Spartacus: War of the Damned "Wolves at the Gate" Review: We Killed This City

Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 2: "Wolves at the Gate"

Last week, commenter @theopratt raised the issue of how we define “good guys” and “bad guys” on this show, considering that virtually every character has a great deal of blood on their hands. It’s difficult to fairly apply our own moral schematics to this setting; few of us can relate to life in a 2,000-year-old civilization, or a state of war, or a circumstance in which the most fundamental survival needs are perpetually at risk. But as both a depiction of that setting which implicitly comments on our own time, and as a piece of culture created for 21st century Western audiences, it’s worth our contemplating those knotty ethical questions.

“Wolves at the Gate” showed those questions to be very much on the minds of the show’s creative team as well. Until now, the rebels have primarily killed soldiers or slave owners, active enforcers of their prior oppression. @theopratt pointed out that in the Vengeance episode “Libertus,” the rebels killed hundreds or thousands of spectators in the destruction of the Capua arena, ordinary Romans who were likely too poor to be slave owners—but you could argue that, as enthusiastic supporters of a bloodsport that dehumanized and slaughtered countless slaves, they too were complicit in the unjust system against which the rebels have declared war.

Many of the denizens of Sinuessa en Valle have probably taken in a gladiatorial tournament or two in their time. Certainly a throng of them didn’t hesitate to exact bloody retribution against a captured slave early in the episode. But then there’s Laeta, who acknowledged that maybe a revolting slave isn’t a monster simply for rising up against a lifetime of cruelty. And there’s her husband, Ennius, a city father who condemned the “frenzy” of the stoning crowd and praised the square-jawed stranger who cut the spectacle mercifully short. If Spartacus’s followers aren’t the soulless horde the Roman authorities make them out to be, maybe the Romans aren’t quite so monolithically evil either.

Still, the Sparty Gang needs a city. And that city needs to be taken by force. And when thousands of hungry, desperate, enraged warriors are turned loose upon an off-guard and helpless populace, those shades of gray don’t matter. Blind carnage is the only possible result.

To his credit, Spartacus recognized this—though too late to save untold scores of innocents, including a mother and a child he’d seen frolicking several hours prior. He ordered a stop to the bloodbath, and mercy for all survivors. And yet when the city’s precious grain stores were threatened by Ennius, our hero also didn’t hesitate to ram a spear through the man’s uvula, even at a moment when Laeta’s attempts at peaceful negotiation seemed to be paying off.

A necessary evil? Perhaps. How justified would Spartacus have been in leaving his own thousands of people to die from exposure or starvation? But the lesser of two evils is still an evil, and “Wolves at the Gate” didn’t shy away from treating it as such. This was no moment of unambiguous triumph for a man who set out to fight on behalf of ordinary, oppressed people. Crassus spoke at the end of the episode about the sacrifices demanded in war. Will victory come down to which side is willing to bear greater sacrifices, not just with regard to human life but to principles?

This dark descent is especially jarring at the climax of what was, until that moment, a relatively peaceful installment. “Wolves at the Gate” kicked off as a good old-fashioned caper episode. Spartacus, Gannicus, and Crixus slipped into Sinuessa incognito—trading on the name of Diotimos’s former dominus in the process. There they rustled up Gannicus’s old blacksmith buddy to forge them new steel, to replace the weapons surrendered at the gate.

This plan sparked plenty of fun moments, like Spartacus conniving his way past the gatekeepers, and Gannicus manipulating his reluctant contact into compliance—twice. For the first half of the episode, the rebels relied on charisma and quick wit to maneuver through their enemies, rather than brandishing swords and bigger swords.

It was a welcome reminder that Spartacus (and Spartacus) boasts skill at more than just violence. “Wolves at the Gate” got a lot of mileage out of the show’s unique, florid dialogue rhythms, one of the pleasures often overshadowed by its reputation for blood and boobs. Indeed, that restraint helped make the chaos of Sinuessa’s siege all the more harrowing.

Patience foreshadowing menace was the tone of the episode’s second half as well. Julius Caesar was introduced with all fitting sturm und drang, but his meeting with Crassus only hinted at the grand ambitions to come (and not only those within the scope of this series). It was a marriage of convenience. The Senate needs Crassus’s coin but doesn’t much care for the man (due to his nouveau riche background, he claimed... though I loved his knowing grin at Caesar’s insinuation that there was more to the story). Meanwhile, Caesar’s storied lineage carries credibility, but he lacks the resources to capitalize on it.

