Spartacus Review Archive

Reviews by Andrew James

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND

Stars: Andy Whitfield, Erin Cummings, John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Nick Tarabay, Viva Bianca, Jai Courtney, Antonio Te Maioha, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Craig Parker, Katrina Law | Written by Steven S. DeKnight & others | Directed by Rick Jacobson & others

“The controversial Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the re-imagined story of Spartacus, a slave of the Roman Republic who led a slave revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters. Torn from his homeland and the woman he loves, Spartacus (Whitfield), a Thracian warrior is captured by Romans and enslaved into a gladiator training school owned by Batiatus (Hannah) and his wife Lucretia (Lawless).

Forced to fight daily for his life under the brutal whip of trainer Doctore (Mensah) and condemned to a life in the brutal world of the arena where blood and death are primetime entertainment, he must become more than a man and more than a gladiator to survive. He must become a legend.”

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a 13 episode TV series, from the American premium subscription channel Starz, it’s an 18 certificate, action-packed drama set in the Roman Republic around the year 73 BC. I would advise against looking up Spartacus and the Slave War on wikipedia, it will spoil a lot of surprises as the leaders of the future slave army are listed. I’d say you’re safe to wiki once you’ve watched both Blood and Sand and the prequel – Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. By that point you’ll know who lives and dies in the arena.

This show is like nothing else on I’ve ever seen, it’s the bastard offspring of a gritty HBO show, like Deadwood, and a fantasy show, such as Legend of the Seeker and Xena that Robert Tapert is famous for producing, grafted to the Frank Millar comic-based movie 300, injected with steroids that raise its bloodlust and sex-drive by the power of 10, and then coated with olive oil so that it shines in the arena of today’s television.

Quite simply this show is amazing and unique, you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’re a proper man you’ll love it and will be shouting “By Jupiter’s c**k” when you’re boss asks you to work overtime; if you’re not a proper man you’ll be moaning how you “don’t get it” and that “there’s too much violence and nudity”. You can never have too much violence and nudity, unless you’re forced to watch Irréversible by the strange bloke who works in the local DVD library.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a series full of creativity, from the costumes and sets, to the CG blood effects and backgrounds that are used in an artistic way to reflect the emotions and themes in play like a live action graphic novel. Even the language is creative, with sentence structures altered to seem archaic without becoming false and flowery. The most creative aspect of this show has to be the combat, you’d think seeing two blokes swing swords at each other for 13 episodes would get boring, but you couldn’t be more wrong; each battle tells a story and has its own rhythm and personality. The fights in The Pit are more brutal, violent and animalistic than those in the arena, as Spartacus rises in popularity his fights become just as much about showmanship as survival.

When speaking about creativity I should also mention the acting, every actor no matter how small a part gives 100%, their characters are believable and grounded, their motivations are clear to the audience and don’t change just to fit the story. John Hannah as the ever suffering Batiatus steals the show, with relative newcomer Viva Bianca not far behind, in fact as I rewatch the series I’ve come to realise that without her nutjob character, Ilithyia, slyly manipulating people and events there would be no story.

All 13 episodes of the first series are on presented on these 4 blu-ray discs, along with audio commentaries for 7 episodes by various combinations of the following: directors Rick Jacobson and Michael Hurst; writers Brent Fletcher and Steven S. DeKnight; producers Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen; actors Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, Erin Cummings, Viva Bianca, Nick Tarby, Peter Mensah, and Katrina Law. I’ve not had the chance to listen to all of the audio commentaries, but the bits I’ve heard sounded informative and entertaining, with DeKnight and Rob Tapert talking about the creation of the series.

The 4th disc contains the bulk of the extras which include a pretty good Behind the Scenes (15 min) piece consisting of interviews and the overall creation of Spartacus; Gladiator Boot Camp (4 min) – a look at the punishment the actors had to go through in order to get in shape for their roles; Grime & Punishment: The Hole (5 min) – an entertaining look at the filming of a particularly gruesome scene, which ends up turning Andy and Jai into little kids; and five other featurettes which range from interesting to pointless.

