Spartacus: War of the Damned's Premiere: Crassus Course

Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 1: "Enemies of Rome"

The final season of the Spartacus franchise faces its share of challenges. For one thing, the 29 episodes it’s produced thus far—comprising two seasons and one "prequel" miniseries—have told a largely complete story. The primary conflicts set up in the pilot were resolved at the end of last season: Spartacus has achieved his personal vendetta against Glaber. The last remnants of the House of Batiatus have been wiped out. The rebel army has gelled into a cohesive unit, having assimilated or vanquished those former slaves who began the series entrenched in the status quo.

Consequently, Blood and Sand, the half-season prequel Gods of the Arena, and Vengeance felt like a full arc which culminated in the Season 2 finale, “Wrath of the Gods.” Spartacus’s story thus far has been bookended by twin destructions: That of his old community at the hands of his enemies, and that of his enemies at the hands of his new community.

War of the Damned not only has to extend the story past that seemingly natural, triumphant endpoint, it must also do so while negotiating the pitfall faced by most historical fiction: The outcome is not in doubt. And it’s not a happy one. Spoiler alert for the first century B.C.: Spartacus and his band of merry men and women did not fell the Roman Republic. It’s possible the series could decide to wrap up before their ultimate annihilation, preserving some sense of symbolic hope, but that would violate the ethos of a show that has been unflinchingly fatalistic from the start.

As if those obstacles weren’t enough, Spartacus has to fill some gaps in the ranks. Last season saw the demise of three of the show’s best characters: the profoundly badass Oenomaus, the viciously sleazy Ashur, and the overflowing aqueduct of batshit crazy that was Lucretia.

To that end, much of tonight's War of the Damned premiere, “Enemies of Rome,” was devoted to introducing the new key player, Marcus Crassus. Strapped for both cash and manpower, the Senate had no choice but to call upon one of the Republic’s richest men to finance further rebellion-quashing. But Crassus is no mere bottomless checkbook. He has designs on martial, as well as aristocratic, glory. One of the episode’s primary jobs was to establish Crassus's bona fides as a Big Bad, and it pulled that off with aplomb.

At every turn, Crassus demonstrated why he’s cut out to be a different, and more formidable, adversary than either Batiatus or Glaber: He lacks their hubris. Batiatus was too oblivious to notice the threat Spartacus and his crew posed. Glaber was too arrogant to believe that threat could have legs. Crassus, by contrast, refuses to underestimate any opponent, or to assume that a free Roman is inherently superior to a slave. Indeed, his ruthless power play against Cossinius and Furius leveraged the fact that Spartacus would easily make mincemeat of these two jumped-up commanders.

Spartacus has always explored power, how it’s acquired and abused, and how those without it suffer and strive to obtain some small measure of it. “Enemies of Rome” set up the final season to put another spin on that theme, examining the perceptions of power. Most of the Romans we’ve met believe power stems from status, birth, or a uniform. That perception often proves to be a weakness—one that Crassus, like Spartacus, rejects for himself while exploiting in others.

But perceptions of power still have weight, as Spartacus is learning now that he commands more of it than ever. He’s a natural military commander, but he’s no longer leading just a military unit. The ragtag band has mushroomed into a full-fledged community—”Only a city can hold us now,” he observed at the end of the episode—and that position carries responsibilities he wasn’t prepared for. Many of the former slaves view Spartacus as, essentially, their king. He may not have asked for that role and he may not want it, but what choice does he have?

A chance encounter with a dissatisfied subject drove the point home; the citizens of Spartacopolis need food and shelter, and they expect Spartacus to provide it. On top of that, Gannicus alluded to shades of resentment in the ranks toward their de facto general/consul, a natural tension that happens whenever hierarchies emerge in movements founded on egalitarian ideals. These are logical, organic concerns, and they establish nifty new story engines that should keep War of the Damned from feeling like a rehash of Vengeance while moving us toward the endpoint—however bleak that may wind up being.



