Episode 2.03 The Greater Good doesn’t yield much, but I felt it would behoove me to be thorough.
While attending games at the arena, Seppia finds herself in a conversation with Lucretia and Ilithyia which is rather similar to the one she had with Ilithyia in episode 2. Ilithyia doesn’t have much of an appetite due to her morning sickness, and Seppia expresses that she doesn’t think too highly of pregnancy or motherhood.Lucretia tries to explain that it is the greatest joy a woman can know, but Seppia thinks that to be wanted by every man is far better. Marriage is the end result of that, Lucretia points out. And Seppia admits that if her husband were rich and handsome and thought of nothing but putting his hands on her, it might be acceptable. This causes Ilithyia some chagrin, as she and Glaber are having a little trouble in the bedroom at the moment.
There’s not much to take away from this in terms of Seppius and Seppia’s relationship that we couldn’t have garnered from Seppia’s conversation with Ilithyia in the episode previous. However, Seppia does look over at Varinius (her brother’s patron of sorts, also Glaber’s enemy in the senate) indicating that if she had to get married, she might consider him for husband.
Though I’d like to point out that Seppius fits her desired traits pretty well.
But finally, with episode 2.04 Empty Hands, we have a winner! Most of the episode takes place during one evening at a party thrown by Glaber. Naturally, Seppius and Seppia are among the guests, and we’re afforded plenty of time to see them interact.Before the Party, Seppia comes to see Lucretia. She reveals that she has been persuaded to find marriage a desirable state, and she intends to snag Varinius.Seppia’s attitude towards marriage is interesting. She seems to believe that she has complete independence as to whether she marries or not, and whom she marries. That it’s 100% her choice. No doubt a girl like her has influence over Seppius and their father, who may or may not be alive. But Seppia doesn’t even mention her familial obligations.
Seppia’s eagerness to marry, and her showing a preference for a specific man, are not good news for us. Clearly whatever is between her and Seppius doesn’t mean anything to her. Or she never thought it would last.
Or…she intends to continue it after her marriage irregardless. (Cersei certainly didn’t consider marriage an obstacle to continuing her liaison with Jaime.)
Well, Ilithyia’s displeasure with her husband has been steadily increasing. In this episode, she has finally reached the point where she is ready to be rid of him, and to replace him with Varinius. Now she finds she has to not only convince her father to make the match, she also has to compete with Seppia for Varinius.
I’m still unclear as to what exactly is the relationship between Varinius and Seppius. Varinius is a man of Rome, a praetor (like Glaber). It seems a bit as if Seppius is like his agent in Capua. But Seppius is hardly his employee. I wish I understood a little bit better.
Varinius, Seppia, and Seppius all arrive together (along with Cossutius, a character from Gods of the Arena who I sincerely hoped to never see again).Glaber and Ilithyia, it would seem, throw a damn good party. They have these performers in the middle of the room, with these gossamer sheets moving around them. We’ve seen similar things, of course (the pilot comes to mind), but I always think it’s awesome.It’s a very sensual display, of course. Lots of licking. This isn’t an orgy (though we’ve seen them on the show before), but I’m sure Ilithyia knows exactly what she’s doing, and intends for the display to put Varinius in “the mood”. Seppia takes a good look at it, and then says, “Truly a feast for the senses.” This causes Seppius to look at her sharply, though it’s not in any way clear what exactly he’s reacting to or why.Glaber makes a speech, giving all due respect to Varinius, of course, though these two just shoot daggers at one another when speaking privately.
Seppia turns to Varinius, and points out how the crowd cheers for him.Seppius again turns to look at her sharplyand then he swallows, and looks down kind of sadly and frustratedly.Not a lot of ambiguity there. He does not like Seppia’s interest in Varinius – in fact, it pains him. It certainly recalled Fugitivus, when Seppia was insulting him relentlessly in the marketplace by pointing out Glaber’s success.
His face makes me so sad! And the fact that he swallows – that shows that he’s truly upset, and it’s not just a passing frustration. He’s suffering! I just keep watching that GIF over and over again. It gives me happy shipper butterflies.
