Saturday, February 12, 2011

spartacus gods of the arena episode 4 video

spartacus gods of the arena episode 4
['Spartacus' - 'Beneath the Mask']

Now that, my friends, was a toga party. They knew how to throw crazy bashes back in the day.

But for Lucretia and Batiatus (and their friend Gaia), as day turned to night, the buzz wore off and things went from bad to worse.

The effort to keep Titus in the dark failed miserably, that's for sure. Just when you thought he and his son were on the verge of a real reconciliation, the old man's disapproval returned with a vengeance when he discovered what had happened in his absence.

And whatever post-party success Batiatus and Lucretia may have in securing favorable places for their gladiators in future games, it was overshadowed by Lucretia's horrible discovery. Gaia may have had her flaws, but she certainly didn't deserve to go out with her head caved in by budding Capua psychopath Tullius.

His mask certainly came off, and what was underneath wasn't very pretty at all.

So we're now two thirds of the way through the season, and in relatively short order (possibly too short -- more on that below), all the characters have been set against each other. Lucretia's vow of vengeance has made Titus hate her more than ever. In his view, first she cheapened the family name, then she brought shame on the house by using it as a sex-drenched playground (or whorehouse) for rich Romans and now they've all got to cover up a murder. Batiatus and Titus are now at each other's throats, with Titus telling his son to choose the ludus or his wife, and Batiatus still faces significant hurdles in wringing any business success out of the mess he's landed himself in.

Though the orgy was the most elaborate set piece in this solid episode, 'Behind the Mask' wasn't about superficial couplings: It forced all these closely connected characters to be truthful about what they wanted and believed. Ashur truly believes he deserves to be a "real" gladiator. Gannicus believes he really loves Melitta, and can't resist acting on that, despite the risks. Batiatus, Titus and Lucretia now openly hate each other. So much for wearing the masks of politeness and obedience.

The thing about Batiatus and Titus is, they're both right. Batiatus is clearly correct when he looks at Titus' servile atttitude and finds it wanting. The house would never rise -- and would indeed probably wither -- if they continued to take whatever leftovers Tullius saw fit to give it. Titus can't see that his methods are bound to eventually fail, but Batiatus also has more than his share of blind spots. To put it bluntly, he keeps making the same mistakes. Last time he tried to curry favor with a rich Roman, the Primus was soon torn from [expletive] grasp. Now he's up to the same old tricks and he naively thinks that this time it'll work and the popular kids will give him what he wants. Sure, that'll happen.

Say what you want about Titus' crotchety attitudes, he's not wrong about one thing: The choices that Lucretia and Batiatus are making will determine their future. Given that their choices are rooted in selfishness, greed and a willingness to use others, how favored can that future be? If the gods aren't watching, then karma surely is, and they're too blinded by ambition to see that every single one of their decisions brings about unexpected and ominous complications.

The sex shenanigans (sexnanigans?) that the slaves are forced into may destroy the marriage of key household member Doctore, just as it's already destroyed his relationship with the house's champion. Whatever motivations Gannicus once had to win on behalf of the house have now been more or less obliterated. He cares only for Melitta and little for the masters that force him to hold his sword against a preening bully like Tullius.

And how long before Dionna, the slave who's been repeatedly raped for the amusement of her "betters," turns on those who have so viciously abused her? Lucretia and Batiatus can't use everyone around them without their actions coming back to haunt them.

And they already have: Witness the mangled skull of Gaia.

As I've mentioned in my other 'Spartacus' recaps, if the current prequel season has an ongoing problem, it's that it hasn't been able to develop the characters' relationships as fully as I'd have liked. It's not that the season is without momentum or reverberations, but those reverberations have less impact because we're less invested in the new characters' connections.

Jaime Murray did her best to give the role of Gaia a bit of nuance and depth, and Lucy Lawless sold the hell out of her scenes of grief and anger, but I never quite invested in the bond between those two women. Much of the time, Gaia was exactly what she appeared to be at the start: A fairly generic party girl whom Lucretia had had some fun times back in the day. Gaia never felt all that specific to me, nor was her bond with Lucretia all that detailed or engrossing. As I've said before, I'm only holding the show up to the high standards it set in its first season, when the friendship between Spartacus and Varro felt like the heart of the show. There simply wasn't enough time to do a similarly thorough job with Lucretia and Gaia.

