Picking up right where we left off last week, the Roman soldiers under Crassus’ command have just smashed in the front gate at Sinuessa. Everything is helpfully on fire, thanks to Caesar’s interference. Saxa, Donar, and Agron square up in front of the onslaught despite Caesar’s snarky reminder at them to run. YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF THEM, CAESAR!
Luckily, the hole smashed by the battering ram is only large enough for one soldier at a time to leap through dramatically. Their eagerness causes a bit of a bottleneck and the remaining soldiers outside fall back to more battering of the gates, to open them completely. This leaves about a half dozen or so men inside to fight the rebel trio alongside Caesar. Silly Romans, thinking that will be enough. At least three of them are dead by the time the gate finally falls.
At this point, our rebellious trio realizes that falling back is certainly the most logical plan, and they flee down the city streets, ideally towards their rendezvous at the northern gate. The Roman soldiers stream after them, hungry for battle.
Back at the gate, Crassus strolls in super casually like he’s entering a posh dinner party, and gives Caesar a pleased little smirk. Alas, Caesar has no tasty hors d’oeuvres to offer him, aside from blood and mayhem. Luckily, Crassus likes blood and mayhem rather a lot.
The first cohort pours through the city, slaughtering everything in its path. As they arrive in the town square, Sparty, Crixus, and Gannicus come barreling out of the shadows and leap down into the middle of the battle.
All this crazed leaping about makes me very concerned for the poor beleaguered knees of Our Heros.
Within about 10 seconds there are at least a dozen less soldiers fighting. One or two might still be breathing but from the looks on their terrified, bloody faces, they’re not enjoying it much. Naevia slips into the fray and starts slashing throats like a boss, as Crixus looks around wildly for more people to stab. In the momentary lull in battle, Our Heroes try to figure out just what the hell is going on. Where did all these damn soldiers come from? It’s terribly rude when people just invite themselves to tea, after all. Rude and most ungentlemanly.
Agron’s arrival with Donar and Saxa brings the unwelcome news that the front gate has fallen to fire and betrayal. Sparty immediately assumes this is another douchey trick brought upon them by Herocleo, but Agron sets him straight – this time, it’s Lyciscus who was to blame. Saxa sums it up pretty well when she snarls out that he was a fucking Roman all along.
Naevia puts two and two together and realizes that Lyciscus was Crassus’ man on the inside, who doubtlessly aided the Cilician pirates. Donar can’t believe they’ve been fucked on both sides at the same time. The bloodthirsty battle bellows of the Roman soldiers are drawing ever closer, and Our Heroes realize that they don’t actually have the time right now to hash out exactly where every last single goddamn thing has gone wrong lately.
Agron also has a rather important realization – namely, that Nasir is nowhere to be seen. Sparty tells him that Nasir has gone off with Lugo to warn the rest of the rebels of the pirate betrayal and attack, and Agron barrels off to find him. Sparty shouts after him to make sure everyone else flees the city for the safety of the mountain ridge above town.
Crixus is outraged at the thought of running away from a fight, but Sparty remains firm – he doesn’t see it as a cowardly flight, he just wants everyone to survive. Crixus insists that they need to make their stand in Sinuessa, and when he hears Sparty’s explanation that they’re just not ready to face Crassus and his legions, he remains unconvinced. It’s not like their entire army can get through the northern gate in time to escape, after all.
Gannicus, slightly wild-eyed but super determined, steps forward and says that he’ll stay behind to distract Crassus and the legions, and hopefully buy enough time for everyone to escape. As one, his friends turn to look at him like he’s done lost his fool mind.
Spartacus: By what means?
Gannicus: I have no fucking idea.
NOOOO MY PRECIOUSSSS.
But Spartacus decides, once again, that it is up to himself and himself alone to deal with ALL THE PROBLEMS. He rejects Gannicus’ offer and prepares to run off into self-sacrifice and madness. Gannicus shouts after him that this wasn’t a goddamn request, broseph. He’s not even playing. You see, Gannicus is pretty sure that the entire rebellion will fall to shit and confusion if Spartacus dies. Gannicus’ death, on the other hand, would not be a big deal at all.
Oh no you didn’t. Saxa turns and gives him the most incredulous, pissed-off look of outrage. Damn straight it would be a big fucking deal to her, dude. AND TO ME AS WELL BUT WHATEVS.
Sparty, Donar, Crixus, and Naevia are totally speechless. They don’t want to send him off to his death but surely they know there’s no other way, unless one of them wants to step up to the plate. Caught between their indecision and their broship, no one moves until the Romans sound their battlehorns – they’re getting awfully close. Impatient now, Gannicus tells them to get the hell out of town and promises to find them when everything is taken care of. Spartacus still looks conflicted but can’t bring himself to argue any further. Instead, he lunges towards Gannicus, INEXPLICABLY FAILING TO HUG HIM, and says that they’ll wait for him as long as they can.
Before they all run off, Crixus gives his old friend an incredulous look and tells Gannicus that he’s a complete fucking maniac. I CONCUR. Saxa takes a bit more time to remind him what he’s got to come back to.
On the other side of town, Nasir and Lugo are pinned down on three sides by oncoming soldiers. As a soldier raises his sword towards Nasir’s back, Castus dispatches him neatly. Naturally, this is the precise moment when Agron arrives and of course the only thing he sees is Castus holding a sword in Nasir’s general direction – he immediately attacks Castus madly and Nasir can barely drag him off. Agron has, fairly reasonably, assumed that Castus was involved in – or at least aware of – Herocleo’s backstabby betrayal, but Castus angrily denies any knowledge of anything at all, basically.
