TV REVIEW: Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 2 – “Wolves At the Gate”

SpartacusWOtDHaving sent a very loud and emphatic message to Rome at the end of Episode 1, Spartacus turns eye to housing and providing for his army. Meanwhile, Crassus prepares for battle and reveals the ace up his sleeve. And oh, what an ace it is…


I won’t spend too much time recapping the episode, since it should really be enjoyed as naturally as possible, but here’s a quick rundown:

Having dispatched Cassinius and Furius at the end of Episode 1, Spartacus hatches a plan to move south and take over an entire city. Smart thinking – where else would you house an entire army of slaves? This particular city is heavily fortified and nearly impossible to breach. Thankfully – and unsurprisingly – Gannicus has an old drinking buddy on the inside who can be bought for the right price. While Agron and Crixus lead the army south toward the city, Spartacus spends his time getting the lay of the land. When night falls, the rebels’ luck holds out and they manage to take the city, in somewhat brutal fashion.

Elsewhere, another army is preparing for battle. While Tiberius continues to seek his father’s approval, Crassus calls in reinforcements in the form of a young soldier named Caesar, who’s been abroad fighting pirates and Gauls and who knows what else. Understandably, this doesn’t sit well with Tiberius. The two of them jockey for command under Crassus, but ultimately Tiberius is the winner. Crassus placates Caesar by promising even greater glory, and the episode ends with Crassus rallying his troops to war.

Caesar, Caesar, Caesar!

From the moment they announced that Caesar would be joining the fray, I’ve had high hopes for the character. This isn’t the Caesar everyone is used to hearing about – he’s young, he’s a great soldier, but he’s also broke. Not much is known about his early life, so the writers had a bit of leeway and based on this episode, I am really looking forward to DeKnight’s interpretation of events. Todd Lasance does a great job introducing us to the character – Caesar is cocky and kind of charming, but he’s also got a distinct air of crazy about him. You get the impression that he could fly off the handle at any moment, and that’s going to make things very interesting in the heat of battle.

Crassus continues to surprise – he spends a lot of the episode wishing Tiberius was more battle-ready, yet at the end he awards him command anyway. It’s obvious that he believes in allowing people to prove themselves. We also get a deeper look at the relationship between him and Kore, his beloved slave. It’s an interesting comparison to his relationship with his wife, who he barely tolerates. Last week he showed that he doesn’t necessarily see slaves as beneath their masters, and that theme certainly continues here.

On the rebel side of things, we’re definitely starting to see the ugly side of the rebellion. In their promo for this season, both Liam McIntyre and Steven DeKnight have talked about introducing the audience to the nastier bits of battle, leaving us at points to question who the good guys really are. That starts to come through in this episode. The way they take the city is bloody and brutal, and any sense of sympathy you might feel for them starts to fade when you realize they’re killing women and children for no reason. It’s ¬†pretty gruesome, but it really is a credit to the writers that they can blur the lines of good and bad so thoroughly.

The cast have been talking about how each of the episodes this season are epic, and they’re certainly right about this one. I enjoyed this one even more than the premiere, and I definitely have high hopes going forward.


Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Mirjana

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