ORBzine - Spartacus - TV Review

[Season 1: Blood and Sand !Season 2: Gods of the Arena !Season 3: Vengeance !Season 4: War of the Damned ]

Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Season 1

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 1] The Red Serpent
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This is a re-imagined origin story behind the historical figure. It features a cast of mainly Australian actors, filmed on green-screen sets. The show was produced by Tapert and Raimi, also responsible for Antipodean fantasy series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess . However, it is not a jokey light-weight effort like them, or their most recent show Legend of the Seeker .

The first half of the story is taken from 300 . A band of half-naked super-warriors slaughter dozens of well-armoured opponents in heavily stylized slo-mo ultra-violence. The second half is from the Russell Crowe film Gladiator . The hero is betrayed, his wife is taken from him, and he is cast into slavery. But he crosses paths with Gladiator manager Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) and social climber wife Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ).

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 2] Sacramentum Gladiatorum
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The protagonist is now a trainee gladiator, but he has to prove himself before he can become a real gladiator. However, he is a stubborn bastard.

Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) is lucky, however, and gets to enjoy the marital delights of Lucy Lawless .

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 3] Legends
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Spartacus plays along with the Gladiator school rules. Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ), the as-yet-undefeated champion, gets a lot more character development. But the egos of the two great warriors clash, and they must duel in the arena.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 4] The Thing In The Pit
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Thanks to his ignominious defeat, Spartacus is reduced to a pit-fighter. He must begin his return to top Gladiator status from the very bottom!

Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) tries to warm up his relationship with Naevia the housemaid. His friend Barca the Beast has a catamite to keep himself occupied.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 5] Shadow Games
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Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) is out for revenge against the people who tried to have him assassinated. Worse, his two champions, Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and Spartacus, are slated to fight an unkillable man-mountain. The two can only win if they learn to work as a team, but they hate each others' guts. The financial loss will destroy the Ludus ...

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 6] Delicate Things
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Spartacus' wife is en route. Spartacus plans to escape, killing everyone who gets in his way. Ungrateful SOB.

Politics and backstabbing is on the increase. Barca the Beast wants his winnings, so he can buy his freedom. Asher the Cripple does not want to pay up. And the recent assassination may have a witness ...

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 7] Great And Unfortunate Things
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Spartacus must decide if he should carry on living as a gladiator. He volunteers to fight six foes at once ...

The trainer investigates the Beast's retirement. Things get worse for the Beast's lover ...

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 8] Mark of the Brotherhood
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Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) must prove himself worthy of returning to the arena.

Lucy Lawless manages some social climbing.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 9] Whore
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Spartacus is pimped out to a Roman noblewoman. Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) is also in demand, which makes Lucy Lawless insanely jealous. This will not end well ...

Michael Hurst ( Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ) directed this episode. Nice work!

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 10] Party Favors
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The Magistrate's son wants Spartacus to duel a fellow Gladiator for his birthday. The selected opponent is his friend Varro (Jai Courtney - Divergent ). Ilythia sees a chance for revenge. She is far more vicious and manipulative than we realised!

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 11] Old Wounds
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Spartacus, depressed, lets his wounds fester. But this is the key to discovering who killed his wife.

Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) seeks revenge for his humiliation. The Magistrate is abducted, but the treacherous Asher sneaks off to tell the rival Lanista.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 12] Revelation
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Spartacus gets to execute the man blamed for the Magistrate's murder. Next on his list is the man who murdered his wife!

Consul Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) is in town, to investigate the murders. Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) plays host, to gain his favour. But it will be a lot more difficult than he hoped.

Asher takes the opportunity to get even with Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ).

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Blood and Sand [Season 1, Episode 13] Kill Them All
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Spartacus and Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) battle to the death, in front of every Roman dignitary in Capua. Our hero has planned his revolt, but still needs Crixus to lead the Gaulish contingent. Will he succeed?

Intercut with the fight are flashbacks to Spartacus' preparations.

The climax is incredible, with many plot-lines tied up - but some left invitingly open for a second series ...