The dichotomy of “name absent wealth” meeting “wealth absent name” was stark. So, too, were their temperamental differences. Where Crassus has been methodical, Caesar was immediately characterized as a firebrand; he was referred to as some manner of “beast” several times, and Todd Lasance certainly plays him with a leonine air, all strutting and appetite. War of the Damned wants to serve up an unorthodox portrayal of one of history’s most portrayed figures, a smart decision that could go either way in execution. In the show's attempt to separate its Caesar from the Shakespearean mold, Lasance and the writers could end up overloading him with too many stock “TV-sociopath” traits (he’s already a hothead, a hedonist, and apparently a sexual masochist). However, if they thread the needle, Lasance could carry on Spartacus’s tradition of rich, balls-out villain hamminess.

Though we also need to talk about his grunge look, guys. I am 85 percent sure that when this Caesar isn’t out conquering the Gauls he plays bass in a Sonic Youth cover band.



Notae Aliae


– The title everyone kept using for Ennius (as best I can tell) was “aedile.” According to my research, this was a local office in the Roman Republic responsible for managing public order and infrastructure, like the city’s granaries. Now you know—and knowing is half the battle!

– Six Degrees of the Whedonverse: Laeta is played by Anna Hutchison, who played Jules in The Cabin in the Woods, which was co-written by Joss Whedon. Joss’s brother and frequent collaborator Jed Whedon is a writer on Spartacus, and showrunner Steven DeKnight spent years on the writing teams of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

– Did the fellas going undercover and traipsing through enemy territory remind anyone of the early Season 3 episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, when the Aang Gang posed as Fire Nation citizens? Just me then?

– “I require no lesson in my fucking heritage.”

– “Imagine what could be wrested from highest perch were Crassus and Caesar to align themselves.”

– Spartacus on the rebellion: “Let us pray, then, for the proper end to it.”

– “I would not see more blood spilled absent cause.” “Nor I. Absent cause.” These Sinuessians just cannot stop setting Spartacus up for loaded, ironic rejoinders.

– “You aide Spartacus?” “No. I stand the man himself.”

– Funnest kill of the week: Diotimos playing fungo, with a guard as his baseball and a battle-axe as his bat.

– Thanks to everyone for the kind words and great discussion on last week’s review. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about this season!

Body Count: I counted 36 for the episode, but the fatalities became very tough to keep track during the siege sequence (and of course this doesn’t include the likely dozens or hundreds of citizens who met the gods off-screen). On that measure, 124 for the season!


What did you think of the episode? How does this incarnation of Caesar stack up so far? Turn keyboard toward purpose and grace forum with comment.

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Had to watch the first episode of this season twice before it felt like Spartacus. That and reading your reviews are making this show an absolute pleasure to watch.

Everyone involved in creating this show along with the actors have taken this series to that other level. Though I will never forget Andi Whitfield (RIP), Liam has definitely made his version of the great Spartacus a pleasure to watch.
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Ok Andy, you rock, but please, don't you ever ever EVER compare Spartacus and Avatar again!!!
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Man. This idea is going to do wonders for my crack fanfics...
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oh pleeeeaaze! a cartoon and an x-rated show??? stop it you guys!!! lol
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Thanks - and I don't expect the show to lend itself to too many more parallels, unless Crixus adopts a flying bison.
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I'm italian and in high school I studied both Greek and Latin including their literatures and cultures, not only the languages, so ask away for any historical confirmation. Your research on aediles Andy was very accurate by the way.
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Oh, one more thing: I did a quick spot check on the episodes that Jesse Warn has directed, and they have all been outstanding, up to and including the awesomefest that was "Kill Them All". Definitely the standout director on the series, here's hoping he helms the finale.
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Hi Andy, just wanted to thank you for this excellent review. I've always felt my local news media here in Canada has given Spartacus short shrift and I was greatly heartened to see a well-crafted piece assessing the show on its merits, which after 2 and a half, kind of, seasons I believe to be considerable.

As for blond and bearded young Caesar, I feel Todd Lasance's portrayal was a refreshing change from the "cold fish" political operator we have seen all too often, most typified in Ciaran Hinds' take on the role in "Rome", which I felt was by far the weakest link of that series. By all accounts JC was a lusty and unconventional fellow, so why not let him go a little over the top? After all, nearly 30 years separate the events of Spartacus from his bloody end on Pompey's porch...which is why, naturally, a spin-off series could hold such great appeal, though it would be hard for the show's core audience to switch allegiances from the oppressed hordes of Spartacus to the political wheelings and dealings of the Republic's corrupt elites.

