By Jupiter’s cock, the prequel series is really upping the stakes in terms of excitement, intrigue and sex. What was initially considered ‘filler’ until the second season rolled around has, in only two episodes, raised the level of betrayal and duplicity in ancient Capua and given us new characters that we are already caring about.
The second episode, called Missio, sees almost every character given a task of some kind that, for better or worse, will affect their standing at Batiatus’ ludos.
After being beaten and humiliated, Batiatus is rightfully out for vengeance against his rival, Vettius, and his financial backer, Tullius, and it is time for Gaia to make her move, both for her favour with Batiatus and Lucretia and for herself. With Roman noble, Qixus, visiting Capua to purchase gladiators for his primus, the stage is set for some good old fashioned intrigue, murder and, this being Spartacus, sex.
For Batiatus, his beating has only highlighted how he is standing in the shadow of his father and grand-father, men who all produced champions for the ludos and have their names etched in history. This desire to supersede them has led to Batiatus not only chastising his current Doctore for his dated methods, but makes him blind to ‘diplomatic’ solutions leading to the first fractures in his friendship with Solonius.
In order to win the favour of the visiting Qixus, all stops are pulled out to put on a show and to ‘steal’ the Roman’s purse strings from the likes of Vettius. After using Gaia’s feminine wiles to lure him to the ludos, our host of characters are faced with missions that affect their lives and friendships at the ludos.
Ashur and the fellow gladiatorial recruits are given the job of ambushing Vettius and exacting vengeance. This bloody task ensures they will be accepted into the brotherhood at the dismay of Doctore, who believes Batiatus is sullying the good name of the ludos with these underhand tactics.
For Crixus, a chance is given to prove himself against champion, Gannicus. Thanks to Oenomaus’ teachings, Crixus has quickly become a formidable trainee, whose desire to not simply be a slave is leading him to throw himself into his teachings with relish.
Gannicus’ brotherhood with Oenomaus is threatened after a display of his virility is demanded of him, with Oenomaus’ wife, Melitta. Turns out Qixus is a sexual deviant and prefers to watch rather than engage in such activities. Who’d have thunk it?
In probably the episode’s best scene, this betrayal is played out while Oenomaus is forced to fight and kill his former mentor and current Doctore, as Batiatus has shown interest in promoting him to the role. Let’s just say the imagery of ‘penetration’ is as subtle as you’d expect it to be from this show.
However, it is Oenomaus, Gannius and Melitta whose missions have affected them the most. As they are led back to their individual cells after the acts they have committed, you can see the grief and hurt etched in their faces. However, as Melitta says to her husband, “We do what we must in this house.” Something tells me that she may have slightly enjoyed her time with the champion. Surely a Gannicus/Oenomaus clash is an inevitability.
With Qixus’ favour secured, secrets and betrayals now etched in everyone’s minds, Batiatus, Lucretia and Gaia celebrate the only way the audience would demand, with a threesome!
Roll on next week. This just keeps getting better and better.
Read our review of the series opener, Past Transgressions, here.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.