February 24, 2013

Episode Review: SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED, "Decimation"

Spartacus: War of the Damned took an interesting turn as "Decimation" focused on internal tension over external threats, which in turn made it one of the stronger episodes of the young season.

In Sinuessa en Valle, numbers continued to expand as Spartacus took in recently escaped slaves who bore the marks of their former owners. While welcoming the new huddled masses, a fight broke out as some Romans got passed the gate, and they were disposed of with some help of an undercover Caesar. Crassus planned on having Caesar infiltrate the rebel camp to cause chaos, which he did by flaming the tensions that existed due to Spartacus' refusal to kill the Roman prisoners. Things only got crazier when Gannicus learned that Attius was not responsible for the escaped Romans and that he died for nothing (thanks to Sibyl tipping him off about Laeta's shadiness).

After a brief brawl between Gannicus and Crixus, Caesar and Naevia egged Crixus into allowing the former slaves to take blood as payment for the horrors that were unleashed on them. When Spartacus found out what was going on, he stopped Crixus from killing a captured Laeta, but he spared her yet again and questioned whether or not he should have entrusted Crixus to be a leader. Naevia convinced a distraught Crixus that Spartacus lost his way and that they should forge their own path as Caesar evilly grinned in the background.

Back at Camp Crassus, Marcus made it a point to teach Tiberius and his men a lesson for disobeying orders and fleeing from the skirmish that his son foolishly caused. He decided to enact decimation, the soldiers would randomly pick stones from a bag and the five who got a white one would be clubbed to death, and at first Crassus was going to have Tiberius witness the event, but he changed his mind and ordered his son to stand with his men. Luckily for Tiberius, he did not draw a white stone, but his friend did, so his punishment was to help kill the one man who always believed in him. When it was all said and done, Tiberius no longer looked at Crassus as his father but merely as his commander.

I suppose if this season of Spartacus is going to put off the final showdown between the rebels and the Romans until the very end, at least Steven DeKnight and his writers are creating enough drama amongst the two camps to hold us over. And to be honest, the idea of a rift forming between Sparty and Crixus is far more interesting than watching elaborate battles every episode. That said, I might have some issue if Lady Naevia ends up being responsible for the downfall of the rebellion because her widening the chasm between the two men is unimaginative.

Once again, the best parts of the episode had to do with the fact that there's little difference between the society Spartacus has created and the one that enslaved him and his men. These similarities were underlined as the scenes of the rebels massacring the Romans were paralleled with the acts of decimation. And to add to the ambiguity, there was a stellar scene where Caesar killed a woman who was being brutalized by some of the former slaves as a way to set her free. That little glimpse of humanity made me wonder who we should be rooting for.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Spartacus is usually light on laughs, but Agron rebuffing the prostitute always makes me chuckle.
  • Caesar befriending Nemetes was an odd choice since we rarely see much of the latter but at least he has something to do now.
  • I'm all for ancient debauchery, but the love scene between Crassus and Kore was a bit gratuitous .. classier than most but still excessive.
  • The more I think about it, the less likely it seems that Spartacus and Laeta will be a romantic pairing, and usually I'd be OK with that, but it'd be a shame to waste the crazy chemistry between Liam McIntyre and Anna Hutchinson.
  • After this episode, I'm even more excited about a possible Caesar spin-off. It doesn't hurt that Todd Lasance has a great evil grin.
I know that it's cliché to say that war is not black-and-white, but DeKnight and Co. have effectively utilized the theme so far, and I'm excited to see how they color this world in various shades of grey throughout the rest of the season.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Updates Via E-Mail