I think tonight’s episode of Spartacus: Vengeance may very well have been my favorite of the season. Granted, we still have one episode left, but “Monsters” really packed a punch, and left a body count. It isn’t even so much about what happened as it is about how it all played out. The execution, which came complete with bits of foreshadowing laced throughout the earlier scenes, worked its way up to an ending that leaves us hanging on until next week’s finale.
Drink and Contest
What better way to demonstrate the lapsed security at the rebel camp and just how exposed they all were than to kick off the episode with one of the watchmen standing out in the open, his business in hand, taking a leak. Nasir was among those on watch and partially to blame for failing Spartacus’ test. Dressed as Romans, Spartacus, Crixus and Gannicus made it all the way into camp and into the building before Naevia saw them and sounded the alarm. Not good!
It was just a drill, and apparently a much needed one. After a lot of bickering over whose fault it was, and the rebels questioning Spartacus’ decision to send Ilithyia back, Spartacus came up with a great plan to get everyone’s heads in the game. First, he explained that he sent Ilithyia back because they’re better than the Romans. Of course, he didn’t mention the fact that she’s carrying his child. None of their business, I suppose. But his chosen explanation actually applied to the method he used to get everyone training and working as a fist, rather than of a bunch of twitching fingers.
The Romans use a whip to get things done. Spartacus used wine and a bit of sparring. Sure enough, once the drinks were flowing and people were teamed up and fighting, all of the problems were resolved. Well, not all of them, but most were. Gannicus and Oenomaus seemed back in pal-territory. Crixus and Agron also shook arms and exchanged a few laughs over the same types of insults that very recently infuriated each other. And speaking of Crixus, he and Naevia are back in each other’s arms, which is great. They deserve some happiness.
Unfortunately, Mira and Spartacus are done, romantically anyway. They had a conversation about Mira’s attempt on Ilithyia’s life. While that may have been the catalyst to the discussion and the inevitable calling-it-quits for their relationship, what it came down to was the fact that Spartacus only had so much heart left to give, and though he’d given all of that to Mira, it wasn’t enough for her. I feel bad for Mira, but I never felt especially invested in their relationship. I guess you could say it wasn’t enough for me either. I also feel bad for Spartacus, but I like to think that some of his heart might grow back someday... for the right woman.
“We are both monsters, Gaius. Let us be so together, and seize the fucking heavens.”
Between the two sides, the Romans won out over the rebels as far as the drama. While the rebels were drinking and being merry, stuff was going down at Glaber’s house. With all the water being splashed around at the start of the episode, we might have seen Seppia’s grand departure from life’s embrace coming. Even she didn’t see it coming. More on that in a minute.
Ilithyia made an excellently dramatic return tonight, busting in on the start of another one-sided-sexy moment between Seppia and Glaber, and landing face first in the fountain. After she recovered later on, she confronted Glaber about witnessing him and Seppia together. This might have been the moment when she decided to call for Varinius, and it almost seemed like she did because he showed up not long after. But when given the opportunity to tell Varinius what happened to her, she instead denied being captured by Gannicus and kidnapped. As it turned out, it was Seppia who called Varinius, hoping he’d help her avenge her brother’s death. He was too annoyed at being called to Capua for no reason (so he thinks) and brushed off her pleas, leaving Seppia to fend for herself.
Poor Seppia. She had no idea what she was getting into when she started spending her time with a house full of manipulative drama-magnets. She was low on the food chain in Glaber’s house, as Ilithyia and Lucretia are far better skilled at manipulation and improvisation, and there wasn’t enough time to catch up. Lucretia got in Seppia’s ear and convinced the girl to kill Glaber. Seppia may have done just that. She had Glaber down, having smashed a ceramic jug over his head. There she was, dagger at the ready, when Ilithyia showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, and stabbed Seppia, before making a clean job of it by slashing her throat. How well timed of her. Rather than trying to pull away from Glaber, she’s gone and resealed her connection with him.
Let’s not gloss over just how nicely all of this played out on screen. From the dramatic shots of Ilithyia and Lucretia gliding through the house, their dresses flowing in the breeze, to the look on Seppia’s face as Ilithyia sliced open her throat. And then, just as Ilithyia took a fountain bath the moment she entered the house, Seppia took a death bath, her body falling into the tub, which soon turned red. To add on to all of this, we have the sight of a pregnant woman, covered in blood, holding a knife, which was just completely twisted in all the right Spartacus ways.
Earlier in the episode, Glaber confessed to Ilithyia that he’s a monster. After killing Seppia, Ilithyia reprised that speech with her own, announcing that she too was a monster. Gone is the trembling woman looking to escape Glaber, relying on her father, and cuddling up to Varinius. In her place, a blood-covered pregnant woman grasping the hand of her fellow monster. I can’t say that I knew those kids would find their way back to one another, but they do make a lovely, scary pair, don’t they? They sealed the reaffirmation of their partnership with some fast, blood-covered sex while Seppia’s body floated in the bath nearby.
Rise of the House of Ashur
Poe reference! Yes!
Understandably so, Lucretia doesn’t seem to have any inclination to team up with her own monster. But Ashur is all set to more fully fill Batiatus’ vacated sandals. Upon delivering the head of Lucius, he secured a deal with Glaber wherein he agreed to help Glaber attack the rebels, and in exchange he gets to take over the ludus and take Lucretia as his wife. It’s pretty much Lucretia’s nightmare.
Everything seems to be coming up Ashur these days. I feel certain it’s only a matter of time before he gets what’s coming to him. Still waiting...
Wall of Fire
All of this led up to the attack on the rebel camp. The Romans coming over the wall the way Spartacus, Crixus and Gannicus did, was one more fitting moment in an episode that was truly well constructed and pleasantly symmetrical. It’s a good thing Spartacus and the rebels were training and uniting, because the Romans arrived at the end of the episode and attacked in full force. It started with Varinius and his men, and ended with Glaber moving in and basically attacking all of them, attempting to kill two troublesome birds with one giant comet-like cannonball. RIP charred-faced Varinius! Fire continued to rain down on the camp.
The rebels had to fall back, just after it looked like the Egyptian may have taken one of Oenomaus’ eyes. A wall of fire was used to separate the rebels from the oncoming Romans. That left time for Spartacus and Glaber to glare at one another menacingly through the flames for a moment before parting ways. More Romans arrived, which forced the rebels to retreat up the mountain. This is apparently good for them as it gives them the higher ground. But it’s bad for them because that ground has nothing but dirt and rocks. Glaber’s plan is to let them sit up there and starve.
Ilithyia told Lucretia that the baby is Spartacus’. This happened in a moment of girl-bonding as Lucretia was pretty much the only person who was happy that Ilithyia was back, safe and sound. But I don’t doubt for a second that Lucretia will use that information to her advantage if/when it serves her purpose.
And that wraps it up. Major kudos to director TJ Scott and writer Brent Fletcher for what turned out to be my favorite hour of television this week. Can't wait to see how the season ends next Friday night!