Airdate: Jan. 27, 2012
Recap: Spartacus: Vengeance returned in a sea of blood, violence and even guts along with a heaping helping of explicit sex Friday night on pay channel Starz! Friday night. For anyone who made the mistake thinking that series creator Steven DeKnight, who also wrote the premiere episode, was about to ease into things – think again. I made that mistake not again.
The episode brilliantly sets the table for the rest of a season that will likely feel far too short. Spartacus (now played by Liam McIntyre) and his not-so-merry band of escaped slaves from the House of Batiatus are free, but aimless. He and his brother-in-arms Crixus (Manu Bennett) both only have vengeance on their respective minds and neither is thinking all that clearly. Spartacus resists heading south with Crixus to find his love Naevia, seeing only the chance to spill blood and take lives in the name of his slain wife. They’re a movement without a motive and until the find one, they risk annihilation at the hands of Glaber (Craig Parker), the Roman praetor who sold Spartacus into slavery and now has the task of bringing him to justice.
Who’s back: Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), the wife of Spartacus’ slain owner and Ilithya (Viva Bianca) reluctantly renew acquaintances.
Notable new faces: Seppius (Tom Hobbs) and his sister Seppia (Hanna Mangan), Roman nobles with delusions of grandeur as they watch the spectacle related to Spartacus’ uprising unfold in the town of Capua.
What do we learn: Let’s face it the huge concern for any fan of this show is whether McIntyre can replace the late Andy Whitfield, who died of cancer after the first season. The obvious answer is no. But McIntyre does something in one episode that few actors could – he makes the role his own. He possesses the same smoldering intensity, the intelligence married to animal instincts along with vulnerability. The role of Spartacus has never been a part that is simplistic. He’s a complicated character in a consistent and never-ending state of evolution. In this first episode we see the making of Spartacus the leader and Whitfield is brilliant.
What the hell is up with Lucretia: When we meet her she’s roaming her former home in full Lady Macbeth mode. Most of the time you think she’s bats- -t crazy. She talks to folks who aren’t there and rambles in general. But there are more than a few signs of lucidity that may tip her hand. What you have to wonder is whether she’s more pissed about losing everything in her life or with Ilithya and Glaber’s exploitation of her.
What the hell is up with Oeomaus (Peter Mensah): He sulks around Capua aimless, shamed about what happened with the uprising in the ludus that he supervised. More importantly, we’re never sure whether such a powerful and influential figure will ever kick off the malaise and take his place at the Spartacus and
Blood quotient: I hate to be lurid, but one of the attractions of Spartacus has always been the extremely graphic, blood soaked violence. Nothing changes with season two. It starts from the beginning and it’s a common theme. After a while it’s easy to get desensitized to it, but there’s always at least one moment when the series producers make you pay attention. This time around: a character gets the information he needs from a scumbag by slowly pulling his guts out. Wicked.
Sex quotient: Ditto the sex. Seen one orgy scene, and you’ve see them all. This time it’s staged in a Roman brothel where nobles are getting their freak on. Perfect opportunity for an attack, no?
Next week: Prepare to hiisssssssssssssssssss at Ashur (Nick Tarabay), the slipperiest weasel of them all returns.
Line of the week: “We need a leader, not some angry boy who can’t piss without splashing about him.” – Mira (Katrina Law), Spartacus’ lover, chastising him for dishing out some cowboy justice.