This week’s episode of Spartacus: Vengeance features dueling interpretations of Stephen Sondheim classics: while Spartacus and his men do their best version of Into the Woods, Illithyia hosts a party that starts out as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum but quickly devolves into something straight out of Sweeney Todd, with a smattering of A Little Night Music (minus Catherine Zeta-Jones’ horrendous, Tourette’s-style overacting) thrown in for good measure.
We open with red-cloaked Roman soldiers tromping through the woods looking for the fugitives from the mine. Hasn’t anyone told these Romans that running through the woods in little red riding capes tends to invite trouble? Of course, Spartacus et. al. are looking to steer clear of trouble, as they crouch low to the ground hoping to avoid being seen. I’m not sure that three leaves spread across the tantalizingly broad back of a gladiator is enough to actually keep him hidden from sight, but it seems to be working fine. In fact, everyone’s still and quiet except Naevia, who is as nervous as a Southern Baptist at the Folsom Street Fair (and let me tell you, that’s nervous.)
Sure enough, Naevia loses it and starts screaming and running like this is a Pepsi commercial and her hair just caught fire (is it too soon for Michael Jackson jokes?) The head soldier chases Naevia while Spartacus and his men confront the rest. The head soldier catches Naevia; panting, he tells her, “You made me run…I hate running.” Oh my God, so do I! The last time I ran like that was to get to the front of the line at the Chinese buffet, but otherwise, I’m so with my lazy Roman friend—running is for (well-built, in good health) suckers! The Roman prepares to kill Naevia but along comes Psycho Mira with her mini-dagger-o’-doom. I love it when Mira goes crazy like that. It reminds of the way my sister tackles the Thanksgiving turkey—best just to stand back and just let her work it out of her system rather than get in the way.
Spartacus and his men kill the rest of the Romans, but one of the red-shirt gladiators dies—I have to double check, but I think his name was Ensign Nonamius. This unnerves the rest, and one of the gladiators—I didn’t catch his name because I was too busy drooling over his incredible chest, so let’s just call him Pectorus—Pectorus suggests that they leave Naevia behind, because she is more of a liability than an asset (I’m guessing this may also be because she’s starting to resemble a flat-chested version of the younger Kardashian sister—what’s her name again? Kris Jenner?) Spartacus says that no one will be left behind—except Crixus and all the others that were left behind in the mines. So Spartacus angrily says that no one will be left behind this time and storms off into the woods.
Ashur, seeing the slaughtered soldiers, tells Marcus that the Romans “are going to need a bigger boat,” or something to that affect, but Marcus just brushes him off. Marcus says that Roman soldiers aren’t afraid to die; they’re only afraid of needles and kittens and kites (paper cuts are the worst!)
Meanwhile, another group of soldiers runs into the gladiators again; this time, Nasir gets stabbed while saving Mira, and the only gladiators left standing are Spartacus, Pectorus, and a third gladiator who, in my notes, I kept referring to as Dreadlockius. Anticipating Oregonian law by about 2000 years, Pectorus wants to euthanize Nasir, but Spartacus says no, he doesn’t have the proper doctor’s consent.
Naevia, being helpful for a happy change, suggests cauterizing the wound, but Pectorus worries the fire will attract the Romans. Spartacus sends Pectorus and Dreadlockius off to find Agron to send reinforcements, while he toddles along with Nasir, Mira, and Naevia.
The happy, gay group, enjoying their outing in the woods, start up a fire to roast some marshmallows and staunch the bleeding coming from Nasir’s gullet (there’s always one person on a campout who has to whine about roughing it…).
Pectorus returns, having lost Dreadlockius in the woods and saying he could not get through to Agron because there were too many Romans in the way. I’m sure Siri could find a way past all the Romans, but Spartacus is too cheap to pay for phone upgrades—just like my boss at work, cough, cough.
The group finds Dreadlockius hanging from a tree, and more Romans are upon them. Pectorus bites the big one, but Spartacus goes absolutely nuts when he sees his woman threatened and kills the Romans to a man—hey, it was just Valentine’s Day, after all, and nothing says love like slaughtering the eight Romans who have come to kill you and take you back into slavery. Though I confess I was happy with the rice cooker the hubby got me for Valentine’s; all those dead Roman bodies would have been murder on the carpet, anyway.
