PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA! We saw old friends, we met new friends, we saw old enemies as old friends, we met new enemies and wanted to shank them, a smug frat boy was Champion of Capua, and Crixus was a long-haired woobie. A cool story, bro, indeed.
Poor Batiatus. He’s been having wicked nightmares lately, constantly reliving his epic beatdown in the market at the hands (and urethras) of Tullius and Vettius. It’s an excellent look into his psyche when we see that the most painful part of his dream is not the actual physical abuse, but how he imagines the people disgustedly turning away from him in the marketplace as though he’s a hideous monster. Oh Batsypie. You are a monstrous creeper, but it’s not because you got your ass kicked and your face pissed on. It’s because you’re an amoral sociopathic dickwad. FYI.
Batty awakens aflail but safe in his own bed, bruises fading but still unpleasant. Also unpleasant is the terrifying and unexpected sight of his bare pasty ass as he stumbles out of bed. On a show filled with asses that are the very heights of callipygean Platonic perfection, any lesser buttocks must be met with derision. Sorry, duder. Lucretia and Gaia, returning from what I insist upon assuming was another hot girlsex orgy but was probably just a trip to the market, are distressed to see him up and about. They’re probably displeased by his ass as well.
Batty is less than delighted to see Gaia still under their roof; she’s drinking them out of house and home. But he has more important things on his mind – like vengeance! Lucretia wants to rat out Tully to Sextus, the magistrate, but Batty is having none of it, as Tully’s influence is too strong. Obviously, a half-baked plot is about to be set into motion. Yay!
Vet and Tully are striding obnoxiously through the market, having a smug jerk convo about how awesome they are. No, really. Good Tullius is far too important and busy with the Magistrate today to meet a wealthy and influential Roman visitor, Quintilius Varis, so the task falls to Vetty. Since Varis is coming to town to choose gladiators, they’re set on getting as much coin from him as possible. Tullius, still scheming to purchase Gannicus, decides to approach Solonius, who he’s spied across the marketplace, buying an amphora of wine, “a gift for a friend, recovering from …. unfortunate injury.”
Tullius, ever the dickwad, insists on buying the wine himself, with the caveat that Solonius bear message to Bats – a reminder of his offer for Gannicus. Yes, I’m sure this will go over swimmingly.
Six minutes in and we’re amidst a sweaty gladiator training sequence. The men are doing some potentially anachronistic push-ups in the sand and fighting in pairs under the old, scarred Doctore’s watchful eye. Crixus and Oenomaus train together quite thrustily, and Gaia, leering from the balcony, enjoys every moment, teasing the attendant Naevia and Diona about their virginal blushes, and flirting with Diona relentlessly. Oh Gaia, you lecherous tart. Alas, I assume this is the show’s way of foreshadowing some nasty shit in Diona’s future, as we know from Season One that Naevia remains a virgin til she fucks Crixus. Argh.
Crixus has improved enormously since last we saw him, in both skill and determination. Oenomaus is endlessly patient in his training, and it shows – Crixus actually manages to smack the sword right out of his hand. Aww. Baby’s all grown up now. Old!Doctore, reluctantly impressed, sends him off to train with the rest of the recruits – Ashur, Dagan, and Indus. The boys snipe at one another and spar good-naturedly as the usual Dagan & Ashur Show goes on, with Dagan dissing everyone in Syrian and Ashur bitchily translating it as friendly commentary. I’m sure this won’t blow up in his face or anything one day, right? I MEAN SURELY.
Old!Doctore and Oenomaus survey the fighters, discussing their flaws and faults, chatting as equals. Foreshadowing: redux! Old!Doctore, complimenting him on his great work training Crixus, promises to put in a good word for his return to the arena, and Oenomaus’ gorgeous smile lights up the entire fucking ludus. Sigh. Something then happens with Gannicus’s fight with Gnaeus but I don’t really notice because hello, he’s just not as hot.