Imagine it, though – after the worst blackout binge drunk of your life, you pass out barfing in the streets amidst much revelry and general good feelings. You wake up with the worst fucking hangover of your life to find all your friends have not only disappeared and left you behind, but have horribly betrayed the people you now find yourself among. Oh yeah, and you’re in the middle of a goddamn WAR ZONE. This sort of makes waking up with a sharpie’d dick on your forehead and a handful of shaving cream seem pretty fucking tame, doesn’t it.
Agron’s not quite ready to believe that Castus wasn’t somehow involved in Herocleo’s plotting, because Agron is a great big hotheaded baby. Nasir yells crankily for a bit longer as Agron holds his sword to Castus’ throat and makes snarly bear sounds, but our episode of Beauty and the Beast is interrupted by Lugo, who reports that another company of soldiers is fast approaching. Agron settles for threatening Castus a little bit more before leading everyone off to the northern gate.
Gannicus and Donar are in the suspiciously clean horreum, flinging amphorae of pitch everywhere, presumably to start a glorious and distracting blaze. Donar points out that it’s not really much of a plan; Gannicus tells him he’d be delighted to hear a better one if Donar has anything useful to say. Whether or not he does shall forever remain a mystery, because it seems that Sibyl has been hiding in the horreum the whole time, only peeping her head out when she hears the beloved voice of her gladiator in shining leather manties, Gannicus.
Seriously? Seriousfuckingly? Girl, what are you even like. You were supposed to flee with everyone else to complete safety. You had plenty of advance notice and time. WHY ARE YOU HIDING OUT IN THE GODDAMN GRAIN WAREHOUSE. I just want to grab her by her shoulders and shake some sense into her. SIBYL! All this following Gannicus around like a sad little puppy is going to get you killed, sweetie. Or, FAR WORSE, you are going to get Gannicus killed, and then you and me? We are going to Have Words.
Donar is about as happy to see Sibyl as I am, since he knows right away that she’s going to be a liability. Sibyl’s only thought is to run at Gannicus for a desperate weepy hug, which Gannicus fends off immediately and with great irritation. He is supremely vexed to see her still inside the city’s walls, and demands to know why she hasn’t left. Sibyl sobs out her totally ridiculous explanation – she was on her way to the northern gate when she heard the Romans crashing through the city, and panicked like a great big diaper baby.
I CAN’T EVEN WITH YOU ANYMORE, SIBYL. I CANNOT FUCKING EVEN. I am so frustrated with your character development right now. Even Diona, the most gentle and timid of the slaves we’ve seen so far in this entire series, even she was able to put on her Big Girl Pants and make a brave, terrifying attempt to save her own life. BUT YOU, on the other hand… All this sitting around and sobbing helplessly for someone to rescue you is really super unhelpful, girlfriend. Step up to the plate and become an asset instead of a liability, or you are going to die and get other people killed as well.
Since Gannicus is basically the most reluctantly honorable of the Hero Team these days, now that Oenomaus is gone, he firmly tells Sibyl to quit her weeping and stick close by his side, quietly for the love of all gods. As they run from the horreum, Gannicus tosses a torch into the puddles of pitch and the building goes up in flames.
Back over in the town square, Caesar and Crassus are hacking their way through the rearguard of the rebel army. We already knew that Caesar’s pretty badass with a sword in his hand, but Crassus is no slouch himself. In fact, between the two of them, they’re delivering enough whup-ass that Crassus’ personal company of soldiers isn’t even needed. Instead, they’re off to the side, waiting at attention.
As the last of the unnamed and unknown rebels fall, the flames from the horreum spread rapidly through the town, irritating Caesar mightily. Crassus’ assistant duder brings a somewhat unnecessary report of the growing fire and says that three centuries of men have been dispatched to deal with the situation. Crassus, however, knows a distraction fire when he sees one, and insists that three teams be recalled instead.
Caesar thinks Crassus is being a fool, and is not afraid to tell him so directly. Crassus, however, has other plans already set in motion, and is determined to move all his men towards the northern gate. Caesar looks like he’d really enjoy an explanation, but none is forthcoming, so he’ll just have to deal.
The scene at the northern gate is total fucking mayhem: everyone’s panicking and wailing and stumbling and it’s just gonna be Altamont all over again if someone doesn’t take charge soon. Luckily Sparty’s Angels have the task pretty well in hand – Crixus, Naevia, and Saxa are hurrying people through and keeping a close eye on the older or weaker rebels, ready to leap in to a give a hand if one is needed. Once outside the gates, the rebels stream over the northern road towards the snowy mountain range high above town.
Donar and Gannicus are fighting their way through the streets while Sibyl hangs back, tear-stained and terrified. She’s small and quick enough to leap out of the way when the fight gets too close to her, luckily. Not everyone is so lucky, however.
Donar takes a deep, ghastly sword thrust in the back, just above his right kidney, and it drops him in his tracks. Gannicus sees him stagger and dives to his aid, hacking and slashing at the remaining pair of soldiers. One soldier manages to knock one of Gannicus’ swords from his hand, but Gannicus rolls under the next blow, neatly killing Soldier #2 on the way down. His luck also takes a further small turn for the worse when the first soldier breaks Gannicus’ sword with his own, but it’s not as though something as simple as being totally disarmed is going to stop a veritable God of the arena. Instead, Gannicus dive-rolls for his remaining sword and takes out the last soldier.
In the bloody aftermath, Gannicus stands in the middle of the street, staring at Donar’s motionless body. Sibyl pipes up, somewhat unhelpfully tbh, that if she’s going to die tonight, she’s just SO super kawaii happy that she gets to share her last moments on earth with Gannicus-senpai.