Keep up the good work, I'll be reading again next week!
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Now , i know why Caesar looks familiar to me . The Cabin in the woods , The avengers... all done by Joss Whedon . His Bro working in Spartacus so he brings someone looks like THOR!
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As much as i throughly enjoyed this episode, Spartacus really has to stop his army from killing the innocents.

I know the episode tried to make the people look like savages before hand with the throwing of the rocks at the slave but what's Spartacus's big plan exactly?

Kill not just every roman solider but also every roman citizen and leave only the slaves?

That's a lot of killing and not very honorable, you could say they killed everyone to make sure the citizens couldn't go and tell the roman legions that Spartacus has taken the city but this will be found out soon enough anyway.

Killing the young girl and her mother was completely unnecessary also but i think that was the point of this episode, to show Spartacus how savage his army really are.

This episode is the first episode to show Spartacus army in a bad light, at least for me at whilst i am still behind Spartacus's noble cause of freedom, he better address this issue in the next episode.
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"Kill not just every roman solider but also every roman citizen and leave only the slaves?"
You seem surprised the last words spoken in the first season and the name of the last episode was "Kill them all".
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I would have hated it if Spartacus ordered his men to avoid killing innocents, it would have shown poor war leadership skills, and it would have made him look too much like a nice guy.
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I agree, they made Spartacus' army look very savage in this episode, perhaps allowing us to side somewhat with Crassus as the series progresses. Did anyone notice that the last episode is called "Victory"? But we all know Spartacus looses, so victory for whom? Obviously the Romans, but if Spartacus is the "good guy", then shouldn't the episode be called "Defeat"?. Just an observation though, despite the fact that Spartacus will loose and die, I'll be on his side no matter what.
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Spartacus so far has done no wrong in my eyes, just his army.

Whilst it would of been ideal for Spartacus to have not killed that woman's husband, he was right, he couldn't take the risk, he needed that food to feed his people.

I guess in Spartacus's mind, one man's death is a small price to pay to feed 1000's, it was a tough call though as technically the man was merely protecting his property from what he would of viewed as thieves and murderers.

In regards to the final episode, i can merely speculate that Spartacus will die but not before Crassus regrets achieving it.

Crassus has already been shown in a positive light compared to all the previous roman's on the show, he may love his roman empire (but with the exception of cheating on his dreadful wife), he's been portrayed as a pretty decent guy so far and i believe he has been written like this on purpose.

I'm guessing he will be the guy who finally brings down Spartacus, if it was any other Roman soldier, it would cause too much upset to the viewers to know Spartacus and his army died in vein at the hands of arrogant Roman's.

One thing's for sure, i can't wait to see how this season unfolds! :)
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Kudos on keeping the count of on-screen kills. Must require a lot of re-watching certain parts (a show worth re-watching in many respects).

Anyway, I was interrupted a lot while watching this episode, so I missed a bit, but on the whole I didn't like it as much as others. True, the character development (especially given the introduction of Caesar) is necessary, but I still felt this one lacking in intensity compared to other episodes. Even the taking of the city, despite a couple of tense moments, didn't keep me quite as glued to the screen.

Still, I wouldn't chain it up and throw stones at it -- it was a good episode, as are they all, and the gritty colours and scenery were as excellent as always. Also, with all of what I said above, I think they are already doing an amazing job of building to what is sure to be an incredible peak by the season's (and series'?) end.
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You know what would be kind of interesting. An entire episode from the perspective of a normal Roman family. Maybe one that is preparing to defend itself from Spartacus' attack on their city.
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all I can say about this latest depiction of Ceasar is - HOT!
that's good enough for me, and I hope this season keeps up with the humor and blood-thirst of the earlier ones.
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Liam McIntyre is really doing a GREAT job as Spartacus. I think it had to have been very hard for him, even after he met Andy Whitfield and Andy gave his full blessing. Liam has to not only convinces us he is Spartacus, but that he is still embodying Andy as well. I think Liam is doing a really excellent job of both in this season!!
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I totally agree. It must be difficult for him to be constantly compared to Andy Whitfield, but I think he's doing a great job.
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I would agree, I finally feel that Liam has owned the role of Spartacus this season.
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DUDE!! i really like your reviews! they are detailed, and interestingly thought out.
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agreed
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Another wonderful review Andy, we appreciate the shout out on the comments.

