shock to students who are used to hearing, “Put the phones away.” Dr. Shea, however, feels this is the best way to teach to tech-savvy students.

Students need to be engaged in the material if they want to learn, but may be hesitant to do so nowadays especially if the information is in a weighty textbook. Hence, Dr. Shea created an online book, where students can access the information anywhere they have their phones (in other words, everywhere). On their phones, students are more inclined to peruse, read and learn, and they will always bring their “book” to class. Already, Dr. Shea has found that students are more receptive to the information and more engaged with an online book. “That is their world. You gotta go into their world,” Dr. Shea said. “If I get my book into the device you love, you’ll accept it, and hopefully understand it more.”

Dr. Shea also encourages students to use their phones during exams, not because it is less work (and by no means does he “dumb down” any material), but because it is more work.

Looking up an answer and sifting through tons of information encourages synthesizing, thinking and internalizing rather than memorization. “You have to structure the questions so, you know, you won’t find the exact sentence,” he said. “But I want you to take the exam home, I want you to search for the answers.” He would rather a student look through websites pertaining to a question they are unsure about, rather than guess on it or memorize it, only to immediately forget it a day later. By allowing phones and laptops, Dr. Shea is allowing a form of active participation during exams that is not even possible with paper tests.

Dr. Shea’s online classroom is almost sneaky; it enforces critical thinking by giving students the tools to dig deeper while they are searching for a solution, even if they are using their phones. If someone needs to look up the answer, they are prepared to dig for it, to question and to learn. His students act like scientists without even meaning to.

The way Dr. Shea sees it, technology’s imperfections should by no means be a reason to be wary of it. No classroom method is perfect, and with the method he uses, the reward is much greater than the risks. Free online, students interact with the material, learn things the class may not cover, and most importantly question rather than memorize: all things they cannot do with just paper and a pen.

There are always going to be those who do not pay attention, and there always have been. To Dr. Shea, it is about making information accessible, interesting and engaging for those that do, and he will continue to adapt his teaching style with technology until the end of his career. “If I can’t bring it to you, I don’t belong here,” he said.

The comeback kid: Noelle Lambert’s return to the lacrosse field

Noelle Lambert (center) celebrates with teammate Kendyl Finelli following her first goal since returning to the field. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)

Kathryn Leeber
Connector Editor

In 2016, redshirt sophomore attack Noelle Lambert of the women’s lacrosse team was in a moped accident in which she lost her left leg. Starting all 17 games her freshman year, Lambert was an integral part of the team, but she was unable to play last season. On Saturday, April 7, she returned to the field in her first match since the accident. Surprising the team and fans alike, she scored a goal in the River Hawks’ victory.

Lambert has been training for the past year and half to make her way back onto the field. In the game against the University of Hartford, Lambert was subbed in and made an immediate impact scoring her first goal of the season.

“It was certainly inspiring. Definitely a ‘putting into perspective’ type of moment, you know, you’re sometimes wrapped up in the X’s and O’s and the wins and losses when you’re in season and you forget the bigger reason why you coach and the bigger reason why you play a collegiate sport,” said head coach Carissa Medeiros. “It’s about the relationships, and the community and fans, and it’s about learning how to be a successful adult in the face of adversity and there’s no better example of an adverse situation than Noelle’s.”

With the lacrosse community rallying around her, Lambert made incredible progress over the last year. After completing a rigorous training schedule over the summer with a trainer who lived near her house, Lambert returned to school in the fall and began participating in workouts with the rest of team. While no one on the team expected her to succeed as fast as she did, Lambert continued to defy expectations.

“Her response to [the situation] over the course of her rehabilitation over the first year or so, and then her tremendous drive to physically push herself to a limit that… none of us really knew what we were going to see,” said Medeiros. “And she, day in, day out, month after month, kept exceeding expectations, [and] certainly exceeded expectations on a faster scale than we anticipated. To see her in a game this season, which to be honest with you, halfway through the season I would have told you, ‘No, she’s not ready, it’s not going to happen,’ and to see her get herself into a spot to really just prove to her teammates that she is ready was pretty remarkable.”

In addition to the usual team exercises, for the past two months Lambert has been putting in extra hours outside of practice with the assistant coaches to gain more confidence in her footwork and stickwork, but also to make sure she had the right mindset if she were to enter a game.

“I really think that was the reason why I stepped back out onto the field,” Lambert said. “If I didn’t do those extra workouts, I definitely wouldn’t have been here. I just needed to put in the work every single day and obviously I still have so much work that I still have to do.”

