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Spartacus: War of the Damned "Decimation" Review: Decimation Row

Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 4: "Decimation"

Most likely, when you’re reading this, it’s the weekend. So why not take a few minutes to call your parents, or grab coffee with a good friend, just to remind yourself that there is goodness and light in the world. Because that episode? That was grim.

Don’t get me wrong, Spartacus has never been the sunniest series on the dial, even when things have gone reasonably well for Our Heroes. But no matter how dire the circumstances, the protagonists—and the audience—have always remained buoyed by a safety net of brotherhood, or hope, or the righteousness of the cause. That net has been rapidly fraying this season. Now, with a suddenness that was bracing even by this show’s standard for rapid story movement, the ropes have been severed completely.

Of course they had help from Caesar, whose initial role in Crassus’s grand plan was unveiled this week. It’s a nifty ploy on Crassus’s part, but an even niftier one on the part of the show's writers: Take the character destined to become one of the most famous individuals in world history and use him for covert ops. The man whose cognomen came to mean “emperor” in Latin, German (kaiser), and Russian (czar); the man whose clan name would be affixed not only to a brand-new month but to an entire calendar; in "Decimation," found advantage in his current anonymity.

He arrived in Sinuessa—now widely known as a refuge for huddled masses yearning to breathe free—with appropriate swashbuckling pique. Gaius the Actor would fit in perfectly with the Spartacus repertory, chewing on every morsel of his made-up backstory with the shiteating conceit of a kid who knows he’s getting away with something. He matched swords with Gannicus (competently enough to be useful, not so skillfully as to tip his hand) and quickly sized up the nakedly resentful Nemetes as the weak link in RebelCo’s upper-middle-management. It was great, shifty fun, and of a piece with the cocksure commander we’ve seen so far.

But then the episode took a turn, as did the character, when his initiation rite put him face-to-face with the hidden horrors of occupied Sinuessa. Fabia’s condition, and the unspoken traumas visited upon her over several weeks, was truly stomach-churning. Caesar was rightly appalled, but his reaction was no less unexpected. It added new shades of empathy and fragility for a character previously defined almost exclusively by arrogance and an easy propensity for violence.

We’ve discussed how one of the themes of War of the Damned has been the shifting lines between hero and villain, and this was clearest expression of that theme so far. In that moment, Caesar wasn’t merely a military maestro out to quash a foe and accrue glory; he grasped the righteousness of his cause and abhorred the monstrosity of his opponents. And who could disagree? It’s likely no coincidence that the scene echoed Spartacus’s own behavior while incognito in "Wolves at the Gate," when he too granted a doomed stranger a merciful death, then had to spin his actions to reinforce, rather than blow, his cover story.

That spin was tactically smart, riling up already inflamed passions (“I set her free—as I would all Romans still held by Spartacus!”). Yet Caesar didn’t so much sow the seeds of dissent as he did slather the seedlings with Miracle-Gro. Resentment and rage have been simmering in all corners of the rebel base, held in tenuous check only by the adamant force of Spartacus’s will. The middle acts of “Decimation” piled one formidably tense moment on top of another, a series of deceptions and manipulations in which the next words out of someone’s mouth, the next decision made, threatened to bring disaster on one party or another. Conversations—between Caesar and Nemetes, between Nemetes and Crixus, between Naevia and Gannicus—were as ruthlessly choreographed as any gladiatorial combat, and with equally high stakes.

But the incident that incited the chaos sprang from shy, superfluous Sybil, in a reversal that surprised me perhaps more than it ought have. Initially, I suspected her stumbling upon Laeta and the missing POWs might prompt a wary alliance, or at least a future C-story where Sybil agonizes over her unwanted secret. Rather than draw that secret out for an episode or two to manufacture tension, Spartacus, in characteristically fleet fashion, pivoted on it right away and had her spill the beans.

And with that, the whole shebang came crashing down. Spartacus’s detente with Laeta imploded, the truth of Attius’s innocence ignited Gannicus’s fury toward Naevia, and Crixus—hand-picked as Spartacus’s second-in-command at the start of the episode, with dramatic irony that was all but lampshaded—led the massacre of just about every remaining Roman in town.

The ensuing fissures open up new—and perhaps final, arcs—for the major players, and new notes in particular for Dustin Clare and Manu Bennett to play. Gannicus, practically against his will, is morphing from guilt-ridden hedonist to melancholy moral authority. Crixus, so long dependant on being part of a solid brotherhood, may be driven to lead a breakaway faction even at the cost of the rebellion itself—and the agony of that dawning realization is palpable.

The riot in Sinuessa, fueled by unrestrained emotion, was conspicuously cross-cut with a far more regimented brand of bloodshed, imposed by the draconian punishment which gave the episode its title. As punishment for Tiberius's troops deserting the battlefield—and as warning to all legions against future cowardice—Crassus revived an archaic mode of discipline. Accounts argue that the historical Crassus’s decimation did spur his army’s morale in the long run. Yet here it doomed at least one blameless party, Sabinus.

In another parallel between a Roman and our Thracian, Tiberius was forced to take part in the brutal execution of his closest confidant (as Spartacus was obliged to slay Varro in the Blood and Sand episode "Party Favors." Sabinus’s death didn’t carry nearly the same emotional weight, of course, partly because we don’t care as much about Tiberius as we did about Varro and partly because Tiberius and Sabinus's relationship wasn’t that deeply developed in these four episodes. But it did set the character rather sharply onto a new course, one more interesting than a standard quest for his father’s approval. Tiberius got his wish to be treated as a soldier and a man, not as an aristocrat’s mollycoddled whelp. In the process, he’s finding the martial ideals of honor and glory prove as illusory as the rebellious ones of freedom and equality.

