January 26, 2013

Episode Review: SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED, "Enemies of Rome"

A few years ago, I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me that Spartacus would have lasted for more than a season, and I really wouldn't have believed that I would be such a devoted fan, and yet here we are. The final run of the swords-and-sandals epic kicked off the only way it could: with a lot of sex, violence and awesomeness.

The action started at the tail-end of a battle that saw Spartacus and his troops once again victorious over their enemies, but the commanders of the Roman army (Cossinius and Furius) were able to escape. Once back at camp, it became clear that Spartacus was struggling with his swelling ranks, preserving morale, and keeping Gannicus in line. Matters were not helped by the fact that they had intercepted a message about the addition of 10,000 men to the Roman side thanks to a man named Marcus Crassus. In order to break the morale of their foes before reinforcements could arrive, Spartacus, Crixus, and Gannicus ambushed Cossinius and Furius in the middle of the night and took their heads with them.

In Rome, Marcus Crassus was swayed to help the Roman cause, which was why he was willing to send men, and he was even given rank but was expected to serve under the failing field generals. But like all good Spartacus big bads, there was more to Crassus than met the eye. He counted on Spartacus getting his hands on the message that announced his arrival because he knew that the former slaves would dispatch of Cossinius and Furius, thus making him the sole leader of the forces sent to crush the rebellion. Not only was his power play successful, but he was determined to understand his enemy by training with his own former gladiator. As the episode ended, everything was falling into place for Crassus and his face-off with Spartacus should be an epic one.

Not a bad start to the final if you ask me. It was interesting to watch Spartacus be both successful on the battlefield while also being completely in over his head because it made him seem more human, and that's important because we need to buy him as a mortal and not the god that he's believed to be. That said, he was not even the most compelling aspect of this episode because that title goes to Marcus Crassus who's clearly not going to make the same mistakes that Batiatus and Glaber did, and the way he approached his upcoming battle with Spartacus made him come off even more heroic and honorable than his rival. I'm sure that's all going to change in the coming weeks, but for now I'm thoroughly impressed by Crassus' introduction and excited to see where he goes from here.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • In classic Spartacus fashion, the show wasted no time getting to the blood and boobs.
  • That scene between Spartacus and Gannicus as they discussed their motivations was pretty great.
  • Crassus' wife looks just like Ilithya. Man, I'm going to miss Viva Bianca.
  • I already can't wait for Tiberius to die. He's not Seppius/Seppia bad but pretty close.
  • Aww, it's a shame we didn't get to see more of Hilarus.
  • No sign of Julius Caesar, but he'd better deliver since Starz is toying around with the idea of a spin-off centering around him.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm really going to miss Spartacus when it's over, and part of me really wants a few more episodes so the story can end without being rushed, but I'm confident that the series will get the proper finale especially if "Enemies of Rome" is any indication of War of the Damned's quality.

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