Spartacus: Blood & Sand – 1.05 – Shadow Games

PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND! All kinds of brawlin’ and all kinds of ballin’! Batty gets shanked! Lucretia gets laid! Sparty gets paid! Whips are cracked and asses are tapped! And Naevia and Crixus are woobily in love.

*****

Ah, the ubiquitous gladiator training sequence – buff men in tiny man panties sweating in the hot sun, muscles flexing and rippling as Doctore’s whip cracks in the background. THANK YOU STARZ. The men are in two lines, facing one another, switching partners at regular intervals. Of course, as soon as Spartacus and Crixus are paired, they only have eyes for each other, and no amount of bellowing and whip-cracking can tear them asunder! Spartacus ends up on his perky ass in the sand, and even Crixus seems a little confused as to how they got there.

What’s the reason for all this training frenzy, then? It’s the upcoming games sponsored by Magistrate Calavius, of course. In the middle of Doctore’s inspiring speech about glorious victory for them all in the arena, the heat and the never-ending drought has Gnaeus swooning daintily in the sun. The men titter like schoolgirls. Huge, sweaty, muscular schoolgirls…. with … swords. Yeah, I don’t really know where I’m going with this, do I.

*****

Batiatus stands in the center of the bone-dry impluvium, flailing to the gods for some fucking rain, already! I’m not sure you’d really like the requested rain from Jupiter’s cock, Batty. Think before you speak! Before he can descend into more wild blasphemy, Lucretia brings him a recently delivered note, and promises of good news.

Magistrate Calavius writes to inform them of his plans to come to the ludus and personally select the men he wants for his games. Batty and Lucretia deduce that the only reason Calavius would come in person is to select the men for the primus, squee! A few bellows from Batty send the house slaves running about to prepare food and fetch the last of the house’s water – it also sends his stab wound to bleeding again, staining his robe. Lucretia urges Batiatus to mention the attack in the Pits to the Magistrate upon his arrival, somehow not realizing that this would involve admitting he was gambling in the Pits in the first place. Bloodthirsty Batty promises to attend to the matter himself, which obviously means that someone is gonna die.

*****

In some grotty back alley of Capua’s marketplace, Ashur and Barca have cornered Marcellus, a scruffy syphilitic creeper, and are badgering him for information. It’s remarkable how much of an ice breaker it is to throw down a hacked up, maggot-infested torso when interrogating informants, isn’t it? Scruffy Marcellus McSyphilis, shaking in his sandals, whimpers that the origin of the torso’s brand is a mystery to him, so clever Ashur suggests a closer look. Naturally this means that Barca smashes Marcellus’ face into the maggots. SHOW. WHY YOU DO THIS. Marcellus concedes that perhaps the markings are somewhat familiar after all.

I might be reading too much into this silly show, but it seems like Barca gets along reasonably well with Ashur when Crixus the Instigator isn’t around to stir the shit. I don’t think Barca has much respect for Ashur as a man, and certainly has none for him as a (failed) gladiator, but I think Barca’s smart enough to acknowledge that when you need someone to be a sneaky, crafty, shystey bastard, Ashur is your best bet, and woe betide anyone on the opposite team. Unfortunately, I think this might mean that Barca could be foolish enough to trust Ashur to some extent, which never works out well for anyone.

*****

Batty is putting on a fashion show for Lucretia in their bedroom, showing off his stylin new robes of gold embroidered red and green, red gold and greeeeeeen. (please pardon this entry’s now-inevitable slide into 80s madness.) Naevia interrupts them before their sartorialist lusts can get the better of them – the Magistrate has arrived! Batiatus struts out in his new duds, adjusting his boner, to magnanimously greet Calavius, but is stopped mid-sentence by a most unfortunate and unwelcome addition to the party – what the shit is Solonius doing here? A betrayal most foul!

Batty smiles his falsest smile while Calavius and Solonius bestow the most backhanded of compliments upon the House of Batiatus – all they want to do is talk about how awesome Batty’s dad Titus was. Batty puts a good face on it, promising to serve as a lanista as well as Titus would, and off they go to the tablinum to discuss business, and the more pressing matter of the drought. Despite numous animal sacrifices, the gods remain displeased – Calavius believes this means that the gods want the blood of men instead. Thus shall the upcoming games be sine missione, no quarter given.

