PREVIOUSLY ON SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND! Sura died in Sparty’s arms! Barca died in Batty’s arms! Spartacus made an enemy of Doctore! And wee bebeh Pietros is all alone, he is he is.
Spartacus, long-haired and unshaven and glorious, is having hot sweaty tent sexytimes with Sura! YAY FLASHBACKS. After, they collapse happily onto a heap of furs and laugh about how hot and awesome they are. And LOL, I assume this is early in their relationship, because when Sura tells him to “ask me to stay… ask me by my name,” he just kind of grins gormlessly and admits that he doesn’t even know it. OH SPARTY.
Furthermore in the land of lols, when Spartacus tries to tell her his name (his real, non-Spartacus name obvsly) she snips back that every woman in town knows his name already. HAHA. Oh dear, it appears that Our Hero is something of a manwhore. The village stallion, if you will.
So why on earth would Sura want to fuck him, Sparty wonders? It’s because the gods led Sura to his bed, of course. Spartacus and I both laugh rather derisively, but Sura is dead serious – the gods come to her in her dreams and apparently tell her to get naked. The gods certainly got one thing right, though – he’ll definitely never love another woman after her.
Back in present-day Capua, Sura’s body is laid out on a bier in the ludus surrounded by candles, which would be lovely and romantic if only she wasn’t dead. Spartacus wibbles manfully for a bit and then tucks her purple garter into her cold dead clasped hands.
At the side of the cliff, a large pyre has been constructed, and Varro waits at the side holding a lit torch. The rest of the gladiators are assembled on either side, some others also holding lit torches. Spartacus carries Sura’s body to the pyre and gently lays her down, and we get a glimpse of the assembled crowd: Doctore, looking solemn and sad; the gladiators, looking quiet and thoughtful; Ashur, eating peanuts like he’s at the fucking circus; and Batty and Lucretia, up on the balcony in full mourning, looking appropriately subdued.
Pietros is standing off to the side looking utterly miserable and lost and alone and I just want to feed him cookies and pet his fluffy little head. From the way Gnaeus is looking at him from across the courtyard, I think he has something much less pleasant in mind.
Varro hands Spartacus the torch, and he lights the pyre, standing directly in front of it as it’s engulfed by the flames.
Spartacus is sitting alone in the baths, looking lost and tragically hot. Batiatus has on his Dr. Phil persona and is sharing some Words of Wisdom with Spartacus about loss and suffering and rising above it all to make lots and lots of money. Batty sadly admits that the fault is all his for not doubling the guard that traveled with Sura’s cart, or even sent Barca along for protection, before “giving him his freedom”. Lulz.
This is why Batty would be an excellent goddamn politician, y’all. Witness the smooth skill with which he weaves his magnificently plausible lies! The entire Republican party stands in awe at such majesty.
And Batty’s lies bear the fruit he’s been hoping – Spartacus agrees that Batiatus kept his word and did his best to bring Sura to him, and that the fault lies with the men who allegedly attacked her cart and with Glaber, who sold her into slavery in the first place. Sigh.
We next see Batty upstairs in the tablinum with the miraculously healed driver of Sura’s cart, Aulus. OHOHO and the truth is revealed! Yes, as we all suspected, Batiatus had Aulus searching all year for Sura solely to have her die in Sparty’s arms. Aulus doesn’t really care about his wasted time, as he’s been paid very well indeed. Lucretia, on the other hand, needs some more convincing.
Batty reminds her that Spartacus’ love for Sura was so intense that only allowing him to see her moment of death would convince him that she was truly gone forever – anything else would likely have spurred his desire to escape to go look for her, right? Well, yes. But Lucretia is still put out that Batty has all these schemes underway and hasn’t consulted her about any of them! AS ARE WE ALL.
Batiatus takes note of her objections and is, for once, totally up front about his newest plans for the ludus: now that Spartacus has nothing to hold him back, Batty and Doctore will mold him into the Bestest Best Gladiator In All The World, which in turn will prove Batiatus to be the greatest lanista ever. Today Capua, tomorrow Rome! Batty has some high-falutin’ plans for he and Lucretia to break out of their infames social status and rise to new aristocratic (or at least plutocratic) levels.
….Can anyone imagine this ending well? Dear me, no.
