Recap: Spartacus Vengeance: "Empty Hands", Season 2 Episode 4

Trail of Blood

Spartacus has paid a big price in rescuing Naevia from the mines. Many of his rebels died in the rescue and a few were captured including Crixus and bald gladiator Rhaskos. Rather than making an unwise decision to mount another rescue attempt so soon, Spartacus leads his followers to Vesuvius to rejoin Agron’s group. In the woods, Glaber’s men, led by Marcus, have split up into smaller squads to cover more ground in their hunt for Spartacus. As pointed out by Ashur, Marcus makes a crucial error in strategy. Instead of keeping his soldiers together in one large force that would easily outnumber the rebels in a battle, they give Spartacus’ group a fighting chance in each encounter. Marcus, arrogant in his belief in the superiority of Romans, has underestimated the rebels because he does not understand that they were once gladiators that spent their lives training to kill and are more than a match for common soldiers. Despite the rebels’ tenacity and fighting abilities, many have fallen and Spartacus feels he is to blame. Mira tries to ease his burden by telling him, “It is because of you … that we are free.”

Mira has come a long way from the meek slave girl we first met in Season One when she presented herself to Spartacus, took off all her clothes and tried to comfort him. Since then, she has become Spartacus’ most loyal confidant and holds her own in any battle, including rescuing Naevia by jumping on a Roman solider and stabbing him repeatedly. When Spartacus asks her to take Naevia to Vesuvius while he stays behind to fight the soldiers, she stays true to her word and chooses to stand beside him even in facing certain death. As for Naevia, she is understandably shaken from her time in the mines and for losing Crixus again. She makes a foolish decision to come out of hiding and run from the soldiers; however, she was helpful in advising Spartacus to close Nasir’s wounds with fire which saved his life. In the previous season, Naevia was primarily giving worried glances as she watched Crixus fight for his life in the arena but now that she has her freedom, she needs to become mentally strong and contribute to the rebels’ cause. Having another actress play Naevia, makes her feel like a new character that we have to get know again; it also gives her a chance to take the character in a new direction.

For a newly introduced character, Nasir has quickly proven useful, endearing and evoked a strong reaction when he was stabbed by the solider. This show does not shy away from killing off important characters like Barca, Varro and Batiatus so it was unpredictable whether he would live or die. Fortunately, his wounds were not fatal and we will get to find out what greater role he will play this season and if his “boy crush” on Agron will come to fruition. When Agron was reunited with Nasir at the end of the episode it was nice to see they had a little moment together. Its hard to say at this point if Agron’s growing affection for him is that of a surrogate brother or if something more will develop. In Roman times, it was socially acceptable for a man to have relations with another man, like we saw with Barca and Pietros, but for now we’ll get more suggestive smiles and yearnful looks. Nasir and Ashur have very dissimilar accents to be brothers unless they were separated at a young age and grew up in different places. It would be an interesting development if they were in fact brothers as it could give the treacherous Ashur an opportunity to scheme for someone besides himself or put his lack of morality into conflict.

Fall To Ruin

Speaking of scheming, the wickedly ambitious Ilithyia plots to dissolve her loveless marriage with Glaber and set her sights for the more promising Varinius. To make up for the absence of Glaber’s men in the games which was an insult to Varinius, Ilithyia decides to throw a celebration to honor and to gain favor with her prospective husband. Ilithyia is not pleased when Seppia visits Lucretia and learns young Seppia also wishes to marry Varinius. It is ironic that it was Ilithyia who extolled the virtues of marriage to Seppia that spurred her to find a man to call her own. Unlike her husband Glaber and father Albinius, Ilithyia does not believe Lucretia to be an oracle of the gods and tells Lucretia when Marcus returns without capturing Spartacus, she will be revealed as “an empty vessel, barren of life and prophecy”. Ilithyia’s spiteful animosity is the result of Lucretia tricking her into having sex with Spartacus and for threatening to reveal that she killed Licinia, cousin of Marcus Crassus – the richest man in Rome.