The trio proceeds to the balcony to watch the gladiators train. While Solonius’ men are to fight in the primus, the Magistrate reminds him that the opponents have not yet been chosen. Naturally, Batiatus pushes for Crixus, and the Magistrate readily agrees, marking it a “contest between legends”. Batty makes his o_O face, wondering what poxy man of Solonius’ could possibly be considered legendary – it seems that Solonius has persuaded Theokeles, the Shadow of Death, to leave his retirement and return to the arena for one more fight. Yes, the same Theokeles who put the mighty and asskicking Oenomaus – now Doctore – himself out of commission for an entire year. In the background, Lucretia and Naevia both have the same blank, breathless expression of abject horror on their faces. Even Batty looks a little nauseated, as the Magistrate witters on expansively about how super awesome spectacular his games are going to be.

Luckily, Batty’s cunning and quick thinking save the day, as he suggests that the fight would seem unbalanced, as only one man has ever stood alone against Theokeles and survived. Good Solonius, practically twiddling his fingertips together in a most Mr. Burnsian fashion, innocently proposes that Spartacus join Crixus in the arena, and the Magistrate all but double dog dares Batty to comply. Despite Lucretia’s pasty face of doom and emphatic eyebrows of denial, Batty accepts the challenge, and moves to announce his decision to the men below.

Oh, the look on Crixus’ face! When Batty tells Crixus to step forward, he’s got his usual stonefaced calm expression, with perhaps the tiniest of pleased, expectant smiles. But oh, when Batty calls Spartacus forward, Crixus gives himself a nasty case of TMJ and just barely manages not to hiss with icy reptilian hindbrain rage. It only gets worse when Batiatus continues on, telling them that they’ve been chosen to fight together – Crixus now looks like a bulldog chewing a lemon with a wasp inside it. That’s nothing compared to the look on Doctore’s face when Theokeles’ name comes up, though – it’s a finely honed mix of “bitch plz” and “oh no you din’t”. Crixus and Doctore are both smart enough to look a bit anxious, but Sparty just stands there sort of gormlessly, glancing back and forth between the men, slowly but surely gauging their concern.

*****

Later that afternoon, the gladiators are laughing and carousing and generally being noisy jackasses, but Crixus is aparently too deep in thought to join in. Instead, he’s staring across the crowd at Spartacus, seated in his usual corner with Varro. Spartacus would obviously rather fight without Crixus, but Varro tells him it doesn’t really matter – he’ll die either way. The Legendary Theokeles, says Varro the inveterate fanboy, has been cut a thousand times in the arena, and still remains undefeated. Sparty’s one-track mind is more concerned with his potential winnings, though – just how much does he stand to win if he and Crixus defeat Theokeles? Big pimpin, spendin G’s, bitches. Surely enough to free 10 Suras from up in the Syrian’s hizzouse. Spartacus ponders this idea, and goes back to eyefucking Crixus from across the room.

*****

Upstairs, Doctore is airing his many and well-founded concerns to Batiatus and Lucretia. Beyond the fact that Doctore believes that Crixus and Spartacus don’t stand much of a chance, even together, he’s far more concerned with his own vengeance. Doctore’s dying to get back into the arena and do some ass-whupping, and Theokeles’ ass has his whupping’s name on it. Batiatus isn’t interested in Doctore’s notions of glory and vengeance, however, and insists that Doctore turn these wild passions towards giving Crixus and Sparty the best possible training instead – if not to win, then at least to achieve a glorious death. Once again, in the background, Lucretia and Naevia share the same expression of nauseated fear.

Meanwhile, Barca and Ashur have returned triumphant from a long day of intelligence-gathering in the shadier areas of Capua’s marketplace. Their intel reveals that the unfamiliar brands on last week’s assassins belong to Remus, a slave trader working out in the northern suburbs. While the name is unknown to both Batty and Ashur, they quickly realize that this means that whoever hired the assassins was merely trying to cover their tracks. Ashur and Barca are dispatched once more, this time to bring in Remus for questioning.

*****

Later that evening, downstairs at the ludus gate, Naevia brings Crixus a carefully hoarded skin of water. Crixus smiles foolishly, thinking it a gift from Naevia herself, but NO, it is from Lucretia instead. Bye bye smileys. Crixus guzzles it down like a beer bonging fratboy nevertheless, and bounds after Naevia before she can depart. The stare moonily at each other through the gate, smiling the dopiest and most adoring smiles this show has ever seen, and are generally completely fucking adorable, oh my god.