The Blu-ray version also includes 5 extended episodes, which are only a few seconds longer due to alternate shots being used in scenes involving nudity from what I’ve seen so far.

SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE

EPISODE 1: FUGITIVUS

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Luke Pegler, and more that I don’t want to mention just yet | Written by Steven S. DeKnight | Directed by Michael Hurst

“The House of Batiatus has fallen, for weeks Spartacus and the escaped gladiators have terrorized Capua. Seppius, a young noble, has dispatched his mercenaries to hunt them down…”

The second season of Spartacus (or Spartacus: Vengeance) starts with those words and a lone fighter being pursued by a group of horse-mounted Roman mercenaries, just as the horses are about to reach him, the fighter turns to face his pursuers and we get out first look at Liam McIntyre as the legendary, tempestuous hero Spartacus.

Season 2 of this great TV show almost didn’t happen, and the fact it did happen caused some controversy, due to the decision to recast the main role. Spartacus was played brilliantly in the first season by Andy Whitfield, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, just as filming on season 2 was set to being. The Spartacus creators and the Starz network, pushed back filming whilst Andy received treatment, and to keep the Spartacus buzz going they produced the six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which expanded many character’s origins and introduced another famous gladiator, Gannicus, who is set to play a big part in Spartacus: Vengeance.

Unfortunately Andy suffered a recurrence of the disease, which eventually led to his death in September 2011, and gave his blessing for Starz to recast the role so that filming of season 2 could begin. There were concerns that Liam would not be able to do the role of Spartacus justice, but I think after a few more episodes he’ll make the role his own. He’s certainly trained hard, and looks a bit meatier than Andy, and has done his homework as he sounds quite a bit like Andy in the role. Liam is playing Spartacus with the same sort of passion as Andy, but he’s keeping the emotional fires tamped down, it’ll be interesting to see what he’s like when the fire rages out of control as it did during much of season 1.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the episode, but already you can see the factions forming amongst the escaped slaves – house slaves/gladiators, Spartacus/Crixus, Gauls/non-Gauls. Spartacus seeks vengeance against Praetor Glaber, who sold him and his wife into slavery, whilst Crixus is obsessed with finding his lost love Naevia.

The majority of the cast of season 1 return including the stunning Viva Bianca as the scheming and pouting Ilithyia, and Craig Parker (one of the best things about Legend of the Seeker) as Gaius Claudius Glaber, who fill the Lucretia and Batiatus roles this season. Katrina Law is back as Mira, Spartacus’s love interest and Jiminy Cricket, but on the down side I doubt we’ll be seeing anymore of the lovely Brooke Williams, as Spartacus sends Varro’s widow, Aurelia away to safety.

Spartacus: Vengeance introduces us to the incestuous it couple of Seppius (Tom Hobbs) and his minxy sister Seppia (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence); Seppius wants to avenge his cousin Sextus and claim the honour of capturing Spartacus, whereas Seppia acts like a cat in heat, making eye at both Glaber, Spartacus and her brother (Game of Thrones has already proven that the best bad guys like to keep it in the family – I’m looking at you Lannister!). Glaber’s second in command, Marcus (Luke Pegler) looks to be a role that will expand as the series progresses.

If you liked Blood and Sand, and Gods of the Arena then you’ll want to watch Vengeance. If you haven’t seen any Spartacus before – What is wrong with you? There are two shows that I recommend to everyone, they are Community and Spartacus, and not one person who’s watched them has said I’ve steered them wrong. So get on it!

Best dialogue this episode: “You had me at ‘whores’!”
Character to watch out for: Seppia, attention-seeking bad-girl who will no doubt be causing all sorts of drama. Watch out Glaber!

EPISODE 2: A PLACE IN THIS WORLD

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Luke Pegler, Lucy Lawless | Written by Brent Fletcher | Directed by Jess Warn

“There is but one place for an animal without honour.”

