Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 10 – Wrath of the Gods

The final episode for Spartacus: Vengeance is here, the temple has been raided and the slaves went on the run, pushed up to high to the mountains and stuck to starve this is their great battle for survival. Wrath of the Gods wastes no time bringing the tensions and stress of the group to the forefront. It is here the slaves make their final battle, clashing and starved and desperate to see light through this conflict and the entire season comes to a single head.

For Spartacus this episode is everything, moved from their camp and food and drink they hold up on the mountain holding a high ground and narrow path advantage over the Romans. Unrest is settling in and the fate of the people is grim at best, they rest in the winds and storms with small fires to keep warm but lack any additional comforts in their lives. It’s only expected the group would eventually snap and seek their own fate instead of being left to die on a barren hill, in their moment of conflict the first of many turning points hits his group. and the war begins.

The Romans fare no better, Ashur and his band of killers still rub the Roman soldiers with worries, their heightened status above the rest of the men continue to drive ill feelings between the soldiers. Such attitude is his downfall though, arrogant and dreaming about the world post-battle he embeds himself with no doubt about victory. Ilithiya and Lucretia have other plans for him though, setting him up for a challenge that even serpents tongue might not be able to escape and that which sets up his final task on the stage.

Unfortunately for Glaber, this decision while it seems to go into his favor, goes completely against him. Instead of stirring unrest and a breakdown in the ranks of the slaves, it gives new light and alliance. It also brings about the fire that was almost extinguished while sitting in the winds and gives a bloodthirsty new life to the group. Fans of Ashur if such a thing exists, this is a heart breaking moment to come, for the rest of the population, you can expect retribution in the most violent of ways. Ashur marks the start to the second half of this war and the real battle begins.

The Romans face their next move from Glaber, sacrifice and be victorious, storm the gates or in this case the mountain and rise to victory. On the other side, Ilithiya faces her task assigned, dispose of the corruption and evil that only Lucretia knows of , little does she know that this task and return to the house will prove to be an experience she can never forget or live down. An heir awaits, the storm is closing in madness rises throughout the land.

The final act of this episode is one that everyone has been waiting for, a clash of sides in the battle for freedom, in a moments notice the tide shifts, the slaves and Romans clash in battle, and the battle begins. Glaber sees that even in his most well fortified moments that anything can happen and the final battle begins. It’s takes up almost 14 minutes of the episode and it’s as ruthless as it gets. We see favorites embrace combat and tragic moments strike, the final section of this series comes to a close with as much intensity as they can bring to it. Lucretia, Ilithiya, Glaber, Spartacus and so many more bring their own ends to this arc of vengeance.

Visually this episode rises to their limit in Vengeance, capturing the right moods and moments with lighting, CG and while slow motion may feel overused it tells very specific moments in this episode especially in the final battle. It’s not the best but given how much they had to accomplish it’s up to par. Lucretia captures many moments from the lighting and drama in her scenes built up by the camera team.

Spoilers – These are the big ones

Show Episode 10 Spoilers »

We say goodbye to many characters in this episode, their ends are highlighted and mourned in the heat of battle and struggle though.

Mira – Met with an axe to her chest and shoulder, trying to provide ranged protection as Spartacus rescues troubled deserters. Her death is almost immediate as they reach the hill again.

Ashur – Slain by Naevia, a slash to his manhood sees him to his knees, a brutal rage filled hack-a-thon takes his head from his shoulders.

Oenomaus – Meets his end with the Egyptian, a powerful duo attack with Gannicus struggles to take down the giant

The Egyptian – Gannicus goes into what can only be seen as a complete rage, he fights in a way unseen and ends him for good.

Lucretia – Determined to lift the curse upon her house she sacrifices herself over the legendary cliff with another

Ilithiyas Child – Also lost as sacrifice to all the evil done in the house by Ilithiya, Glaber, Lucretia, Batiatus and Spartacus, the boy falls in Lucretia’s hands as she falls to her death.

