TV REVIEW: Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 4 – “Decimation”

SpartacusWOtDIn case you couldn’t draw the conclusion from the title, a lot of blood is spilled in this week’s episode. The rebels have a wolf in sheep’s clothing among them, while Crassus attempts to show everyone who’s boss.


The title “Decimation” refers to the Roman Army practice of the same name – if a unit of soldiers was to be punished by decimation, they would be divided up into groups of ten. Each group would then draw lots – the soldier who drew the short stick, so to speak, was executed by the remaining soldiers in his group. In this way, the unit was diminished – or decimated – by a tenth. This was the preferred Roman method of punishing cowards, or those they suspected of mutiny. Historically, Crassus used this method on his troops in the war against Spartacus, and we got to see it in action this week.

Given the defeat suffered at the hands of the rebels in the last episode, it was a pretty safe bet that there would be hell to pay. Because the soldiers fled from the fight, Crassus decides that the unit should be decimated to teach them that he’s the one they should fear, not Spartacus. Initially, he doesn’t intend to include Tiberius in the pool of soldiers, but some ill-timed advice from Kore changes his mind. Tiberius makes it through, but it’s his close friend Sabinus who draws short stick. Under the watchful eye of his father, a distressed Tiberius partakes in the execution of his friend.

While Crassus is busy getting his troops in line, Spartacus is rapidly losing control of his own. This is primarily due to growing dissent among the rebels over his mercy toward the remaining Romans. It’s exacerbated, however, by the arrival of Julius Caesar, who poses as a slave to gain entrance into the city. The leaders are immediately suspicious of him, but he expertly plays upon the growing dissension he senses among the former slaves. By the end of the episode, the slaves are running around slaying any Roman in sight, and it falls to Spartacus to stop them.

We definitely see a crack forming in the previously united front presented by the generals. Agron remains ever loyal to Spartacus, and I suspect that Gannicus also remains true, though for different reasons. Crixus, though, has taken to listening to Naevia and leads the charge against the Romans, causing a rift between himself and Spartacus.

Another brilliant episode – so far, this season is living up to all my expectations.What I liked about this particular episode wasn’t necessarily the fighting – blood shed is never all that entertaining when it’s mindless slaughter. Instead, it was everything going on in the background that was really driving the story along. We find out that Crassus has been planning this infiltration all along (and yes, we find out what that chick was doing to Caesar with the knife in Episode 2). It’s a brilliant strategy, really, and we see Spartacus’s hard work start to unravel.

Todd Lasance has really stolen the show in the 2 episodes in which he’s been prominently featured. He’s got the cold, calculating mentality that will eventually make him a success. He knows how to play on his opponents’ weaknesses, and he isn’t afraid to play dirty. On the other hand, he does have compassion, as we see in a moving scene with a Roman woman who has been abused by the rebels. It’s a lot of fun to watch him move about the enemy camp, every word out of his mouth carrying a double meaning. My one complaint is that he didn’t interact much with Spartacus. I want to see the two of them together, and I want Caesar to realize exactly how worthy of an opponent Spartacus really is.

Poor Tiberius. His first foray into war has been a resounding personal failure. He led his troops against Spartacus and failed, and now he has to watch – and partake in – his best friend’s execution. He’s undoubtedly changed at the end of the episode; the funny thing is, I suspect that by partaking in the brutality, he’s finally achieved what he’s been striving for this entire time: for his father to look at him as something other than his inexperienced son.

Next week is already the midway point of the season. I thought Episode 5 of Vengeance was absolutely the best episode of that season, so I have high hopes for next week as well.


Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Mirjana

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