Viewers who’ve seen episode 4 of Spartacus: Blood and Sand – “The Thing in the Pit” know just what Oenomaus means when he utters those words in the first episode of Vengeance, but it’s a surprise to find out that he got his start in the Pit and was saved from certain death when bought by Titus Lentulus Batiatus to be trained as a gladiator. It’s eye-opening to see how much better of a lanista and man the elder Batiatus was, and how he could really inspire his gladiators; his son Quintus only showed this ability occasionally and for deceptive purposes.

This episode follows a number of story threads: Lucretia’s status as Prophetess and Glaber’s willingness to explore every option in order to win his ongoing battle against Spartacus; Crixus and Spartacus’s attacks on Roman villas and the problems they face when freeing slaves; The third and strongest story is that of Oenomaus who seeks death in battle in the Pit, fighting opponent after opponent.

Spartacus has to face the fact that there are slaves who prefer their “position and respect” as body slaves and household slaves and don’t actually want to be freed, never mind join a rebel army on the run from the Romans. It turns out Spartacus’s best ally is actually Roman politics, as Glaber and upstart noble Seppius try and one-up each other in an attempt to gain status. Crixus still seeks Naevia, and it’s clear he’s from the Jack Bauer School of interrogation.

Another fan favourite character makes a return this week, and things are set in motion for the return of Gannicus, from Gods of the Arena.

Best dialogue this episode: “If I held such desire, you would be split in two!”
Character to watch out for: Mira, who realises she needs to put some character points in a new skill tree.

EPISODE 3: THE GREATER GOOD

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Luke Pegler, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson | Written by Tracy Bellomo | Directed by Brendan Maher

Spartacus: Vengeance is a show with layers, at first glance it’s a men only entertainment, full of nudity, sex and graphic violence; but as the story progresses we get a hint of what these characters would be like in a less violent world. Yes, there’s still plenty of sex, nudity and violence, but they just emphasise what a brutish world the characters live in.

Spartacus and crew continue their search for Naevia, in the process freeing more slaves, and Agron shows he has leadership potential as he pushes for a move to the more defendable Vesuvius. Relationships are evolving for everyone in this episode: Agron sees Nasir as a replacement for his lost brother, Nasir sees Agron in a romantic light, Crixus is acting more and more like Spartacus did during the Blood and Sand, and Mira wants to fight at Spartacus’s side echoing his dead wife.

Huge fly in the ointment, Ashur, is back, and starts to pull at threads leading back to Gods of the Arena, which signal the return of Gannicus, although he may not be welcomed with open arms. Illithyia loses more of her husband’s attention to the ever manipulative Lucretia, and you just know there’s a cat fight in the works between those two, as their roles are reversed from the first season.

Liam McIntyre is quickly filling the role of Spartacus, and I think that before the end of the season, he will BE Spartacus and not overshadowed by Andy Whitfield’s season one portrayal. This episode also sees the return (in flashback) of the other character to be recast – Naevia; the transition from Lesley-Ann Brandt to Cynthia Addai-Robinson is an easier one to accept than the Andy/Liam one as there’s more physical resemblance, she’s been missing from the last few episodes, and she’s also not the title character.

Best dialogue this episode: “You favour clever strategy. F*** the man from behind!”
Character to watch out for: Ashur – Can open. Worms everywhere.

EPISODE 4: EMPTY HANDS

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Luke Pegler, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson | Written by Allison Miller | Directed by Mark Beesley

Spartacus and the few remaining members of his rescue party are on the run from Roman search parties led by Marcus, who is aided by the snake Ashur, who I’m sure will swop sides, or at least attempt to, by the time this season ends. Spartacus is determined to leave no slave behind, and turns into one man killing machine the likes of which haven’t been seen since John Rambo. Mira has his back and gets some great kills in herself, what she lacks in training she makes up for with fury.

One of the reasons that Spartacus is so gripping is because only a few of the actually slaves were named by history, so there are only a handful of characters who aren’t in danger of dying any minutes – a fact proved a few times this episode.

