We open this week’s episode of Spartacus: War of the Damned where the last one left off: with the gates of Spartopolis about to come tumbling down around the rebel’s ears.
Caesar again reminds Agron, Saxa, and the other assembled rebels that running may be advisable as the Romans breach the gate and begin pouring through.
Our beloved rebels decide to stay and fight, which only demonstrates that while discretion may be the better part of valor, stupidity knows no boundaries of rank, religion, or creed. Saxa soon wises up that they are hopelessly outnumbered, telling the others to boogie while the boogieing is good. I swear, if they ever had a Rebel Spelling Bee, she’d win first prize in a landslide.
Crassus enters the city, and Caesar smugly welcomes him to Spartopolis. We see Roman soldiers everywhere, battling former gladiators or chasing down former slave girls, and clearly, things are not going well for our heroes. Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus, and Agron meet up and swap stories about the double betrayal of Heracleo and Caesar. Crixus votes to stay and fight to the last man, but Spartacus quickly decides they are—and here I’ll use military terminology drawn from the annals of Herodotus himself—completely screwed. Spartacus believes that their only chance is escape through the north gate and up the ridge, into the snowy mountains above the city.
Ahh, but how to hold off the Romans in order to let everyone out? Gannicus steps forward to sacrifice himself. Spartacus says no, he will do it, but Gannicus reminds Spartacus that the show is named after him and even if there are only a few episodes left, it would be weird if Spartacus himself wasn’t actually in any of them. Everyone agrees, and Gannicus prepares to find a way to slow the Romans down. Saxa gives her man a big smooch and wishes him luck. Clearly, for her, this is no Tammy Wynette moment. Stand by your man? No way. There is more a Julie Andrews theme at work here: the hills are alive, and so is Saxa if she heads there. I told you she was smart.
Agron searches for Nasir, who is in a spot of trouble until the dueling divas of Castus and Agron help him out. You know, the last time two men fought over me like that, I…umm…okay, so two men have never fought over me like that. And the only time the hubby ever gets riled up is when I put the toilet paper on the roll upside down (can someone explain to me how toilet paper can be upside down, please?) Agron believes Castus to be part of Heracleo’s nefarious schemes, but Nasir defends the honor of the hunky man he is not supposed to be checking out. Awk-ward…
Gannicus and a comrade plan to start a fire in the city as a way to distract the Romans. And, of course, who should show up but Gannicus’ own personal stalker, Sibyl. Gannicus is clearly not amused but rolls his eyes and tells her to stick close. The fire rages but Crassus is not fooled; he knows a distraction when he sees one. He orders his men to march on the north gate. Spartacus had better hurry.
Spartacus and company are nearly evacuated when the Romans arrive. Spartacus, Crixus, and Agron manage to eviscerate the early arrivals (maybe this is why my mother always stressed that it was obnoxious to show up early for a dinner party?), but soon the entire bloody legion is there. No matter—Spartacus makes it out by the skin of his teeth while Caesar and the Roman soldiers run into the gate like a cartoon monster on Scooby Doo. Boink!
Despite the rebels’ escape, Crassus is very pleased with how the battle went and declares it a great victory for—well, himself. He orders his soldiers to kill any remaining rebels, so Gannicus and Sibyl hide in the one place they know no one will look—in the secret cellar to Laeta’s stables, where Laeta herself hid a number of Roman citizens from the rebels. Hmm. Locked in a small, dark windowless room with my stalker? I might prefer the company of the Romans, thanks.
Caesar grouses that Spartacus got away and they are not giving chase, but Crassus assures him that they will go after Spartacus tomorrow because, after all, “Tomorrow is another day.” (I didn’t know Margaret Mitchell stole her best lines from Roman history books!) He orders Caesar to clean his scuff up and likewise orders that only soldiers will be allowed in the city, letting in no one from the follower’s camp—with one or two privileged exceptions. Senator Metellus is likewise pleased by the turn of events, but Caesar still grouses about Metellus and Crassus’ plans. He even makes a crack about Gaius Hottius Glaber. Excuse me? I mean, excuuuuuuuse me? Nobody disses Gaius Hottius Glaber in my presence, even if you are Julius Friggin’ Hotbuns Caesar. Now I really don’t like that guy.
