Thursday, 5 April 2012

Spartacus Vengeance: Wrath of the Gods

Spartacus' season finale is Dark. Literally - the sun was reflecting off the screen and I had trouble seeing what was happening at first.

As we open, despite their rather desperate situation, GirlFriend seems to have some faith in Spartacus still, jibes about his 'next woman' aside. Aw, sweet.

Gnomey has started regrowing his little beard again. Perhaps it's a Beard of Sorrow over the fact that Xena will never love him. Spartacus, Gannicus, GirlFriend et al save some of the Germans from Gnomey and his minions but GirlFriend becomes the first significant casualty of the finale, axed to death and expiring in Spartacus' arms. That saves me needing to come up with a new nickname for her (or start using her actual name). Spartacus decides he blames some random, while Some Random points out the whole thing is Spartacus' fault in the first place and they're all going to starve anyway if they don't move.

Spartacus decides the answer is to speechify for a bit about their advantages (higher ground) while DSG slightly more convincingly, if not more cheerfully, says you're never too weak to fight if the cause is worth more than your life. Spartacus insists on having the last word because he wants to squeeze a reference to the title 'Vengeance' in there. Meanwhile, Haldir kills one of the Germans who may have had some lines over the last few weeks.

Xena and PH seems to be heading for Rome - or Vesuvius - or Capua - or something. I'm genuinely not sure at this point. They're in a wagon anyway. Paris Hilton had suddenly rediscovered her affection for her husband since they killed a young woman together, and she assures Xena that she'll talk Haldir into arranging a dowry for her. Xena explains that actually Haldir has already promised her to Gnomey, but she plans to murder him (Gnomey, presumably) at Vesuvius. Which seems to be where they're going, en route to Rome. I'm with Xena, that's an insane plan.

Gannicus and some other random have a lovely conversation about exactly how long it will be before GirlFriend's body decomposes (the ground is too hard to bury it). Spartacus is feeling rather gloomy and is all out of bright ideas for how to surprise the Romans and it is generally agreed that they're all doomed. Doomed! Dooooomed!

Gnomey is waxing lyrical about the House of Ashur. He's interrupted by Paris Hilton and Xena (so... they were going home?). Haldir is more pleased to see her than he's been at.. anything really, since the series began. They really do make a great evil couple. He correctly points out that travelling around when she's about to pop is bonkers. On the other hand, she has a point about not wanting to give birth in the House of Death. Haldir says he can't defeat Spartacus without severe loss of men and Paris Hilton decides this is no reason to hesitate, so mass slaughter on both sides it is.

Before she goes, Paris Hilton tells Haldir that it was Gnomey who told Gladiator Groupie about her brother and set her on Haldir, because he wanted to get in with the late Varinius. Haldir's fine with getting rid of Gnomey, but he wants rid of Xena as well. Oops, that was a major backfire. This may come down to who Paris Hilton is hotter for, Haldir or Xena. That's probably a toss-up at this point, but I think Haldir will edge it.

Xena plays along with Gnomey, confident of his impending death (and if there's one thing I can confidently predict about this episode, I think that'll be it. Gnomey will be dead by the end of it). Haldir throws Seppius' bracelet at Gnomey's feet and accuses him outright, which naturally confuses Gnomey utterly. Gnomey offers to take his minions away, but Haldir offers the minions a big pile of money and of course they abandon Gnomey on the spot. Perhaps he should have speechified more.

Spartacus has finally been persuaded to do something abut GirlFriend's body but gets interrupted by the sudden appearance of Gnomey, offering terms for surrender, if they go back to being slaves (otherwise all survivors get crucified - which is of course what will eventually happen, but not for another couple of years). This offer of further slavery is not-so-politely refused but Crixus stops Gnomey on his way back (the 'oh bugger' look on his face as Crixus yells at him is really funny). Crixus decides their answer can be delivered in the form of Gnomey's head.