Gannicus remains tsundere and tells her to can it, cause Sibyl-chan’s not dying on his watch.
The crush at the northern gate has gotten slightly more orderly, and the rebels are moving through at an orderly pace. Nasir and Agron arrive with Castus in tow, and no one is particularly happy to see the pirate, all of them assuming that he was part of the plot. Nasir briefly explains the situation, and Spartacus tells him to take Castus to the mountain encampment as a sort-of prisoner. There’s no time for more measured response or argument, because the Roman soldiers are right behind them.
Sparty shouts to the fleeing rebels that anyone who can hold a sword should take the rearguard position to protect the rest of the group, and then everything falls into mayhem.
The oncoming soldiers group up into their predictable testudo formation and face off against Sparty, Agron, and Crixus. The soldiers charge at them and the fight begins, while Naevia, Saxa, and Lugo shove the rest of the rebels out through the gate. Sparty knows that the success of his plan relies upon the soldiers being unable to follow them into the mountains easily, and he shouts to Crixus that the gates need to be sealed behind them.
Crixus flings a jar of pitch onto the ropes attached to the gate’s massive windlass, and Sparty follows with a flaming torch. As the ropes burn and fray, the rebels outside shout at Our Heroes to hurry the hell up. Sparty sends Crixus on his way, much to the relief of Naevia, but holds back himself for a moment or two longer.
Just as he’s turning to leave, Crassus and Caesar arrive at the other end of the street; Caesar points out Sparty to Crassus and Crassus’ eyes just light right up. AT LAST MY ANCIENT ENEMY &c &c. Crassus bellows Sparty’s name like an impatient mom shouting for her toddler in the supermarket, and Sparty turns to glare at him smolderingly.
Guys, can you stop now? It’s making everyone a little uncomfortable. Get a room or something.
Crassus somewhat unnecessarily shouts that someone should grab Sparty, and Caesar is happy to oblige. He throws himself at Sparty, howling like an enraged baboon, but instead of taking the monkeybait, Sparty turns in the opposite direction to dive under the gate just seconds before the last of the burning rope gives way.
The approaching soldiers smash headfirst into the gate quite humorously, and Caesar has a brief but hilarious tantrum. Crassus, ever the voice of reason, tells Caesar to cool his jets, and sends men to guard the broken front gate instead of off to pursue the fleeing rebels. Caesar, apparently having forgotten that Crassus plays a long game, wants to run off after the rebels immediately, and is rather disappointed. He doesn’t seem to think this is the glorious victory that Crassus has proclaimed it to be.
The Roman patrols sweep the city looking for survivors. Most unfortunately, their gaze falls upon Donar, who has a bit of life left in him after all – just enough for them to kill extremely gruesomely, I imagine.
True to form, Donar tells them to fuck directly off.
The soldiers are tearing the town apart, hunting down any remaining rebels. As they trash Ennius’ stables, Gannicus and Sibyl huddle beneath the floor in Laeta’s secret hideout. Sibyl looks like she’s ready to burst into desperate sobs again at any moment, and only the presence of Gannicus at her side is holding her back from total panic.
Crassus sets up his headquarters in Ennius and Laeta’s former villa, and strides through giving orders to his commanders. The army is to rest for the night and have a meal within the safety of the city’s walls, but the follower’s camp and the freed Roman prisoners have to make camp outside. Anyone found inside the city without the watchword will be killed on sight. However, Crassus will make an exception for a few deserving individuals… He hands over a list of the lucky winners and orders that they be brought to the villa ASAP.
Crassus joins Caesar and Senator Metellus at the other end of the house, and compliments Caesar on his newly shaven and tidied visage. My, doesn’t he look fancy. Metellus gives Caesar a backhanded compliment on his abilities to blend in so well amongst the savage, unwashed rebels, but Caesar doesn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he icily tells Metellus that it was Crassus’ idea and it worked out just fine, thanks.
Metellus forges on, telling Crassus and Caesar that when he returns to Rome, the Senate will be very pleased to hear of their successful liberation of Sinuessa, and Crassus invites him to stay a bit longer to enjoy the victory celebrations and the carnificina – the messy, gruesome executions that the Romans so enjoyed. In fact, Crassus has set aside one of the nicest villas for Metellus to use as he rests and bathes before the evening’s celebrations. Metellus looks ever so slightly suspicious but accepts nevertheless.
As soon as Metellus is gone, Caesar and Crassus share their true feelings about the man, a “preening little fuck”. However, Metellus is a necessary evil, since he’s popular in the Senate and can help talk up the news of their victory. Caesar can’t hold back any longer and takes Crassus to task for calling this halfassed battle a “victory” – how can they be victorious while Spartacus is still alive? And with so many rebels still fighting at his back?
Crassus smiles a satisfied little smile and reminds Caesar that the mountain ridge is impassable; Caesar taunts Crassus with the factual information that Glaber probably thought the rebels were totally trapped up on Vesuvius too, and look where that got him, eh? Dead!
Crassus loses a bit of his triumphant smile and asks Caesar if he really thinks that Crassus himself is as foolish a man as Glaber was. Caesar admits that all he can say about Crassus is that he’s a man whose schemes within schemes could confuse the very fucking gods themselves, and Crassus takes this as a delightful compliment. He tells Caesar, basically, not to worry his pretty little head any longer, and to sit back and enjoy the celebrations that are in his honor, as the cunning spy who set everything in motion.
Underneath the stables, Gannicus and Sibyl listen as the soldiers finally give up on their search and depart the building. Sibyl thinks this would be a good time to flee, leaving Gannicus to explain, ever so patiently, that there are still thousands of soldiers walking through the town, which would make leaving their hideout rather suboptimal.
