Spartacus: Blood & Sand – 1.04 – The Thing in the Pit

PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND! Sparty and Varro are stuck in the shit! Lucretia goes a-shopping! Crixus goes a-wooing! Varro gets his freak on! And Sparty’s prideful plotting plummets him precariously down a precipice of pain. (aww yeah.)

*****

A mostly-recovered Sparty is led out of the insula and onto the ludus’ training sands, and flung rather ignominiously to his face by the cliffside. He lies there sulkily in his tiny gladiator panties as Batiatus proceeds to tear him a new one for his pathetic loss against Crixus in the arena. Batty feels that Spartacus has broken their bargain, wherein Batty would agree to look for Sura and Sparty would agree to be the bestest little gladiator who ever gladiatored. Sparty tries to defend himself but Batiatus is far too cranky to heed him. Spartacus had the love of the crowd for his defeat of the 4 gladiators sent to execute him, but has now lost their love due to his sad performance against the totally awesome Crixus.

Batty throws out a few sneering remarks about how this will likely make it harder for him to search for Sura, and all of Spartacus’ penitence is lost – he writhes about in the sand, demanding that Batty return to the search immediately! “BITCH PLZ” is Batty’s measured response. No, Sparty’s not getting any favors today, no way no how. It’ll cost coin that they can’t afford to hunt for Sura, and the crowd is no longer interested in seeing Spartacus fight in the arena. So it’s off to The Pits he must go. The Pits! The vile lawless Pits of the Underworld! Two men enter, one man leaves! I predict this shall be gory beyond belief.

*****

Spartacus is flung down on a table, where Ashur bizarrely begins rubbing dirt and sand all over him. Spartacus looks as revolted as I do by this sudden turn of events. STOP PAWING AT HIM, ASHUR. Ashur then foolishly makes a move towards Sura’s garter, ever-present on Sparty’s arm, and Sparty flips his shit, forcing Barca to sit on him. Batiatus convinces Sparty to leave the garter in the ludus for safekeeping, and Spartacus grumpily agrees.

Batiatus makes his way back up to the villa, and Doctore stops him for a quick word – he’s heard rumours that Spartacus is to be sent to the pits, and is concerned. Doctore reminds Batty that his father, the late Titus, would never have allowed such things when he was alive, which, let’s face it, is not really a well-measured argument, all things considered. Batty is adamant – money is needed, and The Pits is where money can be found. And if Spartacus is going to act like a savage untrained asshole, he might as well be unleashed somewhere where that will be to everyone’s benefit. Doctore gives Batty an epic stinkeye but says no more.

*****

Upstairs in the villa, a slightly grimy Lucretia bemoans the lack of water for bathing, as Naevia rubs her feet. She calls for perfume, but there is hardly any left – another sign of their waning fortunes. Lucretia makes the best of it, vowing to save the last few drops as a sacrifice for the gods.

Batiatus arrives, searching for his dagger, and Lucretia wonders why he would even need it in the first place. When he tells her of his plans to put Spartacus to fight in the Pits for the money it will bring them, she is somewhat less thrilled than he’d clearly been expecting, to put it mildly. Lucretia pitches a glorious fit, stomping away with an enraged hiss. While the idea of sending Spartacus off to his probable death is pleasing to her, the thought of her husband mingling with filthy violent criminals is most certainly not. But Batty’s got it all planned out – Barca will stand as his bodyguard, and everything will be dandy! Mmkay.

Batiatus then informs Lucretia that since Crixus was such a success in the arena, he should be rewarded with some hotass sexytimes! Although Batiatus surely means to have a slave girl sent to Crixus, Lucretia has ideas of her own. SEXY IDEAS. It’s kind of embarrassing how obvious she is about her affair with him, tbh.

