Review: Spartacus Vengeance: "Monsters", Season 2 Episode 9

Glaber discovers the location of the rebel camp in the latest episode of Spartacus Vengeance!

All That Remains

Spartacus, Gannicus, and Crixus desguise themselves as Roman soldiers and infilitrate their own camp to test how prepared the rebels are in the event of an actual attack.In Season Two, Spartacus, played by actor Liam McIntyre, hasn’t had the emotional resonance of the first season when he tragically lost his wife, killed his best friend Varro as commanded and fought each day for his survival.  Spartacus’ journey this season of becoming a leader of the rebellion that could possibly bring down the Roman Empire has progressed slower than expected.  Although the rebels have freed Naevia from the mines, rescued Crixus and Oenomaus and burnt down the arena in Capua there hasn’t been much in a way of a strategic plan of action other than recruiting German slaves to their cause.  On the other hand, Spartacus’ philosophical and moral beliefs have been well-defined this season but some of his actions are questionable.  His belief that every life has its worth is underscored by the fact that hundreds of people died in the destruction of the arena although one could argue that the citizens of Capua who cheered for the execution of rebels Crixus and Oenomaus are not innocent bystanders.

In “Chosen Path”, Spartacus made clear that his rebellion against Rome is not out of vengeance but for the love of his late wife Sura and that freedom is not some wooden stick or rudis as won by Gannicus.  If Spartacus was motivated by vengeance, he would not have spared Ilithyia’s life last episode nor would it be considered equal payback since Glaber does not love his wife.  It is a bit surprising that he would release pregnant Ilithyia because she admitted she was carrying his child.  An alternative option would be to release Ilithyia after she gave birth and keep the baby for himself rather than being raised by his sworn enemies. Perhaps Spartacus believed Ilithyia was lying or he would rather have his child live a privileged life as a noble instead of a life on the run from Romans.

If there’s one thing Spartacus wants the most it is the death of Glaber.  Spartacus did not hesitate to throw the spear in the arena which was meant to kill Glaber but he thought it would be dishonorable or unjust to ambush Glaber when exchanging a wagon of weapons for Ilithyia. It could have been a costly error in decision, if it wasn’t for Lucius and Mira coming to the rescue. Mira has proven her worth to Spartacus but it is understandable that their relationship would end because Spartacus cannot give all his heart and love to her.  Mira’s attempt to strangle Ilithyia last episode was just the breaking point in their relationship. This episode begins with Spartacus, Gannicus, and Crixus disguising themselves as Roman soldiers and infiltrating their own camp to test how prepared the rebels are in the event of an actual attack. Despite the lack of readiness, the true weakness of the rebels is how divisive they are.  When Spartacus’ speech falls to deaf ears he asks Agron to steal wine and give them to the rebels to help lift their spirits and create camaraderie.  He also commences a friendly competition including a fight between Team Oenomaus and Gannicus who defeat Team Crixus and Agron.  It’s good to see Agron and Crixus get over their animosity towards one another and for Oenomaus smiling at Gannicus since earlier in the episode Oenomaus refused the helping hand of Gannicus.

Bathed in Blood

Glaber’s transformation into an arch-villain has been enjoyable to watch. In the season premiere, Glaber was reluctant to leave Rome and hunt for Spartacus but was forced to do so by Albinius.  At one point Glaber appeared inept and incompetent however recent events including Ilithyia betraying him has made him ruthless and vengeful;  even willing to sacrifice his estranged wife and unborn child in order for a chance to kill Spartacus.  It seems his main reason for wanting to kill Spartacus is to prove his worth and power to the Senate and that he’s not the complete failure they think he is.  As formidable as he has become, Lucretia and Ilithyia are still the master puppeteers pulling and manipulating everyone’s strings to their desire. Lucretia proves to be cunning and wicked when she uses Seppia as her pawn. When she handed the knife to Seppia and persuaded her to seek vengeance on Glaber for killing her brother I had an inkling it would be to Seppia’s demise. Then when Lucretia spoke with Ilithyia to reaffirm their schemes of blood and murder, I knew Seppia was going to die. The amount of blood gushing out of Seppia’s throat like an open fire hydrant was quite spectacular.  This was a more satisying death than what was given to her twin brother Seppius. Overall, I didn’t think there was enough story and character development on the twins. I wish we got to see more of the relationship between the siblings and watch them learn how to scheme. The friendship of Lucretia and Ilithyia has proven to be geniune although I initally had my doubts as characters on this show have hidden motives. What does Lucretia ultimately want? If she can get rid of Glaber then Ashur will not be able to blackmail her anymore.  I liked the scene between Ashur and Lucretia. It showed how twisted Ashur is but also makes him sympathetic because everything he is doing is for his freedom.  Ashur makes an agreement with Glaber that he will earn his freedom and inherit Batiatus’ ludus after Spartacus is captured.  His sexual abuse of Lucretia in recent episodes is quite disturbing; however in his mind he thinks he loves her and wants to marry her.  How is Lucretia going to get herself out of this situation?  Perhaps the most vile monster is Ilithyia.  For a brief moment, I thought being captured by the rebels and then freed would give her a new perspective.  When she forgave Lucretia, reflected on her mistakes and talked about the joy and hope blossoming within her I assumed she would turn over a new leaf; on to the path of some sort of redemption. Nevermind.  A few scenes later she is slitting Seppia’s throat and getting back with the husband she once despised.

Great Balls Of Fire

Despite being blindfolded most of the time, Ilithyia noticed Greek etchings inside the temple which was the final clue Glaber and Ashur needed to pin point the location of the rebel’s camp. The action sequences, fight choreography, stunt-work and breath-taking special effects are far above what any other television show is doing right now.  The level of intensity in the final scenes of this episode is worthy of a season finale which makes me wonder how they are going to top this for next week. It’s great seeing a rejuvenated Naevia, who finally was able to be intimate with Crixus, kick some Roman ass although I don’t remember her learning how to use the bow and arrow. I liked how the Romans used their shields as a staircase to climb over the walls of the temple.  Praetor Varinius led the initial attack and gets captured by Spartacus. Just when victory for the rebels seemed imminent giant balls of fire are catapulated by Glaber men’s including one that crushes Varinius.  Ashur’s band of gladiators come rushing through a hole in the wall and another battle breaks out.  The bad-ass Egyptian gladiator fights Oenomaus and blinds the rebel in his left eye.  Poor Oenomaus! It’s only recently he seemed to be happy in a very long time. But just think how cool he will look with an eye patch!  Gannicus helps rescue his friend as the rebels retreat back into the temple. They prevent Glaber’s men from following them by lighting the hallway on fire, escape through the back tunnels and are forced to ascend Mount Vesuvius because Roman soldiers blocked their path below. Glaber, who actually has some clothes on in this scene, decides not to pursue the rebels because he does not have the high ground advantage. Instead, he will wait until the rebels starve and attack them when they leave their perch. Glaber proclaims he will “Kill Them All” which is a great call back to the first season finale.

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