Glaber shows off some men from the slave rebellion that he has captured at the party proudly.He makes a public gift of them to Varinius, to make up for the fact that in the episode previous, he had insulted him (by sending his men after Spartacus in the mines, instead of bringing them to Varinius’ games).
Varinius accepts the gift.
It was interesting that when Glaber makes mention of relatives killed by Spartacus and his men, there’s a reaction shot to Seppius and Seppia. We know they lost their cousin Sextus, but I find it hard to believe that we’re expected to think they really care about Sextus. I just thought it was strange. I’d have kept it on Lucretia the whole time. She’s the one who lost everything.
It’s expected for Varinius to slay the men right there. Everyone, but especially Seppia, looks pretty excited at the prospect. But Varinius decides to save the men and have them face off the arena. Glaber should have done that in the first place, and just dedicated those games to Varinius. So much smarter. Whatever. Now Varinius has one up on him, in front of everyone.
Seppius is insulted by the presence of the men and the rebelliousness still in their eyes. Well, that’s what he says. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to nettle Varinius here. I think he is. Especially since Glaber jumps on board and agrees. Varinius suggests they find a middle ground, and offers one of the men to be executed there during the party. Seppius finds this begrudgingly acceptable, as does Glaber, though he adds that Lucretia should choose the man.We get some nice tension between her and Crixus. She spares him that night, in order to see him suffer more later. In retrospect, she should have chosen him.It’s pretty clear at this point that Seppius has no love for Varinius. There was some discord between them in earlier episodes as Seppius failure to apprehend Spartacus and put down the rebellion continued, but Seppius seems to hate him now and I can only assume that Seppia is a factor.
Seppius steps aside, so that Glaber can make the announcement, and Lucretia can make her selection. He looks over at Seppia, and she frowns.His expression might be called smug, though I think there’s a chance he’s not darting her a pleased-with-himself look as much as he’s taking a glimpse at her to gauge her reaction. He does seem to think he’s won something. But again, it’s not 100% clear whether this is about him vs. Varinius, or if it has to do with Spartacus and Sextus and his failure to stop the slave rebellion.
They string the man up in the next room, and Seppius cuts off his tongue. It takes a lot to shock me anymore, but these scenes are pretty gruesome. I think Lucretia would have found Crixus’ suffering sufficient if she had chosen him instead.
The guests take turns slicing and lacerating and stabbing, careful not to injure him so grievously that he dies.
Seppia is constantly on Varinius’ arm, and he returns her flirting in this scene. Ilithyia begins to explain to her father, Albinius, that she wishes for Varinius to be her husband, and he’s against it, also pointing out that Varinius seems to favor the younger Seppia. Lucretia watches this exchange. She gets involved later.
It’s time for the man to die. Varinius hands the knife to Seppia, to finish him off. (I love that Seppius got first blood, and Seppia is given final blood.) She’s unsure at first, and says, “My brother would never allow it.” I think she’s just looking for an excuse because she doesn’t want to do it.Seppius is watching the whole time, and he’s drinking.Look at his face!
He looks furious, but also like he’s about to laugh. He doesn’t say anything. It’s hard to tell if he was supposed to have heard them or not. It’s really hard to describe. On the one hand, he seems at first eager to see what’s about to happen. But on the other hand, he’s clearly distressed as well.Varinius laughs and tells her that his experienced hand will guide her.
Glaber steps up next to Seppius and says, “You do not care for your master’s affections.” Kind of weird. “Master?” Also, the only one getting affection here is Seppia. I just think the phrasing is odd. I really don’t get it. But I guess he could be referring to Varinius’ affections for Seppia.
But one thing is clear: Seppius is being pretty obvious.
“I’m a slave to no man,” Seppius responds, cool-headedly.“Yet you bow and scrape towards Varinius’ purpose,” Glaber argues. We haven’t really seen this, so I guess we’ll have to take Glaber’s word for it. The only thing I can recall is in the second episode when Glaber suggested combining their men, and Seppius said that he would need to speak to Varinius first.
“He but aids me in pursuit of Spartacus,” Seppius protests calmly.