Meanwhile, Batty’s off sulking in his gladiator statue room (I’m sure there’s a Latin term for it but fuck me if I can figure out what it is), seething nostalgically amongst the busts of fighters long since past. (Again, I am delighted by the attention to tiny random detail on this show (ok, not so tiny), with the carved cocks set halfway down the supporting plinth of each bust. Now I want to rewatch the episode from last season where Sparty gets his own statue, as I suspect I missed an important detail.) All the glorious victories memorialized in the room are, of course, the victories of his ancestor’s Champions and not his own. Grumpyface rageflail!
Batty whips his hair back and forth angrily as Solonius arrives with his gift of wine, and is less than pleased to hear of Tully’s new offer for Gannicus, now doubled. Smash goes the wine as Batty rages about in a temper. Solonius reveals further shitty news – if Bats does not accept the offer, Solonius himself will also be excluded forever and ever from the cool kid’s table in the lunchroom. Lucretia and Batiatus are in agreement: fuck that shit, y’all. It’s on, bitches.
Gaia, overhearing the ruckus and probably sensing the tragic waste of alcohol, notes that the wealthy Varis arriving in town is an old drinking buddy of hers, and plans are about to be hatched, when Batty, watching the gladiators training from the balcony, sees Indus the recruit jokingly give the two-fingered salute of gladiatorial submission, the missio. OH NO HE DIN’T. Bats is having none of that fucking bullshit surrendering in THIS house. He demands that Indus be sent off to the mines for his lameness, to which the general response is WTF DUDE, NOT COOL.
Batty stomps off into the villa, where he and Lucretia and Gaia begin the evening’s plotting. Obviously, they’re going to need to get Varis and his considerable influence away from Vettius tomorrow, in order to secure Gannicus’ position in the opening games of the new arena. However shall this be accomplished? Why, by Gaia the Goddamn Hotass, of course. AW YEAH.
The three remaining recruits – Crixus, Ashur, and Dagan – are finally allowed by Old!Doctore to stop clomping around with their telephone poles and go get some gruel, to the taunts and shouts of the Real Gladiators. Barca takes a moment out of his busy schedule of making out with his hot boyfriend Auctus and cuddling their pet pigeons (huh, I thought they were Pietros’. interesting.) to taunt the recruits about their shrinking numbers, “like frightened cock!” The recruits are too unnerved by the sight of Indus, chained by the gate awaiting transport to the mines, to pay much attention to Barca’s frathouse douchery.
(I now pause the video to try and figure out which mines these might be. An hour later, I know way too much about the mining of lead in Roman Britain, silver mines in Hispania, and Roman metallurgy, and have been thoroughly distracted. Goddamn fucking ADHD.)
Crixus is not down with the thought of dying a nameless, faceless slave. Neither is Ashur, but the look Crixus gives him is pretty “bitchplz” when Ashur insists that one day, their victories in the arena will be well-known. Before any hardcore mocking can get underway, the recruits realize that Barca and Auctus have pissed in the porridge. Oh, those boys! Next they’ll be saran wrapping the seats in the outhouse and tp-ing the villa’s balcony.
Down in Oenomaus and Melitta’s cell, beffies Gannicus and Oenomaus are getting crunked and arguing matily about who gave the better showing during their afternoon’s sparring. Melitta’s vote goes to Oenomaus, as does mine, obvsly. We’re both clearly biased, says Gannicus. Whatevs, dude. Have another jello shot. Melitta the party pooper brings everyone down by reminding them that while they joke about fighting one another to the death, one day it might just happen, as we saw last season with Sparty and Varro. NEGL, I will be well put out if they pull that shit again with these two. As annoying as Gannicus is, he’s still obviously a decent guy who cares for his friends very much.
And he’s damn pragmatic as well, even as a drunk. They’re slaves, ffs. What choices do they have? Fuck all. So they’re only free when they fight and they fuck, and pardon him but he’s going to go do the latter posthaste.
OH HAY SPEAKING OF FUCKING, Barca and Auctus are flinging each other around in a half-brawl, half-foreplay display of sweaty manliness. Well done indeed. Gannicus is distracted by giving them a brotastic thumbs up, and Crixus the Wooby picks this moment to fanboy at Gann. Oh Crixus, don’t you know never to sneak up on a gladiator? Clearly not. Gannicus’ bellow of “never come upon my back!” sets me off with a case of immature snickering, and I have to rewind. Oh self, do try to keep it together, kthx.
