Spartacus: War of the Damned "Blood Brothers" Review: The Art of War

Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 5: "Blood Brothers"

One of the most egregious cheats in fiction is to insist upon the intelligence of your protagonist (or antagonist) and then pit them against an adversary who’s clearly quite stupid, or who makes obvious mistakes. It’s a sin Spartacus has largely avoided in its three-plus seasons, and an episode like “Blood Brothers” is evidence of how richly rewarding a show can be when it challenges its characters, its writers, and its audience to keep raising their games. Neither faction in the current standoff between rebels and Romans has been exploiting narratively convenient stupidity in the other. Both commanders are smart... but inevitably, one will come out a little bit smarter when the music stops. 

Strategic savvy as much as gladiatorial prowess has elevated Spartacus to the head of this rebellion. The Champion of Capua was a towering figure, but we’ve seen Crixus and Gannicus prove his equal (or near enough so) on the battlefield. Spartacus has inspired thousands of followers, but inspiration alone can’t wrangle the logistics of setting those thousands to purpose. His will is a large factor, allowing him to exude complete control even during moments like the one in this episode where a formidable foe like Crixus commanded both the high ground and the passions of a near-mutinous crowd. But the rebellion has gotten this far because it’s led by a keen mind. Spartacus, like many a great leader of ragtag bands in the annals of TV history, loves it when a plan comes together. 


This week’s plan was to salve his peoples’ wounds while inflicting fresh ones on his enemies in the process. On paper, releasing Sinuessa’s Roman survivors—after first feeding Laeta a few plausible lies—solved three problems. It removed the wedge between Spartacus and his less merciful brethren, it avoided needless bloodshed, and it passed key disinformation to the other side. Before healing his army’s internal strife, Spartacus would turn it to their advantage by letting Crassus think them so weakened. Then throw in a feinted threat against the Sicilian supply lines, sprinkle a few handy decoy corpses to keep Sinuessa appearing populated, top it all off with Crixus and Spartacus catching the Roman camp off-guard with dual assaults, and voila! 

As a plot, and as a piece of narrative plotting, it was pretty damn crafty. Yet Spartacus isn’t the only one capable of tactical jujitsu. And he couldn’t have planned for the wild card that allowed Crassus to go the rebels one better at leveraging a perceived weakness into a strength. With Caesar acting as spy and bagman, the Romans were able to exploit the true weakness in the rebel army’s solidarity: their mercenary pirate allies. Suddenly it was Spartacus’s forces, not Crassus’s that were divided and vulnerable. 

That opportunistic style befits a trained capitalist like Crassus, even if patience looked like cowardice to the unimaginative likes of Metellus. (And even if Crassus must have been tempted to strike prematurely, given the specter of a triumphant Pompey returning to Roman soil and threatening to steal his thunder.) Throwing a few legions at the city gates, as the senator preferred, would have been folly. Instead, as he did in his gladiatorial sparring against Hilarus in the season premiere, Crassus studied his opponent’s M.O., waited for him to lunge, then turned on his exposed flank.

It’s that meticulous gamesmanship, the show’s skill at building moves and counter-moves, that earns the resulting chaotic set-pieces. Exhilarating battles—like this week’s simultaneous port ambush and city siege—are rarely spasms of sudden violence for violence’s sake, but the culmination of carefully escalated tension and stakes. Episodes like “Blood Brothers” have the brains to back up their brawn, which is why Spartacus has consistently played on a higher level than it often gets credit for. 

And like its chief adversaries, the series itself gets plenty of mileage from thwarting the expectations of viewers. After spending two-and-half episodes setting up an irrevocable fissure between Spartacus and Crixus (playing off our knowledge of history, to boot), the show reversed course in a way that both surprised and still felt organic to the characters. Crixus may have no love for “secrets and schemes,” but it’s not likely he’ll again doubt his leader’s commitment to the cause. In the teeth of true betrayal, their brotherhood was reaffirmed in the most fitting way possible: through the ramming of swords through their enemies. 

Even more jarring, after starting out as a classic midseason piece-shifting episode, “Blood Brothers” instead knocked over the entire board. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the breakneck clip at which Spartacus burns through plot, and it’s episodes like this one—especially in its climax, and especially especially its final shot—that drive home how satisfying that approach can be when executed well. Five hours yet remain in this telling of the Spartacus saga, but there’s no doubt we’re already rushing headlong toward the endgame. 



NOTAE ALIAE 


– Great touch when Spartacus said he recalled the look on Crixus’s face from their pre-buddy-buddy days at Casa Batiatus. A slight undercurrent of that tension has never totally vanished since Season 1, but the show waited until the perfect moment to call attention to it. 

– The caravan ambush, serenely paced and blocked with almost Wes-Andersonian symmetrical precision, felt like a lighthearted throwback to the simpler days of the rebellion. A small band of warriors against hopelessly outmatched fodder, slaughter as dance. It was a nice dose of pep after last week’s relentless turmoil, inasmuch as a dozen or so dudes getting eviscerated can be peppy.