What can I say about Caesar. My gut reaction was one of woe to having this character introduced, but this had nothing to do with the choice of actor; there is simply no reliable evidence that Gaius Julius Caesar took any part in the battle against Spartacus, much less a role of esteem. Did the writers simply think "Hey! Everyone knows Caesar! Let's get in some beefcake and give him a famous name!"? After a few minutes of slamming my head against my university research paper on the Spartacus rebellion, I took a deep breath, and decided that this was not the end of the world. It's possible that Caesar could have been involved, as absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence, and I turned my reeling mind to focus on the casting choice instead.

Same gut reaction. Blonde shaggy hair and facial hair? This would have been highly frowned upon in Roman society, especially for a member of the Julia gens. Once I looked past the surface, however, I began to come to terms with this portrayal of the great Caesar. There is evidence that in his young career, Caesar was somewhat rebellious and arrogant. When held captive by pirates, Caesar maintained a haughty, superior air throughout his imprisonment, even going as far as to make the pirates ransom for MORE money, as he was insulted by the amount at which they valued his life. Caesar was forced to flee for his life from Rome when Cornelius Sulla took over the dictatorship, and this would leave anyone a little hot under the collar. As I thought about these things, this bad boy Thor impersonator slowly grew on me (and I hope this trend continues). He seems to me someone who, with the right influence, could become a major political force....once he visits a hair dresser of course.
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Thanks - and hey, a bona fide expert in our midst! I'll have to make sure to double-check my supplemental research on these reviews.

I'm sure they're taking some artistic license with both the inclusion and the depiction of Caesar. I tend to think that as long as it leads someplace dramatically interesting and thematically coherent, there's nothing wrong with fudging on an admittedly spotty historical record.
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You are absolutely right Andy, and I will surely come to like this portrayal of Caesar as we progress into the series. I couldn't sit here and complain about some artistic license in a casting choice on one hand, when having enjoyed the HBO series Rome on the other.
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Thor impersonator :)
I think he will shave and cut his hair in the more Roman way soon..
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Apparently, Caesar returned to Rome via surfboard.
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Heheehee lol
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i only read these spartacus reviews for the gifs - but there are none this time :(
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I also must say that this season, Liam McIntyre has really owned Spartacus and has filled Andy's (RIP) shoes quite nicely.
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I have only finished the first 4 paragraphs, and I love what you wrote. There are obviosly shades of grey, and the creative team did a great job portraying that. And just as you so eloquently pointed out, these people are hungry and have braved the elements for who knows how long, and they are on a mission of vengeance. Not justice. Vengeance. So if alot of innocents have to die for there cause, to them it is not only justifiable, but even right.

I also loved watching the fun Diotimos seemed to be having. Hell of a fight scene, but boy is team Spartacus lucky. Those guy's throwing the spears really dropped the ball that night. Also loved Crixus rolling under the gate ASAP to help his brothers. Had he not done so, things would have been very different Seeing these guys and gals go to bat for each other really gets me going.

I was suprised to see such a fair complexion Caesar after seeing so many images of him with olive skin and dark hair. Even so, I love the strength and fire he exudes. He seems capable, but also young with quite alot to learn. I believe that is true to history, but does anyone know if he really took part in the campaign to take down Spartacus? I can't find anything saying he did (granted, I only looked on wikipedia, but still).

