Spartacus: Gods of the Arena – 1.04 – Beneath the Mask

PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA! Orgy, Interrupted! The Return of the Mack (Daddy)! A Tale of Four Titties! And A Star is Born.

***

The grotty old arena is busy this afternoon, with a trident-and-net-fighter (a retiarius, Batty helpfully informs us) up against a legionary-style gladiator (a murmillo, Titus helpfully informs us). Since neither fighter belongs to the House of Batiatus, Titus and Batty can enjoy the performance and nerdily debate the pros and cons of each fighting skill. Titus is not much in favour of this newfangled style of net-fighting, calling the man “more fisherman than gladiator”. Ooh, incendium.

As they argue, a front-row spectator has his fingers sliced off by the trident, and the bloodthirsty crowd goes wild. Titus reluctantly agrees that any local ludus without a retiarius among their fighters will be seen as behind the times, and suggests that Batty have one of their lesser fighters begin training in that style. LOLZ. I’m hoping it ends up being Ashur, but I seem to remember it being Gnaeus in season one. Hm.

In about 20 seconds, the murmillo is netted, tackled, arm-brokened, and tridented through the head. Titus is most amused by the spectacle, while Batty exchanges the stinkeye with Vettius, who’s seated up on the pulvinus with Tullius and some lovely ladies. Bats is grumpy that the view would be much better from up there with the Big Boys, and Titus casually remarks that an invitation was given and refused – he’d rather watch the games up front and center, with his son beside him. ARGH TITUS. Batty is totally unmoved by this gesture of fatherly affection, as he is a jerkface.

Stop fucking with me, show, you are unfair. Every second Titus is on the screen, he is more and more likeable, which most certainly means that his death will be horrible and gruesome and at the hands of his son and daughter-in-law. WOE.

***

In the cells beneath the arena, Ashur and Dagan are psyching themselves up for their very first battle. Dagan looks pretty confident, but Ashur is definitely nervous. Sadly, we know he survives. HISS BOO. Oenomaus coldly informs them that since they received the Mark of the Brotherhood absent the usual testing, this fight is to be their true test, but he doesn’t expect much of their sad, unworthy selves. Snerk.

The Syrians make a pretty good show of themselves, with Dagan literally disarming his opponent for a quick victory. Ashur, however, is smacked to the sand with his helmet knocked off, and my heart sings with delight at his almost-death. Before his opponent can happily hack Ashur to bits with his battleaxe, Dagan swoops in from behind, neatly skewering axeman and allowing Ashur to escape. As the crowd cheers for Dagan, Ashur picks up the axe and goes to town on axeman’s head. For some reason, Ashur the idiot seems to think this means he is a BAMF in need of some love from the crowd, but mostly they just kind of laugh at his histrionics. Dagan is not particularly amused, though.

***

Tullius the dickhead stands to announce the next fighters, “now the lesser matches have passed” – he just can’t let the opportunity for a subtle dig at Batty pass him by. Man, I myself am a world champion grudge-holder who’s also no fan of Batty’s, and even I think Tully’s an overbearing asshole.

Vet’s newest fighter steps into the ring – the massive and ox-like Caburus, fighting murmillo-style. His opponent, the much less impressive-looking Drapae, is fighting thraex-style. Batty and Titus argue about Gannicus’ absence from the games for what is probably the 217th time, judging by Titus’ eyerolling frustration. Bats is still scheming to get his men in the opening games of the new arena, and Titus is still despairing over his son’s relentless social climbing. As they argue, Caburus defeats Drapae and casually cuts out his heart and flings it aside, splattering the camera with blood.

***

Far from the madding crowd, Lucretia and Gaia stroll through the marketplace, complaining about how much of a downer Titus is to have around. Poor Gaia doesn’t like having her drunken orgies interrupted, which is only natural. Luce assures her that Titus’ bad health will force him to leave for Sicilia again sooner or later, but Gaia’s on a mission now: Operation Find New Sugar Daddy is a go.