On both sides, even when violence may sometimes serve just ends, it inevitably spawns new injustices of its own. Whether rebel-on-rebel, rebel-on-Roman, or Roman-on-Roman, the violence unleashed in the episode’s final act was bleak, brutal, and unsparing. No longer portrayed as brave or empowering, it’s simply the only way anyone in this universe knows how to deal with their problems. “We are men of blood and battle,” Crixus admonished early on, “and the streets grow restless with idle purpose.”

Spartacus is not just a violent show. Violence has been a vital part of its DNA since the beginning. It’s intrinsic to the show’s entire narrative, aesthetic, and thematic structure. It has been depicted as both depraved and noble, as the instrument of subjugation and as the lever of escape. How, when, by whom, and against whom violence is used has in large part helped characterize both the heroes and the villains.

By that standard, no one stood particularly well-acquitted this week. Much of “Decimation” felt like a rebuke to every cheer that ever greeted a .GIF-worthy dismemberment. Having implicated the audience in relishing its stylized gore, Spartacus in its final season is confronting the full consequences of a “kill them all” mentality.



Notae Aliae


– Both Spartacus and Crassus have now lost the loyalty of a top lieutenant. These guys really ought to commiserate over a jug of vino sometime.

– Caesar undercover nicely paid off two subtle, curious groundwork details laid earlier this season: The strange, precise mutilation to which he subjected his nether-regions in the premiere (to cover for an absent slave brand), and his offhand explanation in “Men of Honor” that Crassus would not let him trim his locks. See? His appearance isn’t just for Thor-eseque sexiness—it’s for strategic Thor-esque sexiness!

– Caesar tells Nemetes he’s “had the displeasure” of Cilicians’ company. At least this part of his story is true; the real Caesar was briefly the prisoner of Cilician pirates in 75 B.C. (four years before the events of this season).

– Once again I loved Spartacus and Laeta’s brief interaction, especially where she laid out exactly why Crassus poses a legitimate threat. I admire the show’s willingness to yank the rug out from under these two a lot sooner than I expected, although part of me still wants to see them blow off these ingrates and run away to the Alps.

– Likely Sybil thought that ratting out the refugees would prove her worth, not least to her crush Gannicus. Little could she know that he, lone among all Spartacus’s followers, would have preferred to avoid the very outcome she triggered. Womp-womp.

– Agron’s still nursing a grudge against Castus, the Cilician who put the moves on Nasir. I’m not too thrilled with this sort of one-note soapiness expanding into a multi-episode arc just to give Agron something to do.

– As commenters have pointed out, the historic Crixus and a group of followers are recorded as splintering from Spartacus toward the end of the Third Servile War. It’s uncertain whether this action was due to strategic or factional concerns, but it seems the writers have chosen to follow the latter interpretation.

– “The most fearsome weapons yet exposed.”

– “A position not commanded from upon back.” PHRASING, Tiberius!

– “Return to drink and whores or part from this world.” Naevia shares some good advice for any situation, really.

– “We are not Romans. Nor shall we become them by acts of unnecessary cruelty.”

– “Your lesson well learned. Imperator.”

Body Count: I counted 16, likely dozens more off-screen, including the four other victims of the decimation. On the on-screen basis, 182 for the season.


What did you think of the episode? Unleash comment and find it read.

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I watched it just now and I loved the episode but I would add to the Notae Aliae that Caesar's brush with the Cilicians was more than just a kidnapping. It is one of the most interesting episodes in the history of the character.
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very dark, let's-mess-with-the-plot episode.
but what's with crixus' voice? i get that raspy is manly but sometimes it looks as though he really has trouble talking..
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i like it
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A very dark episode that was truly hard to get through at times! Although I thought the rebel part of the episode was very exciting, I have to commend the writers for the Roman part above all else. The way they handled the outcome of Tiberius neglecting his fathers orders in the previous episode was brilliant!
Initially I was expecting Crassus to simply order Tiberius soldiers to be whipped or some similar punishment. After his speech about Romans never disobeying a commanders orders and setting an example, I thought he would go for the kill them all approach, which would be horrible but probably not be shown with any emotional impact, but rather just make Tiberius mad that he got publicly shamed by his father. At this point I was not very excited about that plot and wanted to get back to the rebels.
Then we hear about the decimation and I start to get a feeling that this could get ugly, especially after Sabinius proclaims that he will take part, because it is the right thing to do. Initial thought is that he is obviously going to pick the white stone and be killed. However I quickly wave if off thinking Tiberius will get his father to spare Sabinius and in the process be even more shamed, but who cares?
Fast forward to Crassus speech about loyalty and I realise we are going to witness this thing and it is going to be bloody, but we like it when the Romans kill each other! Plot twist, instead of Tiberius asking for mercy for his friend, he is sent to be apart of the "lottery". Wow, Crassus is one cold motherfer, further proving his great potential as a nemesis for Spartacus! And now Tiberius is obviously going to draw the short straw, the tables have turned completely!!! What is Sabinius willing to do to save his friend, will he defy Crassus and go agains everything he believes in? I really have no idea where this is going now, but it is going to get dark!
Suspense as Tiberius reveals a dark stone. Wait what, now Sabinius is going to die after all? But Tiberius will show his weakness and bargain with his father.
They have to beat their friends to death with sticks in a ultra-cruel bullying circle!!!???!! Holy shit I did not see any of this coming!!!! And Sabinius surviving for what seemed like an eternity, Tiberius unable to put him out of his misery. That one last look before the final blow. WOW!!!
From the very start I obviously had no idea where this was going, and I kept coming up with new scenarios in my head and the writers kept twisting and turning the story in an intricate way that for the first time made me care about these Roman soldiers and feel bad for them. In doing so they also perfectly set up Crassus as a cold and brutal leader, willing to sacrifice anything for his cause, and the conflict with his son that is now built on hate and rage rather than unwillingness to recognise him as a man.
With the cinematographers and editors doing a superb job of filming and blending the two slaughters, it created my favorite episode of the season and an absolutely brilliant piece of television.
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I agree I mean I knew what Decimation was 1 out of ten guys chosen at random beaten to death with fists but I didn't think they'd show it like that. I'am curious as to Crasus do if his son chose poorly.
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Wonderful episode. This show is boldly forging ahead into territory no television production has dared to tread yet again.

