…yeah, SCRATCH THAT.
Here, my Tweets:
#Spartacus Disclaimer! AND NOW ON TO THE DICKS. 10:01 PM Feb 26th via web
I am now watching #Spartacus with three new viewers. Their reactions promise to be good. 10:02 PM Feb 26th via web
#Spartacus and Crixus are having diametrically opposed experiences. And Batiatus is already retooling! He is the voice of the producers. 10:04 PM Feb 26th via web
Hey, #Spartacus, you know, Crixus could probably use a visit, some kind words, a "how ya doin'..." 10:08 PM Feb 26th via web
PIETROS. "I'll see what clothes we have packed and ready!" US. "Four handkerchiefs?" #Spartacus 10:09 PM Feb 26th via web
Man, you do *not* want Ashur lurking around your conversation. #Spartacus 10:10 PM Feb 26th via web
"Have the girl's ass, pet, and I'll watch." #actualspartacusdialogue #spartacus 10:12 PM Feb 26th via web
#Spartacus has the weirdest fantasy sequences. I DO NOT THINK THIS IS A WISE PLAN, DUDE. 10:15 PM Feb 26th via web
ahahahaha Varro echoes my thoughts: "THAT'S your plan?" #Spartacus 10:15 PM Feb 26th via web
Y'know, this episode of #Spartacus is just a little heavy on the padding. Two slow-motion fantasy sequences! One after another! 10:17 PM Feb 26th via web
OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE FANTASY SEQUENCE THREE #Spartacus 10:18 PM Feb 26th via web
I will say, though, that this scene with #Spartacus and the magistrate's son is exactly what Sparty needs. FINALLY, an active character! 10:21 PM Feb 26th via web
#Spartacus is much more interesting when he's doing political maneuvering. 10:24 PM Feb 26th via web
...I see bad jokes about the fifteen-year-old son of the magistrate. "Jimmy, are you fond of gladiator movies?" #Spartacus 10:25 PM Feb 26th via web
Wow, #Spartacus, your palming of that knife was SUBTLE 10:25 PM Feb 26th via web
Ashur is a *bad, bad actor.* #spartacus 10:27 PM Feb 26th via web
Orgy scene! My friend Ash: "So this is what the inside of Frank Miller's head looks like." #Spartacus 10:27 PM Feb 26th via web
You notice that #Spartacus and Varro are the only guys not fucking. 10:28 PM Feb 26th via web
Oh, good, go visit Crixus, #Spartacus -- it only took you HALF THE SHOW. 10:29 PM Feb 26th via web
Oh, Pietros, you dipshit. #Spartacus 10:31 PM Feb 26th via web
The second half of this episode is the first time that #Spartacus has been an interesting, intelligent character worthy of respect. 10:33 PM Feb 26th via web
Nice scene between #Spartacus and Doctore. 10:36 PM Feb 26th via web
Man, I am surprised how much I do not want Barca and/or Pietros to die here. 10:37 PM Feb 26th via web
OH, DAMMIT. #Spartacus 10:39 PM Feb 26th via web
Okay, I want Pietros to kill Ashur big-time. #Spartacus 10:41 PM Feb 26th via web
Oh, mystery solved -- those four doors go to cells set into the big wall. #Spartacus 10:43 PM Feb 26th via web
Show, you are hammering the sentiment too hard: you're tipping your hand that bad stuff is gonna happen. #Spartacus 10:48 PM Feb 26th via web
Nice handling of Doctore's arrival. This is the right tone. #Spartacus 10:50 PM Feb 26th via web
Man, #Spartacus -- the rarely executed double fridging! 10:52 PM Feb 26th via web
Oh, man, BATIATUS had her whacked. *that* is nuts. You set us up to like this guy, show. #Spartacus 10:53 PM Feb 26th via web
Man, I am gonna miss Barca. :( Hopefully we'll get to see Pietros learn to kick ass and assassinate people and stuff. #Spartacus 10:54 PM Feb 26th via web
And... show. Night, folks. #Spartacus 10:55 PM Feb 26th via web
Amusingly, I recommended SPARTACUS in part based on its diversity of characters *right before* the episode where they killed Spartacus's wife, Sura, and the gladiator Barca, a character of color who is ALSO one of their gay characters, which makes this episode a rare double-fridging with triple toe loop. I confess to not caring much about Sura -- she was barely in the show at all, and the other women in the series are way more interesting than she was -- but I liked Barca quite a bit. He had a fun ball-busting friendship with Crixus, his relationship with Pietros was rather sweet, and actor Antonio Te Maioho had a great presence even when he wasn't the focus of a given scene. My guess is that the show is going to use his death as the start of a character arc for Pietros, but the commenters at AfterElton are understandably taking the loss of Barca pretty hard. I can't blame them. Leaving aside what it meant to a lot of people to have a bad-ass gay gladiator on TV, while Pietros has a potential character arc taking him from soft, pampered boytoy to avenging bad-ass Barca had a lot of great character functions in the here and now, making him potentially useful in any number of scenes, from arena-fighting to personal politics, and I was looking forward to more of him.
