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Spartacus is getting seriously exhausting. Talk about edge-of-your-seat suspense. The series is roaring toward its finale, slashing and stomping on anything in its wake. In the words of Willy Wonka, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last." Something tells me it will, all the way until the last drop of blood is spilled. Blood was most definitely spilled during "Spoils of War," an episode penned by Jed Whedon. Spoilers if you haven't seen it yet!
I feared that the Roman attack would leave tonight's episode with a body count. With only a handful of episodes left of War of the Damned, loss seems inevitable. While many rebels did die during tonight's episode, some in gruesome fashion, the core group of Spartacus' men (and women) was left intact.
For a man who denies a leadership role, Gannicus certainly rises to the occasion when a hero is called. Not only did he volunteer to stay behind in the city to serve as a distraction while Spartacus and the other rebels fled, he came to Sibyl's rescue when he found her hiding. A scuffle cost him one of his guys, but he managed to get Sibyl to temporary-safety while the Romans scoured every corner of the city, looking for leftovers.
Elsewhere, Caesar came upon Laeta and kindly (seemingly) offered her villa back to her, along with a rosewater bath and a naked lady to do her hair and make-up. Laeta happily took him up on the opportunity, seeming thrilled at the prospect of getting to be prettied up again. Of course, her elation was short-lived, as she was delivered to Crassus, who delivered her to Heracleo to fulfill the terms of their arrangement. I thought he was dead. I think that's what we were supposed to think. The last we saw of the pirate, he was having his head slashed open and his body tossed into the sea. Tonight. he's back, his head stitched up and appearing happy to accept his reward.
That brings us back to Gannicus, who spied Heracleo and took a detour to confront him and his men. I like to think that part of his motivation was seeing another woman in distress, and needing to intervene, but even if it was only to tie up a loose end, it's another demonstration of Gannicus' courage and moxie. Of course, it nearly got Sibyl killed, which I'm pretty sure would have stayed with him for as long as he lived. Judging by the way he hugged her after Heracleo was dead, I'd say there are genuine feelings there. And judging by the look Saxa gave Sibyl when they finally made it to the rebel's camp, I'd say she's well aware of it. Or she suspects, anyway.
Laeta also showed bravery, or sweet burning vengeance. I'll leave that for you to interpret. Just as Heracleo was about to slash Sibyl's throat, Laeta stabbed him through the back of the throat with the very same branding iron he had used on her just moments earlier. Heracleo died a painful death that not only involved a poker through the neck, but also the horrible agony of being burned as he grabbed it with both hands. RIP for real this time, Heracleo… unless he shows up next week with a scar on his neck and gloves on his hands.
Laeta made it out of the episode alive too, escaping the city with Gannicus and Sibyl on horseback, by the skin of her teeth and arriving at Spartacus' camp, where everyone's looking icy cold, thanks to the snowy weather. Assuming she survives her injuries, she's now sort of a slave like them, having been traded to a pirate and then branded. Ok, so it's just a small sample of what some of the rebels have been through. Getting burned and having to kiss a pirate isn't pleasant, but on a scale of torture to rosewater, she's still closer to the latter. Either way, she's over the line and among the rebels, at least for now.
Over on the Roman side of things, Kore hasn't told Crassus about what TIberius did to her. Tiberius offered a fresh set of threats on her, and has expressed absolutely no remorse on pressing his pain hard against her. In fact, I think he takes a certain measure of glee in knowing what he did, and knowing how enraged his father would be if he knew about it.
Tiberius and Caesar are still at each others throats, a fact Crassus is either ignoring or is too busy schmoozing Roman Senate elite and trying to claim rewards for his victories to notice. Either way, it's going to cause problems. Caesar rubbed his infiltration victory in Tiberius' face, and Tiberius tried to pay him back by setting Caesar up to be attacked by one of the captured rebels. He slipped the man a key and called for Caesar to be the one to take the man's life during a murder-torture victory ceremony for the benefit of Crassus and the celebrating Romans. A big ceremonial slashing would have at least given that rebel a little more digit than the man who was tied at the arms and legs and torn apart, or the rebels who were capped with metal helmets and beaten to bloody pulps.
When the rebel broke out of his cuffs, Caesar ended up fighting him, and the rebel got a few good shots in. But in the end, he was on his knees, his gut slashed open and his death eminent. Rather than letting Caesar do the honor of taking his life, making a big display of it as representation of Rome defeating the rebels, the man told Caesar off and took his own life. This was followed by a couple seconds of awkwardness as the guy died in front of Caesar, letting all of the air out of the big-kill momentum the leader had built up. Crassus made a fair attempt to save the situation by joking about rebels fearing Caesar so much that they'd rather kill themselves than face him. That got a chuckle, but I like to think the rebel had the last laugh from the afterlife.
The episode ended with the reveal that Spartacus and his men have been cornered at a ridge, which is just as Crassus wanted. It sort of explains the man's confidence all episode. But Spartacus seems determined to overcome this latest challenge, and hopefully he will.
Four episodes left.