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

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 10 Spoilers” hide=”Hide 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.

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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:

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 9 Spoilers” hide=”Hide 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

[/spoiler]

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:★★★★☆ 

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 4 – Empty Hands

Crixus stabbed and his skull smashed, Naevia freed, everyone is on the run from Glaber’s guards as they charge the mines. Episode 3 gave a moment of resolution and wiped it away with a hard swipe. Spartacus and the survivors are now set to flee for freedom to the rest of their party, the problem is… they’re not alone and they’re still barely armed against a large army of soldiers hot on their path. Glaber’s men approach from all angles out to catch the prize that will enable him to regain position with the locals, the problem is Spartacus and crew are struggling to stay alive with each wave. With medical attention on their hands and the worry of alerting the men in the dead of night they risk it all to avoid abandoning or slaying any of the wounded.

Back with Glaber he continues his face off with Vorenus, setting up a spectacle show to challenge his ability to get his hands dirty and empower his success with the captured gladiators from the mines. Who appears in this magical lineup? You’ll be pleased to find out when it airs. Needless to say they get a wave of mercy in this tense stand-off and the obvious mystery man in the captured lineup gets picked off immediately in an almost Star-Trek like fashion. The night takes a detour that gets a bit more graphic to levels not really seen since the first episode and the arena itself, Glaber is pleased with his captive playing entertainment to the night and conversations strike up.

The episode focuses heavily on development this time around, we see changes in tactics from Lucretia, Ilithiya, Spartacus and Glaber to come out ahead in the turmoil of the situation. We learn more twists and plots and see growth in many ways even if it might be a damaging shift down the path.

Spoilers ahoy – click to view or scroll to go onward

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 4 Spoilers” hide=”Hide Episode 4 Spoilers”]Spartacus is learning the struggles of loyalty and responsibility for those around him, his pursuit with Crixus brought the rescue of Naevia but many of his men were captured and slain in this pursuit and left him with dead men at hand to the point of only his own will to save them. Vesuvius awaits them in the distance but as a degrading machine the odds of their survival are beyond low.Glaber is attempting to have a show down with Vorenus, the battle of the Roman titles is in full swing and Glaber is doing everything possible to show he has the favor of the locals over all others. While his success in recovering Spartacus is low, he’s currently stockpiling key members of the rebel force that escaped Batiatus that night. With Crixus now in his slave roster it’s sure to spark the attention of Spartacus and crew even as they move away from the region.

Vorenus is enjoying himself in the meantime, his hands free from the taint of blood and shining with diplomacy, he’s the bastion of success and glamor that drives Glaber up the wall. He finds himself courted left and right through the episode and we learn a bit more about his character through each dealing, even Ilithiya has a few jabs of her own when they meet.

Lucretia bats her first strike in this revival, with Ilithiya right on her tail she turns attention toward her brewing plots and works to support them to gain favor. With so much damage between them it’s not a surprise to see Ilithiya questioning every move she makes and maintaining a critical eye to her moves. What Lucretia has up her sleeve next is entirely unknown, she’s still holding onto Glaber’s favor in all of this as her lifeline.

[/spoiler]

Those who thrived on heavier action will be a bit dismayed in this episode, the devotion to the story development was a critical step in short seasons like this as it allowed the whole story to launch onward and create critical twists to the foundation. I do feel that future episodes will be stronger for having this bluntly brought up now, having it strung out through each episode is a risky move as it eats up valuable air time for other plot points and development. We also see a hanging point with the Roman side and Spartacus, fortunately it’s not as cruel as the Crixus moment but still it leaves the unknown in the air.

The photo and editing teams have nailed the atmosphere changes and even time of day for the show, while scenes were often predictable to happen in certain times of day it’s not the case anymore. Fight scenes in the moonlight, the fog, dusk and so on all provide essential atmosphere to illustrate the characters in a dynamic environment. Combine that with the story and it’s maturing as a product out there. Although sometimes it might reach to the hyper real, the revenge scene with the nobles illustrated that’s always possible now as well.

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

Review – Spartacus Vengeance Episode 3 – The Greater Good

The hunt is on, with word of Naevia’s trades the group are off to chase their latest tip, unfortunately this trip will change the dynamic of the group in a way they could have never imagined. Crixus fans will no doubt curse the writers heavily for the news uncovered but don’t let it push you to rage channel change, there’s a method to all of the madness in Spartacus and Vengeance is no exception.

The group is met with a devastating finding in the opening scene, the men stand at a loss and their unity takes another hit. Their mission and future both come into question and they’ve only just begun on this path, not all is as it seems though within the ranks and questions rise forward from the viewer on what’s really going on. It’s a troubling scene and their return to the villa only shows the fracturing that has begun within this group of escapees.

