It’ll probably be the only way in which I was productive, but that’s OK.
Firstly, I want to mention this appropriate article I found which poses the question “How Much Is Too Much Incest On TV?” We all know my answer to that. Of course the article and the comments bring up a lot of pseudo-incest storylines – people who are thought to be related but actually aren’t, step-siblings, adoptive siblings, relations that aren’t sexual and therefore aren’t technically incest, characters having two independent sexual partners who are related by blood, characters who share a sibling, etc. Frankly a whole lot of stuff which, in my opinion, doesn’t even “count”.
I think it’s hilarious they brought up Supernatural. Jokes are made – most of them fanservice – but there has been ZERO incest, unless you want to count when poor Mary had to kiss her dead father while he was possessed by a demon – and again, just a kiss that she didn’t even want to do. If Supernatural was on HBO, you’d probably have to seal the deal with sex. But it’s on the CW.
Spartacus is a swords and sandals series about the famous slave rebellion during Roman times. It starts off a little rocky but really picks up stride and is actually a very good show. The season 1 finale is one my favorite episodes of anything ever. It’s a glorious, violent mess.
The first season concerns Spartacus’ first years as a slave and the lives of their owners and the other slaves. It was subtitled “Blood and Sand”. Due to the star getting cancer (and he eventually died, which is terribly sad), the second season is actually a prequel season, subtitled “Gods of the Arena”, which gives us further backstory on some of the other characters and introduces a couple of new ones. The show eventually recast the role of Spartacus and the third season, which picks up where Blood and Sand ended, is subtitled “Vengeance.”
The second season is 10 episodes (Gods of the Arena was only 6), and I’m thrilled it’s finally here. I just rewatched Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena in preparation, and I’m glad I did, because this isn’t a show that really gets old. The lyrical-ness of the dialogue and just all the pretty – the actors and the costumes and the – granted, CGI – landscapes and sky views – they all lend themselves to pleasurable repeat viewings.
I read a review of Spartacus’ return episode – 2.01 Fugitivus (which aired last Friday) – and the amused reviewer noted that while he had just remembered all the gore and graphic sex, he was surprised to be reminded while watching the new episode that the plot is actually rather complex, and a knowledge of the complicated history between characters was necessary in order to make proper sense of their current interactions.
I mention this as an attestation to the show’s underestimated quality, and because I wanted you to know that I don’t think it would be wise to just dive in with this season if you were suddenly interested – I would vehemently recommend visiting both the prequel series and the first season. They’re both on DVD already, I’m sure, and it’s only 19 episodes total. Another thing often said of the show is that it takes awhile to find its footing. I think the first few episodes have a lot of good things in them, but it’s not until around episode five that it starts to get really intriguing.
Don’t expect with this to be another Rome. It’s not. It’s different. People looking for another Rome will be disappointed, and this will inevitably be the case for the rest of their lives because there will never be another Rome.
I lamented the lack, not only of brothers and sisters, but of family in general when I first watched the show. A lack soon to rectified, it would seem.
The chance of incest (with clouds in the afternoon) is much higher on premium cable channels. Even when such shows don’t have a brother and sister (or, less frequently, a mother and son) actually have sex with each other, A LOT of them still flirt with it or tease. And usually it’s main characters, too, though sometimes the best stories are just visitors with good arcs. I mean, just off the top of my head as I’m writing this I can list Boardwalk Empire, Carnivale, Rome, True Blood, The Tudors, Nip/Tuck, Game of Thrones, Hung, Big Love, etc.
The chance of incest in such shows set in centuries past (or their fantasy equivalent) seems to be even higher. Or at least that’s the impression I carry around with me. Part of that comes from actual historical circumstances – Cleopatra married to her brother, Anne Boleyn executed for incest, etc. These things tend to get visited a lot. And part of it from traditional patriarchal customs – the sister being the responsibility of the brother until she is married if their father is dead, the stronger familial ties, general familial centrality, and the tendency not to move to faraway places. And most of it from the attempt of the writers/showrunners to create a sense that their setting is an entirely different place. What better way to do that than through incest?
I was surprised that Spartacus didn’t have any incest, just because it seemed like the type of show that would go for that. It really liked pushing the envelope, and showing different kinds of sexual interactions. So, yeah, I was disappointed, especially because my reasons for hoping were understandable.
But season 2 brings new characters, and new pleasures.
I’ll go into more detail further down, but from the first episode it seems likely that Seppia and Seppius are already having sex with each other, or on the cusp of it at the very least. And I bet there’s plenty to look forward to between them in future episodes. If luck holds they won’t murder or betray each other before the season’s over.
