Spartacus: Vengeance: Bring on the Bavarian Barbarians!

Spartacus: Vengeance S01E07: "Sacramentum"

A late-night raid on a boat in the Greek port of Neapolis turns up a valuable bounty in the form of a shipment of Germanic gladiators. Relieved to stumble upon a (not so) little piece of home, Agron conspires in his native tongue with their hulking leader, Sedallus, and the two swiftly make spaetzle of their captors. The introduction of these Teutonic troops to the group brings a welcome new energy to the series, as Spartacus’s men have for the majority of the season been a little stuffily self-serious. These Germans love to hunt, drink, screw and generally have a good time, and even Mira has to admit to a perpetually party-pooping Spartacus that “sometimes wine and foolishness are needed to forge a stronger bond.” Of course, not all barbarians can hold their liquor as well as others can, but more on that later.

With every day that Spartacus walks free, meanwhile, Glaber grows ever more drunkenly insane with power. His latest decree: that any slave who even utters the name Spartacus will be put to death. To prove just how serious he is about this, he chooses Lucretia’s own slave girl to make an example of, ordering her graphically crucified in the town square. While shocked, Illythia, true to form, does nothing to stop it. And as Glaber’s boldness grows, so does Ashur’s, having now claimed Lucretia as his personal sex toy. He even goes so far as to insist she wear the fiery red wig he’s kept safe in his treasure box as a coded show of devotion. And Lucretia does so the next day as she watches Seppius’s men get indoctrinated into Glaber’s army. It all leads me to wonder if she isn’t perhaps more turned on by this BDSM arrangement than she’s letting on. At that same ceremony, Glaber invites the grieving Seppia to spend the night at his quarters, which sends Illythia into a quiet, jealous rage. (She still hates the little tramp for making a play fort Varinius.)

Gannicus, for his part, mostly sits around broke and feeling bad for himself at the titty bars he so favors. His lap dance this night comes from a slave girl who foolishly speaks of joining up in Spartacus’s rebellion. (Hasn’t she wandered through the town square lately?) Ashur, accompanied by his two henchmen, tracks him down at the bar: “These men are the hand of Gaius Claudius Glaber!” Ashur boasts, earning the best line of the episode from Gannicus: “What are you: his cock or his ass?” An annoyed Ashur then informs Gannicus that Glaber is in possession of his missing rudis—the wooden sword inscribed with his various conquests that was awarded to him by Onomaus as a passport to freedom—and invites him for a little audience with the Praetor.

Gannicus takes him up on it, and there, Glaber offers the rudis back to him in exchange for the freed gladiator offering himself up “to my command.” In other words, he wants Gannicus to head up the mission to kill Spartacus and quash the rebellion. And that kind of defeats the purpose of the rudis, seeing as Gannicus would lose all autonomy and be forced to bend to Glaber’s will—but Glaber dresses up the offer to make it sound a little more enticing. Ashur’s talents “serve the shadows,” he explains, but Gannicus would be presented “in glorious light, in front of the troops to the roar of the crowd!” Been there, done that. As a show of good will, Glaber hands the rudis over to Gannicus, and requests an answer by week’s end. Then he tells Ashur to make sure Gannicus is good and crucified should he even attempt to leave the city. Glaber is seriously crucifixion-crazy—it’s like something out of Life of Brian.

Observing all this is Lucretia, who, in her Lucretia way, comes up with another one of her crazy schemes—this one requiring her to slice open her wrists and smear the blood on Illythia’s lady-parts. She then tells Glaber that the bleeding is a sign that his “heir will die that remains in a city cursed with blood and fear.” So Glaber, who trusts Lucretia’s premonitions to a fault, orders that Illythia be sent to Rome to deliver their child. (As if that city somehow isn’t also cursed with blood and fear? This is the ancient world. Everything was built on blood and fear.) Glaber buys it and sends Illythia on her way. Part 2 of the scheme requires Lucretia to convince Gannicus, now heavy of heart as he stands before his favorite wench hanging in the middle of Crucifix Piazza, to assassinate Glaber while Illythia is away. He thinks she’s nuts, yet her entreat—“choose to set upon it, or see legions fall to pointless suffering”—carries some weight in light of the dozens of bodies around him.

And now, as promised, we return to the Germans, where at a rowdy party, a wasted Sedallus—whose sheer immensity is astounding—corners Naevia. Friendly banter soon turns to a threatening exchange, and then an attempted rape. Luckily, Naevia can use her newly acquired Krav Maga skills to fend off the horny Goliath, as she performs an impromptu appendectomy on him with a concealed dagger. Agron and Sedallus then fight, and once Crixus spots Naevia and realizes what just happened, the proverbial shit hits the fan and an all-hands rumble ensues.

Soon after, the kill of the episode—possibly of the season?—occurs, as Spartacus slices Sedallus’s face clean off, chin-to-skull, and the guy stands there for a moment as his brain literally slides out of its bony casing. Awesome! (The brain was larger than I’d anticipated.) A call to duty brings the men around, with even fun-loving Lugo, who reminds me a bit of Captain Caveman, pledging, “The man that kills Sedallus is great warrior and Lugo follow.” Fantastic! Glad everyone’s on board.

The final sequence is a tense one: Gannicus grapples with the immensity of killing Glaber. Lucretia whispers conspiratorially with a guard, and we’re led to believe Gannicus is about to pay a slumbering Glaber a visit. Not so much, it turns out: It’s Seppia, who offers her supple flesh to the Praetor, who’s more than happy to sample it. Their encounter is cut short, however, by Glaber’s footman, who alerts him to a grave development. All of Illythia’s guard has been butchered on the road to Rome. Inside her carriage, however, there was no sign of Illythia, but left as a calling card was Ashur’s tattooed henchman, the rudis plunged deeply into his neck. It seems Gannicus has definitively chosen his side.

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