*****

Down on the sands, Crixus is sparring sweatily with Varro, all glistening taut muscles and tiny gladiator panties. Me likey. Barca drags Spartacus out to the gate to wait beside Kerza, who presumably also did not fare will in the arena. Varro and Crixus stop their fighting to watch, and Varro, bestest beffie ever, is concerned that Spartacus is being sent away. Crixus is not terribly helpful, telling Varro that Sparty is being sent “to the Underworld, where he belongs.” DUN DUN DUUUN. Kerza is pretty close to panicking, and vows to not die in the Pits, because he is a mighty warrior of awesomeness and kickassery! Yeah, I lol’d too.

*****

Aaaaand we next see Kerza getting his face beat in with an ironbound wooden hammer, down in the Pits. Blood and teeth splatter everywhere as he falls limply to the ground. His opponent, Ixion, a grotendous looking fighter with someone else’s peeled-off face attached to his head, is covered in gore and playing to the screaming, drunken, blood-smeared crowd. Batty angrily shouts for Kerza to get up and fight, and Kerza struggles to his knees. Before he can regain his feet, Ixion smashes Kerza’s head open with a few vicious blows from the hammer, leaving him (hopefully) dead. Hopefully, because the next thing Ixion does is PEEL OFF HIS FUCKING FACE WITH A HOOK ARGH WTF DID NOT WANT. I curse my 40″ HDTV and fling myself to the floor, forgetting entirely that I can just fast forward instead. Sigh.

Batiatus stomps off from the ring in a huff, presumably to berate Spartacus once again for getting them all into this mess in the first place, but Ashur interjects with a whispered warning that Ovidius the grain merchant approaches, followed by his usual thuggish bodyguard. Oh yes, didn’t Batty promise to settle his debt on this very day, plus 30% interest? Oh dear, how embarrassing.

I note that Ovidius appears to be wearing an incredibly ridiculous wig, and cackle derisively. Batiatus smarms at Ovidius ingratiatingly, but Ovidius is having none of his crap. Bitch better have his money, y’all. Ovidius wants to know exactly why Batiatus would be found here, in the Pits, betting with money that he technically still owes, which, let’s face it, is a legit point. They snarl and yap at each other like enraged chihuahuas, but the presence of their respective bodyguards prevents any brawling or leg-humping. Ovidius is forced to concede, as it’s his one lunkhead against Barca, Spartacus, and Ashur (who, while leg-engimpened, is still a trained and branded gladiator), and swirls his cape menacingly before flying off back to his evil castle with his giant Renfield.

Back in the ring, Ixion hold up Kerza’s peeled-off face triumphantly, and I barf a little inside my mouth. A huge ringleader with a gilded crown declairs Ixion the obvious winner, and Kerza’s body is dragged off the bloodsoaked sand. Spartacus is unchained and led from his cell by various guards with unpleasant-looking piercings, and comes face to face with Kerza’s dripping ex-face as Ixion struts away. Batty and Spartacus share a grim look, and Sparty heads into the ring.

*****

Meanwhile, at the villa,  Naevia leads Crixus to Lucretia’s bedroom for his promised sexytimes, and Crixus asks why she’s not wearing the necklace he gave her. Naevia looks at him as though he’s the dumbest dumbfuck ever to dumb, and tells his to hush his fool mouth. She then quickly tells him she can’t accept his gift, and returns it to him as he stands there gormlessly. Crixus, typical huffy man, stalks off all hurt before Naevia can explain her reasons for returning the gift, and now Naevia’s the one left standing foolishly.

Crixus finds Lucretia in the gladiator statue room, absentmindedly fondling the carved stone cocks on each plinth. They exchange some lusty witticisms, and then Lucretia notices Crixus has something in his hands – it’s the necklace returned to him by Naevia. Lucretia is delighted by the supposed gift, and tells him to put in on her. Then, as per usual, they go at it like knives right there on the floor. WHEE. Crixus looks a little silly with his ratty sandals still on, ngl, but Lucretia more than makes up for it with her gilded and chained pasties. I burn to know how historically accurate this kind of adornment is, people! BURN. Meanwhile, Naevia peeps at them from the shadows, and looks pained to see Lucretia wearing the necklace.