My only lingering question is what, precisely, Spartacus' motivation and vision is at thsi stage of proceedings? Others in this section have already noted that he has already gotten his revenge on both Batiatus and Glaber, the ones most responsible for his enslavement and his wife's death. What drives him at this point to lead the fractious ex-gladiators and slaves? and, as he has so clearly taken the responsibility, to what end does he lead them on? Not many hints have been dropped, though I think the next episode will reveal that he will try to hire some of Heracleo's pirate buddies to carry his "nation" far from Roman shores.

Last note: I'm so glad I discovered this site, Andy's reviews, and all of you posters here who put keyboards to purpose and see intelligent commentary spring forth. Finally a community of folks who take Spartacus as seriously as it deserves to be taken, having fun while doing so. Cheers, and here's hoping we get the final season we all deserve!
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ElRob, your question was answered by the talk between Spartacus and Gannicus.Spartacus's thirst for vengeance was not filled by the deaths of Batiatus and Glaber. Why not? Because he failed to save Sura in the process. So now he means to do everything in his might to bring to heel the Romans, so that their cruelty in years to come is but "a distant memory."
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OK, I can respect that reasoning. The problem for me is that I have a hard time believing there is some kind of grander vision when all we really see Spartacus doing during most of every episode is crisis-managing unruly followers. No doubt the Big Reveal of his plan to either escape Crassus' army or annihilate it (or both?) will come in ep. 5. Cheers!
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My brother was recently watching a documentary based on that Historians really aren't sure what Spartacus' plans were after all the Romans won this battle.
Some argue Spartacus planned to hit Rome itself
Some say escape.
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I think he just trying to find a place where his people can live far from Roman oppression. Historically there is a plan but it may be interpreted as a spoiler for the next epi so I decline to post it here.
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I really hope Naevia is killed very soon. Can't stand that ugly bitch, since they changed actresses.
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yeah.. they make her a right shit stirrer now! Guess it helps to explain Crixus splitting from Spartacus cos of this jezebel lol. Alos, not sure why they needed to bring Caesar into the story other than for the spinoff talks I hear about ...
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Frankly, I wouldn't have foreseen this change in Naevia's personality, given her meek she was before. Yet the barbarous mistreatment she went through by Romans and in the mines seems to have brutalized her into the monster we see now. She has to go.
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Couldn't agree more. In addition to her acting like a completely mad cunt and being THE highest liability when it comes to their goals,constantly causing trouble,I too have never gotten used to actresses change. The original Naevia was it...even if they had to replace her,I never understood why with this one.
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Maybe the actress choose not to return because she didn't like where the new storyline would take her.
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Great review! Sabinus simply refused to go down during that hellacious beating. Gannicus vs Crixis round 2 was totally owned by Gannicus. That brought a big smile to my face. Crixis talks about brotherhood and the like, but he's just one rung of selfishness below Ashur (okay, maybe 2). Only four episodes in and the writers have already shown the walls tumbling down around Spartacus. I feel for him, knowing how this splintering turns out. He had to choose Crixis as his number 2, Gannincus probably wouldn't want the burden of being the 'next guy in line', and Agron is as hotheaded as Crixis.
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I agree about Gannicus. In fact,in the previous episode Spartacus had already tried to draw him more deeply into the decision-making circle of leaders of men trying to add more power and responsibility in that regard to him,but Gannicus refused.
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Gannicus will probably become no. 2 as they loosely base the show on history.. kinda makes me think what they gonna do with the Castus (the pirate who hit on Nasir). In history he was one of the leaders.
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Really? Honestly I didn't even know know Gannicus too was based on a real,historic figure. Thanx for the info.
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yup. he was real!
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Its more than that if you recall in Revenge part of the problem is that Crixus is Gaul and a great number of their fighters are from Gaul and the name also has merit he's Crixus the undefeated Gaul. Gannicus has the name but he isn't Gaul and Agron doesn't have Crixus' prowess in battle.

I don't think Crixus will survive to the Final battle I get the feeling he'll be taken out in two more episodes.
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Don't think he will last long either... History and the fact he's on Arrow now (although guesting as far as I know)!
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Actually and although I don't think that's an issue here at all,Gannicus is Gaul as well if I remember it correctly from the Gods of The Arena.

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Jimz, your memory serves your poorly. According to his story, Gannicus is a Celt, not a Gaul.
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That's the same thing. Gauls were Celts
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This show has never been remotely accurate but, who cared it was great entertainment. I have to say though having the pampered Julius Caesar portraying a hard bitten secret agent centurion is hilarious.
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Total props to Andy and the contributors for giving us, the somewhat ignorant of the actual history the show is based on, some background info. Even though the show is undoubtedly imperfect in its representation of historical fact, it's still awesome, and even better when you know that a lot of it is true (assuming history is).

