Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spartacus War of the Damned: Blood Brothers



Red stuff drips artistically. You know that scene in Gladiator, in Morocco, where Proximo walks through a butcher’s knocking aside the dangling bodies of animals dripping blood all over the place? It’s like that, but with people.

Number One is still sulking at the Artist for daring to have other friends but has bigger problems; he and Spartacus observe Crixus giving Spartacus the side-eye. Number One affirms his allegiance to Spartacus. I have to say, I’m liking him more this season, baseless jealousy aside.

Gannicus is wearing clothes! Things must be serious. Helga is insulting him and everyone else in German, but no one really minds. The Pirate King is still calling Spartacus ‘King Spartacus’ which is kind of cool. They have a Plan which involves Spartacus sailing off for a little while, taking Gannicus with him and hoping Crixus doesn’t stage a mutiny in his absence.

Meanwhile, back with the Romans, Tiberius is sulking over his dead friend’s short straw (white stone, technically) while Maid Marian attempts a look of mild concern. Trumpets and music a bit like the score on Caesar IV herald the arrival of a senator called Metellus, who is wearing Lucilla’s fox-fur from Gladiator. He tries to tell Crassus what to do, which gets him nowhere since Crassus is paying for the whole army, but his news that Pompey has won his war in Spain and is on his way has more effect. Crassus calls Pompey an ‘adolescent butcher’ which is pretty funny. I so badly want to see a series that follows Surfer Caesar, the so-far-unseen Pompey and Crassus fight their way through the First Triumvirate. We’re reminded that Crassus admires and respects Spartacus, unlike everyone else. Crassus gets fed up of Metellus and goads him into a mission which I bet has more than a sniff of kamikaze to it.

Beardy German now trusts Surfer Caesar enough to give him a sword, so Surfer Caesar repays him by stirring up more trouble between Crixus and Spartacus. Crixus stomps off to yell at Number One, who is feeding and protecting Boudicca and the last few remaining Romans, though reluctantly. Crixus wants to know why Spartacus has sailed away with the pirates but no amount of whinging about Number One’s brother and Romans in general will sway Number One’s loyalty – that’s why he’s Number One. He has fabulous spiky hair in this episode by the way. He’s obviously raided some Roman hair gel.

Gannicus is on the pirate ship with Spartacus, who is reminiscing and plotting to steal Crassus’ army’s supplies. Spartacus, who is clearly not giving Number One enough credit, is now trying to persuade Gannicus to be his second, but Gannicus is having none of it (I so, so want Gannicus to survive this series, though it seems spectacularly unlikely).

Spartacus and his gang find the Romans with a very small cart carrying nothing like enough to feed Crassus’ army and the rock soundtrack kicks in to signal some blood and mayhem. Crassus, blissfully unaware, sulks about the fact that his son is strangely unimpressed at being forced to murder his best friend and then go live in the lower people’s camp and watch his dad come in for a booty call with a slave he clearly fancies himself.

Sexy time – Crassus and Maid Marian, orange glow and soft focus as usual. Surfer Caesar is having a considerably less romantic flirtation with a bare-breasted woman in an ancient Roman pub (I suppose I should call it a tavern, since it’s Roman. It’s basically a pub). He gets his wooden spoon out again to encourage the Pirate King to distrust Spartacus as well and to extract some information from him, and Beardy German kindly offers to help him find out what Spartacus’ plans against Crassus are.

Number One is busy glaring at the Artist and Boudicca together, but the Artist points out that he doesn’t follow orders and Number One can’t tell him who to hang out with, plus he had bigger problems at the time, like Crixus and Naevia slaughtering everyone in sight. Their domestic is interrupted by the news that some Romans are coming and Crixus, over Number One’s protestations, is about to mount an attack when the King himself shows up and declares his intention to release the last few Romans. Apparently when they got off the ship, Spartacus and Gannicus didn’t even stop to wash the blood off, though given what Crixus was about to do that was probably wise.

Maid Marian tries to make Tiberius feel better, on Crassus’ orders. It doesn’t work.

Spartacus and Number One escort Boudicca and the others out of the city. Spartacus and Crixus give each other Significant Looks while some of Spartacus’ men pee on the Romans as they go. Crixus complains that Boudicca will be able to share information with the Romans, but is forced to back down when Spartacus points out that was the plan in the first place. Having convinced the Romans of how divided they are, they’ll take advantage and trick Crassus. It’s a great plan – or it would be, if the divide between Spartacus and Crassus weren’t a bit too genuine.

