Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Spartacus: Vengeance "The Greater Good"

Non Spoiler Review:
The rebels struggle over their next course of action—finding Naevia or moving to a safer hiding place at Mount Vesuvius. Nasir gets a crush and controversy erupts when deceit makes its way into the ranks. Oenomaus endures both the revenge of Ashur and the schemes of Lucretia. Finally, Glaber makes a risky move to checkmate Seppius, and the politics are taking the toll on his marriage.

There was some good movement on the Naevia plot, some questions got answers, and cracks in the rebels' loyalties began to appear. While the ultimate conclusion became apparent early on and there were no surprises this time, it was another enjoyable episode full of intrigue and betrayals.

Spoilers Now!
The rebels ambush a wagon of slaves, with Crixus hoping they know of Naevia's whereabouts. Nasir shows off some of the fighting he's learned and earns some respect from Agron. The two of them find a surviving Roman who claims to know of Naevia and wants his life spared. Agron gets information and kills him, then advises Crixus that Naevia died en route to the mines. Devastated, Crixus has an emotional breakdown back at the villa.

In Capua, Glaber has Oenomaus tortured for information, but he is resilient and doesn't speak. Ashur advises pain alone will not make him betray his brothers. He is willing to serve Glaber now, so the Roman orders him to prove his loyalty and cut off the brand of the Batiatus brotherhood. He does so.

Lucretia counsels Glaber to be patient with Oenomaus. Albinius and Varinius make a surprise visit, and introductions are made to Lucretia. Albinius is very pleased to see her and the symbol she has become for the people of Capua. Varinius has come to present games to divert the mood of the people from Spartacus, and plans for Glaber's men to march in the games as a show of Roman strength. Glaber, already furious that Ilithyia never advised him of the visit, balks at the request, but his father-in-law warns him not to defy his fellow praetor's wishes.

Agron suggests they make camp at Vesuvius, within striking distance of Pompeii and Neapolis to recruit new slaves. Spartacus likes the idea, but wants him to broach it with Crixus. Agron doesn't want to involve the Gauls, but Spartacus insists everyone stick together.

Spartacus later visits the mourning Crixus and commiserates on losing their women. Crixus, of course, blames himself, but Spartacus says they don't chose love. For now Crixus doesn't want to hear any consolation. Nasir finds his suffering hard to watch, but Agron warns him that he must not know the truth.

The Gauls resist the Vesuvius plan, but Crixus makes an appearance and tells them they've all lost those dear to them, yet their fires still burn. They'll ignite an inferno together, and declares his support for Spartacus and the move on to Vesuvius.

With Oenomaus bound in the courtyard, Ashur is enjoying his chance at revenge. He refuses to answer his questions or even speak, so Ashur whips him into the night. Lucretia eventually stops the beating and warns him he can't die before prophecy is fulfilled. Ashur doesn't share her faith in the gods and asks her if it was they who found her near death, or stitched her back together, fed and clothed her, and delivered Oenomaus. It was all Ashur. She tells him he serves the will of the gods. He fears they are both forsaken. Oenomaus' knowledge is essential to her prophecy, so she tells him there is a greater secret buried in the walls that they will now see put to purpose.

Chadara chats with Nasir as they pack for their move, and she comments that she's noticed he's fond of Agron and he should pursue it. She envies him his attentions, given she's stuck with Rhaskos simply because he can protect her. Crixus is much more focused and helps Nasir carry a crate, and admits he was not in favor of his training because he was betrayed by another Syrian, as was Naevia. But she wouldn't have blamed him for the actions of his countryman, so he will honor that as well. That's too much guilt for Nasir to handle, so he has something to confess.

Crixus then flies out in a rage and attacks Agron, telling everyone in the courtyard that Naevia lives. The slaver told them she was in the mines. Agron admits he lied to save all their lives given Crixus would have risked everyone for her. Spartacus punches Agron and tells him such a lie would never have passed his lips if it had been his own brother in her place. He addresses them all and tells them every one of their lives must matter or they'll be no better than the Romans. He stands with Crixus. Agron calls for those to follow him to Vesuvius. A lot of them, including Nasir, side with him.

Ashur tries his new tact with Oenomaus and muses about all the secrets in the Batiatus house, and when Gannicus took his wife as entertainment for the nobles. Oenomaus speaks at last, and realizes it all makes sense how Melitta took the poison wine. His wife and brother betrayed him. Oenomaus lets slip that Spartacus and Crixus will one day find Naevia, leading Ashur to conclude that's why they moved south. He relates that information to Glaber, but the Roman doesn't believe him, nor is the knowledge very helpful given it's so vague. Lucretia steps in to ask if he would turn from the gods' guidance, given she knows where Naevia was sent.

As Spartacus, Crixus and their men ready to find Naevia, Agron says goodbye and tells them to meet up with them at Vesuvius. Nasir opts to follow Crixus. 

They infiltrate the mines using the captured slave wagon. Mira is offered up as encouragement to the foreman at the camp and he takes her into his tent. It's a ruse to find out where Naevia is, and she manages to secure a knife to threaten the information from him, as well as a map of the mines.  

Outside, Spartacus draws the attention of a guard who recognizes him from the arena. Crixus and his men take the initiative to kill them, then secure their clothes to take their places. The foreman attempts to disarm Mira and she kills him, then takes off with Crixus and Spartacus into the mines.

At the games in Capua, Varinius addresses the crowd and calls out the Roman soldiers to march, only they don't emerge from the gates, prompting boos. Albinius is furious as Glaber addresses the crowd to apologize and advise them that his soldiers are set to close in on Spartacus. He gets the crowd's cheers, much to Varinius and Seppius' chagrin.

Marcus' soldiers arrive at the mines and are greeted by Spartacus' men, who ensure him the mine is secure. That would have sufficed, but Ashur recognizes both as gladiators, runs out and kills them both, showing Marcus they both bear the mark of Batiatus. 

Spartacus wants to free all the slaves among them, but Crixus advises him there are too many and would reveal them, so he vows to return. Nasir recognizes the domina's mark on one. It's Naevia. She finally recognizes Crixus just as the Romans attack in the tunnels and Crixus spies Ashur. They flee to a tunnel that leads to the water, but they're overpowered and Crixus must hold them off. He sees Spartacus getting Naevia to safety before he's brought down by Ashur.

The Verdict:
Ashur's return brought plenty of good stuff. Not only do we get the answers that Lucretia owes her life to him, but it seems she's been scheming all along. And, of course, the revelation of Melitta's death to crush Oenomaus, as if he needed anything further to ruin his life.

I'm curious as to what will happen between Nasir and Agron given Chadara's comments. And that little scene in itself was helpful in fleshing both of their characters out from last week. I'm surprised that Crixus and the Gauls took the lie about Naevia so well, considering the damage it may have inflicted on their ranks. But the bond between Spartacus and Crixus appears strong, and that's a refreshing change from what could have been an easy way to create drama by them having a falling out.

Glaber's marital troubles have me wondering just who will be sleeping with whom in the near future. I'm guessing Ilithyia and Marcus and/or Seppius, and a Glaber/Seppia pairing is imminent. Though a Lucretia/Glaber tryst isn't out of the question either.

Naevia's recasting is unfortunate and I'll miss the original, but I'm glad she's back. Crixus' capture wasn't too surprising, but having him together with Lucretia and Oenomaus is sure to be interesting.

Again, there's nothing extraordinary that bears criticism here, aside from the usual manner the rebels manage to make their escapes. The machinations among the Romans are equally interesting as the goings on with the rebels. And we finally got a glimpse of the infamous mines that live up to all the dread the mere mention of them induces in the slaves.

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