Predictably, she espies a contender across the market – the wealthy and attractive Petronius, an acquaintance from Rome. Gaia simpers over to him delightedly, but ohnoes, he barely remembers meeting her at one of Varis’ parties. Even more distressingly, upon being introduced to Lucretia, he is far more interested in her. Or more specifically, in the newly famous sexy funtimes found within the House of Batiatus. Varis and Cossutius are the blabberiest blabbermouths ever to blabber, it seems. Oopsie. Lucretia smiles bravely and tries not to barf from horror right there in the market. DUN DUN DUUUUN!

***

Back at the ludus, Gannicus is sitting in his cell sulking, and staring up at the villa’s balcony expectantly. Crixus and Gnaeus are paired together for training, busily gossiping about Barca, who is still all emo over Auctus’ death in the arena. Ashur and Dagan return triumphant from their first fight, but LOLCANO, no one gives a shit. Face it, Ashur. No one likes you, and newsflash: it’s because you’re a dick.

Oenomaus spots Gannicus moping and tells him to pair up and train with Rhaskos, but Ganny doesn’t wanna fight, he wants to sit in the corner and feel bad for himself. Why should he bother training when he’s not going to get to fight in the primus? Oenomaus gets ready to tell him to quit that crybaby shit, but Titus has other ideas, and has Gannicus sent up to the villa.

***

Up in the gladiator statue room of the villa, Titus combines a trip down gladiator triumph memory lane with the inevitable lecture about training and dedication and sacrifice. He asks Gannicus if he truly believes himself the equal to the ludus’ past champions, and is not very impressed by his dispassionate answers. Titus and I can both tell that Gannicus doesn’t give a fuck anymore, and that he’s just saying what Titus wants to hear. Sigh. You’d be pretty remote too if someone made you rape your best friend’s wife, Titus.

***

Gaia and Lucretia return to the villa, with Gaia carping all the while. How DARE some stupid man not notice her considerable charms! Lucretia could not fucking care less, Gaia, you twit. She’s still reeling from the fact that her gladiator sexfests are becoming common knowledge among Rome’s high society, and worries that Titus is bound to hear of it eventually. Gaia thinks this is an awesome chance for social climbing, but Luce is grossed out by the thought of indirectly whoring her way to the top. I wonder how long that sentiment will last.

Batty, wandering in on the tail end of their conversation, is informed by Gaia of the situation, and naturally thinks this is the chance of a lifetime. He promises to tend to the distraction of his father, and insists that Lucretia make all necessary arrangements for a night of glorious debauchery. Now we’re talking.

***

Melitta is on her way downstairs to Oenomaus’ cell when a tinily-toweled Gannicus bounces out of the baths and calls her name. Gannicus, you idiot. Is that who you were looking for on the balcony? I am disappoint. She’s not really interested, but he insists that his desire to talk to her is more important than her desire not to. Pro tip: men, we hate it when you do this shit. Make a note of that please.

Gann wants to know why Melitta won’t even look at him anymore, which, dude, COME ON. She’s scared to death that her gorgeous husband will find out what happened and thus has been avoiding Gannicus, but he quite accurately points out that two old friends suddenly ignoring each other would be far more suspicious. More to the point, he can’t stop thinking about her, which ARGH DUDE SERIOUSLY? Come the fuck on. Don’t do this. The look on his face says oh yes, he is seriously going to do this. SIGH.

Over in his cell, Melitta and Oenomaus are cuddling as O despairs over what he sees as Gannicus’ distancing himself from old friends with new exalted position. Melitta (somewhat selfishly, perhaps) advises him to teach Gannicus just who the boss is around here, which tbh I think is kind of crappy advice, especially since she knows the trufax about Gannicus’ shitty attitude of late.

Horribly, as she and Oenomaus get it on, she’s distracted by pleasurable memories of her night with Gannicus. OY VEY. Who in their right mind would think pants-happy thoughts of another man when in bed with the glorious and magnificent Oenomaus? Good lord, woman!

***

The next day, Crixus and Gnaeus train together again, and Crixus gives him yet another ass-kicking. Oenomaus is not impressed by Gnaeus’ swordfighting skills, and instructs him to switch over to the retiarius style of fighting. Gnaeus is piiiissed, and mouths off as though Oenomaus is still one of the guys and not Doctore. Gnaeus, dude, that was a mistake.