Notae Aliae


– The battle scenes on this show have always been impressive, but the opening melee was a phenomenal technical achievement, corralling hundreds of people and conveying mass chaos and one-on-one carnage alike with a visual style both kinetic and grounded. Must give proper credit to director Mark Beesley, stunt coordinators Clint Elvy and Steve McQuillan, fight coordinators Andrew Stehlin and Ryan Carey, and the entire behind-the-scenes team.

– Speaking of power, the quixotic truth of Spartacus’s quest was suggested by that first sequence. In the midst of one of the series’ most ferocious battles, the focus shifted several times to shots of Cossinius and Furius atop their horses, barely perturbed by the bloodshed they oversaw. Soldiers and rebels slaughtered one another, but the power structure (in this instance, at least) remained unscathed.

– Another ingenious case of the rebels using perception against their enemies: Seemingly helpless Naevia luring the centurions into an ambush, before shivving one dude and clean lopping off another’s head.

– “Did you expect freedom to come absent cost?”

– “I stand equal by sword, but you have me by fucking spear.” PHRASING, Gannicus.

– “You ask me to kill you?” “I command you to try.”

– Crassus laid out his M.O. in no uncertain terms: “Knowledge and purpose: the only counter to greater skill.” Willingness to bare-hand a sword blade helps, too.

Body Count: 88 for the episode (plus one horse), 88 for the season so far. I’m going to attempt to keep a running tally of confirmed on-screen kills, which I fully expect will test the limits of my counting ability by, like, week three.


What'd you think of the premiere?

Comments (71)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Staff
Excellent review. "A man's greatest enemy is doubt" - Crassus
Reply
Flag
Wow I expected to hate Crassus, the first enemy of Spartacus I like, I hated the others but Crassus is really smart, doesn't underestimates his enemy, even risk his live to test if he's up for the big task and he equals Spartacus and his men equal to the Romas and sometimes even above. Wow I really like him even though I know (and everyone who knows a bit history) what he's going to do to Spartacus' army and Spartacus (or not? no one knows for sure what happened to Spartacus). Great start of the third season.
3
Reply
Flag
Nice review Andy !!!
3
Reply
Flag
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Spartacus! Simply brilliant in every way. A real WINNER! No BS, just REAL and pure entertainment.
3
Reply
Flag
"I am about to partake on this dangerous mission which might result in death. I shall take the best fighters and obvious leaders with me..."

I get the reasoning, if you are going to go on a suicide mission you might as well give yourself the best odds of succeeding. Still, not as bad as Star Trek TOS where the entire chain of command left on away missions.

Liam McIntyre has also grown on me. Andy Whitfield was better in the arena, but McIntyre makes a convincing commander or a rag tag band of rebels. Also, charging in on a horse was pretty bad ass. Also, finally an antagonist that isn't a complete tool. Though I imagine his son will fill that roll.
2
Reply
Flag
Awesome and extremely insightful review. I know that I was on the edge of my seat watching this week's episode. Crassus is no doubt a formidable adversary for Spartacus and his crew. I can't wait to see what's going to happen this season... even though I know if they tell it like History remembers it...... Well, we'll get to that bridge yadda, yadda.
2
Reply
Flag
Fantastic episode! Thanks for the great review, Andy.
3
Reply
Flag
Adding my voice to the rest, I found this first episode re-invigorating to the series. I'd almost completely lost interest in season 3 (Season 2 if just counting Spartacus timeline). I love that they didn't bring back the same old Roman nemesis guy married to Illythia. He was stale in the extreme, and frankly, Crassius is more convincing/appealing.

I will miss Lucretia, but even her storyline was feeling stale and forced. She didn't have any real purpose, other than to be herself and do manipulative things.

Here is to the rebooted Spartacus!
3
Reply
Flag
Fantastic season opener. Crassus sets up to be the most dangerous enemy because he has wealth coupled with wisdom. Introducing new characters and completely setting up their interpersonal relationships -- done without a lot of unnecessary exposition is a staple of this show from the get go. I hope that Steven DeKnight and this crew get another opportunity to create great television. This show is going to be sorely missed.