The servants of the house of Batiatus – Lucretia takes them with her on a knifing spree

Glaber’s army – decimated entirely by fire and steel, no one is left to tell the tale not even the henchmen Ashur recruited.

Glaber – given death by Spartacus, his fight is desperate and weak but his end is epic, his end marks the next chapter of the story, they are no longer rebels or slaves, they are an army to rise against the empire.

Story:★★★★½ 
Cinematography:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 9 – Monsters

Spartacus weighed his hardest decision last episode, leaving Ilithiya and his possible son to live or cutting her down as retribution. While he picked the noble path for himself it was one he would later regret as Glaber was all but noble in his effort to recover his wife and child. Maybe it was the whole new relationship with Seppia but it was quite a creep move. We see things push forward in Monsters and get a deeper darkness right from the start.

Spartacus starts off the mix disturbing his own people to the harsh reality they live in. Setting them on high alert in a trauma inducing test, no lives are lost but humiliation runs high, the trio are set to bring their people to readiness for the war they’re stepping into and push them out of the calm they’ve been resting in. Unfortunately even Spartacus is questioned when stirring up a storm this large within his own party, defending himself for his choice to free Ilithiya as higher action over the Roman opposition.

His decision rings through on both sides though, the Romans are shaken by Ilithiya’s return, although the one hit the hardest is Ilithiya herself, stumbling and dazed she returns to what she thought as her home. She finds this place though, it is far from a place of comfort or welcome for her, instead it’s simply a conduit to play house while Glaber sets his pursuits in war and his own personal desires. There is some hope at least, Lucretia plays a friend to Ilithiya and offers support, although even she steps back when Ilithiya breaks the news of the truth to the child and only one can wonder what is going to become of such information.

While Ilithiya wishes the light to hit Seppia, Lucretia also enlightens her that she already knows a deeper truth to it all. With that, well a new plan is already underway from the duo to bring the suppressed rage to a boil and out into some level of retribution or downfall to Glaber for his evil in striking down Seppius. The whole affair is quite a mix as an old face comes into the company of the group and shakes Glaber to his core with troubling news from Rome. The man takes the one thing dearest to Glaber and sweeps it away setting up a massive finale to come.

The episode is a mix of social development and drama, we see Seppia struggle to establish her worries as such a young girl in a world of corruption and authority. Without sufficient cause to prove anything she can only stumble and fall learning the harsh ways of the world and find the end she wishes.

Spartacus faces the same to greater reward from his own people, putting them to the test in combat and alliance, to find their resolution so strong that they can rest easy about the horrible battles to come forward as the Romans set to close in on them. It’s a brutal world coming up and we see the darkness roll in throughout the episode.

If the show seemed to be dark before, it holds nothing to the plague of evil that develops in this episode, to top all of that off the slaves are set to their ultimate test that sets up the final episode of this series with only madness ahead and the eyes of Rome fixed solely upon them from this point on. If you’ve been waiting for the show to sink into the depths, if you’ve wanted harsh and hard battles in your face, it’s safe to say that Monsters does this and it does it so well it drives a desire to know what this final episode will bring in Wrath of the Gods for the Vengeance series.

Visually some of the episode could have been done better, it’s understandable as they break out into the open across so many locations that cutbacks might be needed. Unfortunately having some wounds look like a bottle of tempera paint is shooting out doesn’t quite get it done and tends to pull away from the immersion, given they’ve managed to get this aspect right so many times before it’s a bit of a shock to see issues with blood still going on for the team. They nailed this quite a few times this season so it’s a wonder how they can’t keep it consistent, hopefully the teams can get this settled soon as it breaks the sense of action when you’re able to question if someone got their neck cut or if a bucket of paint exploded. It’s one of the few areas slamming this season down for quality as the rest tends to feel seamless.

