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'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' nostalgia recap: Tend to the wound

Season 1 | Episode 11 | “Old Wounds” | Aired Apr 9, 2010

Dreams have always played a major part in Spartacus, but in episode 11, they become the focal point and driving force behind Spartacus’s story arc. But in the meantime, both Crixus and Batiatus have their own major character arcs in this episode.

We begin with Spartacus, still affected by the tragic death of Varro, saying good-bye to his close friend. The opening shot establishes the dreamlike quality of Spartacus’s story throughout the episode. It serves to convey that Spartacus feels torn between two worlds: that of the living and that of the dead. He has an open wound that may literally be bringing him closer to death, but he’s also hallucinating about a dead Varro and filled with guilt over his actions.

Since Magistrate Calavius and his son caused the loss of one of Batiatus’s gladiators, he decides to seek revenge. Batiatus becomes completely unhinged while plotting against the magistrate, to the point that even Ashur is worried about him. We’ve seen Batiatus act without reason before, but in this episode he really commits to his insanity—the magistrate’s comment, about him not being a politician, was so humiliating that his revenge includes kidnapping and torture. The interrogation scene allows for increased depth from John Hannah: Batiatus’s pride is so hurt that he’s willing to put everything he’s built on the line. It’s also beautifully somber and moody in terms of its cinematography.

The other major storyline of the episode includes the triumphant return of Crixus to the arena. After Spartacus’s injury nearly kills him, forcing him to recover with the Medicus, it is Crixus who assumes position to battle in the primus against Magistrate Pompeii (Phil Grieve). After such a long time, Crixus is ecstatic that he’s finally getting a chance to fight in the primus and reclaim his title. This battle with Pompeii’s gladiator is well choreographed and thrilling, but it’s evident that Crixus must work really hard during the fight—it’s not easy after being out of the game for so long. After being booed during his introduction and managing a comeback during the fight, Crixus defeats the gladiator (in perhaps one of the most graphic deaths of the series). Crixus’s return after such a long time is rewarding precisely because of the gradual build-up since he lost against Theokoles. It’s a great and triumphant return for the Mighty Gaul.

After Crixus’s victory, Batiatus and Numerius receive a message saying that Magistrate Calavius has been kidnapped and is in danger. Of course, Batiatus is pretending that he’s surprised. After they arrive at the cellar, where Batiatus had been keeping the magistrate, they encounter Solonius with a dagger. Long story short: Solonius receives the blame for the death of the magistrate despite the fact that it was Batiatus and Ashur’s plan. For a long time, Ashur has pretended to scheme with Solonius (this episode shows them talking again), when in reality it’s been a long con by Batiatus and Ashur to ruin him.

This is one of those great Spartacus twists where the characters’ mastery of the art of manipulation and trickery sinks in. Tarabay and Hannah seem to relish each moment they get to play such evil men—and they do it so well. Just like the Crixus arc, it’s something that has been building for several weeks (and remained fairly ambiguous in terms of Ashur’s true allegiance) and pays off wonderfully. It’s so genius, that Batiatus, never better than with this master plan, ends up killing two birds with one stone. He takes revenge against the magistrate (and evades blame) and defeats his longtime rival Solonius by framing him in such a diabolical way. The plan positions Batiatus as a major force to be reckoned with outside of the arena.

Back to the dreams of Spartacus. It’s during these strange and visually eerie dream sequences that Spartacus both comes to terms with Varro’s death and realizes the truth behind his wife’s kidnapping. These sequences, apart from conveying a beautifully realized sense that Spartacus is inhabiting a limbo-like dreamscape because of his injury, effectively move the story forward and inform us about his internal struggle.

One of the things that this episode puts to great use (credit to Daniel Knauf who wrote the teleplay and director Glenn Standring) is the metaphor of the wound. Since he doesn’t deal with it (until it nearly kills him) Spartacus’s wound serves perfectly as a metaphorical reminder that he needs to deal with Varro’s death—otherwise this “open wound” will never truly heal. As the dreams get more and more surreal (there’s a telling visual metaphor where Spartacus sees himself as a sack of coins for Batiatus), his reminder about Varro’s death morphs into recognizing that Sura’s death was no accident. When he wakes up, Spartacus interrogates Aulus (Mark Mitchinson)—the assassin that Batiatus payed to kill Sura—and discovers the whole truth about his wife’s demise before killing him and telling Mira to keep it a secret.

This episode positions the characters differently moving forward: Batiatus has eliminated his enemies, Crixus has regained his status as a powerful gladiator, and Spartacus now knows the horrible truth. The next two episodes are poised with tension as we wait to see what the repercussions of these developments are.

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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