Crixus struts happily through the insula with his waterskin, until he reaches Spartacus’ cell. Sparty, immediately sensing DANGER WILL ROBINSON, leaps to his feet and tries to fend off what he assumes is yet another argument over who is the prettiest. But Crixus isn’t there for wild fisticuffs – he wants to bellow about how much it sucks to be fighting together with Spartacus instead. When Spartacus tries to placate Crixus by offering to work together to defeat Theokeles, Crixus flies into a flaily macho rage, as per usual. Crixus pities the fool who thinks that he, the legendary Crixus, needs help in the arena! Spartacus appeals to his logic, which is clearly a silly plan, because Crixus is too busy telling him to quit his jibba jabba to even listen. All the glory, all the fame, all the adulation of the crowd – it will all belong to Crixus, as is his due, by god! Oy vey. Spartacus’ final cry of “LIVE TOGETHER OR DIE ALONE” seems to have only the slightest effect upon Crixus’ mighty ego.

*****

Early the next morning, the men are beginning their day’s training, and Ashur and Barca are getting ready to go hunt down Remus the slave trader. Ashur posits that Sparty and Crixus (Crixacus? Sparxus? lol.) don’t stand a chance against Theokeles, but Barca’s not willing to speak against his beffie Crixus. Ashur’s happy to take his bet against what he sees as insurmountable odds, obviously. Way to go, Barca, do you really think he’s not going to cheat you somehow? Argh.

Before the two men can get underway, Pietros scampers out in a huff, worried that Barca was leaving without mentioning anything to him. Barca coldly tells him to stop acting like a sissy bitch, but relents when Pietros breaks out the Bambi eyes that he wields so well. YOU GUYS, THEY ARE SO ADORBS. A few moony smiles and kisses later, Pietros gets back to his day as the weapons runner, and Barca sets off on his hunt. And oh dear, what’s this – I’m not at all sure I like the way Gnaeus is looking at Pietros. Not one bit.

*****

Lucretia and Batty are strolling through the villa, arguing about the upcoming visit from the glorious and delightful Ilithyia. Lucretia’s hoping that a few words from Ilithyia’s father, Senator Albinius, to the Magistrate, will allow them to remove Crixus from the primus and his certain death. Batty’s not having any of that shit, though, as he knows full well that both the Magistrate and Solonius deliberately manoeuvred him into this, and that there’s no graceful way out. As Lucretia works herself into a fine froth over the potential loss of her magnificent Crixus, Ilithyia arrives, looking as delicious as ever. Batty hisses a warning to Lucretia to not even mention the situation, and swans off to greet Ilithyia.

Ilithyia and Lucretia, as usual, seem only moments from making out wildly, and inexplicably Batty chooses to go off to attend to lanista business instead of sticking around. What a derp. Ilithyia barely notices him leave, as she’s far more interested in discussing the local gossip that Spartacus and Crixus will fight together against Theokeles. When Lucretia confirms the tale, Ilithyia pretty much jizzes her pretty pink panties – she can’t wait to see Spartacus die. Oh my little bloodthirsty princess.

*****

Down on the training sands, Spartacus and Crixus are being torn to tragic pieces by Doctore, who is fighting them both at once and defeating them with shameful ease. You guys, this is so fucking hot. I CANNOT EVEN. For all Crixus’ arrogance and skill, for all Sparty’s pride and cunning, neither of them is even close to a match for Doctore when he gives it his all. And you definitely get the sense that Doctore is not, in fact, giving it his all – he’s barely breathing heavily, while Sparty and Crixus pant sweatily in little sad heaps on the sand. Despite Doctore’s most rage-filled shouts and exhortations, Crixus just can’t bring himself to fight together with Spartacus as a team – he won’t even let Spartacus help him up from his undignified sprawl. He’s too used to being the star of the show, and sees Sparty’s attempts at working together as attempts to steal glory, not to survive. Crixus, you dumbass. Once again, Doctore administers a ruthless smackdown.

Up on the balcony, Ilithyia is watching, enraptured, as the men train. She’s also drinking up the last of the water, but Lucretia is too polite a hostess to stop her. At first I thought her excitement was due to Spartacus being defeated again and again, but no! Ilithyia, silly unknowing Ilithyia, is leering hungrily at Crixus. O snap. Lucretia gently grinds her teeth with a smile as Ilithyia sets off on yet another dreamy recitation of all Crixus’ many alluring manly qualities.

*****

Back on the sands, Doctore is losing the tattered remains of his patience, and frankly so am I. Crixus is acting like an idiot child, sulkily refusing to play with Spartacus, who really isn’t much better at this point. OH BOYS. Soon enough, the two are on their backs in the sand, and Doctore stomps off muttering about how pathetic they are. I CONCUR.

