Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Spartacus Blood and Sand: Whore and Inception


Has anyone else seen Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010) yet? It was brilliant - and I think I'd enjoy it even more if I was able to see it a second time, without trying to second guess the plot the whole way through. I'm not sure how much 'pure creation' there is in real dreams - generally speaking, dreams are made up of elements of things you remember, sometimes mixed up together in strange ways. It's pretty much impossible to dream something you have no knowledge of. But still, it's brilliant.

It also features some significant names, some of which seem pretty obvious, others are less clear cut (oh, for a sequel to give us some more answers!). Ariadne has been picked up in most places as the woman who led Theseus out of the maze, which is probably why they went for that, but it's worth bearing in mind that Ariadne was also the woman abandoned on a beach while she was asleep. Like others, I kept mishearing 'Mal' as 'Moll' and wondering if she had something to do with gangsters, but it turns out it's 'Mal' - French for 'bad', 'evil', derived from Latin 'malus', but according to Empire magazine (and verified by Mum) it could also be related to mal'ak, Hebrew for 'messenger' (or 'angel'). Empire also suggested that 'Cobb' might be derived from Jacob, who dreamed of a ladder to heaven.

I also wondered if 'Yusuf' might be related to 'Joseph', who was told what to do in dreams. And King 'Arthur' is said to be sleeping and will wake when England needs him (his absence throughout the 20th century is not explained in legend!). And Micheal Caine's character is called 'Miles', as in 'to go before I sleep', but that's probably taking things a bit far. I keep wondering whether there is a deeper significance to any of these names, or whether Nolan is just messing with all our minds...

Anyway, on to this week's Spartacus.

This episode is called 'Whore' and features full frontal mass female nudity in the first few minutes, so I guess this will be a sexy episode, more than a bloody one (a guess mostly borne out, until the very end). Xena has got as bored of Paris Hilton as the rest of us and is now sucking up to Crassus' cousin, much to Hilton's chagrin. Trouble is, when they're all in their blonde wigs, I find it quite difficult to tell them apart. Xena is much quicker to leap to the lesbian snog in this show than she was in her own. The idea of all Xena's friends coming over to have sex with a gladiator actually does have some basis in historical evidence though. A lot of said evidence comes from Juvenal's satires, which are somewhat exaggerated tirades against anyone who isn't Juvenal, but still, it's something which may actually have happened in ancient Rome, so bonus points for that.

Bonus points immediately retracted for John Hannah randomly having forced sex with a slave - which, as we saw the other week, this programme does not seem to regard as rape, though it is - while having a conversation with his wife, who obviously wasn't in the mood. Trouble is, I was too distracted by explaining this to Brother, who's never seen the show before, that I missed what he was actually saying. (I had warned him that these two are often too lazy to do their own foreplay, and that they have slaves to do everything for him, but he was surprised - and amused - to see that sometimes it isn't just the foreplay that they can't be bothered to do for themsleves). Oh well.

I did like the next scene, which, if memory serves, mirrors a scene from the famous Kirk Douglas film of Spartacus' story, in which a woman (wearing rather more than this one) is sent to his cell to have sex with him and he refuses. I liked the echo of the film, following the 'I am Spartacus!' statement a couple of weeks ago, it was fun to see.

Since when was the gnome-y bearded guy a gladiator? I guess this is why he's so bitter. Is Xena actually bathing in milk of some kind?! I know Cleopatra was supposed to have done that, but I figured it was a story that got exaggerated. I'm not sure why the slave woman didn't just pretend she'd had sex with Spartacus when interrogated, she's not very bright it seems.

Crixus and some new guy have been naughty boys and will be sent to bed without supper. At least Neighbours Reject has seen some sense and calmed down. Xena, meanwhile, continues in her delusion that she and Crixus have some kind of actual relationship. Paris Hilton rather surprisingly looks slightly embarassed about using gladiators for sex, which is unusually human of her.