Crixus is still unconscious and racked with fever under the filthy but presumably skilled hands of the medicus, and Doctore stops by to see how he’s progressing. Not too well, apparently, by the way he’s shivering and greenish. Poor bebeh.
Outside, an utterly miserable Pietros is sitting alone in the moonlight looking completely tragic, oh my god. He’s waiting for Doctore, to ask him the saddest question ever: Pietros doesn’t know what to do with his and Barca’s pet pigeons. Barca had promised that they would release the birds on the day that they purchased their own freedoms and now he’s gone and Pietros doesn’t know what to dooooo. Doctore double-takes at the mention of “our” freedom, not having realized that Barca intended to leave together with Pietros.
Furthermore, Doctore is immediately suspicious about the entire situation once Pietros tells him of Ashur’s mocking words that the cost of freedom was too expensive for the both of them, AS WELL HE SHOULD BE. He distractedly tells Pietros to keep caring for the birds, but you can tell his mind is focused on getting to the bottom of this mishegoss.
All alone in his cell, Pietros cries quietly and cuddles one of the pigeons. But his evening is about to be interrupted most unpleasantly, as Gnaeus strides into the room, evil leer firmly in place, and shuts the door firmly behind him. NOOO.
Spartacus is also all alone in his cell, although with no pigeons to cuddle to his firm manbreasts. Instead, he’s staring at the Thracian dagger he stole from Numerius, which seems like a pretty stupid thing to do with the door wide open. Varro, walking through the door and noticing the dagger, feels much the same. Sparty, you dumbass. Spartacus doesn’t care if anyone sees him with it, because his life is nothing but tragedy and despair without Sura, and it’s all his fault that she’s dead, and the forces of the universe are aligned against him. Oh my god what a drama queen. Varro tells him to throw the dagger over the cliff before he gets into trouble, but when has Spartacus ever listened to reason?
The next day, the entire villa is in an uproar as builders and masons and ancient interior decorators are hard at work prettying up the place. Batty and Lucretia’s gloating is interrupted by Naevia’s nervous arrival with the medicus: Crixus is finally awake!
Man, does he look like shit. Why has no one been gently bathing his glorious bemuscled self? Lucretia and Batiatus hurry to his side to caution him to heal and grow strong again, but all Crixus cares about is when he’ll be allowed to fight again. Oh dear. I guess it hasn’t occurred to Crixus that he is no longer the darling champion of the ludus. He never really was the sharpest gladius in the chest, was he.
Batty and the medicus huddle up for some whispered words out in the hallway, leaving Lucretia coo over him quietly – as it would be odd and suspicious for Luce to visit Crixus alone, she’ll send Naevia to watch over him instead. Naevia tries and fails to not look excited, and she and Crixus share doofy and adorable smiles before she leaves with Lucretia.
Spartacus is sitting at the cliff’s edge, staring off into space and presumably deep in thought. As it’s just about time for the day’s training to begin, Pietros comes over with the two swords that Spartacus will now be using. But what’s this? Pietros is sporting a nasty black eye and a split lip! His slight limp hints at other, more disturbing injuries. I AM SO OUTRAGED ARGH.
Spartacus also looks immediately confused and concerned, but is unable to ask any questions before Doctore cracks his sexwhip, starting the men to their training. Doctore hands his whip off to Pietros and calls for a sword and shield, because today, he’ll be training with Spartacus his own damn self. RUH ROH.
A fine show of asskickery follows, because Doctore certainly hasn’t forgotten Spartacus’ horrible drugged-wine betrayal, oh no he hasn’t. Once he has Sparty knocked onto his ass in the sand, Doctore lets him know in no uncertain terms that he is totally aware of Sparty’s plans for escape, and he is Not Pleased. Spartacus, to his credit, fully admits that he drugged Doctore because otherwise he would’ve had to try to kill him, but somehow that information isn’t terribly soothing to Doctore. WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED.
The only reason Doctore isn’t going to rat Spartacus out is, unsurprisingly, because Spartacus defeated Theokeles. Their fight ends in a grumpy draw, with both men stalking off angrily.