The Pirate King is leaving, but I’m distracted by the fact Gannicus is wearing actual trousers! No shirt though. ('Trousers' - of a sort - did exist in the ancient world, Persians wore them). He calls Spartacus’ plan mad, which he means as a compliment.

Boudicca tells Crassus Spartacus is heading for Sicily and Crixus is staying in the city, though all that achieves is to get her snarked by Crassus for still being alive (he frowns on that). Meanwhile Tiberius rapes Maid Marian as a way of getting petty vengeance on his father and Spartacus’ people pack up and move out. Naevia tries to apologise to Gannicus about Trojan Horse, but he remains unmoved.

Gannicus rocks ancient-style trousers (this pic is from another episode, but they're probably the same trousers)

Surfer Caesar reaches the end of the road and reveals himself to Beardy German, who tries to negotiate, since he doesn’t care about Spartacus and just wants to get home. Surfer Caesar is about as taken by this idea as you’d expect and Beardy German is given the honour of a slow-motion death.

Helga goes off to find Number One and Eponine takes advantage of the opportunity to accost him again. Spartacus’ carefully laid plans are interrupted by the Pirate King going over to the Romans (who had more money – of course, being led by Crassus) and Surfer Caesar and Gannicus get to throw a few blows at each other before splitting off to run in dramatic slow-mo across the city. Surfer Caesar takes on Number One and Helga, who are guarding the gate, and one of these three is an historical character with another 27 years to live, while the other two are not. Hmm.

Lots of slo-mo fighting. It all looks a bit like an especially bloody version of tai chi. The Artist does pretty well for himself. A Roman gets his face smashed in, of course, and the Pirate King gets his cut off. Crixus gets a bit over-enthusiastic about finishing off the pirates, but he and Spartacus make up, covered in the blood of their enemies.

It won’t do them much good, though, because Surfer Caesar burns down the gate. I love Crassus’ battering ram, which has an exciting animal head that is probably a dog but looks a tiny bit like a dragon to me (it’s probably pretty accurate – I confess, I have no idea what Roman battering rams looked like. I have a vague notion they might have had dogs' heads). ‘Now would be time to run,’ says Surfer Caesar. End of episode.

Not a bad hour – it’s nice to see Spartacus and Crixus making up and it’ll be good to see our nominal heroes band together against a common enemy again. Surfer Caesar continues to be pretty awesome, though Tiberius has put himself straight on the ‘die horribly as soon as possible please’ list – which probably means he’ll hang around for ages, but eventually die horribly in the finale. And Crassus somehow remains sympathetic despite ‘exhuming the putrid spectre of decimation,’ largely because he’s so much more intelligent than anyone else on the show. Good stuff – though the most pressing hanging question is, how long will Helga and Number One last, and will Gannicus and The Artist throw themselves into mad vengeance kicks if and when they die? We’ll have to wait and see…

Quotes

Spartacus: I am done with words.

Metellus: Is it true that you exhume putrid spectre of decimation? This might be my favourite line in all four seasons to date.

Gannicus: A man must do what he can to brace against the shit of a simple day.

Nasir (on Agron running away from an argument): Is it a common trait of men east of the Rhine to run from a fight?

‘The die has been cast’ comes up again. It’s no wonder it sprang to Caesar’s mind all those years later…

All Spartacus: Various Subtitles reviews

3 comments:

  1. Dog's head rams sounds vaguely familiar to me too. Either that's right or we've seen the same old movie.

    The Celts also wore trousers. They can be seen in various sculptures and reliefs. I think somebody might also have mentioned it and sneered at them for it. Might even have been Caesar in the Gallic Wars, though that sort of sneering isn't quite like him.

    Could Crassus really have afforded to offend and possibly cause the death of one of the Metelli? Since he hasn't got an extra cognomen, he probably isn't one of the really famous ones (unless he's old enough to have been the one who suggested proscriptions to Sulla), but the Metelli were a family that took care of their own.

    All that die casting sounds like somebody didn't do their homework and thought it was a Roman proverb or something. It's actually from Menander, who was Caesar's favorite poet/playwright (and Caesar therefore likely said it in Greek). The context is more like "What's done is done. Let the chips fall where they may." Then the person the speaker is talking to predicts doom. Of course, they're talking about marriage, so it's supposed to be funny...

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  2. Gannicus equals eye candy for the ladies, huh?

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    Replies
    1. Pretty much everyone comes under that heading! But Gannicus is also sarky and sensible, very attractive traits!

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