Gannicus is in a blue sort of mood, worrying about the way the soldiers have been talking about a “victory” over the rebellion, and bragging about how many rebels were killed. Sibyl reminds him that they also complained about the fact that Spartacus hasn’t been killed yet, and Gannicus dredges up a small smile for her. He’s well aware of how difficult Sparty is to kill.
Sibyl rips off a bit of her dress and binds up Gannicus’ wounded hand gently, telling him with wide-eyed confidence that the gods favour Spartacus, and have surely guided Gannicus’ hand to keep them alive. Sibyl is almost obstinately sure that the gods will continue to see them through to safety, and Gannicus can’t find it in himself to argue.
Instead, he notes how neatly she’s bandaged up his wounds, and she explains that her former dominus gave her a lot of opportunities to practice, since he enjoyed beating the crap out of his slaves as often as possible – Sibyl was usually the one to tend to their wounds. Gannicus, hearing what she’s not saying, asks who was left to tend to her wounds, and Sibyl smiles a little as she recalls Diotimus having been there for her in her time of need. Gannicus bristles a little, assuming that she means something more intimate, and Sibyl actually looks irritated and impatient with him for a moment when she corrects him, saying that Diotimus was like a brother to her.
Gannicus apologizes, and Sibyl falls back into her usual hero worship, gazing at him moonily and telling him what a superhero superstar he is to her. It’s simultaneously cute and tedious.
A couple of soldiers lead Laeta back into Sinuessa – she’s filthy and bedraggled and scared. Caesar spots them and demands that the soldiers untie her hands, since she’s not a slave to be dragged about but a Roman citizen. Laeta recognizes him, and Caesar admits that he was among the rebels. Laeta immediately flies into a passion and shouts at him for joining Crixus and the others in their slaughter of the Roman prisoners, because apparently she can’t ever let anyone go without an emotional lecture. Sigh.
Caesar apologizes, but just barely. He knows that the overall plot to betray the rebels was far more important than the lives lost that day, and Laeta icily tells him that she knows shitty things happen during wartime, thanks. Caesar has some better news for her, at least – Crassus wants to speak to her, and she’ll have some time for a meal and a proper bath in her old villa beforehand. Laeta smiles a tiny, almost disbelieving smile of relief, and allows Caesar to lead her off towards her former home.
In that very same villa, Kore stands at one of the windows overlooking the sea; even with the quietly pleasant scene before her and sunshine on her face, she looks deeply, deeply unhappy. Crassus slips up behind her and brushes his hand gently across her cheek, scaring her badly. He laughs a little at her jumpiness, and apologizes for scaring her. Kore dissembles carefully, simply saying that “recent events” have made her nervous. Crassus tells her that there’s nothing to fear anymore, since the city has been retaken and he wasn’t harmed while doing so. Kore agrees it was a great victory, but is still unable to meet his eyes.
Crassus notes her concern, and quickly tells her that he wants her by his side during the celebrations. When Kore realizes that he means she gets to stay in the villa with him, she bursts into relieved tears. Crassus is startled to see her weeping, and even when she explains that it’s just tears of joy, he presses her for details. Kore tells him that the followers camp has become pretty much unbearable to her, but before she can attempt any kind of further explanation, Tiberius butts in to take the blame himself.
Well, not entirely – he tells Crassus that he’s been taking advantage of Kore’s good nature to unload all his grief and anguish and emo teenage upset onto her in the wake of Sabinus’ death. Throughout his self-deprecating speech, Kore refuses to even look at his face. Crassus, on the other hand, seems pleased that Tiberius has managed to open up to Kore.
Tiberius continues, his speech full of creepy fucking double entendres – he tells Crassus that Kore’s “served greater comfort than you will ever know, yet I fear my pain has pressed hard against her.” UGH STOP IT YOU LITTLE CREEPER. The grimly nauseated look on Kore’s face tells us that she’s reading his double message loud and clear.
Tiberius asks her pretty much straight out if she’s going to be able to shoulder the terrible burden he set upon her, and Kore fiercely tells him that she’ll do whatever she has to. Crassus, having completely missed the incredibly tense undercurrent between his son and his girlfriend, happily tells Kore that he’s super grateful that she was able to be there for Tiberius. He then sends her off to get them a snack, and as she leaves, she shoots Tiberius the most heinous of epic stinkeyes.
Tonight’s Rash Prediction: by the end of this final season, Tiberius will die with Kore’s knife in his back.
After Kore leaves, Tiberius says cryptically that he’s afraid this war has “forever changed her”. Crassus takes this as a point to compliment Tiberius on also having changed, for the better. Tiberius says that he’s just been “hardened” by it. Nevertheless, Crassus is totally proud of Tiberius and isn’t afraid to say it. Too little, too late, alas.
Anywhoodle, Crassus hasn’t called Tiberius up from the follower’s camp to reinstate him to his former rank as Tiberius had assumed. No, Crassus just wants Tiberius to take care of organizing the execution spectacle part of the evening’s celebrations. Tiberius is totally irritated when Crassus explains that the celebrations are not in honor of the House of Crassus, but in honor of Caesar instead. Crassus’ long-term plan is to let Caesar’s famous name take all the glory while the House of Crassus rises with him, just outside the spotlight. Crassus advises Tiberius to make peace with Caesar instead of clinging to his bratty resentments, and Tiberius appears to agree. Just barely.
Crassus somehow has become a blind fool where his son is concerned, because he doesn’t read the murder and mayhem lingering in his son’s eyes. Instead, he compliments Tiberius once again for having come through the tribulations of the war to become a Real Man, finally.
