Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Episode 1: Past Transgressions
Review by MaryD
A younger Batiatus finds himself newly in control of his father's gladiator school. He uses his most skilled fighter to win favor with a cunning nobleman behind the building of the new arena.
Well that was a welcome return of an old friend and I'm not referring to Gaia. Seeing our favourite gladiators and their owners was so wonderful. I'm sure others will review the episode and what it all means but I think I should go into how each old characters and new character affected me as I watched. Firstly I have to say I LOVED this episode. It's a more gritty look at Capua and it's inhabitants. The blood on the sand is still there in abundance and the writing is SUPERB. Beautiful job Steven DeKnight.
Let's start with our beloved characters who are young again.
Goodness. I love John Hannah. He is just SUPERB! He brings life to the Lanista wanna-be and you can see the enthusiasm and the drive. He doesn't fare very well at the end of the episode but that is just a passing bump (or several) on the road to becoming the Lanista he wants to be. He loves his wife, he loves his job and he has the desire.
The ever wonderful and supremely talented Lucy Lawless. This Lucretia is a loving doting wife, so in love with her husband and wanting him to succeed. Shy and almost schoolgirl like. I suspect her friend Gaia's influence is going to see our little Lucretia blossom. Can't wait to see that (the process of the blooming because we know the outcome)
Lucy did an INCREDIBLE job in portraying Lucretia. The difference is just remarkable from Season 1 Lucretia to GotA Lucretia. You could describe Lucretia as an innocent here (so very difficult to believe after seeing her in Season 1 but there she was). Beautiful job by Lucy Lawless who is just enjoying her work and it shows. I love the chemistry she has with John Hannah and I think that same chemistry is evident with the scenes involving Jaime.
The Opium Scene. I feared the worst when I first heard about it but I have to say it was handled so beautifully. Sizzling is the word I would use here and the level of trust these two actors have reached allowed that trust to come through on the screen. I was prepared to look up the ceiling and think of Mother England BUT I didn't. It was beautiful. A truly beautiful scene.
There was so much to watch about Lucy's performance as Lucretia The Innocent that it's hard to pinpoint one area but here's one: When Gaia first kisses Lucretia, there's that shy little smile, a very innocent little laugh. Wow. That really emphasised the difference between the innocent Lucretia and the more worldly conniving Lucretia of Season 1. Just a brief scene but Lucy caressed it through.
Lucretia...just say no to drugs...
Oh my goodness I simply adore Peter Mensah. He is one of the most adorable men I've seen on screen. His portrayal of Oenomaus is superb. Oenomaus is the giant killer in having killed Theokoles but he isn't allowed to go back into the arena. You have to feel for the man; he wants it so badly but yet he is prepared to be loyal. Oenomaus is is a loyal man and even though he wishes to fight, he honours Gannicus. I simply adored Doctore in Season 1 and I love him even more now. Beautiful job by Peter and he does have that killer smile.
Ah the Gaul. Crixus was an arrogant Champion of Capua until Naevia somewhat turned him into a man with some softness in Season 1. Here we find him a slave and yet the arrogance is still there. He isn't anything of note but the stirrings of what will be. Looking forward to seeing more of Crixus. There is a funny scene in the holding cells between Crixus, Ashur and two others that had me laughing. Very nicely written. Serious but with an undercurrent of longings and desires.
What a funny guy. He comes across as wanting to be a Gladiator and the brotherhood but there is something else going on that I can't put my finger on.
It's there but I don't know what it is. It will come to me. Good to see Nick back with a few more muscles. Ashur the old is lurking.
Young young young Naevia. Giggling over Gannicus' attributes and being all girly. It's good to see Lesley-Ann back but without the snap of an older, more experienced Naevia. There is a funny scene with Batiatus as she tries to stay to take something off his wrists but he kept moving way. I found rather amusing; the look on her face was priceless.