As for the violence, one of the promotional 'edges' of this show when it started, and what was pushed constantly, was that it was coming from the creator of 300, which is more or less all blood and gore. Despite the blood and gore the shots are absolutely stunning, and the action intense. This week the colors and scenes shot around Crassus and Co. were the most stunning, and that story was slightly better than the fast-paced story around Spartacus and the rebels. You could see all of what's happening coming since Naemia killed the blacksmith and lied about the reasons, but I agree it's happening a bit too quickly.
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There are a great deal of remarks in this columns about the historical accuracy of the show. Quite frankly, I don't believe the producers and writers meant for the Spartacus stories to be factually correct. History or legend was only framework by which the imaginative stories of fiction here were **loosely** based.
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I don't think you'll find anyone saying it's very accurate, just some pointing out that there are some points in the story that do indeed check out (loosely, for sure).
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If I recall what I've read about the slave uprising, Spartacus and Crixus actually did split up due to a mishandling of prisoners of war by Crixus. Though according to my knwoledge it was actual roman soliders and Crixus decided to crucify them. This lead to an argument where the slave force was split in half, thus giving the romans the advantage.

One historical thing I do miss from the otherwise great series is interpretation of the fact that Spartacus and all the slaves could have escaped the roman empire. First they went south and met the pirates, who against coin offered to take them to Africa, and two times during the campaign they where at the feet of the alpes allowing them escape, but for some unknown reason Spartacus always chose to turn back (some historians believe it was either the horde's thirst for more battle, while others believe it to be Spartacus himself not able to escape the unwanted role of commander). I know getting all this into the series is tough with so few episodes, but an example of they being able to escape, but not going would be nice.

The decimation and Fabia took my breath away from this episode. So horrible events showing equal acts of cruelty on both sides. Fun note, the rest of the legion suffering from decimation was taken on by Caesar himself and became the 10th legion (because 1 out of every 10 was decimated), after that the 10th legion became quite famous in the Gaellic war and they never retreated from battle ever again.
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They didn't come back just to fight more, they could not escape.
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"Pretty ugly episode" as I can summarize with those 3 words. This is the first episode that I watched over and over 4 times out of my frustration. Here is my take. Naevia is a monstrous ass&%&%. Crixus is simply stupid. Gannicus is calm and tough as always . Argon and Nasir are still loyaltỵ. Saxa is cool like hell n one part toward the end of this episode. Nemetes is an evil-like jackass. Laeta is still looking pretty and deserving better life :). Caesar and Crassus are multi-face devils. And last but not least, Spartacus, I am so frustrated that he did not himself pay more attention and put himself in charge of the city he led the rebellion to capture it. The fact that his order not to further harm the innocent Romans was not taken seriously by his rebels even though some of them are low-ranking rebels. How could he not know some of the Roman prisoners being celled underground as if he is the leader with utmost command, power and no fierce of anyone?. My prediction is that Crixus and Naevia will die ugly. Gannicus, Saxa, Argon and Nasir will die in heroic way and the same for Spartacus but Spartacus death won't be shown at the end. Laeta will die also but she will die because of Spartacus.
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great review, great episode as usual. Despite my love for the series/season/episode I still felt sad after watching it. I see how it is coming to an end and how I keep rooting for Spartacus but see the end approaching:-(

I adore or admire all the characters but Crixis and Naevia. Both of them are so blinded by their own selfishness, prejudice and love for one another that they don't see the big picture (how they are fracturing the group and going against their leader/friend) and for that they need to leave. Even Crassus' son is growing on me but I'm still iffy on him.

I understand Spartacus' ideals and his hatred of slavery and injustice. He doesn't want to stoop to what he sees as his enemies ways (i.e., kill all Romans since that is what they would do to Spartacus and his people). I think both Spartacus and Gannicus have show tremendous growth as characters. They may not always make the best decisions but if you don't know all the variables and don't have the blessing of retrospective view (hindsight) of the events then their choices are understandable. Would you kill a baby or a kid that is innocent? Where do you draw the line.

Spartacus and Gannicus are trying to do the best they can and are trying to rise above base animal/gut reactions. I think Spartacus is trying to do what is right for everyone and it is impossible to please everyone. I'm over simplifying it but I admire Spartacus and at the same time respect the cunning and intelligence of both Crassus and Caesar. But I'm team Spartacus (but anti-naevia and anti-crixis). Personally I want Naevia to die and Crixis to leave (to fight Crassus from another side--off the show) and be a permanent or semi-permanent character on the show Arrow.

A spin off of Caesar would be great!

I'm glad to find out about the cutting (Caesar) and it was no where near as sick and twisted as my mind went:-)
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Question for everyone here that I noticed in Vengeance but especially more so in War of The Damned:
Why is Spartacus never using two swords like he did before? Except for a few instances I rarely see him wielding two swords like Gannicus who always has a second sword with him. All I see him using now is just a singe sword and sometimes he uses a shield as well, but rarely will he use that second sword anymore. Which doesn't make much sense to me, because two swords are much better than a single one.
Now, it might and probably is because of the change from Andy to Liam, but I still find it kind of annoying that the producers are almost dumbing down his fighting style just because he is the new guy or whatever.
Anyway, great episode. Great review, Andy. And what a great season this has been so far for Spartacus. Can't wait, but also dreading for the ending of the season/series...
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Well to answer your question Spartacus is using two swords once in a while. For example, you can't use two swords when you're riding a horse like he did in the opening scene. However, didn't he decapitate the two roman generals with two swords in the first episode conclusion though. If you want more proof watch the trailers of Spartacus war of the damned and you'll see some instances where he is using two swords like at 0:13 on the war of the damned official trailer.
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Yes, he is only using two swords once in a while. From what I have seen,though, two swords do not seem to be his weapon of choice anymore.
Obviously in the season opener when he was on the horse he couldn't use two swords. Later in that fight, though, he did end up picking up that rod with the eagle or whatever at the end and used it as a second sword almost. Also, he did decapitate the two roman generals in the opener as well with two swords. BUT, if I remember correctly, when him, Crixus, and Gannicus went into the city from the start Spartacus only had one sword with him, and he didn't pick up that second sword until right before he decapitated the generals. While Gannicus went in with two swords from the start.
Then also in the finale of Vengeance, Spartacus went down the mountain and killed everyone with just a sword and shield. As far as I can remember, there are not many instances of him using two swords in Vengeance and so far in War of the Damned, though he still will use them occasionally.
All I am saying I guess is that it seems like Spartacus has gone back to having his weapon of choice being just one sword like he did before he became the Bringer of Rain. And I am wondering why he has had this change of weapon preference.
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Great episode, maybe too brutal even for Spartacus ... I'm happy to read here so many comments that agree on that!
I'm far from screamish but as the broken rips came through the flesh I felt slightly sick and this whole gore and rape montage made me think of "Clockwork Orange", I hope Spartacus doesn't destroy my lust for graphic violence and nudity, aehm... I mean my desire to be drawn into historical context ...
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The episode was as hard for me to watch as alot of others, but what I loved most was that it threw the general expectation of TV heroism into a more realistic grey light in my eyes. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.
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Episode was great. Dark and brutal. But I didn’t like how they made rebels into a bad guys for wanting to kill all that Romans. It’s not that I think retaliation is good, but that rebels were taken from their tribes, their families are probably slaughtered by Romans, and after that they are humiliated and made into instrumentum vocale (speaking tool), tortured, raped, had no rights... It’s normal for them to revenge. Not to one dominus, but to system that made possible for them to become slaves. F..k civilization and all the good things, Romans didn’t brought anything good to these people and their thirst for vengeance should be understood.