The Roman portion of the story is all about betrayal and deceit. Fellow praetor Publius Varinius and Illithyia’s father come to visit Mr and Mrs Glaber, so a party is held (Lez-fest ’73) which soon becomes a three-way catfight between status hungry Ilithyia, husband-hunting Seppia, and conniving Lucretia. Hanna Mangan-Lawrence does well to add depth to the character of Seppia, showing that she’s not a complete nut-job and sadist like most of the party-goers; I hope this new found empathy plays out in later episodes.

Best dialogue this episode: “Your wife does not shy from taking life.”
Character to watch out for: Illithyia – no glass ceiling for this woman!

EPISODE 5 – LIBERTUS

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing | Directed by Rick Jacobson

This episode cements Liam McIntyre as Spartacus, and is easily the best so far this season. It’s full of the over the top action that Spartacus does so well, so very well.

One of the reasons it’s such a good episode is that it moves the Spartacus story along in leaps and bounds, even though the majority of the episode is set in the Capua arena. The episode starts quickly and violently with flashes of gladiatorial matches, followed by the reintroduction of Gannicus (once Oenomaus’ friend, but now, thanks to Ashur, his nemesis), then, like an episode of Castle, it flashes back to a day earlier.

Spartacus discovers that Crixus and other survived the rescue mission to the mines and are sentenced to die in the arena. Spartacus goes all Hannibal Smith and hatches a scheme to free them whilst sending a message to the Roman’s who hound them.

Not only does the slave army story progress, but so does that of the Romans, as Ilithyia schemes to abort her baby and dissolve her marriage to Glaber. You can see the cogs turning in Lucretia’s head as she advises Ilithyia and arranges to go with her to Rome. Even though he’s the bad guy in Spartacus, it’s good to see Glaber grow some balls, after spending the episode being flayed by the barbed comments of Ilithyia, Varinius and Albinius. Plus it wouldn’t be Spartacus without Ashur opening yet another can of worms; he just loves to stir up trouble.

Keep your eyes open this week for some interesting scene transitions about 15 minutes in, and the action packed introductions for the gladiators that form rock-star-like Gannicus’ gladiatorial backing group.

I wonder if anyone else starts humming the suspense-building music from the start of the Sarlacc battle in Return of the Jedi when they see Spartacus and Agron in disguise this episode. I was really hoping for a Lando-style nod from Spartacus to Crixus, from Crixus to Agron, from Agron to Oenomaus, and from Oenomaus to Gannicus.

Best dialogue this episode: “I begged with teary eye, wet with thoughts of love. They now stand dry, desert deprived of rain.”
Character to watch out for: Spartacus & Mira – the Hannibal Smith and BA Baracus of the slave revolt.

EPISODE 6 – CHOSEN PATH

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Tom Hobbs, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Misha Green | Directed by Michael Hurst

There was no way that the creators of Spartacus could top last week’s action-fest, but rest assured it does contain gladiator action and tightens up the plot both in Capua and at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.

Spartacus, Crixus, Oenomaus and Gannicus (the four named generals of the slave army) are finally together, like the Justice League of Gladiators, but they aren’t getting along too well. Ever wonder who would win in a fight between our two favourite dual-sword wielding gladiators? Crixus and Naevia are at last together and free, but things between them are very far from being a bed of roses. Last week I would have predicted that Naevia wouldn’t be long for the show, and that it would be Crixus grief that drove his fight against the roman armies the slaves are set to face in future seasons.

Ashur actually grows a pair this week and puts all his skills to the test. He almost makes you wish that he was with team Spartacus. This is one of Tarabay’s best episodes, and you get to see how much potential Ashur has; He’s turning into the Lex Luthor of Spartacus: Vengeance, with cunning plan after cunning plan. This week he assembles his Injustice Society of Psychopathic Killing Machines (ISPKM for short) in a scene reminiscent of the beginning The Dirty Dozen.

This episode should be dedicated to all the crazy girls in the world; first off there’s Lucretia and Ilithyia, once bitter enemies, now bosom buddies (quite literally), sharing a bath whilst plotting; there’s Seppia who still has her eye on Glaber; and finally there’s Chadara, the blonde ex-slave who discovers she’s one night stand fodder and can’t stand hearing the truth from Mira.

