Stars: Lucy Lawless, John Hannah, Peter Mensah, Dustin Clare, Jaime Murray
Writer: Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing, Created by Steven S. DeKnight
Director: Michael Hurst
Network: STARZ, airs Friday nights
Original Telecast: February 4th, 2010

At the midpoint of this mini-series, everything really starts to heat up and take new and unexpected turns (and not always for the better). This prequel series to SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND has seen the infancy of the rising of the house of Batiatus, and it seems it is cut short just shy of actual birth in the new episode “Paterfamilia”.

Previously Batiatus had cut a deal to get Gannicus into the main event of the gladiatorial games, of course this involved Gannicus having to perform with Doctore’s wife, but the deal was struck all the same. Now with the return of his father, Batiatus must turn over control of the house and thus loses everything he had been scheming and building towards. His men do end up with a past noon spot in the games (which is far superior to any placing he has had up to this point), but the cost is the Primus and his own dignity. To add insult to injury Gannicus is not even in the games; instead relegated to stay at the school.

This episode also sees the first tentative steps of Oenomaus transforming into Doctore. It is interesting to see his hesitancy with the whip, but also his willingness to still see himself on level with his gladiator brothers. The hardness of Doctore has yet to be seen, but might show itself before the last three episodes are over.

After the games are over and the dust has settled, there is one big change amongst the men. Barca is now single, since his lover was killed in the arena by Crixus, who then in turn is finally given the brand of the Gladiator brothers. Honestly, Crixus is one of the most entertaining characters to watch, and Manu Bennett the actor who plays him is really quite excellent. The character it this series is a far cry from the swaggering, and prideful Crixus of the original series, and the way Bennett plays it is such a night and day difference that you often forget what he was like before (or after technically).

One thing that I have not addressed in my reviews is the absolutely skillful writing of this series. The double entendres fly fast and furious, and the words and scenes are so well crafted it seems that the actors truly enjoy themselves while existing in this world. The language, while introducing some modern swearing, also has a Shakespearian lilt and delivery to it that makes it truly pleasant to listen to.

The return of Batiatus’ father breaks up another opium infused three-way between some of our leading actors, and the ripples and disruption continue throughout the episode. Batiatus’ father’s decision to stay, only means that there is one more obstacle for Batiatus to remove from his path, and I fear that his father is not long for their world. I’m guessing poison in the honeyed wine that he likes to drink will be his manner of dispatch.

Yes, the midpoint is now reached, and I have mixed feelings about it. I am glad the story is getting even more convoluted and the pacing even faster, but I am also saddened, because once this is done there won’t be a new SPARTACUS fix for some time.

CLICK HERE for Part 1 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA creator Steven S. DeKnight

CLICK HERE for Part 2 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS creator Steven S. DeKnight

CLICK HERE for Part 3 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS creator Steven S. DeKnight as he talks about what Season Two of the series will be

CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA star LUCY LAWLESS


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