What I don’t understand is how Spartacus, man who lost everything because of Romans, even his real name, and who yield: “Kill them all!”, became protector of Romans. Transformation wasn’t seen in the show and that’s not good. I know that he killed Batiatus and Glaber, but if that was enough, he could go back to Thrace. If he doesn’t want revenge, he is in the wrong place and he shouldn’t be the leader or even a part of the rebelion.

Naevia became real bitch and she will be responsible for departure of Spartacus and Crixus that will be end of both of them.
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Your point is well taken about Spartacus's seeming change. Yet I feel that he doesn't bear any great love for the Romans now. On the battlefield, he's still as bloodthirsty as the next rebel, slicing heads left and right. But women, children and civilians are a different matter. He hates the Romans for their lack of honour and cruelty, as he sees it. As a Thracian, I doubt he ever could strike down the unarmed and weak, or go back on his word as he sees them doing. To slay civilians is hard for him to do unless perhaps if they betray him. That's a war crime in his eyes, an atrocity against humanity, an idea that the Rhinelanders, Gauls, and many others do not share.
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I think we saw transformation...part of it at least. It happened in Wolves At The Gate episode,with that little girl getting killed and Spartacus seeing her alive only hours before it happened.
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We saw that, but I don’t think it’s enough to justify transformation from a bloodthirsty rebel to someone that don’t want to kill Romans except in battle.
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It was a subtle change I think. Now that you pointed it out I credit Gannicus for that. Vengeance Gannicus offered Glabber's wife to balance the scales but he didn't and then the suffering of his fellows at the mines and others.
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This was a difficult episode to watch. So very dark and disturbing... I think they're preparing us for our hearts to be broken in the end. I love this show so much, I don't want it to ever end.
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needs more gifs!
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"No longer portrayed as brave or empowering, it's simply the only way anyone in this universe knows how to deal with their problems."

That's a really good summation of the Spartacus world. I honestly wouldn't feel any safer being a powerful Roman than I would the lowliest slave in this universe. And not only are the kills, rapes, and torture so frequent - but they can come from anyone and for any reason. That's what's so unsettling, that there's no way to navigate or avoid it. It just happens, because no one can seem to deal with anything in any other way.

Naevia claims in this episode that the slaves learned it from the Romans, but I don't buy it. I don't buy that the non-Roman societies are utopias of gentleness and equality. If anything, I'm Team Rome because it is one of the most advanced and intellectual civilizations there is. Still brutal and archaic, yes, but more so than the rest of the world at this time? Doubtful.

I just don't see it as a monster to be slain, and if it is I don't see it being replaced by anything better*. Within the context of this show, I want Rome to win and to remain...only obviously to advance and become better through an exchange of ideas. Because people, these characters, are not inherently any better than one another - it's just a matter of what they're raised in and the new philosophies that pass in their time.

*Dark Ages anyone? Yeah, that was fun.
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But what Naevia claims is true for her and "her kind". They were slaves for Romans. They only lived to serve them and were abused by them. They didn't know life beyond city walls or walls of their dominus. If they didn't obey,either they were tortured,abused,killed or send to mines.
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Didn't know life beyond city walls or walls of their dominus,after they were forced into slavery. Forgot that last part.
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Dark ages hasn't happen yet at this point but I get it.

I think this season points out that there are idiots in every society. The first few seasons had a lot of Roman bashing and bad romans Glabber, Batiatus, Lucretia, Tulius etc. The schemes and disorganization among the Romans allowed Spartacus early success.

Now it showing us a relatively complex but capable and respectable enough Roman in Marcus Crassus and its giving us Rebel/free men idiots in Nemetes and Naevia (Still don't really want to add Crixus to the list cuz I'm hoping he's still redemable somehow.) Now the disunity of command will give the Romans victory.

Overall Rome was better after this war People were also advanced by freed slaves so in a way they were half the whole picture.
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To everyone I debated with in the last review over Naevia - You said that she was a dangerous liability and needed to 'get over it' whilst I had a 'Spartacus' moment and argued that she deserved sympathy for all she had suffered at the hands of the Romans. You were right. I was wrong. That mad bitch has got to go!
So much happened in this episode that I would like to comment on but all I can think to say is 'HOLY SHIT!

I will say this though - whilst I admire Spartacus' lofty ideals there is a reason why the Roman Empire was so successful for so long. He will have to become them if he wants to beat them so the question is how badly does he want to beat them? Of course this is all moot as we know what happened and how it will end, but still I can't help treating this show as if the ending isn't written in stone. I so desperately want it to have a different outcome. Now I know how Cassandra felt.