Listen out for a bit of cockney creeping in to Seppia’s speech about 40 minutes into this episode; I was half expecting to hear the Eastender’s duff, duffs.

Best dialogue this episode: “Were the Gauls not f***ing bad enough?”
Character to watch out for: Mira – she’s the Green Arrow of The Justice League of Gladiators. Seriously, she needs a boxing glove arrow!

EPISODE 7 – SACRAMENTUM

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey | Directed by Jesse Warn

Well the Spartacus crew are managing to keep the show interesting, with the story moving at a rapid pace even after the events of episode 5; I can’t wait to see what they have planned for the season finale. If this show doesn’t get another season I can see the fans taking to the streets screaming for blood.

One thing that winds me up about many serialised shows is when continuity is ignored and characters are treated like puppets by the writers, performing actions to move the story along rather than acting true to their own nature and motivations. That’s something that doesn’t happen in Spartacus, yes the story gets moved along and often characters act against their best interests, but their actions are due to events that happen to them, forces internal and external guide them and their actions are shaped by their circumstances; You can understand why they do what they do – their actions make sense to them, whether they seek vengeance, power, love, money or to decide their own destiny.

Earlier this year I reviewed the spinoff novel Spartacus: Swords and Ashes, at the time, although enjoyable, I didn’t see how it added to the TV show, but with the increasing importance of the port of Neapolis, and episode 5’s events under the arena, I can see that Clements must have had access to this season’s scripts and has tied his novel quite nicely into the main tale of Spartacus’ slave army. Continuity!

Without spoiling anything, this episode we get: crucifixions, Spartacus: Black Ops, an orgy of blood and blades, Gannicus being backed into a corner and realising that no man is truly free, boisterous Germans on holiday, Ashur (patron saint of date rapists) making a school-boy error in his ongoing game of one-upmanship with Lucretia, and Glaber in a great “You couldn’t wait 5 more minutes?” scene.

Best dialogue this episode: Actions speak louder than words this week, 45 minutes in Spartacus turns into a Thundercat (Feel the magic, hear the roar!) and then without a glass to tap with a fork, he finds another way to get everyone’s attention.
Character to watch out for: Spartacus – he puts a man’s face into orbit! (I didn’t see it land, did you?). Also, Lugo – who recently watched the Immortals.

EPISODE 8: BALANCE

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Jed Whedon | Directed by Chris Martin-Jones

“Spartacus is a historical portrayal of ancient Roman society that contains graphic violence and adult content. Viewer discretion is advised.”

So we’re 8 episodes deep into this 10 episode season and the Capua Four are finally back together again. Liam McIntyre has successfully cemented his place as a more thoughtful and calmer Spartacus, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson looks comfortable portraying a damaged, but stronger Naevia.

Speaking of damage, I love how the characters are gaining more scars each battle, that attention to detail is just one reason Spartacus is such a good show. Continuity! (See my rant in last week’s review).

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this episode is entitled “Balance” and Ilithyia spends much of her time looking like a blindfolded Lady Justice or the Roman goddess of Justice – Justitia, the personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Another Roman goddess fond of blindfolds is Fortuna, or Fate, another apt association as Ilithyia’s fate hangs in the balance this episode.

What else do we get this episode without spoiling things? You find learn that nobody put Gannicus in the corner. Team Spartacus meets their match. Oenomaus easily takes up the roll of sergeant in the rebel army. We learn that The Egyptian REALLY hates sarcasm. Team Ashur acts like you’d imagine the bounty hunters from The Empire Strike Back would if they’d teamed up to find Luke and Star Wars was an 18. Glaber goes all Darth Vader (the “apology accepted”, blade wielding Vader, not the teen angst prequel Vader). Ilithyia turns the guile-dial to 11. Seppia makes herself at home, boy does she make herself at home.

There is a big revelation this week that has been hinted at since the first episode of this season, of course there is no guarantee that the revelation is true but it adds a nice bit of drama.

