Spartacus Rewatch Thoughts & Feels: Blood and Sand

The lovely [info]lilithilien and I have embarked upon yet another Spartacus marathon. Her second one, and my... IDEK, between fourth and, for some episodes, sixth, I guess (which sounds really sad, considering the first time I watched it was... 4 months ago? At most? lol).

Series 1 is probably the one I've watched the least often - once on my own, once with [info]alsha, once with commentaries. Not because I love it any less - on the contrary, it's fucking masterful - just because I'm more drawn to the rebellion era, and a lot of my favourite character arcs (Ilithyia, Spartacus, Oenomaus, Mira, Agron, Crixus, Naevia, to name just a few) don't unfold until later. Also, the very concept of slavery always squicks and appals me to a monumental degree, to the point where I'm not even very intrigued by s1 alt-canon slavery-based fic. It's cool that it's out there and I get that there's a lot to explore in it, but it's just not something I'm drawn to much. (Exceptions apply. I will give any Barca/Pietros a go, always. My poor doomed pigeon aficionado OTP :CCC)

Anyway, rewatch! I thought I might like to ramble here about random thoughts and feelings while watching, because I think my Twitter followers are probably thoroughly tired of my Sparty marathon spam, and this is a little more permanent :)


We've already finished season 1, so this will be in no particular order whatsoever! Just total ramblecakes.

Sura:
I love Sura so fucking much. I love that the writers did their research, found some obscure references that Spartacus may have had a wife who may have been some sort of prophet, and then built a character like Sura out of it. I love that she wasn't some kind of token Tragic Dead Wife To Get The Plot Going device but a complex character who left such a strong impression on the rest of the show. (Also her anachronistic bangs. Hahaha love!)

Spartacus - Andy:
I've mentioned before that I could never choose a "favourite" Spartacus - to me, Andy is s1 Spartacus and Liam is s2&3 Spartacus and I can't picture them interchanged or one throughout the entire show instead of the other. I love both their takes on the character and I think the casting was magic, in both cases.
That said, Andy KILLS this season. Guh. It's such an incredible progression. Also, his cheekbones, how do they work?? And his eyes?

Lucretia and Batiatus:
Holy crap, these two. I LOVE how they are so genuinely vile and ruthless but also genuinely in love and supportive of each other, to the point where I have many many moments of going "ARGH YOU TWO, STOP BEING LOVELY, I WISH TO HATE YOU RIGHT NOW."

Ashur:
LOL I know [info]notoriouslyuniq is fully capable of descending upon me with a thesis-sized slew of arguments about how he deserves compassion and no one gave him a chance and poor HR management and he could've done better under different circumstances, but NOPE. I HATE HIM SO. I ENJOY HATING HIM SO. HE IS THE VILEST. UGH HIS TREATMENT OF WOMEN. UGH HIS HORRIBLE PLOY TO GET BARCA KILLED. UGH HIS MAKING PIETROS THINK HE'D BEEN ABANDONED. UGH UGH UGH I LOATHE HIM.

Ilithyia:
MY DELIGHTFUL GOLDEN STRUMPET JE T'ADORE. that is all.

Show, you so pretty! Show, you so ridic!
I love the graphic novel look they were going for, and how they were always trying new things. It didn't always work - some of the early fight scenes and montages just look too OTT, especially when they're popping heads off with chains and such - but it was always at the very least amusing, and at its best it was breathtaking. Just thinking of those dream sequences Spartacus has after Sura's and/or Varro's death, with the colour leeched from the shots and that eerie ghost lighting - SO AWESOME. Or the Theokoles fight and the moment when the raindrops start falling. Or a hundred subtler shots where they just perfectly achieved a mood with lighting or a specific angle. All the love.

Plotting! Story-telling! Layers upon layers!
Unf, some of this shit was just masterfully plotted. I remember being utterly floored when Batiatus revealed his little "My promise kept - they're reunited" gambit with that shit-eating grin. GOOSEBUMPS. And the ploy to bring down Solonius. And anything else Ashur cooked up in his vile brilliant brain. SO GOOD.

The dialogue:
I remember how this tripped me up at first, until I remembered how Latin works. And then I loved it and couldn't imagine it any other way. And now the amount of "Gratitudes" and "Apologies" and dropped articles in everyday speech in this household are somewhat embarrassing, lol.

Character misdirection:
This is one of my favourite things. Just the way some of these characters are introduced, in ways that lead you to believe you know where this is going, only to completely flip it around and punch you in the heart with it.
Crixus - sneering stereotypical douchebag gladiator fratboy, right? Except wait, what's going on with Naevia? Oh god, you two are adorable and surely doomed. MY EMOTIONS.
Segovax - hot new dude with epic hair and strong ambitions? Set up for plot with Ilithyia? Ooooh, this bodes w- oops. Well. OW.
Agron & Duro - heh, you two are hilarious and adorbs, except maybe get your hair cut, that shit is RIDIC. Also you're both obviously not meant to last and will die in very short order. (Gah, except... Duro. noooooooooooooo. that moment still kills me.) ...no I mean seriously, I loved them the first time but if anyone had told me then that one hulking dude with the dimples and the intriguingly long tongue (so useful) would be the only one to survive this entire series? I would not have believed them. [Sidebar: Agron checking out Segovax's cock with a "holy crap" expression never ceases to amuse me, although as an early indication of gay it's pretty useless. EVERYONE is checking that thing out. Varro more than most. HMMM, TALK TO US ABOUT THAT, VARRO.]
Barca - clearly here to stay, this dude just screams lengthy backstory and epic future developm- NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! well fuck.