*****

Back over in the Pits, the filthy crowd is roaring their approval for the next round, where Spartacus will fight Myrmex, a creepy-looking dude wearing unnecessary leather strappy bits. Batiatus notes glumly that Spartacus does not appear to have much favour from the crowds, and Ashur the sycophant readily agrees. The ringleader whips the crowd into an even wilder frenzy, and Spartacus and Myrmex are made to choose the tokens denoting their weapons blindly from a pot. The pot, might I point out, is brought over by an amputee hermaphrodite with a golden cuff over hir arm stump, because really, that’s what this show is all about – little details that make the viewer go o_O as often as possible.

Myrmex draws sphairai, some spiky horrible knuckledusters, and Spartacus draws caestus, your standard brass knuckles. As the ringleader announces the only rule – fight til one man is dead – Batiatus and Ashur quietly discuss the potential odds placed on the fight. Ashur is dispatched into the crowd to place bets on Spartacus, and the fight begins.

Myrmex, showing himself to be a gross creeper, uses his sphairai to gouge his own mouth open, and spits a mouthful of blood in Sparty’s face. Despite not being blinded, Spartacus does not seem to be faring very well in this first fight. Myrmex quickly has him cornered, slashing his face, and then holds him by the neck to stab him in the eye. Spartacus barely escapes the blinding, and Myrmex kicks him about with obnoxious ease.

Up on the balcony, Batiatus is at one with rage and horror, shrieking at Spartacus to DO SOMETHING ALREADY. Sparty rolls at Myrmex’s legs, knocking him over, and scampers out of the corner. NOBODY PUTS SPARTY IN THE CORNER YOU GUYS. As Myrmex advances, Spartacus grabs his spiked-up hands and uses them to hit Myrmex in his own face with his own hands. Myrmex gets in a few slashes to Sparty’s flank with his free hand, but the fight has turned in Sparty’s favour. Spartacus grabs a nearby hanging meathook and hooks Myrmex under his chin, leaving Myrmex to bleed out.

And how quickly Sparty regains the crowd’s adoration! Those flighty whores. Batiatus is similarly elated, instructing Barca to give Spartacus a quick rest, and then set him to fighting again.

*****

Later, back at the ludus, the medicus is stitching up Spartacus’ many slashes and wounds. Sparty still seems a bit dazed from the savagery of the fight, and drifts off into a daydream of Sura, worried about his injuries and cautioning him to be careful. What the fuck, Sura, you were all about the sexy sexings in that last daydream. Spartacus needs encouragement, not worrying! Apparently Sura agrees, telling Spartacus once again to “kill them all”. The medicus’ wholly unsanitary-looking stitching needle stabbing through his flesh startles Sparty out of his daydream and back to his grimy, exhausted reality. Aww. No dream sexings for you today.

Upstairs, Lucretia is resting in their bedroom when Batiatus returns triumphantly. She’s worried that Batty will soon be returning to the Pits, and he reminds her that they’ve profited greatly from the evening’s fights. Lucretia doesn’t care as much as Batty’d hoped – she’s worried that something horrible will befall him and she’ll be left alone and husbandless, and without an heir to inherit the ludus, she’ll be forced to remarry. But Batty is adamant – until Spartacus dies in the Pits, Batty will continue to send him to fight and earn much-needed money.

Batty’s cajoling good humor fades when he sees the new necklace Lucretia’s wearing, assuming that she’s gone shopping YET AGAIN. Lucretia can’t very well admit it was a present from her hotass gladiator lover, and pretends it was an old necklace she rediscovered. Lucretia offers to return the expensive emerald necklace she bought to impress Ilithyia (a failure, alas), but Batiatus is offended by the suggestion that his wife would be forced to return jewelry.

*****

Sexytimes are happening down in the ludus, but it’s not Spartacus entwined in a victory hump as one might imagine. It’s Barca, sweatily taking a delighted Pietros roughly from behind, and my “gay gladiator buttsex” tag finally sees some trufax action. The ludus guards drag Spartacus, stitched and bloody and half-asleep, past the cell of mansex, and toss him into his old cell with the rest of the new recruits.

