Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Season 1 Episode 2

Sacramentum Gladiatorum

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 29, 2010 on Starz

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
436 votes
  • A nice step up from the premiere

    While the premiere was drenched too much in violence and sex, the second episode tones down on everything and allows a story to develop, along with some of the other supporting characters. John Hannah as Lentulus has impressed me throughout two episodes, and in this episode, we see him for who he truly is: a down-on-his-luck Roman who sees an opportunity for renewed respect in Spartacus. He rides that fine line between hero and villain. He's certainly not a good guy, but he's not on the same level of Glaber in terms of villainy.

    That being said, I like how Spartacus' enemies are being built up. Glaber is a toad, and I can't wait to see his death ( if it even happens). And Andy Whitfield is still impressive as Spartacus, proving that his character has some emotional range. And instead of showing violent scene after violent scene, we get a good blend of development and action sequences. And I have to agree with "thefanof" on this one: the action scenes actually had more of a purpose this episode instead of simply existing to appease people's bloodlust.

    Hopefully, the show keeps progressing the way this episode did. I enjoyed this 50 minutes much more than the first 50 minutes of the show.
  • Episode 2

    The pilot for Spartacus: Blood and Sand was an unimaginably bad outing. It was an epic fail, as the kids say. The only redeeming quality of it was the insanely awesome special effects as of a result of all the blood and gore in just one hour.

    But tonight's episode, tonight's episode showed a little bit of promise. The fighting sequences actually had some purpose and were not just there to showcase the producers' ability to create realistic beheadings (although there were a few of those out there). This show is still pretty boring for the most part, but this episode showed me that it is at least worth watching.
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Entertaining and harsh training, sandy fascinating ludus, economical elements, John Hannah and Peter Mensah's convincing performances, controversial relationships and intriguing story arcs

    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 thristy 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 ?