Ashur pulls an injured Marcus away from the fray, giving him his best “I told you so” along the way. Ashur tells Marcus they need to bring the entire Roman army to get Spartacus, but Marcus does not listen to him and tries to summon a few more Romans to help.
Ashur then kills Marcus, deciding discretion really is the better part of valor or, to put it more plainly, deciding that saving his own testicles is smarter than trying to separate Spartacus from his (not as much fun, perhaps, but decidedly smarter.)
We end with Spartacus, Mira, Naevia, and the injured Nasir huddled together, concluding that this really was the worst double-date of all time, as more Romans close in. But—wait—it’s Agron, come to save the day—a little late for poor Pectorus and Dreadlockius, but just in time for us to not see Agron and Nasir smooch and share a little tenderness.
That, alas, will have to wait for next time…
Of course, if you want tenderness, you can always go back to the house of Batiatus where one of Spartacus’ gladiators feels the full brunt of the Romans’ tenderness—or tenderizing, to be more accurate. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our scene opens here with Gaius Hottius Glaber and Varinius (who, thanks to lukas333, we all know is packin’ six packs o’ diet cola underneath his toga) having “words” with each other. You can cut the tension here with a knife and I think, honestly, the two should just kiss and get it over with. Well, kiss and grab and get it over with. Well, kiss and grab and fondle and get it over with. Well, kiss and grab and fondle…sorry, my mind wandered off there for moment—yeah, that was my mind wandering, sure.
Illithyia says that the best way resolve all this tension is to have a party. Somewhere, Martha Stewart approves, but Glaber does not. Still, Illithyia insists that nothing makes the site of a massacre a happy place again faster than a night of riotous excess. And decoupage. Hmm. I think they tried that in Amityville, and that didn’t go down so well, but, what the hey. If there are pigs in a blanket involved, I’m in, and so, apparently, is Varinius, at least as far as Illithyia is concerned—but, again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Glaber doesn’t like the idea of the party, and he tells Illithyia so while they are in the bath before he stands up and…hmm. I don’t have any more notes after that. All I can see is a scrawl that reads something like “hominahominahomina.” Clearly something happened after Glaber stood up, but what it was…I could not say. Though I did make a few wallet-sized pictures to carry around with me.
Illithyia goes into full party planning mode, turning the badassiest show on television into an MTV My Super Sweet 16 nightmare. “Daddy, I want an ice fountain in the shape of P Diddy spurting out champagne and I want a cake shaped like Beyoncé’s gadunkadunk and I want parrots that sing to me just like Justin Bieber and…” Illithyia finds Lucretia counseling Seppia on the best way to land Varinius (two hints: more cleavage, less insipidness) and Illithyia gets all jealous: she wants to land Varinius or, to be more accurate, she wants Varinius’ Boeing 747 landing on her airstrip, mm’kay?
Unexpected guests arrive—three gladiators from the mine revolt, including Crixus. Illithyia clucks that Lucretia’s prophecy did not land her husband Spartacus, Lucretia frets that her prophecy may yet come true, and I worry that Crixus and that chubby cubby Gaul gladiator will eat all the mini-wieners before I get to the party.
Crixus and crew are reunited with Oenomaus who, after having learned last week about his wife and Gannicus, is unsurprisingly down on women. Personally I think he’s peeved because he doesn’t have a date to the party—it’s so embarrassing showing up alone to these kinds of functions.
Then the party truly starts: wine, food, music, orgy. I have to hand it to Illithyia; she really knows how to throw a shindig. I doubt any of Martha Stewart’s orgies have ever looked so nice (Martha on orgies: “Flavored lubricant—it’s a good thing.”) Of course, I just may be easily impressed, since at the last party I went to we sat around someone’s living room wearing Bill Cosby-sweaters and complaining about the cost of heat while eating microwave taquitos and sipping wine from a box (and yes, in case you wondered, we soooo “tipped it.”) At Illithyia’s bash all the servants are walking around naked. Clearly, this is not a woman who keeps a tight grip on the thermostat.
Glaber makes a big speech about catching Spartacus, but his staging is all wrong. He is standing in front of a bunch of slaves pleasuring each other. Hasn’t Glaber ever heard the three rules of public speaking? 1) Speak clearly and enunciate; 2) make your remarks brief and to the point; and 3) don’t talk in front of nekkid people diddling their privates. No one will hear a single thing you say if they can watch boobies and trouser snakes instead. It’s just a scientific fact.