Best dialogue this episode: “Cut from her dress, her scent yet upon it.”
Character to watch out for: Spartacus – great call back to Blood & Sand episode 2.

EPISODE 9: MONSTERS

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Brent Fletcher | Directed by TJ Scott

Just one more episode left to go, and a much faster paced episode than I expected it to be. A lot happens this week, with the highlights being: Nasir takes his turn to pretend to be a Thundercat (“Hissssss!”). Seppia goes all emo. The women of the ludus plot against Glaber. Glaber lets it all hang out – male nudity quota now fulfilled. We learn that Ashur really, really wants to be Batiatus. Blonde women are crazy and like kissing other women. Varinius returns learns the power of the word “Hadoken!”. Glaber gets a “bit of red” on him. Glaber and Spartacus are in need of marriage guidance. Ashur and Glaber go all CSI Capua, they’re missing out on those big screens with the “enhance” function, but they do have the Egyptianator and his head in a bag (all the kids will want one this Christmas).

Spartacus is becoming more and more the leader, protecting his people. He’s come a long way since the first season when he was willing to let all the other slaves die so that he could have his revenge on Batiatus.

This episode we also get some amazing fights and someone loses an eye – get ready for the origin of Nick Fury (slow clap – “’I am Spartacus’ I like that Mr Spartacus, how’d you like to do some Avenging?”). If you’re a fight fan then this is one of the best episodes this season, lots of action, lots of slow-mo, lots of blood, and the Justice League of Gladiators throw down with the Injustice Society of Psychopathic Killing Machines.

Best dialogue this episode: “A monster. Rough-hewn by unfortunate events and given breath by necessity.”
Character to watch out for: Seppia – for so many reasons, including having the powers of slow-motion and artistic introduction.

EPISODE 10: WRATH OF THE GODS

Stars: Liam McIntyre, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, Craig Parker, Katrina Law, Lucy Lawless, Dan Feuerriegel, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Dustin Clare | Written by Steven S. DeKnight | Directed by Jesse Warn

The final episode of Spartacus: Vengeance does not let up for one minute. Like the final episodes of the both Blood & Sand and Gods of the Arena the majority of it is action and emotion. A great finale to a great season, and one that cemented McIntyre as the new Spartacus.

There is a huge downside to this episode, and that is lots of great characters die. To quote a scene from The Wire “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuuuuuck!” So many fan favourites buy the farm this week, and it’s a shame to see them go, but every death drives the bigger story. No one is safe, well except maybe Spartacus, and there are many scenes that viewers will never see coming.

If you’ve read up on the Third Servile War that Spartacus is based upon, you’ll have an idea how Team Spartacus will deal with being trapped upon Mount Vesuvius, but the writers take what facts are know and turn the dial to 11. Hadoken!

I love call backs, as it’s these little gems that reward the loyal viewer; so it was fun to see so many in this episode. From “Kill them” and “In this life or the next” to Ilithyia’s visit to Glaber on the frontlines that echoes her visit in the first ever episode, the visit that prompted Glaber to renege on his promise to the Thracians that led to their desertion. It’s always the women who mess up a perfectly good plan.

Spoiler-ish free highlights: Tension. Major character death. Ashur winds up everyone he talks to. Nick Fury with his scared visage and well timed comments joins the slave army. Ashur thinks he’s the Lex Luthor of the Injustice Society of Psychopathic Killing Machines. Tension. Betrayal (again). Ashur pulls that expression that we all pull when your boss says “Have you got a minute?” when you’re walking away on a Friday afternoon. Sword swallowing. Major character death. Tension. Ashur gets a big head. Spartacus takes up basket weaving. Woman power. Hadokenagain. Tension. More betrayal (again). A return of Spartacus: Black Ops. Amazing music. Tension. Death. Blood. Sadness. The end.

Best dialogue this episode: “You fucking cunts!”
Character to watch out for: The sky – seriously, whoever created the digital skies for this episode did a top drawer job. In fact all the visual effects this week are the best I’ve seen in Spartacus.

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