Spartacus: Blood and Sand – The Thing In The Pits – Episode review

I don’t know if you’ve been watching Bravo’s run of the gladiatorial series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Definitely one for the adults this series, with graphic and often gory depictions of death. There’s enough sexual content to rival my current favourite series, True Blood.

But not really much for the kids. Best to wait until they’ve gone to bed to watch this one.

Let me bring you up to speed: Spartacus is a Thracian warrior who’s been captured by Roman forces. Through a bit of canny bargaining, he’s ended up in a gladiatorial school owned by a cash-strapped Roman, Batiatus. They have quite a co-dependent relationship – Batiatus needs Spartacus to be a top-drawer fighter to restore his wealth and status in the arenas, while Spartacus needs Batiatus’ help to track down his wife.

In The Thing In The Pit, Spartacus finds his reputation damaged by the events of the previous episode. He finds himself removed from the gladiatorial arena and forced to fight in the pits.

It’s a brutal environment. We get to see a former opponent of Spartacus having his face demolished by a hammer-wielding fiend. As you’ll come to expect from this series, great washes of blood flow as easily as if they were water. Before the man is finished off, we see three of his teeth fly through the air in horrifying slow motion. And when the man is dead, his killer produces a hook and proceeds to remove his face to wear at his next fight.

Meanwhile, Batiatus’ wife Lucretia is busily banging one of the gladiators, which is notable because, at 42, Lucy Lawless is still frickin’ hot. But Lucretia is a clever woman in her own right. She wants the best of both worlds, and knows if her husband dies, she’ll be forced to marry someone else. So she’s as keen for his survival as anyone is. She’s not a fan of the expensive purchase of Spartacus though.

Anyway, after many vicious battles, Spartacus agrees with Batiatus that he’ll be happy to die in a fight if Batiatus will track down and rescue his wife. However, Sparty…can I call him Sparty?…is in the middle of being torn limb from limb when he spots two assassins moving in on Batiatus. Hey! If Batty…can I call him Batty?…is dead, how will he hunt down Sparty’s hot wife? Shit. Spartacus has to stop dying, hack down his opponent and take out the assassins.

Well, things end rather quickly after that – Batiatus restores Spartacus to his gladiatorial status in thanks for saving his life. Mrs Batty isn’t so happy about Batty being in danger in the first place, but what are you gonna do?

Here’s the thing – Spartacus is a strange show. It doesn’t have much in the way of plot, which is why reviews like this one on Mania.com sound ludicrous. Why sweat the details? This is a bunch of meaty guys who have to fight to survive. Spartacus has the added incentive of having to find his wife, but he still has to fight for survival. So there’s not much to do plot-wise. So the focus is going to be the blood-spattered battles. And when it’s not that, it’s Lucretia having sexy time with Crixus.

It’s a heady mix, and you’re probably not meant to overthink it. It’s possible that in instances where you’re fighting for your life, nothing is more important than every single battle you get into. So, for the moment, it’s OK to have the story about Spartacus finding his way in Batiatus’ academy and making mistakes and being hated by the more accomplished warriors there. One can only assume that he’ll have to earn the respect of his peers or kill them trying.

Oh, and I like to play “Jupiter’s cock spotting”, a way of working out who’ll utter those magic words in every episode. Give Spartacus: Blood and Sand a go – it’s great macho entertainment with plenty of abs for the missus to drool over.

Quick quotes

  • Batiatus: “The crowd’s favour like the wind is fleeting. Their interest in you is blown out.”
  • Spartacus: “I have to save her. Before the rains come.”
  • Batiatus: “The rational course would be to end your miserable life, before it infects mine.”

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