This review contains spoilers.
3.7 Mors Indecepta
Ah, finally. After weeks of watching Spartacus get out-manoeuvred and out-smarted by Crassus at every turn, our hero finally managed to scrape together whatever brain cells remain after his frequent knocks to the head and come up with a way to turn the tables on his foe. With, of course, a little help from the weather.
Indeed, this was a good episode on every level, not just because we saw the rebels get a much-needed and unequivocal win, but because the tension was ratcheted right up. Cold, hungry, trapped between an impassable wall and an undefeatable legion and with a storm incoming, it was no surprise things were getting fraught in the rebel camp. As the tension rose, the emotions became heightened, and subplots spilled over into the main plot making every twist more satisfying as a result.
This time, the division that fell between Spartacus and Crixus felt far more organic than when they were in Sinuessa, and seeing the pair go fist-to-fist reminded us of how far they’ve both come since the first season. Of course, it also brought back memories of their earlier fights, which highlighted how a huge component feels absent without the weekly gladiatorial match-ups that made season one so engaging, but it’s a different show now. Not necessarily more character-led (it was always quite heavy on character, despite appearances) but certainly more organically constructed.
In heavy contrast to the rifts developing in the rebel camp, most of the Roman stories hit another duff note this week. Leave aside the utterly unlikely nature of Crassus guessing that Spartacus would take a small group of men in on an assassination attempt (and if he did, why sacrifice men AND fail to prepare better?) things just didn’t come together for the supporting players. Perhaps the problem is that Tiberius’ transgressions are so obviously headed for a brutal reprisal, while Caesar’s are hard to empathise with simply because he’s already spoilt and entitled. It only makes Crassus look foolish that he’s missing all of this going on right under his very nose, too. Kore is the only genuinely wronged party in all of this, and her apparent defection was both surprising and yet completely in-step with all we’d seen. Of all the stories, it’s hers I want to see more of.
While the show’s romantic subplots have taken something of a back seat this season, this episode did inch most of them forward in some way. Gannicus and Sybil finally got together in a scene as inevitable as it was unrealistic (seriously, mid-blizzard was not the time to be removing anyone’s clothes) much to the upset of poor Saxa, who didn’t even need to ask to see what was going on. Agron and Nasir finally seem to have patched things up, with Agron even coming to some kind of truce with Castus. And even Spartacus and Laeta found common ground, although it’s too early to call that a romance (and with only three episodes to go, maybe too late as well.)
It’s interesting that this episode once again teased viewers with the idea of a Spartacus and Crixus separation, knowing that many viewers will be familiar with the historical account. The next episode is called Separate Paths, though, so if anything’s going to finally break the rebels into two armies, that’ll be it. It’s worth noting that without Crixus, Spartacus loses his most powerful deputy (and the only person capable of giving him the hard truth about his constant failure to anticipate Crassus’ plans) but on the other hand, maybe it’s time Crixus got the field promotion he’s long deserved. Next week’s episode has a lot of promise indeed.
Read James’ review of the previous episode, Spoils of War, here.
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