A stone-faced Oenomaus gives him a crack of the whip, and I am immediately and inappropriately excited. Damn this show. All fighting halts as the men assess this new, determined Oenomaus, Doctore at last. Yay! Even Gannicus hauls himself out of his foul sulk to compliment Doctore on his new attitude of awesomeness, which Doctore attributes to the advice of his loving wife. Great, now Gannicus is all distracted, mooning soulfully at Melitta up on the balcony.

Since Gannicus is, at heart, a total fucking fratboy, he decides this is the perfect time to show off his boss fighting skillz. He immediately lunges at Barca, dual swords spinning madly, and smacks him about easily, intermittently glancing up to make sure Melitta is noticing his awesome manliness. What a derp.

***

Up on the balcony, Titus notices the change in Gannicus’ attitude, and Batty attributes it to Titus’ lecture the day before. Titus is too busy with some phlegmy, tubercular hacking to give much credence to this statement, and Melitta is sent scurrying off for some honeyed wine.

Batty, pretending to actually care about his father’s poor health, insists that the two of them take a day’s trip to the nearby coastal town of Neapolis. The coastal air will clear dust from lungs, and Titus and Batty can window shop for a new gladiator that they both agree upon. Between Lucretia’s solicitous back-rubbing and wine-pouring, and Batty’s loving son act, Titus is soon convinced, and preparations for their journey begin immediately.

Batty and Lucretia are overjoyed but nervous – Batty suggests that Solonius attend the evening’s festivities in his stead, to protect both the women and Batty’s interests in the matter. How is this even a good idea, Batty? Are you forgetting that Solonius is the one who ratted you out to your dad? I suppose you’ve also never noticed that Solonius is in love with your wife, eh? Batty? You’re not even listening, are you.

***

The sun is setting, and the glistening sweaty gladiators are finished training for the day. Alas, it looks like they’re going to eat dinner, and not to bathe together in naked splendor. Sigh.

Doctore stops Ashur and Dagan to give them the coins they earned from their victory in the arena. Ashur, initially delighted by this, is upset when Dagan receives twice as much coin. Dagan leers his intent to spend his winnings on “much cunt”, so Ashur translielates it as concern towards the unequal amounts. Doctore responds to Ashur with the greatest verbal bitch slap of the season – “tell him he receives twice the coin because you are half the man.” Furthermore, it turns out that the only reason Ashur was even purchased as a recruit in the first place was because they needed him to translate for Dagan, Dagan being the one they really wanted. OH SNAPPIUS.

Crixus, noticing Barca’s absence from the tables, goes to find him in the cells. Barca’s sort of absentmindedly cuddling a pigeon and staring off into space, moodily. Crixus, my beloved precious woobyface, has brought a piece of his bread ration for Barca to feed to the birds. Barca doesn’t respond to his attempts at conversation, but Crixus gamely continues with the story of how he lost his closest friends and family in battle to the Arverni, a rival Gaulish tribe that invaded his village and sold him into slavery.

Barca, who we know from season one was forced to kill his own father in the arena, is moved by Crixus’ story, and tells him that the birds were really Auctus’, and while he never really liked them, they’re all he has left. Oh Barca. Don’t make me like you even a little bit. That is fucking unfair.

***

Out in Neapolis, Titus and Batty are examining the wares of a slave dealer, looking for a new and exciting gladiator. They’re not particularly impressed by the offerings, especially the Thracian, as they “aggravate the Gauls beyond all reason”. LOL FORESHADOWINGS. When none of the offerings prove worthwhile, Titus and Batty go off to have a few drinks instead. Oh god. Does Batty get his dad drunk and then drown him in the harbor? OH GOD I WILL FREAK.

***

Back in Capua, Lucretia is running around the villa like a hostessy maniac, and the slaves are scrubbing everything in sight. Diona, lighting candles in the triclinium, is letting the match burn down to her fingers until Naevia slaps it away, aghast. Naevia’s sad because Diona’s not fun and friendly anymore. Naevia, sweetiepants – your girl got hella raped last week, remember? Sorry she doesn’t feel like giggling with you these days, jesus. Diona snaps back that she has no time for this bullshit, as Lucretia wants her bathed and ready for tonight. Ouch.

Luce gives Melitta a list of gladiators that Oenomaus is to have oiled and scented and sent up to the villa for the evening’s entertainment. Melitta already looks nervous and resigned, but Lucretia informs her that she’ll be safe by her side, unavailable to any request, no matter who from. It’s nice that Lucretia still has some semblance of conscience, but any kind feelings I have towards her are shattered when she proceeds to blackmail Melitta into swearing Oenomaus to secrecy about the upcoming wild orgy. In return, she promises that no other secrets will be revealed. Lucretia, you bitch. She would’ve done it without threats. Ugh.

An utterly glorious Gaia slinks into the room and she and Lucretia leer at each other admiringly for a bit, yet inexplicably do not immediately get naked and writhe about in delight. Hmph. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Solonius, and set off to get the evening started.

***

Wailing orgy guitars and anachronistic gypsylike singing fills the room, where a completely dead-eyed Diona is being vigorously fucked by Rhaskos on a podium. A dozen or so oiled and beloinclothed gladiators are lined up on the side of the room, some nervous, some excited. Gaia enjoys the show, but Solonius is quietly disapproving. When Lucretia tries to apologize for subjecting him to this scandalous debauchery (snerk), he dismisses her worries and smiles besottedly at her. How does she not even notice this, wtf? Are you THAT used to men staring at you adoringly, Lucretia, you magnificent tart?

Naevia is filling cups of wine from her pitcher, but some of the guests are more interested in the bearer than they are in the drink. Melitta, clever girl, sends Naevia off for more wine, quietly instructing her to stay safely in the pantry until the guests are gone.

Doctore, standing by the gladiators, is grossed out by the entire spectacle, worried that they dishonor the entire house. Melitta, true to form, advises him to just not think about it too much. Sigh. Gannicus stares at her moonily the entire time, because he is an oblivious idiot.

***

Rhaskos finishes pounding a weepy Diona, to cheers from Petronius and his buddies. Lucretia takes the moment to tell them how awesome they all are and how grateful she and her slaves are to host this orgy for them. She further says that for this one night only, everything under her roof is there to satisfy the every desire of her guests, which, oh my god woman are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, that’s just what these entitled Roman dicks need – total freedom for a total free-for-all. Man, how many people are ending up dead tonight? My guesses: Diona, and at least one gladiator, maybe Dagan.

Before Lucretia can get the wild orgy underway, Tullius shows up, unwanted and uninvited. Luce is far too intimidated to kick him out, and Solonius and Gaia don’t look much better. Great, so I guess we can safely assume that whoever dies tonight will be killed by Tullius the asshole. FUUUUCK. Yeah, my money’s on Diona or another female slave.

***

Back out in Neapolis, Batty and Titus share a jug of wine in a noisy seaside cantina. Titus reminisces amusedly about Batty’s stubborn childhood, but Batty’s more serious about his defense. Hasn’t he eventually always done as he was commanded? Batty reminds Titus how he wanted military experience, but Titus forbade it, instead having him oversee the ludus. How does this add up to disobedience?

OHOHO. Titus thinks that Batty’s greatest defiance was “when he married a woman beneath him,” ouch. Oddly enough, I always assumed that Lucretia was a bit higher class than Batty, mostly because of her initial kindness to the slaves. I guess that’s not particularly aristocratic, though.

Batty counters that Titus was wrong about Lucretia, as he has been proven wrong about many things lately. But Titus has more important things on his mind – does Batty really think he’s such a fool that he wouldn’t notice Batty luring him out to Neapolis on the lame pretext of new gladiators? He’s sure that Batty has a seekrit agenda, and oh god this is so fucking sad and tragic and SAD.

See, Titus thinks that Batty wanted to have some father-son bonding time together, away from the arguments of family and the stresses of business at the ludus. He’s genuinely, touchingly pleased at this new development and MY HEART IS FUCKING BREAKING HERE YOU GUYS ARRRGH.