Varro is pleased to see his battered, sorry-looking ass, but the other recruits are not so welcoming. Hamilcar, after inquiring about Kerza, tells Spartacus that this cell is for REAL gladiators, not scruffy pit fighters, and Varro is ready to throw down for his beffie. Hamilcar wisely backs down, but Spartacus thinks they’re prolly right – he’s still pretty dazed by his bloody day. Varro admits that he knows a bit too much about the pits, having spent rather a lot of time – and coin – gambling on the fights there, during his checkered past. Varro rambles on a bit about how the Pits turn men into vicious beasts, but wee baby Sparty’s already fallen asleep. I think he might be dribbling a little, actually. Varro finds it quite endearing.

*****

The next morning, in the marketplace, Lucretia is arguing with the jeweler as she tries to sell her necklace back. The jeweler offers her less than half what she paid for it, and Lucretia has enough sense to be offended. While they begin to start haggling in earnest, Smarmy Solonius smarms over smarmily and gives Lucretia his usual appreciative leer. Lucretia looks momentarily mortified to be caught in such an indignity by her husband’s archnemesis, but quickly rallies her snark and unleashes it upon him when he offers to purchase it from her for the full price. Does the long-unmarried Solonius have a woman in mind for the necklace, she wonders aloud with a blatant smirk. Oh yes, he certainly does. HER, in fact.

Lucretia all but laughs in his face, and then turns to accept the jeweler’s crappy offer of 14 denarii. She and Solonius banter with a bit more snark and flirtation, until Solonius brings out the big guns – he’s heard about Batty bringing his men to fight in the Pits. Romans, so gossipy. Lucretia gives Solonius her best fake-ass Regina George smile and tells him it’s only temporary, but clearly feels that she’s lost the upper hand in the exchange.

*****

Hamilcar and Gnaeus are sparring back at the ludus, and Gnaeus is victorious in just a few snappy moves. Doctore instructs the watching gladiators to study their opponents in the arena and learn from their flaws, lest they end up sent to the Pits like poor Sparty. The men laugh, but Doctore thinks it’s no loling matter – Sparty is firsthand evidence of what will happen in the men fuck up and don’t attend to their training. He might as well draw a giant L for LOSER on Sparty’s face, as far as the men are concerned. They shuffle off to eat their daily meal, leaving Spartacus alone in his corner of disgrace. Sweet little Pietros comes over to bring him some food, because he is a sweet little twinky sweetiepie, and Spartacus barely has time to thank him before Barca calls Pietros away.

Barca and Crixus share a smug laugh over the prospect that Pietros might prefer Spartacus to Barca, and Ashur takes that moment to stagger over matily and inquire about the necklace he got for Naevia. Bad move, Ashur. As usual. Crixus flings Ashur to the ground for bringing that secret favour up in front of Barca, but the damage is already done – Barca’s intrigued by this secret, and is certain the situation involves Naevia. Batiatus calls down to Barca from the balcony, ending their conversation, and plans commence for that evening’s fights in the Pits.

*****

Spartacus is down in the Pits, wielding a bloody gladius against some tattooed dude with a ball and chain flail. Flail!Dude has the apparent advantage, and Batiatus wails in despair, but soon enough both weapons are dropped and Sparty commences an epic beatdown on FlailDude using only his brass-knuckled fists and a whole lot of crazypants rage. The fight ends messily as Spartacus jams his thumbs into his opponent’s eyeballs and then snaps his neck.

As the crowd shrieks their approval, Spartacus has a momentary vision of Sura in the back of the crowd, with a woeful and sobby expression on her lovely face. On second glance, she disappears, and Spartacus is led out of the ring. Meanwhile, a ridiculously shifty-looking member of the crowd watches Batiatus and Ashur descend the staircase, discussing Spartacus’ favourable odds.

*****

Over at the ludus, Crixus is summoned by the guards, and led off to the stairs up to the villa, where Naevia awaits. But it is all a cunning ruse! Lucretia has not summoned him for sexytimes at all – Naevia wants to talk to him about the necklace. Namely, why the fuck is Lucretia wearing it if Crixus purchased it for Naevia? Crixus laughs a totally disgusted laugh, and asks her why she even gives a shit in the first place – didn’t Naevia cruelly reject his gift of loooooove?

