PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND – Warriors warred! Barbarians barbarianed! Women kicked ass and took names! And someone stole Glaber’s wine.
Sweaty unshaven Sparty lies shackled on an uncomfortable-looking wooden bed, sleeping in the late afternoon sunlight, when the touch of a hand on his chest awakens him. It’s Sura! A sweaty and disheveled Sura! Delighted snogging ensues. Spartacus witters on about how worried he was when the Romans stole her away, but she’s having none of his meebling – she wants to make out like whoa. Pretty soon they’re at it like knives, with much bouncy and jiggly enjoyment, but suddenly…. Sura’s head explodes in a messy gout of blood. Wut?
Spartacus awakens terrified, injured, bloody, and pissed off, although surprisingly without morning wood. (This is why these shows need me as a continuity person, obvsly.) He’s in the sickroom of Batiatus’ ludus, along with some half-dead looking dude with a bloody stump instead of a leg. Batty orders the medicus to take Spartacus off to the baths – an excellent plan, as he’s pretty goddamn grimy – but first, it’s off for a haircut. (NOOO his purty hairs.)
Outside in the ludus’ training area, the men finish their day’s work and head inside for their evening meal, while Batty watches assessingly. A eunuch hands him a message that sends him upstairs into the villa, where Lucretia is glaring at the bone-dry impluvium. Capua needs rain like whoa, agrees Batty. Luce points out that rain would certainly be nice but money would also fill the damn pool, and oh, btw, how’s the new expensive Thracian trainee they spent so much money on, hmmm? Our Lucretia, never a subtle lady.
As their body slaves undress and bathe them (hi Naevia! hi giiiirl!), Lucretia rants on and on about what a ridiculous investment Spartacus was and how surely they will all rue the day, but Batty’s got something up his tunic – the message received just moments ago. It’s from legatus Glaber, announcing his intention to visit the House of Batiatus in two days. Although the reason for his visit is left uncertain by the letter, Batty is totes sure that Glaber is coming to thank him for buying Sparty, and that they’ll soon be beffies forever more. Lucretia lets loose a dainty guffaw at her husband’s optimism.
Batty’s surety hinges on the fact that he’s certain Sparty will soon be dead, one way or another – either he’ll live to swear the gladiator’s oath (title of tonight’s episode, Sacramentum Gladiatorum) and die in the arena, or he’ll die sooner, during the harsh training at the ludus. Glaber’s vengeance will be satisfied regardless, and everyone wins! Except Sparty, obvsly.
Batiatus’ plotting has given him a semi, Lucretia notes with a smile, and gestures to a nearby slave girl to crank him up further. Meanwhile, Naevia’s letting her fingers do the walking for Lucretia. What is even with Romans, you guys? Who even wants to outsource their foreplay? Weirdos, that’s who. Capua’s nascent evil power couple breathlessly discuss how Glaber is sure to offer his patronage to their ludus before falling upon each other lustily and boning up against the wall in a room full of half a dozen bored slaves. Ahh, romance.
Downstairs in the baths of the ludus, a lubricated Crixus is being carefully strigiled clean while the rest of the gladiators bathe in their short rations of water. All our old friends are present – Barca, Ashur, Gnaeus, Rhaskos – with plenty of new faces as well, such as the twinky young lad massaging Barca’s back, Pietros. When a newly shorn and shaven Sparty’s thrown into the room to join them, Crixus immediately starts in on the poor n00b. Barca’s full of mock interest for this Spartacus, the man who’s name is on everyone’s tongue. When Sparty goes to correct them, and reveal his true name, Crixus cuts him off immediately, coldly telling him that no one gives a fuck who he was before. And then the camera pulls back to show us the unbilled superstar of the series, Crixus’ cock. *snicker*
Spartacus wants to know what the hell is going on, ffs! Where even IS he? Crixus is more than happy to inform him that he is at the greatest ludus in all Capua, the House of Batiatus. Sorry, Crixus, but Sparty doesn’t even know what a goddamn ludus is. Sigh. Crixus explains that it’s a training school for gladiators, and his cock jiggles emphatically. Spartacus takes the news with a bit of a sneer, and a few choice words about Thracians and Gauls later, the two are just moments away from rolling on the ground and humping like bunnies. Big, muscular, oiled up …. bunnies? Um.
