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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - Episode Three - Paterfamilias

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Written by : published Thursday 14th April 2011

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Paterfamilias finally introduced us to Quintus Batiatus’ father Titus, and the old man’s return to Capua sends shockwaves through the ludus.

 

After last week’s fantastic Missio, episode three proved to be good, though not quite as good as its predecessor. The pace was slowed and events were given more time to unfold, admirable qualities in any television programme, but after the strength of Missio I was expecting fireworks. Still, Paterfamilias included enough character-based material for it to stand out, and of course, this being Gods of the Arena, there were also a number of exciting fight scenes to enjoy.  

 

John Hannah has been fantastic portraying the younger Quintus Batiatus this series. Still learning his father’s trade, he has shown cunning and naivety in equal measures, yet here again we see a different side to the man. Many characters have commented that Quintus does not share his father’s flair for gladiatorial training and Titus’ return to the ludus only adds credence to those remarks.  

 

The episode begins well for Quintus. Still basking in the glory of securing the position of primus for Gannicus at the upcoming games, Batiatus, Lucretia and Gaia are exactly where we left them – in a threesome. It’s all going swimmingly until Titus appears out of nowhere and catches the three in the act.

 

Titus is a man of honour. Respectful of time-honoured traditions, he knows his role and he accepts it. Upon learning of his son’s recent shenanigans, he has returned to take control of the ludus from his son and to set order to his House. After ensuring that his prize gladiator is given a worthy platform in the games, Quintus is gutted to learn of his father’s disapproval.

 

This father and son relationship is explored brilliantly in Paterfamilias. The bickering dialogue is brought to life by John Hannah and Jeffery Thomas, who excels as Titus. The humble, add times dour, old man is truly believable. When he encounters his Gladiators in the ludus, you truly believe that these are old friends and colleagues, with years of relationship between them.

 

Batiatus Senior’s return is welcomed by the majority of the House, but I’m doubtless that Quintus and Lucretia have a plan in store for poor old Titus. As we have come to understand, those who stand in the way of Quintus Batiatus do not fare well in the long run. However, the difference here is that this is Batiatus’ father, the one man who does actually seem to have a level of command over the devious young Roman.

 

Elsewhere, Gannicus is avoiding Oenomaus’ gaze. Oenomaus believes it is because, upon being appointed Doctore, Gannicus no longer sees him as a gladiator, a brother in arms - an equal. Of course, we know the truth - Gannicus can’t look his best pal in the eye because he was forced to sleep with his wife in Missio and the shame is eating away at him.

 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Titus deems Gannicus unworthy to compete in the games rendering the sacrifice Gannicus and Melitta made for the House worthless. Gannicus, once a man who laughed in the face of life and death now wanders the ludus aimlessly, kicking the dirt and dishing out morsels of advice to Crixus here and there. What the future holds for the Celt warrior is a mystery, though his absence from Blood and Sand points us to one very grim probability.

 

Speaking of Crixus, the Gaul gets a chance to prove his worth when he is chosen to battle in the arena. Still a novice and absent of the Mark, Crixus’ chances aren’t rated and to make matters worse he must face one of Titus’ most favoured Gladiators, Auctus, lover of the imposing Barca. Crixus proves himself, slaying Auctus in a brutal, bloody battle. Crixus is finally branded with the Mark of the Brotherhood and is accepted as a Gladiator after enduring weeks of ridicule, mental and physical.

 

Crixus’ victory over Auctus forces Titus to revaluate his son’s efforts as a lanista. Titus didn’t believe Crixus capable of defeating Auctus and wanted to set an example for his son. But with the surprise win for the Gaul, his son’s purchase, Titus admits that he may have judged Quintus unfairly. It seems as though Titus may again leave Capua and leave his son in charge, but he quickly announces that he wants to form a partnership with Quintus and together they can rule supreme in the arena. The episode ends with Quintus glaring at his father, unpleased with the news.

 

The introduction of a new, interesting character helped to make Paterfamilias an above-average episode of Gods of the Arena, but I couldn’t avoid thinking that this episode was designed primarily to set up events to come. However, it did this in classic Spartacus fashion, with gallons of blood and sex to keep the fan-base happy.

 

 

7/10

 

 

About the author JakeCunliffe125

JakeCunliffe125

I am a first year Journalism student studying at Huddersfield University. So far so good.

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