Glaber faces his own problems, Asher’s return brings Oenomaus but his cooperation still lacks, on top of this situation of finding Spartacus, Ilithyia brings not only her father to the Villa but Vorenus as well. Their arrival brings an announcement of the city playing host for  2 weeks of games to distract the attention of the public from the rampage of Spartacus and his men. The twist of the knife comes from Glaber’s role to this event and further damage to his ego from this incident with Spartacus not only in this slaughter but from his attack at market as well.

Lucretia and Asher have their own story spinning off, the current role rides on Asher and his information extraction to prove the gods are really favoring Lucretia in her prayers and sacrifices to them. Will it be enough to win Glaber and keep control over him, it’s not exactly certain given Oenomaus has extreme loyalties to the house and to his fellow gladiators.

Spoilers if you can’t wait

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 3 Spoilers” hide=”Hide Episode 3 Spoilers”]

Spartacus and Crixus come to find trembling news, upon the latest capture of slaves they come to news of Naevia’s death. It’s a trembling shift so early int he episode and it destroys Crixus to the core. The news itself is deception meant to further the cause of their escape over the pursuit of Naevia into high-profile areas where they risk their necks even more with each move. The result of this is a dissolution of the two factions and where survival and brotherhood begin to split. It’s a tough scene to go through.

Glaber is putting all of his pieces on Asher’s ability to recruit information, he’s proven able to recover a critical piece to the rebellion but he hasn’t gotten anything out of Oenomaus so far. With Ilithyia’s father in town and Vorenus making waves to win favor of the people he has no choice but to press Asher and Lucretia to the limit to recover something he can use. Through mental abuse of the history of the house, Asher is able to bend his mind to give up a crucial piece of information that sets Glaber’s men on their way.

As the truth of Naevia comes to light, a reignited Crixus and Spartacus take on their worst mission yet, a trip to the strip mines to find Naevia, using the slave cart to enter the wasteland. It’s a gamble and a bit of heartbreak, if you’re not a fan of Asher you really won’t be after this.

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Vengeance episode 3 is a series a twists and turns and the fanning of the story is already in full swing as they scramble in every direction to find those pieces that matter most. Crixus continues a tale of woe and Spartacus struggles to find his place as a leader as his people conflict, the stakes get even higher and he puts lives on the line in these missions. He’s learning but he shows that he’s only human in all of this chaos and even the best plans are not immune to roadblocks. Episode 1 left many people concerned about the progress of the story, with these viewing’s it’s clear they’re on a very clear path with it and we just need to hold in. As a whole Episode 3 strikes hard at the viewers, the balance of good and evil will always sway side to side in a show like this, but there are those moments you just cringe hoping for the better and this was one of those times.

Visually they’re able to muster many creative areas, the Arena returns in full glory, the forests provide a pleasant change of pace and the mines even hold a unique touch in their presentation. The location and set design has evolved after being so isolated to simple dungeons and areas of the Villa and it gives Vengeance added depth. They’re not just figures locked in a box that goes a to b to c, they have dessert sections, forests, mountains and more and no story will just occupy one area.

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

Review – Spartacus Vengeance Episode 2 – A Place In This World

And…. we’re back with episode 2 of Spartacus Vengeance – A Place In This World.

We left Spartacus just finishing a lesson in leadership, having to watch for the sake of his people who joined him over his own personal desire for retribution. Episode 2 starts on a different foot, instead it shows us the story to a young man in the mines, trying to fight for his life against an ogre of an opponent. As we know from Blood and Sand, the mines are a kill or be killed environment so it’s no surprise to see such a brutal demonstration. There is a twist though, Titus Batiatus returns from the grave for what will be a long flashback through the episode.

The followers take on a new goal, the search for Naevia is on and the group will stop at nothing to see that fulfilled… well at least Crixus will stop at nothing. Fans of his character will get some excitement seeing his drive igniting again as he pushes with determination to find his lost love, each Dominus gets a target on their back during this search and Crixus struggles to control his rage. Spartacus and the others use this time to recoup and take pleasure, even then the times are not so simple as social clashes continue with the Gauls and the limited numbers of their men at hand. As the first episode brought viewers to see the struggle and lack of organization, this episode shows that it will take more than slight collaboration to keep them together in this fight.

The life of the Romans gets just as complicated, Ilithyia has had her mind take her elsewhere, traveling to another, is it a slip or is it a tease? Either way this will continue to be the least of her problems as Lucretia continues to win the favor and interest Glaber in her reborn state, so much so that she’s able to call to the gods on his behalf for assistance. Add on the struggle of Glaber to recruit men in his venture to capture Spartacus and his plea to the gods gets greater understanding, his inherited title through marriage still haunts him as he tries to draw favor and men from those around him.

