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Another day, another mandate to strap on some barely-there-clothing, oil up, and start hitting people with a sword: that's life in a Lubus, team. Thankfully for Spartacus, he has a purple ribbon that used to belong to his wife to remind him that he'll one day see her again. Then comes the reminder that the Vulcanallia is coming. We haven't had a great definition of that, but we looked it up and it's a party to honor Vulcan, who was the god of the forge (swords and fire and stuff) – and also at this bash, there's a fight where the primus (the greatest gladiator in town and also, duh, Crixus) fights one of the other gladiators.
Meanwhile, a suddenly blonde Lucretia and Batiatus waltz around the house talking to each other and being generally dismissive to the servants. Because that's sort of their whole thing. Batiatus is mad that Calavius, the town muckity-muck is spending the Vulcanallia reception at someone else's house. Lucretia tries to cheer him with news that she can probably get Ilithyia and her husband Claudius to cough up some dough and be a patron to the Ludus. Lucretia really (really) wants that pool filled.
High-Production-Value Flashback Number One! Barca's origin story! It turns out that his whole people were made to fight each other stems from the fact that Barca killed an old warrior who might have been his father. And now he has a bird and like, a handsome dude that he pals around with.
Spartacus catches up with Batiatus and asks if there has been any news about his wife. Batiatus says he thinks she might be on a boat, but fight harder. A jeweler comes to the house, and Lucretia tries on some jewels because she wants to impress Ilithyia. And then Oenomaus –who we'll now call Doctore because the show does now – pees on the ground and makes Spartacus kneel in it and then kicks him into it. Then Crixus is a jerk to Spartacus but is called away to have sex with Lucretia. Which he does, but not before we learn that Crixus is into Naevia the house-slave.
Doctore tells the team that they can hold up two fingers, which means you surrender. Spartacus and his new friend Varro are sent to a sewer-y place for making fun of the lesson, and there they learn that they have common goals: both are just trying to keep their heads down and make it out of the Ludus so they can one day see their lady-friends. Then they're sent to the baths where they learn Crixus is the Primus for the Vulcanallia (duh). And, he'll be fighting Gnaeus. Then Spartacus and Varro learn they'll have to fight each other. Ah, rats.
Another High-Production-Value Flashback! This time Crixus' story! He's a great warrior, see, who didn't necessarily murder his maybe-dad, but he did fight these twins who were half-Jackals. Spartacus comes up with a plan, taunts Gnaeus so that he injures himself by crashing into a wooden post, and then everyone goes back to work.
Later that night, the reception for the Vulcanallia is underway and Batiatus and Lucretia are showing off all the gladiators, who seem, for the first time sort of clean. Spartacus is given a lot of attention by the partygoers. Ilithyia attends without her husband and Lucretia takes advantage of her lust for gladiators by ordering up some live sex as entertainment. When Batiatus says that he's going to replace Gnaeus with someone else to fight with Crixus, Spartacus puts phase two of his plan into action. He attacks Crixus at the party, and Batiatus realizes that the crowd will double down for a good fight and so he decides to re-cast the big match: Crixus and Spartacus.
Later that night, Batiatus and Lucretia grouch around their dressing chamber and while they're cranky about how the party went, they decide the solution is more wine. Also, it was a wig the whole time! They send Naevia to fetch some wine, where Crixus corners her and hands her a necklace he's figured out how to give her.
And! Finally! A Lower-Production-Value-But-Still-Super-Intense Origin Story! This time for someone we haven't met! Spartacus hears even more stories about spooky things that have happened in the past to other gladiators, and at this point, is pretty much rolling his eyes.
The next morning, everyone heads out for the Vulcanallia. Calavius, the Grand Pooba is there, and Varro actually does pretty well in his first fight. When Crixus and Spartacus go into the ring, things are going pretty well for Spartacus until Crixus basically stops fooling around and fights for real. When Crixus goes in for the kill, and Spartacus, seeing the purple ribbon that represents his wife, puts up two fingers in surrender. The old man Calavius hates this, and the crowd is not pleased either, but Batiatus lets him live, seeing an opportunity for more profit.
Spartacus goes back to the Ludus and tells Doctore that he will train harder, but then he learns that the crowd has pretty much turned on him, so he's sent…"to the pit." But at least he's got that purple ribbon.