Ilithyia, meanwhile, has an agenda of her own – she wants a closer look at these savage sweaty manbeasts, by the gods! Lucretia, unwilling to allow Ilithyia to go down into the ludus, agrees to stage a private showing in the villa, waving off all mention of payment between friends. Delighted, Ilithyia promises to return the favor, as she’s given a lot of thought to Lucretia’s “problem”. I sense some absentminded cruelty coming on.

And Ilithyia never disappoints – once again, she points out Lucretia’s painful lack of children, and offers to arrange for a fertility priestess to come and perform a ritual for Lucretia. Lucretia seems hesitant, probably wondering what the terrible catch is, but once Ilithyia lists the many famous and wealthy Roman women who have undergone the ritual to great success, Lucretia decides to accept the offer.

As we all know, I love Ilithyia to bits, especially because she is so completely horrible and spoiled and bitchy, but I really do think she’s doing this out of kindness and friendship, and with no ulterior motives. WE SHALL SEE.

*****

Later that evening in the ludus’ baths, Spartacus tries once more to convince Crixus to work together with him in harmony harmony oh love, but Crixus insists that the only reason he had trouble fighting against Doctore was that Sparty was in the way all the time. Um, Crixus, sweetie? Maybe you should watch the instant replay of you getting your ass kicked again and again and again. That was all you.

And now the real reason for Crixus’ endless animosity comes out – he hates Spartacus because while he, Crixus, is fighting to honor the ludus and his brother gladiators, Spartacus is only fighting to gain his freedom. It sounds like a logical complaint until Spartacus refutes it by telling Crixus that they fight not for honor, but because they’re slaves. Oh no he din’t. See, Crixus has accepted his fate as a gladiator, but Spartacus is too busy dreaming of his freedom and his wife and a real life outside the ludus, and Crixus cannot stand such goddamn bullshit.

Soon enough, the boys are rolling around on the floor all naked and lubricated, cocks a-swinging. Never before have I enjoyed an obnoxious brawl more, dear readers. Alas, cruel Doctore breaks up the fight before they can start humping legs, but instead of sending them off to bed without any pudding, they’re sent up to the villa, for Ilithyia’s private showing of hotness. YAYS.

*****

The girls are lounging in the triclinium – probably eating ghastly stuffed dormice and lark’s tongues – as Crixus and Spartacus stand at attention in their tiny gladiator panties. Ilithyia is torn between wanting to leer and wanting to gloat, but chooses gloating, for she is truly a little bitch at heart. She wants to make extra sure that Spartacus recognizes her as the wife of Legatus Glaber, his archenemy. Alas, Glaber is out of town, and will miss seeing Sparty’s death against Theokeles, but Ilithyia promises to recount it in great detail while they fuck. Before Sparty can react to this most inflammatory statement, Batty interrupts to take him off to the tablinum for a chat.

Ilithyia is delighted to see the last of Sparty, and furthermore would like to see some more of Crixus, if you know what she means and I think you do. Batiatus instructs Crixus to remove his tiny gladiator panties – I have learned an important new word today and it is subligaria, although I quite prefer “tiny gladiator panties” – and with a quiet sigh, Crixus drops trou and reveals his cocktastic bounty unto the world. Ilithyia gasps and giggles and leers unashamedly, while yet again, Lucretia and Naevia have twin expressions of barely concealed jealous rage.

Oh, how unfortunate for them both! Ilithyia is clearly the very last person who could possibly be trusted with the truth of Lucretia’s affair, and certainly no one would react well to the thought of Naevia fucking him either. Drama! Intrigue! Big swinging cock! OH SHOW OF MY HEART.

Ilithyia slinks up off her couch and strolls over to Crixus for a bit of a fondle, as Lucretia and Naevia look on in horror. Naevia actually looks rather like she’d like to bite Ilithyia on the face, Hannibal Lecter style. Ilithyia can hardly contain herself and almost licks Crixus’ back feverishly.

As Ilithyia rambles on about what a shame it would be to see such a gorgeous man scarred or worse in the arena, Lucretia snatches that moment to propose her idea that Ilithyia have her father remove Crixus from the games. Oooh, Batty’s going to freak. But the very idea would never have occurred to Ilithyia in the first place – it’s not like she actually cares what happens to him. She asks a grim-faced Crixus if he wants to be replaced in the games, and Naevia and Lucretia both hold their breaths, radiant with anticipation. Today will not be the day that Crixus backs down from a fight, though, so they are doomed to disappointment.

