Episode: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.04 – “Beneath the Mask”
Original Air Date: February 11, 2011
With the season almost over, this is the episode where Lucretia breaks in a big way, Gannicus and Melitta confess their “love” for each other, and Titus finds out how just how low Quintus has sunk to try and get the House of Batiatus in higher standing. Oh, and there was one gladiatorial fight. You know, just in case that was the reason you wanted to watch a show about gladiators.
First, let’s just get what I didn’t like out of the way right off because it’s small when compared to the entire show but it still affects me in a big enough way that my possible enjoyment of the series is cut down substantially — the continued use of forced sex on the slaves. As I’ve already said, could this probably be historically accurate? Yes, but is it something that has to be shown in every episode? I would feel differently if more time had been spent on the fact that the Lucretia we have in GotA initially doesn’t want her slave girls used in this manner and only caves because Gaia talks her into it for the betterment of Quintus’s standing. I understand there are time constraints with only six episodes in the season, but half of those have had forced sex in them as entertainment with no real consequence or reaction about it other than a supposed blossoming love (which would be a whole other irritation/trigger if it hadn’t been subtly alluded to and affection between the two characters before the forced sex happened). This is purely a personal thing. Like I said, it may not be a huge part of the overall episodes, but it’s enough that I have a hard time watching this show now.
Okay, so what was good about the show were some pretty major shifts in a few of the characters (most notably for me is Lucretia). I think I’m one of the few people who didn’t see much of a difference between GotA‘s Quintus and Blood and Sand‘s Quintus, but what I’ve appreciated is seeing him play against his father, Titus, who appears to be the only character on something of a moral high ground when it comes to running a ludus (and apparently that works because he had all the respect of his gladiators and servants and all those champions in the ring). However, I found it very interesting that Titus doesn’t approve of Lucretia, who up till now has been a very caring and loving wife and lady of the house. You know, someone who seemed to run the house by having the respect of the slaves, not the person she’s been slowly turning into (i.e., Gaia) and using everyone in the most debased manner she can come up with just because she can use them that way. So when it’s found out that their “entertaining” of higher-ups is making the rounds, I wasn’t surprised that Lucretia was horrified but Gaia and Quintus saw this as an excuse to throw the mother of all ragers and the first of many debauched engagements.
While all of that is going on, Gannicus and Melitta confess their feelings for each other (which made me want to gag and I hope Doctore takes them both out). We also see that Ashur doesn’t have what it takes to be a gladiator despite wanting it desperately, but he sure is more than well equipped in subterfuge (so it’s no wonder he becomes so close to Quintus later on). Doctore finally gets some respect as Doctore and not one of the brotherhood, which was something he was struggling with since taking over as Doctore. He’s still loyal to Titus and doesn’t agree at all with the way Quintus is running things (i.e., the sex party), but Melitta keeps convincing him to just do what he’s told so that the fact that Gannicus and she had sex won’t be found out. We also have Crixus ingratiating himself more with the other gladiators. He seems to be getting more into the whole brotherhood of it and less about just being out there for himself. Not such a big surprise was finding out that Solonius is working a back door deal, so to speak, with Tullius in order to further his own career/wealth. This must be the reason Solonius and Quintus are not so buddy-buddy in Blood and Sand.
The two major turning points, I feel, happened at the end. The death of Gaia and Titus giving Quintus the ultimatum about staying with the family and getting rid of Lucretia or taking off with his wife. Gaia’s death was a welcome thing for me. That character rubbed me the wrong way from day one and I knew she’d have to die just because of how much Lucretia loved and cared about her. The similarities between Gaia and Lucretia in Blood and Sand were too close not to expect something like this to happen. I also think this is enough of a break in Lucretia that she and Quintus will come up with some kind of plan to knock off Titus and take over the house and lead the straight down the path to being destroyed by those that they build their wealth upon.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars