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When last week's season premiere of Spartacus: War of the Damned left off, Spartacus was faced with the task of finding a place big enough to house his growing army as winter approached. And on the Roman side, Crassus was promoted and tasked with taking on the war against the rebels. Both men took steps forward in their missions, enlisting the help of others in the process. Blood was shed. People got angry. And Caesar let some woman do something icky with a knife.
Bigger spoilers ahead if you haven't seen "Wolves at the Gate" yet!
Tonight's episode introduced two new featured characters for the series. On the rebels side, it was Laeta, a noble woman played by Anna Hutchison. And among the Romans, Gaius Julius Caesar, a dreamy blonde with an ego, a swagger, and a penchant for strange pleasures.
Thanks to newcomer Diotimos' knowledge of a walled cliff-side city and Gannicus' inside man who will be whatever you want him to be for the right sized purse, Spartacus and his men were able to infiltrate the city under the guise of being traders. In the process, they mingled with the locals and interfered in a public stoning.
It was almost looking like the plan to take the city was going to collapse from the start when Spartacus spied a slave being tied up and abused because he was caught planning an escape. When the slave cried out his allegiance to Spartacus, the stoning began. Spartacus hesitated, clearly trying to figure out what to do. Would he blow his cover to save a life? I think he was strongly considering it, but he must have deduced that the man's life couldn't be saved because he instead threw his own stone, hitting the man in the top of the head, causing a nasty splatter of brains and skull and effectively killing the man and sparing him what would have otherwise been a slow and painful death.
After that, it was a matter of getting Gannicus' guy on board and fooling the locals, including the city's leader and his wife Laeta, who was welcoming to Spartacus. When the time came, Spartacus and his men attacked, flooding the city and tearing it apart from the inside.
During the mayhem, Diotimos was killed, which was unfortunate. I don't think he ever would've been the kind of fighter that Gannicus, Agron and Crixus are, but he spoke his mind and he proved to be particularly resourceful. He went out like a champ, confirming that his former Dominus was killed and laughing as he vowed to follow him to the afterlife and piss on his shadow. Pretty great final words, especially for a show like this where deaths do occasionally occur moments after the dying person chokes out their last message through a mouthful of blood. RIP Diotimos.
Spartacus came across Laeta during the ruckus. She asked him, "You aid Spartacus?" looking completely surprised. And Spartacus wasted a perfect opportunity to say "I am Spartacus," though "I stand the man himself" does have a nice sound to it.
The seize of the city ended when Spartacus so the bloodbath getting out of control and called a stop to it, determining that the city was sufficiently taken. And it was, mostly. The city leader, whose name I never got, stood behind a gate threatening to torch the city, rather than see it taken by slaves. Laeta pleaded with him to think of his people. Whether or not he would've really backed off, we don't know. Spartacus didn't seem to think so though, because Gannicus and Crixus attacked the man's men and Spartacus fed a spear to his face, point first. Then Crixus scored bonus points for a slow-mo dive to catch the torch before it landed in the tar.
Laeta was sent to prison and Spartacus and his men have a city to call their own through the harsh winter months. But Agron mentioned early in the episode that he wouldn't want to get trapped there. And that could prove to be a major issue if and when they're discovered. The place is bordered by a cliff, which could make for a difficult exit if they're cornered by the Romans.
Speaking of Romans, Caesar has arrived! Not everyone's happy to see him. While Crassus began working on him to see if he'd be willing to go halvsies on a war against Spartacus, everyone else seemed bothered by the young but well known blonde. That includes Crassus' wife, his son Tiberius, and his preferred slave Kore, all for their own reasons. Crassus' wife just seems put off by him. Tiberius seems threatened by him (and rightfully so, considering how badly Tiberius seems to want his father's respect and approval) and Kore was sexually assaulted by him. Never mind the tub of naked women bathing him, Caesar went for Kore right away, thinking Crassus sent her to him. That wasn't the case, but Crassus intervened before anything major happened.
It's evident that Crassus has feelings for Kore. After insisting that his wife stay home while he goes off on his road trip, Crassus invited Kore to come with him, following with the other slaves, of course. But he did let her call him by his first name. Between that and his reaction to Caesar making the moves on her, it's evident he and Kore are close.
Caesar found someone else to take care of his needs, which for him involves having a knife on his down-there business. Pause to shudder. I'm not entirely sure what was happening with that girl on her knees, but the drops of blood dropping suggest something painful, though he didn't seem to mind.
With his wife staying and Kore going, Crassus' only other major decision was what to do about Tiberius. Maybe it was Kore's counsel that made him see that his son is not a boy anymore. Or maybe he has other motives. Either way, Crassus promoted his son above Caesar, kind of. I'm not sure the title is fully official. Either way, there's conflict there, particularly between Caesar and Tiberius. Caesar's ego and Tiberius need to prove himself may be a bad mix for Crassus.
And that about covers it! Spartacus' men have a place to stay, but how long before they're discovered? And what will they do with the remaining survivors? We'll have to wait and see where things pick up next week.