*****

Over in the tablinum, Batiatus is expounding on Spartacus’ many last-minute saves and successes, and perhaps is a bit squiffy, cuddling his cup of wine to his cheek. Spartacus, as usual, seems a little confused about just what the point is of all this rambling. Batty’s point is this – can Spartacus actually survive this fight? Spartacus lets it all out – his frustrations with Crixus, Crixus’ unwillingness to fight together, all of it. Batty’s advice is not the most encouraging, as his main concern is that he might lose two men in the arena, one of them the extremely valuable Crixus, a loss which the ludus will not be able to survive. And while Spartacus’ main concern may be his wife, his wife certainly isn’t getting rescued if Batty’s fortunes fail completely, now is she? Well done, Batty – that’s just about the only argument that will ever get through to Sparty.

Meanwhile, Barca and Ashur have returned with Remus the slave trader, so Sparty is sent back down to his cell. Barca is busy softening Remus up with a bit of torture, but Remus doesn’t seem like he’s going to rat out the purchaser of the assassins. Remus has miscalculated, however, and apparently was not expecting Batiatus’ incandescent crazy rage. Batty beats the everloving shit out of Remus with his wine cup, screaming incoherent obscenities all the while, and Remus finally, bloodily, whispers a familiar name – Ovidius. Oh man, it’s ON. Ashur cautions quietly that Ovidius is cousin to Magistrate Calavius, but Batiatus does not give one good goddamn shit. He whips out his dagger and cuts Remus’ throat instead.

*****

As the sun sets, Spartacus and Crixus are still being slapped around like bitches by a completely disgusted Doctore. Crixus once again whines that Spartacus is getting in his way, and impeding his attacks, and Sparty is fed up with his shit. Doctore tells Crixus plainly that not only does he need Spartacus’ help, but that the gods themselves could probably not save this stupid fight from complete failure.

Doctore, seeing that Crixus is still not listening, not caring, takes off his leather breastplate and shows them the huge unholy scars mangling his glorious torso both front and back – given to him by Theokeles, and from which he barely survived. Spartacus and Crixus finally stop bitching at one another long enough to actually listen to what Doctore is telling them, and ask him for his advice. Doctore affirms that Spartacus was right all along – the men will have to fight together as a fucking team, oh my god Crixus WHY DO YOU NEVER LISTEN YOU ARE SO FRUSTRATING SDFKGHADKJHSDG. The boys look pretty grim, but aren’t glaring at each other like wet cats, so I suppose there’s hope.

*****

Lucretia and Batty, up on the balcony, have watched the entire exchange with concern, but Batty is confident that Doctore’s hard lessons will serve them well the next day in the arena. Lucretia’s so lost in thought that she hardly notices Batty leaving to attend to some business in town (I assume it’s some killing business) – tonight is the night that Ilithyia is bringing her fertility priestess for the ritual, and Lucretia is nervous as hell.

*****

Spartacus finally sits down to his evening meal, and Ashur sneaks over for a chat – a warning, actually. Remember the last time someone tried to fight along side Crixus? Yep, that’s right – it was when Crixus smashed Ashur’s leg open and threw him into the fire. Spartacus is a little too smart to take anything from Ashur at face value, but mentally files it away for future reference. He does, however, peek over his shoulder a bit suspiciously at Crixus a few times, and Crixus gives him the stinkeye right back.

*****

Ilithyia’s priestess has arrived with her train of assistants, and the ritual gets underway. The priestess gives Lucretia some kind of primitive pelvic exam (oh god i hope she washed her hands first yuck yuck yuck yuck) and then quizzes her intimately on her sex life – particularly on the aspects of her sex life that do not involve her husband. Ilithyia all but gasps and clutches her pearls! How scandalous! Do tell! Lucretia confesses that there have been other men besides her husband – just one man, but very frequently. Ilithyia is practically squealing aloud with crazed gossipy excitement, but the grown-ups in the room ignore her and forge on ahead.

Lucretia drinks down the ghastly-looking concoction of herbs and other mysterious ingredients prepared by the priestess and her assistant, and is given a winged cock-shaped candle, and instructions to get laid within the hour. OH NOES. Batty won’t be back until late!

Ilithyia is eager to hear more details of Lucretia’s shagging around, but is kind enough to leave her alone to complete the ritual. See?! All her catty bitchiness aside, she does have a well-hidden fount of goodness in her. Somewhere. Really well-hidden. Surely.

