This review contains spoilers.
1.10 Wrath of the Gods
Well, that happened.
It’s fair to say that Spartacus is a show that isn’t shy about killing off its cast, no matter how well-liked or famous they might be. The impressive thing is that whenever it happens, you’re still surprised.
Having Naevia fight Ashur made perfect sense, because unlike Crixus, Naevia isn’t historically bullet-proof. The stakes meant that every swing of the sword could be her last. It would have been nice if the Ashur/Naevia unpleasantness had been a stronger thread through this series, but it was satisfying to see his head parted from his body nonetheless. Richly deserved, and not a moment too soon.
I admit, I was expecting Lucretia to be the one doing that particular deed, but she got a better fate: going completely mental at the final moment. In retrospect, the signs were there. The genuine belief in her divine powers, for instance. Even for Spartacus, her scenes got pretty dark. It’s possible that Ilithyia survived, but given what she’d have to deal with if she did, that would probably be the worse fate.
Oenomaus’ death was certainly a surprise, although he went down with a double Buffy reference, losing an eye last episode and quoting Dark Willow (“I owe you pain!”) this episode. It’s how I’d want to go. Still, it also gave us the most tear-jerking moment of the episode when he finally forgave Gannicus, and let’s face it, that completed his character arc to the point where had he not died, we’d wonder what he was still doing hanging around.
Other notable deaths include Mira (called it last week), Glaber (suitably epic), and Ashur’s Egyptian lackey (shame those guys didn’t get more facetime.) If this were any other show, I’d think it was contract negotiation season.
Although the episode’s plot was, let’s face it, mainly there to service the fighting, there were a few fun moments. Reflecting actual historical events, Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus and Agron descended the cliffs of Vesuvius on vines to break up the Roman siege, and in a twist that couldn’t fail to draw a grin, used their flaming catapaults against them.
If there was any problem with this episode, it’s that events proceeded more or less as you’d expect. Buckets of character deaths, rousing speeches and brutal fight scenes. Only the climax of the Ilithyia/Lucretia plot could be called genuinely surprising, and with everyone who might possibly be impacted by that dead, it’s fair to say there won’t be any repurcussions.
So, all we’re left to do is wonder what form Season 3 will take. With the vast majority of the primary antagonists dead, we can assume there’ll be a new villain in charge. History suggests Marcus Crassus, but since history also records that he eventually succeeds in surpressing the revolt, they might choose a fresh face to take the fight to Spartacus so that we can see him go the way of Batiatus and Glaber.
Hopefully we’ll also see more of Saxa and Ludo in Season 3, because they’re both fantastic fighters and memorable characters (and if you don’t know them by name, it’s the blonde woman and the German guy who’s built like a tank.)
Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s going to be a long 8 months, though, because Spartacus: Vengeance once again had everything. Sex, violence, drama, comedy and tragedy. Classical storytelling at its best. See you back here, January 2013.
Read our review of last week’s episode, here.