– Another display of power begetting cruelty, as a brooding and diminished Tiberius could only reassert himself by denying the humanity of the one person attempting to show him compassion. Raping Kore was his way to both regain his sense of superiority and vicariously take revenge on his father.

– As only smarts can outmatch smarts, so too can badassery only outmatch badassery. In this case, Donar’s valiant single-handed defense of the gate was trumped by Caesar firebombing the sucker with some buckets of pitch and a well-flung torch.

– R.I.P., Nemetes. You died as you lived: Like a massive tool.

– “He came from humble beginnings, and now even the Senate trembles before him. I find no greater cause for admiration.”

– “The night is young and so are the whores. Linger, and see both properly aged.”

– “It is a mad fucking plan—the sort I most favor.”

– “You come to aid at most fortunate moment.” “As you have often done.”

– “Now would be time to run.”

Body Count: I saw 52 on-screen, bringing us to 234 at the halfway point of the season.


What did you think of the episode? I trust voice on matters of importance.
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Mead, Greed, Seed, Bleed
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Really? No-ony here caught Nemetes' "The dice is cast"-speech to Cesar shortly before Cesar killed him?
"The dice is cast!" ("Alea iacta est!") is one of the two most famous quotes by Cesar.
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It's happened. I am officially becoming aware that this incredibly fantastic show,the language of which and the action scenes and acting and everything else about it is pure music and art,is coming to an end. I thoroughly enjoy it,but that makes me sad.
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Alas we Canadians (at least in my part of The Great White North) have to wait until Sunday nights to watch Spartacus, so much that I would write has already been written here, and likely better.

In brief, two lingering questions for me: 1. Is Heracleo truly dead? He was thoroughly smote upside his treacherous head, true, but the death blow was not nearly as conclusive or graphic as that of most Spartacus supporting villains (see Solonius, Ashur, or even Nemetes- none of those mofos could have survived) as he fell in the water,

and 2. Castus was left behind in the city, so does this forebode some renewal of the Agron/Nasir conflict?, perhaps resolved by the threesome that some of the show's more homo-squeamish followers would least like to see.
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PS As many posting here seem to have a legitimate interest in what the historical record has to say about the slave rebellion, I recommend the book "The Spartacus War" by Barry S. Strauss. It is a very readable modern history that draws on the very limited historical record (a scant few mentions in Latin texts, all composed by Roman or Greek elites unlikely to sympathize with the rebellious slaves) as well as the author's knowledge of the local geopgraphy and archaeology to speculate on what may have really been going on.
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This series has yet to move away from the depiction of Spartacus and crew as a ragtag group of a few hundred or thousand, when in fact Spartacus had amassed a huge army counting more than 120,000, and for two years he went around defeating one Roman commander after the next, and it wasn't until near the end of this two year period that Crassus came into the picture.

Crixus was killed after he took 30,000 men south with him near Mount Garganus while Spartacus fought and marched his way north, intent on crossing the Alps to freedom rather than onto Rome. At the Alps, his men declined to follow him up into the snow and cold, and he ended up following them back south of Rome. It was here that Crassus took over for the Romans and trapped Spartacus.

The story of how Spartacus was able to amass such a huge army, to march such long distances and to seize one victory after the next against the Romans trying to stop him over such a long period, is a more compelling story than the totally off depiction of a small ragtag crew hanging around a coastal town the whole time.
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Yeah,I agree with what ElRob said. Plus,showing us a smaller group always produces stronger impact and allows for a more significant empathy toward specific characters.When it comes to producing tv products.
And another thing..since you seem to be well versed in history,at least of this period..a question,if I may. Wasn't Pompey coming back from Spain and in whose army young Caesar was as well at the time the one who brought desperately needed help and reinforcements to Crassus,ultimately bringing the defeat over Spartacus? Looking purely from Roman perspective here.
I simply ask,because I'm really not sure...I just have glimpses of memory about hearing that in one of the classes.
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Crassus and his legions didn't come into the picture until spring of 71 BC, the year after the events in this series supposedly happened, late 73 and early 72 BC, and after Spartacus and Crixus had been terrorizing southern Italy with their sacking and looting and amassing a huge army of freed slaves.

After Gellius' army killed Crixus along with two-thirds of his 30,000 strong army, Gellius moved north towards Spartacus, who was on his way with 120,000 followers towards the Alps. According to Appian, Spartacus first mowed down Lentulus' legions blocking his way to the north, then turned and conquered Gellius. Spartacus continued to defeat every Roman army that tried to stand in his path to the Alps.

The desire of his followers to not escape over the Alps after all and to march onto Rome is what brought Spartacus back toward the southwestern coast of Italy to regroup and gain refreshments from Sicily. This is where Crassus dug a trench the entire width of the peninsula and blocked Spartacus' move. Nevertheless, Spartacus did manage to break through but was at last defeated.

