Spartacus: War Of The Damned Series Finale “Victory” Recap – “I Am Spartacus!”
Spoiler Alert: This article is a recap and reaction to Season 3, Episode 10, Series Finale titled “Victory”.
What a glorious ending! The finale is as close to a flawless Victory as I could have hoped for. Every emotional beat and combat sequence is carefully thought out and perfectly executed. There’s never a moment that felt false or was not rightly earned which is in accomplishment in itself considering the level of expectation in terms of the fate of characters and giving fans a gratifying conclusion. (Warning: Continue reading only if you have watched Victory).
Now that I’ve finished crying like a little baby I’ll gather my thoughts and reaction to the finale. The part that affected me the most is Agron’s weeping face as Spartacus spoke his dying words, “Do not shed a tear. There is no greater victory than to fall from this world a free man.” I’m surprised by how touched I am because I’m usually not very sentimental. This show became more than about gladiators hacking and slashing. It’s a testament to the writers and actors for developing characters that I can emotionally invest in.
The flashes to Sura and other lost ones are beautifully done. Though Spartacus’ initial motivation is to avenge the death of Sura, he is ultimately fighting for something more. His conversation with Gannicus this episode is a call back to the season premiere. However this time, Gannicus is not drunk and Spartacus who once proclaimed, “A thousand lives will not equal Sura’s”, now defines victory differently. “Life is what defines it. Not the death of Romans, nor ours, nor those that follow us into battle. But the life of Sibyl, or Laeta. The mother and her child and so many others. They are all Sura and I would see them live.”
For a finale filled with impending doom and death, there’s a silver lining of hope that I’m left with. “Spartacus is not my [real] name. I should finally hear it again given voice by loving wife.” The prospect of reuniting with Sura in the afterlife may add to the feeling of hope, but it’s the notion that Spartacus is not one man, rather an enduring ideology which is an uplifting message. Agron said it best, “One day Rome will fade and crumble, yet you shall always be remembered in the hearts of all that yearn for freedom.”
As the “Bringer of Rain” passed away, the clouds covered up the sun and rain started to fall. On most other television series this would have been corny, but within the context of Spartacus it fit the show’s unique visual style and added to the emotional impact.
The entire death scene is executed better than I could have imagined. In a way, there are two Spartacus death scenes in the finale. I’m glad he was carried off the hill to have a final moment amongst his companions and it explains why historically his body was never found on the battlefield. The final image of the red serpent shield placed over the grave is a reference to Sura’s prophetic dream in the pilot episode which brought things full circle.
It’s a nice touch that the shield Nasir crafted out of genuine affection for Agron serves as Spartacus’ gravestone. Spartacus knew in his heart there would be no happily ever after for him because nothing could ever replace the love of his wife. He went into the final battle to give the other rebels a chance to live a life of freedom. Agron as the only surviving member from the Batiatus ludus represents the legacy will live on. The show began with two lovers (Spartacus & Sura) torn apart and many relationships such as Lucretia & Batiatus and Crixus & Naevia formed the foundation of the series, so it’s fitting that at least one couple survived as a result of Spartacus’ heroic crusade.
One hero that some viewers thought had a good chance to survive as any is Gannicus. In the first of several moments that played with my expectations, when Gannicus said, “I Am Spartacus” I thought it may hint at a possible way out for Spartacus to live on. Instead, it’s a great homage to the Stanley Kubrick film and a ploy to evade Pompeii.
Watching Gannicus on horseback as he attacked the Roman army from behind is in one of the many thrilling moments in an incredible, epic battle. Because fan-favorite Gannicus is a free loving spirit and finally accepted a leadership role in a rebellion he grew to believe in, it is difficult to see him on the cross.
Since historically Gannicus died in an earlier battle and Crassus crucified all the captured rebels, the show understandably didn’t want to cheat his death. What could have been a depressing, dismal scene was allayed with the vision of old friend Oenomaus and the crowd in the arena cheering for our champion. Although Gannicus did not die in battle as some think he deserved, I thought the visions respectfully honored his character.
The finale did a solid job of wrapping up Crassus’ twisted love story with Kore who was crucified along side Gannicus. After half a season of Crassus not knowing Tiberius raped Kore, everything finally comes to a head. As much as I like Crassus as Spartacus’ ultimate adversary, I was not as invested in this season’s Roman story line as much as Lucretia and Ilithyia’s scheming in Vengeance.
Crassus may have won the battle, but he suffered a significant loss in learning of his deceased son’s true nature whom he describes is as a reflection of himself and in watching his lover upon the cross. He forgave Kore but perhaps his love for her is only outmatched by his single-minded pursuit to glorify Rome. Crassus is always thinking of ways to manipulate future events to his advantage which is why he lets Pompeii steal some of the credit. And since the past is set in stone, he never questions why Kore left to join the rebels until Spartacus inadvertently reveals the truth about Tiberius’ death.
As adversaries throughout the season, it is easy to forget that the two never spoke face to face with each other until the finale. The hilltop conversation highlighted the dichotomy between Spartacus and Crassus though they do share the belief that there is no justice in this world. The next time they meet is on the battlefield. When Spartacus jumps up to strike Crassus sitting on his horse, it is reminiscent of the leap up to the balcony in season one finale, Kill Them All. Awesome!
One of my favorite images is an enraged Spartacus running up the hill in slow motion attacking all of Crassus’ body guards. As the final fight unfolded, I did think for a moment that Crassus’ sword reversal move would be the end of Spartacus as it was set up in the season premiere. I’m glad that Spartacus was not defeated in an one on one fight versus Crassus, only the cowardly soldiers that attacked from behind could defeat a titan. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what a fantastic performance by Liam McIntyre in this finale and through-out the season.
If for some reason you normally skip the end credits, go back and watch this one. A montage of all the significant characters from the first to final season are featured. The very last image is Andy Whitfield screaming “I Am Spartacus” taken from Season 1 Episode 7. What better way to end an amazing series and pay tribute to an incredible actor. If you interested in finding out how you can contribute to a documentary on Andy Whitfield’s life be sure to check out Be Here Now website.
I believe appreciation for Starz Spartacus will grow as fans continue to recommend it to a new audience. Word of mouth led to me watch some of my other favorite television series. So let your family and friends who have an open mind know about the greatness of Spartacus and maybe one day they might say “Gratitude” … or “Jupiter’s Cock!” Shall we begin?
There are many more memorable moments and characters’ fate in the finale that I could easily write another thousand words on. Lugo’s flaming war hammer for starters. Please feel free to share your thoughts, add anything else I missed and I’d be glad to discuss them with you.