March 12, 2012

Episode Review: SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE, "Sacramentum"

On the surface it may have looked like not much was going on during "Sacramentum,"  but if you really paid attention you would have seen the chess pieces moving around the board as Spartacus fortified his ranks while the Romans struggled to keep power over their subjects and over one another.

Spartacus, Agron and Lucius led a raid on a slave ship to free its captives with hopes of adding warriors to their makeshift army. Once the slaver and his crew were taken out, it became apparent that they had just freed a boatload of people from Agron's homeland (presumably early Germany) which gave Spartacus pause. Back at camp, the addition of the German hoard did not sit well with Crixus and others, but Spartacus insisted on making it all work until Agron disobeyed his orders. Tension began to mount between the three leaders, but some of it was cut by the recovery of Oenomaus. Just seeing him up and walking about gave the rebels hope and another invaluable asset to the cause. Unfortunately, the joviality was dashed when one of the Germans tried to attack Naevia, which Agron stopped, and a fight broke out. When the dust settled, Spartacus killed the brutish German and made it clear that only those willing to follow his lead would be welcomed. Agron publicly pledged his allegiance to the Thracian which convinced his countrymen to do the same.

It could be argued that everything that was going on at the Vesuvius camp brought the episode down because it didn't do much to push the story along and relied too heavily on the issues between Crixus and Agron that have been present all season long, but I thought that these moments made the episode special. While I agree that nothing really changed in terms of plot, I did feel that this story altered how we're supposed to view Spartacus and his men. His ability to lead has been a major question throughout the season, but he once again proved that he's not only a capable warrior but a charismatic force who could unite these former slaves and make them a real threat to Rome. Even Oenomaus realized what Spartacus could bring as a leader, and you could see that he was clearly impressed and proud.

Speaking of Oenomaus, his return and being brought in fully to the rebellion was just what the series needed. It was understandable why he was conflicted at the beginning of the series, but this show works so much better when he's united with his brothers. He was also responsible for keeping this episode lighter than most by adding some well timed humor. It's good to have the old doctore back.

While Spartacus was trying to add to his ranks, Glaber spent his time trying to wield his power over everyone in sight. In order to send a message, he declared that any slave who whispered Spartacus' name would be crucified, and he even used one of Ilithiya's slavegirls as an example. He also tried to sway Gannicus to pledge his service to him in exchange for his rudus (the wooden sword that symbolized his freedom). Instead of aligning himself with the praetor, Gannicus sent a message to Glaber by killing his men and kidnapping his wife.

The reason why Ilithiya was vulnerable to abduction had to do with the fact that she and Lucretia came up with a plan to get away from both Glaber and Ashur. At first, it looked like they were willing to take extreme measures to free themselves, but Lucretia suggested that they fake a miscarriage so she could use her pretend oracle skills to convince Glaber to let them return to Rome. It only partially worked because Ashur was able to talk Glaber into keeping Lucretia in Capua, but she countered by trying to manipulate Gannicus into killing the praetor. Rather than being Glaber or Lucretia's puppet, Gannicus decided to take Ilithiya as payback.

Obviously, the plotline involving the Romans counteracted the perceived lull that was going on in Vesuvius because it was non-stop twists and turns. Glaber's finally proven why he should be taken seriously as the show's big bad because his ruthlessness seeped from every pore of his body. The same could be said about Ashur, but at his point he's so cruel that it was actually hard to watch his scenes with Lucretia. As for her and Ilithyia, honestly their schemes are starting to become a little boring, but I am very interested to see what's going to happen to the latter now that she's been taken by Gannicus.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • At least Seppia's become relevant now.
  • It's a little hard to feel bad for Ilithyia after what she had planned earlier.
  • Hopefully the tension between Crixus and Agron will be eased after this episode.
  • Aw, I'm going to miss Gannicus' friend from the brothel.
  • Watching Oenomaus get accosted by Lugo and his women will always make me laugh.
  • Girl fight!
While it's true that "Sacramentum" did not have as much going on as other episodes of Spartacus, it still had some great moments between Spartacus and his men, and it looks like they're finally coming together as an army and as a brotherhood, so it was worth taking time to watch the bonds grow. Heck, I'd even go out on a limb and say that it was one of the better installments of the season. Yup, I said it.


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