SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE 2.02 ‘A Place in This World’

Oenomaus seeks his own death in the pit while Spartacus and Crixus capture a Dominus. And an old enemy returns...

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "A Place in This World"

Writer: Brent Fletcher

Director: Jesse Warn

Previously on "Spartacus: Vengeance":

Episode 2.01: "Fugitivus"

Story:

In the past, we see a young Oenomaus fight for his life in a slave fight and he emerges the victor because of his unrelenting fury. Sensing greatness within Oenomaus, Titus Batiatus (Jeffrey Thomas) agrees to purchase him, beginning Oenomaus' lifelong association with the House of Batiatus. In the present, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah) fights in a underground gladiatorial battle. And when Oenomaus he emerges triumphant, he insists that the next fighter AND his opponent be sent to face him next, as he clearly longs for a death in battle.

Meanwhile, Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and Crixus (Manu Bennett) storm a Roman villa and they easily overpower the guards before seizing the Dominus of the house. Spartacus offers the house slaves a choice: remain oppressed by the Romans or join Spartacus and his men. Crixus then takes the Dominus aside and violently interrogates him about the fate of his lover, Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). After learning that Naevia is being passed from Dominus to Dominus as a sex slave, Crixus brutally murders his captive.

In the ensuing celebration, Spartacus and Crixus' forces treat the villa as if it is their own, much to the disgust of both leaders. Mira (Katrina Law) befriends one of the beautiful female slaves, who makes Mira question her position as anything other than a sexual companion for Spartacus. In bed, Mira lightly tries to get Spartacus to admit his love for her and he offers as much affirmation as he can. One of the newly freed slaves, Tiberius then attempts to murder Spartacus before he is disarmed.

But rather than execute Tiberius or forcibly conscript him, Spartacus opts to train Tiberius with a sword and let him make his own choice about his future. Meanwhile, Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) is upset that his men have been unable to locate Spartacus after being humiliated by Spartacus' attack in the public market. A less crazed Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) enters the room and she tells Glaber that the Gods require a sacrifice to cleanse the house and earn their favor. Looking for any advantage, Glaber agrees and sets his wife, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) to bring Lucretia to the market for whatever she needs the next day.

Unfortunately for Glaber, his attempt to forge an alliance with Seppius (Tom Hobbs) to get enough men to take on Spartacus' forces is met with naked contempt from the younger man, who seems fully aware that Ilithyia fled the House of Batiatus immediately before the massacre and that she left Lucretia and her husband to die. In the past, we see Titus try to instruct the younger Oenomaus about fighting with a purpose and Titus urges him to find one of his own. Years later, the older Oenomaus is branded into the brotherhood and he pledges to fight for the honor of the House of Batiatus. Touched by his devotion, Titus says that the honor is his.

In the market place, Ilithyia is unnerved by Lucretia's growing lucidity and her slowly returning memory. Ilithyia is also annoyed that the people now see Lucretia as someone who has been blessed by the Gods and they ask her for blessings of their own. While Seppia ( Hanna Mangan Lawrence) taunts Ilithyia over the turn of events, a hooded stranger hands Lucretia a note. Back in the pits, Oenomaus tells the fightmaster to keep sending him opponents until one of them can put him down. It seems that the time has finally come when Oenomaus can no longer protect himself, but the hooded stranger barges in on the fight and captures Oenomaus.

Back at the villa, Mira comes across one of the Gauls raping her new blonde slave friend, but Mira is shocked to learn that the encounter was consensual and she is shaken by the accusation that she is little more than Spartacus' woman. That night, a Roman scouting party is seen riding towards the villa. Rather than risk letting any scouts get away and reveal their position, Spartacus and his forces hide within the villa while instructing Tiberius to convince the scouts that his master is simply away in another city in search of whores.
 
At first the ruse appears to work, but Tiberius asks the scouts to stay for refreshment. Thinking that they have been betrayed, Crixus launches the attack on the scouts and Spartacus follows. In the melee, Tiberius saves Spartacus from a Roman sword by killing a scout himself. After the fight, Tiberius says that the scouts saw that his slave collar was gone and would have returned with more soldiers. Tiberius also rechristens himself as Nasir, a name his brother once called him.

Back at the former House of Batiatus, Lucretia begins the ritual sacrifice. Ilithyia senses a chance to murder her rival without too much suspicion, but her attempt is interrupted by the arrival of the hooded stranger, who reveals himself to be Ashur (Nick Tarabay) before presenting a captive Oenomaus to Glaber. Lucretia praises the Gods for hearing her prayers, but she silently acknowledges Ashur while grasping the note he passed her earlier.

Breakdown:

In this week's episode of "Spartacus: Vengeance," the title character may have planted the seeds of his own downfall.

I think that in his heart, Spartacus is an optimist. Even in the face of Tiberius' attempt to kill him, Spartacus went out of his way to allow the younger man to make his own choices and he also trained him with a sword. Spartacus was also adamant that his forces not intimidate the house slaves into joining their cause and he dismissed Crixus and Agron's suggestions as being too Roman.

In short, Spartacus seems to really believe that his higher ideals will give him an army willing to fight out of loyalty rather than fear. An army built on inner strength rather than intimidation. It's a laudable goal, but one that is probably doomed to fail.

Tiberius is clearly not to be trusted, even if it appeared that he saved Spartacus' life in the melee. Crixus was probably right when he pointed out that Tiberius only acted when it was clear that Spartacus' men would win the fight. Tiberius may have reclaimed his Syrian name, Nasir, but he strikes me as being the next Ashur. At some point, Nasir is bound to stab Spartacus in the back, either literally or figuratively. And if it happens that way, Spartacus brought it on himself by sparing the little s***.

Speaking of Syrians, Ashur made his welcome return this week as Lucretia's collaborator. That meeting in the market place between the two probably wasn't as random as they tried to make it seem. And it raises the question of how long Ashur and Lucretia have been working together. Given Lucretia's rapidly improving mental state, I'm also wondering how much of her madness is a feint to keep Ilithyia from realizing just how much she remembers about the night of the massacre.

The best parts of the episode dealt with Oenomaus' flashbacks to his youth, and it was good to see Jeffrey Thomas back once again as Titus Batiatus. Oenomaus may have been Titus' slave, but it's now understandable why he held the House of Batiatus in such high regard. Titus may have been the only man to regard Oenomaus with any kindness and genuine affection. While Quintus Batiatus was a master bulls***er, Titus seemed completely sincere when he told Oenomaus that he was honored by his devotion.

I'm hoping that Crixus' search for Mira doesn't drag out too long. The recent season of "The Walking Dead" should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone trying to extend a story long past its expiration date. The one really endearing thing about that arc is that Spartacus continuously demonstrates his devotion to helping Crixus find his lost love. Even Spartacus' explanation to Agron about it felt perfectly in character for him. Spartacus is truly the most noble person on this show.

But that's a quality that may someday be the death of him.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.