Days pass, and the villa is busier than ever: endless cleaning, new construction, and new furnishings are all underway. A wealthy local bigwig, Mercato, comes by to discuss some business with Batiatus – he’s ordered 6 men for his upcoming games in honor of his grandfather’s victory over the Thracians many years previously. Mercato had originally planned to have Crixus play the coveted role of his grandfather, Marcus Minucius Rufus, but Crixus is nowhere near healed enough to fight any time soon. Obviously the task now falls to Spartacus, for an additional fee, of course.
Downstairs in the gladiator’s cafeteria, Gnaeus is pawing obnoxiously at Pietros, who now looks even more miserable than ever before. Spartacus and Varro watch disgustedly from the side of the room, and Sparty cleverly uses his power as the Champion of Capua to command Pietros to fetch him a cup of water, thus removing him temporarily from Gnaeus’ horrible clutches.
Ashur stumps up to interrupt their ragging on Gnaeus, informing Varro that a mysterious delivery has been made as promised. WTF. WHY DO PEOPLE STILL TRUST ASHUR EVER. IDGI.
Anyway. Varro has written a letter to his wife, Aurelia. Varro’s quite put out when Ashur says that Aurelia had no reply to the message, but his entire face lights up when he realizes that Aurelia has come to see him instead, along with their toddler son. Varro scurries over to the gate and commences with the wife welcoming, and poor Spartacus looks a bit wistful.
Varro and his wife and derpy little son sit together in the shade. Aurelia’s a bit standoffish, as she’s wondering why, after all this time, did Varro finally write to her? Varro’s answer – that he was moved to do so by the death of Sura – is clearly not the answer she was hoping for. Their lovely homecoming takes a turn for the worse when Aurelia drops an epic bomb on the conversation – she’s pregnant, and clearly there’s no way it could be Varro’s.
It’s not like she’s fucking around behind your back, Varro, so stop being a dick! Aurelia has barely been able to survive on the money he’s been sending home, so when Titus, an acquaintance from the marketplace, offered to help her out, she accepted gladly. Unfortunately, Titus raped her instead. And now, instead of being worried or sympathetic or vengefully enraged that some man hurt his wife, Varro decides to blame Aurelia for not fighting Titus off successfully. AKJGHAFSKHFJDG MEN.
Sparty is brought up to see Batiatus in the tablinum – Batty wants to give him the good news of Mercatus’ upcoming games, and, hilarribly, the news that he’s commissioned a bust-and-cock statue of Spartacus for the Ancestor/Gladiator Statue Room. (I want to call this the lararium but I know it’s totally wrong, bleh.)
Spartacus, naturally, is kind of startled when he’s told that he’ll be playing the part of Marcus Minucius Rufus, as the man is notorious in Thracian legend for his slaughtery douchebaggery. Spartacus dismisses the entire idea and tells Batiatus that he won’t fight, but Batty laughs off his protestations, reminding Spartacus that he actually doesn’t have a choice in the matter, being a slave and all. And more to the point, Batiatus wants Sparty to forget his past and move on to the awesomeness that everyone knows is surely in his future. Technically good advice, even if given with only Batty’s interests in mind.
OH THANK GOD someone is finally bathing Crixus, and yes, of course, it’s Naevia. He would probably be enjoying it more if he wasn’t still so feverish and gimpy, but I assume gladiators have learned to take whatever they can get whenever they can get it. Frankly, Crixus would do better to enjoy his sponge bath instead of feeling so wretchedly sorry for himself that he’s not out in the arena kicking ass and taking names. There is pretty much nothing for which I would turn down a sponge bath from Naevia, fyi.
Doctore strolls in and interrupts their nascent snoggery with his polite and sincere pleasure at Crixus’ progressing recovery. Grumpy Baby Crixy doesn’t want to hear happiness and concern because he wants to whinge instead – none of his so-called “brothers” have even come to visit him in the sickroom! (Good thing he doesn’t remember Spartacus visiting and poking at his wounds, then.) He’s especially put out that his beffie Barca hasn’t come to see him, and Naevia immediately looks extremely shifty-eyed.
Doctore’s surprised that Naevia hasn’t given Crixus the good news – of course Crixus immediately assumes that Barca has died gloriously in the arena. He’s baffled and amused by the thought of someone like Barca, the Beast of Carthage, leaving the ludus and the life of a gladiator behind, and laughs quietly at the thought of Barca as a goat herder or farmer, being doted on by Pietros.
