Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spartacus Vengeance: Libertus


OtherOldHousemate pointed out to me this week that Number One is one of the two brothers who conspired with Spartacus towards the end of season one, the other being the dead brother he keeps on about wanting to avenge. I had entirely forgotten their existence, I must confess! I should really re-watch Season One at some point.

Previously on: Yay! Gannicus is coming back!

We're back in the arena - always a good sign. I'm impressed with the guy who keeps going after a spear wound to the gut, he should audition for Black Swan. Meanwhile, the aristocrats snark each other in their box. The example of the Roman victory over Hannibal is being used for the execution of Crixus, DSG and their random, gladiator-fodder 3rd friend. Clearly Slimy Varinius hasn't seen Gladiator (in which our guys are supposed to be slaughtered while playing at being Hannibal and his army, but Maximus pulls them together and they manage to defeat the gladiators playing Scipio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal). Xena gives Crixus a really dirty look. She does that a lot in this episode.

Of course, it's Gannicus who's been chosen to execute our heroes. The title 'god of the arena' even gets a name-check. DSG finds his mojo again when Gannicus looks guilty enough to confirm what Gnomey Guy said about Gannicus and Wife.

Number One is guilting (new verb necessary for reviewing this show, meaning to feel guilty: I guilt, you guilt, she guilts) about leaving, and Spartacus is guilting about all the dead people from the last couple of episodes. They find an old temple guarded by a crazy old guy with a bow and arrow. He cheers up when he finds out who they are (still crazy though). He's a victim of Sulla's proscriptions (wow! history! like, serious political history! which I'm guessing much of the audience is totally bemused by... Sulla was a politician who fought a civil war against Marius, became dictator, and executed many, many well-off Romans through proscriptions, killing them and taking their land). Crazy Old Guy has decided to hate Romans, even though he is one. He tells them Crixus is alive but about not to be (again) and presumably we're actually in a flashback now, cause we've gone back to Crixus and the others in the cells. DSG is looking forward to interrogating his wife in the afterlife. Can you do that?! I can't imagine she'll be too happy if DSG gets up there and the first thing he does is give her the third degree.

Gannicus is wandering he world accompanied by a cool rock soundtrack. He's still famous, so is received back to the arena, to make some money, with a warm welcome.

Gnomey guy has brought a dead Roman back to the House of Death - i think it's the one he suffocated last week. Haldir is unimpressed (even without knowing that) and sends Gnomey Guy off to be executed and I really hope he's successful in this case.

Daddy has insisted that Paris Hilton abort her unborn baby, to sever ties to Haldir. This seems an odd thing to do, since mothers who divorced the father had no rights over the baby - the father took custody, so as soon as it was born she could leave it with Haldir and disappear. More importantly, she is pregnant enough to be clearly showing, so this is a ridiculously dangerous thing to do - they've obviously never seen Rome either, in which an abortificant drug was used as a murder weapon on a heavily pregnant woman (not that it wouldn't be dangerous anyway, but there's acceptable risk, and there's virtually suicidal).

Random observation: I like GF's little oil lamp. They sell replicas of those in museums sometimes, I want one.

Naevia is guilting about Crixus, again. Spartacus wants to attack the arena, though Number One is unkeen on the idea of ever going back there.

Xena points out to PH that she'll miss the Games if she starts the process of aborting her baby now (apparently Xena's been inflicting this on slaves for years - didn't she ever want to raise and sell the children? Maybe she was jealous of her husband's illegitimate offspring). More frustratingly, she then goes off to visit and reassure Gnomey Guy. Le sigh. She tells him she wants him to replace PH's abortificant with water and something else (sugar? something like that) and gives him a key to escape and sneak around with, before returning himself to the cell.

The Artist wants to help with the Crixus rescue attempt, despite the fact he can barely stand up. He and Number One have a Moment. Aw. GF thinks the Artist's improbable survival is a sign (maybe she'll turn out like Plutarch's description of Spartacus' wife, in which he claims she was a prophetess and prone to 'visitations of the Dionysiac frenzy' - that'd be interesting!). Spartacus speechifies (to speechify: to give a long-winded and rather dull speech about something you've already spoken about umpteen times before. I speechify, you speechify, she speechifies) about how wonderful it is to be free.

It's been too long since we saw some skin, so we get some close-ups of Gannicus and his questionable women. He and his partner share some wine and he explains that he's been away for years. He seems pretty miserable, but still glad not to be a slave, and he's still guilting over Wife's death.

Gnomey Guy is released and Xena sneers at Crixus again. He says it's a blessing to know they'll finally be forever free of the House of Death, and DSG expresses a wish for it to crumble behind them (I bet it does by the end of the season). Gnomey Guy tells Haldir that his wife is trying to abort supposedly-their (I still think it's Spartacus') baby.

Haldir is very, very cross. Craig Parker does cold fury really rather well. He takes it out on the phial while PH tells him he's not worthy of her or an heir, and then gets really carried away and tells him everything, including her plan to run off to Rome with Varinius after the Games. Haldir looks genuinely upset and I actually feel really sorry for him. the more everyone around him is horrible to him, the more I like him. I kind of want the poor guy to catch a break at this point, and have to keep reminding myself how horrible he was in Season One.

We're almost back to where we started, at the Games. I bet Haldir's wondering if he can shove Varinius off the balcony. The horrible creepy rapist (well, nearly all of them answer that description, but the especially nasty one) from Gods of the Arena seems to be back too.