Since attacking unarmed men isn't Done, and since Gnomey is injured, Naevia decides she's going to despatch him herself in single combat, since he hurt her the most (and presumably she feels this is a fairer match, she not being a champion and all). Crixus is remarkably restrianed through the whole thing, though he looks fairly alarmed (and Spartacus looks like he's completely terrified on her behalf). Gnomey makes the classic mistake of thinking he's won while his opponent is still breathing and Naevia gets him in the balls, which is especially satisfying. Then she gets him in the throat, and somehow he's still talking. He's like a character in a musical who keeps singing while dying of tuberculosis. He manages one final taunt about his rape of Naevia before she chops his head off in three goes (at one point it dangles, like Nearly Headless Nick). There's a last panning shot of the bits of Gnomey on the ground, and he is finally gone.

Naevia looks extrememly pleased with herself, and Spartacus looked relieved. Crixus just looks shell-shocked. Spartacus is reinvigorated enough to go for another mad plan, which involves abandoning their only advantage, the higher ground.

Haldir is really quite pleased to see Gnomey's head brought back to him, which was exactly what he expected. Xena celebrates by chucking away the red wig he got her (she's wearing a very pretty dress in this scene. Maybe she's about to die in it). Xena waxes lyrical about how much she loves Paris Hilton,while standing unwisely on the balcony, oh-so-temptingly near the edge. Just as Paris Hilton is about to push her off, her waters break and she has to give up for the moment (baby-napping surely imminent now!)

Spartacus calls the most importnat characters with names to him (Number One/Agron, Gannicus and Crixus). Crixus cheerfully informs Naevia that they'll meet again soon, in this life or the next. Spartacus can't resist the urge to speechify once more before heading over a cliff, inventing the sport of abseiling. Gannicus and DSG have a moment. Aw. Spartacus reckons they're gods and the Romans will feel their wrath (have they been looking at the posters for Wrath of the Titans?)

Haldir fantasises about Spartacus' death while our heroes work their way through the Roman camp, starting with the sentries. Just as Haldir has produced a complete picture of his future bliss/world domination (he says 'I shall rise above all others' - no that's Caesar, he's coming next season) he sees Spartacus' signal to the rest of his men that it's time to attack.

Paris Hilton is stuck with Xena as a midwife because they don't seem to have a real one and the doctor went off somewhere, since the baby wasn't due for another few weeks. This is not going to end well.

Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus and Number One stand and face Haldir and his whole army by themselves, which is pretty awssome (Gannicus' gleeful laughter is especially good). At this point, everyone else attacks the Romans from behind and out comes all the blood.

While Paris Hilton moans in an unconvincing way on the bed, Xena finally shows her true colours. She murders all the slaves, making a fantastic appearance in the doorway of Paris Hilton's bedroom, holding a bloody knife and with blood all over her pretty dress. She tells Paris Hilton there's no one left to come between them, looking impressively mad as she does so (it's the smile and the eyes). Xena explains that the baby is a gift from the gods to the House of Batiatus (ha! I knew it!). She goes on to perform a quick Caesarean section on Paris Hilton with the rather sinister note that she wants to unwrap the gift.

Lots of fighting, and DSG finally gets one wound too many. This is very upsetting. Gannicus agrees with me and goes into a battle frenzy which, naturally, involves damage to his enemies' faces. DSG tells Gannicus he and Wife will meet Gannicus in the afterlife, adding 'brother', and he croaks. That's going to be an uncomfortable postmortem reunion some day.

Poor Paris Hilton. I'm actually going to miss her, she'd got pretty interesting this season. And you can't help but feel sorry for her here.

Xena stalks off with the baby, still blood-spattered, while Paris Hilton crawls around on the floor, much as Xena did at the end of last season. Fighting continues while Xena stands dramatically on the cliff edge and Paris Hilton crawls towards her. Xena then somewhat unexpectedly throws both herself and the baby off the cliff - apparently the plan is bring Batiatus a son by plunging herself and the kid straight into the afterlife. Paris Hilton finally keels over.