Saxa must be the best girl to have in the whole battallion. Saxa and Gannacus is a great pairing.
2
Reply
Flag
I have started watching this series with this episode, at my brother's urging. I completely agree that it works mostly as many mini-series because I had no problem in watching without having seen the other two. What probably is important is instead the level of care for the characters. After seeing this episode, I can't wait for Crassus (and Caesar, yay!) to destroy Spartacus and the others because the ex-slaves seem bathed in unintentional hubris while my brother wouldn't mind not seeing the historical end play out.
Reply
Flag
I thought it was good. But I do hope we'll be introduced to some evil Roman bitches because I miss the Illythia and Lucretia's scheming.
1
Reply
Flag
Hard to say that A) they'll have the time to do so, and B) that it's even necessary. The two characters you mentioned were on the show for 3 seasons, and I agree, they were fucking incredible. I'd have to say, tho, in the woman character camp, Naevia has turned into a BEAST and, I can't remember her name, but that blonde germanic chick (?) is also a sadistic creature. But I absolutely agree, I'll miss the mind games, the battle of wits, and the scheming. Remember though...we've yet to see Julius Caesar.
4
Reply
Flag
My main familiarity of the Spartacus story comes from Conn Iggulden's historical fiction on Julius Caesar. I thought that Crassus totally screwed the pooch in this defense of Rome and built a giant wall in the middle of nowhere and then Caesar comes in and saves the day. So far he looks pretty bad-ass. Anybody know the actually history?
Reply
Flag
This very probably contains spoilers for the season, so be warned.

Crassus was pretty much a badass. Initially, he didn't have much success against Spartacus. However, after seeing a regiment of his troops trying to desert, he restored the punishment of "decimation", which then meant that one of every ten deserters would be killed, picked through drawing lots. After that, Crassus convinced his troops that he was more of a threat to them than Spartacus was, and troops' morale was visibly higher.

Concerning the wall he built, it was actually an attempt to keep Spartacus in a trap, after he fled to the Brittium peninsula (modern-day Calabria). It was actually a combination of a wall and a ditch, but Spartacus used wits to escape, putting improvised bridges over the ditches during one night.

After that, Spartacus continued to flee Crassus' army, but the situation changed. Two more armies returned to Rome, one led by Lucullus Varo, who returned from victory in Armenia, and one by Pompey, who crushed the last rebels of a Roman civil war that was waged before the events around Spartacus. Instead of facing three armies at once, Spartacus decided to go to the offensive, and attacked Crassus.

Ultimately, Crassus won a complete victory, and it is believed Spartacus was killed (though his body was never recovered). It is also told that Spartacus tried to kill Crassus himself, but only managed to put down two of his centurions. After the battle, Crassus ordered the 6,000 captured slaves to be crucified along the Via Appia, as punishment. No more slave rebellions followed.
More +
2
Reply
Flag
Very insightful thank you. In the books, Pompei came back and ordered the Decimation, and then Caesar renamed the division The 10th because every tenth man was killed. I suppose that a fictional book about Julius Caesar could potentially exaggerate Julius Caesar's role.
Reply
Flag
Actually, it is probably derived from the fact that Pompey claimed (and received) the credit for crushing the slave rebellion, despite Crassus having actually beaten Spartacus in battle. This alienated Crassus and Pompey even further, though they didn't like each other in the first place.

Regarding Caesar, there is little evidence he played any role in beating Spartacus. However, Crassus was Caesar's mentor, which is probably why he is mentioned at all. Furthermore, Pompey, Crassus and Caesar formed the First Triumvirate (though not in any legal capacity), which eventually led Caesar to complete domination of Rome. The latter part of this conflict, namely the rivalry between Caesar and Pompey, is portrayed in the first season of HBO's Rome.
3
Reply
Flag
Very much correct, historically speaking. There is barely a mention of Caesar in anything to do with the Spartacus rebellion. Pompey was given much ado as he cleaned up the survivors from Crassus' final battle with the rebel force, allowing him to claim that he put an end to the rebellion once and for all. as for what qbe_64 said, I am unaware of a decimation that Pompey performed; I know that Crassus performed a decimation on his troops after their first major loss to Spartacus, and this is said to have galvanized his troops and helped them win the deciding battle.
2
Flag
Question and possible spoiler...