Beneath the stables, Sibyl is asleep and having a nightmare. Her whimpers and nervous panting grow steadily louder until Gannicus slaps his hand over her mouth, waking her instantly. He cautions her to silence, as more soldiers have arrived and are tearing the floorboards up, looking for rat snacks, if I’m not mistaken. Sibyl asks if they’re in danger of being found, and Gannicus almost rolls his eyes fondly. Of course you’re in danger, you silly sausage. Gannicus tells her to get busy with the praying, and readies himself to take care of business.
One of the soldiers is kneeling down in the hay by the trapdoor when he hears Sibyl’s whispered prayers. He yanks the trapdoor open and, seeing Sibyl kneeling on the ground in front of him, laughs meanly, presumably excited to have someone to rape. No rape for you today, assface! Instead, you are going to die on the end of Gannicus’ sword.
Gannicus yanks the soldier down through the trapdoor and guts him with a knife. As he turns to leap up into the stable, Gannicus hands Sibyl the bloody knife, telling her to stay put until his return, and that if anyone but him comes through the trapdoor she should use the knife on herself ASAP. Sibyl looks a bit confused and gormless, but she gamely takes the knife in her trembly little hand and visibly firms her resolve.
Gannicus pops up through the trapdoor like the deadliest meerkat on the savannah and sets about the messy business of slaughtering everyone in sight. Sibyl winces and cringes at the sound of shouting and blows and swords clanking and bloody last breaths being gasped out of cut throats, but she’s not quite ready to lose faith in her hero. Finally, a bloody spear tip pierces through the boards just above her head, and the blood drips down onto her face. In the ensuing silence, heavy footsteps approach the trapdoor, and Sibyl holds the knife to her throat, looking the bravest we’ve ever seen her look, bless her little cotton socks.
BUT NO! It is, of course, Gannicus at the trapdoor, coming to grin his bloody battle grin and tell her that it’s safe to come out of her hideyhole. YAYS.
Kore is fetching wine from the storeroom when Tiberius corners her for some more creepin’. He’s there, of course, to threaten and blackmail her, and to generally be an ENORMOUS GODDAMN DOUCHEBAG. Ugh, Tiberius, you are the worst. I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU, TIBERIUS. WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU. HOW DARE YOU!
Kore snaps at him, asking how he could be so horrible to her after all her years of caring for him. Tiberius turns it back around on her, grotendously, saying that because of all those years, and because of the love his father holds for her, well. That’s the only thing keeping him from telling Crassus that Kore gave herself to Tiberius willingly in order to comfort him. Tiberius gently tells her that it would be super upsetting to see Crassus kick her out of their house, or put her to terrible, gruesome punishment for her supposedly “totally voluntary” actions.
YOU ARE THE WORST, TIBERIUS. THE WORST.
p.s. no one likes you anymore
Kore can’t do a damn thing but weep angrily and stare at Tiberius’ face with, presumably, thoughts of betrayal and stabby murder. Tiberius continues on with his grossness, telling her that if she says anything to anyone about him raping her, he’ll make sure that only terrible things will follow.
To top things off, he promises that he won’t be “as gentle, next time.”
I WISH YOU GREAT ILL, YOUNG MAN.
Kore remains frozen with horror up against the wall of the storeroom long after Tiberius departs.
Laeta is enjoying a warm, scented bath and the gentle hands of some slave girls. She actually weeps a little from the happiness of being safe in her own home again after all her sufferings. Caesar arrives as the slaves are putting the finishing touches on her gown and hair, and leads her off to meet with Crassus.
Caesar tells Crassus that Laeta’s been “prepared, as commanded,” and yeah, not even gonna lie, this line combined with the title of the episode makes me think that what lies ahead for Laeta might not be so nice after all.
Crassus smiles at her and compliments her pretty dress and makeup, and Laeta only sees pleasantries and happiness in his eyes. Caesar is dismissed off to his chambers to enjoy his well-deserved “gifts,” which. Hm. That shoots down my speculation that Laeta was going to be handed over to him for less than willing sexytimes.
Crassus witters on a little about the evening’s celebrations and party times executions, and Laeta smiles a bit ruefully and politely tries to excuse herself from the festivities – she’s still exhausted by her ordeal and isn’t really in the mood. Of course he wasn’t expecting you to party down, silly girl! Crassus is just pleased to see that you’re still alive! It’s certainly a blessing that Spartacus let her live, isn’t it? Crassus, you snarky beast.
Laeta realizes where he’s going with this conversation, and reminds him that Sparty only let her live as a pawn for his plots. Crassus assures her that he just wants to hear whatever she might have to say about Spartacus as a man and a leader of men. When Laeta hems and haws nervously, Crassus tells her, with earnest, wide-eyed insistence, that he just wants to get the measure of a man who he’ll soon face in battle.
Laeta falls for his puppy eyes and tells Crassus that Sparty’s not the crazy monster everyone assumes he is, but that he’s motivated by his poor wounded heart. Crassus knew about Sura’s death already, and says so impatiently, so Laeta explains that she thinks Spartacus is fighting for what he thinks is right. Crassus knows that this is what makes Sparty so dangerous, and what makes he himself so dangerous.
As Crassus finishes their conversation, Herocleo and his surviving cronies arrive and tell Crassus that the city has been delivered into his hands, as agreed, and now they’d like their payment. Laeta gives Crassus a disgusted glare, unable to imagine why he would do business with a shithead like Herocleo. Crassus ignores her and tells Herocleo that they payment has been delivered to his ships, so they need to get the hell out of town.
Herocleo promises to leave by the end of the day, along with everything that he’s been promised. And with that, he gives Laeta a very assessing look indeed.
