|Date Aired||January 21, 2011|
|Writer||Steven S. DeKnight|
Batiatus and Lucretia are among the spectators during a fight in a small arena. A bright day, the crowds are cheering for bloodshed. Batiatus has one gladiator in the games that he considers of worth: Gannicus, who has yet to battle. The lanista expresses frustration over Tullius and a magistrate, Sextus, being absent from the viewing box; he had hoped they would be there to witness the glory of his gladiator. Batiatus feels as if he should be seated in the box among those of higher standing, like Vettius, a young lanista, who jeers at him from the stand.
Much to his dissatisfaction, Batiatus' gladiator loses to Vettius'. Another fighter enters the arena with boos from the crowd. In contrast, Gannicus follows and is a clear favorite, eliciting a wild response. He appears at ease and in good spirits for battle, armed with two swords and light armor. By order of Vettius, the battle commences.Gannicus proves to be a talented fighter and laughs out loud as he parries and strikes. He lowers his guard for a moment when distracted by a jubilant female supporter and receives a cut to the arm. He looks at the wound with distaste, digs both swords into the ground and attacks with his fists instead. The other gladiator is downed when Gannicus grabs his swords again and stabs him twice; once through the stomach and back. With victory in his midst, he ignores Batiatus' orders for him to stop, and slashes the gladiator's throat open.
Moments later, Tullius and Sextus arrive; they have missed the battle. Solonius, on friendly terms with Batiatus, comforts the latter by reminding him that he at least has a gladiator in the games while he himself has none.
On their way back to the villa, Batiatus and Solonius are discussing how to distinguish themselves as lanistae when Gaia appears. She and Lucretia greet each other warmly. Gaia informs her that she has traveled alone to visit Capua, her husband deceased. They both decide to spend the afternoon discussing what has happened since they last saw each other.The new arena of Capua is in the process of being built, and Batiatus and Solonius wish to secure their own gladiators in the first fights. Tullius has influence in regards to the new arena as he supplies the slaves and money to hasten its construction. While the two are talking, they spot one of Tullius' labor slaves, Crixus, beating up another man. In the hope of gaining Tullius' favor, Batiatus offers to buy him for 50 denarii, which is well over the man's worth. Back in the ludus, Gannicus enjoys the rewards for his win: women and wine. The other gladiators, among them Barca, Oenomaus and a new recruit, Ashur, are ending their training for the day. It is evening and Melitta, a slave of the house, escorts the slaves back to the villa and meets with Oenomaus, her husband.
In the triclinium, Lucretia and Gaia are discussing the latter's unexpected return. Gaia claims to be seeking a new husband and one with a "full purse" as the wealth of her former husband diminished in the end. Lucretia offers her housing while she sorts out her plans. Grateful, Gaia gives Lucretia a bracelet and speaks of other pleasures to be shared.
Meanwhile, Crixus is taken to the cell of the other recruits—those who have not yet been initiated into the brotherhood, Ashur among them. Crixus dreams of fighting in the arena and trains hard the next day, listening to everything he is taught. When Gannicus emerges late from his private chambers, hungover, he is granted the advantage of training in the shade, away from the heat of the sun. Crixus sees him; though he longs for such treatment, he realizes that he must become champion to be entitled to those privileges.
The next day, Batiatus emerges from his house to go to the market. Oenomaus, who has been recovering from his fight against Theokoles for a year, wishes to fight again in the arena. Batiatus, however, has mentioned nothing of his return. Oenomaus brutally attacks Barca to show how well he has recovered. Despite this, Batiatus shows no sign of wanting him to reenter the arena, and instead tells him to train Crixus.
In town, Batiatus goes to a shop that Tullius has been known to frequent. The two bump into one another, and Tullius offers him a return for the money he paid for Crixus, minus what he was properly worth. With Tullius is Vettius, who mocks Batiatus. The latter responds by saying that his men could defeat any of Vettius' whilst blindfolded. Vettius takes up the challenge and organizes an event for the following morning in the marketplace.Afterward, Batiatus calls Oenomaus to his chambers and asks him on whether or not "the champion" is ready to fight. Oenomaus, who mistakens the "champion" to be himself, says yes. Although he soon realizes that Batiatus was referring to Gannicus, he still declares the latter ready, abandoning his chance of being chosen instead. As thanks for his honesty, Batiatus sends Melitta to Oenomaus' chambers.