Do you think Crixus will part ways? I can't imagine he'd do so for plunder as it was recorded, but the act may still remain. Personally, I think the narrative of the show's fiction would stand stronger if they remained by each other's side.
Reply
Flag
Historically, Crixus does part ways with the main bulk of the army with 3,000 soldiers and is crushed by a Roman force. However, historians did not know whether this was a tactical separation or one brought about by strife between Crixus and Spartacus.
1
Reply
Flag
Great Review for an outstanding show!
You guys think that at the end, they are gonna show Spartacus dying? or perphaps just when they are loosing the battle?
2
Reply
Flag
Amazing review Andy, I was worried nobody would review this week by week, glad to have you onboard, we sorely missed it last season.
I definitely share your thoughts about how this will end, I can't imagine watching all this time for it to end with everyone dying, that'd be a bummer.
3
Reply
Flag
Loved the season premier (fantastic article by the way, Andy), a great mix of action, intrigue, and signs of great things to come. I finally no longer have to despise the new Naevia, that decapitation sent my admiration through the roof.

It surely will be a struggle to create an ending for this show that will leave fans happy, and satisfy the cold hard facts of history (though Spartacus' body was never found, Pliny and Plutarch both wrote of his death). I see an ending akin to that of Gladiator, a death which brings with it a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, and a reunion in the afterlife with those he has lost. Though it surely will be despairing if they end with the 6,000 slaves being crucified on the road to Capua.
6
Reply
Flag
Very good review! Makes me aware again that Spartacus is NOT only about blood, gore and nudity - it's actually a pretty smart series and always has been.
6
Reply
Flag
Where were you guys when we voted for the best shows of the year and Spartacus didn't make it into the top 100?
Reply
Flag
I don't vote,because of those auto programs people use. It is pointless and any show on top and numbers,of how many voted was cast,means nothing to me. If it were, 1 person 1 vote,I would have voted. This way,is completely pointless and those,who organise these things,care only about numbers,obtained by any means necessary.
Reply
Flag
It would have been pointless, but most of us didn't know that when the nomination process started. Maybe you were one of the few who understood right away. Something like 50 votes would have been sufficient to bring it into the top 100. (Maybe it was 20. I don't remember exactly).
Reply
Flag
Because it's obvious The Big Bang Theory and Revolution are clearly better. Also, BBC Sherlock and Breaking Bad are quintessential examples of subpar programming. *shakes head*
1
Reply
Flag
This season starts as strong as it could be . This episode was Awesome! A new great villain added to the show and that's the only thing we need at this point!
Now , all we need , great story plots , cliffhangers and alot of blood baths and Nude scenes :P .
P.S .....Gannicus 4-the Way :P
2
Reply
Flag
I'm so glad this show is back! I'm not the biggest over-the-top blood and gore fan, but they really make it work with Spartacus, even moreso than with 300, and the show is truly INTENSE. The opening scene of this episode was unbelievable, and while I was worried it was starting to drag on in the middle (they have to, of course, establish the story for season 4 since the first three seasons were so completely wrapped up in the last episode of season three, and there has to be character development with Crassus), but the latter parts of the episode, both the fighting and Crassus' cunning, ended any worries I may have briefly entertained.

And I agree that Crassus is going to be an excellent foe, and was contrasted incredibly well against the likes of Cossinius and Furius, who suffer the same hubris that caused the fall of those in the first three seasons.
4
Reply
Flag
Spartacus is back and I really enjoyed the fight scenes and the gore. Also the introduction of Crassus was a pretty good one. So a very enjoyable episode....except for one thing....