Spoiler rundown:

Show Episode 9 Spoilers »

Romans

  •  Ilithiya plays second to no one, Seppia and Glaber will learn of this the hard way
  • Varinius makes a return to steal the capture of Spartacus and ride him about Ilithiya
  • Glaber is ordered to return to Rome immediately to answer for his shortcomings
  • The dark duo of Ilithiya and Glaber reunite to step out of the cloaks and unleash hell
  • We see the last step of a trio of kills made by those residing in the House of Batiatus
  • Glaber before news from Varinius promises to leave the estate to Ashur

Spartacus

  • Surprises his own people in an ambush using his own weakness of their temple, shakes them up
  • Opposition and tempers flare as morning sets in and they’re put to task
  • They’re able to intercept Varinius but Glaber launches a sneak attack unlike any other
  • The lack of preparation strikes hard at his people, making for difficult times ahead
Story:★★★★★ 
Cinematography:★★★½☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 8 – Balance

WonderCon or not we’re still pushing forward with new content this weekend, we’re dropping the latest impressions from the new episode of Spartacus Vengeance last night.

After the hell in their current home has subsided we get a new development for Spartacus and the followers, unfortunately it’s not as pleasant as they might wish for given the hell fire it carries.We left off with Gannicus needing to reach a decision in this personal war that he could be satisfied with, we’re left to assume he killed Ilithiya or took her as hostage as his watcher is left sliced up and shoved in the carriage that transported Ilithiya.

The story for the escaped slaves obviously takes the spotlight for the duration of Balance, Spartacus tries to come to terms with the situation and the revelation brought to him. All the thoughts and rage at the passing of his wife cloud his mind and even those who know his story, everyone wants to see proper retribution and Ilithiya becomes prime target on how to get this done, well until that twist I mentioned. After it comes forward Spartacus is at odds with himself and what he really wants out of this mess, unfortunately any resolution is met with criticism on all sides and even his twist to turn it to their advantage carries mass speculation on its potential success.

For the Romans they’re at a standstill for progression, Glaber makes his wife key priority even as Seppia attempts to derail his efforts and even Ashur has to take a step back as one of his key recruits was slain without effort. Seppia has many issues though, her new love for Glaber takes priority over all things and blocks Lucretia from being the sage to her that she once was,  leaving only more extreme measures at her disposal to get her back into check. For Lucretia this loosening grip on the group leaves her to bring in outsiders through her own methods, with mention of targeting Varinius yet again. Her goal is a simple one, level the playing field that has been stacked so hard against her with the rise in status to Ashur and decline in trust from Glaber after pursuits of Spartacus fail to show fruit.

The episode itself is a huge turning point to the series, we see the desperation of Glaber versus the newly resolved Spartacus. The tables turn between these rivals and we see it clearly in the final minutes of Balance, we also see the enormous gap that gets established as well, no matter how far Glaber goes into the darkness he will lack the favor and loyalty he needs in such a crucial time. I would love to go on with this but it’s an episode that needs to be experienced.

Visually the quality of the episode stays true, without much violence there isn’t much to be said for the technical features directly in this episode. The scenes have drawn back inside after such a period of adventuring. Although this episode does feel like the calm before the storm so we might still be rewarded with something more given all the new recruits and how this chapter concludes.

Story:★★★★½ 
Cinematography:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Spartacus Vengeance Episode 7 – Sacramentum

Spartacus has tipped into the second half of the season, so far we’ve seen factions develop, key characters perish and a huge boost in armies from Glaber and Spartacus as they get ready to wage war on each other. It’s been a rough ride as tragedy and huge losses set back both sides, today though we get some movement and kick this show toward a heated wrap up.

Argon leads a small party to their first major group expansion, no longer picking up small numbers to their cause, they hit their first strike of slaves destined for the arena who have their own desire for Roman blood. There are doubts that quickly rise up but they’re set aside for the simple fact that their group has just gained a massive increase. As they return to camp it’s a mixed reaction of enthusiasm and speculation on where this could lead the group, the story lays this skepticism on a bit thick leaving you just to wait for something to pop up.