Same goes for the burgeoning affair between Gannicus and Melitta. The actors are doing perfectly good work in the scenes they've been given -- Dustin Clare in particular is bringing a heartbreaking puppyish quality Gannicus' first love -- but there wasn't much time to lay much groundwork with these two before they were forced into sexnanigans. The stakes are high for Melitta: If the things she's done with the house's champion come to light, she could die by either her husband's hand or her Dominus'. So why is she risking everything for this guy? We don't really know enough about their prior relationship to feel the impact of this transition from friendship to love.

Not to make this a litany of complaints, because Friday's episode held my interest throughout, but I'd also love to know more about Lucretia's history and why bringing her under his roof brought Titus such shame. Where did Batiatus meet her? Why does the old goat still hate her so, despite her attempts to give him every comfort, including his blasted honeyed wine? Was she a common streetwalker or something -- is that why he can't look past her present efforts to please him? All things considered, it feels a little abrupt for him to make her the focus of his rage. But Titus should know that, given the choice between his woman and his father, the choice for Batiatus will be clear. Probably. In any event, Titus should sleep with one eye open and think about investigating what's really in that honeyed wine.

The episode ended in dark place, but, in a welcome change from last week's grimness, we got some of the ridonkulous nuttiness that 'Spartacus' sometimes unleashes. If you're going to show a Roman orgy, by the gods, you don't want to go halfway. Not surprisingly, 'Spartacus' goes all the way and then some, and what was enjoyable about the orgy scenes were the indivisible strands of humor and worry that ran through them. It was funny because it was so cheerfully over the top, but the stakes for the characters were real no matter how wild things got.

For Lucretia, this was an important business meeting, in which she was entertaining clients and trying to keep everyone happy. She wasn't exactly swinging from the chandeliers -- there was far too much at stake for her to lose control for a moment. She had Solonius looking over her shoulder, she had to make sure that Gaia's party pals from Rome were well satisfied and she had to keep an eye on that jackass Tullius, who was clearly up to no good.

Yet the orgy itself was one of those moments in which 'Spartacus' goes pretty far over the top, as if the show is trying to thumb its nose at those who say it's nothing but spurting blood and wild sexual romps. "You want crazy sexual escapades? We'll give you that times 10!," 'Spartacus' seemed to be saying. And you know what? That kind of silly subversion entertains me. In any event, the people who see the show as only a derivative sex-and-violence fest are already missing the point to such a great degree that the show might as well go hog wild.

But as is always the case on this show, the sex served a purpose: All the naked sexnanigans took place so that the House of Batiatus could move up in the world. But everything comes at a price. After the masks came off and the revelers went home, Gaia's body was thrown off the cliff like so much party trash.

Can Tullius get away with killing a Roman citizen in cold blood? He may be able to. He may not have left Batiatus with many options. But the look in Lucretia's eye says that Tullius is not long for this world. After all, she's got quite the backbone: She threatened Melitta and hinted that she might reveal the secret about her sex with Gannicus if she didn't get everyone to keep their traps shut about the party.

Yet honor and friendship can and do exist in this world -- Melitta made sure Naevia didn't have to service the guests, Batiatus did warm up when he received a measure of his father's approval, Lucretia did have real feelings when her friend died.

This is a heightened world where wild things happen, but it's grounded in complicated relationships, and at the moment, all those relationships are hanging by threads. As we head into the last part of the season, it should be interesting to see how those threads get even more tangled -- or cut.

1 comment:

  1. for the next episode of "Spartacus Gods of the Arena"we can safely assume Gannicus dies or is sold off and we know that Melitta dies off. Titus will prolly get killed by Batiatus or by that other dude who pissed on Batiatus. I can't wait like this new episode of Spartacus Gods of the Arena Episode 5: Reckoning. Entertainment Bay