Spartacus Vengeance: Chosen Path

Our heroes return victorious to their hideout, DSG in a stretcher. The Artist appears to have recovered fully and he and Number One are now an item. Gannicus insists that DSG will be just as lucky (healing-wise that is, I don't think those two are going to be going after each other). Crixus and Naevia are finally reunited.

Gannicus points out that the only cause Spartacus and the others are heading for is certain death, and insists he's only there to repay his debt to DSG. GirlFriend thinks Spartacus should have killed Gannicus in the arena. I'm liking GF more and more. She has a ruthless streak Spartacus lacks, but isn't as annoying with it as Number One.

Back in the House of Death, Haldir and Paris Hilton are wearing black for PH's father and listening to his will being read. In those black robes, Haldir looks like a monk. PH is sniffling, while Haldir is growing stubble to demonstrate his move towards the Even Darker Side (he was already well over on the Dark Side when he raided Spartacus' village way back in the very first episode). I think he's had a haircut too. And he's acquired a cool scar. He's still convinced PH's baby is his.

Many of Haldir's men are apparently deserting from fear of Spartacus. Gnomey Guy, who, like Spartacus' group appears to have given up on the wearing of clothes, points out once more that the gladiators are a real threat so Haldir tells him to prove it. Gnomey Guy takes on half the soldiers and somehow manages to win, going for the face again (though not fatally this time). The tooth flying at the screen is an especially nice touch.

Haldir sends Gnomey Guy away and for some reason Gnome-Man chooses this moment to shave. It's all about the symbolic facial hair in this episode. He threatens and rapes Xena before he leaves. Naevia and Crixus try to have sex again, but she experiences flashbacks of what's happened to her since she left and runs away.

New Blonde is upset at the loss of her meal ticket (apparently that was Random 3rd from last week) so she comes on to Gannicus, but he gives her the brush-off and she heads off to greener pastures.

Spartacus, GF, Number One and Crazy Old Guy are Strategising. It emerges that Crazy Old Guy is the only person with any knowledge of archery, given that there isn't much call for that in the arena (actually you might want it occasionally, for a mythical-reenactment-come-execution, but you wouldn't train star gladiators like Spartacus and his men to do that). Spartacus intends to attack the port, possibly with the intention of leaving Italy.

We cut to another brothel, populated by, among others, the most unattractive prostitute ever put on film. Gnomey Guy turns up, watches another guy smash someone's face in - because that's what people do for fun in Spartacus - and says he wants to deal. Xena and Paris Hilton (who is wearing more subtle make-up than usual) have a bath together and plot their revenge on Haldir.

Gannicus looks like he's trying to meditate, sitting cross-legged and staring out into space. Crixus encourages Spartacus to try to recruit him, so Spartacus does the only thing he knows how to do (other than kill people) - he speechifies for a bit. Crixus and Number One are bored enough to start a fight in the back rows. Spartacus was thinking of staying near Vesuvius, but No 1 now wants to head for Naples.

Spartacus takes Gannicus out hunting so he can quiz him over DSG. Gannicus points out he passed up the chance to claim a reward for killing Spartacus and lost his proof of his freedom in the arena. Spartacus lets on his dead wife is the reason he's trying to declare war on all Romans and Gannicus is even less impressed with Spartacus than he already was.

Haldir's latest plan is to see if Xena can get knowledge or help from the gods. Seppius is (understandably) not impressed by this plan. Seppius snubs Haldir, but at Xena's prompting PH invites his sister, Gladiator Groupie, to stay in hopes that she'll sway him. Haldir is impressed and Xena reassures PH that they'll get out of the House of Death together. I bet as soon as the baby's born she kills PH and makes off with it.

He's got stubble and a facial scar now. That means he's Even Darker Than He Already Was.
(Let's face it, it's also a little bit sexier).

Gnomey Guy has gone to fetch an Egyptian from the bottom of a well. This is the sort of thing that happens on Spartacus.

Crazy Old Guy is teaching GF and some others archery. GF lectures New Blonde on the importance of making your own way in the world rather than relying on sexual partners. Gannicus and Crixus chat about which of them can piss higher up a wall (not literally, though I wouldn't put it past them) while Gannicus skins and prepares a big animal (boar?). Gannicus tells Crixus he should take Naevia away before she gets hurt again. DSG wakes up and is not pleased to see Gannicus, who is still guilting, of course, because when anyone on this show runs out of faces to smash or Egyptians to recover from wells, they guilt to pass the time.

