We’ve now had one week to acclimate to the familiar but different world of Spartacus: Vengeance. I’ve perused your comments from last week, and it seems many of you are reluctant to accept Liam McIntyre in the title role. Which is a shame, because he’s actually doing some fine work in the demanding part, and the series overall has maintained quality in just about every other aspect of production. Hopefully the fear of the new has begun to fade, as we wade into a sea of blood for Episode 2: “A Place in This World.”

We begin with a David vs. Goliath sandbox battle between a frightened featherweight and a seasoned brute. It’s a scene that takes its time, and ends with perhaps the bloodiest killing the show has yet seen. Who is this dark young warrior? “That is no boy,” one onlooker says. “It’s a f*cking demon!” The boy is sold for 10 denari to a younger Titus Batiatus, father of Quintus Batiatus, and we suddenly realize whose origins we are glimpsing: It’s Oenamaus, as he sets upon the path to his career as the greatest gladiator trainer of his generation. We’ll flash back to Oenamaus’s past several times over the course of the episode, as Batiatus Sr. takes him under his wing, develops his gifts, and readies him for arena battle. It’s bloody entertaining stuff, but it also serves to illustrate how Oenamaus’s deep allegiances to the house of Batiatus were formed—which will come to play at episode’s end.

With Spartacus and his men moving south, they invade the household of a lecherous Dominus as he takes care of business with a bored, beautiful concubine. As the warriors invite the slaves to join them in their newfound freedom, Crixus corners the Dominus and demands to know the fate of Naevia. Terrified, the Dominus remembers her, but has sold her to another slave owner, earning him a fatal blow from Crixus’s fists. Meanwhile the slave girl asks Mira about the status of her relationship with Spartacus, whom she fancies. It raises issues Mira has been avoiding for awhile. Ah, men. Le plus ca change, right?

Then there’s horrible Illythia, bathing in a rose petal filled jacuzzi as she fantasizes about the time a masked Spartacus satisfied her in the Ludus. Is Spartacus the father of her baby, as some of you predicted in the comments last week? It seems altogether possible. Glaber interrupts her fantasy, though, to request that she escort Lucretia—who has been wandering around town delivering dire predictions about his downfall—to the edge of town. He wants it done before she can perform the ritual goat-sacrificing ceremony that will simultaneously cleanse his house while hastening his bloody demise, so you can understand why this file is marked “urgent.” Illythia later grows concerned when Lucretia shows signs in the town square of regaining her memory. Shortly afterward, Lucretia is approached by a cloaked figure, who hands her a message.

As Spartacus totally makes Mira’s week and pledges his love to her, a slave boy attacks him, pledging fidelity to his master. But the boy is taken into custody, and after the rebel leaders argue over what do do with him, they decide the spunky little guy is worthy of battle training. Spartacus is impressed to learn the kid possesses natural ability. Later, a group of Roman soldiers investigates the house, and the slave, who is called Nasia (or Nasir? It’s hard to tell with those Kiwi accents), invites them in. Thinking they’re being betrayed, the men attack—but Nasia saves Spartacus’s life. Crixus doubts his motives, but the slave explains that his lack of a collar would have tipped off the soldiers, which is why he didn’t send them away.

After Lucretia sacrifices her goat (whose horns are painted gold—nice touch!), they are visited by a surprise guest. It’s Ashur, Batiatus’s former manservant, who was under that cloak in the town square, and he offers a beaten-down Oenamaus to Glaber to use in service of destroying Spartacus.

QUESTIONS:

– I’m so far not completely clear on what Seppius brings to the table, beyond complicating matters for Glaber. What are your thoughts?

– Similarly, what do you make of this new gladiator-in-training? Why did Spartacus himself see to the guy’s lessons?

– This one goes out to any females out there who watch Spartacus: Are you disturbed at all by the how the women in this series are primarily depicted as either conniving bitches or sex slaves?

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