Crassus with his army of 40-50,000 had already defeated Spartacus in 71 BC when Pompey came upon what was left of Spartacus' followers, captured 5,000 of them and claimed to be instrumental in the victory, which pissed Crassus off. Historians suggested that Crassus revived the practice of decimation as shown in the previous episode but, again, this would not have happened until 71.

It appears that this series is skipping over the dramatic story of Spartacus' insurmountable forces hewing through one Roman army after the next on his way north, and has gotten bogged down in Sinuessa, a seaport that is not prominent in the historical account, and that the producers are choosing to condense the whole two-plus year story into one year. They do have historians on board, so it's not as if they don't know what the historical accounts are.

I don't know what the expense might be to depict a 120,000 strong army, though I know that with CGI the series has depicted much larger throngs in the arena than we have yet seen marching or forming in battle.


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Awesome! Thank you. And Wow!!! This historic depiction of events is even wilder than what's shown in the series!
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This is a fair enough criticism, though I'm sure the writers/producers would cite budgetary and time constraints as the main reason against the show having a "cast of thousands."
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This series is one of the best I've ever seen, and I wish I could share it with my wife, but she just can't handle the graphic violence. She's always been squeamish about blood. That's a pity, because she is missing out on a great story.
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The exact same story here. I've tried and tried and nope...
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I only hate one thing about Spartacus .
the sex without any reason
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Does one need a reason to engage in sex? Only natutral and realistic as this show always has been. :)
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I just wish this story will end differently. Like Spartacus kicking Roman asses, Caesar dies etc. Simply just surprise us! I believe different ending, story line would just fit perfectly to this amazing show!
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The series has already been shot and is complete. The trailer for Season 3 already shows Caesar crucifying someone important, probably Spartacus or at least someone major. The Rebels must and will fall - For the Glory of Rome.
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Argghh! The glory must be for the slaves! (:
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Romans hidden on the boat , Agron sliding down of the rope , Crixus jumped at the right moment , great sex scene , brutal rape scene , awesome hands on blood scene , door on fire and one hell of cliffhanger!!! ......Of course , AWESOME episode!
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I too loved the Agron rope jump. That entire scene leading into their fight against Caesar was done from Saxa screaming "Romans!", to the Agron and Donar with their matter-of-fact "time to kick some ass" faces, that scene was perfect.

It's impressive how Agrons character went from rather annoying to super badass.
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YA!!!.Now , Agron is an important and cool character :D
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Yeah Agron is amazing :D I like to think I am a good judge of character! My favourite ones have been Spartacus, Onomaeus, Gannicus and Agron. They all give me joy. RIP Onomaeus. I wonder if Agron isn't next to die of the lot. Sigh.
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The only complaint I have is at the end when Caesar could have had so easily be killed with 3 of the slave warriors's blades at his throat and yet they all blah blah blah like pussies looking awe at the burning down gate and we all know how it ends. Boring.

There's nothing really ever bad about this premium Rolls Royce of a series but once in a while, really zombie illogic.
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This was my most annoying moment in the episode: Caesar's throat was not ripped to shreds. Urgh.

But then we already know that Gaius Julius Caesar will not die in this series. He still has politics to do in Rome. Urgh.
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True I kept wanting willing those guys to slit his throat but I don't know the sight of that gate breaking had me dumbstruck for a few seconds. Also I'm reminded of Lugo's declaration about sea monsters maybe at that point a monster knocking on the gates for them must be terrifying.
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I completely agree with the illogical ending. Caesar, a spy and enemy Roman who cost them the city, is worn beneath their feet and surrounded... but they just stand there in terror because the gate's being rammed and then wait around for a bit. It was very manufactured BS for the sake of the impressive shot - Caesar, sword in hand, telling them to run, with Rome about to flood in at his back. Yeah, awesome. But stupid in the context of the actual situation, where they clearly had the time and capability to be done with him and then retreat in haste.

This, in my view, was a case of the dumb writer-bending the review didn't think the episode contained.
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Absolutely!! We know Caesar has to survive,but this was simply a dumb way to achieve his survival. Probably the single worst moment this season.
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I agree that the gate bursting scene was cheesy, but far cheesier to my mind was that Caesar stabbed Spartacus with a puny knife when he has a full sized sword at hand. What gives there? Still, there was so much good stuff going on that I still give this episode an "A" overall.
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LOL I wondered about the puny knife too. Smh
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haha I was expecting him to do that to Crixus to REALLY end him. But what you say makes sense he could've stabbed Spartacus in the Head. Hey maybe it supposed to have some historical significance to Ceasar himself didn't Brutus stab him with a puny knife in the back when he was killed.
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Personally, I was not impressed with this episode. Too me it felt like a case of too much going on and at the same time nothing at all. A lot of action and literally buckets of blood, a lot of pieces being moved around, but not much interesting character stuff. In fact, it was all kind of an empty big blur to me. The only moments with emotion and real interaction seemed to be Naevia apologizing to Gannicus and the Kore & Tiberius rape scene. But other than that it's like we just whipped past all of the stuff that was being sewn, like Laeta & Spartacus, Caesar as the Roman spy, Crixus and Naevia's descent, Caesar seemingly intending to make Nemetes really suffer, and so on. All of those threads just got uprooted with a hand wave.