Xena without her wig is a little bit scary, as is her rage that anyone else might want Crixus, though not as scary as JH saying that soon they will give her a lesson in manners. Neighbours Reject, meanwhile, continues to react in a rather extreme manner to bad news.

I like the all too brief scene between Drill Sergeant Guy and Crixus a lot, where it looks almost as if they might plot against Spartacus. I continue to wonder how on earth Spartacus is going to lead a rebellion when everyone hates him. He's still got Neighbours Reject, of course - as I explained to Brother, they're BFFs. The rather dim slave woman is learning, though still not actually lying, and Spartacus is helping out his buddy, while Crixus teaches his new nemesis a thing or two, so things are starting to look up a bit.

It can't last though. JH seems to have similar tastes to Salome or Caligula, as his slaves have brought him a head as a present, Spartacus is led off to have sex with Crassus' cousin and Crixus goes off on a random jealous rant, only to find his poor girlfriend was flirting with a guard so that she could nick the key and they could finally have sex with each other, instead of Xena or JH. It was nice to see them finally get it together.

At this point, Mum had to remind me of the plot, which I had lost track of, as various double-crossings appear while everyone is wearing masks, along with yet more full frontal female nudity. Paris Hilton thinks she's having sex with Crixus, but it's Spartacus, who thinks he's having sex with Crassus' cousin (which his high morals seem to allow), then the cousin turns up, the masks come off, Spartacus goes mad and tries to strangle Paris Hilton, he is pulled off her, but then she goes mad and kills the cousin by smashing her face in, which is really, really gross. So now Xena and JH have a dead cousin of Crassus on their hands, and yet somehow Paris Hilton is still BFFs with Xena, I think because Xena is covering up her unfortunate murder of the cousin of one of the most powerful men in Rome.

I like the way the show is slowly moving towards actual history - more mentions of Crassus, who will presumably find out about his cousin at some point and possibly think that Spartacus did it, and echoes of the older movie, which isn't exactly historically accurate, but has more history in it than the TV series so far (which is not a criticism, as the series is offering a backstory that otherwise wouldn't exist, just an observation). Spartacus is becoming more leader-like, as he helps out Neighbours Reject, but I'm still hoping for a reconciliation between him and Crixus at some point, they're best fighting together. It's not looking good at the moment though, unless Spartacus can also somehow get Drill Sergeant Guy on side - which, if Crixus' girlfriend reveals what she knows about the death of Barca, might be possible, though unlikely. Here's hoping for more plotting and less really gross face-bashing in next week!

6 comments:

  1. The Cobb = Jacob theory is interesting, but it's worth noting that Chris Nolan's very first film, Following (1998), also features a thief named Cobb who talks about the personal things that people keep in their "boxes".

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  2. Yeah, I'm not so sure about that one. I'm surprised more people haven't mentioned the Arthur connection though

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  3. Yusuf is Joseph's name in the Koran. He has prophetic dreams and interprets others' dreams in the Koran similar to the way he does in the Old Testament.

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  4. Oh, *that* Joseph! I was having a totally dumb moment and thinking of the New Testament Joseph! (This is especially stupid for someone who wrote sections on OT Joseph in her thesis!) Anyway, I'm glad I was right about the root of the name being the same

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  5. I am very interested in your comment about the master / slave sex as being rape. I certainly feel that the way Batiatus uses his female slaves is a form of rape, and that we were meant to see it as such - you can see the horrified expression on the slave's face when Lucretia and Batiatus are in the tub in last week's episode.

    What do you think about the Lucretia / Crixus sex? I think it's fair to say he wouldn't be having sex with her if she were not his Domina; do you think the show could do more to portray this as a form of her using her power as his owner to rape him?

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  6. I think it could - though it came close last week when Crixus was nearly sent away when he couldn't perform. I found it interesting that certain assaults between the gladiators weren't shown when this show is not usually shy - but perhaps it was because that was male-on-male, rather than because it wasn't connected to the master/slave relationship.

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