When Doctore corrects him on the matter of Pietros, all of Crixus’ amusement is immediately gone – he knows Barca well enough to realize that there’s no way he would have left Pietros alone and unprotected. Doctore agrees that the situation was surprising, and then foolish little Naevia pipes up to play her part a bit too well. Once Doctore discovers that Naevia was supposedly the last person to talk with Barca, he decides to dig for more information. Naevia repeats her lie that she saw Barca escorted through the gates, and you can see Doctore make a mental note to follow up on this further. Hopefully Naevia will have learned to lie a little better by then.
That evening, in the gladiator’s insula, Varro has descended into a sulky fit of despair, and snipes at Spartacus for refusing Batiatus’ orders earlier. Varro, in fact, is finding fault with just about everything and everyone right now, such is his grumpy bitterness over his personal life. He finally admits that he’s being a douchebag for no good reason, and stomps off to gamble away all his money with Rhaskos and Hamilcar instead.
Spartacus walks through the insula on his way back to his cell, and runs into Pietros, who is even more battered than before. Pietros is, by now, so terrorized by Gnaeus that he mistakes Sparty’s concerned touch to his bruised cheek for another attack, and cringes really pathetically. WAAAAH. Spartacus promises to have a word with Gnaeus, but Pietros is beyond caring – nothing Spartacus can say to anyone will bring Barca back, or let Pietros go.
HOORAY IT IS ILITHYIA. She and Lucretia lounge indolently in the triclinium eating all manner of revolting “delicacies” and likely getting pissed on the good wine. Lucretia is proudly telling Ilithyia of the ludus’ renewed fortunes at the hand of Spartacus, but Ilithyia wants more salacious gossip, tyvm – she wants to know how the fertility ritual worked out, and, more importantly, she burns to know the identity of Lucretia’s lover. Her first guess, Solonius, is met with abject horror from Lucretia, who apparently would “rather fuck an eel,” something I had not planned on ever picturing in this lifetime. Thanks for that, Starz.
Ilithyia’s gossipy and admirable powers of deduction quickly lead her to realize, by process of elimination, that Lucretia’s lover is most certainly a hotass hulking slave, which scares Lucretia into firmly changing the subject. She is so ridiculous! How does she not know that’s basically all the confirmation Ilithyia will need? ARGFHBLARGFH.
Ilithyia then turns the conversation towards Crixus and his recovery, and WHAT HO our Ilithyia seems to have quite an interest in Crixus, clearly not realizing that Lucretia would snatch her baldheaded before she’d let her get a leg over.
Over their afternoon meal, Varro is surly once again when Spartacus inquires about his luck – or total lack thereof – at dice the night before. Their conversation is interrupted when they notice that Pietros’ pigeons are loose and untended, fluttering nervously around the ludus. The boys go inside to investigate, and NOOOOOOOOOOO (although really, who didn’t see this coming a mile away) Pietros, in his abject misery, has hung himself from the rafters after setting the birds free. Varro looks grim, but Spartacus’ shock is slowly giving way to GRRARR RRARRGH ANGERRR.
Sparty stomps outside to where the rest of the men have already begun their training, and launches himself at Gnaeus with a crazed roar. Taking Gnaeus completely by surprise, Spartacus kicks his ass left and right and upside down as the assembled gladiators look on in confusion. Doctore breaks up the brawl with his best manly bellowings, but is taken aback when Spartacus explains that Pietros has killed himself and Gnaeus is to blame. Gnaeus makes an ill-advised remark about missing Pietros’ cocksucking abilities, and Spartacus has had just about enough of this shit. Before anyone can react, Sparty grabs Gnaeus by the throat and throws his sorry rapist ass off the cliff to his splattery death below. BOOYAH.
Spartacus is sent immediately to Principal Batty’s office and given a million years of detention and eraser clapping. Batiatus is completely fucking outraged over the loss of Gnaeus, a valuable gladiator, and could not possibly care less about the loss of Pietros, who he finds totally worthless and beyond mention. In the humanity stakes, the score is Spartacus: 1, Batiatus, 0. As per usual.
