Crixus and his army marched toward Rome and prepared to fight. Crixus rallied the troops and gave a speech, drawing inspiration from Oenomaus in his approach. That in itself should have been a sign that we were seeing the last of this great warrior.
They used great balls of fire as part of their attack against the army that stood in their way. An idea Crixus seemed to come up with watching a piece of burning coal roll past the fire after he and Naevia shared some alone time together. After assault by fire, they quickly took down the troops and began to celebrate the victory when Crassus and the rest of the army showed up like a swarm of red ants on a picnic. It was evident that they were outnumbered, but Crixus and his people didn't retreat. They continued to fight until they were completely boxed in.
We saw Tiberius take a swipe at Agron and it looked like he was down, but I'm not 100% sure he's dead. Recalling Heracleo's return after being seemingly dead earlier this season, I'm reserving full judgment on Agron's status until the next episode - which just so happens to be titled "The Dead and the Dying" - confirms it one way or the other. But given Agron's emotional farewell scene with Nasir, it's very possible that we've seen the last of the funny, kind and fierce warrior.
Agron's fall was swift and unceremonious by comparison to Crixus'. He and Caesar were fighting and just as Crixus was about to take the future leader of Rome down, Tiberius put a sword through his back. He dropped to his knees and Crassus moved in, announcing that they would use Crixus' death as a message. While Naevia watched on, Tiberius beheaded Crixus, and we saw the worst of it in the reflection of Naevia's eye. An emotional way to confirm his brutal death without forcing us to see the worst of it straight on.
I hate that Crixus is dead, but I get it. And it's at this point that I want to say just how awesome Manu Bennett has been playing the strong but emotional and passionate character. He's been one of the best things about this series from the beginning. In many ways, Crixus has helped shape who Spartacus is as this story's hero, from his days as a gladiator, when Crixus was his rival, and on to his life as a leader, when Crixus fought at his side but occasionally openly opposed him. We've seen Crixus' evolve as a character throughout the series, from his days of fighting in Gannicus' shadow in Gods of the Arena, through his time as Lucretia's man-on-the-side, his budding romance with Naevia and his life - and death - as a fierce warrior. His death mattered, as did the fact that he and Spartacus parted on good terms and acknowledged each other as brothers in this life.
Grief over Crixus should serve to fuel our anticipation of the last two episodes, as much as it will hopefully fuel the rebels to fight harder and destroy the Romans.
Speaking of Romans, up until the battle, much of what was going on in Crassus' side of the story had to do with Kore's departure. The leader was clearly upset over it, and is prone to fits of rage at the very mention of her absence. Senator Metellus learned that lesson the hard way. Crassus hasn't seemed to put two and two together when considering the tension between his son and Caesar. Tiberius and Caesar had it out tonight when Caesar called Tiberius out for raping Kore. What did Tiberius do in response?
He raped Caesar.
I guess that's like his thing now. Tiberius flexes his authority with sexual assault. A few weeks back I was talking about the tension involved in Caesar's scenes since we know it's unlikely he'll be killed off. The rape scene in tonight's episode seemed almost like a direct response to that. Even Caesar managed to point it out, yelling, "I am Julius Fucking Caesar!" when Tiberius had two guards holding him down. As if to say, "I know you don't die yet," Tiberius penetrated him in a different way in an awful and somehow shocking display of violence.
Of course, the moment was acknowledged later when a pouting Caesar was on foot rather than horseback when the Romans rolled in to attack Crixus' army. Crassus even noted it, but he seems absolutely none the wiser of the problems between his son and Caesar. Or if he does, he's refusing to acknowledge it.
Tonight's episode was brutal. And we're left to wonder what's to become of the rest of Crixus' army, including Naevia. And what's going on with Spartacus? Did he really leave or is this a part of some bigger plan? He has Gannicus with him, which may have been an effort on the writers' part to spare Gannicus from being part of the slaughter for now. Or else, he's with Spartacus because the leader has some other bigger plan in mind and he needs Gannicus to be a part of it. It's hard to say, but either way, I can't imagine the "message" the Romans plan to send Spartacus will go unanswered.
Tune in April 5 for the second to last episode of the series, "The Dead and the Dying." (Yes, you read that date right. No new episode of Spartacus next Friday night).