Keep up the count Andy! I bet there's more dead, but as for actual bodies on screen, i'm sure you got close enough.
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Is it just me, or does anyone think they should continue the story about Rome with this version of Caesar and Crassus? Yeah, I know they already did that show, but these two are great as the conniving villian types.
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I think that would be amazing. Let's put together a petition and make a Kickstarter to make it happen!
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Where have you been the last 3 seasons, Andy? Good review.
Laeta = new Lucrecia ? She has all the reason to hate Spartacus, but she seems to have still a weird sympathy for him ... Let's see where that is heading upon.
BTW I really accepted Liam McIntyre now. Good job.
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They're definitely setting Laeta up as a sort of reluctant ally/possible love interest (which would be a tough trick to pull off after he shiskabob'd her husbands skull, but time heals I suppose). I don't think she's quite the new Lucretia though, just because there's no indication that she's utterly bugnuts.
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Too much talking and not enough killing...
so far i am not to thrill this season.the killing of the little girl w/ball was too much for me.I know they do it..But i don't have to see it..a turn off.
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This comment is directed at everyone who has posted a comment so far.
Wow. some really thought provoking comments, and great discussions below. I'm so glad that you guys are watching Spartacus as well.
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At the risk of being accused of 'lips kissing reviewers arse' I am so grateful that Spartacus is getting the great reviews it deserves. It has really upped the ante this season. They have a fantastic arch villian in place. It is great to watch Spartacus and Crassus build up forces in preparation for the final battle. (even though we all know the outcome. Sob!) and I love that the slaves and Romans are not being portrayed as out and out heroes or villans. War is messy and there are shades of grey. There is no such thing as ultimate good and ultimate evil (In my opinion). It's little touchs like this that elevate the show beyond a gore/sex fest. That and the FANTASTIC use of language. something which no other show that I can think of, can boast of. So far Liam has been absolutely brilliant this season! I wasn't too sure of him last season (and I'll always miss Andy) but now I feel that Liam has really made the role his own. I love seeing Ganicus, Crixus and Spartucus together - talk about Dream team!
I like how they've portrayed Caesar. It's a new take on a well known histroical figure, plus which (if they have the time) his transformation in the casear that we know of should be really interesting to watch.
I might be reading more into things than is there but Crassus's lover/slave seems awfully fond of his son. I'm wondering if maybe he is really her child? The offspring of her love affair with Crassus. Perhaps his wife is barren and adopted the child as her own?
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Everyone is a poet on this show. It's awesome. It makes sense since so many people were know for being such great orators. Still....it's lulz to hear them talk like this.
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Being just done setting eye on fictional portrayal, I deem Bradius Pittus The Younger well met, and with gratitude, wish him continued success with present endeavor.
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Outstanding review Andy!

I literally chuckled out loud when I read "Turn keyboard toward purpose and grace forum with comment.". Then I thought oh crap, I can't write like that:-)

To many great points in your review to comment on them all but I really liked the "For the first half of the episode, the rebels relied on charisma and quick wit to maneuver through their enemies, rather than brandishing swords and bigger swords.
It was a welcome reminder that Spartacus (and Spartacus) boasts skill at more than just violence. "Wolves at the Gate" got a lot of mileage out of the show's unique, florid dialogue rhythms, one of the pleasures often overshadowed by its reputation for blood and boobs. Indeed, that restraint helped make the chaos of Sinuessa's siege all the more harrowing."

To answer your questions:
1. I loved this episode (and loved your review)
2. I'm open minded about Caesar and will see how it plays out. So far so good! He does look like he is in a 90s grunge band. They say fashion recycles it's self. Gannicus could be in an 80s metal band:-)

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If they bust out a musical episode, Gannicus would absolutely own the show-stopping power ballad. ;)
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I liked Caesar,when Crassus was talking with his son and Caesar had this thinking pose in background going on. I think some people judge him too soon. This is first episode with him and I am sure,when they were casting for Caesar,they mad sure,they got the right man. I for one,am still open minded and have no problem atm.

What did you think will happen,every time any now free slave spoke,of what they will do to Romans. I knew what will happen:D Bloodbath all around. And to further this...what did you think,will happen,when Sparatcus said in first episode,that they need city? That they will let Romans live in it,with them? Of course,there will be major bloodbath on streets and even innocent Romans will get killed. They needed city for free slaves and that means, roof over head for winter, food,etc. If they killed only warriors and let others live,they would need to feed them. And this will be the case with those,who are still breathing. They will ask for food,etc. They should just kill them all.

And this thing is the same thing time and time again. Oppressed become the oppressors. Now Romans are in shackles in that city.

It was another awsome episode and I loved it. I didn't know Caesar will be in this episode and my jaw dropped,when Crassus called him. Again,like I said before,some people judge this Caesar too much and too quickly. There is room to develop this character. Give him some time:D
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I agree with your take on Caesar and the actor.
Good insight in the "oppressed become the oppressors" and in what did you think would happen when they took the city....
I'm not onboard with killing them all (metallica rocks, lol) but I'm also not there and am glad I didn't have to make those kind of choices.