Gannicus is left to fend for himself after leaving Spartacus, wandering back to the streets to seek payment and wine to fuel his guilt and inner struggles. His weakness strikes a critical blow as those in the city become aware of him after the games. With many thinking him dead it’s odd that he pops up unharmed days later from the aftermath when surely he would have been noticed before. Unfortunately too many put this together and seek to put him back into chains similar to those that held him bound to the empire before. While he may be free, he fails to realize there’s a greater cost to it than the lives that he took to earn it. His struggle brings him to his own resolve finally and it will shape the tide of battle greatly.

The Romans aren’t sitting idle either, Glaber’s recent adventures in murder bring another shift to the group as no one is the wiser to Seppius being murdered by his new recruits. Glaber quickly merges the men of Seppius into his own fleet to form a new brigade hoping to hunt the rebels like dogs, selling the murder of Seppius as a betrayal by his own slaves in the name of Spartacus. As a result he also goes on a crucifixion spree for anyone who utters the name of Spartacus, making example of his own servant woman in front of the whole crowd.

Ilithiya takes distress at this news, she also fears for herself being stuck by the side of Glaber in all of this, it doesn’t take long for her to seek aid with Lucretia to form a plan for them to leave. Unfortunately Asher’s encounter with Lucretia before was not a single affair and has kept itself going since the story left off, as a result the duo are focused on a similar objective again. Desperate planning strikes Glaber in one of his few vulnerabilities anymore and just as the pair look to brighter paths… Ashur sweeps one of them back into the fold.

Overall Sacramentum brings continued back story to the characters, much of it centering around Gannicus and his own struggle for where his own loyalty rests. We also see some of the darker sides of everyone in this show and realize that Agron’s people while not Gauls have their own share of problems they bring to the table and should not just win rapid favor. Spartacus Vengeance goes to a whole new level in many ways with episode 7 including a level of violence that had me at a pause. Is it too much? It’s hard to say but the single act tells everyone who they should absolutely not mess with.

Story:★★★★★ 
Cinematography:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 6 – Chosen Path

The arena has fallen and Spartacus drives a crucial blow to the morale of the Roman people, the freed slaves have hit a crucial turning point in their battle that sets them as larger targets to the empire. All is not so simple though, Oenomaus has taken critical injuries during the collapse of the arena and rests at the will of the gods for his survival back at camp. Crixus and Naevia are reunited but it’s only the beginning of a very long road for them, just as their stories seem to all be gathering back together we see it’s only the start of another long road for everyone.

The Romans have their internal problems to sort out, a failed attempt to capture Spartacus brings stress upon Glaber but just as frustration begins to cloud his mind, Ashur has another plan to aid him and show the downfall of his men in a brutal fashion. The miracle worker for Batiatus is in his groove and pushing to do anything he can to rise from captured slave to loyal aid to the empire no matter the cost is to him or anyone else. Glaber doesn’t end there for story, triumphant over Ilithiya he sets the tone for her conduct from this point on and her dear Varinius is nowhere to be found, in fact he’s speeding back to Rome after the flop of the games and change of events.

Glaber finds himself at odds on many fronts including how to build his next pursuit against Spartacus, with ultimate control falling into his hands after the passing of Ilithiya’s father he takes it upon himself to force his will on those who hesitate to support including the often mocking Seppius. With Ashur at his side now, you can bet that things will only get ugly under their shared domination and pursuits of anything they wish.  Even Lucretia learns this as her role fades with importance and her plan ties her into the mess with Ilithiya, falling behind the rising Ashur who manages to crawl ahead at every opening.

The story isn’t all about the Romans, Spartacus faces his own challenges as his group struggles to figure out their next plan as a group, the loses they encountered and the pessimistic tongue of  Gannicus start to eat away at the group. Crixus and Naevia become a central point as they struggle with their first real encounter with each other after her enslavement and passing to the caves, it’s a hard adjustment for the couple that rings through each scene. The trouble with their group grows as a traitor emerges and sets off a battle that could be the end of their group in a single sweep, just as quickly as it begins we see Mira bring a close to save the sanity of everyone and protect the one she cares dearest for.

