Spartacus: War of the Damned – Enemies of Rome

War of the Damned Spartacus promo charactersThe time is finally upon us.  The end of the line, the final season of Spartacus, the bitter end to a much-loved show.   At least until Starz gives us the spin-off series about Caesar, but we all know it’s not going to be the same.  Different writers, different producers, and a largely different cast mean that the Caesar spin-off will not have quite the same impact that Spartacus once did.  Not to mention it will continually being compared to Spartacus, for better or worse.

But, despite what the Mayans wanted you to believe, we have safely reached 2013, and War of the Damned is finally here.  After months of teasing from the cast and crew, we’re finally going to witness the epic conclusion.

There are lots of things you can talk about while making a recap/review for Spartacus.  You could talk about the amazing production values, from the cinematography to the stunts to the costuming.  You could talk about the actors.  You could discuss how fantastic the writing has been since season 1 (but in the case of Spartacus, the brilliance of the writing has a tendency to unfold over several episodes rather than a single one.)  You could talk about how it continues to push the envelope in terms of graphic content.  Or there is the thing that has kept me coming back to the series, even when I was slightly hesitant about revisiting Vengeance due to recasting issues: the characters.  Which is what we will focus on this week.

Spartacus War of the DamnedSpartacus:

The obvious place to start is with the titular character and the leader of this little rebellion.  Spartacus is in a dark place.  His need to see other people freed has led to a blinding obsession.  Yes, he fights that everyone might not have to live under the shackle of Roman law, but as we see in the first episode, he isn’t entirely cognizant of the cost.  People think of him as some unapproachable leader on the hill.  A leader who freed them then no longer cared of what became of them.  For goodness’ sake’s, Spartacus, look what you’ve done to these people.  You have children eating raw horse meat off the ground because your plans got far too ambitious for what you actually had the means to accomplish.  For what?  As Gannicus points out, all the Romans who have lead him to this path are dead.  I’m assuming we’re going to see more of this conflict between what Spartacus wanted for these people and what he actually gave them instead.

Gannicus and Saxa

Gannicus and Saxa:

Speaking of Gannicus, he doesn’t seem to have changed much from last season.  He appears to have little interest in the actual rebellion, only showing up when its time to fight and spending the strategy stages with women and wine.  I have to preface this next part by saying that  I love Ellen Hollman but I don’t particularly care for Saxa yet.  Ellen is an incredibly strong woman in more ways than one, but the show seems to think I should love Saxa just because she shows up scantily clad and acts like she’s just one of the guys every week.  I’m a woman, I need more than her being naked and having an orgy with Gannicus to get me to like her.  I need real character development.  Something we’ll hopefully get now that Ellen is a regular on the show.

Saxa now speaks Latin, as the case may be, and encourages Gannicus’ behavior by bringing him drink and women.  There are things I both loved and hated about this scene.  The first was the ease with which Saxa apparently found these women, thus leading to that age-old trope that all women are secretly bi but not all men are.  When I first heard there was a foursome scene involved, I won’t lie, I was hoping there was going to be another man involved somehow.  Sure, it was great that Gannicus kicked that other guy out of his own tent so he could have his orgy, but the least he could have done was let the other guy stay and watch.  Of course, the brilliance of this scene was that we had an extended scene of boobs flying everywhere and lesbian sex and just enough for the male audience to really start to get into it and we cut to post-sex gay cuddles.  Clearly this is DeKnight’s response to all the people who told him to cut the “gay shit,” and it’s fabulous.

Agron and Nasir cuddlesAgron and Nasir:

Post-sex cuddles and head-butting make them officially the most puppies and rainbows thing to ever happen to this show.  Expect it to start to fracture by episode 3 at the very latest.  Perhaps even tonight, given that this is only a ten episode season.  Besides the ultra adorableness, they are also in charge of assessing new recruits to see where they would best fit into Spartacus’ ever-growing army.  Oh, and their relationship is apparently supposed to represent what is going on at the heart of the rebel encampment.  History tells us that this is right around the time things start to fall apart for Spartacus.  Prepare for your heart to shatter into tiny pieces by the end of the season, if not before.

I, however, am going to be fully prepared for whatever they decide to bring my way, because I am still suffering from George Blagden induced Les Mis feels.  Good luck to everyone else.

Crixus NaeviaCrixus and Naevia

Oh, you two.  I have so many feelings now for the pair of you that I’m not even sure where to begin.  Oh, wait, yes I do.  They had such an adorable scene but I could not focus on it properly because Manu kept squishing her boob.  Not that I have anything against the fact that his hand was in the near vicinity of her boob (boy, am I watching the wrong show if that’s a problem), but because I have a personal issue with my own boobs being squished.  I connected with Naevia in a way that wasn’t entirely pleasant.  No more of that please.  On the other hand, Naevia has gotten a lot better at chopping off people’s heads.  I’m so proud of her right now, and even more inclined to write that dissertation on her character development and why she’s clearly the best character on the show.

Even more importantly though, Crixus and Agron have finally put aside their differences and learned to be buds.  Because Crixus clearly tells Naevia to make sure she stays close to Agron during the battle when he’s not there because he knows his bro will do his best to keep her safe.  It was a rather touching moment, and would have been better if we would have actually gotten to see them be bros on screen.

Some Romans:

Tiberius and his best friend are totally in love.  Calling it now.  Mostly because his friend had a line that was an eerie echo of something Agron is going to say to Nasir later.  Or, actually, in terms of writing, Agron’s lines are meant to be the echo.  Which means I don’t even want to know what happens to Tiberius and his friend, because I think I’m already invested in them.

Crassus’ wife might very well be the queen of hating everything.  Her face though.  She’s all “My husband loves the slave girl more than me and my only son is clearly in love with his male best friend.  All is not right in my world.  Must fix this.”  Oh, you silly Roman ladies.  Why are you all so crazy?

As for Crassus himself, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about him.  Clearly, showing him training in the Thracian style is a indicator of how much of a match for Spartacus he is really going to be.  He’s also a crazy son of a bitch, considering he ensured that the other two Roman dudes would die just so he wouldn’t have to serve under anyone in the conquest to capture Spartacus.  On the other hand, he’s actually a pretty decent guy.  Sure, he killed the old gladiator, but he held him in his arms as he died, comforting him in his final minutes when technically the man was nothing more than a piece of property according to Roman law.  There’s a reason why that slave girl is so loyal to Crassus.  The best villains are the ones that we can see the good in.

Spartacus Wolves at the Gate airs tonight on Starz at 9pm.

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