Our first scene opens with a bloody battlefield atop a hill, covered in mangled corpses! YAY. As far as I can tell, all the dead are Roman soldiers. In the lowlands below, the fighting continues in earnest. A trio of messengers run up to report that Spartacus’ cavalry has broken through the western flank. Cossinius, Praetor and commander of the army, orders that the signal be given to reform the infantry to the south, but of course, it’s TOO LATE.
Spartacus comes barreling over the rise on what can only be called a mighty steed, cutting down everyone in his path. Furius (Cossinius’ Tribune) shouts to the nearby soldiers to position themselves defensively in the testudo formation, a classic Roman infantry tactic that I’m sure will work out just fine.
A couple of foolhardy soldiers run up to Spartacus and die before they even realize what’s going on. Sparty gallops toward the turtled infantrymen and stomps them into a fine pink paste. So terrifying is his attack that it takes these battle-hardened soldiers almost a full minute to remember that they can just cut his horse out from under him. This stops Spartacus for about 0.2 seconds; even as he hits the ground he’s taking men down with him.
This is naturally the point that the rest of the gladiator and Germanic tribesman rebels come pouring over the top of the hill, with Gannicus, Saxa, Agron, and Nasir in the lead. They’re all filthy and covered in blood and quite frankly look like they’re having the time of their lives.
Traditional gladiator tactics have apparently spread throughout the rebel army, as one warrior throws a weighted net of the retiarius over a Roman soldier before hacking him to bits. A truly gory battle scene follows, full of old familiar friends, including Donar, Nemetes, and Lugo. And of course our very best friend, Glorious Fountains of Blood.
Saxa in particular seems to be enjoying herself very much.
At some point, Spartacus loses one of his two swords and replaces it with the fallen Eagle standard of the legion. He then proceeds to beat the holy hell out of a bunch of Roman soldiers with it. In the face of such giddily symbolic defeat, Cossinius and Furius literally head for the hills, fleeing like little diaper baby cowards. Dishonor on your cows!
Spartacus glares after them with wholly justifiable outrage. Look at those chickenshit bastards, ruining his glorious rebellion! He soothes himself by messily smashing some already-dead dude’s face in with the captured Eagle.
Crixus and Naevia, accompanied by Crixus’ cohort, haul themselves up over the far side of the hill to report that the Romans down on the plain have sounded the retreat. HOORAY, says everyone. Many brohugs and backslappings abound.
Naevia and Crixus prance happily over to Spartacus, glad to have won the day’s battle. Spartacus is in a surly mood and tells them that they haven’t won a goddamn thing, since Cossinius and Furius have run away to weep bitter tears of defeat and sadness.
Gannicus reminds him that wtf dude, a whole lot of other Roman soldiers were messily slaughtered that day, so maybe things aren’t all that bad? But no, Spartacus is determined to cling to his grumpy mood and his bloody Eagle.
Cossinius and Furius have fled to a luxurious villa a few valleys away, where they are subject to the terrible hardships of war, including being bathed gently by nude slaves. Oh the humanity! A visiting Senator, Metellus, berates them for having lost yet another Eagle standard. Furius icily points out that their losses would have been a lot worse than a goddamn eagle carving on a stick if they hadn’t sounded the retreat. Metellus doesn’t seem convinced, so Furius carries on, blaming the Senate for underestimating the rebel army’s numbers.
Ever since Glaber’s messy defeat by Spartacus at Vesuvius, thousands more slaves have joined the rebellion. To make matters even worse for the Romans, when Spartacus and the rebels liberated the mines of Lucania, all those slaves joined up as well. And after Spartacus defeated Quaestor Scrofa on the banks of the Calor, pretty much every slave in the region ran away to join the rebel army. Wow, it’s almost like they don’t like being enslaved or something. Cossinius seems like he feels very personally betrayed by this. “Won’t someone please think of all the wealthy men who need sponge baths,” his sad eyes cry.
Senator Grumpypants Metellus is, like all other wealthy Romans, totally enraged by the idea that all these lordly men have fallen at the hands of a mere slave. Cossinius has had enough of this bellyaching and shouts that these rebellious slaves will end up at the very gates of Rome itself if the Roman army doesn’t send out more reinforcements ASAP.