Additionally, and I don't know if it was a new/different director or what, but the way the episode was shot was super distracting - way overuse of slow-mo and blood spurts and weird angles, and never for any purpose (eg: the shot of the sword slowly spinning toward Caesar's hand for what felt like 5 minutes. Someone just tossed him a sword to have. That's it. No big deal. Why did we have to watch it forever?).

Oh, and as for the caravan scene, all I could think the entire time was how fake the set looked, with just a wagon parked in the middle of a room with a green screen and a prop tree.

Man, not to just bitch, bitch, bitch, but I paused the episode at least 5 times. It was so impersonal and intensely plot-driven, with the writers' need to get things moving and switch things up about as visible as black panties under white leggings, that I couldn't connect.

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What about revealing the Spartacus' true intention/plan and the reafirming of his partnership with Crixus? Admittedly,this episode was more of a chess game and about revealing the anatomy of strategy,strategic level as opposed to pure tactical and action,but nonetheless it was not only awesome,but a welcome calm before the real storm. In my opinion,of course. I'm just commenting because I usually completely agree with your assessments. :)
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Were we watching the same episode? For me,this was the best one of season so far.
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I sincerely hope that Gannicus survives. He's a great guy.
At the end of the episode I was still surprised how Richard Branson could hold the burning gate! Who would have thought? Almost as if he was fighting for his airplane ...
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It's really awesome how they had Caeser involved in a 'send the women and children' out scenario, as that's what he faced against the Gauls in Germania later on in his campaigns. This show is beast on so many levels. Great review, and way to keep track of the body count. I think I got to 10 at the grain wagon scene alone. You must go back and count after watching thru the episode one time?
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Staff
I keep a running tally in my notes, but I usually have to rewind the big battle scenes once or twice.
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I was waiting to see the purpose of the buckets of blood as shown at the beginning of the episode. When they struck down the little caravan I thought they were going to do deliver that blood to the Roman camp. But nothing happened with all that blood.

I don't like the that they have Caesar involved in this story. Everybody knows he is going to die at the Roman senate, so in every fight you see him in, you already know he's going to survive.
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Spot on!!!
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I only hate one thing about Spartacus. How it takes you and never lets go.
When I was watching this episode, I made promise to myself not to freak out or get overly excited, sadly I broke that promise, couple times.
I know its only Tv show, but I can't believe what hold it have on me.
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Man,so true..nothing on tv fuels adrenaline and raises pulse quite like Spartacus!!
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Spartacus once again shows why it's at the top - the deft plotting of the writers demonstrates how well they know how to structure this kind of drama. Like you Andy, we love how quickly the entire narrative thrust is reversed as suddenly Spartacus and co are in big trouble whereas only minutes before they seemed so far ahead. Love it!

Thank goodness we have five more episodes to savour

Our take: http://wp.me/p2MfmI-2i1
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Only 5 to go. I don't Spartacus to finish but I accept it. this show is sooooo brillant :-)
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Rarely has there been a TV series so fully rewarding to viewers due to its creator's superstition.
DeKnight has said in interviews that his favorite/lucky number is 5, which is why the last 2 seasons were 10 episodes.
Lo and behold, proof!

Season 1:
Ep 5: Arguably when the series took a turn for the poetic. The rise of the Bringer of Rain and the Spartacus myth began.
Ep 10: One of the most emotional hours in the series's run. When Varro falls to Spartacus sword.

Gods of the Arena:
Ep 5: When shit hits the fan. The Gannicus we know now will forever bear the scars of that fateful day.

Season 2:
Ep 5: When the arena falls!!!!!
Ep 10: Everything Spartacus has been fighting for comes to conclusion the moment he drives his sword through Glaber's throat.