At the celebration, which was a spectacle of flesh and debauchery, Glaber offers the lives of captured rebels Oenomaus, Crixus, Rhaskos and a nameless gladiator to Varinius as an apology for slighting him at the games. Instead of killing the captives in the former house of Batiatus, Varinius proclaims to the guests that blood will be shed in the arena to honor all of Capua. Seppius becomes upset that his cousin Sextus would not be avenged in the house where he died so Varinius compromises and allows for a single man “to be made sport of”. Glaber declares Seppius is not the only person deserving vengeance and that Lucretia should choose the man to be sacrificed because she almost died in the massacre. Lucretia pauses in front of Crixus and tells the crowd that the gods have chosen and points to, of course, the nameless gladiator. Lucretia glares at Crixus and says “do not think that the gods have shown mercy, I only but delay your passing so I may savor it.” Outside, the tied up gladiator has his tongue cut off by Seppius (disgusting!) followed by the rest of the house guests taking turns slicing off pieces of flesh.

Ilithyia tries to persuade Albinius, the patriarch who holds the power to dissolve her marriage with Glaber, to aid her cause. However Albinius objects, citing Ilithyia is pregnant with Glaber’s child, that Glaber holds title as a highly ranked Praetor and it would not bring favor to their family’s name. Seppia, who has been at Varinius’ side the entire night, has her turn to cut the gladiator but cannot bring herself to do so to the dismay of Varinius. Ilithyia takes the knife from Seppia and stabs the gladiator right thru the stomach. She hands the bloodied knife back to Seppia and says “That is how you sate desire, for love or vengeance without hesitation”. Ilithyia smiles with a devilish grin as does Varinius who is obviously impressed and smitten with her.

Lucretia speaks with Albinius on the balcony offering council as an oracle of the gods. Meanwhile, Ilithyia seduces Varinius and tells her intentions of ending her marriage with Glaber. Varinius puts his hand on her pregnant belly and then down to her privates. As Ilithyia writhes with pleasure, she proposes that his name wed to her father’s would have the power and wealth to rival Marcus Crassus. Varinius accepts on the condition that Ilithyia must get her father to absolve her marriage and then he promptly walks away. Ilithyia is smiling and giggling until she walks to the other side of the house and discovers Lucretia having sex with her father, Albinius.

Later, Ilithyia confronts Lucretia and accuses her of maneuvering her father’s cock to her advantage. Lucretia attempts to diffuse the situation by appealing to Ilithyia’s self-inflated ego; explaining her past hurtful actions were the result of jealously of Ilithyia’s position, beauty and youth. When Lucretia confesses that she remembers what happened between them (before the massacre), Ilithyia mistakes it as blackmailing and smacks Lucretia across the face. As Lucretia lays on the ground, Ilithyia grabs her by the neck and promises to bash her head against the stone floor like she did with Licinia. Gasping for breath, Lucretia reveals she convinced Albinius to dissolve Ilithyia’s marriage which was the reason she went to bed with him. Lucretia says she only wanted to help Ilithyia and to mend the rift between them. Ilithyia stops strangling Lucretia’s neck and instead gently holds her head expressing it was a mistake “to ever doubt such dear friend who is blessed by the gods” and kisses her on the lips. Although, Ilithyia does not believe Lucretia to be a prophet or gods’ messenger, she realizes she needs Lucretia as a friend if she wishes to marry Varinius.

Brief Thoughts

• Feels like it’s been a long time, since Spartacus had a true hero moment. It was great seeing him take on all those soldiers by himself.

• Historically, Romans are known to be a very hygienic. So it’s no surprise we get another bath scene with the boobalicious Viva Bianca. I wonder if she is contractually obligated to go topless every episode?

• Even with only one scene of dialogue, Oenomaus has a very powerful presence. It was compelling seeing him defeated and believing he was a fool for love while Crixus is full of hope knowing his lover Naevia is alive, despite being a prisoner himself.

• When Lucretia was picking the rebel to be killed, we know Crixus is not going to die but it was fun to watch her vent all her anger at him.

• Seppius is very possessive of Seppia, especially when she was trying to get the attention Varinius. The almost open-mouth kiss between the twins was kinda hot! ; )

• Although Glaber has mended his differences with Varinius, I can’t wait to see his reaction when he finds out what his wife has been up to.

• Cossutius is back. He’s the Roman that cut off the breast of the tied up gladiator. He has an evil smile that gives me the creeps and seems to have a lustful appetite for both men and women.

• I was intrigued when Ashur pulled injured Marcus out of the battle as his every move is cleverly calculated. Of course he ends up killing Marcus himself. If Ashur’s mouth is moving he either scheming or lying, usually both.

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