Medeiros echoed Lambert’s statements saying that she wanted to see Lambert putting in the work just like anyone else on the team. Medeiros wanted to see the results of her training in practice and see her accomplish certain tasks before she considered putting her into a game. Medeiros thought that Saturday’s game might be an ideal one for her to play in because, if all went to plan, nothing too large would be on the line, and Lambert could play with less pressure on her shoulders. Scoring a goal, however, was not anticipated by anyone.

“I put her in in the first half where she could play with all the starters to put her in a position to be the most successful. I was certainly not anticipating a goal,” Medeiros said. “We didn’t draw that up; it wasn’t a special play for her. She went in and adapted to our normal offensive set, our team-oriented offensive set, and she got a goal for us.”

Lambert was not expecting to play on Saturday, but when the opportunity presented itself, Medeiros knew she and the team would be comfortable putting her in. While there were some concerns about letting her play too soon, Medeiros and Lambert communicated openly about where Lambert was at mentally, as that was just as important as being physically prepared.

Having spent last season as a supportive teammate from the bench, Lambert had no problem continuing that role this season, but she also wanted to put in the work to make significant physical progress to ensure that was not her only role. However, emotional support was something the team had lacked in years past, so Medeiros was glad to see Lambert stepped up to fill that spot when she was still unable to take the field.

“Last year, because of her inability to perform physically at that point, her main goal was to provide an energy and a spirit on the sideline,” said Medeiros. “It was tough on us the first couple of years—lots of losses, lots of close games, lots of tears— but she really took it upon herself to start a new team culture on the sideline, one in which kind of energized the team that was playing on the field through the sideline celebrations, and she took that very seriously.”

And while Lambert was there to support her teammates in any way she could, they were right there with her working in the gym and on the field. Lambert said the bonding that occurred among the whole team was crucial to their success on the field.

“They were so selfless the whole entire time,” Lambert said. “Just to see them on the field and if they feel comfortable enough to give me the ball, then that’s half the game right there. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without any single one of them.”

Now that her first game back is behind her, Lambert will continue to train each day and put in the work until she knows she can consistently play and know that she has the full support of her coach and teammates. She said next year she is aiming to have a bigger role on the team but understands that could be on the bench or on the field.

Medeiros reiterated the need for Lambert to keep practicing and to get stronger every day but is fully expecting her to make a large impact as a player on the field. Medeiros fully believes that Lambert has the drive and determination to come back even stronger in the next year. With the encouragement of her teammates and coaching staff, Lambert understands this is not something she has to go through alone.

“I think what was motivating her a lot was to get back on the field, but now what needs to motivate her is not to just get back on the field to make an appearance in a game that we’re up by a lot,” Medeiros said. “I think her goal is to get in a game where she can be impactful when something is on the line a little bit more. Whether that’s this year, or next year, or whenever, we are certainly going to work hard to get her to that point and I know she will, too.”

‘She Started it’ gives insight on female entrepreneurship

Students gathered at the Innovation Hub on April 11 to watch the film “She Started It.” (Photo: David Bragdon)

Jason Ounpraseuth
Connector Staff

On April 11, the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub and the Manning School of Business hosted a screening of the film “She Started It” followed by a Q&A panel of local entrepreneurs.

“She Started It” focused on the stories of Thuy Troung and Stacy Ferreira. The film showcased the ambitions of these two women trying to navigate themselves in the world of Silicon Valley and tech start-ups. The film also featured some smaller stories from other female entrepreneurs: Sheena Allen, Brienne Ghatouritar and Agatha Molinar.

One of the big messages that comes out of the film is the lack of women in Silicon Valley and the lack of women in start-up companies. This gender imbalance means there are not many role models for young women looking to get into the industry. Those that are in the industry also have faced their own pressures especially in the way they are perceived. Steps are being made to integrate more women into Silicon Valley and start-up companies, but it is a gradual process.

After the conclusion of the film, the event transitioned to a Q&A panel featuring Erin Keaney, chief operating officer (COO) and co-founder of Nonspec, a company that helps provide affordable and adjustable prosthetic limb systems to all amputees; Nicole Mauro, president of medical-device maker Harmonus Inc.; and Katherine Collins, a director of Prosperity Catalyst, which provides a market for goods made by women in Iraq and Haiti.

Keaney and Mauro said they themselves have not experienced any sort of gender bias but do acknowledge that it does exist in the industry just not in an outright manner. What Keaney has experienced is not sexism, but ageism. She talked about her experience of being looked down upon based on her age especially in a business that deals with medical devices. Keaney did earn a Ph.D. which helps her gain some respect when she is not taken that seriously due to her age.