Andy - are you sure there were only 16 kills? It feels like a helluva lot more people got massacred. Maybe it's because the massacres was so brutal.
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Oh, it's likely much higher shown + implied. That was as many where I could clearly identify a specific mortal blow to a specific person, but it's easy to lose track in the carnage.
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This is probably the most horrifying episode of Sparatcus, I think I've ever seen. It was a great episode, but so brutal!

It has helped me to decide how I feel about most of the characters in this last series: I love nasir for going to Spartacus and telling him that Crixus and the others were killing the romans, and I love saxa for trying to defend the group she was supposed to be taking back to Spartacus.

I would really enjoy at this point seeing nemetes being flayed alive and I wouldn't object if someone set naevia on fire.

I used to really love naevia and Crixus and now every time they come on screen I just want to throw something at the TV.
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I agree. But I think it fits the characters considered what happened to them(Naevia) and where they came from(Crixus - extremely violent, awesome as a gladiator,dreadful when set free) and that makes it so unbearably tragic.
BTW did Saxa die at the end?
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I agree. We've seen some godawful things in past Spartacus episodes, from the graphic double rape of Naevia's virgin slave friend to castration/crucifixion to death-by-stoning, but I think what made this episode particularly hard to swallow was that it's now mostly coming from Spartacus' side. Rape, torture, beaten hostages starving on the side of the streets and being spat on, massacres...at the hands of slaves fighting to be/stay free. That's a tough one. It pretty much leaves us with "Love your cause, but I hope you all die." And how the hell does that work?

On the character front, I don't really have an opinion on Nasir. I like him, but he doesn't really stick out to me. Except for when he does his weird hissing-with-crazy-eyes thing lol. Saxa's definitely growing on me though, especially because of how she handled herself this episode, going up against "her own kind" to lead Romans to safety. I wish it was out of personal conviction than simply following her man's orders, but I'll take it. As far as Crixus and Naevia go, I'm beyond done with them and I have been for a while. I think they're both lost causes. Maybe there's something left to Crixus, but he's far too gone on and influenced by Naevia to break free and become compelling again. He was at his best when first falling for her and being forced into sexual submission by Lucretia and starting to like Spartacus, but that guy's not coming back.
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The best I hope for with Crixus and Naevea is that Ceasar kills Naevia trying to frame Gannicus but is discovered before they kill each other.

In truth I predict Crixus will splinter off from Spartacus and march against Crassus and then they get ambushed and killed with Ceasar stabbing Crixus in the back claiming the Legio sword that Crixus took from Tiberius in Men of Honor. Then he presents the Legio sword to Marcus but Marcus gives it back to him.

I agree with Saxa. I still don't think she'll survive but she's ok.
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Naevia is to blame for all this shit between slaves/rebels/free man/etc.(how ever you wanna call them:D ) And I knew it,that any Roman left alive in that city,will be part of problem and feud between our characters. If they only went and killed them all,when they took over city.
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Sure, Spartacus could have killed them, but it would be against his character. There were other alternatives though that weren't as stupid as the recipe for dissent and chaos he came up with. I thought they should have either kicked the Romans out of the city and left them to wander* wherever they may or trade them for goods. But keeping them in full view of the irate and bloodthirsty rebels while feeding them from the low supplies they had was never a good idea. It was either going to be that the Romans conspire and screw them, or the Roman massacre it became.

*Seriously, I don't think they had any valuable information that could have been used against the rebels or anything. The Romans knew very early on that the city had been taken and they've always known who's in charge and the other gladiators who aid him (Gannicus, Crixus, etc.). They also, presumably, already knew the size and scope of Spartacus' army.
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so that Roman way? Its the way of doing war at that time I agree but some of them maybe of worth that actually paid for some benefits Laeta aid was instrumental in negotiating a deal with the Salicians and I suspect Laeta will help in whoever survives among the slaves when Crasus brings the hammer down.

I agree Knoxera Spartacus should have moved the Romans in his own Villa to begin with.
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Ok,please don't start with "Roman way" thing. Spartacus and others put them,those who still lived,in shackles,because they couldn't be trusted,as did Romans do with their slaves. And while Laeta might be good for one thing,she was "spark" for Naevia's fuel and all this shit that went down with it.

I still blame Naevia for this.This thing was only the final straw that broke camel's back. Ever since,she got back and was trained by Crixus,she was mad for power and always(ok not always,but most of time) wanting to go other way,than Spartacus did. She only followed for so long,because of Crixus. Now she has poisoned his mind also and with Caesar there,it makes it much easier for Crixus to rebel against Spartacus.

If they went and kill them all from start,it would have been some kind of a mercy. Now before they were killed,they were starving,were being beaten,rapped,etc. And it would unify them more against Romans. Now they are just divided and Laeta still lives as do some other Romans.

If they were to let Romans go,I don't think it would be good idea.
I don't think Crassus and others know that much about Spartacus and his army. Any kind of information would be good for them,because either it would confirm or they would learn,that things aren't what they seem to be inside city walls. And who knows better about their city,than people that lived in it?

As result,I think that maybe Crixus will kill Spartacus(higly unlikely and really out there theory. Only reason I think it might happen,is because they had feud from Blood and Sand,even though,now they are best friends).
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I think we can both agree that Naevia is a loose canon and would have gone off at any time anyway. Laeta had very little to do with the Blacksmith incident. Gannicus went ballistic on them and I agree with it.
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all I have to say is nice job Caesar, this round to you!!!
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You know what bugged me about Caesar's "test". It seems to pass, he either had to rape a Roman or kill one, which is just stupid. How does that prove he's not a Roman spy? Also, unless you actually see him perform the act (I am in NO WAY condoning rape) how would you know he didn't just say he raped the woman and just cut her slightly as proof. But it was a great character moment for Caesar.

