Review: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena “Missio”

Review: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena “Missio”

Last weeks Spartacus episode brought us back to the House of Batiatus, and reunited us with many of the gladiators we’ve grown to love and loathe. In the second episode, titled “Missio,” we go deeper into the Spartacus mythos and see that Quintus is a man who shouldn’t be pissed off.

After a quick re-cap of the events from episode 1, Batiatus wakes up bloodied and bruised on the streets of Capua. As he stumbles amongst the crowd, he is visibly disoriented, and nobody wants to help him. The make-up department did an incredible job making the bruises and broken skin look realistic. Also, John Hannah acted his ass off, perfectly conveying a man who is in desperate need of a helping hand, yet recovering from a traumatic event.

When Batiatus awakens in his house, his first thought is revenge, and rightfully so. As much as I disliked Batiatus in Blood & Sand, he didn’t deserve to have his ass handed to him on a silver platter, nor did he deserve to be urinated on. So, in typical Batiatus fashion, he gets three of his gladiator recruits, plus Barca, to go after Vettius. Rather than killing Vettius, Batiatus has Ashur and gang beat him until he’s unconscious followed by a nice golden shower.

In that moment we really see that Batiatus, who eventually becomes a massively conniving asshole, is incredibly vengeful. Hannah accurately portrays the different levels of anger ranging from internally stewing to outright rage. It appears as if the Vettius incident is the precursor to the Batiatus we’re more familiar with, and he’s just getting started.

With Vettius out of the way, Batiatus has Lucretia and Gaia coax Quintilius Varus into staying with them. Gaia thickly layers on the charm and smolder as she flirts with both Lucy Lawless and Varus. For awhile I thought that the two ladies would engage in a threesome with Varus, but that was saved for the ending where Batiatus gets his freak on.

Aside from the main story progression, some side stories took place involving Gannicus, Oenomaus, the (now former) Doctore, and Melitta. Batiatus, who’s increasingly fed up with Doctore comparing him to his father, orders that Ashur and the other gladiator goons be branded, without having to complete the traditional test. Doctore shows obvious disapproval and is then told that he needs to tell Oenomaus that he will assume the role of Doctore. While I liked the fact that we got to see how Oenomaus made the transition from gladiator to Doctore, it was a shame that he had to be pulled into a sword fight that ended with bloodshed.

I’ve really grown to like Oenomaus as a character, as a man, and as a husband. Seeing how tender and loving he is with his wife, and then seeing how he has assumed the role of teacher with Crixus. He is a respectable, loyal man as well. His wife, Melitta, clearly loves him but, at the urging of Varus, is forced to have sex with Gannicus. I thought for awhile that Melitta and Gannicus had this underlying thing, and when she begins to enjoy her public romp, one has to wonder just how Oenomaus is going to handle all of this.

On the one hand his wife and good friend did what they were instructed to do, but then there is that feeling of betrayal. No matter how you look at it, his wife had relations with another man, and that man happens to be a close friend. Sure they are slaves and must do what they are told, but it’s going to hurt. In Blood & Sand Melitta isn’t present nor is she mentioned much aside from the fact that she is dead. This makes me wonder though because, at the end of “Missio,” we see her crying as she bathes herself. Does she take her own life out of shame, and so that she doesn’t break her husbands heart? Or, in a moment of rage, does Oenomaus murder her? On top of that, what is to become of Gannicus? In order for Crixus to become the champion of Capua he has to overthrow Gannicus, or something will have to happen to Gannicus so that he is no longer able to fight in the arena.

While “Missio” really progressed the story for all characters involved, it came at a price. The moments where Batiatus got his revenge were fulfilling, but there were some obvious moments that were heartbreaking. With only 4 episodes left, there is still a lot to cover, but if we base them off of what we’ve seen so far, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena airs every Friday night at 10 PM on Starz. For more information, check out theofficial Spartacus website.

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