Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Spartacus Vengeance: Balance


Balance? As in balanced argument, balanced approach? From this show? Yeah right!

Gannicus is out in the woods, threatening pregnant women, as you do. Well, a woman - Paris Hilton, of course. They meet a couple of randoms who don't buy that they're married, especially when Paris says so outright, and Gannicus very politely apologises and kills them both, fairly quickly.

Spartacus and Girlfriend are hunting deer together, which is probably the most romantic thing they've done all season. Just as the touchy subject of his dead wife comes up again, Gannicus turns up and throws Paris Hilton at his feet, telling him to kill her, take his vengeance on Haldir that way, and give up on Haldir himself so they can all just get the heck out of dodge.

Xena has somehow convinced Haldir that she's innocent of trying to have him (or Paris) killed. Haldir is attempting damage control before Rome finds out he can't even protect his own wife, while Xena insists he ought to care about Paris as a person more than politics (pretty rich - though to be fair, she and Batiatus really loved each other and genuinely put each other's interests first a lot of the time, which is more than can be said for Haldir and Paris Hilton). Gnomey Guy decides he's now risen high enough to give Xena advice and continues to kid himself they're in some kind of relationship.

Crixus conrtinues to teach Naevia sword-fighting, having established yet again how useful it is last week. Apparently she's a natural. Since they're a couple, naturlally, it all gets quite soppy and this is the most romantic thing they've done all season. At least one German seems to speak some Latin, so DSG has happily taken over his old role as, of course, Drill Sergeant Guy. The whole homely scene is interrupted by the arrival of Spartacus, Gannicus, GirlFriend and Paris Hilton. Crazy Old Guy points out going after pregnant women is not really what they should be doing but Spartacus is blinded by his obsession with the treatment of his own wife and ignores him.

Obligatory Brothel Scene. Haldir has resorted to visiting the place and interrogating the pimp himself, rather than relying on Gnomey Guy. When one disgruntled customer demands another drink and a fresh prostitute, one of Haldir's minions breaks his neck, twisting his head right round in an improbably Exorcist-like fashion. The pimp cheerfully informs Haldir that his slave had talked to Gannicus, but Gnomey had her crucified, so Haldir slits his throat. He wipes his sword clean on one of the prostitutes' skin and wanders off.

Paris Hilton points out she had nothing to do with Spartacus' wife's death, to no avail. Just as Spartacus is about to kill her, she finally tells him it's his kid (A-ha! I knew it!). Then she tries to sweet-talk him with how good she is in bed. Spartacus threatens to finish the murder attempt he started when he found out it was her he was sleeping with, but he can't really argue with the central problem that killing her will kill his own child.

Crixus tries to persuade Gannicus to kiss and make up with DSG, and is blissfully optimistic about this, since he doesn't know what the problem was. He also approves of the kidnap of Paris Hilton. I think this is the first time Crixus has shown affection or admiration for anyone other than Naevia, I'm impressed.

Gannicus is unimpressed that he's made himself Rome's Most Wanted for a woman Spartacus refuses to kill, while Spartacus tries to claim his reluctance is because she's innocent (luckily for him, Gannicus doesn't know about Neighbours Reject - though actually I'm not sure Spartacus knows that was her fault either, I can't remember).

Without Paris Hilton, Xena is forced to turn her attention to Gladiator Groupie, and tries to persuade her to send for help from Rome - unsuccessfully, since Gladiator Groupie is no longer interested in Varinius in Rome, but in Haldir. Gladiator Groupie thinks the gods are putting her and Haldir together, at which Xena looks appropriately horrified.

Crazy Old Guy is looking after Paris Hilton, since he seems to be the only person who thinks maybe heavily pregnant women should get, you know, something to eat and drink. He tells her his sob story about losing his land to Sulla (and Crassus, presumably, who made a fortune buying land seized in Sulla's proscriptions). She promises him that if he gets a message out for her, she'll get him his lands back.

Spartacus has told GirlFriend about the baby and she is, well, you can imagine. She demands that Spartacus kill Paris Hilton. Spartacus points out that would make him as bad as Haldir (something he has apparently only just thought of).