I honestly expected Caesar would turn around and tell Spartacus about the horrible things that the Nemetes crew were doing or the whole thing was some elaborate test to demonstrate he was different than the "evil" Romans that did these horrible things to slaves. But nope, it was just to demonstrate Spartacus' crusade is coming apart and there is rift among the ranks and some of them are no better than the Romans. I really hope it's revealed that Naevia is behind all the torture of Romans and there are others (not completely beyond possibility, violence begets violence and victims often will turn around and lash out) and Crassus realizes just how far off the deep end Naevia has gone. Also, good job Crassus for picking the most disgruntled member of the rebels to test the person you suspect the most about being a spy. Though Im 90% certain he will be the first to stand at the end and claim he is Spartacus.

You know what I also do not get. Why are they even keeping the Romans? Seriously what benefit does this provide? It's depleting their food supply, it's not like the Roman's don't know where they are, it's causing a rift among the rebels and it's not like they can be used as bargaining chips when the Roman army comes. Why not just kick them out of the city and be done with it? It's not like they are using the Romans as, ironically, slaves to do manual labour for them. They are literally just chained up along the streets for some reason.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed this episode. A character/plot driven episode was also much needed after all the blood and gore and death and this episode laid a solid foundation for many intrigues, but seriously, most of Spartacus' plight from the upheaval of his army could have been avoidable just by releasing all the Romans.
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I usually watch every Spartacus episode at least twice, as I find it has a very high replay value.
But this...it's the first time in the 4 years since the show began that I find myself unable to watch this episode again out of its sheer brutality.
We tend to think of wars and revolutions as noble endeavors, with perfectly defined good guys and bad guys, but Spartacus makes you second guess everything you thought you knew about honor and glory. There is none.
A war of the damned indeed.
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Very emotional and intense episode, great television. I hope the rumors are true and they give Caesar his own spin off with his rise to power.
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as long as they keep the current Crassus.
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definitely, if its the same show runners, I see no reason why they wouldn't keep the current Crassus, amazing actor.
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This season certainly rivals Season 1 in terms of quality. But yeah, it's dark and wears on you. You have to respect the show runners for not pulling any punches. And there's something about it all that seems less gratuitous sex and action, and more like history lesson. Humans are one mess-up species...

With Spartacus ending, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Starz. This type of unapologetic production style could be applied to various points/events in history.

Imagine if they did a Civil War series! Jupiter's cock, I get excited just thinking about it...


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My favorite current shows are Spartacus, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. Yes, it definitely wears. I love all of them and will continue to watch and be enthralled, but they've driven me to watching sitcoms for the first time. Sometimes you've just gotta watch How I Met Your Mother or 30 Rock and just let it all wash away haha.

Sidenote: Until recently, American Horror Story was on my favorites list as well but the constant woman torture became too much for me and I gave up. I'm determined to hang in there with Sparty though. Bringing in the more gentle character of Laeta actually probably has a lot to do with it. I identify with her the most of everyone else this season.
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That's an interesting comment. I must say that I haven't watched a sitcom since... thinking... processing... retrieving... Googling (lol)... since the Friends & Frasier (and some Absolutely Fabulous around that time).

Wow, you are right. I have been without smiles and dumb jokes for too long.

I am glad you mentioned HIMYM because I have been curious about that show for a long time and I love Alyson Hannigan so I will check it out!
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Brilliant episode! Nothing fuels adrenaline like Spartacus. Grim? Umm.. even The Walking Dead seems almost like a fairy tale in comparison.
Love it.Love where all the characters are atm.Their reactions to the circumstances are pure story-telling delicacy. A full circle of the series is being closed starting with the initial portrayal of Roman intrigues and indifference toward the suffering,consequential rebellion against it with high hopes of freedom and led by Spartacus' principles,only to be washed away by world which only the cynical Gannicus of the Gods of The Arena seems to have seen in its true light. Gannicus who now really does seem like a moral authority,down there amongst the populus(unlike Spartacus and his high principles),confronted by forces out of his control.
Brilliant parallel between the chaotic brutality amongst the rebels and the highly structured,state-sponsored cruelty of the civilisation at its peak,veiled by politcs and ambition.
Stage is being set for one of the best finales in tv history. Can't wait to see it.
And I agree with predictions. Gannicus,if anyone will be the survivor. The last man standing,walking away with heavy heart from the field of battle.

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I have an issue with this season and it's a big issue, I could understand Spartacus being nicer in earlier seasons, but they have to make him more brutal and cut throat because the real Spartacus crucified three thousand slaves just to show to others what would befall them if they were top betray him, maybe that's later to come but I can't see him doing that. The real Spartacus likely would have just killed the surviving Romans, and if he hadn't he definatly would have killed the ones responsible for their slaughter. They're pretty good at sticking to what we know happened and making up the rest, but we know Spartacus was more of a dick than they're making him which is really getting to me.
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While the extent of his real-life viciousness can been argued, I definitely agree, in any case, that Spartacus should probably be portrayed as more of a detached and brutal rebellion leader than he is. The show wants us to have a sympathetic hero, as well as a martyr soon-to-come, and thus they've made him into a very modern, noble, tragic man focused on equality and sparing lives whenever he can. Don't get me wrong, I quite like his character, and we do need a clear lead to root for, but I do want them to humanize him a little more. Flaw him up, if you will. I mean, they take it so far they won't even let him get laid. They seem to think that any casual sex/normal sexual appetite on his part would dirty him up and make him less the moral center (something usually wielded against women in traditional sexism). I'm sure he'll get down with Laeta before season's passed, but even then you know it will be an act of *lurve* and that he'll still be all hesitant and conflicted.
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Just out of curiosity what is your source of information regarding Spartacus crucifying 3000 slaves? I've briefly read about Spartacus life and I've read this from various sources, "Spartacus was killed in a battle with Crassus in Lucania. Pompey, back from Spain, helped annihilate the survivors. Of the captured slaves 6,000 were crucified along the Capua-Rome highway. After the death of Spartacus, 3,000 Roman prisoners were found unharmed in his camp".
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I can't remember where I read it, little pieces of information stick with me and nine times out of ten I can't remember where I heard it, sorry. It's not uncommon for biographers to leave things out to put the character in a different light, or simply because they didn't think it important or worth mentioning, after all you can't really put ever action and occurrence of a person's life in a single book and expect people to stay entertained enough to keep reading. After all book like every other form of entertainment are in the end about making money.
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There are probably a lot of differences depending on historians and Philosophers and the winners and loosers of batte/ wars. The real Spartacus might be a dick we can't really be sure but from what I know it was the slaves that were crucified by the Romans after Spartacus Lost.