But then Glaber decides to try “one-upping” his wife by bringing in the gladiators he actually has captured for some real entertainment because, apparently, the orgy is just not cutting through the stink of ennui that pervades the room.
Apparently the 1% truly are not like you and I, because I think I’d be having a swell time at the soiree (and that’s simply based on the open bar alone). Glaber gives Varinius a sword to do the honors (boy, all you need to do to kiss-up to me is tell me that my new haircut covers my bald spot,) but Varinius suggests they put the men in the arena instead.
Meanwhile, the gladiators just kneel there like wallflowers, wishing someone would ask them to dance. Careful what you wish for, guys! Seppius suggests that they should kill at least one, just for the sport of it if nothing else, and to top it all off, Lucretia gets to choose who gets to die.
Crixus is practically pooping his peplum, but he tries acting smooth by talking to Lucretia: “Hey, baby, remember how I used to shtup you when your husband went to buy more slaves? Good times, right?” Lucretia picks another red-shirt gladiator—Ensign Scragglius—telling Crixus she really wants to prolong his agony by making him wait. Hey, the show is prolonging my agony by making me wait for Agron and Nasir to bury the bone in the backyard, so I suppose Lucretia thinks I need to suffer, too.
The partygoers string up Ensign Scragglius like he is a Roman piñata, then take turns poking at him with a knife. They cut off his tongue and his ear and his cheek and laugh about it while I’m making record time in the forty-year dash to my powder room.
Meanwhile Illithyia lets it slip to her Papa (his name is Albinius) that she wants to dissolve her marriage to Glaber and take up with Varinius instead, despite the fact that she is pregnant and swiftly approaching XXIX—again. Her father tells her to leave it alone.
Seppia stands up to take her turn at the person piñata—seriously, whatever candy comes out of this guy, I don’t want any part of it. She’s been flirting with Varinius all night long, but now she just can’t seal the deal, chickening out instead of cutting the guy’s remaining toe off.
Illithyia shows she has no problem penetrating a man, stabbing the guy through his gullet and seriously impressing the hell out of Varinius. Something tells me if Illithyia ends up with Varinius she might find a good use for that golden dildo we saw in episode one.
Seppia pouts that Varinius does not seem to like her anymore, but Seppius consoles her in his creepy, incestuous way. Dear producers of Spartacus: Vengeance: Please. Do. Not. Go. There. Pretty pretty pretty please with sprinkles and droplets of spraying blood on top do not go there. Lucretia, meanwhile, talks to Papa Illithyia and offers him her “wisdom” on the problems his daughter is creating.
Illithyia chases after Varinius, even though he already has two chippies in hand for the night. They talk, and she flat out tells him that she wants to be Mrs. Varinius. Varinius gets a little handy; Illithyia gets a lot randy; and everything seems dandy—until he tells her she has to get rid of her husband first.
I swear, Illithyia is giving a bad name to blondes everywhere (who are usually noted for being so wise and even-tempered.) Throwing over Gaius Hottius Glaber for this slab of praetor? Sure, Varinius is rich, and tall, and handsome, and well-connected, and in her father’s favor, and…wait, what was my objection again?
Excited that her plan is moving forward, Illithyia runs off to tell her father—only to find Lucretia giving him a one-way ride to Happytown. Illithyia is stymied, and not just because Papa Illithyia will be out for hours afterward, but because she thinks Lucretia is poisoning her father against her wishes.
She challenges Lucretia in the hallway, choking the snot out of her until Lucretia swears up and down that she was taking a turn on the old man’s thrill drill (actually, he’s so old it’s more like a “gristle missile”) in order to convince him to dissolve Illithyia’s marriage to Glaber. Lucretia insists that she really is Illithyia’s friend, and Illithyia decides to accept the new “oracle of Capua,” especially since she believes she is controlling her.
Of course we know Lucretia is nobody’s puppet (there’s a joke there about someone sticking a hand up her pooper, but it’s getting too late in the recap to go there.) So now Crixus and Oenomaus go back into the arena, while Spartacus has been reunited with the other gladiators on Vesuvius.
Will Spartacus be able to rescue Crixus in time? Does Lucretia have a truly devious plot in mind? Will Illithyia have to call her Mommie Dearest and throw away all her wire hangers if Lucretia marries her father? Or does she have her eyes set on someone else? And will Agron and Nasir finally get it on, or is Nasir going to need to “recover” for a few more episodes first? I guess we’ll have to tune in to see!