But as with all overextended empires, Rome just doesn’t have the resources. Metellus sighs and explains that with Lucius Licinius Lucullus taking on Mithridates near the Black Sea, and Marcus Antonius sailing off against the pirates of Crete, and Pompey dealing with Quintus Sertorius’ rebellion in Hispania, there just aren’t any men around to do the fighting, nor does the Senate have the money to hire more.
Cossinius and Furius share a significant glance, after which Cossinius hesitantly raises an uncomfortable subject. There is, of course, one man in Rome who could fund the entire campaign from his pocket change and barely even notice the absence of the money – Marcus Licinius Crassus. Metellus isn’t really psyched about having to involve Crassus, and Cossinius agrees that it’s going to suck huge donkey balls to be beholden to Crassus, but they don’t have a lot of other options if they want to defeat Spartacus and the rebels in a timely fashion.
Metellus grits his teeth and agrees to approach Crassus about funding the campaign. He makes a terrible grim face like a man forced to smell puppy farts all day, absent the presence of adorable puppies.
The rebel army’s headquarters tent is festooned with captured Eagle standards which have all been tidied up a bit, and are thus clean of brain chunks and blood. Spartacus stands alone, staring thoughtfully at a large map of the region. Agron and Crixus strut in, immensely pleased with themselves and the performance of their men, since many horses and weapons were captured for the rebel army.
Spartacus is pissed that Gannicus hasn’t joined them for an after-action report as well, and Crixus smiles fondly – they all know how Gannicus is by now. He’s off getting laid and drunk and laid again, because that’s the most important thing to him after a battle. Or after a nap. Or after a meal. Or pretty much after anything ever. Sigh.
Sparty would be happy to let Gannicus spend the rest of his long happy life getting laid and drunk all day every day, as long as they kill Cossinius and Furius first! From the patient looks on Agron and Crixus’ faces, this is an old and tired argument. They swiftly turn the conversation towards tactics instead, and Spartacus tells them to double the number of sentries patrolling the rebel encampment’s borders – there’s no way he’s going to let those Roman bastards sneak up on them.
Agron complains that Spartacus is overestimating their tactical skills, and Spartacus shoots him down with an icy glare – underestimating your enemy is a Roman weakness, one that Spartacus and the rebels have exploited time and again, and he’s not going to fall victim to it himself. Agron remains confident that the rebel army has the upper hand, and Crixus agrees that with hundreds more slaves joining them almost every day, they’ll soon have the advantage of numbers over the Romans.
Sparty asks Agron to oversee the testing and training of the new recruits ASAP – he wants the rebels to be ready at a moment’s notice to attack the Romans when they least expect it.
Crassus is in his training room, sparring with a slave – Hilarus – who is very obviously a former gladiator. Interestingly enough, he is training in the same dual-sword dimachaerus form that Spartacus uses. Crassus’ son, Tiberius, is watching the match with an expression of distaste on his perfect princess features – he seems grossed out by the idea that his father is not treating this slave like dirt, but instead seems to value his advice.
Hilarus scores a hit to Crassus’ upper arm, and apologizes immediately for losing himself in the heat of battle. Crassus laughs it off as his own mistake for not paying close enough attention, and Hilarus is very relieved. He tells Crassus that he’s a great student, but doesn’t protect his flank well enough when he thinks he’s got the upper hand.
As Senator Metellus has just arrived, Crassus uses this lesson to snark that the same thing has been the ruin of many a Senator. Metellus is not at all amused by this dressing down in front of a mere slave, and mocks Crassus for taking lessons from such a man. Crassus shoots back that Hilarus was a champion gladiator for many years, and that he paid Hilarus’ lanista more money than Metellus will ever have in his life so that he could have the opportunity to learn from a man who thinks and fights like Spartacus, a former champion gladiator.
Metellus makes a prim little pruneface and says “oh wow, what crazy random happenstance, I am here to talk about gladiators actually,” and his forced casualness fools no one. He asks for a word in private, but Crassus wants Tiberius to stay and learn about the shifty douchebag ways of the Senate.