Laeta looks between Herocleo and Crassus as the truth of her grotendous fate dawns upon her rather suddenly. She protests desperately that she’s still a Roman citizen, but Crassus isn’t even slightly moved. He reminds her that she gave aid and comfort to Spartacus, the enemy, and as such, has no leg to stand on.
Herocleo’s pirate cronies bind and gag Laeta – and I swear to god one of them is the same dude who played Hamilcar in Gods of the Arena/Blood & Sand – and drag her off, screaming and struggling and generally very displeased with life, the universe, and everything. Herocleo smarms up to Crassus, saying that it’s rare to meet someone who actually keeps their word, and says “may the gods give you all that you deserve”. Oh snap.
Tiberius heads through the villa in search of Caesar and instead finds two nude slave girls making out. Instead of looking interested, he just looks irritated, because Caesar is also standing there, bareass naked, wasting his precious time. But no, this is, to Caesar, the perfect time for them to talk! Sigh.
Tiberius sniffily reminds Caesar that he’s in the middle of organizing his celebratory feast, and sarcastically asks what luxuries Caesar wants – honeyed wine? Roasted boar? Oysters, perhaps? Caesar laughs at Tiberius’ grumpy face and offers him one of the naked slave girls, which only irritates Tiberius more.
He reminds Caesar that none of the followers are allowed within city walls, but Caesar overrules him, saying that Crassus himself arranged this as a thank-you gift. Tiberius is immediately suspicious and accuses Caesar of trying to sex him up on his father’s command, much how Tiberius has been commanded to be nice to Caesar.
Caesar sends the girl off with a smile and a kiss, and then turns back to Tiberius with a smirk. He then proceeds to tear into Tiberius, his vicious words almost more brutal than his actual sword would have been. Caesar muses obnoxiously over how one of them couldn’t even defeat a small band of rebels while backed up by a full century of soldiers, and the other managed to bring down an entire city alone and unarmed.
Tiberius rallies up what’s left of his inherent snark and tries to enter into this battle of wits, but Caesar’s through wasting time on this whiny kid. He returns to his threesome and waves Tiberius off to finish preparing the celebration. As Tiberius storms off, Caesar calls him back to demand oysters.
As Tiberius grumps out of Caesar’s quarters, Herocleo and his pirate cronies come down the opposite end of the street, Laeta in tow. Gannicus and Sybil take in the entire scene from high above the street on a nearby rooftop. Gannicus has decided that the streets of the city are way too busy with soldiers wandering about; if they’re going to escape, they’ll need to stick to the rooftops for now.
Below, a guard stops Herocleo and his men; Herocleo arrogantly waves them aside, claiming that they’re all under Crassus’ protection. Above, Gannicus seethes with resentment at seeing Herocleo the Traitorous Bastard still alive. The guard on the street quite accurately points out that Herocleo’s ships are in the opposite direction of where he’s heading, so Herocleo explains that he wants to spend some quality time with Laeta before departing. Ugh. The guard agrees to let them pass.
Herocleo and the pirates have dragged Laeta over to Attius’ smithy. When her blindfold is removed, Laeta shrinks back from Herocleo’s leering face and presumably terrible breath, weeping furiously. He tries to lay it out for her with logic and reason – as a widow and a woman of no means or wealth, Laeta’s place in Roman society will be little better than a slave’s. Herocleo promises that as his girlfriend, she will stand beside him as a Queen of the Seas, never to be traded off or bargained with, as Crassus has done, and never to be passed around to all his men, as the pirates have been hoping.
It’s not the worst offer in the entire world, I guess? It’s up to Laeta to decide if it’s preferable to death.
Unfortunately, there’s one last important part of this offer that Herocleo didn’t spell out quite so clearly. He wants everyone they meet to know that Laeta belongs to him. Does this involve him introducing her politely to people as his wife? Of course not. It involves him branding an H on her forearm, in the usual slave brand location.
Laeta screams and struggles and begs desperately, but it’s no use. Herocleo brands her with his own hands, apologizing to her in what seems a rather sincere manner, for a pirate, at least. After it’s done, and she’s almost fainting from the horror and pain and exhaustion, Herocleo finally removes her gag and drags her in for a most unwilling kiss, telling her that the worst is over.
Gannicus strides in to inform Herocleo that the worst has actually just arrived. Sibyl’s right behind him, no longer sobbing or terrified, but nervously alert at the doorway, keeping a close eye on the streets outside. Herocleo pretends to be pleased to see Gannicus still alive, but Gannicus isn’t buying his bullshit. Herocleo’s betrayal killed many of his friends and brothers, you see, and he’s not really interested in hearing Herocleo’s protestations that he had no other choice. No, he’s not lowering his sword any time soon.
Herocleo knows that he and his men aren’t going to be much of a match for a fighter like Gannicus, so he decides to threaten Sibyl, calling her “your woman” and musing about how easy it would be to cut her throat in the middle of a fight. Gannicus gives Herocleo his feral grin of kickassery and says that actually, she’s not his woman at all. Then he gets down to the important business of killing folks left and right.
Sibyl backs up into a corner to stay out of trouble, and in a moment of distraction, Laeta is also able to dart away from her captors. As Gannicus is busy fighting pirate cronies, Herocleo makes a move towards Sibyl, but she’s ready for him, and while she might be scared shitless, she’s not going down without a fight. Sibly grabs onto a discarded pair of shackles and swings them at Herocleo’s face. Unfortunately, her swing doesn’t have much power behind it, and with Gannicus distracted, Herocleo is able to knock her down and get his sword to her throat.
