Spartacus: War of the Damned: Season 1, Episode 2

Sacramentum Gladiatorum (29 Jan. 2010)
"Spartacus: Blood and Sand" Sacramentum Gladiatorum (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Biography
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Now the property of Quintus Batiatus, Spartacus finds himself at Batiatus' gladiatorial combat school. He is anything but cooperative and refuses to do as he is told leading to frequent ... See full summary »

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Title: Sacramentum Gladiatorum (29 Jan 2010)

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Ashur (as Nick E. Tarabay)
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Kerza (as Karl Drinkwater)
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Gnaeus (as Raycho Vasilev)
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Storyline

Now the property of Quintus Batiatus, Spartacus finds himself at Batiatus' gladiatorial combat school. He is anything but cooperative and refuses to do as he is told leading to frequent conflict with his trainer and other gladiators, particularly Crixus. Claudius Glaber would still like to see him dead and takes delight in telling him that his wife is still alive and that his men raped her after they were taken into bondage. Batiatus, who is having severe financial problems and is in debt to money lenders at usurious rates of interest, is hoping to gain favor with Glaber. A evening of food and entertainment doesn't go as planned when Glaber and his wife, looking down on their provincial hosts, leave as quickly as they arrive. Glaber's visit does provide the carrot Batiatus needs to reign in Spartacus: cooperation in return for the promise of finding Sura. Written by garykmcd

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29 January 2010 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Trivia

Spartacus was one of 6 Gladiator recruits purchased by Batiatus. Of the 6, 5 made it through training. Only 3 survived the final test; "The bridge of Truth." (Varro, Spartacus and Kerza) See more »

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Varro: Wake me when it's time to die again.
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User Reviews

 
Entertaining and intriguing story arcs, sandy fascinating ludus, economical elements, John Hannah and Peter Mensah's convincing performances, controversial relationships
3 February 2010 | by (France) – See all my reviews

This second episode confirmed the great impression the pilot left on me. First even if it was less bloody than The Red Serpent many scenes involved gladiators training in the sand under a heavy sun. One of them was obviously a reference to the film Conan the Barbarian. Their ludus, a Roman teaching school, is well designed and I specially liked that their playfield was separated from the master's area by a balcony. There's almost something Shakespearan about it because it sharpens the lines between the masters and their slaves. Lentulus Batiatus, played by John Hannah, is the ludus owner but his own life depends on them because if they lose in the arena, he can't pay his own bills. Their pool is dry and it reveals how much money matters to them. So Spartacus is not the only one who has issues.

His story developed further and Gaius Claudius Gaber, played by Craig Parker, even paid him a visit. Of course it was about Sura and his words were very harsh. However I wasn't convinced by Parker's performance but it's probably because Andy Whitfield is just perfect as Spartacus and Hannah brilliant as Batiatus. After his few scenes in the pilot I was expecting him and his wife Lucretia, played by Lucy Lawless, to act as fools but they're far too smart, manipulative and perverse. The charismatic speech he gave to a reluctant Spartacus even reminded me of Gladiator and allowed us to better understand his motives and background. As for Lawless her performance succeeded in making her character grow on me and the eyes she laid on one gladiator intrigued me. And what about the kiss Gaber's arrogant wife gave her ? Does it mean they own them or something ? In fact I was quite surprised by Batiatus and Lucretia's attitude towards them.

As for the other characters I found Peter Mensah's performance as Doctore just mind blowing. A black man whipping white gladiators ? It could be reminiscent of Starship Troopers ! He has so much charisma and it's logical considering he has been practicing martial arts since he was six years old. So he's the ideal teacher for these new comers and acts as a beacon for Batiatus. Even his men have their own story and of course some are friends and didn't welcome Spartacus as one of their own. All these controversial relationships enriched the show universe.

Even if the editing wasn't as astonishing as in the pilot some scenes were still surprising. From the hallucination to the ludus digital flyby there was plenty of elements to appeal the creative viewers. Some of them might disapprove the numerous slow motions but I think that visual effect is well used and allows to better follow the action when it gets intense. And I wouldn't mind some bullet time or split effects ! As for the disappointing sex scenes they got better and the first one was actually quite shocking but far too short. I really hope it will come back to haunt our tortured hero. But the most disturbing one involved Batiatus, Lucretia and their beautiful female slaves. It makes the story more realistic and respectful of the Ancient Rome era because we all know Romans were famous for their orgies. Last but not least the metal soundtrack reminded me of the video game Prince of Persia : Warrior Within. It's punchy but I wish it was a bit more classical and Roman.

Overall all these elements contributed to make this second installment a success. Spartacus first training felt like the calm before the storm. I can't wait to know what happened to Sura, probably through the eyes of Gaber and Batiatus. In fact all the arcs are interesting and their unavoidable collisions should spark in the dark like blades in the arena. There was also something fascinating about the meaning of the sand beneath their feet and the vital importance of water. Is it a metaphora for blood ? Are the ludus residents like thirsty vampires ? Is fighting and killing the only solution to make it rain and survive ? All these questions connect the show to masterpieces like Dune by Frank Herbert. Is the ludus an oasis or the desert itself ? Heaven or hell ?


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