Spartacus: Vengance – Series Blog – Episode One – Fugitivus

Here’s the thing about Spartacus: we actually know very little about him. The only thing we can be sure of was that he was a former Gladiator who led a slave rebellion against the Roman Empire.

The few surviving accounts are the work of Roman historians, generally writing well after the fact, who used his rebellion as an example to prove obscure points about Roman military tactics.

It is as if in a thousand years (after the inevitable alien apocalypse) someone tried to make a TV show about the life of Boris Johnston based on a book about celebrity cyclists.

So as a historical document, Spartacus:Vengeance tells us more about America in 2012 than it does about ancient Rome: specifically, that modern Americans like looking at unerect male penises on impressively muscled men and absolutely love it when some dies a violent death and blood sprays all over the camera lens.

If you like seeing blood go all over a camera lens and haven’t seen this show, you’re about to be in paradise. You also have very serious mental problems but you’ve probably figured that out already.

Surprisingly the first season of Spartacus found an audience beyond those who love looking at blood and penises (penii?) by being rather good. Beyond the sex and gore it developed into a tightly written and intense show that demanded the viewers attention.

Chief among its attractions was the acting of Andy Whitfield in the title role who tragically died of cancer before work on season two could commence. With his blessing, the role was filled by Liam McIntyre, though nevertheless there was a worry he wouldn’t be man enough to fill the loincloth.

Fortunately on the evidence of the first episode he seems to be up to the task: a good job too because the task just got much bigger. While the first season was concerned with Spartacus’ life as a gladiator owned by the conniving and never better John Hannah (yes even better than in those Co-op ads) this time around the stakes are far higher.

The gripping finale of the last season saw Spartacus and his fellow gladiators shake off their shackles and break free of their masters in spectacularly bloody fashion, however this season he’s supposed to lead a revolt that shakes an Empire: a slight scaling up. One of the casualties of last season’s finale was poor old John Hannah, and apparently his equally conniving wife, Lucretia, played by the wonderful Lucy Lawless (link is to a particularly good Onion AV Club interview she did).

Joyfully, It turns out that Lucretia somehow survived being stabbed in the gut and has been living amid the ruins of her husbands house having been driven entirely mad by the slaughter.

Needless to say, Lawless does mad extremely well, possibly due to her time playing Xena: Warrior Princess where she was rendered insane by The Furies every time the writers couldn’t think of a decent plot, i.e. every week. Also while we’re on the topic, here’s a picture of Lucy Lawless dressed as Xena and riding a horse, inserted for no reason other than to keep our editor happy.

As the plot unfurls, it turns out that life isn’t all roses for Spartacus despite his new-found freedom.  He and his band of former gladiators and other freed slaves huddle in the cities sewers paralysed with indecision and riven by internal conflicts.

Pretty much your average staff team meeting, really.

One of the benefits of knowing nothing about Spartacus is that the show is free to paint him however they like and they’ve done a decent job of suggesting he’s an intensely driven man who sometimes hones in on the wrong thing: in this case his desire for vengeance on Roman Preator Glabius, who originally enslaved him and killed his wife.

Luckily for the rest of his rag-tag band, after a fair amount of rough and tumble (read: blood on the camera) he saw the error of his ways and moved his fledging army out of the city and into the sticks.

If you’re worried this means the programme will turn into an Ancient Roman version of Countryfile , don’t worry: this is Spartacus after all. Further penises are no doubt inevitable next week: even if some of them belong to badgers.

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Spartacus: Vengeance episode 2 is on Sky 1 , Mondays at 10pm. If you have a Sky ID, you can catch up with Sky Player here

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About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

4 Responses to Spartacus: Vengance – Series Blog – Episode One – Fugitivus

  1. Pingback: Spartacus: Vengeance – Series Blog – Episode Two – A Place In This World « Tellysquawks

  2. Pingback: Spartacus: Vengeance Series Blog – Episode Three – The Greater Good « Tellysquawks

  3. Pingback: Spartacus: Vengeance Series Blog – Episode Four – Empty Hands « Tellysquawks

  4. Pingback: Spartacus: Vengeance Series Blog – Episode Five – Libertus « Tellysquawks

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