Meanwhile, Haldir and Spartacus go mano a mano and, obviously, Spartacus kills Haldir. Sadface. They seem to have ended up back at the House of Death, somehow. Haldir points out that the Romans will send legions after him and Spartacus and his whole gang will all come to a sticky end eventually. Spartacus responds by stabbing him through the mouth because, obviously, face trauma has to be involved even though he'd already delivered a fatal body blow. Our heroes stand around in the House of Death while Spartacus speechifies about how they'll face all the legions of Rome. Everyone is very happy except Gannicus, who's just sort of mildly relieved (and possibly sane enough to know that that's not going to work as a plan). End of season.

Well, I always knew Haldir was going to die at the end of this season, but I was still sad to see it happen. I liked him. He was sexy. And he and Paris Hilton did not get nearly enough time to be gleefully evil together. Talking of whom, I wasn't overly surprised that she died (though I wouldn't have called it either way, she was a useful character) but I was surprised that after all that build-up, the baby died too. (Apparently. I wouldn't put it past this show to have the kid land on one of Xena's softer bits and improbably survive, but I think we should assume for the moment that it's dead). After going on and on about it all season, and including the revelation that it was Spartacus', it seems a strange waste to kill it off within minutes of birth. Maybe it really did manage some miracle survival...

I was very sorry to lose DSG. He's an historical character, but one we don't know anything about him beyond the fact he was a gladiator and he was one of Spartacus' subordinate officers, so the show had free reign to do what they wanted with him. I'm really going to miss him, though. The show will be the poorer without his awesomeness, his general sense of calm and the way he was able to project the idea that he actually knew what he was talking about some of the time.

GirlFriend's story had pretty much come to an end and Naevia is there to take over on the female ass-kicking front (plus German Blonde, who I am starting to think of as Glimmer from The Hunger Games, is still alive as well) so she was an obvious candidate to kill off. I hope, though, that the writers give up on their idea that Spartacus can never find happiness with another woman because he's still hung up on his wife. Howard Fast knew that this spectacularly depressing story needs something to provide some light and hope at the end of it, and Spartacus' wife and especially his child surviving him and escaping to freedom is how you pull it back from being the most depressing novel/film/television series ever made (except for maybe Das Boot. Or The Perfect Storm. Don't go to Wolfgang Petersen to be cheered up, is what I'm saying). I really hope Spartacus gets a proper love story with a better outcome next season.

Overall though, the rebels got off pretty lightly here (this will not always be the case...). They only lost GirlFriend, the German who may have had a few lines and DSG, plus Aurelia, Crazy Old Guy and the blonde woman in earlier episodes. All the other rebel deaths this season have been randoms. The Romans, on the other hand, have lost Haldir, Paris Hilton, Seppius, Gladiator Groupie, Daddy, Varinius, Xena, Gnomey Guy (if he counts as 'Roman') and that nasty rapist guy from Gods of the Arena. Basically, there isn't a single Roman character left that we know or care about. I think this may be something of a mistake - I would have left at least one alive to carry the story through to next season (probably Paris Hilton, annoying though she can be). Still, next season we get our introduction to Caesar and Crassus, so the boot will be on the other foot then. I very much doubt we'll see such a light body count (in terms of named characters) for our heroes from now on.

The most satisfying part of this episode by far was Naevia's fight with Gnomey Guy, which was awesome (and of course, I've been waiting to get shot of him for weeks!). I love Naevia and Crixus together, at least partly because theirs is the only romantic relationship that's been properly developed. I hope Naevia survives for a good while (preferably the whole series), we need someone to care about going forward. Also, Gannicus is awesome as ever (love his maniacal laugh going into a fight) and Xena's totally batsh*t insane look as she approached Paris Hilton, knife in hand, was pretty fabulous, only brought down by the narrative waste of her killing both the baby and herself.

All in all, a pretty good finale, but a little too high on the Roman body count for a show that needs to come back next season. Fortunately, Caesar and Crassus are safe (as long as Quentin Tarantino doesn't get his hands on an episode, I suppose!) so I look forward to at least three main characters (Spartacus, Caesar and Crassus) surviving the next season!