Xena, PH and Gladiator Groupie have a little group therapy session over the post traumatic stress from seeing Spartacus in action. Xena imagines that John Hannah is patiently waiting for her on the shores of the afterlife. I bet he's not. I bet even in Heaven (if he managed to go in that direction) Batiatus would be finding some young woman of negotiable affection to have his way with. Haldir interrupts to persuade Gladiator Groupie to speak to her brother for him, and to perv on her a little bit, and she's vulnerable enough that this works. He then goes off to speak to Gnomey Guy

Naevia is playing with Crixus' sword in an ominous fashion. (Her trauma here is very real and understandable, but her lines about being a different person would be less distracting if she weren't being played by a different actress...) Luckily she has decided she wants to learn how to fight, rather than tending towards the suicidal.

Spartacus thinks Gannicus has betrayed him so he picks a fight. At which point it starts to rain, because Jupiter knows what fights are supposed to look like and so do TV directors. GF tries to stop New Blonde, who seems to be the actual traitor, from running away by wounding her, but kills her instead. Spartacus lets Gannicus go. No 1 and GF worry that Gannicus may be a threat and Spartacus says they have faced worse - at which point we smash cut to Gnomey Guy and his new minions murdering Seppius and his household while the soundtrack gets over-excited at the appearance of actual death and bloodshed (there are choirs again).

Haldir corners Seppius, who is bleeding on the floor, and taunts him with the knowledge that Gladiator Groupie will be staying with him at the House of Death from now on as he kills him. Gnomey Guy takes Seppius' armband - I bet that comes back to bite him in the backside later (Gladiator Groupie may yet learn to use a sword). End of episode.

Not a bad episode at all. This installment took some time to deal with some of the horrific things the show has been piling on its characters, which needed to be done. The fight between Spartacus and Gannicus at the end was totally devoid of tension if you know any of the history, and fairly devoid of it even if you don't know any history but have watched TV programmes before. Still, it was partly made up for by the less expected offing of Seppius at the end and the camera lingering on Gnomey Guy taking Seppius' distinctive armband, which will surely lead to his horrible death eventually. Having said that, Gnomey Guy was actually almost a little bit awesome in his fight at the beginning of the episode, so perhaps there's hope for him yet, before Gladiator Groupie skewers him like a stuck pig.

Just one lingering question - who on Earth was the Egyptian? Was I supposed to recognise him?!


Gnomey Guy (having just delivered a serious beat-down to several Roman soldiers): ...and I was considered lowest among the Brotherhood.

Gannicus: You have cock to rival Jupiter himself.

No 1 (re Gannicus): Were the Gauls not f***ing bad enough?!

Gannicus: I seek only wine.
Spartacus: We have none.
Gannicus: Then I truly am among the damned.
(I like Gannicus. I'll even overlook the historically inaccurate use of the concept of damnation for him).

Gladiator Groupie (to Paris Hilton, re Haldir): You are blessed to hold such a man.
Paris Hilton: The gods grant only what is deserved.
(The double meaning of 'deserved' is an old trick, but I like it).

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  1. Another great recap, Juliette!

    I like Gannicus, but what's with this odd Antipodean accent he's got? Or is he just prattling. In this episode it sounded as if he was really drunk when they shot this. It makes me laugh every time he opens his mouth.

    The Egyptian is a whole new character. They just set him up like this uber-badass fighter for no apparent reason, like they do it sometimes in over-the-top movies/TV series. But I have to say his fighting style is nicely different from all the face smashing in the show.

    I'm not an expert about Roman mythologies but did the Romans actually NOT believe in an afterlife? It always itches me when they say something about the afterlife.

    All in all I really liked this episode and I think this season started slowly but got better with every episode (except episode 5 was still the best so far).

  2. Romans believed in an afterlife - the dead went to the underworld. There were also a lot of ghost stories and some fear of lemures and spirits, and the dead always had to be buried outside the city (that's why there are graves all along the Appian Way). There were lots of different cults with various views on the specifics of the afterlife, but general belief in the afterlife and basic agreement on the fundamentals was widespread.

    Gannicus' accent is just because the actor is Antipodean I think. Crixus has an Antipodean accent as well, because Many Bennet is from New Zealand (he's part Maori I think). They're generally not too bothered about accents on this show. John Hannah toned down his Scots accent a bit but he didn't get rid of it, explaining in an interview that since none of them are speaking Latin, their accents don't really matter.

  3. Then I got this all wrong. Well, I'm no historian :P
    But thank you for the clarification.

  4. No worries! :)
    I meant Manu, not Many, obviously...! (accurate typing is not my strong point :) )

  5. The reference to damnation is right off, because the Roman underworld was the land of the dead, where everyone went. There were other places, like the Elysian Fields, that were more heaven-like (i.e. nicer), but the idea that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell is Christian and medieval, so Gannicus' reference to the damned is totally wrong.

  6. John Maddox Roberts15 May 2012 at 23:00

    Glaber is stubbly because his household is in mourning for his father-in-law (done in by Glaber himself). Roman men did not shave or comb their hair while in mourning, and they wore dark, dingy clothes.


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