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You would think that knowing Caesar's fate ahead of time would take some of the tension out of his more violent scenes in Spartacus: War of the Damned, but that's actually not the case. History tells us that the character has a lot of living to do beyond this war, so when we see him putting his life on the line, and the swords are flying, the tension is actually maximized, because we know that if someone does die, it won't be Caesar. He might get hurt. He might escape. But if someone's going to die, it's not going to be him… unless they're going to take some serious liberties with the historical aspect of the show, and in this case, I'm thinking that isn't the case, which is why tonight's episode was particularly unnerving toward the end. And the final moments did nothing to ease that. Some episodes leave off at the end of a battle. This one left off in the middle. I'm almost afraid to watch more. Almost.
Tonight's episode of Spartacus was brought to you by people jumping off of things in slow motion...
Caesar went all in on his scheming, playing out his grand plan during the final moments of the episode. But he wasn't the only one with a plan. Things started out more divided than ever among Spartacus' army. Crixus has a major chip on his shoulder about Spartacus showing mercy to the Romans, and maybe his ego's a bit bruised after Spartacus pulled rank at the end of last week's episode. Spartacus (seemingly) dismissed Crixus' irritation, acknowledging that he's familiar with Crixus' bad side from their days in the house of Batiatus, he left the city to steal some food from the Romans, leaving Agron in charge of protecting Laeta and what's left of the Roman prisoners. Caesar let slip that Spartacus left town, a fact Crixus was very unhappy to learn.
It was looking like Crixus was ready to throw down with Spartacus, especially when the leader returned and let Laeta and the rest of the prisoners free, but thankfully, it never came to that. And as it turns out, Spartacus was using the tension among his army and between himself and Crixus to their advantage, sending Laeta off to Crassus believing they were divided and on the verge of crumbling. That part was planned, and we saw Laeta deliver that message to Crassus just as Spartacus hoped. What Spartacus didn't realize was that there was another Roman witnessing and logging the dispute, prepared to use it to his advantage.
Caesar had enough info go on to make his move, which he did, after killing Nemetes, who was never all that loyal to begin with and died with a raspy "Ehhhh." Just before that happened, Nemetes tried to make a deal with Caesar, but Caesar had no use for him by that point, having already secured a deal with Heracleo to smuggle some Romans in by boat, catching Spartacus and his men off guard. ("Fucking pirates.") Just as Heracleo was showing off all of the gold he received in exchange for selling Spartacus out, Caesar jumped out of the shadows and managed to stab Spartacus in the back. I guess back-stabbing's kind of a theme for him. Or it will be. As for Heracleo, that gold probably helped him sink straight to the bottom of the sea when Spartacus slashed open his head later during the fight.
While Spartacus and most of the other main character rebels were fighting Romans near the water, Caesar and his own cluster of men headed for the city, fighting Agron and Saxa (among others) at the gate. More fighting ensued. And somehow, none of the main characters died. Caesar obviously lived too, managing to fight his way through the fray and also set the gate to the city on fire, weakening it enough to be rammed open by the back-up Romans. Speaking of back-ups, Spartacus and his people killed all of their Romans, but were left standing by the water, witnessing the arrival of a lot of other ships. Not good!
While all of this was happening, my mind was racing as I tried to consider which of the lead characters might be most at risk of being killed off mid-season. Because we are at mid-season, people and it's been a while since we lost a lead. I don't think Nemetes really counts, there. Not in the heartbreaking sense, anyway. It seems like it's just a matter of time before someone big is killed off. It's just a matter of who. So let's take stock and see whose story is where at this point.
Right now, Agron and Nasir are on the outs and while it's possible one of them will die before they make up, I don't see that happening to Agron. I think (really hope) these two reconcile before something happens to one of them. Worse would be the tearful, bloody apology and reconciliation that happens after one of them gets badly injured and is close to death. Please, don't, Spartacus.
Then there's Gannicus and Saxa. Spartacus nudges Gannicus like a big brother or a Dad who ruffles his son's hair and says, "You could be so much more if you just apply yourself." Gannicus doesn't want to be a leader. He doesn't want the responsibility. He just wants to drink his wine and bed his women and not be in charge of anyone or responsible for people's lives in any direct way. And he doesn't want to be a hero to that pretty girl who is clearly enamored by him, though he did receive her hug, which helps confirm my theory that he's just a big mush on the inside. I don't see Gannicus dying before he does eventually rise up, even if that rise happens fast and in one glorious moment of acceptance of responsibility and willingness to take the risk. Either way, I'd speculate Gannicus as relatively safe, at least for a little while. Saxa, I'm less sure about. She and Gannicus are in a good place, and no one ever seems to stay there for long in this show, so I'd put her high on the list of possible casualties.
Then there's Crixus and Naevia. Crixus and Spartacus reconciled tonight. Once Crixus was brought in on Spartacus' plan to deceive Laeta and set the Romans up, he seemed to soften a bit and get on board with the plan. The two brothers reunited more firmly later on, when Crixus arrived in time to join the fight and later shook arms in a blood-splattering show of brotherhood. They're ok. Again, what ever stays good? Nothing. So Crixus may also be at higher risk right now, now that he and Spartacus are back on good terms. The same applies to Naevia, though I think there's still a bit more of her story and her recent increased aggression to be explored, so we'll see.
The Roman side of the story dealt with the falling out of Tiberius and Crassus. A spat between father and son is ugly business, but TIberius made it more ugly by paying his father back for the decimation of his righthand man by raping Kore. I'll admit, the thought that Crassus, Kore and Tiberius might get mixed up in some bizarre love triangle did cross my mind every time Kore and Tiberius were on screen together. Her warmth and affection seemed evident, but she made it clear to him that she wasn't interested in him that way moments before he made it clear to her that he wanted to take something from his father, who had taken something from him. Yikes.
The episode left off at the halfway point of what's become a very tense final season. With five episodes to go, absolutely anything can happen.