Actually, Crixus, no, she didn’t. See, what Crixus didn’t realize is that there is not one single thing that Naevia owns that was not given to her specifically by Lucretia. So Lucretia would most certainly fucking notice if Naevia was wearing a brand new opal necklace, and she would be pissed as all hell if she found out it was from Crixus. Is Crixus really so dumb that he wouldn’t realize this?

Derp derp. Crixus feels dopey, as well he should. He apologizes for being a dumbass, but Naevia’s in the middle of a rant about how dumb he is and barely notices his intent to kiss her into silence until he does just that. Naevia kisses him back rather desperately before fleeing in shock, and Crixus smiles a goofy little smile of dopey adoration. SQUEE.

*****

Downstairs in the baths, Spartacus relives his day of fighting again and again and again as the bloodthirsty crowd shrieks wildly. Soon Sparty is lost once again in his daydreams of Sura, who worries that he’s losing himself in all the blood. Varro interrupts his musings to tell him that he looks like crap, because that’s what friends are for. Poor bebeh Spartacus can barely distinguish his dreams of Sura from the reality of his conversation with Varro, but is lucid enough to refuse Varro’s offering of mandrake root to numb the pain.

*****

Ashur and Batiatus are in the tablinum, tallying up Spartacus’ winnings for the day, which are unfortunately not enough to settle Batty’s many debts. Batiatus instructs Ashur to pay out all the most pressing debts, but leave Ovidius’ unpaid. Lucretia, overhearing this conversation,
is outraged that a debt to Ovidius, the magistrate’s cousin, would be left unpaid, but Batty’s confident that his decision is the wisest. He is the man of the house, by the gods! lol.

Lucretia throws down the money she got for her emeralds and storms away, and Batty scampers after her, equally put out that she disobeyed him by returning them. Lucretia isn’t going to stand for that shit and tells him so immediately, and Batty actually looks kind of ashamed. They’re so in love, you guys! It is almost sweet. Batiatus makes some bitchy comments about women and business deals when he finds out that Lucretia only got 14 denarii for the necklace, but she shuts him up by telling him of Solonius’ rejected offer.

*****

Alone in his cell, Sparty is having nightmares again. He dreams that Batiatus has found Sura, and she’s waiting for him outside, overlooking the cliffs. As Spartacus runs to embrace his wife, a thunderstorm starts, and Sura begs him to save her before the rains come to wash everything away. The raindrops turn to blood and Sura is soaked immediately, and Sparty screams himself awake.

*****

The next morning, Barca and Ashur are getting Spartacus ready for his day’s fighting. Spartacus looks like 10 pounds of shit in a 9 pound bag, but Barca seems to have gained some respect for him, having lasted as long as he has in the Pits.

Batiatus enters to tell him he’s been fighting well and profitably, but Spartacus interrupts to tell Batty about his dream of Sura, and of his plans to save her this very evening. Spartacus outlines his scheme – he will fight this one last time for Batiatus, and Batty will bet all his coin on Spartacus’ high odds…. for Spartacus to lose. Spartacus promises sacrifice his own life on the word of Batiatus that Sura will be saved, and Batiatus agrees right away. Batty’s obviously totally thrilled to have all his problems solved in one neat package – his debts will be settled, and he’ll finally be rid of the troublesome Spartacus. Because of course everything is going to work out as planned. Poor stupid Batty.

*****

That night, in the Pits, Spartacus looks more alive than we’ve seen him in ages – he’s set and ready to fight and die for his beloved hotass wife. Spartacus’ opponent for this historic fight is the grotendous Ixion, wearing Kerza’s rotting face. How hygienic. Out in the crowd, Ashur assures Batty that the large bet against Spartacus has been placed in such a way as to disguise their gaming of the odds.