First crucifiction is a Roman punishment and why would Spartacus crucify 3000 of his own men when he needs every single one to fight the Roman Legions? Maybe the real Spartacus would crucify but he'll probably crucify Romans not his fellow slaves. It would hurt his movement to crucify his own people during a war.
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You have to try to view it as TV show and not a historical drama to get passed that. If you think of it from a historical standpoint while watching it you will too frequently find yourself pointing at faults and inconsistencies. If you can put that out of thought and just view it as (a historical-fiction) entertainment then you should enjoy it much more. To enjoy, or not to? Also a history buff here.
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I can do that most of the time, and I don't usually get bothered by small things but I would consider such brutality t reflect a very different man than what we're seeing, but like you said it's my burden to get over it and enjoy the show for what it is (which is awesome).
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Crassus is a brilliant man. I have to hand it to him sending Ceasar in like that and Spartacus for figuring out he was played with the Cossinius and Furius incident. Right now I'm really curious as to what Spartacus is planning with Donar if it succeeds I think Crassus will just smile to himself for finding a worthy opponent. I agree having Crassus and Spartacus share a bottle and break words would be awesome.

I really wanted to know what he would have done if Tiberius had drawn the white stone. In fact I wanted to see what Sabinus do if he drew the black and saw his friend with the white? A question we will never see.

I really hate Naevia right now. actually I've hated her since this season. She's like a puppet that just say Kill all romans. I just can't help but wonder if she didn't talk to Crixus during Ceasar's test Crixus would have figured out Ceasar was a poser. He had that smirk and he showed some moves that Gannicus missed because he was also moving. I think Gannicus taking out Crixus would have been enjoyable. Sorry but as long as he's with Naevia my dislike of her is spreading to him. I kinda miss Mira right now cuz if she was here she might have put a stop to this sooner.

I wonder would Laeta have recognized Ceasar? Ceasar is great covert ops man in two days he's manage to worm his way into Nemetes and will probably enter Crixus trusted councilors. I wonder if he would ask help from the Romans in Spartacus' villa to learn of his plans.
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I m glad someone mentioned the stones. I was expecting Tiberius to get the white stone and Sabinus to swap with him.
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Good call, Ankh49: I was thinking the same thing!
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This is my favorite show right now on TV. It is so grossly entertaining, yet can be so complex. However, the violence in this particular episode was fucking brutal, and felt far less cartoony than it has in the past. Liam will never be as good as Andy, but he has improved a great deal this season. The star of this episode was Caesar, who was showing range all across the board, especially on the scene where he killed the Roman girl, which showed a side to him we haven't seen. Most characters remain very compelling, with the exception of Naevia. She's the LaGuerta of this show, and not someone I want to see make it out. So who should we side with, Spartacus or Crixus? And who do we want to see make it out if anybody at all? I'm pulling for Gannicus and Saxa.

By the way, excellent recap/review Andy.
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Totally agree with you when i comes to Naevia....
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Maybe Gannicus/Sybil will survive. Laeta will probably survive.
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That is probably the more likely scenario yes, but I'm still pulling for who I'm pulling for.
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I don't think it's just a coincidence I wanted Crixus and Naevia to make it out alive more than others only up until this season. The odds are not in their favor to escape history now. Looks like Gannicus might pull it off though.
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I'dd be nice if Gannicus would survive. One of my favorites. Soul of a poet. Though historically he was either (very likely) killed or captured right near the end of things.
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Well historically out of the many accounts of the Third Servile War only a couple/few had Spartacus actually dying in the war and the rest of the accounts say his body was never found among the dead rebels and so I think that Spartacus should at least not be killed on screen.

When the past two Spartacus seasons ended they had a shot of Spartacus and then super-imposed that shot into a mural/painting type image. (I hope you know what I am talking about and am trying to describe)

I think that to end the show, if they don't have Spartacus out right survive and like disappear into the sunset, then they should have him about to enter into battle against the Romans, kill a few of them and then with sword drawn running towards the screen, end the show with him in fighting pose, with sword(s) raised, do the super-imposing image thing and then fade to black what do you think?
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We'll if we went on what I'd like then they would burn Rome to the ground. But since the character Spartacus is hellbent on punishing the Rome/the idea of it (he didn't allow/support of killing of captured Roman citizens), I expect he will fight till the final end. The director is going to want to pull our heartstrings and make us nervous so I'd bet we'll have a pretty firm ending.
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I don't think Spartacus will surrender either it will be victory or death for him.

I got this image that Marcus Crasus and Ceasar march into Rome victorious. Ceasar will be waving his hands at the cheer of the crowds but Crasus forever changed by his dealings with Spartacus. Spartacus crucified and Laeta looking off saddened. but if I know this show it will be something I never see comming. It will probably surprise all of us.
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