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Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: [Season 1 , Episode 1 ]
Shown th October 2013 [Monday]

Spartacus: Blood and Sand

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    Season 2: Gods of the Arena

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 1] Past Transgressions
    Shown 21/Jan/11

    This is a prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The characters from the first season are introduced, while new ones (like Gannicus, the first gladiator to become Champion of Capua) are introduced.

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 2] Missio
    Shown 28/Jan/11

    Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) sends the Syrians to get revenge. Meanwhile, Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) and Gaia ( Jaime Murray ) lure Varus (yes, THAT Varus) home for some debauchery.

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 3] Paterfamilias
    Shown 04/Feb/11

    Titus, father of Batiatus, returns home. He values honour above success, and undoes all the advancements that Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) had gained.

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 4] Beneath The Mask
    Shown 11/Feb/11

    Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) decides to lure his father out of town for the night while Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) holds an orgy to please the great and good of the nobility. But their arch-enemy Tullius turns up, and things take a turn for the worse.

    This was directed by Michael Hurst ( Hercules, Almighty Johnsons ).

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 5] Reckoning
    Shown 18/Feb/11

    Batiatus' father demands the Gladiators battle each other, to see who is worthy of his mark. The lesser ones are to be sold to the mines. Asher has to settle his troubles, since he can no longer trust his fellow Syrian. Meanwhile, Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) and Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) finally duel.

    The old man also wants Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) to annul his marriage. But Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) has her own plans.

    This sets up the climax with Tullius. A lot of superfluous characters are written out. Maybe the survivors appear in Season 3. A few supporting characters are pushed out of the way, as we know they are not still around by the time of the main series. But there are enough left for the climactic Season finale ...

    This was directed by John Fawcett .

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand Spartacus: Gods of the Arena [Season 2, Episode 6] The Bitter End
    Shown 25/Feb/11

    Batiatus (John Hannah - The Mummy ) gets his much-awaited final confrontation with Tullius. The twists and turns of Capuan politics are straightened out into what we see at the start of the show.

    The greatest Gladiators in Capua have a free-for-all at the inaugural games. Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) faces Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ), and Asher faces Drago. Old scores are settled, and we get everything tied up for the main storyline.

    Spartacus: Vengeance

    Season 3: Vengeance

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 1] Fugitivus
    Shown 27/Jan/12

    Spartacus and his thugs are on the run, ambushing bounty-hunters to loot their corpses. Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and his Gauls have their own goals - finding Naevia the handmaiden.

    The Roman Senate sends Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) and his wife to Capua until Spartacus is caught. But they discover some unpleasant surprises among the familiar faces.

    This was directed by Michael Hurst, whose long friendship with Lucy Lawless must have made her comfortable enough for the surprising amount of nudity she does in this ep.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 2] A Place in This World
    Shown 03/Feb/12

    Doctore realises that his hope for an honourable life is gone. He becomes a pit-fighter, where he acts out his death wish between flashbacks to his recruitment by Batiatus' father.

    Spartacus and his murder-gang attack a villa, and liberate the house-slaves from their comfortable lives. But the escapees must examine their own lives and the decisions they have made.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 3] The Greater Good
    Shown 10/Feb/12

    Asher is back, and he's now a combat ninja! Where exactly he got these skills from is not explained, but he is now a genuine physical threat to the former Champions of the Arena!

    Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and the others attack the mines, to free Navia.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 4] Empty Hands
    Shown 17/Feb/12

    Spartacus and his surviving handful flee through the woods. They ambush a few Roman patrols, but Asher the Syrian is on their trail.

    At Batiatus' villa the Romans hold an orgy, where Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and the other prisoners are due to be executed.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 5] Libertus
    Shown 24/Feb/12

    Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ), Dotore (Peter Mensah - 300 ) and the bald Gaul are sent into the arena at Capua. Their executioner is a familiar face, billed as a true God of the Arena. But where is Spartacus and the rescue team?

    We flash back a day or two. Spartacus has a plan, so everything proceeds with inevitability.

