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'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' nostalgia recap: Fame and glory

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Legends” | Aired Feb 5, 2010

Spartacus‘ third episode is primarily concerned with the notion of how legends are forged. Or as Varro tells Spartacus: “In the world of the gladiator, a man’s fame and glory constitutes its own truth.” But Spartacus seeks neither.

We begin with Spartacus preparing himself in his cell for training (bookmarked at the end by a scene that has a completely different feeling). We assume it’s been several days since he joined the brotherhood. But as Spartacus’ friendship with Varro has grown, so has his temper and ego. It doesn’t help that the Vulcanalia (the festival of flowers) battles are on the horizon, making him even thirstier to discover more about his wife.

As the title indicates, this episode explores how legends are born and what sort of feats legends like Barca and Crixus had to accomplish. During a meal, we see the first indication of Barca’s romance with Pietros (Eka Darville), one of the slaves of the House of Batiatus. Varro even tells Spartacus the story of how Barca came to be known as “The Beast of Carthage” (which involved killing the leader of his tribe in combat, the powerful Mago).

While the sepia-toned flashback is somewhat distracting, this sequence sheds more light on Barca’s character. At first, he was just portrayed as one of the best gladiators and a bully to the new recruits, but here we find out that he has a soft side (especially in his relationship with Pietros)—despite having done some pretty terrible things in the arena.

One of the subplots involves Lucretia preparing for the reception to the Vulcanalia and her search to impress Illythia with and show off her status. She picks out a blond wig and buys fancy jewelry, almost like she’s seeking some kind of approval from Illythia by appearing to be a proper and powerful Roman woman.

Lucretia and Illythia arrive at the House of Batiatus reception

Meanwhile, Spartacus insists on finding out answers about his wife from Batiatus. And Batiatus definitely shows that he’s not a messenger and that Spartacus is, in his view, almost abusing the confidence that he had built with him. Doctore notices the effect on his training and lets Spartacus know by urinating in front of him. Doctore humiliates him even more by throwing him into the spot. He basically tells him to forget his Thracian roots and embrace the ludus as his new, and only, home.

Aside from learning more about Barca, there’s also the first clear depiction of Lucretia using Crixus to please her sexually. Manipulation in the House of Batiatus is everywhere. This follows a pretty awkward conversation with Naevia in which she tells him how the games make her feel. Sensing that he screwed up his conversation, Crixus asks Ashur for a favor.

After being thrown in the hole—a pretty disgusting place to be—for speaking out of turn in training, Spartacus and Varro know more about their positions in the Vulcanalia. Problem is, Crixus and Gnaeus (Raicho Vasilev) are chosen to be in the primus. Spartacus doesn’t like it and irrationally taunts Gnaeus, and injuring him in the process. This is the first moment in the show where Spartacus makes a power move to increase his position to his advantage (you could argue that defying Glaber was also a power move). Fighting Crixus feels like a selfish scheme (granted, he’s doing it for his wife), which fits into his ego-driven mind during this episode.

Another “legend” story focuses on Crixus. Spartacus discovers that he defeated two powerful twins (Decimus and Tiberius—more beast than man). It’s a great origin story but at times feels like the show is going into supernatural-type realm; even the battle sequence is shot in a 300-esque way with a lot of shadow work.

Crixus fights the supernatural twins

Finally, at the reception, Lucretia is able to show off her jewels to Illythia, but it doesn’t go as planned. In brutally deadpan Illythia fashion, she tells Lucretia that those jewels are almost out of date. However, Ashur is able to give the favor that Crixus requested (in a pretty hilarious scene between the two), which he later gives to Naevia.

Ashur gives Crixus the favor

After learning that Batiatus might not give him the primus position, Spartacus throws Crixus to the ground and fights him. Batiatus (the great businessman and showman that he is) looks at the intense rivalry between the two and decides to give the audience what they want to see: Crixus fighting Spartacus.

Their fight shows how unprepared Spartacus is (Doctore did warn Batiatus that he was not ready for this). Crixus dominates the fight, and at the end Spartacus has to surrender (by raising two fingers—a lesson learned from Doctore during training), much to the disappointment of everyone.

Spartacus surrenders

Despite some crass language, writer Brent Fletcher does a terrific job of showing Spartacus learn from his mistakes (Whitfield’s performance here is great). After his great victory in the previous episode, the surrender feels more like a gigantic defeat than anything else. This could’ve been his birth of a legend story, but instead it’s something he feels deeply ashamed of.

Legendary quotes:

“A gladiator’s first distraction is his last.” —Doctore

“There is always a choice.” —Spartacus to Varro

“Men and their ambitions. You know they should learn to appreciate the finer things in life.” —Lucretia to Illythia

“I am practiced with sword, not words.” —Crixus to Naevia

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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