Batty the Horrible Goddamn Bastard reluctantly “admits” that yes, this was a feeble attempt at bonding, and Titus is so delighted that I might cry a little bit. But Titus doesn’t see why they need to stay any longer in Neapolis now that the secret’s out, and insists that they return home to Capua, to continue renewing their relationship amidst the comforts of home. AHAHA the loook on Batty’s faaace. He can’t come up with a good reason to put off their return, and is forced to accompany his father back to Capua. To twist the knife a little further, Titus hugs Batty happily, and I die inside forever and ever until the end of time.

***

Meanwhile, back in Orgyland, Lucretia, Gaia, and Solonius stroll around the villa, grouching over Tullius’ unwanted presence. They can’t figure out how Tully even found out about the party in the first place, but let’s face it – I think we all know that Solonius told him about it for some convoluted reason or another. COME ON. SURELY. Solonius blames it on Petronius, cunningly, as the two are old friends.

Lucretia is enraged that Tully would even show his face in their home after what he did to Batty, but Gaia says fuck it, let’s get this party started. Petronius and his rich horny friends are waiting, by the gods! While the girls scheme, a conversation between Solonius and Tullius proves me right once again – Solonius DID tell Tully about the party, as part of his social climbing. O FALSE ONE! YOU HAVE DECEIVED ME!

***

Luce reenters the party followed by a few dozen nude, painted, masked slaves, all carrying half-masks crafted as the faces of the gods. Petronius, the Dick of Honor, gets Jupiter, to his smug delight. But before everyone can mask themselves and start orgying, Tullius says he’d like to first prove himself against one of the gladiators. Yeah, this will end well. I guess I’m not too bothered if he kills Dagan, though.

BUT NO. Tully wants to fight Gannicus. In the face of Petronius’ enthusiasm, Lucretia, seeing no way out of this mess, agrees that the men should have an exhibition fight. Gannicus is smirking pretty obnoxiously, and I think maybe he should be a bit less confident. Tullius wouldn’t challenge a champion gladiator in front of all his rich friends unless he had something up his sleeve, right? RIGHT.

Oenomaus instructs Gannicus to put on a good show, but to go easy on Tullius. We can’t have him fucking up a guest, no matter if he’s an uninvited dickhead. Gannicus leaps around dramatically like the showman he is, but after a few minutes of fighting, he realizes that Tully isn’t just some rich lameass – he’s actually a worthy opponent for a champion. Tullius laughs his obnoxious fake laugh, as though it’s all in good fun, but it soon becomes clear that his true intent is to hurt Gannicus as much as possible, slashing his torso in 6 places before prancing away, braying like an amused donkey.

A few slashes and lunges later, both men are fighting in deadly earnest. Tullius kicks a well-bloodied Gannicus to the floor and prepares to lunge at him, but Gannicus confounds all by giving the missio. Tullius ignores his submission and prepares to kill Gannicus, but Lucretia’s shout of denial stops him cold. She cleverly appeals to Tully’s ego by saying he’s won both Gannicus’ submission and the match, and with the eyes of the crowd on him, he’s forced to show mercy. As Melitta takes Gannicus off to the medicus, Tullius magnanimously declares that the orgy should get underway, and the assembled guests cheer and presumably wave their cocks around like lightsabers.

***

As the medicus cleans up Gannicus’ wounds, Melitta is ranting about how Tullius is an epic dickhead for nearly killing Gann. Don’t encourage him, sweetie. You know he wants you like whoa. Of course Gannicus takes this as a sign that she wants to make out with him, and he’s right. Despite their best intentions, they’re soon in a slobbery clinch, gazing longingly into each others’ eyes. Melitta panics and flees before things can go any further.