Mentally reminding himself not to have a wild tantrum, Metellus broaches the topic of Spartacus and the rebel army. He tells Crassus that the Roman army has had some unforeseen problems that require his assistance to overcome. Crassus looks very intrigued, and asks if Cossinius and Furius have fallen in battle – it’s obvious that he likes them as little as they like him. But alas, his dreams are for naught; Metellus explains that they’ve run away and desperately need reinforcements.
Crassus laughs that they must be in a really bad way if they’re asking him for assistance, and wants to know exactly what is required. A quick glance over to Tiberius shows that he’s enjoying this as much as his father is. Metellus says that they’ll need 10,000 more men, and Tiberius makes a “bitch plz” face at his dad. Crassus smiles at Metellus, wondering what’s going to be in this for him, and Metellus says that they’ll offer Crassus a command position. Under Cossinius and Furius, of course.
Tiberius looks outraged at this obnoxious offer, and Crassus glares at Metellus, saying that the offer would be better coming from the men themselves. Unfortunately, they’re still off hiding in their luxurious villa on the outskirts of Nuceria, just north of the remainder of their armies, while Spartacus and his armies are to the south in Campania. Metellus insists that it’s really super urgent and he wouldn’t be making the offer if it wasn’t an emergency.
Crassus thinks about it for another moment or two and calmly says that the terms are agreeable. Metellus is totally relieved and promises to send off a messenger immediately. Crassus sneers at the offer, saying that he’ll send his own men, to make sure the message arrives where it’s supposed to. Oh snap. Metellus doesn’t even care how hard he’s just been dissed, and tells Crassus that it’s all good. He’s actually pretty surprised that Crassus isn’t demanding a new title, like Pompey did when he agreed to fight Sertorius. Crassus gives him a supremely disdainful look and says that he’s not interested in titles and honors that haven’t been earned.
Well shit. I really like this guy.
As soon as Metellus leaves the room, Tiberius stomps over full of teenage angst and berates his father for agreeing to be subordinate to douchebags like Cossinius and Furius. Crassus just smiles patiently at his son and says that the most important thing is dealing with Spartacus, and he’ll do anything it takes to handle the situation. Tiberius’ precious princess face is full of disappointment and betrayal and confusion.
Back at the rebel encampment, Gannicus is sitting in a tent with two dudebro buddies, drinking and laughing and retelling choice scenes from past battles. Dudebro A, who reminds me a bit of the late great Michael Clarke Duncan, is shouting with laughter over an incident in which Gannicus whipped his cock out and pissed on a bunch of kneeling, defeated Roman soldiers. Gannicus defends himself by saying he’d been super drunk that day and not expecting Spartacus to drag everyone off to attack Scrofa.
Saxa appears at the entrance to the tent and asks if there’s any wine left, because she and her friends are thirsty. Since her friends are two scantily clad ladies, the men assure her that there is plenty of wine to go around. Dudebro A is thrilled that Gannicus’ girlfriend has so thoughtfully brought them “gifts,” and Saxa just laughs and shoves him away. They’re “gifts” all right, but not for Dudebros A and B. Gannicus throws the dudebros out, over complaints from Dudebro B that it’s his goddamn tent.
And then it’s wild orgy time! You guys, I want Saxa to be my girlfriend. Life is so unfair.
In the middle of happily making out, Saxa breathlessly tells Gannicus that Sparty has been looking for him. Gannicus thinks that Sparty can wait a bit longer.
Then they all bone.
Speaking of wild sexytimes, Gannicus and Saxa aren’t the only precious perfect couple that are wildly turned on from the heat of battle. Agron and Nasir are also at it like crazed rabbits. They laugh together that all men get worked up over blood and victory, and then basically devour one another delightedly.
Nasir sends Agron off to grab the wine, and we are treated to a lovely Agron butt shot, because this show loves us and wants us to be happy. Agron gets serious for a second and tells Nasir that he fought well that day, and when Nasir jokes that Agron sounds surprised, Agron says that he’s always believed in him, even when he was a little bratty newly-freed body slave with an attitude problem.