Crixus wants advice, cause one day he’s gonna be the bestest best gladiator ever! Bless. Gannicus, misunderstanding his question, tells him to listen to Oenomaus’ training and the Mark of the Brotherhood will soon be earned. No, duder, sorry, but Crixus wants YOUR job, and we all know he gets it. We’re just not yet sure how. Dun dun duuuuun!
Next morning, Batty’s off to the city, and he wants himself a bodyguard. Old!Doctore is not really into the idea of Barca, a champion gladiator, being used as a simple bodyguard (let’s recall how well that ends up, shall we?), much less having a man condemned to the mines just cause Batty’s on the rag. O snap. Of course Batty goes off on a bitchy rant about how everyone’s his slave to command, neener neener, so they have to do what he says. To mildly appease Old!Doctore, Bats agrees to have Indus temporarily reprieved, as long as he and the Syrians act as bodyguards. Since Batty never does anything without a hidden reason, I’m assuming Indus gets sacrificed for some fiendish plot or another, as per usual.
We next see Barca skulking around the market skulkily, while Batiatus huddles with a becloaked Ashur, Indus, and Dagan in what has got to be the most obvious sneaky plot meeting ever. Bats makes them a promise: perform well at this mysterious task and receive the Mark of the Brotherhood; fail, and be crucified and cockless. No pressure, guys. The recruits are sent on their way, and Batty and Barca go off in the opposite direction.
When Barca expresses his mistrust of the Syrians, their part in the plot becomes clear – Batty only chose them because if they get caught, they will not be traced back to the ludus, as they haven’t received their brands identifying them as slaves to the House of Batiatus. They’re cannon fodder, as predicted. The worst part of this is that we already know that the wretched Ashur survives, so I guess it’s down to Dagan and Indus. LATER DUDES.
In another, less skulky, part of the market, Lucretia and Gaia flitter around, super casual and tarted up like whoa. Sadly, Gaia looks much better as a brunette than she does now as a blonde, although her dress is fucking gorgeous. My magnificent Forever Girl admits her part in this scheme is twofold: not only does she want to help out Capua’s favourite scheming future power couple, she also wants to land herself a new rich husband, and Varis might just be the lucky man. Before Lucretia can fully express her outrage over this scandalous behavior (lolol), Varis’ litter approaches and the girls are off!
On the opposite end of town, Batiatus and Indus are lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. When Vettius smarms through the market with a dickish smile on his backpfeifengesicht, Indus leaps into action. Pretending to be Varis’ slave, he tricks Vetty into thinking Varis wants to first see the construction of the new arena before getting down to business. Brattius doesn’t like being told what to do by a mere slave, and Indus, playing it to the goddamn hilt, apologizes meekly and says he’ll bring Varis “word of his refusal”. Them’s ass-kissing words, boys. Vet, visions of all that lost coin flitting through his schmucky little head, quickly changes his tune and agrees to follow Indus to the alleged meeting. Batty, still off in the corner, indulges in a brief fist-pump of self-congratulatory glee.
(Man, as much as I really want to see Vettius get hella shanked and then some, it seems really illogical to kill off such an awesome antagonist this early in the game, so I figure he’s just off for a beatdown of his own. Either way, I will be delighted. OH SHOW. You are so predictably satisfying, and I adore you.)
Indus leads Vet and his attendants through a rubble-strewn dark alley, insisting it’s a shortcut to the arena. Seriously, how stupid are you, Vettius? You’re a smarmy dickhead with enemies all over town, and yet a total stranger leading you down a dark alleyway doesn’t set off any mental alarms? No, instead of being well suspicious, you think the stupid slave got lost, because he’s so stupid and slavey. You silly twat.
Oh lookit, Ashur and Dagan have set a trap, quelle surprise. As Indus gives Vetty a smart kick to the groin (and as I cheer unashamedly), the Syrians spring from concealment and cut up Vet’s attendants. Vetty’s too busy laying on the ground and cuddling his nuts to do much more than snivel a bit. Tee hee.
