This is the ninth episode of the final season of Spartacus and the second last episode for the season. For the most part as the penultimate episode I believe it was one that really showed us the characters we loved in seasons passed the best. We get to see both Spartacus and Gannicus fight in an arena like environment again which is great to see as they honour Crixus who fell in the episode passed. It’s a great episode, full of what the show is known for, blood, gore, action and fighting as they kill captured Romans in the funeral games in memory of Crixus. (Spoilers below)
Tiberius finds himself captured in amongst the rebels after falling victim and manoeuvred by Caesar into accepting invitation from Pompey’s messenger for a meeting. What Tiberius and Crassus do not know however is that it’s not Pompey’s man that sends message for meeting and capture, it’s Spartacus. Once captured the soldiers and Tiberius go to rebel camp where they are laid waste to in the funeral games by Spartacus, Gannicus and many others still left of the brotherhood.
For the most part I must say this episode was very entertaining, I felt so connected to the characters on every level that a simple plot, (likely the most simple plot of the series in a single episode) can be overlooked for the pure joy of seeing the gladiators take position one last time. It is also a very well developed and choreographed episode, the fights, the blood, the way everything appears on screen is just so entertaining and visually impressive that you forget you are even watching a TV show.
While there are a few things going on behind the scenes with the plot as Caesar is sent to the rebel camp to negotiate the life of Crassus’ son Tiberius I felt it wasn’t really the focus, well not until the end. This episode is action packed, full of revenge and blood lust for that of the Romans.
Apart from the fights with Spartacus and Gannicus and the others there are some great speeches from Spartacus. Moments of greatness are present from the now comfortable Liam McIntyre with his role with the character. I felt in watching it that Liam took the character to a level where he was truly his own, the way his speeches were done, his movements in this episode were one of the best this season so far. I had not seen Spartacus make many speeches as did Crixus in Separate Paths so it was welcoming to see it as so in this episode, he appeared a true leader of the rebel force.
Also in acting I felt there was a real sense of loss for Crixus (Manu Bennet) from Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) particularly in the funeral scene which really added a true sense of realism to the role that I think really defined the relationship between the two characters. As a brother; Crixus really meant something to Spartacus and he appears wounded by the loss. Spartacus has really come a long way as a character and emotionally this episode seems to be allowing himself to let out some rage on the poor Romans in these games and it shows.
Gannicus to seems changed in this episode, his character has been developing all season as he moves closer to Sybil. No longer is he a massive drinker and man of pleasure that he once was but in this episode he was given a glimpse of his old life. He stood in battle a God of the Arena once again and in observing him I thought it was a point where I have never seen him so sure of his life. Gannicus yearns for the games and truly does enjoy them, I think he really embraced the events of this episode and of course Dustin Clare does well to portray it as so.
Another thing must be mentioned of this episode and it’s the music. I haven’t said much of the themes played in the background during the season but in this episode the songs really do stand out particularly when Spartacus starts his battle. Spartacus has always had such good theme music throughout the series that it’s hard to continuously mention it. But when the sound and music is mixed with such great directing, acting and action scenes it makes any viewer chill in awe as they watch each scene progress in front of their eyes. Just listen below to a sample from YouTube from Spartacus, part of the theme was used in the Spartacus battle scene and is composed by Joseph LoDuca.
Apart from the showing off from the characters (Gannicus and Spartacus), there is also the fate of the much despised Tiberius Crassus (Christian Antidormi). This is the episode where he finally meets his end. All season he has wronged so many people, Caesar, Kore and killed Crixus in the most cowardly of ways. Taunted his position and status above that of the slaves and even Caesar due to the name Crassus that he carries, taken glory for himself and seemed to just be one mean kid all together. This episode he suffers for it, as it all comes back to him. He’s captured, humiliated, beaten by Naevia, threatened by Caesar and stabbed in the back by Kore. A terrible fate for any person in life, but is it deserved? I believe so as this is Spartacus and everyone seems to die, especially the bad ones but I wonder if it’s justice? For Kore? For Caesar? For Naevia? Let me know in the comments what you thought of Tiberius’ death.
Finally there is one fantastic scene towards the end of the episode as they perform the funeral rights for Crixus where the names are called out by many of the rebels who had fallen also for the cause of freedom they all believe in fighting for. It’s quite and emotionally charged scene and I thought really connected the viewer with the characters on screen. There is a sense of loss in this episode, both for the characters and also the viewers.
There is only one episode left for this series “War of the damned” and as the title suggests I wonder, just what characters will fall in the next episode?. For the series is due to end and there can be only one victor in this war. Overall for this episode I was so entertained throughout that I cannot give it anything less than a perfect score, it was simply one of the best television experiences of the year and I can’t wait for the final.