The next morning, the trainees are led out onto the sands of the ludus, while the Real Gladiators jeer and heckle them from the sidelines. Oh, boys. Before the gladiators can start throwing rotten tomatoes and booing, Oenomaus, everyone’s favourite Doctore, struts his fine ass out onto the sand. He’s got a question for the recruits – what, exactly, are they standing on? A chubby recruit with FUGITIVUS tattoed to his head goes for “sand,” but no, he’s shot down immediately. Crixus steps forward to smugly inform the recruits that they’re standing on sacred ground, where lame-ass suckafools are forged into Real Manly Men. Gladiators! Of the six assembled recruits, there’s maybe one besides Spartacus who looks like he’ll survive the day. Yikes.
Batiatus, accompanied by Lucretia, comes out onto the balcony to address the men, telling them all how lucky they are to have been chosen for the ludus of the House of Batiatus, and how they have two choices: die, and be forever forgotten; or live amongst the titans of his ludus. And then Doctore cracks his sexy sexy whip and I have to rewind a few dozen times. SIGH.
Doctore walks among the recruits, offering scathing commentary on their chances in the arena. When he stands in front of Spartacus, however, he seems to change his tune, recounting how Sparty defeated 4 men in the arena just days before. Instead of lauding his victory, Doctore crushes Spartacus down to size, telling him his victory was a load of crap, as he’d been fighting the inferior men of Solonius’ ludus. Doctore wagers Sparty wouldn’t stand a chance against the men of the House of Batiatus. Up on the balcony, Batiatus concurs with this assessment, but Sparty lets his ego get in the way of his sense, and Doctore immediately pits him against Crixus in a demonstration fight.
You guys. Crixus is wearing a hammered copper codpiece. I can’t even.
Doctore calls for wooden practice swords, challenging Spartacus to prove them all wrong. Poor dopey Sparty doesn’t even want to pick up the rudis, and instead glares at Doctore furiously. Not the wisest move, dude. Doctore goes to crack his whip around Sparty’s neck, but Sparty catches it on his wrist instead, bitching about how Spartacus isn’t even his naaaaame, but no one gives one single shit. Doctore yanks him to the ground with his whip, leaving him facedown in the sand. Spartacus, ever the arrogant twit, kicks the rudis away and gets back into line with the trainees.
Doctore, ever full of great ideas, suggests that Sparty’s cowardice is at fault, and calls for a gladius to replace the wooden sword. When Spartacus still refuses to fight, Doctore turns his back on him to tell Batiatus that Sparty is fucking hopeless, and better off sent to the mines. Before Batty can concur or demur, Spartacus grabs the gladius and lunges at Doctore’s back in a most unsportsmanlike fashion. Bad show, old chap! Crixus smacks him down in a flash with his wooden practice sword, and then proceeds to school his ass like whoa, to the cheers and derision of the assembled gladiators. Doctore loudly narrates every moment of the fight, calmly pointing out each one of Spartacus’ hasty, untrained, and ungladiatorlike maneuvers. Oh snappius.
Crixus knocks Sparty down again and again, barely even breaking a sweat, pausing only momentarily to exchange significant leery glances with Lucretia up on the balcony. OHOHO. And each time, Spartacus hauls himself to his feet to attack once again. But even with the distinct advantage of his gladius over Crixus’ rudis, Spartacus is simply no match for the Champion of Capua and his hammered copper codpiece. In a last-ditch effort for victory, Spartacus throws his sword at Crixus’ back, a move that has worked well for him in the past. Instead, Crixus easily deflects the flying sword, and it veers off to cut the throat of another recruit. Oopsy.
Oh, how the gladiators laugh at Sparty. Spartacus is left with an expression of pure DERP on his face, and Doctore tells him he’s a twatty twatface. Before Spartacus can gather himself for a final attack on Crixus, Crixus takes advantage of his confusion to tackle him to the ground, wooden sword at his throat. Doctore explains that Sparty will only be spared if he chooses to give the traditional gladiator sign of surrender, the missio. But noooo, once again, Spartacus’ idiotic pride gets in the way, and he refuses to beg for his life. Doctore grimly orders Crixus to bash in his skull, but Batiatus shouts a denial at the last moment – his plans for Spartacus do not involve his death without first securing Glaber’s patronage, despite Lucretia’s eye-rolling vexation. As Batiatus retreats into the coolness of the villa, Lucretia once again exchanges significant leery glances with Crixus.