*****

Ovidius returns home to his dark, silent villa, shouting angrily about the unlit torches and the lack of slaves or family to greet him. It only takes him a moment to realize that something is indeed amiss – it’s probably the sight of his wife’s mangled, bloodied corpse on the floor of the atrium that tips him off. The mangled bloody corpses of the rest of his household are just the visceral icing on his deathcake of despair, really.

Off in the shadows, Batiatus sits holding Ovidius’ tiny toddler son, unharmed for the moment. Ovidius is smart enough to realize that Batty’s got the upper hand in this situation, and begs for his son’s life. In his desperation, Ovidius readily reveals that while he did provide the funding for the assassination, it was at the behest of someone else. And that someone else is our old pal Solonius. It seems Good Solonius paid off Batty’s grain debt to Ovidius in exchange for the assassination attempt. Shit just got real, y’all.

Batty thanks Ovidius for his honesty, and stupid Ovidius thinks that this really means he’s going to live through the night. No, you donkey. Batty promised that he himself wouldn’t kill you, true. But he didn’t say anything about Barca, now did he. Barca cuts Ovidius’ throat cleanly, and Batty instructs him to burn down the house and take care of the boy as well. Barca looks totally nauseated, as he still has some semblance of humanity left.

*****

Spartacus and Crixus sit together in the baths, naked once again. I love how all their deep conversations are had while naked. This should really be the law for all hotass mens. CALL YOUR CONGRESSMEN, PEOPLE. Sparty tells Crixus that he was right all along, that Sparty doesn’t fight to honor the ludus. He’s not trying to start a fight again, though. Sparty just wants to know how long Crixus has felt this way, and if he felt the same when he was first brought as a slave to the ludus. Oh, how I long for a longhaired wooby Crixus flashback! The way he used to look up at Gannicus with those big puppy eyes! SHRIEK.

Sparty’s purpose is to remind Crixus of how he felt when he first became a slave, in the hopes of finally finding some common fucking ground already, but Crixus is clearly just as frustrated with Spartacus and for the exact same reason. Crixus forces Spartacus to realize that Theokeles is coming out of retirement for this fight not for the money, but for the sheer glory of fighting in the arena, fighting against the undefeated Champion of Capua.

Spartacus and Crixus are totally at odds in all possible ways, and as frustrating as it is for each of them, I assure you it is much more frustrating for ME TO WATCH. Spartacus is all “love love love love wife love whee” and Crixus is all “fite fite glory arena glory victory battle yays” and never the twain shall meet! Crixus is then summoned up to the villa, thus ending their latest struggle to understand one another.

*****

Lucretia, all ritual’d up, is waiting for Crixus, and I have to say, this seems like a crazy risk to take. How on earth is any child of the huge awesome Crixus and the glorious beautiful Lucretia going to look anything like the scrawny pasty-faced baby that Batiatus would produce? Are you shitting me? SURELY Romans have some vague idea of heredity and how babies are made, right? COME ON.

But it is all for nothing, Lucretia, sorry. Crixus, now completely in love with Naevia AND completely distracted by tomorrow’s mighty battle, is having a little problem in the trouser department. Crixus looks her right in the eye, a serious business rarity, and tells her quietly and worriedly that he has never fought against anyone like Theokeles. Lucretia decides to take the problem quite literally in hand, and in mouth, and goes to work on his less than interested cock. To her complete womanly horror, nothing happens, and Crixus begs to be excused, as though he’s a kid eating unwanted spinach at the dinner table.

This is a surprisingly and genuinely emotional moment for this show, tbh. Lucretia is caught between her desire for a child at any cost, and her desire for Crixus to survive the next day’s fight. I mean, he is her slave, and she could very well just command him to fuck her and be done with it, just as she did at the beginning of their relationship. In the end, she actually gives up what might be her last chance at ever having a baby, and tells him she’d rather have him strong and successful, and sends him back downstairs to the ludus. Their entire relationship is so uncomfortable and so complex on so many levels, and when they have scenes like this together, it brings the show to a whole other level of awesomeness. I SALUTE YOU BOTH.

Lucretia is left crying alone in her bedroom, and Naevia brings Crixus back downstairs. Naevia manages to hold it together until the very last moment, where she quietly freaks the fuck out, asking Crixus if he’s going to die tomorrow. In tears, she berates him gently for not letting Ilithyia help him get out of the fight, which, wtf Naevia, how can you know so little about the man you love? Crixus would never walk away from a fight. Naevia rightly accuses him of only caring about honor and glory, and I think maybe Crixus suddenly kind of realizes what Spartacus has been telling him all along – that there are indeed other things worth fighting for besides honor and glory. Naevia summarily drags Crixus off into the shadows of the storeroom and gives him a good and thorough snogging.