Later, Oenomaus hears drink singing from outside; he goes out to find Gannicus swaying dangerously on the cliff precipice, an amphora of wine in hand. He purposefully slips and nearly falls off, but laughs at the danger of it. Suddenly, Gannicus becomes sober for a moment, and tells Oenomaus that he should be the one to fight.
Morning comes, and Batiatus and Gannicus arrive in the market for the challenge. Vettius brings forth his gladiator, Otho, along with a blindfold, reminding Batiatus of his words—despite how they were only meant in jest. Both Sextus and Tullius are present, and though Batiatus does not want to be seen as a coward, he does not accept. Instead, Gannicus steps forth to accept the blindfold, and readies for the fight.Gannicus is successful at the start as Otho begins his every attack with an angry cry; thus, he can use his ears. The two gladiators wrestle around without weapons, but once they are free of one another's hold, Gannicus cannot find his opponent and is beaten to the ground. Otho lands many brutal hits and eventually grabs his sword again. He slashes Gannicus' chest, but the latter grabs him and forces the sword out of his grip. Otho pulls a nail from nearby and with it stabs Gannicus in the chest again; Gannicus pushes him off. Sword in hand, Otho moves in and slashes at Gannicus, who dodges at the last moment. The sword becomes embedded into a wooden plank. Gannicus grabs Otho and forces him down onto the edge of the sword, cutting his neck open and killing him.
Tullius, impressed by the performance, invites Batiatus to his shop later in the evening.
That night, after Batiatus has left the ludus for Tullius' place, Lucretia remains awake with Gaia, who brings out a small vial of Cyprus opium. She offers it to Lucretia and pours some of it into her wine. A while later, they are seen lying down together amongst fur rugs, kissing and caressing each other.Tullius and Batiatus meet in a slaughterhouse. Tullius suggests that Gannicus enter the primus, and mentions coin. Batiatus asks for the sum that would be required to have Gannicus fight, but Tullius refers to purchasing the gladiator, not organizing an arrangement. Vettius appears from a back room and Batiatus realizes that he has been tricked. They offer him 200 denarii in return for Gannicus, but Batiatus denies the offer and insults Tullius. The slave accompanying him is killed and a bag is slipped over Batiatus' head. He is dragged outside the slaughterhouse, where he is brutally kicked and beaten, both by slaves and a vengeful Vettius. They remove the bag and suggest he reconsider the offer, or be "excluded from the games forever." In addition, he is urinated on by Tullius himself.
They leave Batiatus on the road, bleeding and watching the sun rise over what will one day be the new arena.
Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit
- In the opening battle between three gladiators, the second gladiator to fall is an exact copy of the scene when Valerius falls during Blood and Sand, Episode 5, Shadow Games. Everything—from the armor to the blood designs on his body—is the same. It is the same person, except the only difference is that the scene itself has been flipped horizontally. To avoid it being too obvious, they cut the scene short, merely showing the other gladiator's feet (even though they technically belong to Septimus). This scene is also reused in episode 3 of Vengeance.
Doctore: "Save blood for the fucking sands, Gannicus. What seized fucking brain, releasing your swords in the arena?"
Gannicus: "I could have killed the man absent an arm and both fucking legs!"
Doctore: "Hubris. A fine quality, often possessed by cunts who perish from it."
Batiatus: (about Gaia) "That woman is a force of fucking nature, one that has drawn many an unsuspecting man into ruin."
Gannicus: (drunk) "It is a curse, being blessed with so much to offer!"
Melitta: "And so few interested in sharing it."
Gaia: "Gannicus! Oenomaus! All those hard-rippling men right beneath our feet. One moistens at the thought."
Lucretia: "Gaia! They are but slaves."
Gaia: "Please, in all the years you've called this ludus home, you've never once considered fucking one of them?"
Lucretia: "The very thought of that turns my stomach! I would never lay with any man besides my husband, let alone a filthy gladiator."
Gannicus: (drunk, singing) "...Blood rains down from an angry sky. My cock rages on, my cock rages on..."