TV REVIEW: Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 9 – Monsters

It feels like the season has flown by – “Monsters” is the penultimate episode, and it sets up what’s looking to be a great finale.

Against all odds, Ilithyia makes it back to Capua and a very surprised Glaber.  There, she finds that much had changed since she left, and she decides to take matters into her own hands.  Spartacus has concerns about the solidarity among his troops and comes up with an innovative way to forge new bonds.  Glaber finally gets the break he has been waiting for, and looks to finally end it all with a march on the temple.

Determined to prove that the rebels have grown complacent, Spartacus stages a mock attack in the middle of the night with the help of Crixus and Gannicus.  When the rebels are caught unawares, Spartacus uses the opportunity to re-focus them on their training.  It’s not all work, though – he sends Agron to “procure” some wine from a passing wagon.  He then schedules contests between the rebels, strategically forcing those with bad blood between them to work together.  The contest, along with the wine, help strengthen the solidarity among the rebels.

Ilithyia returns to Capua, where Lucretia appears to be the only one happy to see her.  Thanks to her vague memories and some judicious investigation work by Ashur’s men, Glaber and Ashur figure out where the rebels are hiding.  They plan to march at sundown, but are hampered by the arrival of Varinius.  He comes bearing instruction from the Senate that Glaber is to cease his pursuit of Spartacus and return to Rome immediately.  He also reveals that he has been set to the task of finding Spartacus.

Lucretia, distraught by Ashur’s revelation that Glaber has promised him both his freedom and the ludus if they catch Spartacus, tries compelling Seppia to kill Glaber.  Just as she is about to succeed, however, Ilithyia intervenes, stabbing her and then slitting her throat.  When Glaber asks her why she did it, she tells him that they are both monsters, and that they should be monsters together.

Glaber and his men march on the temple, and while they put up a valiant effort at first, the rebels are no match for the fireballs that the Romans launch at them.  They are forced to retreat up Vesuvius, where the stage will surely be set for an epic battle.

This is another one of those episodes that shows how effective Spartacus is as a leader.  He knows there are problems brewing among his soldiers, and he comes up with the perfect solution to get everyone on the same page again.  Even Oenamaus is impressed with his tactics.  At the same time, however, there is a sense of apprehension around the bonding exercises.  This being the penultimate episode, you know that it has to be the calm before the storm.  Indeed, the lighter mood doesn’t even last to the end of the episode, when they are forced to flee from Glaber’s attack.

Ilithyia has proven to be extremely resilient over the course of the season.  She returned from a near death experience to cleverly maneuver herself back into her husband’s good graces by eliminating her biggest rival.  She expresses remorse for her action – whether you believer her or not is a different story – yet she doesn’t hesitate to act in her own self-interest. I’ve grudgingly come to admire her for that – once you get past the whining, she’s actually got a lot of depth about her.

Judging from Steven DeKnight’s tweets, the finale is going to be spectacularly bloody and heartbreaking.  There’s no telling who will or won’t survive the bloodbath, but if the other finales are anything to go by, it will definitely be epic.

Episode Rating: 4/5
GS Reporter: Mirjana

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