Ixion draws the bipennis, two dual-headed axes, and Spartacus draws the sica, a long spiked sword, and the fight begins. Sparty puts on a convincing performance of not losing too easily, and the fight seems initially well-matched, with Sparty even prevailing at first, and knocking away one of Ixion’s axes. Meanwhile, the shifty-looking character in the crowd from the last fight motions to his equally shifty-looking companion, and they make their way through the throng towards Batty, Ashur, and Barca.

With his one remaining axe, Ixion yanks Sparty’s sword from his hands and throws it aside, leaving Sparty weaponless. OH NOES. Ixion then uses the axe handle to knock Spartacus to the ground, but Batiatus worries that the fight will end too soon. Sparty looks out into the crowd, locking eyes with Batiatus, seeking permission to end the fight and die as planned. But even as Batty nods his agreement, Spartacus sees the shifty-looking character pull out a short knife and lunge at Batiatus’ undefended back.

Spartacus shouts in alarm, and Barca moves to intercept the assassin while Ashur drags Batty away from the fracas. Spartacus is left fighting for his life in the ring, terrified that Batty will die and his sacrifice will be for nothing. And his worries are well-founded, for as Barca is busy fucking up Assassin #1, Assassin #2 sneaks up behind Batiatus and Ashur and goes in for the kill, landing a slash on Batty’s torso.

Barca stabs Assassin #1 to death with his own knife, but is not fast enough to get to Batiatus in time to defend him. Spartacus, seeing all his plans turn to death and shit, grabs Ixion’s discarded axe, slashes Ixion’s throat open in a huge gout of blood, and then throws the axe into the back of the second assassin, saving Batty’s life but losing his enormous bet. Batty and Spartacus stare at each other across the crowd with equal expressions of dismayed wtfery.

*****

Ashur and Barca drag the dead assassins outside into the alley, and inspect them for marks of identification. Batty is interrupted mid-rant at Barca for his lack of attention to the second man when Ashur notices that the assassins are marked with brands – they’re slaves, sent by their owner to do his dirty work. Batiatus is now even more outraged that his life was almost ended by lowly slaves, and has a stampy hissy fit, kicking the corpses like a fractious toddler. Er. If toddlers commonly kicked dead bodies, I mean. Ashur is dispatched to locate the slaves’ owner, presumably so Batty can have Barca kick ass and take names.

*****

Back home at the villa, Lucretia is at her altar, praying for a blessing on her ladyparts – Luce still wants a baby like whoa. She’s excited to see Batty has returned, so they can get busy with the baby-making, but is appalled to see that he’s wounded. Just wait til she hears how he lost all their coin in a bet. *snickers*

Lovely bloodthirsty Lucretia insists that he tell her who is responsible for this outrage, so that she’ll know who she needs to kill, but alas, they’re already dead, at Sparty and Barca’s hands. Lucretia can’t help but say I TOLD YOU SO, and Batty is left to reluctantly confess to his agreement with Spartacus and the unfortunate outcome of it all. Lucretia is fucking incandescent with rage, blaming Spartacus for every bad thing ever in the history of things that are bad, and works herself into a fine froth. Batiatus patiently explains that if Spartacus hadn’t acted as he did, that he, Batty, would now be dead and Lucretia would be a penniless widow. SO THERE. Lucretia doesn’t give a shit, she still blames the entire situation on Spartacus – she’s decided that he was cursed by the gods themselves.

*****

Downstairs in the ludus, Spartacus sits alone to await what he assumes will be his grim fate. Doctore leads him outside to speak with Batiatus, and all agree that Spartacus certainly does seem to be legit cursed by the gods. Spartacus plays to Batiatus’ small but undeniable level of personal honor, reminding him of their agreement, and Batty decides to let him live – a life for a life, Batty’s for Sparty’s. He further agrees to continue the search for Sura, and allows Spartacus to regain his status as a gladiator. YAYS.

*****

NEXT WEEK! Crixus and Spartacus, together at last, together forever! (in the arena, dudes.) Batiatus takes care of his debts in the bloodiest way possible! And a legend is made.

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