The sound. The conversations were whispers at best and the fight scenes as loud as a canon. It was really annoying. Hate it when I watch something and I'm forced to constantly adjust the volume... I have no problem with the fight scenes being louder than the conversations, I just think the difference in volume was too much.
1
Reply
Flag
I haven't watched or read this, but why is there a Romulan on the front page?
1
Reply
Flag
LOL! Exactly what I thought. Just a little tweak in the picture and we have a perfect Romulan chancellor.
Reply
Flag
No need for me to attempt to wax eloquent when so many others before me have already.
I'll just say that Crassus is by far the best villain in the Spartaverse.
Some bad guys you hate, some you love to hate, some you hate to love & some you hate to love to hate.
Crassus is just flat-out likeable & that's gonna make for some damn great TV over the weeks.
3
Reply
Flag
The fact that the writers are trying to make Crassus likeable is needed to help the viewers at the end of this series when the (not so) bad guys win.
2
Reply
Flag
Great review, and great choice of quotes! I really hope you don't give up with the body count. I'm very interested to see the total when all's said and done. Props for the interesting 'what is power and how best to use it' realization. They fit so much into this episode, and it all flowed well together. I think we are in for one hell of a ride!
2
Reply
Flag
I think you're right on point with most observations except for the fact that the battle scenes in this episode seem too staged and devoid of tension. There's not enough motivation to drive the rage and anger displayed by the rebels. As u mentioned above, the conflict was resolved and there's no doubt it'll be tough to find that dramatic tension that keeps you on the edge of your seats in previous seasons. But like all other dying shows they'll probably try to make up for it with generous amounts of nudity. Hallelujah! . Point is, even though I liked the first episode I didn't love it, and that about sums it up.
Reply
Flag
GREAT review by the way. Thank you.
1
Reply
Flag
88 confirmed kills... on the season opener! Oh, what a sad day it will be when this series end!

Of all the Romans Spartacus faced, Crassus seems to be the most formidable one - he's methodical, logical, and, above all, doesn't think less of his enemies. Actually, by the way he speaks about Spartacus, he genuinely seemed to see him as an equal. The gladiators always used to their advantage Rome's bottomless arrogance, but I don't see how such tactics would work against Crassus... anyway, time will tell.

We all know how this is all going to end, and nobody will be happy after that forthcoming last episode (unless you're against FREEDOM!!!), but it certainly looks like the journey proposed by "War of the Damned" will be just as epic as all the previous "Spartacus" series. Really happy it is back for one last go-around... can't wait for next week.
2
Reply
Flag
I love this show so much.
1
Reply
Flag
I'm so glad they are portraying Crassus like an intelligent man who doesn't think he is better than Spartacus just because he is a slave. If Spartacus has to die I hope it's at his hands. I was worried about how the large scale battles would look but they did a great job doing them. This looks to be a fast action season with a giant death toll.
1
Reply
Flag
They should do a spin off and follow Crassus when it's over, and then tie that series into HBO's Rome!
Reply
Flag
There is a reason why Karl Marx considered this to be the first class struggle in history, and we start to see here how and why it could not have been otherwise. from an ideological point of view, we can also see why communism could never function ; because as you point out an egalitarian society has the roots of its destruction within it, while a plutocratic oligarchy will survive as it is based on the acquisition of power or the maintaining of it. Egalitarian societies fail because not everyone can be a free agent within a structure that intrinsically needs several independent functions to proceed in one direction and at the same time. A society needs chains of industry in the sense of professional aptitudes as butchers, carpenters, bakers and so on ; and not only soldiers as in this case which by definition demands a hierarchy. plutocracies do not need society, they need to exist only within the power structure. One member of the plutocracy goes down and he or she is replaced and the show goes on.
This is actually an extremely important series to show now within the actual framework of the political atmosphere of the United States. If you really pay attention, you will learn why we need to get rid of the onepercenters, because in the end, they do not need us, the rest of the 99ers. This will tell you why we need , at least metaphorically, a Spartacus, right now.
More+
5
Reply
Flag
My brain just had an orgasm. Well said.
1
Reply
Flag
Fantastic episode! Finally a Roman who doesn't underestimate Spartacus! I'm sure Crassus will prove to be Spartacus' greatest foe of the series. Brilliant first episode for what could be the best season (Absent Season 1) of the show!.
3
Reply
Flag
so much slow mo shouting
1
Reply
Flag
I'M SPARTACUS!!!
2
Reply
Flag
I can't wait to see how they integrate arguably the most well-known dialogue from any movie into the Starz adaptation, if at all.