I like the direction this show is going!
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Gratitude, good Daglas, for witty review that saw true smile brought to eager face. Apollo himself bows to the grace of your skillful fingers upon keyboard.
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Nicely done. ;)
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Haven't seen the ep, but it sounds like they were actually more faithful to the real Caesar than Shakespeare. The man was indeed a hot-headed, self-aggrandizing firebrand. The hedonism aspect is questionable, though. IIRC, he refused to take a mistress while married to his first wife, which was highly unusual for a man in his position and even a bit scandalous (such devotion to a wife was considered unhealthy).
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I find choice of Caesar very unusual. I always imagened Caeser to be very inteligent or example of roman nobility, not beast and fetish admirer,
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Euh, what the fuck was up with Caesars penis cutting?
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Yeah, what was going on? Was his penis being cut or was something else being done? How did they sterilize equipment (they didn't) and how did everyone not die of infection? I realize they didn't know about germs.

I am really curious about what the slave was doing and to what part of the body. There is more to that region then just the penis and even that has parts...not be be gross but I was wondering if it was something about the urethra or inner thigh--first I thought OMG there is a vampire sucking on his femoral artery/vein--then I realized it was the show Spartacus and not TVD or True Blood:-)
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yeah that was a bit weird. I'm assuming that he has some kind of self-harm thing going on. I'm choosing to believe that the slave was cutting his inner thigh and NOT his penis - 'cos I can't handle the mental image!!
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Oh, self harm... maybe. I just presumed it was some really developed genital warts he was having her excise (maybe prior to some activities between them).
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Oh my God! I said it in my comments last week...

"You aide Spartacus?" "No. I stand the man himself."

I was ABSOLUTELY expecting, "I am Spartacus!"

I suppose, in the unorthodox writing of this show, the two form a composite of the same product. However, I want to hear the words! 11 more episodes, dammit!

Also, like it needed to be said, this season is shaping up to be some amazing shit.
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I was anticipating that line for half a second, too. I wouldn't be surprised if that was an intentional set-up/subversion of expectation.
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i think this is an improvement on the first episode. still too much slow mo shouting though
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Now that the final season has started, I really, really wish that they would change the origial story line a little and give the show a happy ending.

It's hardly a spoiler to point out what happened to Spartacus and his comrades in real life. And that's what makes the show difficult to watch. If the show follows the legend of what really happened, we are in for an impending doom. Because of that I personally find it hard to enjoy the victories and steps forward for Spartacus. It's like watching a speeding car with happy, young kids in it, knowing that the bridge behind the bend has collapsed. I understand the purpose of following the original story for many reasons. Rewriting history just to please the audience is usually considered a big no-no. But now that one has followed the struggles of Spartacus and the others, many important friends giving their lives, and their journey to get revenge, I wish that somehow at least a few of the main characters that have something to live for would survive.

When main characters die at the end of a show, it's fine when it comes as a surprise and if it fits the story. But when you know in beforehand that everything will go to hell at the end, it gives you an uneasy feeling throughout the show. Every time you tune in for another episode, you have to place your bets on who will go next. That's why I would hope that the writers would take some artistic liberties and give us at least some kind of a happy ending. I would hate to see the Romans get a complete, crushing victory. Especially since knowing history, it is to be expected.

I'm fine with Spartacus dying. At this point that would be kind of poetic. As long as Mira was still alive I wished that the writers would somehow have them survive together and ride off to the sunset. After all, according to some historians, Spartacus' body was apparently never found. So I thought they would use that in this TV show to justify a disappearing act. Spartacus and Mira surviving together would have given his fights a purpose, showed him overcoming the grief of losing his wife, finding new love, and given him a chance to return to his homeland from which he was taken against his will. But now that he has lost everything and continued fighting despite the fact that he already got revenge on the people that killed his wife, his death would fit the story.

Crixus and Naevia, on the other hand, I really want to survive. Crixus has turned around from a complete douche to almost a family man. Earlier he wanted to die in the arena, but now he is free and has found love. They have both been close to death, so that's why I hope they escape the slaughter. With Gannicus they could go either way. He is a freed slave, so it would be nice to see him stay free and survive despite his apparent death wish. Maybe he could make a turnaround in his life, like becoming disillusioned with all the killing and turning into a staunch pacifist. But on the other hand, his death would also be fitting. He could have left and started a new life, but he still returned to fighting. He enjoys the killing, and doesn't seem to care too much about his own survival any more. For him it's all about drinking, fucking and fighting. He feels bad for Oenamaus and Melitta, so maybe he just wants to join them in death. Then there's Agron and Nasir who I also wish would survive for pretty much the same reasons as Crixus and Naevia. It would be a shame to have them die.

