Penises! Now that we have your attention, we hope you’re comfortable with the aforementioned genitalia, for you will be glimpsing a great many of them as you make your way through Spartacus: Vengeance. “Fugitivus,” the premiere episode of Starz’s beyond-graphic return to the gladiatorial saga that put the network on the original programming map, proved that even if you don’t love penises, you are all but certain to love Vengeance, a worthy successor to the original series that piles on more action, gore, and sex than is probably recommended for healthy emotional development. But who really cares, when it’s this deliriously entertaining?
Let us first address the matter of our new Spartacus, Australian actor Liam McIntyre. McIntyre will forever face comparisons to his predecessor, Andy Whitfield, who died last year from cancer. And while Whitfield was superb in the part, let’s not get carried away here. We’re not recasting Indiana Jones. McIntyre brings his own strengths to the role. His look is less other-worldly handsome than Whitfield’s, his body less chiseled, but from scene one—an ambitiously choreographed ambush battle—McIntyre literally rips into the role with abandon.
With Batiatus out of the picture, marquee villain duties have fallen to Gauis Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker), now Praetor in the Roman army, who was dispatched by a high-ranking toga party to Capua with a prime directive of snuffing Spartacus and his gladiatorial uprising. Spartacus, driven by vengeance against the man responsible for his wife’s condemnation to slavery and eventual death, wants Glaber equally dead. And while he’s at it, he’d like to snuff Glaber’s conniving wife, Ilithyia, who is now pregnant. That’s the same Illithyia who, as you might remember, left us in Blood and Sand having locked all her besties, including Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), inside an orgy room to be massacred by rebels. Imagine her shock when Lucretia turned up, very much alive but gone somewhat insane having had her unborn child stabbed to death in her womb. Bummer.
All the while Crixus, Spartacus’s worthy gladiatorial cohort, searches for his lost love, Naevia. “Let us split darkness with the cries of Romans,” he bombastically pledges, and they’re off to the most graphic orgy-turned-bloodbath you’re likely to witness until at least the next season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Seriously—if you haven’t already seen it, hide the kids, keep your thumb hovering over the instant replay button, and “strap on” your seatbelts, folks. This one ain’t for the faint of heart. (It’s also amazing.) Back too are freed hottie/slave Mira (Katrina Law), who offers Spartacus a warm body and sympathetic ear, and former gladiator trainer Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), who lingers in a shadowy purgatory, seemingly incapable of choosing allegiances. He’d make a great Ancient Batman. And let us not forget Seppius (Tom Hobbs), a comely young Roman official with eyes for his sister, who set up a competition with Glaber to see who can win the head of Spartacus first.
The discovery of Aurelia, wife of Spartacus’s fallen friend Varro, graphically injured and locked up in stocks in the city square, sent our hero into a fighting rage, where Crixus and the rest of the masters of the ancient Roman universe got in on the action. After Aurelia’s death, Spartacus decided to direct the uprising south, in search of Naevia. All in all, an action-packed start to what is quickly looking to be another fantastic season of Spartacus. We’re in.
… What do you think of Liam? Is he worthy of the loincloth?
… What was your favorite moment in the orgy-bloodbath scene? Keep in mind this is a family site, so keep your descriptions PG-rated. (Yes, I realize that’s close to impossible. Consider it a creative challenge.)
… Do you think Lucretia will ever remember what Illithyia did to her?
… Who’s a better adversary? Gauis or Batiatus?
… Who’s the hottest girl on the show?
… Who’s the hottest guy on the show?