Obviously a bunch of body slaves and attendants are no match for three gladiator trainees, and the fight is over quickly. I admit to hoping in vain for an anachronistic curb-stomping, but Indus’ epic can of whup-ass is just as good. Ashur actually has to remind him that they’re meant to leave Vet alive, cause honey badger just don’t give a fuck. As a finale, they all whip out cocks and water Vet’s face. Huzzah!
True to character and as I predicted (go me), Ashur’s last job is to finish off poor unsuspecting Indus, as he’s the only one that Vettius will be able to identify. Oh Indus. You really would have been better off in the mines. OK BYE. To Ashur’s very minimal credit, he seems to have a small twinge of conscience at killing off a potential brother. Whatevs, that won’t last.
Varis arrives at the appointed meeting place, but what’s this? Vettius is nowhere to be found! Oh dear. But wait! How fortunate that his old friend Gaia appears with her dearest friend Lucretia in such a timely fashion. “I love it when a plan comes together,” says Hannibal to B.A. “I ain’t gettin on no plane, fool!”
Ahem. The hot sun is making Varis a whiner, so Luce and Gaia cunningly invite him back to the villa for lounging and drinking and general dissoluteness. They’re sprawled about indolently in the triclinium when Batty returns to play his part. He cleverly misunderstands Varis’ comments about visiting Capua in search of gladiators, pretending to assume that this is the reason for his presence at the villa. With a little snarky prodding from Gaia, Varis is soon ready for a demonstration of Batty’s men.
A bit of whip cracking later, Gannicus prances forward, ready to fight. Gaia the horny strumpet decides that she urgently wants to see Gannicus locked in a sweaty mortal embrace with none other than Crixus, and so must it be. Someone should probably explain to Gaia that the winner does not traditionally fuck the loser, but Gaia’s read too much fanfic and will not be dissuaded. Honey, believe me, I know the feeling.
Crixus is visibly nervous and trembly, which naturally only makes everyone want to bone him even more. Before he can work himself into a flail, Varis insists that the fight be done with real swords, not wooden practice ones. Batiatus, ever the ass-kisser, agrees, and soon the boys are leaping around, swinging their swords. (hee.) Crixus manages to hold his own for much longer than anyone clearly expects, and actually manages to smack one of Gannicus’ swords out of his hand. Gannicus recovers quickly and then it’s all over. Luckily, the choice of life or death is left up to Gaia and her quivering loins, and Crixus is allowed to live.
Batty tries to press Varis to business, but Var’s more interested in getting drunk with Gaia. Oh Batty. Don’t you know by now that the woman knows what she’s doing? Stop that infernal pouting, you little bitch. She tells him straight up that Varis will want to get drunk and high, and has “certain appetites” that require Gannicus to be oiled and scented and brought upstairs to the villa. Is it horrible to lol forever at this potential poogling? Probably.
Batty sends Old!Doctore off to fetch Gannicus and bring him upstairs to his gay naked fate, but Old!Doctore is more concerned about the recruits, bless him. He is pretty goddamn outraged to learn that one, Indus is dead, and two, the Syrians will be receiving the Mark of the Brotherhood absent the actual test fight.
(OHOHO. So this is why everyone in Season One is so dismissive of Ashur the Dickhead! He really isn’t a real gladiator in their eyes. Too bad he’s such a shit, or I’d almost feel bad for him. But I don’t, so there.)
When Old!Doctore angrily/foolishly states that Batty’s dad would never have stood for such crap, Bats loses his fucking shit. YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF BATTY, OKAY. In one bellowed rant, he insists that the Syrians be branded, Gannicus be brought upstairs, and Oenomaus be made the new Doctore. Damn.
Upstairs, everybody in da club gettin tipsy, and whacked on opium. Batiatus, still in full-on tantrum mode, brings Gannicus upstairs and informs him that, by Jupiter’s cock, if Varis wants his knob gobbed, well then Ganny’d better savor every fucking drop. Man, the look on Gannicus’ face is awful – he’s gone all wibbly.