The Seppius/Seppia storyline won’t need any background, so I’ll treat that as an almost separate subject, but I’m in a Spartacus mood, so I’m going to go into specifics about my other thoughts on the show first. Feel free to skip it because it won’t make a whole lot of sense if you don’t know what I’m talking about. (The Spartacus/Ilithyia section is rather detailed, however.)
Spoiler warning line. I will be discussing details of what transpired in past seasons, and in Fugitivus.
Fugitivus was flippin’ fantastic. With two years to write it, it really should have been.
OK STOP SKIPPING NOW.
Just to be clear: these characters are brand new. We’ve never seen them, we’ve never heard of them.
So, in the town of Capua, Spartacus and his ragged band of ex-slaves have been terrorizing and killing.
(For some reason his name got stuck in my head as Peppius, which just reminds me of Pippi Longstalking.)
And that’s all we know. We hang out with Sparty for a while, and then we cut to Capua’s upper crust viewing a gladiatorial fight. They’re bored because the fight sucks because all of the good gladiators are off, you know, looting and murdering their people.
A lot of Capua’s prominent citizens were killed in 1.13 Kill Them All (not all, however – whatever that title might lead you to believe).
But we’ve still got Mercato, who, I don’t know, does something, and then above him the new new magistrate Gallienus (a position similar to a mayor). (I wouldn’t recommend being a magistrate in Capua – it’s like being the teacher of Defense Against The Dark Arts.) I only mention them because they may be significant in later episodes.
So, an unknown young lady is with them (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), and not only is she sitting in the pulvinus (THE box seat at the arena), she’s in the front row, so she’s definitely of high social significance.
And I got pretty excited there. Finally, a brother! And she was young and pretty, he was young and in charge – I thought it all sounded pretty promising. And like I said, to expect incest from this show did not seem unreasonable.
Just like Octavian and Octavia from Rome! I already mentioned how siblings dressed to match is a kink of mine, but the matching names thing just as much. I mean, on one hand I can see how it makes it creepier, but I just like how it makes it seem like they belong together, and like they’re complementary – two sides of a coin. Paired, matched, bound.
Girl’s got lip. And a fun British accent. I have a feeling I’ll be saying her lines to myself for fun.
The magistrate did not know this piece of news. Clearly Seppia was with Seppius that morning – though whether they live together or not, I don’t know. I don’t know if they are married or not. I know very little. I would expect her to be married if she’s much older than 16. But she was next to the magistrate, not anyone who might be called her husband, and mentioning her husband’s absence would have been a great way to introduce the character if there was to be one. I suppose it’s possible she’s married to the magistrate, but I doubt it.
It’s only a minute later that Seppius himself arrives. The writers did not make me wait! I find out Seppia has a brother, I get excited about naybe shipping them, and before I’ve even finished the thought I already get to see them interact.He apologizes that business delayed him, and takes a seat in the second row behind the magistrate.
Seppius darts a look at his sister.
If he knows that she’s the one who spilled the news, then we practically have confirmation that they were together earlier. Which, again, not necessarily significant. But I’m picturing them lying in bed together and some messenger bringing him the news and him getting angry and throwing pottery at the wall.
The look Seppius gives his sister is disapproving but not exactly angry. It would seem he knows his sister well and takes the good with the troublesome.
Her brother’s frustration amuses her.
Seppius assures the magistrate that it’s insignificant.
And Seppia adds that their beloved cousin Sextus will soon be avenged. He was the former new magistrate, killed by Spartacus in Kill Them All. I’m fairly sure that cousin doesn’t necessarily mean first cousin, because Seppius/Seppia and Sextus, (and Licinia and Crassus, another set of cousins on the show – though never shown together, sadly) are separated by a generation, I would guess.
Unattended in bed, she fails to finish. I’m sure you can tell from the GIF, but this is hardcore flirting. The way she says “unattended” – there’s something she does with her mouth and her tongue – the way she forms the word – and it’s easy to mimic but I wouldn’t know what to call it – anyway it’s pretty universally connotated with sexual advance. You don’t say it like that to someone unless there’s something sexual between you or so much about to be that it’s actually reverberating back in time to that moment.
What I’m trying to say is that you don’t talk to your brother like that unless it’s incest. Just…that’s the way it is. This isn’t interpretation, this is fact.
I like her choice of words. Unattended is a good word for connotating a playful incestuous relationship – it implies a service rather different from just companionship, comfort, and love.
His tone matches hers. I don’t think I need to say anything else about it. You can see it in the gifs.
I can only assume the other people around them weren’t paying attention, because no brother and sister would flirt like that in front of others.
You should have seen the enormous smile on my face after this little 30 second exchange. Met them, shipped it, got canon – in two minutes flat. A record.
She seems an awful lot like another Ilithyia. That’s not a complaint – I worship Ilithyia.
The two of them have one more scene towards the end of the episode. Seppius is making an announcement in the market, trying to calm the anxious crowd. Her eyes keeping moving up and down him, like she’s evaluating his worth.
Seppia regards him with a slight smile on her face – I don’t know if she’s impressed with his oratorship or so unimpressed it’s amusing to her. He seemed to be doing a perfectly adequate job to me, so I’m going with the former.But he is interrupted by the arrival of Glaber from Rome with a small contingent to take down Spartacus.
Seppius pulls behind and stands with his sister. It’s weird – he’s actually got his back to everyone so that he can face her. His back is to the crowd. Do you see then there, in the middle in the back, against the structure?
Glaber shows off that Lucretia survived that slaughter at the house of Batiatus, which revives the mob.
She’s a viper. Obviously she’s not above saying hurtful things to him. Brothers and sisters traditionally taunt each other playfully, but this was fairly cruel if his reaction was anything to go by.
Glaber has quite won the crowd by the end of his speech, and Seppius rolls his eyes.
Glaber begins to exit.
“Preening little shit,” he remarks to her, though facing elsewhere.
I’m not sure what she means by “favor”. If she only means she likes Glaber, then the teasing had more to do with Seppius’ failure regarding Spartacus. But if she means “favor” as in she fancies him sexually, then she’s teasing Seppius’ to make him jealous. It could be both, it could be either. Glaber is married to Ilithyia, so even if Seppia was interested in him in that way, it could probably only go so far, and Seppius would know that. If Seppia isn’t married she’ll have a lot of reasons not to engage in a casual affair.
It’s hard to tell how she feels about her brother. I’d say he loves her more than she loves him, but only because she tended to be cruel. However, she was the one who initiated all of the exchanges between them. Her attention towards him was far more consistent than his towards her. She paid attention to him and wanted his attention, even his negative attention. That much seemed clear.
But it could be the case that she’s using him. She knows he wants her, so she uses that to her advantage. I don’t know what the situation is with Seppius the Elder, but if he’s dead or dying, it’s likely that Seppius will be the one telling Seppia where to live and then who to marry. She would want to have as much influence as possible.
I’d rather they were madly in love with each other, of course, but I’d never assume that.
I do think that, from appearances, it would seem that Seppia has a rather large amount of affection for him, whether it’s less than what he bears her, I couldn’t say. But even when she’s turned her head away from him she keeps her smile. And in that very last part when she teases him about Glaber and he pulls her out of the market, she seems extremely pleased that she has angered him. Like extremely pleased. But not at all surprised. The smile on her face as he drags her away is very friendly/playful.
The set up here is rather trope-ish – scheming / antagonist (or morally grey central characters) incestuous / questionably unincestuous brother/sister pair (often twins). Alfred and Alexia Ashford (Resident Evil – game), Jaime and Cersei (A Song of Ice and Fire). Who am I missing? Zuko and Azula sometimes (Avatar: The Last Airbender). Sharpay and Ryan (High School Musical). Nuada and Nuala…less so (Hellboy II: The Golden Army) Klaus and Rebekah (The Vampire Diaries)? Cesare and Lucrezia depending (The Borgias). Quentin and Kit (Nip/Tuck). Sebastian/Katherine (Cruel Intentions). None of these relationships are like the others, and yet you can see what I’m getting at…I hope.
There tends to be a bit more fidelity in these types of relationship, which is why I bring it up. I’m hoping Spartacus will stay true to that. While several characters have had sexual relations outside of their marriage – Ilithyia with Spartacus (heeee!), Lurezia with Crixus (which only started so that she could get pregnant), Aurelia (against her will) with Titus (whoa I remember his name), and Varro with that prostitute – their love remained first and foremost with their spouse. These weren’t the types of affairs that threaten a marriage. So, a good track record for twu wuv on this show. (Melitta with Gannicus is a notable exception, but she fought it, and only gave in because Gannicus was leaving. And she did love her husband very much.)
Can’t wait for Friday!
It’s hard to tell with these kinds of pictures. Sometimes I don’t even think the actors are there together when the picture was taken. But however it was done, the message is clear enough.