I'm going to take a few days off from blogging over Easter to go to church (a lot) and write a conference paper, so have a good holiday and I'll be back next week!


Crixus: To shit with honour!

Naevia, after Asher says killing him will not erase her memories: No, it will not, but it is a f*cking start!

Spartacus, after killing the Roman sentries: We must move quickly, before deed is discovered. Well duh.

Spartacus to Glaber, having been (correctly) informed of their eventual impending doom: Perhaps. Yet it is not this day.

Spartacus to Crixus: Now we wil become an army

All Spartacus reviews


  1. I love your recaps. I too was surprised that Paris Hilton was who are we going to love to hate??? I've heard that the actor who's been hired to play Caesar is "hot," so there seems to be no end to the hot male flesh angle of the story. However, there is a definite need for a crazy, dangerous Roman vixen now that they killed off Xenia and PH! Whatever will they do?

  2. I know! We need some proper psychotic Roman matriarchs, like Livia or Atia... Caesar's aunt Julia might work, she was the widow of the loser in a civil war, she'd be pretty pissed off! Or they could introduce Cicero and Terentia, but I don't think they're going to...

  3. An epic finale, which pretty much killed off the Capuan focus of the story. It makes sense though, seeing the focus will be shifting to Rome. We'll likely see replacements to fill the respective functions of the characters knocked off in this series.

    I've always wondered about the "vines" on Vesuvius - I know this part of the story is recounted in the sources, but were/are there such vines growing high up on Vesuvius that if tied together could support gladiator sized blokes climbing down them?! Sounds like nice experiment for a Roman version of Mythbusters ;)

    Thanks for all the great recaps Juliette, all done in such a timely manner! The Borgias is re-starting this week so the quick review grind is about to start for me again too :)

    Kind Regards

  4. Glad you enjoyed them! I don't know about the vines (but would be happy to go find out should someone want to fund the experiment! ;) )

    I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing Rome next season, and young Caesar should be exciting to watch. I still wish they'd left Paris Hilton alive though, to provide a link to some familiar faces. And I just like watching Haldir ;)

  5. Well...huh. Is now the time to confess that I had no idea there were going to be any further seasons and therefore this one was going to end with a LOT more Death? Okay, so I'm aware that history tells us that a) Crassus was involved at some point, and b) Spartacus had a lot bigger army before they all croaked (and tbh I was wondering about that aspect of it a bit - it's not like there are a lot of them!), but I was assuming the show was going for a 'Let's Mangle History' approach (not like the dedication to historical accuracy is the real focus or anything!), and there would in fact be crucifictions at the end of this (or not if they chose to avoid total cliche!).

    But I am very upset that all the characters I was interested in are now dead (not Gnomey Guy, though - good riddance to him!). Spartacus and Co. are rather dull - I much preferred the Evil Scheming Bonkers Romans. I know there will be new Evil Scheming Bonkers Romans next season (at least, I do now I know there will be a next season!), but I was rather fond of the current crop of Evil Scheming Bonkers Romans! And DSG...

    But I am going to cling to the fact that technically we don't know that Paris Hilton is dead yet - okay, so she looked pretty bad, and she probably is a goner, but that conclusion isn't quite as foregone as Haldir and Xena...

    Was expecting the baby to survive, though, to be brought up by Xena or PH as plot dictates, but to somehow become Symbolic later, given that it's Spartacus' kid...

  6. Yeah I was surprised and disappointed quite how many Evil Scheming Bonkers Romans copped it this season - I thought we'd have one or two left for next year! At least the new lot will be protected by History - even if they mess about with Crassus, doing anything to Caesar would reach Inglorious Bastards levels of messing about!

  7. Awesome review, Juliette. For a show that rarely makes me laugh, I laughed all the way through your review. Thanks to Billie Doux for sending me over to this site for excellent discussions of this series :)

    Honestly, I was not surprised at the death of the baby. Lucretia was just so crazy, I didn't think there was any other way for it to end.

    1. Thank you :) Ever since I watched this show, I react to horrific events in almost anything else with 'eh, Spartacus did it and it was worse'!


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