Back in the command tent, Gannicus finally shows up, still drunk and bearing more wine. Spartacus is a little snippy with him but is still pleased to see his friend and brother in arms. Sparty tells him, patiently, that he needs to report in after each battle immediately, and not 3 days later. Gannicus puts on an innocent puppy face and delivers his report.
Gannicus hates the entire idea of this. He doesn’t want men to die for him – “for the cause!” says Sparty, defensively – and he doesn’t want to be set above his fellow warriors as though he’s better than them. Furthermore, he’s seen how the rebels have started talking about Spartacus like he’s a god, and wonders how they’ll react when it turns out he’s not. Spartacus says that his only concern is defeating the Romans, but is it really? Gannicus says that once they defeat Cossinius and Furius, Rome will just send more leaders and more soldiers – what happens after Spartacus has killed everyone in the Republic?
Gannicus points out that the men who wronged Sparty and Sura – Glaber and Batiatus – are both already dead, and so are their wives. Isn’t that enough? But no, Spartacus says that 1,000 lives would not equal the loss of his wife. Gannicus sort of understands this, because he loved Melitta something like that much. But Gannicus already had his vengeance on the people responsible for Melitta’s death, and it was empty and meaningless without her. The only thing that finally set him at peace was when Oenomaus forgave him.
Sparty’s totally confused, and for a second so am I, because I always forget that he didn’t know Gannicus when he was a gladiator. Gannicus explains that the woman he loved was Oenomaus’ wife, and that even when he won his freedom in the arena, his life was still shitty because of his guilt, until Oenomaus set him free from that on his deathbed. Unfortunately, there’s no one left alive to do that for Spartacus. Wise drunken Gannicus tells him to just forgive himself, but Spartacus thinks that war is probably the answer instead.
Anyway, Gannicus has had enough of this deep thinking for one night, and demands that Spartacus join him in some drinking and carousing. Spartacus appreciates the offer, broseph, but he’s going to sit alone in his tent and brood instead.
Early evening, and Crassus is still in his office, attending to various matters. He writes down a few notes and orders and hands them over to Tiberius, who promises to send his best man, Sabinus, to see the business done. As he leaves, Crassus’ wife Tertulla comes in with their youngest son, Publius, to say good night. Publius is wildly excited to hear that his dad is riding off to fight Spartacus, and begs to be allowed to join him on the field. Crassus tells him that he’s not quite old enough yet, and sends him off to bed.
Once Publius is gone, Tertulla girds her loins and opens the real subject on her mind – Tiberius. Crassus says that Tiberius will be joining him in the battle, and Tertulla is outraged to hear that Tiberius will be a common foot soldier and not a notable position. Crassus tersely informs his wife that Tiberius is not old enough or experienced enough to be a Tribune, which Tertulla dismisses as nonsense. They have enough money and influence to get Tiberius the position regardless of his age and inexperience.
Crassus is once again angered at the thought of gaining power and position that were not rightfully earned, and snaps at his wife. Tertulla counters that if Tiberius needs more instruction, then Crassus himself should be teaching him. Crassus sighs and says that he instructs Tiberius almost constantly, but Tiberius just doesn’t apply himself.
Tertulla abandons the subject as an old and tired argument, and asks if Crassus will be working all night or coming to bed. Crassus is pretty sure he’ll be up all night, so Tertulla says she’ll arrange for food and wine to be sent in. Crassus brushes her off, since Kore, his attractive female body slave standing off in the corner, will attend to his needs, and Tertulla glares at her before politely agreeing. Kore looks embarrassed and a little unhappy at this unnecessary attention.
Tiberius and Sabinus are strolling through the villa discussing Crassus’ unprecedented decision to serve beneath Cossinius and Furius. Sabinus seems just as outraged as Tiberius at the thought of Crassus being subordinate to those two jerkwads. Tiberius wonders if maybe his father has mellowed somewhat as the years have passed, and Sabinus asks if Tiberius feels similarly. Tiberius smirks and tells his BFF that he’s going to seize glory by the nutsack and make it his bitch, and that he wants Sabinus by his side the entire time. Bless.