The recruits spend the rest of the afternoon in a gladiator training montage, fighting with wooden practice swords and shields, and lugging around enormous wooden posts in the blazing hot sun, while Doctore continues cracking his whip and winning my heart. Spartacus is seen sparring most often with a blond recruit, who, when they sit together later at mealtime, reveals his name to be Varro. Somewhat against his inclination, Spartacus is drawn into some manly gossip with Varro about the rest of the gladiators; Varro thinks they’re all pretty much the scum of the earth, but sees Spartacus as a step above the rest. For his own part, Varro admits that he was a free man who voluntarily sold himself into slavery to settle his debts not for himself, but for his wife Aurelia and his toddler son. How noble! He’s certain to die horribly, perhaps eaten by velociraptors.
Upstairs in the villa, Batiatus and Doctore discuss the sad state of the recruits; Batty admits they’re mostly crap, but it’s the best he can afford in these times of economic uncertainty, dammit! Batty and Doctore agree that all will be put to the harsh training, to become gladiators if they succeed, or be sent to the mines or to their deaths if they fail.
Meanwhile, Ovidius, a local merchant, awaits Batiatus in the tablinum – Batty’s bill for three months worth of grain is past due, and Ovidius has come to collect his debt. As we all know, Batty is basically broke, and has no way of paying. He asks to extend the payment further, until after the upcoming games of the Vulcanalia, which Ovidius is happy to do – for an additional 30%. Ouch. Batty agrees with a forced smile, no doubt thinking of his hopes for Glaber’s patronage, and Ovidius sees himself and his burly bodyguard/slave out, leaving Batty to grind his teeth nervously.
Downstairs in the gladiators’ insula, the trainees are huddled together in one cell, bitching and whining about the day’s hard training. Chubby Tattoo-Faced Recruit, or Kerza if you prefer, insists that if only he’d been given a chance, he could’ve kicked Crixus’ ass all over town. His claims are met with universal ridicule, and the rest of the trainees agree that they’ll be happy just to survive to be Real Gladiators one day. When Marcus, a young, nervous-sounding recruit, asks Sparty what he thinks their chances are in the arena, Spartacus quietly tells him that they’re all going to die.
Before the men can commence sobbing dramatically, the guards and Doctore come and haul them out of their cell and back out into the yard. They’re forced to continue training throughout the night, carrying huge wooden posts and trudging in a circle.
Batiatus watches them from up on the balcony, and is soon joined by a nightied Lucretia, who urges him to come back to bed. But Batty can’t sleep for worrying about the coming day’s visit from Glaber, though. Didn’t they learn their lesson with Tullis? Sucking up to bigwigs never seems to work out like they hope it will. ARGH SO FRUSTRATING.
Early the next morning, the recruits are still staggering under their wooden posts, exhausted like whoa. Doctore stops them to send them off for a morning meal, reminding them that the day’s training will begin shortly. I’m fucking worn out just thinking about it. The recruits gladly throw down their beams, and Varro busts out with the episodes first cry of JUPITER’S COCK! (This series needs a drinking game.)
The men stagger into the cafeteria for breakfast, but Barca, in typical Barca the Douchebag fashion, throws the pot of gruel to the ground as the rest of the gladiators bray obnoxiously. Clearly some things will never change. Spartacus and Varro halfheartedly try to scrape up some of the less-dusty porridge from the ground, and stomp off to sulk in the corner. On the way over, horrible Ashur stops Sparty to apologize for Barca’s douchebaggery, and to offer him a large loaf of fresh bread. Spartacus’ good sense overcomes his hunger, and he asks, quite rightly, why Ashur would give him, Spartacus, his own bread. As if Ashur has ever done anything to be nice to anyone in his entire life. HA.