*****

Spartacus and Varro are awake in their cell, surrounded by sleeping gladiators, discussing the odds on the fight tomorrow. Barca has apparently bet a bunch of his winnings on Crixus and Spartacus to win, and Varro agrees that if he had the means, he too would bet on them, as Spartacus is too much of a stubborn jackass to ever die. THE TRUTHS, HE SPEAKS IT. Sparty begs Varro that if he should die the next day, and Varro already knows where this is leading – he promises to do anything he can to find Sura.

*****

The next day, the arena is completely packed with shrieking fans. High in the pulvinus, Batty, Lucretia, and Ilithyia sit with Magistrate Calavius’ wife Domita and their son Numerius – the kid is nerdily obsessed with all things gladiatorial, and his mom listens to his enthusiastic neckbeardery with an indulgent smile. Solonius is also among the guests, but is naturally seated well away from Batty and Lucretia. The Magistrate himself is notably absent.

Down by the gate, Doctore has a few final words of inspiration for Sparty and Crixus. He reminds them that this is just as much his fight as it is theirs, and that they’d better fucking learn to fight together already and kill the sonofabitch.

The heralds finally blow their horns, signifying the start of the primus, and Ilithyia can hardly contain her excitement – or her thirst, for that matter. But when Lucretia calls for more water, Naevia whispers that they’ve finished the last of it. Solonius, eavesdropping and never one to let an advantage slip him by, smoothly offers to share his own, and oh how it kills Lucretia to accept. Had it been anyone other than Ilithyia, you know she would’ve shot him down.

Calavius finally arrives, grouching about the drought, as well as the news just received that his cousin Ovidius was murdered in his own home, his entire family victims as well. The three women are all shocked and horrified, Lucretia most of all, as she realizes that her tricksy hobbit husband must be the culprit. Solonius, meanwhile, realizes the jig is up, and his part in Batty’s attempted assassination has likely been revealed. Batty, staring directly at Solonius, wonders aloud what on earth might prompt such a crime, and Solonius’ fears are confirmed.

Calavius rises to address the crowd and get this party started, mostly by going on and on about himself and his ancestors. Yawn. Naevia catches sight of Crixus at the arena gates, and gives him a terrified smile, sending him off into fits of wooby glee. Crixus addresses Spartacus, asking about Sura and if she’s the reason Sparty refuses to die. When Spartacus confirms this fact, Crixus admits aloud for the very first time that maybe there is something else worth fighting for aside from glory. SQUEE.

Spartacus, in blue, fighting thraex-style, is introduced first, to the boos and general disdain of the crowds. Crixus, however, fighting in red and in his usual murmillo-style, is greeted by wild cheers and tit-shaking and delight. Once again, Crixus plays happily to the crowd, rousing their cheers even further, and Sparty just stands there like a lump. COME THE FUCK ON SPARTY. Live a little!

Calavius then announces, a bit too dramatically imho, their opponent, Theokeles. The crowd falls silent in dopey awe as Theokeles, a hideously scarred giant albino Viking-esque dude, stomps out onto the sands with a sword in each hand, presumably to fight dimachaeri-style. Loltastically, a huge cloud passes in front of the sun ~dramatically as the Shadow of Death approaches, and the silly supersititious crowd is too nervous to even cheer…. until Theokeles roars wildly and waves his swords.

The fight begins with the massive Theokeles charging at Sparty and Crixus like a fucking freight train, and our lads exchange a quick OSHIT glance before charging right back at him. And finally, finally, FINALLY, the boys are fighting together and not at odds – one runs in to attack while the other defends them both. Spartacus takes first blood, wounding Theokeles lightly on the thigh, but Theokeles doesn’t even notice such a tiny flesh wound.

Working together, they harry the giant relentlessly, until Crixus slashes Theokeles deeply across his already well-scarred stomach, and Spartacus kicks him directly on the fresh wound, sending him staggering. A few more well-placed blows, and Theokeles has lost both his swords, and is laid out on his back in the sand. Did this seem too easy to anyone else?

Apparently so. Sparty and Crixus share a totally incredulous glance, and hesitantly walk over to see if Theokeles is just playing possum. They take off their helmets to examine the body, and Crixus can’t contain himself a moment longer, laughing with sheer joy and relief and absolute happiness. Sparty can’t help but join in, and the two are pretty much prancing with delight as the crowd leaps to its feet, cheering. Crixus stops his prancing for a moment to raise his helmet to Naevia in the pulvinus, but since she’s standing directly behind Lucretia and Batty, the seekrit of their ~forbidden love is still safe.