Gladiator fights. Pounding rock soundtrack, blood everywhere. Backstage, we see bits of dead gladiator being chopped up for disposal. Lovely. Spartacus' head emerges from the water of a drain like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now and now we are back to the beginning. We see a replay of the aristocrats' snark, now knowing that Haldir knows everything.

Spartacus and his men disguise themselves as soldiers/guards and are ready to go in. They refer to the odds being in their favour - possibly a nice, subtle little shout-out to The Hunger Games. Crixus and DSG establish they they're honoured to die together and the 3 of them decide to fight, since they've been given (rubbish) swords.

Some exposition and a brand tell Spartacus that Gannicus is from the house of Batiatus, and Gannicus explains that he wants Crixus and DSG to have honourable deaths. Spartacus spots Haldir and wonders if he can kill him this time.

Gannicus and DSG fight and the random 3rd person goes down. DSG yells at Gannicus over the whole incident with Wife. Meanwhile, GF and some others set the place on fire from backstage. Spartacus and Number One are waiting for the fire to take before they do anything while Gannicus and DSG are still working out their issues through their death match. Random 3rd finally dies, caught in a retiarius' net, which is rather effective. The soundtrack starts getting very over-exited, as does Xena, desperate for Crixus to finally snuff it (not yet! How many lives has he gone through now?). Crixus is doing rather well, and PH has to comfort her.

Fighting continues. Just as Gannicus has DSG on the ground and it looks like Crixus is failing, GF and the others pull down the burning stands and create the mother of all distractions. The soundtrack goes absolutely wild at this point, there's choirs and everything.

Spartacus and Number One rush in, everything starts collapsing, people fall into the flames, and one of the random aristocrats dies. Crixus cannot believe his eyes and does his best impression of a drowning fish. Spartacus tries to kill Haldir with a thrown spear but gets the horrible rapist instead (so that's why he came back). Daddy tells Haldir he's going to have him kicked out of the Senate and Spartacus saves Crixus from another moment of apparently certain death by throwing a sword at a guy.

DSG and Gannicus have disappeared so Spartacus and Number One go to look for them. Meanwhile, a beam has collapsed on Daddy, who somehow thinks Haldir, who's passing, is going help him. Fat chance. Haldir uses the beam to smash his face in. Seriously, what is it with this show and faces? This just proves that Haldir and Paris Hilton are perfect for each other.

DSG is injured but alive and Gannicus helps them carry him out. Spartacus watches the arena collapse in CG flames behind him, which looks really cool. They leave, Gannicus' wooden sword of freedom abandoned, lying on the arena floor.

Haldir tells PH that Spartacus killed her Daddy and then strongly insists that they will get through this 'together - as husband and wife'. Varinius leaves. I think Xena guesses the truth. Haldir does the Slightly Constipated Look of Evil favoured by villains when a maniacal laugh would be inappropriate. End of episode.

Much, much better. The structure helps, giving the episode a good strong sense of what it's doing and where it's going by starting at the end. The finale is also properly epic - Symbolic as well as just plain impressive. Gannicus is back, DSG is back with everyone else, Haldir finally grew a pair and we even got to see the especially nasty rapist guy from Gods of the Arena die horribly. Now if they could just, please, for the love of Jupiter, get rid of Gnomey Guy... (though he was useful in this episode. But still).

I know Haldir's character is horrible, but still. Yum. And you have to feel a little sorry for him at this point, even after the face-smashing incident.

Quotes:

Number One: A roof over our heads! Mostly.

Crazy Old Guy (in a really grumpy tone): Pleasure to make f***ing acquaintance

Gannicus: I am for wine, and the embrace of questionable women

All Spartacus reviews

6 comments:

  1. Cheers for the recap Juliette! I loved this episode - it felt like the reckless lunacy from the previous two series was finally back.

    I'm pleased Haldir has now become unhinged - it's goning to make for interesting watching - especially if he keeps Gnomie alive to be the agent of his wickedness. I know you dont like Gnomie, but such a slimy, duplicitous character always adds an unpredictable element to the story....think of Caligula and Macro in I, Claudius.

    Looking forward to the next ep!

    H

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  2. Macro was much cooler than Gnomey, he was played by John Rhys Davis! Loving Haldir though. He's a lot sexier than a totally evil b*****d who used to be camp elf has any right to be!

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  3. I love your recaps! I cracked up at the 'guilting', and when I read the part about 'to speechify' I clapped my hands in approval. I think the new Sparty does a decent job, but seriously writers, give him some actual lines to speak, not those cringeworthy speeches in every jupiterdamned episode!

    You know what's interesting? You wrote that you feel sorry for Haldir, even though he was so evil in season 1. I actually don't think he was that evil. And I don't think he was much of a villain so far in season 2. He abandoned Spartacus' village to the Getae because PH maneuvred him to go east with his army towards Mithridates. And then he captured Sparty after he disobeyed Haldir, attacked his soldiers and fled. The only assy thing Haldir did was taking Sparty's wife into slavery. But that's actually it. He surely wasn't crueler than any other Roman political figure.
    But with the end of this episode and after watching episode 6, I can say he's getting better at being a villain. We just need someone to replace the void Batiatus left. That was a great villain.

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  4. That's a good point - I'm seeing the whole thing so much through Spartacus' eyes, but you're right, Haldir really wasn't that bad, considering. He's probably a lot nicer than Dodgy was in Rome. (And sexier!).

    And thank you! :)

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  5. FYI: Favor is spelled without a "u"

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