Season 3:
Ep 5: by Jupiter's cock that was glorious!!!!
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Do not forget, the sources say that Spartacus' body is never found, so it is reasonable to think the series can end with Spartacus surviving.
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But she looks only a few years older than him.
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The show was amazing and seeing Crixus and Spartacus finding the friends line again was brilliant. Also the sceen with Tiberius was unexpected, as I have always thought that woman was his mother as she is his father mistress?? Maybe I am wrong.
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I doubt Kore is Tiberius' Mother. But knowing how they like to twist things up, hehehe who can tell?
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I had the same theory. However knowing how twisted Spartacus can get. It may still prove true....
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This was a great episode. I loved the scene where Crixus jumped down into the battle, that was beautiful.
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Agreed! I wonder if the shows producers could have foreseen how popular the character of Crixus would turn out to be? It's going to suck when he finally goes down.
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For sure Caesar is getting his own spin-off. Dropping hints of Pompey and letting Caesar be a beast taking them head on.
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It will be called Queen of Bithynia of the Damned!
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Anyone else cool with Spartacus winning and ruling over Rome as their first Emperor? Just have an oracle predict the future destruction of planet Vulcan and people will be cool with it.
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The series has already been shot and is complete. The trailer for Season 3 already shows Caesar crucifying someone important, probably Spartacus or at least someone major. The Rebels must and will fall - For the Glory of Rome.
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So down for that!!, history be damned
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Great episode, loved all the fight scenes. Knew those pirates would be sneaky, lol. Tiberius is becoming a real nasty character. His dad is mean but respects the rebels, I can Tiberius gaining power quickly but he better watch out for Caesar.
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R.I.P., Nemetes. You died as you lived: Like a massive tool.

They should call this episode Betrayal. So much Betrayal in this one.

Beginning was a bit too gorey when Crixus ordered it. It was intellectual seeing it is something else.

Side note the Guy Crixus was training with saw him in the promotional as Liam's trainer.

Respects to Crasus. Eat that Roman Senator. Further, he made every preparation to take whatever advantage arises. He had that battering ram made ready and that plan of Ceasar to open the gates ready. Independently either would have failed or cost more lives but together it worked. Allow me to explain Crasus could have relied on Ceasar and not bring that Battering ram and Ceasar would be dead or not sent in Ceasar and used that Battering Ram from the start it would cause more lives.

Tiberius really hate that little kid. Petty little boy. I take much comfort that I have never heard of Tiberius Crasus in the history books. Maybe the Imperator takes him out before all this is done. I take great joy in that notion (I really want to learn to talk like those guys.)

Spartacus and Crixus handshake reaffirming their pact awesome especially in place of Ceasar's success. Why is it Saxa looks better and more imposing with clothes.

Ceasar respect for two reasons:
1. Taking that fool Nemetes out especially ironic since Nemetes gave Ceasar the sword that killed Nemetes.
2. Force to purpose fighting on against Agron and Donar to burn that gate down.
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Just realized what happened to Castus and how did Ceasar send word using Herakleo?
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Herakleo probably went to see Crassus himself. He had a ship, right? Yea
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Possible but Harakleo is a wanted man himself He couldn't have been sure he had immunity. I mean that Crassus wouldn't have him crucified when he walked into Crasus camp
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Fantastic episode. Went from one intensity to the next, and never failed to deliver. My only questionable question is if having people like Brad Pitt -- err... Caeser -- in the case ruins the story to an extent. Come one, we all know who(m) he becomes, and therefore we knew he would not die in the fight, which makes it kind of crappy. You get away with it with Spartacus because it's adaptation, but you don't get away with it when you try and bring in historical figures. Shows like Boardwalk Empire and others will suffer hugely if they do the same thing (the've already got Capone).
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I thought this way at first, but while watching it, I felt the way MascaraVamp did. I know Agron and Donar will die, and I fully expected Caesar to knotch another kill. I thought they were going to throw the first nail in the coffin of the rebels by killing someone as important as Agron, or someone who just proved he was a complete hoss like Donar did. When it was all said and done, my heart was racing and I was so happy that neither died. The bad news is that the more battles that come up, the odds rise that this will indeed happen. It'll be a hell of a ride.
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The fact that I know Caesar survives made me worry for Gannicus and Agron. I think it's a great strategy to pin our heroes against Caesar, knowing he lives. It raises the stakes. We generally know the outcome of this story, we just don't know how the writer's will choose to bring us there.
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My thoughts exactly. And it's quite brutal on writers' part. :)
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There are good and bad points, was my (bad) point. You know he's not going to die, so to an extent the story is ruined. We've known for several episodes he'll survive and do well. That said, the scriptwriters aren't morons -- they had him leave when he did because they KNOW that. If he stayed an fought someone beloved would have to meet their end.