Of course Glaber doesn’t know that Seppia feigned a bit of a crush on him in the first episode. Kind of a rock and a hard place for Seppius, if his sister insists on being so horny.
I’m impressed with Glaber’s intuition. He can tell that Seppius’ displeasure with Varinius largely stems from what’s going on with Seppia. Glaber seems to imply that Varinius doesn’t have good intentions towards Seppia, but for all we know he isn’t just after tail and would consider marrying her. I’m also impressed as Glaber trying to drive a (larger) wedge between Seppius and Varinius. It’s very smart.
Well, Seppius takes the jab pretty well at first, but he does get crazy eyes for a flash second.Varinius places the knife for Seppia, and then he backs away and leaves her to do it by herself. She seems excited, and Seppius is watching and I’m not sure what he’s feeling.I seriously don’t know if he’s horrified at what she’s about to do, or think she’s about to lose some of her innocence and he doesn’t like that, or he thinks this is a sign of him losing her to Varinius, or maybe he’s just aroused. I don’t know.
But the dying slave lifts his eyes up to Seppia, and she loses her enthusiasm instantly. She can’t do it. She stands there, wavering and muttering and apologizing for a second.Varinius is extremely disappointed. Your new girlfriend doesn’t want to kill a guy? Lose that bitch.
I was impressed that she couldn’t go through with it. She loves blood sport – we know this. I actually thought it was out of character. But maybe she’s got some innocence underneath her nonchalant exterior. I like seeing another side of her.
Personally, I’d be all the more eager to put the poor man out of his misery. He was going to succumb to his injuries sooner or later. It’s not like this man could have been saved. Without a tongue he couldn’t say it, but I bet he would have been begging for the end. Just saying.
Ilithyia sees that this is her chance. She takes the knife, says, “Our honored guest asks too much of inexperienced hands”, and drives it right into the guy’s heart, shocking everyone, but also impressing them.Seppia is horrified. I’d say it’s because she’s been shown-up, but I honestly think it’s about that guy dying right in front of her.Varinius is pleased. What is wrong with this guy?
“That is how you sate desire. Or love. Or vengeance. Without hesitation,” Ilithyia says. She’s got Varinius in the bag. He starts a slow clap for her, and it finally sinks in for Seppia that she’s lost something.
In the next scene, Seppius and Seppia are in a sort of alcove, though it’s only curtains forming their little space, and it’s mostly open. What I’m trying to say is that this is not a private place but they’re acting as if it is.
I wonder how they got there. If Seppia ran in there, and Seppius followed. If he dragged her in there. She might have even dragged him in there, though unfortunately I doubt it.
Seppia is crying.Seppius is looking out at the party where he can see Varinius with a woman on each arm. He turns to her smiling. He’s pretty happy about the way things turned out. “You overreach,” he taunts.Rather cruel, but it’s not like she didn’t have that coming. She is crying, though. “And hot tears burn in result,” he adds.
“Turn from him,” Seppius urges, more sympathetic now.He’s leaned in at this point. He puts his hands on her cheeks. “And dry your eyes,” he says, wiping away a couple of tears with his thumbs.Then he pulls his hands away, but he keeps wiping her cheeks.
Then he leans in fully and presses his forehead against hers.(If you’ve read some of my fanfic you’ll know how much I LOVE that gesture. I try not to put it in everything. I usually fail.) “Let us leave this fucking house,” he begs. That’s pretty much how everyone feels about that house. “And see memory of this night fade in warm embrace,” he says, again in a pleading tone.There you have it, folks.
I don’t think he’s talking about a long hug.
I’m pretty sure this embrace will be carnal.
And it’s not laid out directly in the dialogue, but the indication seems to be that this isn’t the first time. Which is exactly what I suspected after watching the episode where they were introduced, but after two episodes of absolutely nothing I was beginning to question my interpretation. But I don’t think I need to: Seppius/Seppia is implied canon.
Now, maybe they aren’t actually having sex or won’t be having sex, but I’m definitely getting a bed vibe. So it’s not typical brother/sister interaction, whatever sort of “relations” they might be having.
Seppia’s still crying.