Thinking on it, the larger his army gets, the less his army knows about him. The guy pushing horse meat had no idea he was talking to the king of the hill. And I don't if it's been stated, but I'm not sure if even Crassus would be able to identify him...hmm...
Reply
Flag
I love Crasus. Glaber was good archnemesis, but you can actually relate to Crasus. In war rarely are good or bad guys, but there is always winner or loser. Now on "Spartacus" we have real war. Romans fight for their land, and slaves for freedom. One thing that I didn't like is that how Spartacus is pesimistic, I miss his great speaches.
1
Reply
Flag
Awesome episode, I'm sad Spartacus is ending but at the same time I happy they moved it along and aren't going to keep it dragging on for a long time, sometimes it's best to end early and on a high note rather than have ten season half of which are basically worthless. Plus it will be awesome to see how it all comes to a head, who lives and who dies.
1
Reply
Flag
Spartacus dies and his rabble beaten, history recalls no one actually knows who killed him. The Romans prevail, about time the bad guys win once in a while, if this happens in this series it will make it one of the best tv series ever, im already a huge fan.
1
Reply
Flag
I knew he died, but like you said history doesn't remember who else died, or who killed him. So there's still alot up in the air.
Reply
Flag
great review for great show. I loved opening scene,but I do feel bad for horse and horse alone. If we see fall of our heroes at end of season,I also woudn't mind it much. It would set Starz even more apart from rest of networks and those shows. I for one hope for bloody,body count of the charts ending!
2
Reply
Flag
Very solid premiere.

The conversation between Spartacus/Gannicus was fantastic. It will be very interesting to see how they end this since we know the eventual outcome.

Gannicus is a boss. "Then I will drink and fuck in your name."

Naevia learned the one stroke. Crassus had a great introduction. I know a character is doing a good job when they make me hate (hello Joffrey) them. It can't be mentioned enough that the editing, effects, choreography, gore, on this show are second to none.
Reply
Flag
It would be interesting to see how the body count correlates with the boob count. By all accounts this season will be a blood bath which gives advantage to the body count, but boobs come by two, which might even things out.
5
Reply
Flag
Would a set of boobs count as two or one?
Reply
Flag
Staff
If I tried to keep a count of the nudity as well as the violence I am fairly certain my brain would short-circuit inside of 20 minutes. ;)
1
Reply
Flag
Spartacus has always been an odd show, in that each season can honestly be looked at as a miniseries. For the most part, this is a great thing. For one, it means that the show doesn't often revisit old problems, and as such things get solved in a very realistic manor. If this were an average show, the unity problem experienced last season would probably have popped up again, and Spartacus would basically be fighting off a possible civil war. However, this isn't the case. Sure, there was that bit with Gannicus not checking in on time, but he and Spartacus had a nice little chat, and it wasn't a big deal. Because, you know, they've been to hell and back together, all those principal people, so you'd expect them to cut each other some slack.

Instead, Spartacus now faces some new problems, such as what to do with a massive army. I really like the image of them taking over a city and ruling it for a while, since it will be nice to see them somewhere else than camping in the mud. It is a strange thing though, as Andy brought up, that everything Spartacus will build up this season, will only come crumbling down. It would be an extremely ballsy move for the show to defy history, and have an alternate ending with Spartacus sacking Rome, but I honestly don't think that will happen. No, Spartacus will topple from the throne that he has shed so much blood erecting, and I'm fine with that, since I trust that the show will get us there with as wild and fun a ride as possible.