I still don't think it was a good idea. Caeser being there means we know the town's gone, even though we shouldn't know it for a fact.
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Actaully I agree with MascaraVamp - knowing that Caesar survives really raises the stakes 'cos everytime he faces off against one of our heroes - Gannicus, Agron it gets tense becuase there is the strong likelihood that they will die. Normally when I watch a show it is to see what will happen in the end. with Spartacus I watch to see how we will get to the end. It is a testimony to the writers that we can watch, knowing the ending but still be constantly surprised by the characters choices. I particuarly love, as Andy said in his review, how we are not treated like idiots. At first I groaned when Spartacus revealed his plans to the Roman chick (sorry I forget her name) I thought he gone all 'Bond villian' on us. How wrong I was! It was satisfying to see that he had a clever strategy in place, EVEN more satisfying (but sad) to see him outfoxed by Crassus. Love this show so much!!!!
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But this is all part of the story. Like you said, the writers aren't morons. They're taking us somewhere, and this is all part of the developmental process. We know everything they want us to know...which, in the context of this show, is absolutely nothing.
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Awesome episode, when the Romans ambushed Spartacus i jumped out of my seat and screamed Fiiiiight. I was afraid that Saxa would get killed by Caesar, she is my favorite girl in the show, hope she stays alive till the end
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I love Saxa :) She's awesome
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I don't think she will. It seems to me there is a reason they created the character Sibyl and it's so Gannicus can have a happy ending with her. I think Gannicus will be the only one to survive and he can't really run off into the sunset with Saxa, no matter how awesome she is.
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Loved this episode. With previous episodes building up everything so perfectly,this is my favourite of the season so far. And best:D Love reading reviews.
Each slow-motion was better than last one and with great music to capture "tone" of episode...nerd-gasms:D
I love this Caesar...BADASS!!!
"Now would be time to run!"....*end of episode...me screaming"NOO already!?!?" I want more:D*

Fucking Naevia...if you are so against Spartacus and his decisions and want to kill Romans,go ahead AND LEAVE already! You can see,that Crixus still believes in Sparatacus,when they had that talk in the city(one,where Spartacus said he will free Romans),on Crixus's face(among other things,but you can see struggle he is having). And you can see on Naevia's that bitch is crazy and it is all her fault.
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K this show is seriously blowing my mind.
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I must say that definitely respect this show a lot more in this final season, because it has done a great job of not forgetting the past, while at the same time not being bogged down by it. This episode started with all of the Roman bodies (civilians, not soldiers) being hung upside down in a room. Last week we saw a bunch a slow classic Spartacus slow motion carnage, which was un-classically aimed at unarmed civilians. But while those scenes were horrifying, and they did a great job about making viewers think about how glorious all the violence on this show really is, I think this opening sequence may have been worse. Last week's massacre, though with a lot of slow motion, was rushed and chaotic. People were running here and there, there was a lot of stabbing and yellow, and overall it was difficult to get a sense of how many people were being killed. But that question was answered when in this episode we saw all of them, in one room, all just perfectly still. And while it may be easy for some viewers to classify all of these people as Romans, and therefore slave-owners and perfectly fair game, a few of these bodies belonged to recently deceased children. Basically, this scene did a great job of reminded everyone that last week's episode actually did happen, and that there are consequences that will need to be lived with.

But as I said, this final season has done a great job of not being bogged down by the past. While there was a nice bunch of scenes that dealt with last week's massacre, the plot shot forward at a rapid pace. I agree with you, Andy, that the attack on the caravan was a pleasant reminder of the good old days. The days when Spartacus and his people were just trying to remain free, and of were of course trying to kill the people directly responsible for their pain and suffering. The emphasis here being on the words "directly responsible." This scene was also nice because it kind of served as a midpoint in the episode. Before the caravan scene, the episode focused a greatly on dealing with the recent past, while after that scene it mostly dealt with preparing for the very near future.

So very much happened this episode that I was genuinely shocked. While I suspected that at some point Caesar would be revealed as Roman, Spartacus and Crixus would ally themselves once more, and Crassus would initiate a brilliant attack on the city, but I certainly didn't expect all of these things to happen in one episode. I thought Crixus and his followers were going to lead this episode, and only return at a later date to save Spartacus from some peril or other. And I also thought that Caesar would bide his time until a little while after Crixus had left, kill a few guards during the cover of night, and open the gate to Crassus's forces. But nope, the equivalent of all of those things just happened, and it was awesome. I am so happy that I am wrong.

At this point in the season, I think that most of the lines that will be drawn have been drawn. Sure, Crixus and Spartacus will probably clash at some later date, no doubt because Naevia is blindly blood-thirsty, but if Crixus does split from the group it will probably be for the greater good. Since the pirates are either are dead, or will shortly be dispatched, Argon and Nasir will be fine again with a few conversations, Caesar is visibly back with Crassus again, Tiberius has just shown himself to be a massive wildcard and source of destruction. Naturally there will be some jumping back and forth over these lines by certain characters, but for the vast majority of characters their official enemies and very visible once more, so for a while everyone will be seeing in black and white again. I imagine that the main twists and upsets will have to do with people dying, since this show has a lot of people to kill. Seriously, unless a lot of Spartacus's main leaders are somehow going to peace out during the final battle, they're all going to die. All of them. To the extent that, if I were writing this show, I would call the last episode of the series "Kill Them All," just like the last episode of the first season.

