March 23, 2013

Episode Review: SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED, "Separate Paths"

I knew that the last couple of Spartacus episodes were going to be nuts and that we were going to lose some beloved characters along the way, but I was not expecting what we got during "Separate Paths."

After months of debate, Crixus and Spartacus decided to part ways with the Gaul leading a band of rebels towards Rome while the Thracian shepherded the rest over the Alps to safety. Agron decided to side with Crixus, but pleaded Nasir to stay close to Spartacus, and Gannicus stayed with the Rebel King to make sure Sibyl stayed safe. The former gladiators had one last hurrah, which included another raid on a Roman villa, and heartfelt goodbyes were shared the following day.

Meanwhile, Camp Crassus was in disarray as Marcus reeled over Kore's betrayal. The Roman leader was not thinking clearly, which led to some questionable tactical decisions and him beating down his backer in the Senate, and Caesar tried to blackmail Tiberius into guiding his father in the right direction. When Caesar confronted the younger Crassus about why Kore left, Tiberius made it clear who was in charge by having his henchmen hold Caesar down while he forced himself onto his foe. When it was all said and done, Crassus was convinced to abandon his pursuit of Spartacus and point his forces towards Rome to assist with Crixus and his hoard.

Crixus and the others made a bloody path towards the capital, and were at the doorstep when a battle broke out. Crassus' legion showed up just in time, and Tiberius was responsible for taking down both Agron and Crixus. The latter was wounded yet still breathing when Crassus decided to make an example out of him by having his son behead the undefeated Gaul while Naevia watched.

For weeks now, I've been dreading the day when one of the main characters died, but honestly I didn't see Crixus falling before the series finale or him being taken out by Tiberius. That said, it was the perfect time for the Gaul to bow out especially since it occurred during such an emotional episode that highlighted everything that makes Spartacus special. From day one, this show's main themes have been love and brotherhood, and both were front and center during "Separate Paths," from Agron and Nasir to Crixus saying goodbye to Gannicus and Spartacus. Sure, not having Crixus around is going to be hard, but I'm sure his death will reverberate throughout the final two episodes and it will not have been in vain. It's just too bad Caesar wasn't at the other end of the sword.

Like the rest of the season, the Tiberius scenes did not quite resonate with me. I got that his assault on Caesar was supposed to makes us hate him even more, but he continues to be such a one-note villain that his actions lack any real punch. At the end of the day, Tiberius is nothing more than a spoiled child, and that's not enough to make him a reprehensible big bad. Thankfully, Caesar and Crassus have been formidable foes, and it's a shame that they're just toys in Tiberius' sand box at this point.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • This Week in Shipping Spartacus: Castus continued flirting with Nasir, apparently Gannicus and Sibyl officially changed their relationship status on Facebook, and Spartacus and Laeta finally got it on.
  • Speaking of Spartacus and Laeta, they were involved in a small but interesting subplot that included Kore being found out but the latter begging for mercy.
  • Agron - Nasir = Heartbreak
  • While I do think War of the Damned has been using its ten episodes efficiently, I do wish we had a few more so we could've seen Team Crixus on its own a bit longer.
  • Seriously, Tiberius bested both Agron AND Crixus. Leave it to a disciple of Whedon to twist the knife.
Another strong hour as Spartacus comes to an end, and while it's not going to be the same without Crixus and Agron, I cannot help but feel that we're in for one heck of a ride over the last two episodes.
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