The one thing I thought was odd about the episode was Crassus's son. I know that this is only the first episode, and it's good that not everything about his character has been revealed, but there does seem to be of a contradiction going on with him. It is very clear that he holds the same view that most Roman characters have had on this show, that he is by nature superior to any slave, especially the ones that serve him. And yet, he was advised on several occasions by that one woman, who seemed very much to be a slave. Now I can easily see how he she could have helped raise him, and he therefore might see her as kind-of family, or at least someone that he can trust, and yet he still pulls a complete one-eighty by condemning his father's unnatural respect for a slave, and then dutifully taking the advice/command of another slave while his previous words are still lingering in the air. So yeah, I'm curious to see where his character is going.

Overall, this was a fantastic episode. I thought it was much better than the premiere of Season 3 (I count Gods of the Arena as Season 2), in that it gave us not only two epic battles, but it also did much to establish an opponent to Spartacus, one that will inevitably defeat him. Crassus's introduction was probably the best character introduction of this entire series so far, certainly much better than any of the other so-called villains. The interweaving of bits from Crassus and Spartacus fighting was certainly epic, and it did a great job of establishing their soon-to-be battles of wits and steel. Needless to say (though I'll still say it), I very much look forward to the next episode. I can only hope that it at least maintains the momentum of this one.
More+
8
Reply
Flag
Indeed. I love your point about not backtracking on character/story progression. I noticed alot of shows are guilty of this, and it insults the audience to a degree.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Great points, and very true about Tiberius - he probably does have more complicated feelings towards some of his slaves than he realizes. This series has always done a pretty deft job of showing the different sort of relationships between masters and slaves in Roman society, and how individual ones can have more depth than the barbarity of the system would suggest - Papa Batiatus and Oenomaus were presented as close friends, and Lucretia often seemed to show genuine affection and concern for her body slaves. Crassus obviously holds his wizened gladiator-emeritus in high regard (their final battle was downright moving).
6
Reply
Flag
Interesting point. I think, when it comes down to it, Tiberius really idolizes his father, but isn't his father. Crassus said it himself. The boy is not adept at higher level thinking, or thinking out of the norm for Romans, anyway. He's being turned into a killer/soldier, but it's not his nature. So, while he holds typical Roman ideology, he is unaware of the irony of being instructed on how to be more like his father by a slave.
1
Reply
Flag
You read my mind and put it all together in a wonderfully written post:)

Also Daglas' review was excellent.

The fight scenes reminded me of the movie 300 (very artistic and beautiful if violence/gore can be beautiful) with some of the slow motion effects and more. Loved the battles and fight scenes.

Is Crassus a villain? Sure he is a Roman, who wants to kill Spartacus, and he outmaneuvered the other two romans leading to their death. However he seemed honorable (yes, he killed his slave but the slave had a fair chance to kill him). I was also surprised that Cassus' son, who seemed like an ass, was going to uphold his father's wishes regarding his dad's battle withe the slave.

Excellent episode for an excellent series.
Fantastic review!
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
Thank you! I definitely don't think that we're going to get another mustache-twirling villain in Crassus, nor another irredeemable brat in Tiberius (like Seppius was). With the high-toned revenge themes out of the way, an adversary with a sense of honor and duty is exactly the right change of direction.
3
Reply
Flag
Morally speaking, it's hard to call Crassus a villain, though mostly this is because Spartacus isn't very moral himself. While the show has consistently painted Romans as crazy party-goers and slave-owners who think of certain people as being so very far beneath them, it still can't hide the fact that Spartacus and his men haven't only killed soldiers. In the massacre at the end of Season 1, for instance, they killed a lot of people, some of them being relatively innocent. And who can forget that they set fire to an entire arena, probably killing quite a few poor people, who most certainly don't own slaves, and of whom some are probably treated like slaves themselves. Still, the show tries to have Rome symbolized by its soldiers and its corrupt, immoral nobility.