Basically, all those who still have something to live for should escape death, while those who are just waiting to die should be allowed to do so. If everyone dies in a huge battle at the end, or in an execution with the Roman leaders smirking around them, it won't in my mind be the most satisfying ending. Yeah, I admit, I'm a sucker for happy endings (also the sitcom).
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completely agree. LOVED your analogy of the 'happy kids in the speeding car' that's exactly what it feels like. And yes for the first time EVER I am kinda hoping they do an inglorious basterds style rewrite. Failing that though. I hope that they all get quick, relatively painless free deaths and that Crixus and Naevia die together. just thinking about the ending makes me sad! I'm nost sure that I can watch!
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It would be fun and totally unexpected to get an "Inglorious Basterds"-type ending. :)
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I understand what you are saying. I also like happy endings but I can deal with not happy endings. For example, the movie 300~~most know how it will end but it's still a great movie. This can be said for most movies that are portraying historical events. We know the outcomes. I think most dramas are based on tragedies. ...another example, The Titanic--we know it sunk and many died...at least with The Titanic some people lived.

Also with Spartacus and his group I don't think they know what happened to everyone (I'm not an expert in history but I do know most history is written or re-written by the "winners"). Isn't it said, they don't know what happened to Spartacus' body...regardless, I don't think he lives but I will watch to see how they play this out on the show. So far they have done an excellent job.

Maybe they are making the "speeding car with happy kids" into a "speeding car with sullen teenagers"...lol, just kidding.
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"– Funnest kill of the week: Diotimos playing fungo, with a guard as his baseball and a battle-axe as his bat."

That was actually Donar.
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Staff
D'oh! I get my bald stocky warrior dudes mixed up sometimes.
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I liked the episode but I have to admit I hate who they cast as Caesar. He looks like some surfer dick, not a roman nobility. He could pass for a Lanister maybe, but I really hate him as Caesar. .
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I just thought that it was an interesting choice, not necessarily a bad one. They clearly made a deliberate choice to make Ceasar completely different from what we were expecting, and I'm curious to see where they're going with it.
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I love you and your reviews. It sounds intelligent...I'm hoping it rubs off on me soon!
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First of all, thanks for the shout-out Andy, I appreciate it. I agreed with most of what you said in this review, especially what you said about the moral quandary that Spartacus finds himself in. His cause is certainly just: freedom for all slaves. And yet, he is the leader of a huge hoard of violent, bloodthirsty people. And when you unleash these people upon a city, as you said, blind carnage is what follows. Sure, Spartacus can verbally dress it up as his troops getting their "fill of vengeance," but it was clear that he knew the murder of that mother and child was a terrible, shameful thing. But that's the problem when ideals and the desire of justice meet the real world.

The American Civil War was also a war about slavery (though this became an official cause of war for the North long after the war started, and in truth the war had more to do with economics than freedom and equality). It took a long, bloody, drawn out war, as well as the assassination of Lincoln, but the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were passed, which was certainly a good thing. However, the Union army did terrible things in the name of winning this war, one of the foremost of these being Sherman's March to the Sea. Spartacus witnessed his own march to the see tonight, as he knelt over the dead bodies of that mother and child. As Andy pointed out, most of the people who died in that Arena were there to see people fight to the death, and they enjoyed it. But when you sack an entire city, you will kill quite a few innocents in the process, ones that you be hard pressed to write off as immoral.

On the flip side, Crassus became arguably more moral this episode. We now know that he has a slave mistress, someone that he appears to love as a person, not just someone that he keeps around as a sex object. He honestly wanted to know is she wanted to accompany him on his campaign, which she did. And she called him by name. As the scales of morality start to tip, "Spartacus" becomes less and less black and white, which in my opinion is a good thing. Like Andy, I wonder if it will come down to which side is willing to sacrifice more in order to win. Because it isn't just about who is right anymore. It's looking more and more as if Spartacus and Crassus might have been friends in another lifetime, which will make their imminent showdown all the better for it. In other words, this show is becoming a lot more like "The Wire", or more suitably "Rome", in that it's a lot easier to root for both sides.