Mauro says to, “Be careful and do your research.” She says that people in the industry understand which companies are good and bad regarding gender bias. As shown in “She Started It,” talking with other people in conventions and conferences is the best way to help oneself grow as an entrepreneur and meet new people who can help either directly or indirectly.

One of the big pieces of advice shared from the panel was to write down the feedback as much as possible. Keaney says to use that feedback to improve the fine details and tweak out things about oneself, one’s pitch, etc. What was lost in the film for Mauro was the idea that big companies have their own failures as much as smaller ones. She said that failure was “something in your business life you get used to and learn from.” However, Collins says to not use the feedback to change oneself into something inauthentic. “You [shouldn’t] re-invent yourself in their image,” said Collins.

‘Rampage’ is nothing short of monkey business

Filmmaker Uwe Boll threatened to sue if Warner Bros. if they did not change the name of the movie, as he also had a video game based film on the same name. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Owen Johnson
Connector Editor

At its worst, “Rampage” should have been just another silly yet generic action movie for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to put on his resume. Somehow, though, it managed to shoot way below that already low bar.

After a space station where experiments involving genetic mutation is destroyed, several canisters of the mutagen fall to Earth. Upon landfall, the mutagen infects multiple animals, including an albino gorilla named George, turning them into gigantic and aggressive genetic hybrids.

It should come as no shock that a movie like “Rampage” is dumb. It is based off of an arcade game from 1986 where giant animal monsters destroy buildings. The shocking element of “Rampage,” though, is that the giant animals destroying buildings aspect of the movie is the least dumb thing in it.

A movie like “Rampage” has a lot of room to demand that the audience just accepts certain things, but the number of dumb moments and character actions in the film make that impossible. The audience can accept and believe that there is a mutagen that turns animals into monsters. It is impossible to accept, however, a character that is shot in the abdomen can just be completely fine one scene later, or that the main villain’s plan of creating animal monsters to sell as weapons would even be a good idea, or that no one would notice a 100 foot crocodile until it showed up in downtown Chicago. These are just a few examples, but there is at least one dumb idea like that every five minutes.

These dumb plot details all start to make sense when one starts to realize how much it feels like the first draft of the script was used for the final product. All of those aforementioned dumb moments feel like things that would be in a first draft when the story is being crafted, then either cut out or reworked so that they made sense. Only that step never happened.

Then there is the dialogue, which is all so basic and cliche. It is the kind of dialogue that a writer writes when they are just trying to figure out where the story goes and do not want to get too bogged down with exactly what the characters are saying, so they write over-used lines as a placeholder to come back to. “Rampage” never came back to it. Due to that, the audience is left there to listen to cliche lines like, “I never got to say goodbye,” or, “Not all of us are like that.” Yeah, it is that bad.

Even if “Rampage” were not so dumb and cliché, it would still be an abomination due to its failure at fundamental story-telling and film making. For instance, the three-act structure is a complete mess. The first act of the movie feels rushed, and it is hard to pinpoint at what point the second act ends and the third act begins as it never feels like the characters reach their lowest point or anything like that which would help dictate where the acts changed. When it comes to the failure in terms of the film making, the two most obvious issues to point to are the action set pieces and the acting.

When the final action sequence finally begins as the three monstrous animals wreak havoc on Chicago, there is always a feeling of distance to it. The movie never feels like it is putting the audience in the action scene, and instead just giving them a bird’s eye view of everything, even when the audience is close up with the characters on the ground. Due to this, the action pieces lack tension.


In terms of the acting, everyone is horrible. Johnson and his co-star Naomie Harris are okay until any genuine reaction shots are needed, and then they are just awful and unbelievable. Among the other poor performances throughout the movie are Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy as the two main villains, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, despite being the most entertaining aspect of the entire film, is just give atrocious character direction, as he speaks his lines like a stereotypical cowboy would.

All of the characters are severely underdeveloped, as are their relationships with one another. Most movies try to have an emotional core to them, and in the case of “Rampage” it is the relationship between George the gorilla and Johnson’s character, Davis Okoye. Okoye saved George in the wild and befriended him, but the only basis the audience has of this is from one scene at the beginning of the movie and a flashback later on. Okoye shows concern for George throughout the movie, but with only five minutes devoted to showing their friendship, the concern feels unearned and the emotion to it superficial.

“Rampage” is not painful to watch or annoying to get through, but the first draft quality to the writing and the failures in terms of the filmmaking are simply unforgivable and worthy of scorn.