Relationships:
I love how many complex & different relationship this show has to offer. SO MANY.
Crixus & Naevia - so woobie! so teenage! so lovely and doomed! (and lol so many classic moments, including the Reason You Suck speech. LOVE.)
Crixus & Spartacus - ARRRGH ALL THE SEEDS THAT ARE PLANTED. I can't even watch them now without already crying. "In another life, we could have been brothers." TEARS. FROM MY EYES.
Luce & Batty - see above. Stop being all ~complex~ and let me hate you! Except don't, obvsly, because it's awesome.
Lucretia & Ilithyia - GUH. My favourite twisted girlslash OTP. They just sizzle off the screen
Spartacus & Mira - so interesting. I found on rewatching that I ship her way more with Liam's Sparty, since Andy's seems so irrevocably tied to Sura. Technically Liam's is too, I know, but they have a quality of hope. Either way, she breaks me. She deserved someone's whole heart.
Spartacus & Sura: Give me the shivers still. Their chemistry is amazing and I love the way she lingers with him even when she isn't there.
Spartacus & Varro: VARRRRRROOOOOOOOOO! Argh. I still love how Varro's death is the thing that really triggers the rebellion. Such an amazing catalyst moment.
Barca & Crixus: My darling douchey fratboy BFFs, lol. Except once you've seen the prequel, even that is all tangled up in FEELS, because Auctus. Augh.
Barca & Pietros: I LOVE THEM SO. WHY HAPPEN. WHYYYYYYYYYYYY. FUCKING ASHUR. No srsly, I loved their dynamics and differences and how they had somehow managed to carve out this beautiful thing for themselves in the midst of this rigid world of rules and blood and danger. Until it was ripped away from them in the most horrible way. BRB SOBBING FOREVER.

Oenomaus:
God, how I love his back-rolled arc. All of s1 is so much more significant in the context of the prequel, but nothing more so than Oenomaus's arc. I can't wait to go back to Gods of the Arena and roll around in all the exquisite pain.

KILL THEM ALL
Such a fucking satisfying finale. Especially when Aurelia stabs that little shit Numerius into a thousand slimy gobbets.

Lucretia's red wig, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Gaia!!! Retroactive context is awesome. Speaking of,

The costumes. The HAIR.
So pretty. I've watched all the featurettes because of course I have, and the head costume designer is just awesome in how much thought she put into every ting bit of fabric and accessory. I worship her.

Fucking Syrians:
Hahaha, between Ashur and the disreputable slave trader Sura was sold to (not to mention "darkest corners of Syria" and such), someone really hated Syrians in season 1! No wonder Nasir faced so much initial mistrust in s2, poor BB.


A random selection of behind-the-scenes trivia that I adore:
1. The fact that they were undecided which German brother to kill off until very late in the season, eeeeeek! I mean, I love Duro and his story would undoubtedly have been interesting as well, but AGRON! *clutches him* I do think they made the right choice in terms of conflict potential - Duro was slowly starting to come into his own and grow more independent, so he might have coped (marginally) better without Agron, whereas Agron was so used to protecting him that I think he really needed Duro more than vice versa, so naturally killing Duro provided more heartbreak. Evil, shiny show.

2. The fact that Solonius was supposed to have an ignoble end running away from Spartacus in the arena, until Craig took off his shirt and everyone was like "whoa, RIPPED!" and then they changed it to send him off fighting. Works so much better!

3. They went for maximum authenticity for the gross hole Sparty & Varro were thrown in and made them put cockroaches on the walls despite Andy's protests of cockroach phobia. IDK about you, but I've never even noticed the damn cockroaches while watching, lol. Poor poor Andy.

4. Raicho Vasilev, who plays Gnaeus (UGH, GNAEUS), does a lot of the stunt work, so he was often behind helmeted gladiators. He was also the face-slicing dude in the pit. NEAT. I love shit like that.

5. Ahahaha, Eka Darville is REALLY TALL and they tried so hard to make Pietros look little and twinky. He's almost never in full frame next to other gladiators, because he'd just tower over them. It's also really noticeable in scenes with Barca, because Antonio is humongous and Pietros is just a little bit shorter. <3

Ok, that was by no means exclusive but it'll do for now. THIS SHOW. MY HEART!

Comments

ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH I CANNOT COMMENT UNTIL I RE-DO MY ICONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

BUT. SO MUCH LOVE. EVERYTHING HERE YES.

MUST. WATCH. MOAR.
Yes, icon revamp must happen! Why does that take so much TIME, though!