Laeta is brought into the city bound, but Caesar—cleaned up and looking better than ever—orders her release. The two share a cryptic conversation (Laeta: “In war, one does what one must to survive;” Caesar: “In war and on RuPaul’s Drag Race, girlfriend!”) before Caesar orders that she be taken to her (former) villa and given a bath and clean clothes.
Kore is at the villa, and is as skittish as a seventeen-year-old on his first trip to a gay bar. She tells Crassus she is happy to be away from the follower’s camp. I suspect she is really happy to be away from you-know-who, but before she can utter a word our terrible twink comes skulking out of the shadows. Oh, yes, Tibby has also been liberated from the follower’s camp, and he “praises” Kore in front of his father for being a great comfort to him, saying, “My pain pressed hard against her.” It’s a mastery of double talk, but someone really needs to wash that boy’s mouth out with soap (I have this horrifying notion that we’ll find out at some point that Kore is really Tibby’s mother—he is, after all, dark like her—but maybe I just got confused about incest because I accidentally switched the channel for a moment to Honey Boo Boo.)
Dismissing Kore, Crassus tells Tibby that he has an important task for him. Tibby realizes that he is not being elevated above his current station just yet. Instead, Crassus wants him to organize a celebration in honor of Caesar. Tibby, hiding his cold fury at his father, notes that there is no love lost between the two (though, for a moment, I imagine some love happening between the two of them and hey, that ain’t such a bad mental picture.) But Crassus tells Tibby that he needs to learn to keep his friends close (about a club-length away, I’d wager) and his enemies even closer. Tibby replies that he will do as his father commands, and that, “I am what you have made me.” What he is, Crassus, is freaking crazybananapants, and you better watch your handsome Daddy behind, if you know what is good for you.
Gannicus and Sibyl share a sweet moment while locked in the basement, when she tells him that his rescue of her made all the difference in the world to her, even if she is going to die horribly in the next few minutes. Despite the danger, a man of action like Gannicus cannot be kept caged for long. He uses Sibyl as a distraction and then attacks the guards searching through the stable for firewood. He tells Sibyl that if anyone but he should open the trapdoor, she should kill herself. Half of us probably wish she would just kill herself anyway (the catty half!) but Sibyl listens intently as the sounds of scuffling and blood spilling happens above. Suddenly the trapdoor opens—it’s Gannicus.
Tibby seeks out Kore and this time openly threatens her, telling her that if she even breathes a word about what happened between them he will tell his father that she threw herself at him and imagine how Papa would react to that. Hey, Hayden Christensen, pay attention: this is what joining the Dark Side really looks like. Not that whining, maudlin, emo-teen-writing-bad-poetry performance you gave in Revenge of the Sith. Just saying.
Nudity alert! Laeta is being bathed by a slave, and the care and woe that has followed her around is washed away, along with 12 pounds of dirt. She is dressed in a clean gown and puts on so much make-up that I think we should call her Laeta Faye Bakker. Caesar thinks she is a looker when all gussied up, and Laeta is all smiles now that Romans are Romans, slaves are slaves, and Kurt and Blaine look like they are getting back together again on Glee. All is right in her world.
Crassus, however, further interrogates her, and she finally lets her guard down after he assures her has no ill intentions toward her. She says that Spartacus is not a “beast,” but rather a man with a “wounded heart,” and that he fights not for revenge, but because he believes in his cause. Crassus replies that that makes him very dangerous indeed, and Laeta says that, no matter what, Spartacus will never stop, not even if he wanted to.
Suddenly interrupting is Heracleo, who looks pretty good considering the last time we saw him he was rapidly sinking to the bottom of the bay! Turns out he is not dead (surprise!) and has come to Crassus to claim his full payment, which includes Laeta. (Bigger surprise!) Laeta is horrified and screams, “I am a Roman,” but Crassus is a hard-dealing man; she has no worth for him anymore except as a bartering chip, so Heracleo gets his prize.
Tibby has been summoned to Caesar’s quarters, where two “working women” and a very naked, very “buns of steel” Caesar are verily acting out the very dictionary definition of the word “frolic.” Caesar needles and taunts Tibby, offering him one of the women when it is evident Tibby has a hard time looking Caesar in the eye (cough, cough.) The two exchange words but I’m distracted by two bottoms: the one on Caesar and Tibby himself (oh, you know he is…). Caesar appears to be making nice to Tibby but he is not buying it, though he becomes alarmed when Caesar makes an offhand remark that suggests he may know what went down with Kore. Uh-oh…
Gannicus and Sibyl see Heracleo alive and are not happy about it. They also see that he is wearing a pendant that allows him free range around the city and a strawberry shake with every McDLT he orders. Taking Laeta to a small, enclosed room, Heracleo promises that he will “cherish” her and not let her get gang raped by his men on his ship. Wow, Roman marriage vows just lack the romance and charm of modern wedding vows, don’t they? To ensure that no other man ever even thinks about touching her, Heracleo brands Laeta on her forearm with an “H.” Now she is a slave. Somewhere, Alanis Morissette is singing: “Isn’t that ironic?” (Don’t ya think?)
