Continuing to explore the ramifications from the fall of the House of Batiatus, Spartacus: Vengeance takes a closer look at the idea that, although free, many of the series’ central characters find themselves adrift in a new world that offers them no sign of purpose.
‘A Place in This World’ focuses much of the episode on Oenomaus/Doctore (Peter Mensah), who, having participated in the destruction of his home, wrestles with mixed feelings. Seeking penance, Oenomaus puts himself into combat in the mines – a miserable place Spartacus knows all too well.
Oenomaus’ bloody and brutal battles in the mines are interspersed with memories of his training under Titus Batiatus (Jeffrey Thomas), where he moved from being a slave to a gladiator. Titus coaxes the young man into believing that through submission to him and loyalty to the House of Batiatus, Oenomaus will find his purpose, and be a more powerful gladiator because of it. By the end, the future Doctore is branded with the sign of the House and believes he has found purpose in his life – though it is now clear that Oenomaus was merely fulfilling the wishes of another man, and has chosen to start over where he began, or die trying.
Meanwhile, Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) keeps true to his word by helping Crixus (Manu Bennett) search for Naevia. Utilizing the information gained from storming the brothel in the season premiere, the band of rebels find themselves bestowing freedom onto a set of house slaves that, when faced with the notion of choice for the first time, find the uncertainty of a free world to be a somewhat daunting place.
In contrast to the Oenomaus portion of the episode, Spartacus must deal with a Syrian slave named Tiberius, whose first instinct is to lash out at the man that took from him a station of relative comfort and prestige. Spartacus spares Tiberius, and in his doing so, the Syrian comes to realize that his station, though high, came without choice, and he can now join Spartacus’ army, or seek purpose in his own life.
While the more tactful handling of Tiberius goes against Crixus’ wishes, it is the first step in Spartacus’ plan to build a force united as much by allegiance to one another, as they are in a common cause.
Back in Capua, Claudis Glaber must deal with a petulant Seppius (Tom Hobbs), who controls enough men to squash Spartacus’ rebellion, but the talks do not go as well as he’d hoped. Meanwhile, Ilithyia tends to Lucretia at the request of her husband, who sees Batiatus’ widow as a means to ending his time in Capua quickly. Concerned her murderous actions will come to light, Ilithyia attempts to test Lucretia’s mental stability and memory – which, we soon find may be far better than she’s letting on.
The episode ends on the revelation that the treacherous Ashur (Nick Tarabay) has pulled Oenomaus from the mines, but delivers him to a fate potentially far worse than death.
At two episodes in, DeKnight and his writers task the characters with adapting to the new, uncertain status quo. So far, the series has presented new sides to Spartacus, Cirxus and even Mira (Katrina Law), who is left wondering where she would stand in the world without the Thracian’s favor.
It will be interesting to see how these changes evolve as the season progresses.
Spartacus: Vengeance airs Fridays @10pm on Starz.