TV REVIEW: Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 8 – “Separate Paths”

SpartacusWOtDI had a bad feeling as soon as I saw the title of this episode. Even so, I trusted that whatever happened, the writers would deliver it in epic fashion. Man, was I ever right about that.

Spartacus and Crixus finally come to an insurmountable obstacle, while the already contentious relationship between Tiberius and Caesar takes a horrifying turn for the worst.

 

I don’t even know how to put my thoughts into coherent sentences right now, but I’ll do my best. Break out the tissues, folks – this week we say goodbye to an epic warrior. If you don’t want to know who it is, stop reading now.

Spartacus and his army are on the move, pursued by Crassus and his legion. Spartacus wants to head north and cross the Alps, to territories outside the Republic. Crixus, however, is hell bent on spilling Roman blood and wants to move west for Rome itself. Spartacus tries to dissuade him, but ultimately he relents, stating that they’ve fought for the right to make their own decisions. After one final joint campaign to raid a city for its resources, Crixus and his followers (Naevia and Agron among them) depart for Rome. Gannicus stays behind with Spartacus.

Crassus is driving his men hard, desperate to catch up with Spartacus. Rome isn’t happy that he let Spartacus get away, and he’s still smarting from Kore’s departure. His behavior definitely shows signs of strain – he flies off the handle easily. ┬áCaesar approaches Tiberius about Crassus’s behavior – he wants Tiberius to talk some sense into his father. If he doesn’t Caesar threatens to tell Crassus what Tiberius did to Kore. When they find out that the rebel army is divided, Caesar wants to go after Crixus and defend Rome, while Tiberius insists they pursue Spartacus while his numbers are weakened. When Caesar threatens Tiberius again, Tiberius has him held down while he rapes him.

With Rome in sight, Crixus and his army score an early victory against a legion sent from Rome to stop them. Things quickly turn sour, though, when they realize that Crassus and his army have chosen to pursue them instead of Spartacus. The battle doesn’t last long; in the end both Agron and Crixus fall, and Crassus has Crixus beheaded so that he can send a message to Spartacus.

I won’t lie – I was kind of traumatized by this episode. Traumatized in a good way, though – in the way that it hurts to see characters you’ve grown to love over four seasons meet their end. Knowing it was pretty much inevitable didn’t help at all. I was still surprised when it happened, and I think that is all down to how brilliant the writing on this show is.

Crixus – oh Crixus, you lovable hot head. In a show where death is served up often, he managed to make it through all four seasons. He grew a lot as a character, largely due to his relationship with Naevia (and man, it was difficult watching her as he was beheaded). He and Spartacus have bumped heads a lot this season, but they parted on good term in an incredibly touching scene, made all the more significant by how much they’ve been through together. Even though his death at the hands of the Romans was undignified, he died battling the Romans, as he seemed to want. And I am sure that Spartacus will do something fitting to honor his memory.

Now, Agron is also wounded in the battle, and there is a heart-stopping shot of him lying next to a dead Roman – suggesting that he too has been killed. However, the really significant deaths are always very pronounced, and Agron’s fall was pretty understated. I will hold out hope that he’s not dead – yes, I am in denial, but cut me some slack. I want to see him reunited with Nasir. He’s a fictional character, after all, so they have no real reason to kill him. Someone has to survive, right? Right?? Of course, if it turns out he is dead, I will give him a nice long tribute next time.

On the Roman side, Tiberius has very firmly established himself as the villain. The lines are often blurred on this show, but Tiberius has no redeeming qualities left. We saw it in the way he treated Kore, and now in what he’s done to Caesar. I can deal with a bad guy, but I absolutely hate a bad guy who has no honor.

There’s no new episode next week; instead, Starz will be airing another mini catch-up marathon. It’s a good thing – we’ll need the mental break to recover and to prepare for whatever is coming in the final two episodes.

 

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Mirjana

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