After watching the newest episode of Spartacus: Vengeance this past Friday, I thought for a moment I had just witnessed the season finale. Just think for a moment of all the pivotal character and plot-driven moments that occurred in “Libertus.”
Most shows would have waited until the season finale for Glaber to eliminate Illyria’s chance of a divorce by killing Albinius. Most would have given us a few weeks of her plotting and trying to fool her husband into thinking everything was fine.
Most shows would have perhaps re-introduced Gannicus, but would have waited for the finale for him to meet Spartacus face-to-face and finally have it out with Oenomaus.
Most shows would have spent weeks with Crixus and Spartacus apart, thereby killing all momentum that is fermenting their trust and faith in one another since “Kill Them All.”
And some shows would have given us a few weeks of Lucretia and Alibinius sex—and thank you especially for not giving us that, creator Steven DeKnight.
But Spartacus: Vengeance isn’t most shows. And Steven DeKnight isn’t like most show-runners and creators.
(Oh, and did I mention Spartacus and his crew burn the arena to the ground?!)
Like The Vampire Diaries, the team behind Spartacus: Vengeance isn’t afraid to drop season-finale worthy game changers at the end of episode five of a season, or even in the middle of the episode itself. That’s what makes it so entertaining. But what makes it so strong, is that it’s done at the service of the characters, not vice versa.
When they did the prequel Gods of the Arena and introduced a new main character, Gannicus, most viewers were wondering how he would die. Otherwise, why hadn’t he appeared in Spartacus: Blood and Sand? Of course, he wound up not only surviving the six episode series, but he was granted his freedom.
What did he choose to do with that freedom? Have meaningless sex—of course, this IS Spartacus we are talking about. And help end the lives of his former brothers in the arena. That’s where he meets Oenomaus, who had since learned from Ashur that his best friend had betrayed him, and laid with his wife on the night of her death.
At first, I was upset that the re-appearance of Gannicus was ruined in last week’s preview at the end of the episode. And then we find out he’s re-introduced within the opening minutes before we get a “24 Hours Earlier” title card.
Glaber, who I’ve never really loved as a bad guy – certainly not the way I did with Batiatus and his father – finally came into his own this episode, becoming a true villain for Spartacus to face, but one that you still felt a twing of heartbreak for—I mean, Illythia was plotting an abortion after all. He may have gleefully murdered his father-in-law, but it was no means simply a matter of right time, right place. Instead, he was driven to that decision as everyone around him (especially Albinius) was scheming to strip him of the honor he so felt he deserved.
So where do we go from here? For starters, looks like we won’t get arena battle fights for awhile. (Sidenote: did Spartacus not care about the innocent lives that perished? Or did he view the people that previously cheered him on in the arena as his enemy?) Gannicus and Oenamanus are still going to need to work out their problems. Crixus now should value Spartacus more than anything—first saving Naevia and them himself, at great cost to himself. So will he now help Spartacus achieve the vengeance he seeks? Or will Gannicus try to assert himself as a leader? And what is Glaber’s next move as he seemingly is holding all the cards—something that it appeared Lucretia seemed in command of so short a time ago?
Either way… I couldn’t be more excited for the next episode…
*Photos courtesy of Starz
Alan Danzis is a lifelong TV watcher, especially of serialized dramas. In his top five list of all time, you’ll find The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Lost and Friday Night Lights. (He’s not sure where Mad Men and Breaking Bad go yet since they haven’t finished airing.) But his favorite thing to watch are the sci-fi shows, like Battlestar Galactica, anything British and sci-fi, and shows with vampires. He even put up with Terra Nova, because, well, it had dinosaurs and time travel–you had him at just one of those things. If you can stand his nerdy interests, you can follow him on Twitter at @adanzis.
Full Disclosure: Alan Danzis works at Ketchum Public Relations, which is his day job. His opinions here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Ketchum, nor the clients Ketchum works with. His BuzzFocus.com writing is wholly unrelated.