Upstairs in Orgyville, the villa is a mess of writhing naked bodies, and I am forced to turn down the volume lest my neighbors think I am watching some kind of bizarre porn, which technically I suppose I am. *weeps*

A resigned-looking Barca is getting fucked against a pillar by a small, squat guest, while nearby, Petronius is being serviced by a group of slave girls. A wee little masked naked man approaches the now-diminished line of waiting gladiators and lustily addresses Dagan. Ashur, being the miserable cunt that he is, offers to translielate for Dagan, informing the man that Dagan likes being fucked roughly in the ass, and informing Dagan that if he doesn’t do whatever the man asks, both of them will be killed. Dagan is rightly suspicious at the faux innocent look on Ashur’s face, but goes off to meet his poogly fate.

***

Gaia, Lucretia, and Solonius are off in the corner, worrying about Tullius, as he’s neither drinking nor fucking, just strolling around the villa and smiling jerkishly. Gaia offers to take one for the team, and lures him off into a side room for sexytimes. Tully and Gaia apparently grew up together in Capua, and Tully admits to having lusted after her as a younger man.

Tully claims that he was worried about her when he heard that her husband had died, leaving her alone in the world. Gaia, naturally, thinks this means he actually cares about her, and plays her hand too soon, asking that Tully not say anything about the orgy to Titus. Tullius immediately sees through her sexytimes ruse, but continues on nevertheless, and swears never to speak a single word of the evening’s festivities, as long as Gaia promises to deliver an important message from him to Lucretia and Batty. And then they bone, obviously.

***

Later that evening, Orgistan is littered with naked napping slaves in fucked-out heaps. The guests lazily leave the house, overflowing with compliments and thanks to Lucretia for the Best Orgy Ever!!!1! Petronius promises to send word to Batty in order to discuss Gannicus’ place in the primus of the opening games in the new arena, and Lucretia seriously almost swoons with relief as soon as he’s gone. Solonius intends to wait until all guests have departed, but Lucretia shoos him off home, saying that Gaia’s a horny-ass bitch who won’t be done fucking til the cows come home.

Lucretia darts around the house telling the slaves to clean up as though nothing ever happened, and everyone hops to work, even though they’ve just been fucking for the past 6 hours. Good lord. I usually just want some cake and maybe a nap.

As Lucretia takes off her earrings and goes to get ready for bed, Tullius appears from the shadows. He’s such a fucking creeper, and makes both Lucretia and I really uncomfortable with his creepy creeper insinuations. He tells Lucretia that he received the request from Gaia to not mention the party to Titus, and that Gaia holds his response. Off Lucretia goes to find Gaia and see what’s up, and OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS SGJHSLDFGHSDFKGHSDFHHGGH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Gaia is dead on the floor, her head smashed in by a nearby vase, with blood and brains everywhere oh my fucking god Tullius I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO DIIIIE. And Lucretia screams and screams and screams some more. AS DO WE ALL.

***

Titus and Batty return home to total fucking chaos. Lucretia is out of her mind with grief and rage, but Titus flat-out does not give a shit. He is far more outraged at the deliberate provocation of Tullius than he is at the murder of Gaia, although let’s face it, he’s not a happy camper over that either. A Roman citizen, murdered under his own roof!

(At this point, Kassie would like me to explain that in the Republic, women were not actually considered full citizens so this is totally wrong and an utter outrage and blah blah blah idek I stopped listening okay, but she’s really emotionally invested in this sort of thing and will go on for days if I don’t stop her.)

Titus blames Lucretia for encouraging Batty’s scheming, and forbids them both from seeking retribution. He insists that they cover up the murder by saying that Gaia got drunk and stumbled off the balcony to her death over the cliff. Titus sends Lucretia off to clean up the mess, and drags Batty off for the mother of all lectures.

Titus isn’t just pissed off at the orgy, he’s totally fucking betrayed that Batty would lure him off on pretext of family bonding in order to hide the orgy. Furthermore, he claims that Lucretia is the one who is dragging them all down, and demands that Batty choose for himself to divorce her or they’ll both be banished forever from the house.

***

Lucretia staggers out to the balcony for a good sob, and notices two large guardsmen about to dump Gaia’s body off the cliff. She stops them so she can give Gaia ~*one last kiss*~, and then the body is thrown away like trash. kdfhgsdkfghsfh DID NOT WANT, GODDAMMIT.

***

NEXT WEEK: Shit gonna get even more crazy, y’all.

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