Varis is all riled up at the sight of Gannicus’ oily beloinclothed glory, and tbh I do not blame him. Varis gets busy with some fondling but in the end, he’s not actually interested in personally doing the job. No, he’d rather enjoy watching Gannicus fuck someone else.
….Glancing around, he chooses Melitta. Ruh roh. Lucretia tries to fend off the inevitable, because she still has a conscience, but Batty says Melitta will do as commanded, because he’s a dick.
Down in the ludus, the Syrians are being branded with the Mark. Ashur wants to recite the sacred oath of the Gladiator, but Old!Doctore is having none of it. Instead, he picks a balls-out crazy brawling fight with Oenomaus, real swords and all. Shit just got real, y’all.
Upstairs, Gannicus is carefully taking off Melitta’s dress in the center of the room. Downstairs, a confused and betrayed-looking Oenomaus is fucking fighting for his life amidst a raging thunderstorm. Oh show. Why you do this.
We go back and forth between upstairs and downstairs, between the truly depressing sex scene and the truly epic brawl. Melitta cries throughout, as you do when your husband’s best friend has been commanded to rape you, and Gannicus isn’t looking much better. Varis, meanwhile, is fapping giddily and staring at Gannicus’ ass.
Instead of terrible wailing orgy guitars, we’re given a faux-operatic score of Srs Bznss Drama, which makes a lot more sense because this is really a goddamn tragedy. I mean, I stopped watching this show ironically a long time ago, but I’m still impressed by the level of horribility they’re pulling off here.
Oh wait, it gets worse. While Oenomaus is forced to kill Old!Doctore, one of his oldest and most honored friends, Melitta has a sobbing and totally unwilling wild goddamn orgasm in Gannicus’ arms. I guess we now know how she dies – I bet she kills herself after this. Godfuckingdammit.
A drenched and unhappy Oenomaus comes upstairs to tell Batiatus about the fight to the death, and OH GOD I will lost my shit if this is how he finds out. LOSE MY SHIT, DO YOU HEAR ME SHOW? DO YOU?
Apparently show has heard me, because he sees none of it. Actually, in retrospect, we know from last season that he loved his wife and honored her memory, which he might not have been able to do had he found out about her and Gannicus. Hm.
Batty reveals that the reason for Old!Doctore’s rage was his loss of position to Oenomaus, and oh man, O is not happy. His heart is fucking breaking over the fact that he’s never going to return to the arena, and I want to make out with him even more feverishly than ever. Making out is on Oenomaus’ mind as well, and he asks for his wife to be sent to his cell, presumably so he can weep manfully in her arms. Batty agrees immediately, and his impeccable fucking poker face lets no hint of the evening’s events through. I want to punch him even more punchily than ever. Grr.
Varis, sticky and satisfied, casually mentions on his way out of the villa that Gannicus has earned the coveted spot in the primus of the opening games, and Batty and the girls prance with glee. Gannicus, to his credit, is not the least bit pleased by this development, and returns to his cell to presumably weep into a jug of wine. Melitta’s off bathing repeatedly and bawling her eyes out, Oenomaus is standing in the rain holding the bloodstained breastplate of Doctore, and I am once again way too emotionally invested in this fucking show. ARGH.
Batty and Lucretia celebrate their ill-won good fortune with a drunken fuck in the middle of the house, which quickly turns into the predictable and long-awaited threesome as soon as Gaia walks by. Oh wailing orgy guitars, how I have missed you. Seriously though, fucking Batiatus is a steep price to pay to get to fuck Lucretia, Gaia. WTF.
Downstairs, Oenomaus is fucking shattered by having to kill Doctore, and Melitta is fucking shattered by both having had to fuck their bestie AND having to keep it a secret from her already miserable husband, and damn, it’s only the second episode this season. SEND HALP.
NEXT WEEK: Guess who’s coming to town? It’s not santa claus, that’s for fucking sure. It’s Batty’s dad, kicking ass and taking names. Oh hell yes.
Watch Spartacus on Starz Friday nights, check local listings.