Batty angrily brushes off Spartacus’ attempt at apologies, and vows to take Gnaeus’ full value in coin from Sparty’s winnings. But stupid Spartacus just won’t let it go, telling Batty that Gnaeus didn’t deserve to live for what he did to Pietros. Oshi-
BAM. Batty clocks Spartacus right up in his pretty face, shouting that ONLY HE, GOD-EMPEROR BATIATUS, gets to choose who lives and who dies, not some lowly fucking SLAVE. Oh Romans, you douchebags. Spartacus is now hereby and forthwith required without argument to fight in Mercato’s games as a Roman, or die as a Thracian slave.
Pietros is laid out on a bier, looking small and fragile as Naevia cries over him quietly. Crixus is naturally upset to see his girlfriend in such a state, but he really isn’t very good at being comforting. His only comment is that Pietros was obviously too weak for their kind of life without Barca to protect him, to which Naevia takes a bit of offense – not everyone can be as strong as Crixus himself, ffs. Spartacus’ entrance allows Naevia to run away without starting a fight, but Crixus glares at him nevertheless.
Crixus catches sight of the bloody gash left by Batiatus’ ring-bedecked punch, and laughingly accuses Sparty of “making friends again,” but once again, his laughter is shot down pretty quick when he finds out that 01) the fight was with Gnaeus, 02) Spartacus won, and 03) Gnaeus is a smeary red paste at the base of the cliffs.
Crixus takes his mark of brotherhood really fucking seriously, as we all know, so he’s totally aghast that Spartacus would kill a brother gladiator, even over a horrible situation like Pietros’. Crixus goes so far as to say that Spartacus’ murder of Gnaeus shames their fight together in the arena, and Crixus now regrets not killing him during that same fight. Um, Crixus? You moron? YOU’D BOTH BE DEAD THEN.
Naevia is in Pietros’ cell, tending to the recaptured pigeons, when Doctore stops in for a chat. Naevia does not look nearly nervous enough for what’s coming, oh dear. Detective Doctore is on the case, and he wants to talk about Barca and Pietros and what exactly it was that Naevia saw that night. Doctore’s totally innocent questions are met with very obvious fear from Naevia, and it doesn’t take long for him to become even more suspicious. But when Doctore confronts Naevia with her lies, she informs him in a terrified whisper that his questions only endanger them both. That’s all the answer he really needs, isn’t it. Hmm.
Over in the baths, Ashur is unstrapping his leg brace and confidently telling the gladiators that one day soon, he’ll be back training with them again, hoorays! No one cares, Ashur. It’s because you’re a jerk. The men lol at him a bit, and are then sent on their way by Doctore, who is continuing his investigation into Barca’s departure. Now that he’s got Ashur alone and cornered, he expects to get some serious answers. I certainly hope he’s not expecting the truth.
As usual, Ashur’s lies are tinged with just enough truth to make them plausible: yes, Barca placed and won a large wager; and yes, he, Ashur, spoke on Barca’s behalf about buying freedom. Ashur insists that Pietros was left behind only because Barca couldn’t afford to pay for them both, and Doctore seems to weigh this as truth.
(Ashur has ridiculously luxurious eyelashes. I am maybe a little jealous.)
Now that I think about it, how is this lie even really plausible? Didn’t Batiatus just go on and on about how little Pietros was worth, relatively? How would it make sense that Barca wouldn’t have the few coins left to purchase Pietros’ freedom, then?
Doctore is almost convinced that Ashur is telling the truth, until Ashur foolishly embellishes his lies just a touch too much, pretending to have seen Barca leave the villa. Doctore immediately recalls that Naevia didn’t mention Ashur’s presence when Barca left, and knows that Something Is Afoot. The plot thickens when Ashur similarly makes no mention of Naevia’s presence, and Doctore confronts Ashur immediately, promising dire vengeance if the truth comes out and Ashur is in the thick of things. YOU IN DANGER, GIRL.
Spartacus is back in his cell, once again fondling Numerius’ stolen dagger and weeping over Sura’s loss, as he remembers both the hot sexytimes and the wooby talkytimes. He especially dwells on her advice to place himself in the hands of the gods and let fate take him wherever it wants.
The next morning, Spartacus is still wide awake in his cell, pondering life the universe and everything. Batiatus approaches to tell him to get his ass in gear for the games, whether as a Roman or a Thracian, and Spartacus has made his decision.