Chosen Path for Spartacus: Vengeance is a plot heavy episode, they’re putting a lot of the fractured stories back into a tighter box again, Lucretia and Ashur are no longer side stories, in fact they’re very much at odds with each other now and it will likely only get more heated given the actions of this episode. We see Glaber and Ilithiya taking a huge shift in momentum as the removal of Varinius and her father leave her relatively helpless, instead of being steps ahead of Glaber she’s completely without support now or any friends that could help. Some of that loneliness could have probably been avoided had she not thrown them as fodder to the Gladiator rebellion and bashed one of their skulls in though, it’s not likely she was thinking that far ahead. Spartacus and group face their next challenge to move forward with emotionally charged issues passing through key members and distrust shocking the entire party.

If you haven’t caught up yet, I’d suggest doing so now, the second half of the season arc is about to launch and it looks to be quite a violent and complicated one. Thankfully Starz airs the show quite a bit even during the day of the next episode.

Story:★★★★½ 
Cinematography:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 5 – Libertus

We’re back with more coverage of Spartacus, due to some shifts we’ll now be writing post-episode pieces which will likely follow for the rest of this season. Apologies for that but if we can return to normal coverage we will.

Varinius brings his games to full circle, the event sets the stage for this episode as everything revolves around the stakes at hand. Varinius uses the captured team from Spartacus as the main event, some go so far as to wish for Spartacus himself to be there in jest but fail to realize his skills have not fallen since his escape. Crixus, Oenomaus and Rhaskos showdown against Gannicus the past champion and betrayer of Oenomaus as the scene sets up the battle, with little time wasted, the intense fight launches as Oenomaus demands to know of the betrayal learned of from Ashur. In a moment, the once calm and tranquil man who trained a legion turns into a beast of vengeance against an old friend. It’s an important moment that sets the tone of this tense episode and we’re only teased with a moment of it all.

Gannicus isn’t the only new addition to the story, Spartacus encounters a new friend as they make their way to flee the empire, unfortunately that friend has ill news for the entire group about tales being told and the fate of those from the mines. We see a passion from Spartacus develop, he’s no longer just out for himself but to continue earning the respect of his followers and their trust in his efforts to protect. The group comes together to make a venture that risks everything yet again in one of their most bold moves in the series.

Ilithiya is back at her old tricks, while Spartacus plots and others work at their own goals, she must rid herself of her child if she wishes to move forward with her plans to abandon Glaber. Taking it to the fullest move she must even abort the child she’s carrying so that she has no memories or attachment to Glaber or her past with him if she’s to start over with Varinius. The move itself sparks Lucretia into action and a plot to continue pulling Ilithiya’s strings goes into action. The two of them may play coy and claim they’re getting over old rivalries but the intensity is just as strong as ever.

The episode brings so much drama together and so much tension with the lengths that everyone goes to in this story that I wonder how they would top it. Glaber is no fool and crossing him in privacy is one of the worst moves to possibly execute, the same goes for Spartacus when pressed to the wall he’ll go to any length for those who follow him even if it means his own life. These two take the spotlight for the episode and while physically it’s not an even match they’re both extremely potent within their own realms of expertise, we learn their growth since their initial rivalry in the start of the series.

The quality of the episode shines with more technical execution, while a trip to the arena feels like an old memory, the actions within it are refined and polished, the violence relying less on CG and using traditional modes of execution to get the visuals accurate. It sells the violence harder and pushes the experience to new levels, the lighting even shines to strong attachment as it pulls away from the deep golds that filled the arena earlier this season. They’re working hard to elevate the experience so that it’s a seamless experience and making due as they experience new ground such environmental destruction, in that respect the show needs more polish to appear less cartoon like, either way they can improve by putting it out there.

We’ll have our impressions and recap next weekend for Episode 6. For those hoping to have gotten all they needed out of this recap, I’m still holding out on the whole outcome of the arena and the moment that actually made me enjoy Glaber for what may only be once in this entire series.

Story:★★★★☆ 
Cinematography:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