Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Spartacus: Vengeance "Sacramentum"

Non Spoiler Review:
The attack on the Neapolis slave ships brings a healthy dose of recruits to the ranks of the rebels. But thanks to Agron, they're all German, which causes a lot of friction back at the temple. Lucretia and Ilithyia attempt to plot a way out of their mutual predicaments, while Glaber continues to solidify his power base. The wild card is Gannicus, who is forced to make a decision about his future.

The influx of the Germans brought a lot of laughs to this episode. They were completely over the top, but it wasn't all fun and games. There was plenty of drama to be had when mixing with the Gauls, and raised some questions about how loyal some of Spartacus' men are. Sacramentum doesn't rest on any laurels either, bringing quick conclusion to any questions about what's next for Gannicus, and throwing more wrenches into everyone's respective plans.

Spoilers Now!
At Neapolis, Lucius pretends he's in the market for fighting men as the rebels board the boat. They manage to free the captives (many of which are Germans), but many are not eager to follow someone who is not from their own lands, though the thought of killing more Romans does provide some unity Spartacus notes it's fortunate for Agron they liberated a ship full of his people. Agron is simply pleased they will outnumber the Gauls.

Gannicus has come to the magistrate wanting coin for his work, but he never executed the men as he was hired to. He acquiesces to give him some minor payment for his previous years of service, then Gannicus presses for his rudus replaced. The magistrate will hear no more of it and suggests he goes to Glaber, who is at the moment addressing the crowd about Seppius' death and the recent liberation in Neapolis.

Any slave uttering the name Spartacus will be put to death, he declares. To show his word, he takes one of Ilithyia's slaves and has her crucified. Lucretia warns her not to speak against her husband as Glaber forces Ilithyia to admit publicly she heard her slave speak the treason and turn her in.

As Mira and Nasir await the return of Agron and Spartacus, Crixus trains Naevia, and Oenomaus rises and greets him. He is happy to see them both reunited. The others return with their new recruits. Crixus doesn't like the look of so many Germans and tells Spartacus as much.

Ashur has forced Lucretia to share his bed now that he's risen to prominence, even forcing her to call him dominus. But he's bought her a red wig similar to what Quintus used to like, and wants her to wear it so he can look up to her on the balcony.

Seppia is distraught, and laments to Glaber if Seppius had given him his men then Spartacus would have been defeated. Her brother's men arrive, and their commander, Tarsus, swears their loyalty to Glaber as Lucretia emerges wearing the red wig (to Ashur's pleasure). Glaber offers to have Seppia remain with them and even accompany him on his travels. Ilithyia realizes how cold and calculating he's become, and suggests she'd rather kill herself to escape what her life has turned into, but Lucretia can't bear to lose her.

Spartacus chats with Agron about his choice in ships to seize—he chose the German one over Syrians and Gauls. Agron gives him his word the men will be an asset.

Gannicus is back at the brothel, and the whore he initially hooked up with. She admires Spartacus but he warns her not to speak his name aloud. Ashur arrives to talk about his new position and recounts to the patrons how Gannicus won his freedom and the rudus, which he asks him to show them. When he cannot, Ashur says his presence is required elsewhere.

At the ludus, Gannicus meets with Glaber. Lucretia suggests the gods have blessed him for allowing him to survive the arena. Glaber has the rudus and offers it back, in exchange for pledging himself to Glaber's command. He would see Gannicus elevated as Lucretia was, as a survivor of Spartacus' attack, at the front of his troops. He leaves to contemplate his decision, while Ashur doesn't believe Gannicus can be trusted. Glaber tells Ashur to follow him and if Gannicus tries to leave Capua to crucify him.

Lucretia and Ilithyia scheme to be liberated from their servitude. Lucretia says only blood can free them, and cuts her wrist, then tells Ilithyia to lift her dress. Ilithyia walks in on Glaber with blood down her thighs. Lucretia tells her it's a sign from the gods—his heir will die if it remains in the city cursed by blood and fear. Glaber orders her back to Rome, and Lucretia will accompany her. But Ashur intervenes and suggests Lucretia offers greater comfort to Capua. Glaber agrees and tells Lucretia to address the market the next day. 

Spartacus tries to convince Oenomaus that he can train an army just as well as gladiators. Meanwhile, Agron has gone off with his new men to hunt without Crixus, and angers Spartacus for attacking a wagon so close to their settlement. Agron is tired of hiding, but Spartacus knows they're not ready for an assault.

In the market, Lucretia is handing out blessings, as Gannicus arrives and sees the newly crucified slaves (including the whore from the brothel). Lucretia tries to convince him to take the offer—because she wants Glaber dead. With him dead, Spartacus will drift from Rome and no more lives will be lost. She can make opportunity for him to sneak in and kill Glaber, with Spartacus taking the blame. Gannicus returns to the brothel to struggle over his options, now that he has his rudus back. Ashur's men keep an eye on him. As night falls, Lucretia puts her plan into motion.

Ilithyia's carriage is readied, so she and Lucretia say their goodbyes. Ilithyia is grateful for what she's done for her, so Lucretia reveals her plan to remove Glaber. When Ilithyia says her goodbyes to her husband, there is a moment as she debates whether to warn him what she's planning. Instead she says nothing (much to Lucretia's relief), and tells him he will be missed.

The Germans are partying it up at the camp. When Sedullus makes a pass at Naevia and tries to rape her, she stabs him. He slaps her, but Agron pulls him off her. As they fight, Crixus sees Naevia is hurt and joins the attack. That starts a big brawl. Spartacus ultimately kills Sedullus, and furiously addresses the new recruits, berating them they're dishonoring their new found freedom. But Spartacus' show of power has impressed the Germans that he's a great warrior, so they're eager to follow him and show their loyalty. 

Seppia shows up at Glaber's bedside to disrobe and seduce him. Unfortunately a soldier interrupts to tell him Ilithyia's convoy has been ambushed. The men are all dead. One of Ashur's hired mercenaries is among them (and stabbed with the rudus), leaving no doubt Gannicus has made his decision. But Ilithyia is nowhere to be found.

The Verdict:
The jury's still out on my longterm opinion of Gannicus' value. I realize he's an historical character too, but right now his coin and women outlook hasn't left him with much development. His abrupt choice to turn on all the Romans added a great twist. I didn't see Ilithyia's kidnapping coming at all, but her arrival (I'm assuming) at the temple is sure to spark some interesting fireworks (considering she holds a secret torch for Spartacus). And I was much relieved to see her not revert to her old ways and betray Lucretia when she had the chance.

Ashur's mistreatment of Lucretia has me pretty certain he has to die by the end of the season. I can't see her being under his foot for much longer without her striking back in a major way. The power plays among the Romans in the ludus always keep me guessing from week to week.

Is Agron truly loyal? I really like him, so I hope he doesn't betray Spartacus in the near future (or worse, that Spartacus has to put him down because of his reckless actions). There appears to be an inevitable clash coming. There were just too many new characters to keep track of so I hope most (including the warrior woman) get fleshed out in the few weeks left.

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