I completely understand why the show does this; it's easier to cheer on a horde of serial killers (Because technically that's what Spartacus and his buddies are. Sure, you can look at them as soldiers, but normal soldiers don't have standing orders to kill all Roman citizens that they possibly can) if you can look at all of their victims as terrible people who would think nothing of ordering two slaves to fight to the death (as indeed one of these Romans did, and he was a child), and would probably feel the same about having two dogs fight each other.

So no, Crassus isn't really a villain, at least not in the same sense that Glaber was. Glaber killed Spartacus's wife, which sent our hero on a path of vengeance that ended with Glaber's death last season. Crassus, on the other hand, is a name that I doubt many in Spartacus's army have ever heard of. So it's just the fact that Crassus is a Roman commander seeking to defeat Spartacus that makes him a villain. But I doubt that many viewers strongly desire for him to die, like people did with Glaber and Ashur. He's kind of like Batiatus was, before he had Sura killed.

The bottom line is that this is not a show for moral people. This is not like most shows where the good guys don't kill people or break the law. No, this is a show that revels in blood and violence, and if you're going to stay alive long enough to be remembered, you betting start killing people or having lots of sex, preferably both. Sure, some people are morally worse than others, and these people usually happen to be Romans, but their dark black is only barely outshone by the dark grey that is Spartacus and company. Don't get me wrong, I'm completely rooting for Spartacus to win all of this, even though I know he won't. But now that his new opponent is not in the dark black corner, but is grey just like Spartacus, it will be interesting to see if he starts to look more heroic than the hero this show is named after.
More +
4
Reply
Flag
just what I was think but more eloquently said:) except I'm a moral (not religious but moral if that makes sense) person imo and love the show. Action/violence tv shows are my escape from work/life (my "me" time to decompress from work--healthcare).

Much of the fighting (violence/gore) is so artfully done that it is almost beautiful (wow, I sound like lunatic) from an artistic view. I don't mind glorified violence since it is fiction and doesn't impact my behavior irl. Also life has been violent throughout human time and we are lucky if it doesn't directly touch/affect us. Imagine a show about the Spanish Inquisition--total torture/gore/violence....

ok, back to the show....
So far I like both Crassus and Spartacus. For the show to end in a historically accurate manner, maybe the ultimate survivor/fighter shouldn't be a stereotypical "bad" Roman....

On the other hand, I love this show so much it might not be bad if it diverged more from historical accuracy and went on for many seasons even though we know this is the last season:( I say that out of my own self-interest. I don't want the show to end.since I enjoy it so much.

Regardless of "right", "wrong", "bad", "good", "neutral" it is an excellent show and I also root for Spartacus because I admire many aspects of his character and the show is from his POV. I really like shows based on history, violence, gore, action, good acting, good writing, etc... So sad to hear this is the last season.

Thanks for answering my "question" so thoroughly.

You really should consider writing reviews!
More +
4
Reply
Flag
Not the greatest episode, but a really good start for the season. They did a great job of establishing Crassus, for reasons you already mentioned. It's great to finally have a villain with gray area and actually sees how big a threat Spartacus is. Can't wait to see Julius Caesar too.
4
Reply
Flag
Staff
It was a smart move holding Caesar back for now. Too many titans in one episode doesn't leave any room to breathe. Just more to look forward to.
2
Reply
Flag
Andy Daglas, allow me to be the first to welcome you to the Spartacus review community!

Before, each episode was followed up with mere recaps that lacked passion and insight. You sir, have both in spades. I finally look forward to reading each review Friday/Saturday night/morning. One of the best shows on television deserves the spotlight, and you will do it justice.
7
Reply
Flag
I agree,this review is like no other and myself,as well, am looking foward to reading Andy's reviews!
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Thank you both very much, I appreciate that. I hope I don't let you down!
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    The Bachelorette
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    Mistresses Blurred Lines
    NEW
    ABC