We don't see alot of Barca other than a smouldering kiss from his lover Auctus (I give that kiss a 9...very nicely done). He does get smacked around by Oenomaus. Oenomaus wants to show Batiatus is he as good as ever and uses Barca as his punching bag but he did that the decency to apologise before he belted him. More Barca please.
Ah good ol' Sol. He's back and looking very healthy. His friendship with Batiatus is quite strong...I wonder what happened that led him to be sliced and diced by Spartacus in Season 1.
I guess we will find out.
And now we come to the new characters.
Dustin Clare where have you been? I know where he has been, he was in Underbelly, a show I didn't watch and I'm now going to remedy. I need to go and find the DVD of that. Dustin described Gannicus as being modeled on the Australian boxer Anthony Mundine. Young Anthony is an arrogant young man who needs to be boxed around the ears a few times. I was dismayed when I heard that he modeled himself on the boxer. I came into this episode thinking I would dislike the arrogance but the opposite happened. I love Gannicus. The man has demons; why else would he drink to oblivion, be reckless with his life (standing on a precipice and nearly falling to his death) and not caring what happened to him. He doesn't have a death wish when he's sober as evidenced by the way he fights but there are demons there. He displayed loyalty to Oenomaus that was so different to his normal persona. There is a bond between Oenomaus and Gannicus that is very interesting and I hope the rest of the 5 episodes explore.
Oh what a naughty naughty naughty girl! I love naughty characters and Jaime Murray...goodness gracious me. I should get my head out of the sand occasionally and venture out in tv land more often to find these treasures. Jaime Murray is simply SUPERB! There are not many actors who can share the screen with Lucy and not be overshadowed. Jaime is one of them. Whilst it's true the characters called for one to be more, shall we say, dominant that the other,. the two actors were perfection. I'll go one step further and say that the only other actresses I've seen have this level of chemistry with Lucy is Renee O'Connor and Viva Bianca. There is that something special going on that is just magic.
I have not seen Jaime's work before and came into this show completely oblivious of her previous work which I think I'll catch up on pretty quickly. Now back to Gaia. What a naughty, playful, people eater (I think she can eat and chew out both men and women). I get the distinct impression she could kill you without thinking about it if the need arose. Solonius fancied her...oh boy, keep clear Sol or else you will be gutted long before Sparty gets to you. I wonder how her husband died?
Gaia is the Destoryer of Innocents!
Jaime has posted on her twitter page about the music she and Lucy used to get into the swing of things during the "opium scene"
Lucy & I had a song 4 what I'll only describe as the Opium scene. This was it. We played it loud :) Enjoy ? http://blip.fm/~10zuw6
Like Jaime Murray I hadn't seen anything Marisa Ramirez has been in and I was very surprised. What a strong performance by Marissa. I didn't expect the character to be so strong. Melitta has some flirting issues going with Gannicus that I don't quite understand. It's very obvious she's in love with Oenomaus. The flirting bugged me for some reason. Not sure what that's about but I guess we will find out. Very strong performance by Marissa. Did anyone notice that nifty butterfly tattoo on Melitta's back? Hmm very similar to the tattoo that Naevia had in Season 1. Interesting or that Marissa has also got the same identical tattoo in exactly the same place as Lesley-Ann but I highly doubt that. More please.
Temuera Morrison is an old favourite of mine and superb actor. I suspect his talents are wasted here. I did not like Doctore. Very one dimensional and no depth. It could be because he has a short time in this life or he isn't an important character. A waste of a great actor.
Stephen Lovatt, another fine actor but again, I'm not feeling the love. It could be because he is such a nasty SOB but I doubt it. He may grow on me or maybe not.
Gareth Williams is yet another actor I haven't heard much about. His character is smug arrogant bastard...
can't wait for someone to wipe that smirk off his face.
I'll bring the popcorn.
Josef Brown - not much happening other than looking gorgeous and showing how much he cares for Barca and a good kisser.
This is a great start to the prequel we have been waiting for. There was no sign of Batiatus' father Titus
Bring on Episode 2!