    The Blonde wishes her marriage to Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) annulled. Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) helps her, but has her own agenda. She uses the Syrian as her pawn, but he has his own agenda too.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 6] Chosen Path
    Shown 02/Mar/12

    The survivors of the arena make their way back to their new home, courtesy of Lucius Caelius (Peter McCauley - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World ). Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) accompanies them, But he will not follow Spartacus blindly. He is not trusted, and eventually the two champions clash.

    Asher gets called out by Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ), who still does not trust him despite him capturing Dotore (Peter Mensah - 300 ) and Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ), and betraying the blonde. But the Syrian has a lot more fight left in him than he ever showed in the previous seasons. He gains trust enough to hire a squad of bloodthirsty pit-fighters.

    Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) learns she can no longer rely on Asher. But she helps Blondie plot against her husband, and no doubt has her own agenda.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 7] Sacramentum
    Shown 09/Mar/12

    The gang go to Naples to recruit new warriors. The ones they get are Germanic, to counter-balance the Gaulish contingent. But this is a new source of friction. It seems Spartacus was happy to let the burden fall on the Gauls. Also, a pity the Blonde bimbo is no longer in search of a protector. The Germanic men are keen on finding women.

    Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) meets Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ), and offers him a job hunting Spartacus. But Glaber is on a crucifixion spree, and this does not endear him to anyone.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 8] Balance
    Shown 16/Mar/12

    Ganicus takes his prisoner to Spartacus' camp. They overestimate her value as a prisoner, assuming Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) loves her as much as Spartacus loved his wife.

    Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ) furthers her own plots, and begins to set up Asher and Glaber. The villains themselves plot against Spartacus. Finally we get to see Asher's men in action.

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 9] Monsters
    Shown 23/Mar/12

    Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) is plotted against by the three women in his house. This comes to a bloody outcome.

    Spartacus realises that his group is falling apart. He formulates a plan to get them working as a team again.

    Finally, Ashur and the Romans close in on Spartacus' den. The Romans have numbers and firepower, but Spartacus knows they are coming

    Spartacus: Vengeance Spartacus: Vengeance [Season 3, Episode 10] Wrath of the Gods
    Shown 30/Mar/12

    The rebels are trapped on the rim of Vesuvius. But Spartacus has a plan.

    Glaber (Craig Parker - Legend of the Seeker ) and Ashur have the rebels at their mercy. But this is the final ep of the Season, so recurring villains are apt to get their bloody come-uppance.

    Ilythia has nearly come to her full term of labour. The only person she can rely on is Lucretia ( Lucy Lawless ). But what is Lucretia's end-game?

    Spartacus: Vengeance

    Season 4: War of the Damned

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 1] Enemies of Rome
    Shown 25/Jan/13

    The horde of runaway slaves has been swollen. They liberated a quarry full of workers, and now they number in the tens of thousands. Spartacus is being hunted by a pair of Roman military commanders. One of them is Hod from Almighty Johnsons - methinks the character will not be on this show for long!

    Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) is being trained by a super-Gladiator. He wants to be able to match Spartacus by knowing how he thinks.

    Naevia ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ), the former handmaiden cum pleasure-slave, has been tutored by Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and is now a cold-blooded killing machine. Pity they had to re-cast the part after the first 2 Seasons, or this transformation would be all the more striking. And despite last Season having mention of how difficult it is to decapitate a man with a sword ... we get single-swipe beheadings a-plenty!

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 2] Wolves At The Gate
    Shown 01/Feb/13

    Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) leads Spartacus into a small town where he is friends with the blacksmith. They plan to murder the guards on the main gate, and let their army sack the town. Naturally, we get to see some typical Roman brutality. A slave caught trying to escape is executed by a crowd of Free Romans by stoning!

    However, it is not all one-sided. This is probably the first time we are allowed to see the Romans as people, justifiably terrified by Spartacus and his gang of murderous slaves. The slaves view anyone Free - not just citizens and soldiers, but women and children too - as Romans and thus as enemies to be butchered.

    Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) recruits a successful army officer to help him in his campaign - the young Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) )! But there is jealousy in Crassus' camp. Will he choose Caesar as his second-in-command, or will he choose his own son?

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 3] Men Of Honor
    Shown 08/Feb/13

    Spartacus' band turn to cruelty towards the free citizens they now hold captive. Naevia ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ) is one of the worst, seeking to avenge torture she once endured. The blacksmith begins to regret his decision to help his old friend Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ).

    Some foreign pirates sail up to Spartacus' new city. They offer to trade food in exchange for the spoils of battle. But are these corsairs Men Of Honor?

    Crassus' son discovers where Spartacus and his men are hiding. He sends Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) ) to get reinforcements from his father, then charges recklessly into battle.

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 4] Decimation
    Shown 22/Feb/13

    Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) and his army have yet to arrive at the city gates. Instead he decides to discipline his son's men for their cowardice in the face of fire. They will be Decimated - and there is a graphic portrayal of what that entails. The son's best friend is to be among the men to draw lots ... and one can surmise that for story purposes his chances will not be 90-10%.

    The gates of the city are open to all runaway slaves. One is a bearded, blonde-haired fellow - Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) )! But he must convince Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) and the others that he is trustworthy. Ironically, Crixus is the spitting image of Caesar's friend Mark Anthony in Xena: Season 5 .

    The escaped slaves now show themselves more capable of cruelty than the Romans ever did. This means that the audience do not know who to cheer for.

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 5] Blood Brothers
    Shown 01/Mar/13

    Spartacus takes advantage of his alliance with the Pirate fleet, and sets sail with Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ). They plan to steal Crassus' grain harvest from Sicily, both feeding their own people and starving his Legions.

    Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) has plans of his own. And Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) ) reveals his duty.

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 6] Spoils of War
    Shown 08/Mar/13

    Spartacus and his friends flee, as Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) ) and Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) lead their Legions into the city. Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) stays to delay the Romans. Most of this ep concerns his attempts to evade capture and rescue fair maidens.

    The Aedile's wife ( Anna Hutchison ) is returned to her former home. But Crassus has plans for it - and for her.

    Crassus Junior is restored to his former status. But rather than make peace with Caesar, he plots against him. This is a bad mistake, because the young fool has already alienated his only living friend.

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 7] Mors Idecepta
    Shown 15/Mar/13

    The revolting slaves are trapped. Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) wants to make a full frontal attack!

    Kove, the favoured slave of Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ), is helped by Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) ). But will Crassus choose her over his son?

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 8] Seperate Paths
    Shown 22/Mar/13

    Crixus (Manu Bennett - Arrow ) decides to march on Rome! He divides Spartacus' forces, taking Naevia ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ) and Agron with him.

    Casear discovers Tiberius' terrible secret. But Tiberius is a much bigger scumbag than suspected.

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 9] The Dead and the Dying
    Shown 05/Apr/13

    Agron is in the hands of the Romans, while Crassus' son gets captured by the revolting slaves. Spartacus often talks of Roman Cruelty, but Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) opts for a simple crucifixion while Spartacus starts turning execution into a spectator sport. For all their talk of hating the arena, the gladiators certainly seem to miss it!

    Crassus' son is paired against Naevia ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ). Will he get his just desserts?

    Spartacus: War of the Damned Spartacus: War of the Damned [Season 4, Episode 10] Victory
    Shown 12/Apr/13

    Spartacus lures Crassus (Simon Merrells - Tomorrow People (2013) ) into battle. The obvious tactics from the movie Spartacus (1960) have already been used, so we get to see some new ones instead.

    It is good to see a climactic confrontation for the heroes. Caesar (Todd Lasance - Vampire Diaries (Season 7) ) takes on Gannicus (Dustin Clare - Wolf Creek: The Series ) and Naevia ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ), while Crassus faces Spartacus himself!

    There is no plan for a Caesar spin-off, but fans could do worse than to watch the BBC/HBO series Rome .