Spartacus: Blood and Sand – Delicate Things – Episode review

Those people who told us Spartacus: Blood and Sand gets better after the first few episodes. They weren’t lying, were they?

The sixth episode of the show packs in more revenge killings than a Triad member who’s received the wrong change at the supermarket. Oh, and some of the most graphic orgiastic scenes you’re likely to see in quite some time. This show is so vicious, so debauched, so bloody that Lisa steadfastly refuses to watch it.

Spartacus is on a high after beating the unbeatable giant in the last episode. Crixus is literally hanging together, but he’s in a critical condition. The good news keeps flowing for Spartacus when Batiatus reveals that he’s located Sura and is bringing her to the Ludus to live in the main house. Well, not great news, because Spartacus expected them to be living as man and wife – not two slaves separated by their masters.

So Spartacus forms a plan – when Sura is returned to him, he’ll battle his way right out the front gates to freedom. More on that later.

Elsewhere, Batiatus is in cruel form this week. He pays a visit with Barca to the man who sent two killers after him. Barca massacres the entire household, but keeps the man’s son alive long enough to witness his father’s murder. Then Batiatus leaves Barca to finish off the child.

However, to spare his lover’s feelings, Barca tells Pietros that he spared the child and set him loose. However, Ashur overhears and spots a perfect opportunity to wreak havoc. So, he sets out to convince the Magistrate that the child – his relative – is still alive, and Batiatus that his favoured hitman has somehow failed him. When the evidence against Barca looks overwhelming, Batiatus has Barca brutally murdered, finishing by slitting his throat himself.

No sooner has the deed been done, but the Magistrate appears at the Ludus with the news that they were duped and Barca’s protestations that he’d finished the job turn out to be truth. Now, who do we feel sorry for – Barca the child killer, or Barca who lost his life because of a lie?

Batiatus reveals himself to be far more callous and clever in this episode than we previously gave him credit for. In fact, he comes across as totally morally bankrupt – as he takes a female slave from behind in mid-conversation with his own wife. And in the various deaths and executions he has a hand in this week. The problem I foresee is that Batiatus shows scant regard for his best fighters – Crixus is incapacitated for the foreseeable future and the Beast of Carthage (great name, by the way) is dead. Spartacus is his only gladiator worth mentioning. The only hope for his floundering Ludus.

Which brings us to Spartacus. His kamikaze plan has no chance of working, but there’s literally a final twist of the knife. When the cart arrives with Sura, the driver is fatally wounded. Abandoning his plans for escape, Spartacus throws open the doors of the cart and his bleeding wife falls out into his arms. Oh dear. What Spartacus doesn’t see is the smug interchange between Batiatus and Lucretia – Lucretia initially looks mortified about the murder, but realises that this situation is entirely to their benefit.

Does the death of Sura bind Spartacus even closer to the Ludus? Will he continue to fight if his reason for fighting has been extinguished? This remains to be seen.

Orgy Scenes

A quick word on the orgy scenes. Awesome. OK, it’s totally sleazy, but I had to admire Lucy Lawless for going topless in that extended bath scene with John Hannah. It managed to be quite sensual and strangely matter-of-fact at the same time. I mean, how many husbands would get away with bending one of the house slaves over and having their wicked way with her…right there in front of the missus?

The sex scenes in Spartacus seem quite graphic in places. But I think they’re warranted in a show which is about deadly gladiatorial fighting and even more lethal Roman politics. Surely there would be a sexual upswing in the face of so much inkury and death? I seem to remember a World War series years ago called The Camomile Lawn in which promiscuity became par for the course in those uncertain times. I can certainly buy the amount of sexual content in Spartacus, even if it offends more delicate mortals.

Getting better?

Not so much battling for Spartacus this week, but plenty of development for Batiatus. He’s a mercenary bugger, and I really wouldn’t want to cross him. And Spartacus may have wrong-footed a potential ally in Doctore. By the end of this episode, everything has changed for Spartacus, and refreshingly for any television series, we have no idea what this means for him and his future in the Ludus.

I am literally waiting with baited breath for next week’s episode.

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