Back behind the gate, Barca and Varro are cheering madly, but Doctore looks extremely suspicious – and rightfully so. As Sparty and Crixus continue playing to the crowd, the crowd slowly falls silent and sits back down one by one, and both Varro’s and Barca’s faces fall dramatically. DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!

THEOKELES WAS JUST FAKING IT YOU GUYS. What a dick. He gets to his feet, holding both swords, and bellows to the crowd that it’s HIS turn now, bitches. The crowd renews its shrieky frenzy, and the storm clouds above start thundering and lightning-ing in earnest.

The boys don’t even have time to put their helmets back on before Theokeles is upon them, swinging his double swords like it ain’t no thang. Crixus, idiot Crixus, immediately loses all sense of comradely sportsmanship and shoves Spartacus out of the way, determined to beat Theokeles alone. On the sidelines, Doctore looks disgusted but resigned.

As Crixus attacks precipitously and wildly, he takes many unexpected hits from Theokeles, and ends up bloodily slapped around with his legs knocked out from under him. Theokeles moves on Spartacus next for some more of this undignified treatment, but Sparty rolls out of the way and gives Theokeles a wicked bitchslap with the hilt of his sword. In return, Theokeles flings him away like a tiger on a tiny kitten.

With Spartacus down and out of the way, Crixus charges at Theokeles once again, acutally managing to run him through with his sword. Theokeles barely even seems to notice that there is a sword stuck clear through his stomach and headbutts Crixus viciously. Unfortunately, this now means that Crixus is left without a sword, and is half knocked out to boot. Theokeles yanks the sword out of own his guts and goes to fucking town on Crixus, laying him open both front and back. The crowd is horrified, and Lucretia and Naevia are about ten thousand times more so.

Before Theokeles can give Crixus his death blow, Sparty shouts his name and charges like a drunk goat. Crixus holds his shield up just right for Spartacus to leap off of it dramatically, and Sparty lunges at Theokeles from above, giving him the fight of his life. Poor baby Crixus misses this all, as he’s too busy laying blooding in the sand, stuffing his own intestines back into his stomach. You guys. I can’t even.

Theokeles loses a sword, but Sparty loses his shield, so it looks to be anyone’s fight – until the sun comes out and Crixus concocts a spur-of-the-moment plan. He grabs one of the discarded helmets and uses it to reflect the sunlight directly into Theokeles’ eyes, blinding him and allowing Sparty to duck and rolll and grab the discarded sword. Sparty then knocks Theokeles’ legs out from under him and slaps away his remaining sword, running him clear through again and again, and hacking wildly at Theokeles’ neck, leaving him bloody, helpless, and very near death.

Spartacus retrieves the second sword from Theokeles’ guts, and hold both to his throat as the crowd cheers for a kill. With both swords, Sparty takes Theokeles’ head cleanly off, and the entire arena loses its fool mind. (Except for Crixus, who is still dying slowly and quietly off to the side. Poor bebeh.)

And then, as if killing the undefeated Shadow of Death wasn’t enough, the clouds return and a huge fucking Downpour Of The Gods commences. The long-awaited rain is finally here, and pretty much everyone is now naked and screaming and shrieking and frolicking in the rain and fucking like monkeys in the stands.

The few unhappy faces are Ashur, who has just lost an enormous bet to Barca; Naevia and Lucretia, who may have just lost their beloved Crixus; Solonius, who has just lost an important power play and, more importantly, the love of the crowd; and Crixus, who is obviously bleeding to death.

Spartacus stands out in the rain, arms flung wide, enjoying his moment of victory, when he realizes that the crowd is bellowing his name in gleeful unison. I think this might be the moment when he finally realizes what Crixus was talking about all those times he wittered on about glory.

*****

NEXT WEEK! Sparty is the new darling of Capua, and Batty wants everyone to know it! Crixus is a shredded mess! Lucretia is sulking yet again! Numerius is the biggest fanboy ever to fanboy! And Sura’s finally coming home to Sparty.

Please like & share:
  • Jue

    Love your recaps. FYI correction – Sparty is waiting in Crixus’ cell, not vice versa. Check the dialogue: Crixus: your very presence here says you’re looking for a fight. Sparty did not have a cell of his own until rewarded after defeating Theo.