Final Grade: F

Dr. Nakamura awarded honorary degree

Dr. Shuji Nakamura presents his lecture on blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) after receiving an honorary degree from UMass Lowell. (Jessica Kergo/Connector)

Jessica Kergo
Connector Staff

The university held its 16th annual Tripathy Endowed Memorial Lecture and Honorary Degree Ceremony last Wednesday. The annual lecture and ceremony is presented by world-renowned scientists in an effort to engage the UMass Lowell community in the latest, up and coming science and technology.

This year, Dr. Shuji Nakamura of the University of California Santa Barbara received an honorary degree and presented a lecture about his development of efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), enabling energy-saving white light sources.

Students and faculty gathered in Maloney Hall at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday to witness Dr. Nakamura receive his honorary degree.

Chancellor Jacquie Maloney welcomed attendees saying, “At UMass Lowell, we ensure that our graduates are equipped with the tools and experiences needed to make a difference in their local communities and across the globe. They truly have the world in their hands,” said Moloney.

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen introduced Dr. Nakamura, noting his reception of the 2006 Millenium Technology Prize for his invention of revolutionary new energy light sources, the 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physics, the 2012 Emmy Award for Technology and Engineering and the 2014 Oder of Culture award in Japan.

“He holds more than 200 U.S. patents and over 300 Japanese patents,” said Chen. “Dr. Nakamura’s inventions continue to impact a wide variety of industries.”

UMass Lowell awards honorary degrees every year to people who have made significant contributions towards the business, cultural, educational, industrial, moral, social, intellectual or physical welfare of society. The awards are meant to acknowledge the work of those who receive them and serve as an opportunity for the university state its value for those accomplishments.

After the awards ceremony, Dr. Nakamura presented his lecture on the “Development of High Efficiency Blue [Indium gallium nitride] (InGaN) LEDs and Laser Diodes.” He delved into his personal background and how he began his research and the positive impact it will have on the world.

The ceremony was dedicated to the late Sukant Tripathy, a UMass Lowell professor who founded and directed the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM). CAM is a group of scientists, engineers and technicians focusing on a wide range of technical disciplines. Tripathy also served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1994 to 1996 before he tragically passed away on Dec. 12, 2000 through a swimming accident in Hawaii after presenting at a conference of Polymer Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society.

“This event is a testament to our commitment to developing innovative leaders for the future, something that Dr. Sukant Tripathy was absolutely devoted to,” said Chancellor Moloney.

‘A Quiet Place’ makes very little noise

“A Quiet Place” has grossed $103 million as of April 15. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Owen Johnson
Connector Editor

“A Quiet Place” is not a bad movie, but it is a disappointing one.

Strange creatures that hunt by sound have overrun the planet. In the post-creature wasteland that has been left in their wake, a family attempts to survive.

“A Quiet Place” is the kind of horror movie that has the right premise to get creative with. As the premise is that the people surviving in this world have to be quiet as to not attract the monsters to their positions, there are a lot of creative things that could have been done with the sound. Take the 2016 movie “Don’t Breathe” for instance. The movie centered around a group of burglars having to stay as quiet as possible as to not let the dangerous blind man they are robbing from discover them. To add to the tension, the movie amplified all of the white noise like floorboards creaking and the burglars’ shallow breathing to make it sound really loud.

“A Quiet Place” does not do anything creative like that for the most part. It is mainly just fairly quiet scenes, and then something loud might happen to act as a jump scare moment. Other times, there is music playing over the scenes which drowns out any of the white noise that could be used as a creative means to build tension. The one creative thing the movie does with sound is a scene where a couple of characters are behind a waterfall.

The one creative thing that the movie does do with its premise is attempt to tell the story visually, though it is also disappointing on that front. For the first half of the movie, the story is told through sign language dialogue, character actions and visual acting. It also does a good job of it. It is easy to figure out why characters are acting the way they are, and the development makes sense.

The movie ruins this by throwing in a scene in the second half where the dad (John Krasinski) and the son (Noah Jupe) are at a waterfall where they can talk out loud, and the two of them just flat out tell the audience everything that is going on and why characters are feeling the way they are. It is simply a slap in the face to the audience and their intelligence by explaining something verbally when the movie had just done such a good job of showing that exact thing all through the visuals.

All of these things point towards the movie favoring the status quo instead of taking advantage of its creativity, which is fine. However, the movie needs to execute the status quo well, which “A Quiet Place” does not do. As stated above, the scares in the movie are predominately jump scares caused by loud noises. These scares are easy to predict because they come at times when the music stops playing so that the scene is completely quiet, which ends up taking away the power of the scare to begin with.

