WARNING: Full spoilers for the episode below.
This week’s episode of Spartacus is definitely the best episode of the season thus far. Things really got out of control, and honestly this episode, more than any other, shows how neither side is particularly good. There are people on both sides who appear honorable and decent, but by large both sides are populated with people who simply aren’t good people. There’s no clear hero, and the rebels in particularly tread further down the slippery slope of being every bit as evil as the Romans were to them.
Of course there are those who will say, “can you blame them?” Well sure you can, just because you and other slaves were treated poorly, raped, abused, etc. doesn’t mean you turn around and become that kind of evil to every person who happens to be a Roman. While Spartacus has tried to be the honorable man fighting against becoming like the Romans, by ordering the Roman captives being treated fairly and fed, many of his men simply cannot follow that command.
The previous episode showed how quickly Naevia is willingly to shed innocent Roman blood, and unfortunately that was way escalated in this episode. There was a time when Crixus appeared somewhat honorable, although never to the degree of Spartacus, but now the mighty gladiator is firmly wrapped around the finger of Naevia. Naevia wants Roman blood to spill, and Crixus is all too willing to disobey Spartacus to do it for her.
This week, we got treated to a nice scuffle between Crixus and Gannicus, and naturally Gannicus didn’t have much trouble besting him. The reason these two brothers were fighting is because Gannicus found out that his Roman friend Atticus, whom Naevia killed the previous episode, was not aiding the Romans and was murdered for no other reason than being a Roman. Gannicus did not take kindly to that revelation, and who can blame him? Naevia is obviously out of control, and I’ll be happy when she finally meets the end of a blade.
The big plot point this week was executed perfectly and tied in scenes from the second episode that didn’t seem like anything other than filler at the time. Caesar has infiltrated the rebel city at the behest of Crassus, and it’s Caesar who is mostly responsible for drumming up support to kill the Roman captives (in an attempt to divide Spartacus’ army). His being in the city was a nice surprise, and he certainly did a fine job in his role as instigator.
In the previous episode, Tiberius led his troops into a premature battle with Spartacus. With the aid of the pirates, Spartacus held them off and the Roman army fled. This week, Crassus is not at all pleased with either his son breaking his command by engaging Spartacus, or with the fact that the troops fled battle. In Crassus’ eyes, this meant the men feared their enemy more than they feared their commander. A reasonable person would see that the troops were outmatched considering the pirates were raining giant fireballs down upon them, but then when are military commanders ever reasonable?
Crassus orders punishment in the form of Decimation, and this results in Tiberius having to unwillingly end the life of his best friend (and I suspect probably lover too) Sabinus. You can’t really feel bad for Tiberius, after all he was ordered not to engage Spartacus and he chose to do so. He didn’t want to be treated as a child, so now Crassus is treating him as he would any other soldier under his command. Consider it a lesson learned for the boy, although the Decimation itself certainly showed that Crassus isn’t a man of honor either (of course he’s banging his slave, so what do you expect?).
In the end, we’re left with Crixus and Spartacus on opposite sides and Spartacus threatening to strike him down if he continues on his path. Crixus does seem determined to continue on that path though, so the historical split between the two is coming (although it needs to hurry up and happen, as there’s only six episodes left). Here’s hoping Naevia’s head rolls to really throw that divide into high gear soon.
This week’s episode was completely brutal, as once Crixus and some of the rebels began brutally murdering Romans, the shot began alternating between the rebels killing Romans and Crassus’ army beating some of the Roman soldiers who fled to death. It was the perfect scene to show how there’s no clear good guy in all of this. Of anyone, only the Roman Laeta appears to be worth rooting for, although Spartacus and Gannicus both have their moments.
Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 4 – “Decimation” gets a four out of five: GREAT.