Ashur explains his position as a procurer of necessities and luxuries for the men, and further explains that his main reason for helping Spartacus is that if Sparty wins his gladiatorial trial at the end of his training, then Crixus will lose an enormous bet. Which, naturally, would be pleasing to Ashur, for, as we all recall, Crixus was the cause of Ashur’s horrible injury at the end of last season. (Then again, as we ALSO all know, Ashur fucking had it coming.) Ashur’s admission appeals to Sparty’s sense of vindictive vengeance, and he takes the loaf of bread to share with Varro, warning Ashur that this doesn’t make them beffies by a long shot.
Sparty finds Varro napping in the sunshine, and throws half the loaf to him, which Varro hungrily devours. Before Spartacus can explain exactly how he came to find it, the house guards come crashing in and drag Sparty off to a cell in chains…. just in time for the legatus’ arrival.
Glaber slowly pimpwalks down the hall to Sparty’s cell in his ridiculous furry boots, and Spartacus angrily hauls himself to his feet. Overcome by rage, Sparty tries to lunge at Glaber and eat his face, but the chains are just a bit too short to allow him to Hannibal Lecter anyone. Poor Sparty. Glaber smiles the most insanely smug douchey smile I have ever seen outside of a Republican caucus, and, in response to Spartacus’ repeated demands regarding the location of his wife Sura, whips out the strip of purple fabric last seen tied to Sura’s delectable thigh, and sniffs it lustily. Oh shit.
See, Glaber still totally blames Sparty for all his wartime failures, and that man sure as shit knows how to hold a grudge. Personally, I think he is overcome by his animal lusts for Spartacus, and it has driven him mad. MAAAD. Glaber tells Sparty that he let his men rape Sura a whole lot and then sold her to some creeper Syrian slave trader for half a coin. Glaber drops the fabric and Sparty collapses to his knees, cuddling it to his firm manbreasts rather tragically. The legatus naturally can’t resist a few parting remarks about how Spartacus belongs on his knees (is this latent or blatant homoeroticism? discuss!), but Sparty doesn’t even hear him – he’s too busy shrieking with demented rage.
On their way through the ludus back up into the villa, Batiatus scampers after Glaber like a lapdog, telling him all about the feast they’ve prepared for him and Ilithyia, but all is for naught! Glaber, cruel mean bully Glaber, rejects the idea of being Batty’s beffie, and plans to return immediately to Rome. Woe and despair! Gnashing of teeth and rending of garments!
Upstairs in the triclinium, slaves are setting out stuffed dormice and all other manner of revolting Roman delicacies for Lucretia and Ilithyia. Delightful Ilithyia, my forever girl, quite rightly refuses all the food placed before her, claiming such common dishes give her the vapours. She also refuses the wine upon learning that it’s not Sestian, because she is the most horribly spoilt little princess ever. *hearteyes*
Ilithyia whines adorably (shut up, it is too adorable) about the heat and the weather and the lack of rain and the dust and she wants a golden ticket, daddy, and she wants it NOW. And also another pony. The longer the two girls chat, though, the more they realize exactly how much they have in common; namely, they’re both blasphemous bitches who care little for anyone but themselves and their husbands. A match made in heaven! Ilithyia finds herself reluctantly impressed with Lucretia’s refusal to be called a proper Roman woman, but she’s distracted by a sound outside before she can continue that line of conversation.
It’s the crack of Doctore’s whip. Ilithyia is immediately intrigued and stands out on the balcony in a gobsmacked and lust-addled daze, staring at the near-naked sweaty muscled gladiators, training in the hot sun. Daddy’s never let her see the inside of a ludus, though she’s always wanted to, and Lucretia is quick to press her new-found advantage. Ilithyia is certain that the men could run wild and savage at any moment, but she looks quite the opposite of terrified. She also brings up the last subject that Lucretia would ever want to discuss, namely, her and Batty’s lack of children. Ilithyia, with her usual complete absence of tact, assumed that a woman as old as Lucretia would surely have children by now. Oooh girl, you cold.
At this lull in their conversation, Glaber appears on the balcony with Batty, announcing their need to leave at once for Rome. Ilithyia, having gotten her first delicious taste of sweaty gladiator, stamps her little foot and whines to be allowed to stay. Glaber gives her the tiniest of indulgent smiles, and tells her she’ll have to return another time. Ilithyia pouts adorably, and I maybe swoon a little, hating myself all the while. Ilithyia then gives a startled Lucretia a slow little kiss goodbye and follows her husband out the door, while Batty is left grimacing a truly bitter smile.