As Sabinus rushes off to take care of business, Tertulla stops to chat with Tiberius, reminding him that he needs to still prove himself worthy to Crassus in this wartime endeavor. Tiberius promises not to screw up.
Agron is putting the new recruits through some training, mostly by turning Nasir loose on them and letting him kick their asses all over the practice field. Donar stands off to the side, shouting derisively at each fallen opponent, while Nemetes and Lugo congratulate Agron on the general kickassy awesomeness of his boyfriend.
Spartacus wanders over to watch the training, and the rebels in the background all whisper his name to one another, starstruck. Agron sends the next recruit to be tested by Nasir, and Sparty asks him how the training is going. Agron thinks that they’re enthusiastic but not really that skilled, and Spartacus reminds him that plenty of the rebels were like that in the beginning. He’s confident that Agron can beat them into shape. Donar draws Sparty’s attention to a couple of shady-looking characters across the field, and Sparty sets off behind them as they sneak off.
On the far side of the rebel encampment, the shady-looking dudes arrive at the tent of a bloodspattered man named Diotimus. He’s just handed over a bloody chunk of something to an emaciated and filthy rebel, telling him not to speak of it to anyone. Diotimus and the two shady dudes go inside the tent, where the unbelievably grotendous remains of a butchered horse are on a table. Diotimus gives the shady dudes a chunk of meat and tells them that there won’t be any more, so don’t ask.
Spartacus pokes his head into the tent and takes in the grisly scene. He’s outraged that a horse has been wasted, and Diotimus, not recognizing him, hisses at him angrily to keep his voice down so no one else knows that there’s available meat, or there will be a mob scene. Sparty asks who gave him permission to slaughter a horse for food, since cavalry is more valuable to the rebels than infantry. Diotimus snarks that he would’ve asked for permission but King Spartacus was too busy off waging war. Furthermore, Diotimus is starting to regret joining the army in the first place.
Sparty asks him what he’s on about, and Diotimus explains that even though his life was shitty before, at least his boss provided him with basic needs like food and clothing. In the rebel encampment, both things are currently in very short supply. Sparty’s upset that this has had to be pointed out to him, and is a bit defensive about it, but he’s stopped dead by the sight of a gang of filthy children fighting in the mud over the offal scraps Diotimus has discarded as inedible.
They’re interrupted by the arrival of Crixus, who shouts to Sparty that some Roman soldiers have been spotted riding to the north of the encampment. Diotimus is appalled to realize that he’s been bitching about Spartacus to the very man himself, and stammers a nervous apology. Spartacus tells him to can it, and Diotimus braces himself for the horrible death he expects at any moment, but Sparty just says that while they might not have enough food or supplies, they always have the freedom to speak their minds, even if it is to tell off their leader. Diotimus is reluctantly yet wildly impressed.
Naevia is alone on the edge of the forest, digging up some roots with a pointy stick. A team of Roman cavalry soldiers ride up and surround her, and their leader demands to know what she’s doing so close to the rebel encampment. Naevia stares at the ground, refusing to answer. The soldier gets all up on her face, wanting to know who else is with her.
So she tells him.
For anyone wondering if Naevia is as much of a warrior as the rest of them, allow me to present the following evidence:
Naevia finds a message carried by one of the fallen men and hands it over to Spartacus. The information it contains makes Spartacus look very serious indeed.
Upon their return to the encampment, Spartacus passes this news onto Agron – 10,000 reinforcements have been summoned to the field of battle and will be led by Crassus himself. Crixus, seated nearby, looks slightly less confident than usual; Gannicus, seated next to him, is drinking the pain away.
Agron looks over the map and proposes that they lay an ambush along the Appian Way to prevent Crassus’ men from joining up with Cossinius and Furius and their army, but Sparty shoots him down. This would put them between both armies, and Crixus says that they don’t have enough men to fight on both fronts. Spartacus agrees with this assessment, and explains that he wants to attack Cossinius and Furius before Crassus’ extra men even become an issue.