Sparty pulls out the stolen dagger, and Batty and I both pause as if to say WHAT THE FUCK DUDE. But no, Spartacus is not planning some new half-baked scheme for freedom – he hands the knife over to Batiatus and promises that he will fight for the ludus the best way he can and let fate take over his life. Batiatus sees this as a worthy submission, and inexplicably doesn’t slaughter Spartacus for hiding a weapon.
Spartacus has one ridiculous condition for the day’s fight, and Batiatus laughs at his even asking after his behavior the past few days. Spartacus, it seems, wants to fight the prisoners alone and unaided, 6 against 1. Batiatus is intrigued by the condition and agrees to it wholeheartedly, with a condition of his own – Spartacus needs to kill off the last of what he was before he was a gladiator, or he’ll never truly become all that he can be. Or something, idek. This show is silly and I am sitting through a hurricane, gdit. BRING ON THE BLOODSHED.
Spartacus is standing at the gate to the arena sands, wearing Mercato’s pawpaw’s ratty old leather armor, which is not nearly as attractive as Sparty’s own shiny snakey armor. He waits, a sword in either hand, as the crowd shrieks itself into a froth with anticipation. The condemned slaves take to the sands, amid many boos from the crowd, but once the ridiculously dramatic announcement for Spartacus is given, they once again lose their collective shit. Let’s face it, his thighs look glorious in that tiny leather skirt. I AM WELL PLEASED.
The crowd cheers him by name, and Ilithyia rolls her eyes in disgust. Get over it already, sweetie. She makes a snotty aside to Mercato that if they’re honoring his grandfather, then why is everyone shouting Spartacus’ name, hmm? Batiatus easily cajoles Mercato out of his mild affront by encouraging him to signal the start of the battle.
Remembering Sura’s words about placing himself in the hands of the gods, Spartacus stands on the sands, arms outstretched, and waits for someone to attack him. Sparty baby, I don’t really think this is what she meant. Batiatus and Mercato, up in the pulvinus, look both vexed and confused; the crowd just looks confused.
Frustrated, one of the prisoners throws his spear directly at Spartacus’ head. The spear barely nicks Sparty’s cheek, and that’s all the impetus he needs. The six prisoners mill about before charging in a messy group, but Spartacus is already charging right back at them, swords at the ready.
He plows through the prisoners, letting their own numbers work against him as they all swing at each other as he dodges neatly. Eventually, it seems that Spartacus is faring badly, as he gets kicked around unmercifully a bit – the crowd in the pulvinus looks tense indeed.
The largest of the prisoners almost smashes Sparty’s head in with a spiked hammer, but Spartacus throws him off and takes him and another prisoner down easily. From there on in, it’s in the bag; Spartacus hacks and stabs his way through the 6 men easily, and in a matter of seconds only the one with the hammer is left. Sparty wrenches the hammer from his hands and smashes open his guts with it, and that’s the end of that. Everyone in the pulvinus looks pleased and relieved, except for Ilithyia, who retreats into a pouty sulk.
I do not even care if this is TMI but BY GOD does she need a good spanking. That is all.
Spartacus retrieves his bloody swords from the guts of the dead prisoners, and walks over to HammerDude, who is still hanging in there. The crowd calls for a kill, and Spartacus is happy to oblige, until he looks down at the kneeling prisoner and sees his own longhaired unshaven face before him. LOLWUT. (I know what they’re trying to say, yes. I can still lol if I want to, you are not the boss of me!)
After a seizure-inducing series of quickety quick flashbacks, Spartacus slashes the prisoner’s throat open with a cry of rage/anguish/manpain and staggers out into the center of the arena to receive his shrieky adulation. Mercato congratulates Batiatus on the excellent spectacle – as though Batiatus did anything but sit there like a lump – and Batty and Lucretia preen with pleasure.
The crowd chants Spartacus’ name again and again, and for once, he finally seems to notice. As he stands in the center of the arena, he cinematically shrieks I AM SPARTACUS and I just crack the fuck up, basically. OH SHOW. ILUSM.
NEXT WEEK! Sparty continues triumphant in the arena! Batty buys some new trainees! Crixus is recovering and looking as fine as ever! And Ilithyia goes shopping for a little something new and unexpected.