Gannicus finishes off the rest of the pirates and, seeing her as Herocleo’s captive, shouts Sibyl’s name with absolute horror. Herocleo laughs and prepares to slit her throat, but is instead dispatched by Laeta, who shoves through the back of his neck the same red-hot iron bar he used for the branding. HA HA. He dies most gruesomely.
Laeta staggers back from his body and clutches at her branded arm, and Gannicus grabs Sibyl for a relieved hug. After a quick check of the streets outside, Gannicus tells Sibyl to get ready to leave, but Sibyl doesn’t think they should leave Laeta behind, since she’s not much better than a slave now.
In the town square, everyone is enjoying the execution festivities. One of the captured rebels is being drawn and quartered by 4 groups of soldiers playing tug of war with his chained limbs. The rebel screams really horribly as his right arm is torn off at the shoulder, and all the soldiers cheer and slap one another on the back. What fun! Up in the pulvinus, Caesar, Metellus, and Crassus are sitting together and sipping wine while laughing at the spectacle.
Metellus compliments Crassus on his ability to motivate his men so well, with thrilling dismemberments and the like, and Crassus gives him a regal little nod of thanks. Metellus continues, telling him that he’s sure the Senate will hold him high in their favour once they hear how he retook the city from Spartacus and the rebels, and once the city is returned to the rightful inhabitants.
Oh, well, actually. Crassus helpfully points out that all the rightful inhabitants of Sinuessa were killed by Spartacus and the rebels; everyone of note is gone. Metellus asks about Laeta, and Crassus innocently informs him that she’s left town and will never return. Metellus then realizes that Crassus intends to claim the entire city for himself, and is outraged and stunned, so Crassus cleverly deflects him with some gentle bribery – he offers Metellus the finest villa in town and a portion of the taxes levied upon the port in exchange for Metellus’ arguments in the Senate in favour of the scheme. Metellus thinks for all of 2 seconds and is sold.
Down in the square, the next chosen rebel has met a grotendous fate, his head smashed in with hammers and his brains smeared across the cobblestones. The final bloody sacrifice is, alas, Donar, who has been sitting in the corner watching the grim proceedings unhappily.
Crassus stands to announce that the final fight will be in honor of Caesar, and as the soldiers start cheering Caesar’s name, Donar can’t help but shout out that everyone there is a cowardly piece of shit for not wanting to fight him on fair terms. Tiberius, standing right next to him, asks, very quietly, what Donar would do with such opportunities. OHOHO.
As Donar is led out into the center of the square, Tiberius steps up in front of the men to give his laudatory speech in honor of Caesar. It’s hilariously insincere if you know Tiberius as well as we do, and as well as Caesar does, but it sounds wonderfully sincere to everyone else, including Crassus. It winds down to the one thing that Tiberius has been carefully planning – he riles up the crowd to cheer Caesar into dispatching Donar himself. The crowd is delighted to do so, cheering lustily for Caesar to accept what they think is a sincerely offered honor.
Caesar knows immediately that Tiberius is up to something, and accepts his accolades with a smirky smile, leaping down from the pulvinus to take the offered sword. He and Tiberius smile falsely at one another, and Crassus, still unable to detect the insincerity, smiles proudly.
Tiberius melts back into the crowd as Caesar paces in front of Donar, sword in hand, and announces that his death will not be in honor of Caesar or Crassus, but for the glory of Rome, blah blah blah, everyone’s thrilled to be patriotic sheeple. When Caesar’s back is turned, Tiberius and Donar exchange a significant look, and as Tiberius fiddles absently with a small key, Donar breaks loose from his shackles and lunges at Caesar. Donar smacks Caesar in the face with his manacles, and fights off both his guards easily. The nearby soldiers draw their swords and rush in to hack Donar to bits, but Caesar shouts at them to back down – he wants to fight Donar in a fair fight, one on one. Crassus gives the nod, and the soldiers cheer even more delightedly.
Oh, and from the look he’s giving Tiberius? Yeah, Caesar knows exactly who’s responsible for this sudden miracle.
Caesar throws Donar a sword and they commence a-brawlin’.
A few streets over, Gannicus, dressed in Herocleo’s robes, is leading Laeta and Sibyl in chains. Gannicus is glad that the noise of the nearby celebrations is distracting attention away from their rash plan – at least, until he hears from Laeta that these celebrations are actually the executions of his captured friends and brothers. Gannicus is viciously pissed but knows that there’s nothing he can do to save anyone, and agrees to Laeta’s plan that she’ll guide them from the city along the smaller back streets.
Caesar and Donar seem relatively well matched in fighting skill, but Donar is a whole lot bigger than Caesar, so every blow he strikes sets Caesar back a few paces. Donar takes first blood and soon corners Caesar up against the pulvinus. Above, Metellus is panicking, since as Donar’s death is meant to be symbolic of their victory, it would be awfully unfortunate if he was to actually WIN.
Oh Metellus, stop underestimating Caesar. His next move is to slam his fist into Donar’s recent spear wound low in his guts, and Donar staggers back in pain, nearly dropping his sword. Caesar knows it’s pretty much over by that point. He keeps his attention on fending off Donar’s blows, but instead of getting in any offensive swordwork, Caesar concentrates on hitting Donar’s wound as often as possible.
As Donar staggers back, gasping in pain, Caesar lifts his sword for the final blow, but Donar reaches out and just grabs that shit with his bare fucking hand, LIKE A BOSS. That’s all the time he needs to get his other hand around Caesar’s throat and begin throttling. Caesar struggles to get his sword up between them; Donar holds it off for as long as he can until Caesar is finally able to slash him low across the belly. Donar’s guts spill out messily and it’s very unpleasant.
