Spartacus: War of the Dammed does it again! After last week’s intense, incredible episode, to round off the first half of the season, we get another episode that is just as good, if not better and really kicks off the last leg of the series.
In the rebel city, Spartacus takes to the open seas with Gannicus and a small handful of others, leaving Crixus and Agron behind. The rift between Crixus and Spartacus is only heightened when Crixus learned he was not privy to Spartacus’ plan or a place with him on the ship and that Agron and not him was confided in.
When Spartacus returns from his voyage at sea, he seems to have uncovered newfound intelligence as he releases all the roman citizens but not before planting false information about his plans and tactics and makes a well thought out battle strategy.
With the Romans gone, Spartacus reveals to Gannicus, Crixus and Agron, his true plan. Crixus consents to work with them, agreeing with Spartacus’s tactics. Crixus and Spartacus throughout the episode repair the relationship damaged last episode. Spartacus’ plan overall seems pretty solid except for the fact that it’s Spartacus so it clearly won’t work out.
The rebel side, for probably the first time in the series is not the more interesting of Spartacus’s two main plot lines. In the Roman camp, Tiberius and his army have been banished to the follower’s camp and Tiberius is furious with his father after the death of his close friend Sabinus. While Crassus deals with the Roman government, displeased with his lack of action, Tiberius takes revenge against his father by means of his slave and lover, Kore.
At the end of the episode, when the story lines merge, everything gets turned up to 11. The pirates betray the rebels and Spartacus gets stabbed by Caesar, an injury that will hopefully actually affect Spartacus and not be simply forgotten next episode. The Romans advance on the city and Spartacus is unprepared to deal with them.
In the middle of all of this, Caesar is proving a real obstacle, stabbing Spartacus, killing some of his men, including Nemetes, a death I was not overly upset about, and helping the Romans destroy the fortified door to Spartacus’ city. I feared that the story line of Caesar infiltrating the rebel camp would drag on for an improbable amount of time with people constantly failing to recognize who he is. Luckily. by the end of this episode, he revealed his true colors and can act as an enemy to Spartacus instead of pretending to be a friend.
This week’s episode was a bit more of a slow burn than last week’s. Intense though Spartacus always is, last episode from almost moment one, you know there would be a deadly conclusion to the episode. This week I expected none of that until more than halfway through. When the episode really did kick off near the end, I was almost as surprised as Spartacus was by the advancing Romans and sudden battle.
This episode was fantastic because it solved a few of the problems I have been having with the series over the past few weeks. Spartacus regains some sense and frees the Romans who caused nothing but problems, Saxa’s German accent has improved (slightly), and god willing, Agron’s petty jealously plot line was dealt with.
The other brilliant thing about this episode was that it kicked everything off for the remaining half of the season. The pacing this year so far, is absolutely brilliant. I had feared that until around episode 8 it would simply be episodes of both sides scheming, a few fight scenes thrown in for no reasons but that there would be no real confrontation until the last two or three episodes. This episode proves that this is not the case.
The character who really stole the show this week was Tiberius. He as a character has been getting better each week. Tiberius’ pain and sadness after last episode was brilliantly acted and his story line this week threw a massive curveball half way through the episode without it feeling out of character. Watching his sorrow and anger in the early scenes in the follower’s camp makes the viewer feel bad for him. This sympathy makes it all the more horrible to watch when he exacts his revenge upon his father in such a horrible, heartless way. Tiberius managed to effortlessly play with the viewers’ emotions and sympathies and stood as perhaps the most engaging character this week.
My only real criticism is with Naevia, and by extension, Crixus. The way the writers have treated Naevia’s character this season is truly disappointing. Through a two minute expository scene where Naevia imparts information about her suffering at the hands of the Romans, (a fact we already knew), the writers have seen this as reason for Naevia to act just shy of completely insane and drag Crixus along with her. Naevia’s character motivation and reasons do not fit at all. Her decisions are constantly the poorest they could possibly be and it seems very out of character. Naevia hardly has a character anymore, she is little more than a plot device, used so that Crixus makes poor decisions and we get to see the fallout between him and Sparatcus. While I love seeing the animosity between Spartacus and Crixus, as it makes for excellent TV, the writers need to give better reasons for it and salvage what is left of Naevia’s character.
The quality of this episode and the fabulous cliffhanger really makes me excited for next week. Spartacus remains to be bold, brilliant and utterly captivating. With the second half of the final season now upon us, Spartacus is poised to remain a brilliant, brutal show right to its very last breath.
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