Spartacus 1.01 - Erin Cummings and Andy Whitfield
Episode 101; The Red Serpent - Sura (Erin Cummings) and Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) © Starz

Season 1 Episode 1 of 13 – The Red Serpent

First transmission on Friday January 22, 2010

The official details…

Ep 101 ‘The Red Serpent’ – A Thracian warrior, enlisted by the Romans to fight, has his destiny seized by an act of rebellious violence. As punishment, he faces death by being forced to battle in the gladiatorial arena. USA – 2010 – TVMA

The series opens on the orgy of blood and violence that is the gladiator arena. An unnamed Thracian prisoner watches, another prisoner get torn to pieces. The Thracian’s gaze takes us from the dry, desiccated sands of Capua to the lush hills of Thrace several months before where he is saying good-bye to his wife, Sura. She tries to convince him to stay with her, but he has pledged his sword to the Roman Auxiliary. That same sword is soon embedded in a Getaen Barbarian, but it is the Roman Legate, Claudius Glaber, who rides up to claim victory at the battle’s end. Showing his authority, Glaber orders the Thracian and one of his comrades to scout the enemy lines, then dismisses them when they return with the news that the barbarians are heading west to threaten Thracian villages. That night, Glaber’s spoiled, pampered wife Ilithyia urges him to seek greater glory and the next morning when he rouses the auxiliaries, he announces they march east towards the better battle. The Thracian protests, violently, and since he knows his life is now worthless, he flees.

Returning just in time, the Thracian saves Sura from a group of barbarians. Their reunion is short-lived, however, as Glaber and the Roman soldiers catch up with them the next day. Glaber condemns Sura to a life of slavery and the Thracian to execution at the gladiatorial games.

At a feast before the games, hosted by Ilithyia’s powerful father, Senator Albinius, we meet Batiatus and his wife Lucretia, who own a ludus, the school where gladiators are trained. Batiatus is upset because only two of his gladiators were hired to fight, while his rival Solonius has eight gladiators in the games. The next day, in the arena, Glaber sends four of Solonius’s gladiators against the Thracian. Despite the uneven odds, the Thracian bravely kills them all. Though Glaber is humiliated, the crowd cheers for his release. Sensing a business opportunity, Batiatus steps forward and offers to purchase him and make him a gladiator within his ludus. Albinius consents and Batiatus names the Thracian prisoner Spartacus. As the crowd cheers for him, Spartacus is carried out, into his new life.


Colin Davies

The editor of Film Review Online