Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Spartacus Blood and Sand: Sacramentum Gladiatorum

The title of this episode is probably best translated as 'oath of gladiators' and isn't overtly religious in this context, though in the ancient world any oath was an oath before the gods and carried a religious obligation with it.

We open with some dream sex in which Spartacus' wife's cleavage is waved around at the camera until the dream turns nasty, she gets done in and Spartacus wakes up and is given a haircut and taken to the baths for a clean-up.

Xena Warrior Princess' name in this is 'Lucretia', which doesn't seem to bode well. John Hannah gets his shirt off, which is nice, and they discuss their financial problems while wearing transparent clothing and surrounded by similarly dressed slaves and while a female slave 'entertains' Xena (which seems a bit odd - why not just have sex with each other? Which they proceed to do).

The gladiators do some naked male bonding - I have a vague notion that at some point Alan Bates and Oliver Reed should turn up and wrestle. One of them insists Spartacus smells of shit, so he must have been to a really bad bathhouse. Spartacus gets in the game by telling a Gaul he smells like a woman and we seem to be setting up a future rivalry here. Next we meet Drill Sergeant Guy, their trainer, who tells them they have to f**k death, which, while vulgur, does have a certain logic to it. Sort of.

Drill Sergeant Guy likes Spartacus already thanks to his display last week though Spartacus does his best to annoy everyone by objecting to the name (though not doing anything so useful as telling us his real one). Then there's a whole pissing contest type thing where Spartacus has to prove himself in a fight to avoid being sent to the mines and Drill Sergeant Guy dispenses arena wisdom. This involves one hapless would-be gladiator getting dead, which Drill Sergeant Guy is quite rightly annoyed at since that's lost him some money, though he then illogically orders Spartacus killed as well and John Hannah has to save him (because he's hoping to win points from Haldir by killing him later).

There are some random Latin words thrown into the mix, like 'gladius', the short sword, and last week's 'legatus' which Mum and I misheard as Legolas. I love that they've got some Latin in there, but on the other hand it is rather confusing for me and I'm guessing anyone without Latin misses them all together.

The gladius

Spartacus makes friends with a blonde Australian who voluntarily became a gladiator to pay his debts and protect his family, whom I shall call Neighbours Reject because he looks to me like he should be on Neighbours, though actually the actor has nothing to do with the show as far as I know. They annoy Drill Sergeant Guy and are punished by having to carry cross-bars around all night in a circle, then train as usual the next day, after some more general unpleasantness in the gladiators' quarters. Spartacus does meet the gladiator school's local man-who-can-get-you-what-you-need though, which is handy.

Haldir stops by for some taunting, having decided a slow death for Spartacus will be even better than a quick one, and delivers the compulsory 'your wife was raped repeatedly' speech, though he does include the information that when he last saw her, she was still alive. His snotty blonde wife also stops by for a gander at the gladiators and we actually see some interesting character development as Xena admits to being childless (which is promptly followed by blonde wife giving her a goodbye kiss on the lips - whether that will be an interesting plot development or just an excuse for double the tits remains to be seen). In this period, a man would only stay with a childless wife if he loved her, since childlessness was blamed on the woman and a man would divorce her and try again with a new wife, unless he loved her, in which case they could stay together and adopt instead. I'm not 100% convinced all this thought went into the writing of Spartacus, but it's an interesting character development anyway.

Spartacus works out his rage issues on another gladiator and has to be whipped into submission by Drill Sergeant Guy, losing his wife's garter (OK, it can't be a garter, but that's what it looks like) in the process. Luckily the victim survives, and Batiatus still thinks Spartacus is valuable enough to keep around even though he keeps attacking the other merchandise. Drill Sergeant Guy has got hold of the garter-thing to use to subdue him in future. I have to say, I'm starting to lose sympathy with Spartacus at this point - I hope he isn't going to go the way of Dodgey Soldier (though I suspect not).

Batiatus has words with Spartacus, and refers to his (Spartacus') wife as a 'delicate flower', which is pretty funny, remembering what she's actually like. Batiatus waves the garter-thing around and promises to help reunite them if Spartacus does what he says.

There's some rock music going during the next fight sequence, which is fun (it's probably been there for a while and I didn't notice, I do that sometimes with music). The platform they're fighting on reminded me of the duelling sequences in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for some reason. There's supposed to be some tension around whether Spartacus will fight or not but, well, we all know where all this is going and we know he's not likely to start the revolt yet, so it's not really as tense as it's supposed to be. It's all going to go horribly wrong for John Hannah when he doesn't go through with his promise though. Spartacus recites the 'sacramentum gladiatorum', the oath of gladiators, which seems a bit unnecessary since most of them are slaves, and for some reason it's only now he's branded as well - did they want to avoid wasting good fire fuel or something? Anyway, he's a true gladiator now. End of episode.

This one was a bit slow - we're becoming ever more immune to the blood and tits now, especially given the cartoonish version of the blood, but there wasn't a whole lot of story development here - we all know Spartacus is going to end up being a gladiator from the start. The most interesting character development belonged to Xena, and was genuninely intriguing, if brief. She really should take care of her own foreplay though, getting a slave to do it is just lazy.


  1. Ahem. I don't think it was just Lucy Lawless who was being lazy in that scene. Ahem ahem.

  2. I'm sure it wasn't! I confess, I'm looking at the computer for quite a lot of Spartacus, especially the most gratuitous scenes (which I figure I can live without seeing in detail!)

  3. Juliette - don't be too harsh on 'Neighbours Reject' - he becomes......

    oops. I wont spoil it for you :)

    I'm enjoying reading your reviews of this series. I just love Lucy Lawless character in this show..so devious!

    Thanks for Sharing :)

    H Niyazi


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