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Friday, February 24, 2012

SPARTACUS: SEASON 2 - EPISODE 4 (EMPTY HANDS)





Episode 4 of Spartacus: Vengeance has
finally fleshed out its cast of supporting villains into leads in their own
right. Perhaps it could have come sooner, but never mind, at least it's working
now.







In particular, this episode saw the likes of Glaber,
Varinius, Albinius, Seppia and Seppius gain some character direction, defining
them for the first time in terms other than their relationship to one another.
It was Ilithyia who stole the show, however, with the tried-and-tested Spartacus combination
of sex and death, finally making her the scheming equal of Lucretia in her
prime.





Speaking of which, Lucretia also had a good episode, her
crazier persona now definitively abandoned and shades of the old manipulator
finally resurfacing. Like Ilithyia, we're unsure how truthful she's being when
she says she wants to become friends again, but that's all part of the fun.
It's possible that she's telling the truth - but until Ashur returns, there's
no-one around who she can talk to without her guard up.





The arrival of the captured Crixus also threw a spanner in
the works for Lucretia, and although they shared some meaningful moments in
this episode, there's surely a far better meeting in the works. In the
meantime, Crixus will be returning to the arena, and that means the return of the
arena fights. It's hard to imagine aSpartacus fan who isn't going
to be glad to see those back, as they were frequently the spine of the previous
two series.


Meanwhile, things look considerably grimmer for the series'
eponymous hero, as his rescue party gets cut to pieces (literally) as they
attempt to flee the Romans. Naevia herself appears to have cost the rebellion
considerably, and while it's clear that she's aware of it, it's the doubting
looks of the others as they died that will truly haunt Spartacus. Especially
when Agron returns at the end of the episode, replete with his own army,
tacitly proven right about his reluctance to go on a suicide mission.





Perhaps the most interesting thing in this episode was
Glaber's transformation from generic villain into something more closely
resembling Batiatus - an ambitious but inadequate man, seemingly blind to those
working against him. And indeed, there are plenty of people working against
him. His wife is attempting to leave him. His oracle is working against him.
His colleague is trying to steal his wife, and his father-in-law is quickly
dissuaded from fighting his corner. Only a small triumph over Seppius prevents
him from being a total loser. He might still be a charisma vacuum, but at least
he's eliciting some emotion from the audience now.





Although this episode was fairly light on plot, at least
where the slave army was concerned, there's a definite feeling that Spartacus
is being knocked down so that he can rise higher in retaliation. The series has
repeatedly employed this tactic in the past, and always with devastatingly
brilliant results - so this time, when he looks wounded and exhausted, we know
that it won't be long before his redemption. When and how that comes isn't
clear, but there's no doubt we can look forward to it soon.





Still, with the political subplots bubbling and plenty of
action at every turn, it's clear that the series is firing on all cylinders
again. It hasn't yet hit the greatest highs of the last two series, but at less
than a third of the way through, there's plenty of time for it to do so - and
certainly, little doubt that it will. Let's just hope they don't wait too
long...





SOURCE: DEN OF GEEK

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