If you missed the episode or found my Tweets too cryptic, here's what happened: as a reward for Spartacus's glorious victory over Theocles, the gladiators' owner Batiatus arranges to reunite Spartacus and Sura. Spartacus gets his own room (in one of those puzzling four doors that open into the exterior wall!), but is unhappy to learn that Sura won't be staying with him. She'll become a house slave. He'll have to buy their freedom, eventually. Being an angry idiot, Spartacus starts making other plans, which involve a whole bunch of ridiculous slow-motion fantasy sequences in which he slaughters large numbers of people single-handedly.
Meanwhile, Spartacus's fellow gladiator Barca had cleverly wagered on Spartacus and Crixus to beat the heavily-favored Theocles, which meant that Barca has won a shitload of money. Unfortunately, Barca placed this bet through Ashur, the former gladiator and untrustworthy bastard who serves as Batiatus's assistant and the gladiators' dog-robber. Ashur is reluctant to cough up the money, so Barca leans on him hard, because Barca's planning to use this money to buy freedom for himself and his boyfriend, the young bodyslave Pietros.
It's the love of Pietros that gives Ashur opportunity. A few episodes back, one of Batiatus's debtors tried to have Batiatus whacked. Batiatus struck back: he, with Barca, murdered the guy's family. Including a young child. Pietros has heard the rumors, and when he asks Barca denies killing the kid, and says he let him go. It's a lie, because Barca doesn't want the relatively innocent Pietros to look at him as someone willing to commit atrocities -- which Barca is. But Pietros doesn't know that, and neither does the audience. Neither does Ashur, who overhears -- but he doesn't care whether it's true or not. He promptly tips off Batiatus and sends an anonymous note to the victim's family, saying the child has been found. Part of that family: the local magistrate, Batiatus's political nemesis. Enraged and panicking, Batiatus kills Barca, to prevent the nonexistent witness from identifying him; the official story is that Barca bought his freedom and left, alone. This leaves Pietros abandoned and heartbroken.
Finally, Spartacus's planned insane bid for freedom when his wife arrives falls flat on its face: her carriage was attacked on the road, and she and the driver arrive just soon enough to die. The hit, we -- and Batiatus's wife Lucretia, but not Spartacus, learn -- was orchestrated by Batiatus. Now Spartacus has no life but the arena, and Batiatus has gone from vaguely sympathetic figure to Magnificent Bastard, which is an interesting change.
The episode is a mixed bag. Barca's loss is effectively tragic, but it also sucks for the audience, because DAMMIT WE LOST BARCA. (Sura's loss is much less of a regret, because she wasn't really useful to the series anyway.) Hell, I feel unhappier about Barca's loss than I will about Varro's inevitable gruesome demise, which should be of import for the writers because Varro so clearly exists for the purpose of making Spartacus, and us, sad on his death that he might as well have "doomed to die so the hero feels Very Sad" stamped on his forehead. But his death, when it comes, likely won't be as much of an impact on the viewers as Barca's. Barca had his own stuff going on; he was doing lots of things that didn't involve Spartacus, whereas Varro has no life of his own whatsoever to the point that he could turn out to be Spartacus's hallucination and I wouldn't be terribly surprised. Barca, in short, was a character; Varro is a function. One of these is worse to lose than the other.
It's a pretty good episode for Spartacus, though: rather than sitting about and moping he comes up with ideas and starts doing little things to bring his plans to fruition. We see him thinking politically and tactically -- getting wine and whores for the other gladiators to celebrate his victory, in order to win them over and incapacitate any resistance to his next morning's escape, teaching a little swordplay to the gladiator-worshipping son of the local magistrate so he can get access to the boy's dagger. That's a good start, if it's a little late. There was a good scene with Spartacus and Doctore (speaking of another character who's too often a function than a person). If you're watching for the nudity and WTFery, you got an orgy scene with straight sex, gay sex, and a blink-and-you-missed-it shot of pegging, all of it performed with intermittent weird camera angles, hyperstylization, and baby oil. (My friend Ash, watching the show for the first time, immediately chimed in, "So this is what the inside of Frank Miller's head looks like.") So while lots of stuff that sucks happened this episode, it really isn't all bad.
But it sucks that we lost Barca.
The show's set up three villains at this point: Ashur, Batiatus, and Glaber. Glaber isn't in the show any more, hardly; we see his wife more than we see him. I guess he may come into play when Spartacus actually starts his rebellion. In the meantime, keep your eye on Pietros. There's a good chance that he'll be the one to kill Ashur, if not Batiatus, but he's going to have some rough times before that happens. The show implied that he was scared when Barca wasn't around, and that another gladiator we haven't met yet has a predatory eye on Pietros. I'd really like to see some scenes with Pietros and Crixus together -- Crixus and Barca clearly were friends, and with Barca gone Pietros will look to those who were close to him. Crixus would probably smell a rat in the official account of Barca's departure, if he weren't flat on his back and nearly dead.
…wait, I'm thinking about this show like it makes sense, aren't I? NEVER MIND.