TV REVIEW: Spartacus: Vengeance Season 3, Episode 5 – Libertus

Now at the halfway point of the season, Vengeance delivers its best episode yet.

After a much-needed morale boost at the end of episode 4, the fugitives discover an abandoned temple near Vesuvius.  There they discover Glaber’s plans for Oenomaus and the captured gladiators, and begin to formulate an impossible plan.  Meanwhile, Ilithyia’s scheme to dissolve her marriage hits a roadblock when Glaber makes an upsetting discovery. Caution: Contains Spoilers.

Bolstered by the reunion with Agron and the others, Spartacus continues the trek toward Vesuvius.  En route they come across an abandoned temple, its sole occupant a Roman who has turned his back on the Republic.  It is from him that they discover that Glaber intends to execute Crixus and the captured gladiators in the arena the following day.  Despite some initial resistance from both Mira and Agron, Spartacus reveals that he plans to go back to Capua to rescue his friends.  This time, Agron will go with him.

Ilithyia moves toward the dissolution of her marriage at full speed, the only hindrance being the child she is carrying.  Under clear direction from her father, she intends to end the pregnancy by drinking silphium.  Lucretia discovers her plans and delays her, telling her she will be ill for many days and thus miss the day’s games (and the executions).

After successfully putting Ilithyia off, Lucretia goes to Ashur, who has been imprisoned by Glaber  after returning with Marcus’s body, but no Spartacus.  She tells him she will ensure he is released if he will replace the silphium with water and bitter herb.  Ashur agrees, but rather than do as Lucretia asked, he informs Glaber that he saw one of Ilithyia’s slaves carrying the silphium.  Glaber confronts Ilithyia and she reveals the scheme to him.

At the arena, Oenomaus, Crixus and Rhoskos discover that Gannicus is to be their executioner.  But unbeknownst to them, Spartacus and his men have breached the arena.  Spartacus and Agron dress up as Roman soldiers, while Mira leads the remainder of the force in setting a fire that eventually brings down the entire arena.  Rhoskos is killed in the battle, but Spartacus and Agron free Crixus.  Gannicus joins them with Oenomaus, who is unconscious after their battle.  They escape while the Romans flee – Glaber finds Ilithyia’s father pinned beneath the rubble.  Rather than saving him, he kills him, thus ending any hope of Ilithyia dissolving her marriage.

I’ve never given a 5-star review before, but I so thoroughly enjoyed this episode that I feel compelled to make it my first.

Spartacus’s plan to liberate Crixus and the other gladiators is predictable, but in a good way.  It falls in line with the growth we’ve seen from Spartacus as a character.  He’s more compassionate, more willing to put the wishes of others ahead of his own.  That is not to take anything away from Andy Whitfield’s Spartacus, who was equally wonderful – he was simply more driven by personal concerns, and for good reason.  But after risking everything to liberate Naevia from the mines, it makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t allow his brothers to die in the arena.

The battle itself is fraught with tension – the scenes flash between the actual fight going on in the arena and the rest of the group’s efforts to bring down the arena.  The fighting is intense; Oenomaus attacks Gannicus over his affair with Melitta.  While the two of them square off, Crixus fights for his life until Spartacus and Agron can join the fray.  A highly entertaining sequence which will have you on the edge of your seats.

Craig Parker continues to surprise as Glaber.  He’s the bad guy by default because he wants to kill Spartacus, yet you can’t help but feel bad for him when he discovers Ilithyia’s plans.  The death of her father was highly satisfying, only because both father and daughter are highly unlikable.

The only off-putting thing about the season thus far is that it’s relying too heavily on slow motion effects during the battle scenes.  Slo-mo has always been used to emphasize the more gruesome and dramatic moments, but this season it feels like every single move is drawn out. It can be jarring, especially in a long battle sequence like we see in this episode.

I am willing to forgive them, though, because everything else is working so well.

Episode 5 Rating: 5/5
GS Reporter: Mirjana

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  1. Nice review. I totally agree on all points. The cut between the action in the arena and what was going on underneath the arena definitely heightened the tension. Can’t wait for next week’s episode.

  2. torf /

    I thought this episode was as good as the season 1 finale.

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