Spartacus is dragged back down to the ludus courtyard to return to his training. Doctore gives him a long, assessing glance, and then calls over Kerza to pair with Sparty in training. But it’s not just any old sparring; Doctore wants Kerza to show Spartacus exactly what they’ve all learned in his absence – he wants to see Sparty get his ass kicked. Kerza looks grim, but determined; Spartacus looks hot and sweaty and hot. (what? he does.)
Doctore calls Kerza through the various attack formations the trainees have been practicing, and while Kerza is successful with the first, he is less victorious with the second – Spartacus sees Glaber exiting the villa, and the two commence with their usual hungry eyefucking, which naturally leads to Sparty’s epic rage when Glaber smirks his trademark smirk.
Spartacus throws himself at Kerza with a crazed roar, not even bothering to use his rudis. He’s all fists and headbutts and throttling madness, and Doctore’s angry yells go completely unheeded until the Whip of Hotness is, well, whipped out. So to speak. Doctore catches Spartacus around the neck and yanks him off Kerza (why why why is this so hot whyyy) onto his back in the sand, causing Sparty to lose Sura’s bit of purple fabric. He crawls desperately after it in predictable slo-mo, but the ludus’ guards treat him to a smackdown before he can reach it. Doctore, because he is smart as hell as well as hot as fuck, notices Sparty’s bizarro behaviour with interest.
Inside the ludus, the medicus is stitching up Kerza’s face, while Doctore and Batiatus ponder the events of the afternoon. Batty is wailing about his streak of shit luck: first, the legatus declines to be his beffie; and now his trainee gladiators are acting like total assholes! What’s a hardworking lanista to do, by the gods! Doctore somehow manages not to shout I TOLD YOU SO and prance a victory prance, but Batiatus can surely sense his desire to do so most urgently. Instead, Doctore urges Batty to reconsider the whole “Sparty as a gladiator” idea and instead send his unpredictable savage ass off to the mines.
MAIS NON. Batty spent good coin on Spartacus – more than on all the other trainees put together, mind you – and he will get his fucking money’s worth OR SO HELP HIM. As Batty rants and raves and waves his toddler fists of rage, Doctore the Goddamn Genius breaks out Sura’s garter, and describes Sparty’s struggles to retrieve it, despite his beatings. Batiatus recalls having seen the fabric in Glaber’s hand when he arrived at the ludus, and correctly deduces that it must be terribly important to Sparty indeed.
And then, because he’s Batiatus the Creeper, he sniffs it. You guys, idefk.
Spartacus is brought upstairs to the villa to meet with Batty in the tablinum, where Batty delivers a rousing speech on the history of his family’s ludus, and how within each man is the potential for GLORIOUS AWESOMENESS and also hot sweaty sexytimes (I am perhaps paraphrasing ever so slightly). But Our Sparty is uninterested in glory and awesomeness, Batsy. He also doesn’t give a shit about money, or power, or position. Perhaps… is it… IS IT LOVE, SPARTY? Spartacus practically bites his lip and pokes at the floor with his toe while fluttering his eyelashes, and Batty seizes the idea in his grabby little hands.
Sparty admits that he has a hot and tasty wife, Sura, and that Glaber the Meanie sold her away into slavery. And Batiatus, who would sell his own mother into slavery if it meant success in social climbing, promises Spartacus that if he’ll be the Little Gladiator That Could for the House of Batiatus, that he, Batty, personally, will see that Sparty and Sura are reunited once again.
Spartacus quite rightly asks why the FUCKING FUCK he would ever put his trust into the hands of another grotendous Roman, and Batty whips out the purple fabric all BOOYAKASHA. Sparty cannot help but fall for it. Yes, surely this will end well.
That evening, in the ludus’ courtyard, the men assemble to pass their final test. High atop a 6-foot wooden bit of scaffoldy-looking stuff, Varro is fighting Gnaeus, to the cheers of the trainees and the jeers of the gladiators. Varro takes a solid asswhupping, and the fight ends in a draw, which appears to be the same as an all-out win. In a display of their odd sense of honor, the older gladiators happily cheer Varro now that he’s one of their own, when only moments before, they were rooting for his potential defeat. Boys. So ridic. Varro and Gnaeus shake hands quite matily, and the next pair of fighters are called: Barca and Marcus.
