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'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' nostalgia recap: Unleash the beast

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “The Thing in the Pit” | Aired Feb 12, 2010

After the events of the previous episode, where Spartacus asked for surrender during the primus, the series takes its lead character to his lowest point. Spartacus is ordered to fight to the death in “the pits of the underworld” (think of it as purgatory for shamed gladiators) in order to reclaim his status as a gladiator.

The episode begins with Spartacus, in cuffs, being dragged by Roman soldiers and Batiatus confronting him about his tremendous failure during the primus. Batiatus needs money to repay the cost of the Vulcanalia, and he’s going to regain his money by making Spartacus fight in the pit. Spartacus contemplates his humanity

Now, this episode doesn’t skimp on the brutality and primal nature of the place. Savage, bloody fights take place here. While the spectators cheer for the extreme and horrifying violence, the titular character of the episode goes all Hannibal Lecter, wearing the face of his opponents. Yeah, this episode is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Spartacus’ dehumanization pushes him to his limits; Andy Whitfield just crushes this intense portrayal of his dark descent. The first battle is where Spartacus really learns that it’s “win or die” and fully commits to that.

Batiatus and Spartacus have a conversation Meanwhile, Naevia and Crixus are working on their relationship. Naevia tells Crixus that she liked his gift but can’t accept it, so instead he gives it to Lucretia (who summons Crixus). Naturally this doesn’t go well with Naevia.

After a gory battle—let’s just say a meat hook is involved—Spartacus starts to hallucinate and has visions of Sura. She almost acts as his conscience, telling him to not give up despite how horrifying these battles are. Visually, these scenes are quite striking; at one point the two of them are presented in a distorted perspective and it looks like something out of a Bergman film.

Spartacus has some visions

During one of Spartacus’ journeys into the pits, he notices Barca and Pietros having sex (our first confirmation that they’re a couple). Crixus even comments on the fact that he knows they’re lovers (the next morning, when Pietros offers Spartacus some water).

Later, Varro and Spartacus discuss the dark nature of the pit and Varro’s confession that he used to gamble there. Neither character is just good or bad; their morality is gray, not black and white.

In one of the first shots of Capua, we see Lucretia trying to earn some money in the city to help with their financial situation. And good old Solonius gives Lucretia a not so subtle declaration that he likes her, reminiscent of an earlier scene when she declared how Crixus made her feel.

Following many more battles in the pit, Spartacus shows he has become a ruthless warrior; in fact, he appears to have no soul left after being used by Batiatus. In a way, both Lucretia and Batiatus use these gladiators for their own gain—sexually or financially.

Spartacus is presented as a fighter in the pits

The more battles he engages in the pit, the more Spartacus loses his mind. At one point, he confuses his conversation with Varro with the one happening inside his head.

Finally, Spartacus, after a vivid dream, tells Batiatus that he’s ready to sacrifice himself and make sure that he earns back his money. All he wants is for Batiatus to bet against him; Spartacus will lose the fight and die, but he must keep searching for his wife.

Batiatus asks him what’s going to keep him from not looking after his wife, even after Spartacus gives up his life. Spartacus replies, “you honor”—so Batiatus agrees.

The final confrontation in the pit, involving the titular character, Ixion (Raicho Vasilev), is brutal. But during the fight, two assassins attempt to kill Batiatus. Spartacus notices this and alerts Barca, and stops them. Spartacus dispatches the second one right after defeating Ixion.

After losing a lot of money from the bet, Batiatus decides to honor his promise. He’ll continue looking for Sura, and Spartacus can retain his place among the gladiators.

After a bloody affair, Spartacus achieves gladiator status again Despite the insanely unpleasant tone of the episode (perhaps one of the most polarizing of the entire series) and relentless brutality, director Jesse Warn (currently directs for Arrow) presents powerful visuals with a great exploration of Spartacus’ descent into darkness. Whitfield and Hannah deliver superb performances, from a script by Todd Helbing and Aaron Helbing (writers for Smallville, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and The Flash).

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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