Haldir and Gladiator Groupie are getting it on, uninterrupted this time. He's grown some stubble again, maybe he's contemplating more Dark Deeds. He reassures Gladiator Groupie he only cares for the baby, not his wife. He does at least have the grace to look ever so slightly guilty when she mentions her desire to see her brother avenged.

Gnomey Guy has had a hard day smashing people's faces in, shoving swords up every possible oriface (nose, mouth, probably others but he's on this show so he likes to focus on the face) but all to no avail. He goes after Xena again and she slaps him, which does not go well for her (poor Lucy Lawless has had to do deeply unpleasant scene after deeply unpleasant scene this season).

Spartacus is seeing visions of his dead wife again. He hasn't done that in a while. He joins Crazy Old Guy for a friendly stroll while Gannicus mopes to DSG about Paris Hilton's continued existence. He then tries to persuade DSG to kill him and take vengeance, but DSGpoints out Gannicus' constant guilt is a much more satisfying form of vengeance.

Number One and The Artist finally get an actual love scene, but they're interrupted by GirlFriend, who sends them to bed since they're not actually guarding anything. She then heads for Paris Hilton herself. The number of people who want that woman dead, she could be in an Agatha Christie novel. She tries to play the baby card, blissfully unaware that GF is particularly unlikely to want her kid around. GF sets herself on PH and Spartacus turns up to pull her off just in time.

Gladiator Groupie boasts smugly about her night of sex while actually reclining, being fanned by slaves, and eating grapes. It's like she saw a painting of decadent ancient Romans and copied it down to the brushstrokes. She looks less smug when Crazy Old Guy turns up with promises of returning Paris Hilton (and to call Haldir a c*nt, but everyone does that). Spartacus has clearly sent him to get PH back home and keep the baby safe, since half his camp want to kill her. He proposes a trade of PH for some weapons. Gladiator Groupie is all for letting Paris die. Haldir looks grim and still hasn't shaved.

Spartacus insists to the whole gang that they will keep to their word and all the named characters declare that they will come along, with Gannicus coming in DSG's place because DSG is still injured.

Everyone emerges from dark shadows to gentle guitar strains for their exchange. Spartacus starts fantasising about killing Paris to Haldir and declares that he is letting her live because he's not Haldir, who in turn points out that since Spartacus has already carved Haldir's name into some corpses, the high road is not really an option. Spartacus demands his wagon of weapons which is... covered. And closed. It's like dragging a huge wooden horse with just enough room for some top soldiers into your city. Just as Number One goes to open it, Haldir lets on that actually he doesn't care about his wife and is happy to see her die for the sake of getting Spartacus. Out jump the army from the Trojan Wagon and fighting ensues.

Since nearly all of Spartacus' minions on this trip are named characters, several of them historical, Haldir's men get the worst of it. Haldir himself takes a nasty arrow to the shoulder. He runs off, and so do our heroes, except Crazy Old Guy, who is having too much fun shooting bad guys. He dies, naturally. His head goes flying right off his neck. In slow motion.

Back at the House of Death, Xena is horrified that Haldir had decided to sacrifice wife and child for a chance at Spartacus. Gladiator Groupie looks even more smug and Xena looks like she's smelled something nasty. She's got a surprise up her sleeve though - she's nabbed Gladiator Groupie's brother's arm-thing from Gnomey Guy's stuff, which proves that at least Gnomey Guy and therefore almost certainly Haldir were the men who killed her brother.

Gladiator Groupie heads off to her rendevous with Haldir in this bath where she sits on his lap and smoulders.

Spartacus gtakes PH to the woods and taunts her about love (he must have realise by now she's never had any. I'm actually feeling sorry for her for once). He tells her Haldir picked vengeance over her life and declares that this lets her off the hook, death-wise, but inflicts plenty of psychological torture on her. Then he abandons her in the midlde of the woods. She looks like she's fallen out of some strange twisted fairy-tale, like Hansel and Gretal, or a Snow White who's heavily pregnant. End of episode.

There were some... odd things going on in this episode. First of all, our heroes are apparently perfectly happy to murder a heavily pregnant women for their own gain/petty desires. I'm just... not down with that. If they wanted to wait till she'd spawned and then kill her - well, I still wouldn't be OK with it because I personally am not a fan of vengeance in general, and there'd still be the other problem of extracting vengeance on Haldir by harming someone else, but I'd be more able to see where they were coming from (and if Spartacus wanted to kill her in revenge for Neighbours Reject, I still wouldn't agree, but I'd feel positively sympathetic towards him). But no, they want to kill her right now, in revenge for something someone else did, and her unborn child with her. OK, Spartacus pulls back when he finds out it's his, but it shouldn't matter whose it is - it's a baby (OK, a foetus, and yes I know its status is controversial, but the point is if anyone other than the mother kills the child along with her, that's two lives they're taking).

Then there were the scenes between Spartacus and Paris Hilton which were also... weird. She obviously remembers their wild sex fondly, and seems to have largely got over Xena having tricked her into sleeping with Spartacus rather than Crixus - after all, Crixus didn't turn out that great for Xena, and all she really wanted was some hot gladiator sex anyway. But Spartacus hates her, and he must know she was at least partly responsible for forcing him to kill his only friend. He was utterly horrified that he'd slept with her. I get that he wouldn't necessarily want to harm her, but when she starts flirting with him a little bit, he takes her hand and almost seems to feel some kind of affection for her. Still he's pretty cold to her at the end, so I guess it was just a moment of weakness.

Actually, I can see those two having some weird, twisted kind of sexual relationship later, a bit like what the writers wanted to do with Buffy and Spike in season 6 of Buffy. I hated that storyline because I liked Buffy and Spike as a more romantic couple, but here it could work. They'd need a bit more screentime together to fire up the chemistry though.

Other than that weirdness, things more or less continued as normal in this episode. Crazy Old Guy had to go, as he was the least important character on our heroes' mission (I reckon either The Artist or No 1 is down for death next. Then the other one can angst over it). Spartacus and GirlFriend seem to have broken up, sort of - her attempt to kill his unborn child should lead to a pretty big falling-out anyway. Gladiator Groupie knows about her brother's death and is carefully plotting Haldir's. And our heroes are total idiots who somehow fell for the most famous military trick in ancient mythology. I know they're not rich or literate and they come from all over the place, but it's the Trojan Horse, for pity's sake - it's pretty famous. Not to mention you'd have to be really dumb to fall for that trick anyway. So, business as usual, mostly, but with only two episodes left, we can't be far from the grisly, probably face-based demise of both Haldir (booooo!) and Gnomey Guy (yaaaaaaay!).

Image of the Trojan Horse from around 670 BC. You should know this, guys.

All Spartacus reviews.

Quotes

Number One: (on seeing Paris Hilton): F*ck the gods! (I'm going to miss him if he gets killed off next week. I never thought I'd say that, but Gannicus has been so whiny lately that Number One is our last source of snarky humour left).

2 comments:

  1. What is a "Trojan Horse"?! Just kidding ^^

    I am also not 100% sure, but Spartacus defended himself before Wife that the boy (Numerius) was responsible for the death of Neighbours Reject. So maybe he really doesn't know that PH was pushing the boy to do the deed.

    I actually had no problem with the rebels wanting to kill PH. Well, I have a problem with the idea killing a helpless pregnant woman, but I don't see the rebels as "the innocent good guys" and at the end of the first season they killed every Roman in the villa anyway. They see all Romans as enslaving monsters. Of course, we sympathize with them (or at least we're supposed to do), but Spartacus tried several times this season to tell them they're better than the Romans. So I saw their bloodthirst towards PH as a starting point for future development.

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  2. He might not - that makes sense, it probably wasn't obvious. Though it means he has even less reason to kill her!

    It's weird, I know they're a bunch of murderous psychopaths really, but there's something about being willing to murder an obviously heavily pregnant woman that goes over the line for me (I could just about deal with Crixus stabbing Lucretia because the baby in question was the result of her raping him continuously for months, though it was still pretty nasty). I'd be fine if they decided to let her have the kid and then kill her - there's just something about the fact they seem to feel her pregnancy makes no difference whatsoever that just seems a bit too far for me!

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