Crixus doesn’t see how this is going to help – after all, they’ve been fighting with Cossinius and Furius’ men for months, and haven’t been able to completely defeat them. Spartacus has a new plan, which involves parading the severed heads of Cossinius and Furius before their men. And instead of taking their heads in battle, which has thus far proven difficult, they’re going to attack them at the villa, where they think they’re nice and safe.
Referring back to the captured message, Spartacus and the gladiators work out the general area where the villa must be located. They can figure out which is the correct villa by looking for obvious sentries and quartered men. Agron assumes that they’ll then attack in force, but Spartacus corrects him yet again – they’re only going to attack with a few men. He, Crixus, and Gannicus will go alone.
Agron feels totally left out and says so, grumpily. Spartacus tells him to stop being silly – he’s the one who will be in charge in Sparty’s absence, after all. And Agron is going to need to lead the army in a very important mission.
Alone in their tent, Naevia is arguing with Crixus about the relative insanity of Sparty’s plan. Well, Naevia’s arguing; Crixus is just staring at her like she is the sun and the moon and the stars all at once. Naevia is irritated because she wants to discuss actual legit concerns and Crixus just wants to meeble happily at her, so Crixus manhandles her into his lap and explains that he loves her forever and ever, and that he’s so fucking proud of her for overcoming all the shitty stuff that happened to her, and that she’s the greatest thing in his entire life and OH MY GOD THEY ARE MY FAVOURITE.
Naevia admits that the main force of her unhappiness with Sparty’s plan is that she doesn’t want to be away from Crixus even for one night. Crixus promises that he’ll be fine on a night out with the boys as long as he knows she’s staying behind to keep Agron out of trouble.
I would just like to mention yet again how delighted I would be to be manhandled by Manu Bennett.
Back in Rome, Crassus is in his training room preparing for another bout with Hilarus. Tiberius is sulking again, as he’s still unhappy at the idea of his father wasting precious time sparring with a gross icky slave. Crassus reminds his son yet again that Spartacus was a common slave too, and he’s certainly someone to be reckoned with, isn’t he? Tiberius pouts and whines about yucky slaves some more, and Crassus says that Spartacus is a man just like all other men.
Tiberius finds this sort of thinking unbearable. How can Crassus possibly compare a slave to a free Roman? Crassus says that there are ways in which Spartacus stands above many Romans, and Tiberius hmphs dismissively.
Crassus turns to Tiberius with irritation and asks him if he thinks that having money and power makes him a better person than those with less than him, and Tiberius sneers in return that he’s better than a mere slave, no matter who it is. So Crassus tells him to put up or shut up, and holds out his sword expectantly. When Tiberius looks nervous, Crassus reminds him that he’s had plenty of combat training, so surely he can defeat a slave, right?
His moody teenage pride thus poked, Tiberius stomps over and grabs the sword. He immediately attacks Hilarus, to little effect. On the third try, Hilarus bops him on the nose with the hilt of his sword, and Tiberius falls on his face in the sand. Hilarus immediately apologizes to Crassus again, and Crassus angrily tells him that these kinds of harsh lessons are important. Tiberius doesn’t seem to absorb the important point being made, and glowers up at his dad.
Outside the villains’ villa hideout, Sparty, Gannicus, and Crixus pick off the sentries quietly. They huddle down on the hillside to wait for Agron to undertake his part of the plan.
Inside, Cossinius is arguing with Furius about their next moves. Cossinius thinks they need to stick to their original plans, but Furius is worried that there’s been no word from Metellus, and wants to send a message to some other commanders off in Cisalpine Gaul for assistance.
A messenger arrives with the news that the rebel army is gathering near the legions in the north, and Cossinius decides to send the first and second cohorts of the villa’s defense in support. Oh Spartacus, you clever motherfucker.
Cossinius further decides that they won’t bother waiting for word from Metellus or Crassus. Instead, they’ll join the legions and take Spartacus themselves.
Up on the hill, Sparty watches the cohorts depart with great satisfaction. Crixus thinks there are still too many men left behind, but Gannicus is excited to fight against ridiculous odds.