Anyway, this episode really did it for me in terms of really raising my admiration and trust in the show. While I really do admire the fact that this season chose to make the two sides less black and white, and that it chose to show Spartacus's horde to be realistically more vile and barbaric, too much of this can lead to the show being a depressing mess. So thankfully, this episode brought the show back to the alliances, planning, battles, and character development that really makes this show as great as it is. But at the same time, this show didn't just forget all the miserableness that just happened, and the massacre of last week, among other things, will no doubt linger until the show's end. Somehow this season continues to be far more realistic and smart than previous seasons, while still providing an exciting, exuberant, and pleasurable experience.
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you are the king of commenters:-)
wel said and spot on!
You made me want to cry with the talk of Spartacus and all his people dying. I know this will happen but I don't want to think about it (want to keep my head buried in the sand a little while longer).

OT: Thanks for getting the song "Kill em all" stuck in my head Personally "Seek and Destroy" would likely be a better soundtrack for the final battle but on the other hand I don't think "modern" music would work and the show has done great so far in dealing with this.

You and Andy do such a great job covering this show. Andy for his excellent reviews and you for your great comments/insights--even if we don't agree 100% of the time;-) lol

Andy, I wish you would cover more shows--but stay away from TVD--we are mean:-) lol, j/k
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Staff
Thanks, I appreciate it - and it's always nice to have engaged commenters adding to the discussion.
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just google Banshee season 1 online free
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Andy,
Go read the comments on the FTW/WTF article. Sorry but I nominated you to review Banshee but I did ask that they pay you for it:-)
There are others seconding and so on that request for you
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Staff
Ha, that's flattering, thank you. I've not seen the show (I don't get Cinemax), but perhaps I will find a way to check it out in the off-season.
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Excellent episode in every aspect--characters, acting, lines, plots, fights, plans/strategies and smarter/craftier plans/strategies, etc...

Rock star Gannicus' line to Neavia (sp?) about treating her like a solider (i.e., killing her) was well executed. Brain-washed Crixis and Naevia (sp?) starting to think/act a little more "clearly" was a nice change. Spartacus, Gannicus, and Caesar totally owned this episode!!

I knew there was a reason I always hated the self-righteous, entitled brat of a son. At least Kore didn't end up enjoying the rape---I was scared the show would go there but thankfully they kept it true to the horror it was. At times the son (name blank) of Crassus showed some honorable signs (morning his friends death and wanting his father's respect) but the rape crossed the line (crossed it by miles) so I can't wait for the pr*ck to die a horrible death. I do feel bad about his friend dying but that doesn't excuse his actions and his elitist/entitled views.

I still like Crassus and the fact he respects (or admires/respects Spartacus' skill at strategy) is great. If Spartacus has to "lose" then I want him to lose to a worthy opponent.

Caesar needs a spin off show---he is a smart, courageous, wild and brutal man whose cunning and deception come off as mad skills/talent.

I adore Spartacus and he is my hero but I respect Caesar and Crassus. If Spartacus has to end (insert crying sounds) then we need a spin off with caesar...show his rise and fall

Thanks Andy for another wonderful review:-)

Best quotes go to Gannicus (rock on dude):
1. his comment to naevia's apologies about killing his friend (he basically said if she want to act like a soldier then he will treat her like one--implied killing her if she f*ck up again
2. “It is a mad fucking plan—the sort I most favor.”
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kids name is Tiberius (Hey just realize wasn't that Nasir' Roman name as a body slave. Idea of Tiberius as body slave getting rape is entertaining.
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I thought this episode was excellent as well. You second spelling of Naevia is the correct one, and while she was really the crazy one for a while, I thought that scene where Crixus kept on stabbing that body, and Naevia told him to stop, was very interesting. I'm not sure how genuine her words to Gannicus were, and if she truly thought that the blacksmith didn't deserve to die (in which case I wonder what she thought about those kids being killed in the streets last episode). But if she has, surprisingly rapidly, spun around to see more sense, then maybe she'll be the one to reign in Crixus, even though I thought it would be the other way round.

Crassus's son is named Tiberius, though thankfully he isn't the Emperor Tiberius and therefore can die. While I agree with you about him crossing the line by miles with the rape of Kore, I would argue that that rape wasn't bound to happen from the beginning or anything like that. Like you, I've had a problem with Tiberius from the start, though this has been mainly due to him being unduly arrogant and taking his name and title to heart more than his actually skills and intelligence. I do not, however, think that the rape in this episode justified my dislike of him. Sure, it intensified my dislike for him a tremendous deal, but as far as I could tell, there was nothing about his character before that scene that screamed "rapist," or anything like that.