On that note, now that Gaius Julius Caesar is a character, it would be awesome if it turned out that "Spartacus" was a prequel for "Rome." It's not going to be, but it would be cool if Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo made an appearance at the end. Regardless, this was an great episode for several reasons, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is an episode that reminded us that this show is not just about the blood and the sex, but about matter of the mind as well. And at the moment it's forcing you think about who the good guys and bad guys actually are, and if there is even such a distinction to be made.
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I don't think this forces you to wonder who the bad guys and good guys are. To associate such limited black and white connotations to such a variable problem is trying to create a dichotimy where none should exist. These are slaves revolting against the people who think it's acceptable to own other people like they were livestock at best, and as items at worse. They are rebelling against a society, and not any one individual, and as such are the good guys. If it were Barbarians sacking Rome, after years of Rome trying to subjigate them, would that really be black and white, or self defense? Since that is what happened and these freed slaves would be considered barbarians to the Romans, I don't see a difference. It's all war, and people die in war. Just because you were the 'elite' civilization at the time doesn't mean you aren't without your faults, or are thereby absolved of the same mistreatment you fostered upon others.

I understand that not all Romans owned slaves, but one of the team Spartacus members said it best. Would they show mercy on us? I believe you know the answer.
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Quite welcome. It seemed like a serendipitous insight, especially if they are planning to tease out the moral implications introduced in this episode.
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Wow. some excellent thoughts. i enjoyed reading your comments as much as I enjoyed reading the overall review and watching the episode.
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that will teach me to start with the oldest post and respond before reading the other comments! I just wrote a long rambling response to kimberlyblind when all I had to say is see theopratt's post above. More succinct, more eloquent, better written....lol

Excellent summary of the Civil war--bad things done on both sides and the original issue was economics...

one reason why this show is so fabulous--> "And at the moment it's forcing you think about who the good guys and bad guys actually are, and if there is even such a distinction to be made"
it's not just sex and violence, but it should also make people think. Sometimes when I don't want to think I'll watch "reality shows" but my favorites are dark dramas like spartacus!
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I was certainly hoping Crassus was going to be a decent guy, but I guess that's an anachronistic approach. I suppose all Dominus' were doin' their slaves. At this point in the game, which I agree with you whole-heartedly here, none of the characters seem to be particularly redeeming and probably no hope for a Shakespearian ending whereby the villains are all justly punished for their sins.
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He asked his slave as a "man" and not an "owner" (he used different words but that was the gist). I realize that a slave would have to be careful of what they say even when they are told to speak freely but I really thought Crassus was being sincere. I think it strengthened his character.

Yes, cheating on spouses is wrong but he is human, hence has flaws, and has shown some admirable qualities. The main flaw is cheating but not with whom imo. I don't know about the arrangements of his marriage and how it came to be. Also I don't know much about the history between him and his wife. His wife didn't seem very nice when she was talking to the female slave--maybe the wive knows about the relationship--to many questions.

I just have to disagree with you on Crassus' character at the moment. I also respectfully disagree with the idea that no one is redeeming and the idea of pure villains (so black and white which is not life).

I like how the episode was "grey"~ how difficult choices have to be made and the outcomes of the choices have ramifications (innocents, i.e., kids, may be killed). Spartacus had difficult decision to make and he made them based on the priorities of his group which he put first. Should he risk his group starving or risk innocents getting killed. What are the number in his group vs what is the number of innocents potentially killed...where do his loyalties/priorities fall... He killed the guy at the gate to the grain because the chance that the outcome was unfavorable was worth killing...the risk of starvation was to great to leave to chance (he didn't know the odds) so he killed (not new to him) the man to ensure his people had food.

it may be easy to say:
it's morally wrong to kill
it's morally wrong to kill except in self defense
it's wrong
it's moral
etc..
but in real life if put in this situation what would/should someone do? I don't think the "choices" are easy and sometimes it's a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation

I like the darkness/grey and complexity of this show. It makes it more "real" to me.
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Actually I interpreted their relationship to be rather caring and mutual. I think this makes Crassus look more like a decent guy, not worse. It shows that he cares more for a slave than he does his Roman wife. I realize that cheating on your wife isn't a good thing, but in this particular case, it shows once again that he doesn't consider slaves to be lower than him. Or at least, he considers at least two slaves to be on his level, which is more than can be said for any other slave owner on this show so far.
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If this is indeed the final season and they follow the legends, then Crassus is a good choice to be the person to takes Spartacus down.

At least he isn't a dick but he does needs to realise how douche baggy his beloved Roman Empire really are.
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