Then, there is the final act of the movie, which gets bogged down with an anything that can go wrong will go wrong approach. Way too much happens in the last act in terms of drama to the point of being overbearing. The characters are all getting separated and or getting hurt, and it eventually becomes so much that it gets boring.

The one aspect of the movie that is not disappointing is the acting. Both Krasinski and Emily Blunt are good as always, but even the child actors do a good job. Millicent Simmonds, who plays the daughter in the film, is simply astounding when it comes to acting completely through facial expressions and body motion.

“A Quiet Place” held so many possibilities for creative ways to tell its story, but it instead decided to aim for status quo story-telling and filmmaking in the framework of a mediocre film.

Final grade: C

‘Troy: Fall of a City’ falls short of potential

The show was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo courtesy of Endemol Shine Group)

Josh Plunkett
Connector Contributor

This month, Netflix added the BBC’s new adaptation of the Trojan War for American audiences. This new interpretation of the war’s events includes a few compelling story elements, moments and characters never before delved into in modern film and television. However, these strong elements do little to make up for the glaring, fundamental flaws and abundant missed opportunities that sink the show for both those well versed in the story and those with no knowledge of the source material.

The plot of the series follows the classic tale of Prince Paris/Alexander of Troy (Louis Hunter) and Queen Helen of Sparta (Bella Dayne), who fall in love and elope back to Troy only for Helen’s husband to pursue her with 100,000 of his fellow Greek soldiers to win her back in a 10-year siege. One of the most frustrating aspects of the series is the focus on Helen and Paris as the central heroes of the story. Both characters have interesting back stories, both in the show and in the source material, which allows for plenty of room for character exploration that the series pulls off with some consistency, yet no amount of this can make up for the consequences brought about by the couple’s thoughtless and selfish affair.

Audiences may struggle to root for characters that are willing to let thousands suffer and die in order for them to pursue a relationship, no matter how developed and likable these characters are in specific moments. The series tries to cover it up with a quick line explaining that the war would have happened even if Paris and Helen had not run away together, but this is inconsistent with every other aspect of the show.

Part of what makes this hard to believe is the treatment of the characters on the Greek side of the war, almost all of which want nothing to do with the war in the first place. In many versions of the story, most notably in the 2004 film “Troy,” King Agamemnon is more-or-less seen as the main antagonist; a king who cares little about a Trojan prince stealing his brother’s wife and is more concerned with expanding his empire.

In “Troy: Fall of a City,” however, Agamemnon (Johnny Harris) is treated in a new compelling way that paints him as more of a tragic figure. He is portrayed as being loyal and protective of his younger brother, Menelaus (Jonas Armstrong), having won Helen for him in the first place and immediately responding to his brother’s desire for war to win her back. The series also emphasizes the personal sacrifices he is forced to make in order for the war to even begin. He is destroyed by what he is forced to do, and it is this pain that makes him so ruthless. If the Greeks do not win the war, all he gave up was for nothing.

This level of nuance in his character is one of the series strongest aspects and carries over to others on the Greek side. Joseph Mawle shines in his portrayal of Odysseus. Mawle fully embodies his character’s isolation and suffering during the war, while also convincing the audience of his character’s genius and moral flexibility. Jonas Armstrong also pulls off a convincing negative portrayal of Menelaus who audiences will not have a hard time despising for his spoiled and violent nature. Unfamiliar audiences may be surprised by the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, who in the series are both brothers-in-arms and lovers, as it is not always portrayed this way in other media and the nature of the relationship between the two heroes has been the subject of scholarly debate for years. However, the bond exhibited in the series is convincing, refreshing and serves the complex arches of both characters.

The nuance with which the Greek side is handled by the series does not translate well to the Trojan side of the war. The characters of Helen, Hector (Tom Weston-Jones) and Priam (David Threlfall) each act in ways against their individual motivations in ways that may frustrate and confuse audiences.

Although much of this side of the series focuses on interesting and relevant aspects of the effects of the war, such as food shortages and child soldiers, there are extended periods of bland family drama and minor character subplots. The series would benefit from spending less time on these boring elements, as the limited budget already constrains the amount of exciting action sequences. The show attempts to subvert the limitations of their budget, but the audience can easily see through the tricks they use. For a show about war, barely any battles or fighting is shown. Most of the fighting consists of brief, one-on-one fights or evening ambushes where it is too dark to see the scale of the battle.

The overarching budget restraints combined with a flawed plot structures are enough to taint the compelling characters and performances this series has to offer.

Final Grade: C-

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