(and then why can one never find the icon one wants! *edits comment*)

I HAZ ICONS!!!

(Wow I had a lot of Teen Wolf icons to discard!)

I am so enjoying our rewatch!! It's so different to see everything without (or with less of) the shock value although I do keep hoping that everyone will live this time. Gods of the Arena is my favourite at this point, although I'm liking S2 a lot more than last time! I think in part it's knowing where they're going but it's also being more familiar with the language. Instead of trying to keep up this time with the meaning I am catching the humour of it more. The writers really did an amazing job with it!

Gods, I agree with you about how the backstory for Oenomaus rolls out. It's such a powerful story of honour and how it gave him purpose, and then how every single thing crumbles around him. Still don't think he deserves to go back to the pits, that level of self-hatred is a bit extreme, but the rationale behind his choice makes perfect sense. I think that's what I love most about this show - that this plot gives the characters choices and they make them in such a logical way (even when their choices are as vile as Ashur's) that makes so much sense from their perspective. I don't know why I should be so amazed by that, I guess I've just seen too much where characters are just blowing in the wind of the plot. They don't do that here and it's GLORIOUS!

Another reason I LOVE watching with you is all the little tidbits! I am so glad I can reap the benefits of your obsession LOL!

Looking forward to finishing S2 tomorrow!!!

Re: I HAZ ICONS!!!

Hahahah, yeah, I had to throw out about two dozen Teen Wolf icons, it was crazy. I love your new Sparty ones! "You had me at whores", ahahaha oh Donar <3

It's a show that benefits eminently from rewatching, I think - yes, it's fantastic the first time so it works for the casual viewer, but it's also got so many cool nuances packed in that one gradually discovers when rewatching (and looking at behind-the-scenes stuff) that it's also excellent for those who prefer to delve a little deeper and get hopelessly obsessed, lol.

Totally agreed about the character's choices, which I particularly appreciate in a show with a historical context - they could totally have gone the lazy way and have the mostly preordained plot drive the story rather than go for convincing character development instead. I love it.

Oenomaus's story is incredible! About the going back to the pit thing, yeah it was a bit extreme, but yeah, it was also the kind of guy he was. In the Kill Them All commentary, Steven was talking a bit about a scene between Agron and Oenomaus that was the only one he regretted having to cut: Basically Agron went berserk after Duro's death and killed absolutely everyone (which he did anyway, but y'know, in more detail I guess? lol) and at the end of it he runs into Oenomaus who just stares at the carnage and says "This place was my home for many many years" and Agron says "Then I fucking pity you" and walks away. It's too bad they didn't get to do that one because it sounds like it would have been an awesome scene both for Agron's devastation of loss, and for highlighting just how completely tied Oenomaus was to the ludus (it WAS his home and Titus was like his dad, so basically in his mind he just stood there and let his kind-of sort-of brother get slaughtered and betrayed everything that's ever meant honour to him).

Hahaha I am glad you're enjoying the tidbits! I sometimes worry that I go overboard with sharing them :D

SEASON 2 EFF YEAH!!!

:D

I haz no appropriate icons!

I absolutely adore season 1. Somehow that is more Spartacus-y for me than the other seasons. My fav is the prequel, but season 1 is so lovely. Fun fact: season 1 and 3 are the only ones where I actually followed it week by week. The others I waited till they were done airing then marathoned. So it was like, IDK... The drought for example lasted over a month for me. I could feel it escalate and escalate as their money got less and less and I would get really thirsty while watching!

Also, Andy. I love Liam (I GREW to love him) but Andy will always be my Sparty <333

I understand your feelings about Ashur. I have never met/heard/seen/read anybody who likes him as much as I do. It started out as an admiration of the lovely villain he is, a bit like my feeling for Batiatus, but then it got deeper as he became a more complicated character. I loved how his whole drive looked like simple greed at first but turned out to be about self-esteem and self-worth in a world that promoted the worst kind of toxic masculinity.

Also, in a show where EVERYTHING is about power and power-struggles, I love how he basically had the same storyline (more or less) as Batiatus and Glaber. There were 3 men from 3 different casts of Roman society and each of them had the same drives, the same thirst for power and status, the same sly malignancy when they perceive a slight, and the same insanity that made them super-dangerous right before their downfall. Following their storylines that kept paralleling each other is one of the greatest highs of this show for me.
I still don't actually have a fav season any more than I have a fav Spartacus. They're all just so distinct and awesome in their own ways.

Man, that drought thing must've been delicious torture week to week! I think s1 was the one that I watched the slowest, in between work and stuff, and the drought still felt like forever. By the time those first raindrops finally fell in the arena, I felt like running outside and dancing naked in the rain (it was a sunny day, natch.)

(Do you follow Liam on Twitter? Part of his bio is "enjoys bringing rain and other elements", LOL.)

*cuddles* You are welcome to the monopoly of liking Ashur. I have absolutely no argument with the fact that he makes an awesome villain and there are many layers to his story. But acknowledging that is still a far cry from liking him. More in the other post, I think.

November 2016

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