Spoilers for those unable to wait:

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 2 Spoilers” hide=”Hide Episode 2 Spoilers”]Spartacus haunts Glaber in deeper ways, as Ilithyia goes to bathe she finds her mind occupied with the night spent with Spartacus that masked night, one has to wonder what this indicates around the talk of her child. Does this mean that Spartacus has sabotaged his life in another way? Hopefully we’ll find out this season as it all unfolds. Even more questions will rise around Lucretia in this episode and around the messages she tells, will her memory allow her to claim Ilithyia’s child as well?The young man in the story is a reflection to Oenomaus as a boy in the mines, brutal and raw striving to live to the next day. It lightly touches upon his history with Titus and slowly unfolds to present day as he battles in the mines yet again, without master and fighting for old glory and alliances in his past. His life yet again runs without order, simply fighting to fight in the name of Titus back then when his view was untainted of the house of Batiatus.

Lucretia takes extra notice in this episode, her actions and life are driving tensions to the limit with Ilithyia, she can hardly resist the ability to strike her down during the sacrificial ceremony, you can almost feel the trance she falls into watching the event boil down. To bury what she thought was finished in the slaughter before. With Ashur playing up new tricks again she becomes a wildcard controlled by small notes we’re not able to view.

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The story pushes forward in episode 2 into many branches, just as everything condensed into a single moment at the end of Blood and Sand it’s all exploding again as so many mysteries lay open. One thing is for certain, this is going to be a hell of a ride this season with so many wildcards in play. While I did include spoilers of this episode I did leave some bits out that you’ll just have to tune in to see, or cheat and wait until our Episode 3 review goes up and simply run from there.

Visually the episode takes a shot above episode 1, the moods, lighting and settings are all more developed. The action sequences feel seamless where they stuttered before, the transitions are clean and the slow motion sequences are balanced in their use to showcase the space they battle in and everyone involved not just one figure. There’s a lot of growth happening this season for the entire crew and it shows as they find their rhythm again. The engaging sequences are a draw to any fan of the series or newcomer, you get the tension struggle and thirst for blood throughout. The breaking of the stories is a welcome twist, the series often thrived on everyone being at their worst for intent, hopefully we will see that rise in the coming episodes.

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

Review – Spartacus Vengeance Episode 1 – Fugitivus

The fated debut is almost here, we’re ready with a full early review and spoiler tags for those waiting until the last moment to see all the goods.

Taking up after Blood and Sand, Spartacus Vengeance greets us with the struggles of the champion after the slaughter at the House of Batiatus. Viewers pass through a time jump that goes unspecified but see’s Legatus in the Senate trying to distance himself from the ordeal, that is, until a message from Spartacus calls him forward again. It seems the gods have another road in store for his path, he sets his robes aside and ventures back to origin at Batiatus.

In this episode we see a newly freed Spartacus with his people, venturing forward to seek payback in any way he can. The unfortunate part for Spartacus is his lacking forethought to having to tend to the needs of his people who followed him into freedom. Food and support fall secondary to the needs of retribution in this story line and a hard life seems to await all that follow as the Gauls and Spartacus.

[spoiler show=”Show Spoilers” hide=”Hide Spoilers”]Spartacus demonstrates this lack of focus as his people stand divided, their wishes to escape the city versus the desires of revenge against Legatus.  Spartacus learns the hard way that he has to grow as a leader not just in battle but in survival as not only the blood of Varro rests on his hands but his wife as well from his shortcomings to lead them. Without a proper leader, tension drives his own people and his relations with the Gauls as they all fight for their own ambitions.

The story is only compounded as Legatus and Ilythia embark to take over the House of Batiatus only to find a lost Lucretia wandering in the darkness, mended from her would in the slaughter by a mysterious force.  She stumbles about without a trace of memory to the events that took place over the season, not of the murder, betrayal or violence that took place during the downfall. The new shift brings a twist as this Lucretia marks as a claimed blessing and her actions signify a role as a sage, wishing to devote ritual to the gods. What this means for the likes of the freed slaves or Crixus is unknown, he is visibly shaken when helping to bail out Spartacus in the market though.

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Liam McIntyre steps into the role of Spartacus with confidence, attempting to make the role his own while paying respect to the groundwork set up already by Andy Whitman, it’s a tough transition to see but he makes an effort to smooth the experience out by studying the vocals and behaviors. Given this is a transition period as well from the arena to being on the run, it opens the story up for some adjustment and shifts in behavior and appearance. As the series progresses it seems that McIntyre will continue to grow into the role to deliver a Spartacus we all know.

The styling of Vengeance continues to evolve, the experience and techniques improve the presentation and allow Vengeance to technically distance itself from the first episodes, critical stabs and slices are more authentic now than ever before. The rain of blood from each attack loses CG styling and flows with the scene keeping the audience engaged with each frame. To go with the mood of this new story arc, the setting is much darker in every scene, from the tunnels to the general tone of every area. These are dark times for the survivors of Batiatus and we’ll have to wait to see where their fate rests.

We will cover Vengeance through the season so check back often for series updates or special features. Episode 2 coverage will arrive soon.

If you can’t wait for Spartacus Vengeance to kick off, check out the official page on Starz to see Episode 1 early before the debut.

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