Spartacus: Vengeance episode 7 review: Sacramentum

A Spartacus-light episode, but no worse for it. Read James' review of the latest Spartacus: Vengeance here...


This review contains spoilers.

7. Sacramentum 

With the series now exhibiting all the fire of its predecessors (and in the case of the arena’s destruction, that’s literal fire) the story is barrelling along at an increasingly rapid pace. The reshuffled cast have found their groove, the writers have nailed down the characters, and the choreographers are coming up with more and more inventive endings for the various lumps of meat in the cast. If they look like redshirts, it’s only because of the copious amounts of fake blood they’re soaking in.

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That said, there has been one weak link in the story, and that’s Gannicus. His years of freedom have stripped away his rock-star swagger, and without purpose or motivation, he’s drifting through the cast displaying indifference to pretty much everything. Understandable, perhaps, but the problem is that it’s boring to watch a jaded gladiator realising how free he isn’t. Thankfully, this episode’s ending put some excitement back into the character’s life, and if he can remember to emote a little bit more as a result, that’s going to be no bad thing.

Everyone else, however, is on fine form. Although it was another Spartacus-light episode, with Gannicus, Lucretia and Glaber receiving plenty of screentime. That’s not to say the character didn’t get his due – after all, there’s only one moment from this episode that people will be making animated gifs of later, and it’s Spartacus’ alone.

Ashur and Lucretia’s elaborate game of conflicting manipulations is particularly fun to watch, especially since Ashur has gone from “ambiguously evil coward” to outright villainous mastermind. Of course, I assume we all spotted the moment early on where he got a little too big for his boots? I can’t help but think that letting Lucretia know about his private stash won’t end well for him, after all.

Speaking of Lucretia, things just don’t seem to go right for his these days. Not only has she been manipulated into Ashur’s service in a particularly humiliating and traumatising fashion, her attempt to abscond from Glaber with Ilithyia was ruined, and Gannicus laid waste her carefully-laid plan to sort Glaber out once and for all. At this point, you’ve almost got to feel sorry for her.

Although, not as sorry as you do for Glaber, who finally charms Seppia into bed just in time to be afflicted with a serious case of coitus interruptus (to use the language of the show). The show’s final scene was a genuine classic, filled with a sense of dread and drama with a literally legendary tone. Quite how Ilithyia’s going to end up is anyone’s guess, but despite his disdain for her, we can imagine Glaber isn’t going to take kindly to her abduction.

Of course, it’s possible that our heroes will spoil their fun long before the villains catch up with them. The increasing tension in Spartacus’ camp has been evident since the start of the series, but it’s only now reaching a head. Agron seems genuine, but when push comes to shove, it’s clear that his pride is going to cause a more permanent rift in the group than it did the first time.

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With its multiple subplots being masterfully juggled and a cast filled with characters who you can love and hate in equal measure, Spartacus: Vengeance is retaining the series’ position as one of TV’s most gloriously contradictory shows. Just when you think it’s decided to take itself seriously and become a historical drama, the episode ends with someone’s face getting cut off and a CGI brain all but sliding down the camera lens. And frankly, I have no problem enjoying both sides of the show.

Read our review of last week’s episode, here.

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