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'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' nostalgia recap: Slayer of death

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Great and Unfortunate Things” | Mar 12, 2010

Following the death of his wife in the previous episode, Spartacus now faces the decision to leave his past completely behind him, once and for all, by fully embracing his destiny as a gladiator.

This episode (written by Steven S. DeKnight and Bret Fletcher) really is all about Spartacus embracing his true destiny and embarking on a new path. And what better way to begin than with a flashback to happier times (Hey, look—it’s long-haired Spartacus again!) when Spartacus and Sura first meet; where we also learn that Spartacus was something of a Casanova-like character during his earlier years.

After the flashback, there is a cut to Sura’s funeral. Not only is it staged in a visually wonderful manner (director Jesse Warn at the helm) but there’s a great sense of respect by the gladiators to let Spartacus have a proper moment of grief. By this point, he’s earned the respect of the brotherhood with his victories, so it’s a poignant gesture of a surrogate family helping one of their brothers.

Spartacus pays tribute to his wife

Spartacus and Batiatus have a very interesting dynamic during this episode. Batiatus asks forgiveness for not being able to warn the driver of the dangerous roads they were traveling on. (The very next scene shows him paying the carriage driver for killing Sura.) It all comes down to power and greed: Batiatus needs Spartacus to stay focused so the House can rise, even if it means killing his loved one. Self-preservation reigns.

The Spartacus and Varro sequences during this episode are well-done, and a tad more intense than we’re used to. In this episode, Varro reunites with Aurelia (Brooke Williams) and his son, and it goes from a pretty emotional and happy reunion to Aurelia confessing that she is pregnant (because of an infidelity). It clearly affects Varro—during his interaction with Spartacus later in the episode, he has a tantrum and tells Spartacus about the horrible news.

Aurelia and Varro are reunited

One of this episode’s other cool subplots is Doctore going into “detective mode” regarding Barca’s “freedom.” The subplot is an opportunity to show Doctore interacting with several of the other characters, like Naevia, and it shows how he cares about his disciples. Plus, it gives Peter Mensah a chance to showcase and demonstrate his role of authority in scenes like the Ashur interrogation.

But since this is Spartacus, battles are on the horizon. After the battle of Theokoles, Capua is ready for a new spectacle and Mercato is going to give it to them. He arrives at the House of Batiatus with the idea to honor his grandfather with a demonstration of his victory against a Thracian army. Batiatus agrees, and Mercato suggests that Spartacus should play his grandfather. Naturally, Spartacus is not comfortable with the idea of playing a Roman general. The thesis of the episode seems to be to let go of the past and confront your destiny—and what better way to do that than by having Spartacus symbolically kill his “old self” and acknowledge his new persona?

Batiatus shows Spartacus the hall of pillars

The first half of this episode is exceptionally grim. Not only because of the aftermath of Sura’s death but also as a result of the effects of Barca’s death on Pietros. It gets really dark for Pietros when Gnaeus starts to physically abuse him—to the point that it drives him to kill himself. Spartacus, having witnessed Gnaeus’s treatment of Pietros, seeks vengeance for the injustice and ends up throwing him off a cliff.

This leads to another fascinating interaction between Batiatus and Spartacus. Batiatus is naturally furious because he lost a gladiator (which means profit for him), while Spartacus defends Pietros’s life as having worth. This debate makes Batiatus lose control, punch Spartacus in the face, and tell him that he’s going to dress as a Roman warrior (whether he wants to or not) and forget about his Thracian heritage.

Batiatus is furious at the fact that Gnaeus is dead

Prior to the arena battle, Spartacus has a flashback, remembering Sura’s comments about his destiny. He tells Batiatus that his decision is to fight, embrace his destiny, and become who the gods want him to be.

The arena battle creates a fascinating parallel, because the way the “Thracian” prisoners enter into the arena is almost the same as the way Spartacus first entered there. The similarity is more pronounced when Spartacus enters, dressed in Roman clothing, looking confident and ready to accept who he is.

Spartacus stands tall wearing Roman attire

This episode contains some of Spartacus’s most brutal and vicious kills (“spear to the throat,” for example), which Lucretia and Batiatus acknowledge. It is all the more resonant because of whom he’s fighting. Near the end of the sequence, there’s a quick-cut montage of everything that has been leading up to this, and it effectively conveys that it’s at this moment that Spartacus really is born.

Spartacus sees himself in the battle

And what better way to close an episode in which the entire dilemma has been letting go of the past and embracing your destiny, than for Spartacus see his younger Thracian self in the last man—effectively killing the “old” Spartacus. It’s such a great symbolic moment. And the final line is so earned, not only by Whitfield, but also by the character. Spartacus publicly addresses his readiness to accept his destiny as this new persona, and let go of his past completely. It’s also a great nod to the Stanley Kubrick version of Spartacus.

Interesting Tidbit

  • The scene with Batiatus and Lucretia talking about Sura’s death has a great Macbeth reference (not direct dialogue, but similar): “I would keep such blood from these hands.”–Batiatus
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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