Seppius kisses her lightly. It’s more at the corner of her mouth than on her lips. It’s not like a real kiss kiss. But it’s also not like a totally platonic kiss either.
The GIF makes it look a bit like she reciprocates. I’m not sure why it’s misleading like that. But she’s not very responsive.
Seppius looks around like he’s trying to be discreet or something.Whatever, buddy: those curtains are transparent and they weren’t even closed all the way. And oh yeah, they’re curtains! He leaves, and she follows.
Even the kiss was somewhat innocent, and he couldn’t have heard what they said from where he was, so it’s not like he’s got damning evidence. But he’s obviously suspicious. I’m hoping that he’ll end up blackmailing Seppius rather than exposing him. Like I said, I think it would be cool if they teamed up.
Well, that’s the last we see of Seppius and Seppia for the night. Unfortunately, we won’t be treated to the “warm embrace”. The fact that we’re not privy to these intimate moments scares me. I mean, yeah, I want to see them, of course I do, but what’s worse is I think it means that the relationship is only important for how it’ll drive the characters or how it can be used against them. The relationship itself doesn’t seem to be important.
OK, this is going to sound crazy coming from me, but I don’t love this scene. I like that we finally got something touching definitively on the nature of their relationship. I’m even OK with the fact that Seppius is clearly more into Seppia than she is into him (a possibility I almost assumed from Fugitivus). And I loved the forehead touch, and the kiss, and the wiping away of the tears. And I love how mean he was at first, actually.
But I didn’t like how manipulative he was – telling her that she gets hurt when she strays from him. I’d rather they were level with each other. And I don’t think Seppia is crying over Varinius’ rejection as much as being spoiled and used to getting what she wants and not getting it this time. But she seemed very young in this scene, and Seppius seemed much older, and she was vulnerable, so I hated that it felt like he was taking advantage of that.
And her “Yes, Brother,” sounded very obedient and weary. I don’t doubt that she wanted to leave the party. She was crying her eyes out and had been publicly humiliated. But she just didn’t sound particularly eager for the “warm embrace” and she didn’t respond to Seppius at all, in anger, or seeking comfort, or anything. I don’t mean that I think it was unwilling, only that it would have been shippier if she seemed like she yearned for it more.
I wish we’d see more of the flirty dynamic we saw in Fugitivus.
I still love this episode, though. It’s jealousy porn. I love it.
Now moving on to 2.05 Libertus.
There wasn’t much on the Seppius/Seppia front, but I do have to say, this was a freaking fantastic episode.
The games spoken of in the last episode are put on for the crowd.
We get the usual cattiness in the pulvinus. Somehow Varinius ended up getting praised. This happens often, actually. “Would that more stood your equal,” Seppia says. Guess she hasn’t totally given up on Varinius yet.“A pity there is but one of him, so soon recalled to Rome,” Seppius remarks, smiling at Varinius, but very much not smiling.Seppius thinks that’s a pity about as much as I do.
Clearly she’s feeling some resentment towards her brother on the subject of Varinius. But I don’t know exactly why. The implication almost seems to be that he’s the one who got Varinius recalled to Rome. Well, it doesn’t really matter. But Seppia doesn’t seem to be too pleased with Seppius at the moment. It’s interesting how they lapse into more fiction-typical bickering sibling dynamics.
Well, skipping to the end: Spartacus mounts a rescue to save Oenomaus and Crixus from death in the arena. This involves setting fire to the arena. And it’s awesome. Mercato (if you’ll recall I mentioned him in the first entry, I’m not sure exactly what his position is) ends up under a fallen beam. I was really impressed with how hard and how earnestly Seppius tried to save him, at great peril to himself. I was pleased. I never ask my brother and sister characters to be good people, as long as they love each other, but sometimes it’s a nice bonus. And sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise!
As soon as they are free of the inferno, Seppius grabs Seppia’s hand and says, “I would see you back to the villa.” Well that’s confirmation that they live together, at least. He pulls her out of the frame.
It was nice to get some protective scenes. I bet there will be crazy rioting, so I hope he’s got men at the villa who can guard her.
And that is that.