The two men climb up onto the platform and are poised to start whacking away at each other. Dumb Marcus makes an ill-advised and clumsy charge at Barca, and Barca counters by slicing his sword into Marcus’ undefended head, killing him without so much as taking a single step. Marcus’ dead body tumbles down onto the sand, and after a moment of stunned silence, the seasoned gladiators bellow with obnoxious laughter like drunk vikings. It has come to my attention that gladiators are kind of jerks, you guys. Srsly.
And then, the greatest ever throwaway joke happens:
Lucretia: that was disappointing.
Batiatus: not every venture ends in climax.
Lucretia: a fact known well to every woman.
Naevia: *tiniest of smirks*
I adore this ridiculous fucking show, oh my god.
Doctore next calls Crixus to fight… against Spartacus, of course. I am sad that they’re not thrustily rassling naked in oil but I soldier bravely onwards, rather like a gladiator myself. *preens*
Sparty initially makes no move towards the platform, even as Kerza gives him a “wake up, jackass” punch to the shoulder. Crixus bites back a sneer, no doubt thinking that Sparty’s just afraid, and Sparty finally bestirs his fine ass to climb up.
Crixus, of course, is supremely confident and ready to kill Spartacus and be done with it, and it certainly looks like he’ll have his chance – while Crixus assumes an attack position, Sparty just stands there gormlessly, staring off into space. It’s not until he looks down at Sura’s garter, tied to his wrist, that Sparty finally shows some spirit. He pulls the garter from his wrist, holding it in his shield hand, and while Crixus laughs at him, Spartacus presses his attack.
Batty and Lucretia look interested for the first time, and the fight seems initially well-matched. But then Crixus slaps the sword from Sparacus’ hand, and when Sparty attacks with the side of his shield, Crixus takes first blood, slashing Sparty’s shield arm up high. After that, Crixus doesn’t even deign to use his sword, backhanding Sparty with the hilt of his sword repeatedly. Spartacus is soon down on his back on the platform, pinned down by Crixus’ shield.
YOU GUYS. BARCA ACTUALLY YELLS “FINISH HIIIIM!” Let us pause for a moment while we all die of lols and nip off for a quick game of MK.
Up on the balcony, Batiatus looks utterly disgusted, and gives Crixus the nod to kill Spartacus. But as Crixus prepares to whack Sparty’s head off, Sparty sees that Crixus is standing on the blade of Sparty’s own dropped sword. Sparty grabs the hilt of the sword and yanks it out from under Crixus’ foot…. and Crixus falls from the platform onto his firm and glorious butt. Lucretia leaps to her feet in horror! Her precious baby Crixus has injured his delectable self! Luce, sweetie, a little dignity please.
Spartacus hops down off the platform and stalks over to Crixus, who is still lying stunned on his back in the sand. Sparty pulls back his sword arm and prepares to skewer Crixus like delicious Crixus satay, but at the very last moment, Batiatus gives him a shout to stand the fuck down. A TENSE MOMENT OF DRAMATIC DRAMA ENSUES. Will he stop? Or won’t he? Doctore prepares to crack his sexwhip, and Crixus looks sweatily stoic.
Of course he stops, don’t be ridiculous, this is only the second goddamn episode. Batty shouts down that Spartacus has passed the damn test and to please unbunch his gladiator panties. Spartacus responds with a cautious “Dominus,” thereby acknowledging Batiatus as his boss, and Batty puffs up like a proud little banty rooster. Barca and Gnaeus pick up Crixus and carry him into the ludus, and Lucretia stomps off in a huff. Ashur grins a smug jerkass grin, and Varro stands around looking like a wide-eyed fanboy. ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
The episode closes with Spartacus taking the gladiator’s oath and kneeling to receive his B-brand, the mark of the gladiatorial brotherhood. He doesn’t look particularly thrilled, and neither does anyone else.
NEXT WEEK! Batty still hates Solonius! Lucretia wants some bling! Sparty and Varro are hip-deep in the shit! And Crixus has no fucking game at all, oh my god.