Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spartacus: Blood and Sand S1E9 and 10

Episode 9, "Whore" - This episode might have been better named "Whores" because pretty much everyone in it is one, in some form or another.  Lykinia, one of Ilythia's highborn bitch-friends, has approached Lucretia: she's got an itch she wants Spartacus to scratch for her, but is concerned that her husband and all soceity might find out, which would ruin her.  Lucretia, ever looking to advance herself in society says not to worry, she can arrange things without anyone knowing ... and then Ilythia waltzes in, quickly deducing what Lykinia is up to.  Ilythia promises to keep the secret but Lucretia still worries.  When Batiatus informs Spartacus of his upcoming performance, Spartacus surprisingly agrees to it - he must be getting the hang of this Champion of Capua thing.

Crixus is finally released back to the practice yard by the medicus; Asha gets his leg brace off and wants to resume practice as well, but Batiatus tells him that his fighting days are over and he's more valuable to the ludus behind the scenes.  His honor hurt by this, Asha finds Solonius in the marketplace and informs him - for a price - that Batiatus will be making an attempt on his life soon.  Solonius is happy to pay for this information.  Lucretia (Lucy Lawless topless in the bath!) takes advantage of Batiatus's errands in town to call Crixus back to her bed; post-coitally, she snuggles into his beefy arms and tells him she loves him.

Shortly thereafter, Ilythia stops by again and confesses to wanting a little one-on-one gladiator time herself.  Lucretia is happy to set things up, for a price, until she learns that Ilythia wants Crixus between her own slender thighs.  This sets off QUITE a fit of pique and Lucretia can scarcely get herself under control before her husband starts wondering why she's so worked up about a gladiator.  She is PISSED, however, and vows to regain her honor.

The night of Spartacus's engagement, Lucretia hands him a mask and bids him to speak no words to this highborn Roman lady he's about to boink.  Her slaves wash him and cover him with gold until he looks like a statue.  He comes to the bedchamber where the woman lies before him, naked except for her own mask.  They go at it - and how! - passion building and building until Lucretia tears open the bedcurtains, the real Lykinia beside her.  "Oh," she mocks, "I guess we got here before Spartacus was done with Ilythia."  Spartacus pulls off his mask, then tears the mask off the woman beneath him.  It is Ilythia - and the horror is bald on both their faces, that they should be enjoying the bodies of their enemy so much.  Spartacus lunges at Ilythia, choking her, until guards pull him away.  Then Lykinia starts laughing and laughing.  Ilythia screams at her to stop but she won't, so Ilythia tackles her and beats her brains out on the marble floor.  Seriously: teeth scatter.

In the aftermath, Batiatus actually apologizes to Spartacus for having allowed him to be coupled with Ilythia; in return, the gladiator apologizes for having tried to choke her.  Heh.  Ilythia is a wreck at having killed a peer but Lucretia soothes her, promises to protect her and get rid of the body, all the while gloating at the position of power she's now in.

Episode 10, "Party Favors" - When the magistrate's son, Nimerius, is about to turn fifteen, he wants to have a gladiatorial contest at the party.  Batiatus and Lucretia offer to have the whole shindig at the ludus, thinking that they might be able to use the event to their societal advantage, plus Batiatus is beginning to have political aspirations.  They sweeten the pot with offering up an exhibition between Spartacus and Crixus and the magistrate's family is delighted.  Crixus is tiring of being referred to as the "former champion of Capua" and decides that the exhibition may have to be the end of Spartacus.

Lucretia insists that Ilythia, who is in hiding at the ludus, afraid to go out into society for fear that her crime will be apparent, invite all her high society friends to the birthday party.  She also suggests that Ilythia get her act together: Lykinia's body will never be found, and no one knew she was ever here.  Ilythia spends some time gazing out over the gladiators' practice yard and notices that Spartacus and Varo have become pretty good friends.  That old evil twinkle appears in her eye again.

The magistrate's family arrives early for the party and Batiatus tries several times to talk to the magistrate about support for his political endeavors, to no avail.  Nimerius gets dirty practicing with Spartacus on the gladiators' sands.  When he is sent to the bath to clean up, Ilythia finds him there.  She wants something and knows the best way to get it from a fifteen year old boy is to undress and climb into the bath with him.

Once the party is underway, Batiatus announces the exhibition between Spartacus and Crixus - but Nimerius, with a quick look at Ilythia, requests that Spartacus and Varo fight instead (which makes Crixus pout).  They do, each drawing a little blood from the other, until Spartacus gets the better of his buddy and Varo surrenders.  In the spirit of the game, Batiatus asks Nimerius what his decision is.  With another quick look at Ilythia, Nimerius deliberately points his thumb down: the sign for execution.  Batiatus stutters that this is just for fun, but the magistrate is inclined to indulge the birthday boy and says he'll compensate the ludus for Varo.

Things get tense quickly when Spartacus, horrified at what he's being told to do, hesitates to kill Varo.  The guards advance, swords drawn.  Varo looks up at his friend and says that if Spartacus doesn't kill him, they will both end up dead.  Spartacus is crying, unable to move, so Varo reaches up, grabs Spartacus's sword, and drives it into his own neck, forcing Spartacus to give him a mercy stroke.  As Varo fall to the floor, blonde curls in the pool of his spreading blood, the image is near mirror to that of Lykinia after Ilythia killed her.  Shocked, Spartacus looks up and catches Ilythia's eye - she smiles evilly, satisfied.

Later, as the party winds down, Batiatus finally catches the magistrate and asks about running for political office.  The magistrate manages to not laugh out loud, but tells him that politics is better left to those bred for it - Batiatus is just not high class enough.  When Lucretia runs up to ask how it went, her husband growls through clenched teeth that he will be repaid in blood.

Also bloody?  Spartacus, in his cell, as he rages and beats his fists against the walls, anguished over having murdered his only friend.  Seems being the Champion of Capua is not all that great after all.

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