Crassus is really throwing himself into his sparring with Hilarus, as his earlier confrontation with Tiberius has annoyed the hell out of him. Off on the sidelines, Tiberius is sulking mightily as Kore tends to his wounds gently. He rants that Crassus still treats him like a little kid, and Kore rolls her eyes and tells him to stop acting like one.
Tiberius thinks that his dad is being an idiot, hanging around Rome sparring with a slave when he should be off with his untrained army doing leaderly stuff and preparing for war. He just can’t figure out where Crassus is coming from, and Kore tells him to stop concentrating on his own sore pride and look at things from his dad’s point of view.
(I really like that there are many aspects of Roman slavery explored in this show. Kore is obviously a person of status and value in this family, at least to the men. Tiberius is willing to talk about his personal fears and issues with her, and she’s not afraid to call him out for being a brat when he does so. Presumably this is an attitude that Tiberius has unconsciously learned from his father’s humane treatment of household slaves, which thus far seems to be very atypical of most Romans in his position. So despite his outward disdain for slaves in general, Tiberius still seems to treat Kore like an actual human being, and seems to listen seriously to the advice she provides unasked. It will be interesting to see how this relationship plays out.)
Sparty and the boys take care of the remaining sentries outside the villa’s walls and wait for a moment of quiet inside to toss their rope over the side. Crixus is still concerned that they have no idea how many more men are inside, and Gannicus remains excited to kill everyone who gets in his way. Oh boys.
As the fight continues, Crassus becomes more and more irritated. He thinks that Hilarus isn’t attacking him as an equal, but is holding back in order not to hurt him. Crassus accuses Hilarus of thinking him unworthy of his best efforts, like the Senate thinks him unworthy of a true command. Oooh, issues!
Hilarus seems really hurt by this accusation, as he truly believes Crassus is worthy of respect. Crassus insists that Hilarus attack him as though they were two equals on the sands of the arena, and Tiberius protests from the sidelines. But Crassus is determined that this will be the final lesson he needs in order to learn if he is ready to face men trained like Hilarus on the actual field of battle.
Hilarus is totally miserable at this thought, because either way, he’s going to lose: either he kills his honored dominus and is executed for the crime, or Crassus kills him in the fight. Crassus calls to Tiberius to witness his promise to Hilarus – if Hilarus wins the fight, then he is to be set free and given 10,000 denarii. Tiberius thinks his dad has finally lost his shit completely, but Crassus isn’t having any of this insubordinate crap. He is convinced that this is the only way he can fight Spartacus with true confidence in his abilities.
UGH CRASSUS I REALLY LIKE YOU.
Faced with this offer he cannot possibly refuse, Hilarus agrees to the terms. On the sidelines, Tiberius and Kore are both horrified but can’t possibly interfere.
Hilarus attacks brutally, and it looks like Crassus was right – Hilarus really was holding back the entire time. He’s an incredible fighter, easily equal to Sparty and Crixus and Gannicus.
Cossinius and Furius are all suited up and ready for battle. Furius can’t figure out why Spartacus would choose to attack so soon, since the rebel army isn’t large enough to expect a decisive victory. Cossinius doesn’t care, he just wants to bring Sparty’s head back to Rome and be a superstar.
Of course it is in this moment of ridiculous Roman arrogance that Sparty and the boys finally attack. They storm through the villa and take out the unsuspecting guards. A small cohort of men surround Cossinius and Furius and try to hurry them off to safety.
Hilarus isn’t even using his sword half the time and he’s still knocking Crassus all over the sand, smacking him down with just his shield. Kore whispers to Tiberius to stop the fight, but Tiberius knows his dad’s slaves won’t go against his command.
As Sparty and the boys pick off the remaining soldiers, Cossinius and Furius are seized with indecision: Cossinius refuses to retreat from Sparty again, while Furius insists that they flee and return with more men.
Hilarus knocks away one of Crassus’ swords and whacks him in the face with the shield, and Crassus staggers back, stunned and bloody.
Spartacus is fighting off two soldiers when he realizes that Furius has won the argument is fleeing with Cossinius. He shouts to Crixus and Gannicus to stop them from escaping, and they take off in pursuit.
