The final stand is almost here and Spartacus is beginning to rally those who follow him.
What They Say:
The Dead And The Dying – Crassus learns that a fellow prominent Roman is attempting to steal the glory of defeating Spartacus. Spartacus aims to secure a bargaining chip he can use against the Romans.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While it was expected, based on the history of things, the previous episode of Spartacus: War of the Damned was intense and powerful as we saw Crixus take the fight directly to the Romans only to get so close before his life ended. It was a brutal series of battles shown in short, a powerful army of former slaves rising to stand for something and to try and make a difference, or at least take down as many of the enemy as they can along the way, but it all went up close and personal as it closed out and we see the end of Crixus. The way it was handled definitely worked well for me, even if I wanted him to go out in direct battle, since it made the moment with Naevia all the more intense. Bringing these moments out as we see the path Spartacus was taking elsewhere just heightened the sequence all the more as you saw the two paths the men took to try and set their futures.
The movements of Spartacus and his band are a bit careful as it’s mostly filled with those that can’t fight, though there are plenty yet that can still wield weapon. But what they’re discovering along their path causes concern as they’ve found a small group of Romans that have the crest of Pompey on them, which is a surprise and indicates that much more trouble could be ahead beyond Crassus. Before things can get delved into too much though, the camp is given pause with the arrival of Naevia herself, as Crassus has intent to use her and the head of Crixus to sow fear and dissent among the ranks. Though we’re on our third Naevia actress, she handles the task well of being but a shadow of herself here having lost the man that breathed life into her, especially after he helped revive her after her time in the mines. It should cause Spartacus to rally to revenge, but he’s so bound now to the common folks that are in his group that he cannot abandon them.
What we do see is some creative moves on Spartacus’ part as he uses Pompey’s soldiers to draw in those from Crassus camp in hopes of getting Crassus himself. But what he gets is a different prize as Caesar orchestrated things so that Tiberius would go and Tiberius’ shock in discovering that it was really Spartacus there waiting for him was wonderful. It’s the kind of move that was unexpected on all counts and leads to some new dynamics to unfold. Bringing Tiberius and his men into the encampment is dangerous al on its own since those that escaped want blood, but it does show the power that Spartacus commands when dealing with those that follow him. There’s still some divisions to be had over how Spartacus handles things, but the split off with Crixus’ forces before has eased a great many of those tensions.
The episode has a number of brutal moments, but the one that stands out the most for me is when we come across Agron again, whom I had thought killed in the previous episode during battle. With him captured by the Romans, he’s kept counsel to be sure even as he’s tortured, it’s Crassus that seeks to use him in a clear and blunt way to show others what’s in store for those that follow his way, and Spartacus himself. Crucifixion is disturbing work on so many levels and seeing this fate given to Agron is heartbreaking after all that has happened with him over the past three seasons and just how far he’s come since his introduction. His manner and how he holds himself even in these moments stands testament to the character – and the actor.
Brutal moments continue when Spartacus manages to bring most everyone together for quitethe show as he brings the captured Romans to do battle with him gladiator style. While Tiberius doesn’t want them to fight, to not provide entertainment for these escaped slaves, it doesn’t take long for Spartacus to rally some of them to fight against him and put on quite the show, one that raises the bloodlust level but also returns Spartacus to a form we have not seen in awhile as it deals with controlled, close combat. Something that even gets Gannicus aroused in a way as there is something so simple and appealing about what it means to be a gladiator. Spartacus holds back here but he also brings some cringe inducing brutality to it in order to make it a right proper show for all involved as he toys with these soldiers now that they don’t have their legions to back them up in oppressive waves in battle.
The show does take some intriguing twists in the final act of it as we see how Crassus attempts to use Caesar to get what he wants, his son, and ends up with something that he didn’t expect. Something that you know will attempt to balance the scales more as it goes on. Naevia’s fight with Tiberius is well done and you have to love the way that she does play with him, but also hurt with her in the choices she has to make as Spartacus reveals what has been offered to them. Caesae’s involvement in the story is definitely fun to watch as he hates what he’s being put through, but he’s also able to further his own cause in some ways which has potential to really bring things to immense climax and conclusion in the next and final episode.
Spartacus: War of the Damned hits a really strong episode here as the series gets ready for its conclusion, but not one many might expect. It has some big moments, but it’s not filled with epic battle. Rather, it’s smaller and more personal as Spartacus take sup his gladiator feelings again to provide a shode, mainly to scare Tiberius all the more but to reinforce position with those he watches over. It’s brutal yet beautiful as it unfolds and it leads to some twists that definitely make for concern with how it will all unfold. There are so many connections and characters dealing with emotions and events here and even a wonderful moment as it nears its end as they call out the names of the lost, man of which have been lost for so many episodes now. The power of the story here is compelling and it only increases as it rushes towards its end.