Gannicus charges in, wanting both revenge on Heracleo and his magic get-out-of-jail-free pendant. Heracleo threatens Sibyl, but Gannicus just shrugs and says, “She’s not my woman.” A fight ensues and Gannicus kills all of Heracleo’s men, but Heracleo himself has Sibyl. Gannicus balks—but then Laeta nails Heracleo from behind. He may have been hoping that would happen on his “wedding night,” but something tells me a red-hot poker through the throat that isn’t exactly what he had in mind.
Sibyl wonders what will become of Laeta, and Gannicus’ reply is some version of, “Who gives a flying Fruit Loop?” But Sibyl takes pity on her, and now that Laeta has been branded, she stands as they once did—a slave.
Elsewhere, the Roman soldiers are enjoying a spirited game of tug of war, only with a captive rebel in the middle. Wow. Those early Olympic events were harsh. Draw-and-quarter tug of war, smashing spiked helmets onto captive’s heads, the modern pentathlon—total barbarism. Crassus, Caesar, and Metellus are having a good time, but Crassus soon lets it slip that he imagines that now all of Spartopolis belongs to him. Metellus raises an eye but Crassus reminds him that he is a man of business and does not go to war merely for fun. Metellus reminds Crassus that a few of the Romans in town survived, including Laeta, but Crassus says that she has left and will never return—especially not since he sold her to pirates. Metellus is not keen on this crass, greedy grab for profit until Crassus cuts him in on the deal. Then, to Metellus, it seems perfectly reasonable. Oh, man, it’s the 1980s all over again. Greed is good. Greed is good!
Tibby watches the mayhem from the sidelines as the beefiest rebel of all grumbles about what he would do if he got his hands on a Roman. His synapses firing, Tibby gives a well-rehearsed speech about Caesar being brave and noble and having bulging biceps that—wait, I’m not sure if that was Tibby or me who noticed that last bit. Anyway, Tibby offers Caesar a sword and a chance to kill the last rebel himself. But sneaky little Tibby has unlocked the prisoner’s shackles, so when Caesar moves to strike, the rebel breaks free and strikes Caesar with his chains. Crassus is not amused while Tibby is highly amused, but his smirk soon gets wiped away when Caesar gets all gladiatorial and wipes the floor with the rebel. He slices, he dices, he makes eponymous salad out of the guy. Everyone cheers. Tibby fumes. Oh, Tibby, life was easier when you were just Sabinus’ little boo-boo bear, wasn’t it?
Gannicus and the girls—sounds like a Roman doo wop group, doesn’t it?—make their way to the gates, but happen to pass Caesar, who notices that they have one girl too many. Gannicus attacks and Caesar gets a bit sliced up. They climb onto horses and make their escape, but not before Laeta takes a stiff one in the side—a spear, people, a spear!
Caesar fumes while his wounds are dressed, and he rails against Crassus for letting even more rebels escape. But Crassus only smiles and tells Caesar everything is going according to plan. Seriously, why is he so calm?
Meanwhile, up on the snowy ridge, the rebels have set up a temporary encampment while Crixus, Agron, and Spartacus argue over their next move. Gannicus, Sibyl, and Laeta come in on horseback. Saxa kisses her man hello and gives Sibyl a serious “back off, beeyatch” look. Laeta’s wounds are tended to. Gannicus wonders why everyone is just hanging out. Spartacus shows him: it appears that Crassus had an enormous ditch dug around the ridge. There is no way out. So that’s why he delayed so long waiting to attack Spartopolis. So that’s why he was so confident that he would easily corner Spartacus on the ridge. The rebels are trapped, the snow is falling, and the Romans are waiting below. As my sainted grandmother used to say, the poor rebels are not a’d, not b’d, not c’d, not d’d, and not even e’d; but they are seriously, royally f’d.