Crassus, left with one sword, makes a final lunge towards Hilarus, which is deflected by Hilarus’ shield. He loses his remaining sword and is left unarmed as Hilarus moves in for the kill.
Crassus dodges the blow at the last minute and grabs the blade of Hilarus’ sword with his bare hands. As blood spurts from his mangled palms, Crassus rips the sword from Hilarus’ hands and whirls around to stab him just below the solar plexus.
Hilarus sinks to the ground slowly, with a look of almost fond realization coming over his face, having realized that Crassus was waiting for him to think he’d made the same mistake Hilarus warned him about in their last training session. Crassus smiles back at him and says that knowledge and patience are they only way to defeat someone of greater skill.
Hilarus looks at Crassus with incredible pride, telling him that he’s learned his lessons very well, and Crassus gives him a really sweet and genuine smile before yanking the sword out of his chest quickly. Crassus tells Hilarus that the money promised for his manumission will instead be spent on a monument in his honor. As he dies, Hilarus tells Crassus that it was an honor to have served him, and when Crassus responds that the honor was his, I may possibly have made a very embarrassing sniffly noise.
(OH GOD I JUST REALIZED SOMETHING. I like Crassus because the way he treats his slaves with not just simple human decency, but actual respect, reminds me so much of Titus Batiatus.)
Crassus gently lowers Hilarus’ body to the sand and looks over at Tiberius, who seems completely confused. Have you learned anything useful today, Tiberius? I hope so.
Cossinius and Furius are herded by their soldiers into the other end of the villa, as Sparty and the boys have blocked off all other possible exits. Cossinius is enraged that he’s been forced to flee from Spartacus yet again, but he doesn’t have time to work up a good ranting session, because Crixus and Gannicus are right behind them.
They finish off the rest of the soldiers just in time for Spartacus to arrive and disarm Cossinius and Furius. Even in defeat, Cossinius remains totally arrogant, sneering at Spartacus for attacking in the middle of the night like a sneak thief. He haughtily asks for Sparty’s terms for their surrender, and Spartacus tells them that there are no terms he would trust a Roman to honor.
And then he chops off their heads. It’s super effective!
Back in Rome, Metellus delivers the bad news to Crassus, who is of course terribly concerned by this shocking turn of events. He sighs over how unfortunate it is that Cossinius and Furius fell to Spartacus before he could even arrive and join them. Metellus says, quite archly, that it’s also rather unfortunate that Crassus’ messengers chose a route that passed so close to the rebel encampment.
Crassus stares him down and tells him to check himself lest he wreck himself, and Metellus declines to make any further veiled accusations. Instead, he gives Crassus the sole command over the armies of Cossinius and Furius, as well as over the 10,000 men he’d originally arranged as reinforcements. Crassus is also offered the title of Imperator, or Commander, if he’d like it. Well yes, actually, Crassus would be delighted to serve the glory of Rome, thanks so much for asking!
As soon as Metellus is gone, Tiberius approaches his dad with delighted pride, having just realized that Crassus planned this entire scheme from the very start. Crassus is pleased that his son has learned this important lesson, and reminds him that “the House of Crassus bows to no one”.
Tiberius still can’t figure out how his dad knew that Spartacus would go after Cossinius and Furius personally instead of fleeing in advance of the arriving reinforcements, and Crassus simply tells him that it’s what he himself would have done.
Back at the rebel encampment, Agron reports that the remainder of the Roman army has fled to the west. Crixus is deeply amused that the sight of their leaders’ heads on spikes has so effectively broken their spirits, and thinks that the rebels should pursue and finish them off. But Spartacus thinks they’ve won the victory they needed, and should break camp and get out of the region before Crassus and his new army arrive.
Sparty’s concerned that with winter approaching, the hunger and cold will be just as dangerous to the rebels as Crassus and his army. They’ll need to hole up somewhere easily defensible, and with sufficient supplies and shelter for the entire rebel army, in order to make it through the winter and still be an effective fighting force. Crixus grumps that there’s not a single villa in the entire Empire large enough to provide all that for an entire army, and Spartacus agrees.
That’s why they’re going to have to take an entire city.