Anyway, my guess is that he'll likely die at some point in the future, probably by the hand of his father. Either way, Crassus will now think of Caesar like a son even more, and it will be a big turning point in their relationship. I suppose Tiberius could kill Kore and hide what he did to her, but I doubt that he is capable of such a terrible thing, even at this point. And besides, by now we know that even the best hidden secrets have a habit of springing forth on this show. Regardless, Tiberius's death probably won't happen until towards the end of the season, since he's one of the few Roman main characters who can die, history being the annoying spoiler that it is for this show. And I imagine we'll both enjoy his death quite a bit, since the last time a main character was a rapist on this show was Ashur, and they did a great job making his death very satisfying.

I also like the idea of Caesar getting his own show, though that does run the danger of being too much like Rome. Though it must be said that Todd Lasance's portrayal of the character is very different from just about any other portrayal of Caesar, so a show specifically about his rise to power, and subsequent fall, should be unique enough to not seem too much the same.
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I agree with you. I didn't see the rape coming before this episode but it just was the icing on the cake in terms of my dislike of the elitist self entitled and unjustifiably arrogant brat. There were a couple scenes where I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought he might improved (like his horror at the decimation, the fact his friend did not deserve to die and he was devastated by that death (the unjustness of his friend who didn't run and actually saved his life having to then undergo the decimation).

But the rape helped me justify/validate my hate of him--I felt a little guilty for just hating him on his arrogance and sense of entitlement but now he had real actions to justify my dislike. I could forgive the ill planned (or easily fooled) attack on Spartacus but I don't think any of that actually could rationally back up my intense dislike of the character. Now I have an unforeseen action that validates my previously weakly backed up dislike of him.

Again, I don't think the rape was bound to happen but when she approached him in camp I thought he may do something bad to get back at his dad (a little brat striking back at something to show his anger). It just that now there is a specific action I can use to justify my immense dislike of him rather then just base my dislike on his personality and what he says. Basically another reason to hate him.

Argon was also heroic--admirable loyalty to Spartacus so I could forgive his jealousy about his lover (and his domineering ways with his lover--telling him he couldn't talk to someone---just I chalked it up to jealousy which humanized him imo.

I agree with your predictions of how the relationships between Cassius, Caesar and Tiberius will change. I think Cassius has always needed and respected Caesar and realized his son was ill prepared for leading troops into war. Cassius doesn't come off as the elitist like his son (not much at least so far)

Regarding a spin off--if they keep the same writers they have for spartacus then this version of caesar and his transformation into the Casear we typically think of him will be fascinating. I think the actor playing Caesar is doing a wonderful job and the writing of this character if fresh and fantastic (good job writers of Spartacus). They need to keep the Spartacus show's style--fast paced, lots of intrigue/war, great dialogue/characters/acting and action/violence. The young Caesar is fascinating and a spin off showing this young versions rise to power has lots of potential. I vote to keep this actor in a potential spin off and I think the writers have proven themselves talented enough that it wouldn't be a "copy" of Rome but would be a fresh take on Caesar--especially if they start with his rise to power (or post-spartacus rise to power). His character is slick and depending on how they write it I could see him like Walter White--meaning initially rooting for the guy then later realize he is taking it to far and start to not root for him so much and eventually becomes a villain (or they don't have to make him a villain but an interesting character with good and bad traits which he uses to his advantage...it's late and I'm having a hard time thinking clearly so I hope this post/comment makes sense

Naevia may of been genuine with her apology to Gannicus but I still think she is crazy. It will be interesting to see how her character changes/develops even more if it does. I think Crixis is coming off as a love sick brain washed fool but he showed some signs of redemption this episode. Maybe his time on the Island (arrow) made him crazy--lol. In a way I can understand their actions even though I find them ill-thought out and basically crazy (plus disloyal to their leader). On the other hand, it's easy to be judgemental but it's hard to know what you would do if you were in their shoes (underwent their life experiences, etc). I wouldn't mourn her death but I do feel bad that she had such a harsh life and can sympathize with her and understand (understand but not endorse) her prejudice--the kids were Roman and she hates all Romans despite the fact there are probably good, bad and neutral Romans~~I think she still thinks they deserved to die. So while I may understand her reasoning I still dislike her.

I hope Argon lives---run Argon run! come back and fight another day
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there was way too much slow mo in this episode- slow mo jumping, slow mo bodies hitting the water, slow mo fighting. there was even a slow mo handshake between spartacus and crixus.
when this series ends, i'd like to see another series about gannicus - i know we already had one, but maybe a series when he just joined the ludus or when he was free
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I'm happy to see Crixus and Spartacus friends again, them butting heads made for good tv but it made me sad at the same time because I hate to see two friend fight, even when it's on tv. But as each week goes by I can't help but think about the fact we're getting close to the end, not just of the series but of Spartacus' life. I don't know how it will be handled but I know it will make me sad.
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Um, Crassus's slave is named Kore, Mira was Spartacus' girl last season who was killed. Overall the assessment of the episode was pretty much spot on though.
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Staff
Yeah, sorry about that. I confused my notes somewhere and noticed too late. It's been a long week. Should be fixing that soon.
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