He falls to his knees, bleeding all over the damn place. Caesar riles up the crowd, telling them that the death he is about to inflict should be symbolic of the death they’re going to inflict upon Sparty himself. Caesar turns back to Donar, and tells him with true sincerity that it was a fight well fought. Donar’s not interested in compliments from Roman shitheads, and grabs up his own discarded sword.
Caesar looks shocked, and stumbles back half a step, assuming that Donar’s about to launch one last desperate attack. Instead, Donar shoves his own sword beneath his chin and out through the top of his own head. NO TRIUMPHANT DEATH FOR YOU, CAESAR!
Crassus tries to put a good face on things, shouting to the crowd that even the greatest warriors will kill themselves out of fear of Caesar, but Caesar and Tiberius both know better. Even as the crowd cheers wildly, they’ve both realized that Donar’s really won the day.
Gannicus leads Laeta and Sibyl through the streets, thus far unchallenged. Now that the executions are over, more and more soldiers are thronging the streets, and Laeta is getting really nervous. Gannicus hauls them around a corner so everyone can pull themselves together, and spots a pair of unattended cavalry horses. Unfortunately, Laeta’s not quite sure how to ride, although she’s “seen it done”. Hee.
Gannicus warns her to stay close, because they’re not turning back for her if she falls behind.
The last two nearby soldiers stroll off and Gannicus makes his move towards the horses. Naturally the next person to stroll around the corner is Caesar himself, who very clearly recalls that Herocleo was only meant to leave the city with one woman, Laeta. Gannicus realizes that the jig is up and grumpily pulls his sword.
Sibyl and Laeta run for the horses as Gannicus takes on Caesar and the half-dozen soldiers. He knocks Caesar onto his ass immediately, having had the element of surprise on his side, and by the time Caesar manages to get up and grab a sword, two of the guards are already dead. Gannicus gets in a nasty slash across Caesar’s ribs, and when Caesar staggers back, it almost looks like the tide will turn in their favour.
Of course this is not the case at all, and a dozen more soldiers gallop around the corner towards the sound of the fight. Gannicus looks around wildly, and once he sees that the ladies are ready to ride, he kicks over a nearby brazier of coals in front of Caesar and the soldiers. This gives him just enough time to leap onto the horse’s back and drag Sibyl up behind him.
They ride through the town as the guards behind them bellow the alarm to everyone. When they arrive at the front gate, the guards are ready for them, waiting in a defensive formation with swords drawn. Oh you silly Roman soldier boys, don’t you know that Gannicus has a sword too?
The soldiers quickly learn the error of their ways when Gannicus just rides right through them, hacking people to bits like it ain’t no thang. One of the guards stabs Laeta in the belly with his spear, but as promised, Gannicus barely even looks back. While he’s busy with the guards, Laeta’s horse runs through the gate with her slumped over its neck.
Once all the guards are dealt with, Gannicus turns his horse towards the now-undefended gate. Caesar stumbles up at the last moment and practically gnashes his teeth with rage and despair. Gannicus shoots him a jaunty smile and throws Crassus’ medallion down at his feet before riding off triumphantly into the sunset.
That evening, in the villa, Caesar is being bandaged up by a medicus and bitching like no other. He’s utterly outraged that Crassus is refusing to send men after Gannicus immediately, since once they rejoin Spartacus, presumably everyone will continue along the ridge to their escape.
Crassus impatiently tells Caesar that no such thing is going to happen, because at dawn, the legions will head out to the ridge and engage the rebel army. Caesar laughs in Crassus’ face, thinking that Crassus is stupid enough to be leaving this to chance – Caesar can’t see any reason for Sparty and the rebels to stick around in the snow and wind up in the mountains, waiting for an attack. Crassus, as though speaking to a small and stupid child, tells Caesar that this is precisely what is going to happen. So there.
Up in the icy snowbound mountains, the rebels huddle crankily around small fires and look utterly miserable. Crixus and Naevia favour turning back to retake Sinuessa, which Agron and Sparty dismiss as madness. The sudden arrival of Gannicus and Sibyl puts aside any further conversations.
Both of them are exhausted and barely able to sit up in the saddle, so Lugo is carefully leading their tired horse. Saxa turns at Agron’s exclamation and leaps to her feet, delighted. Gannicus is barely standing on the ground before she tackles him for snuggles. Sparty also pulls him in for a hug, giving Saxa time to take note of Sibyl, standing to the side. Saxa looks somewhat less than thrilled to see her.
Nasir leads Laeta’s horse up next, and Sparty storms over to drag her off the horse – Nasir helps him, pointing out the messy wound on her side. Naevia assumes that Gannicus has brought her as a prisoner, so he explains that she’s just as much of a slave as they all once were. Naevia looks shocked but presents no argument.
Nasir is pretty sure that Laeta will survive if they tend to her wounds, so Sparty sends him and Lugo off to do so immediately. Gannicus remarks that it’s pretty much a goddamn miracle that any of them are still alive, and, as an aside to Sibyl, says that the gods themselves must have noticed all the praying.
Sparty has some bad news for Gannicus, though, and it’s the kind of thing you need to show, not tell. He and Gannicus head for the opposite end of the mountain pass.
There, we see exactly what “Northern business” is that Crassus was talking about a few episodes back. Gannicus can’t believe that something so insane could even be possible, but Spartacus knows that with Crassus’ vast wealth, anything can be done….
….Even carving a vast, uncrossable trench down the middle of a mountain pass. Of course it was Crassus’ intention all along that they flee to the ridge, so that his legions could trap them between the city and the massive ditch. Spartacus knows that there’s no escape for the rebels now.
various still screencaps courtesy of kindaskimpy and vipvictor on tumblr