I know there are a lot of spoilers out there right now, so I’d appreciate it if we could stay relatively spoiler-free in the comments! Barn door, horse, etc.
The rebels are freezing their perky little butts off on the ridge above Sinuessa. To make matters even worse, Crassus’ men have set up a series of simple but highly effective breastworks atop the wall across the entire length of the massive trench, such that any attempts at crossing are met with swift and stabby death. The trench itself is already littered with bodies, from the most recent engagement. Temporarily defeated, the rebels stagger back towards their encampment; Sparty directs Agron to figure out how many of their people died during what he assumes will be a pause in the fighting. Oh how wrong he is.
Nasir arrives with the troublesome news that another vast legion of Crassus’ men are approaching from the mountain pass to Sinuessa. Sparty and Crixus share a glance of OH NO HE DIDN’T before Sparty starts issuing orders: anyone who can hold a weapon needs to get ready to fight, and everyone else should hang back at a safe distance.
Crassus’ legion strides confidently across the snow in an orderly fashion, warmly tucked into their fancy cloaks and fur capes. Opposite them, the rebel army, half naked and wholly cranky, clomps through the storm in a messy, bellowing herd. They reach the edge of their encampment, where the ground is studded with massive wooden caltrops, and watch as the legions assemble on the far side of the valley.
The rebels are absolutely ready to go out there and kick some Roman ass, and Crixus, always sensitive to the mood of the crowd, riles them up even further, roaring out his enthusiasm for glorious victory or glorious death. Sparty, however, has other plans.
With a single word and brief gesture, Sparty silences the entire army. Well, the entire army aside from Crixus. Crixus can’t understand why Sparty is being such a downer – surely this is the best time for them to attack, no? When the opposing army is just entering the field? Spartacus explains that he’s sure the Romans aren’t planning to advance on the rebels just yet – from his time in the Roman auxiliary, Sparty knows that their current formation isn’t an actual attack formation. They’re just going to hang out on the ridge and wait for the arrival of their commander, Crassus.
Down in Sinuessa, Crassus is indeed preparing to head for the ridge, now that he’s been given confirmation that his legions are ready and in formation. He has one last thing to take care of before he leaves – taking a status report from Tiberius. Sonny Boy reports that Caesar is bravely recovering from his wounds under the healing hands and mouths of various nubile slave girls. Crassus smirks a little and thanks Tiberius for seeing to his own duties instead of joining in Caesar’s naked celebrations. Tiberius affects a terribly serious demeanor and tells Crassus that Real Men understand that there is a time and place for everything, particularly personal pleasure.
Crassus is quite pleased by this sentiment, and by many other things that Tiberius has done lately. He’s actually proud of his son for perhaps the first time in their lives, and his happiness about it is really quite sweet. Oh Crassus, if only you knew.
Crassus casually tells Tiberius that he has one more gravely important task to complete – Tiberius must remove a large chest from Crassus’ chambers. Tiberius looks puzzled and more than a little suspicious, but plays along, asking Crassus where he should take the chest. Crassus tells him to open it and decide for himself.
Well. I don’t really know what I was expecting, or what Tiberius was expecting, but we’re both pretty surprised to see Tiberius’ fancy armor, cleaned and polished and packed away with loving care. As Tiberius carefully strokes his sword (not a euphemism, you terrible perverts), Crassus says that with the final battle surely approaching, he wants Tiberius at his side, restored to his former exalted position in the army. Tiberius appears genuinely stunned, and more than a little moved, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s forgiven his dad or if this is just a long-awaited moment in the advancement of his terrible schemes for revenge.
Over in Caesar’s Orgy Palace, a hilariously bemerkined naked slave girl – Canthara, the brunette Egyptian girl he offered to Tiberius last week, iirc – is fetching yet another cup of wine to sip as she enjoys the sight of her equally naked blonde slave girl friend riding off happily into the sunset on Caesar’s cock. Blondie climbs off him with a sunny smile and a kiss, both of which are returned heartily by Caesar. I don’t want to like him so much and yet here I am, helplessly cackling at how ridiculously adorable he is.
I disgust myself. *weeps*
Canthara notices that Caesar’s bandaged wound is seeping a bit of blood, and laughingly remarks that this proves he really is a man after all and not actually a god. He brushes it off as a mere scratch, and when Canthara gets up to clean and rebandage the wound, Caesar tugs her over for more of the kind of remedy he prefers – wine and sexytimes.
Up on the ridge, Crassus’ legions are hurrying to set up their camp before night falls and the weather gets nasty. Across the valley, the rebels are already hunkering down in their raggedy and makeshift camp. Saxa and Gannicus are concerned about the oncoming storm, but Saxa remains practical – if there’s a chance that they’re all going to freeze to death overnight, she’s going to get it on with Gannicus while she still can. Gannicus laughs at her determination to get some in the face of impending death, and is all for it until he catches sight of the ever-present plaintive little face of his most determined stalker, Sibyl, who is lurking off to the side.
Instead of following Saxa into the tent, Gannicus pulls back and tells her that they should make sure everyone else is tucked away safely for the evening before seeing to their own needs. Saxa looks at him with a mixture of amused disappointment and pride, saying that this sounds like the kind of thing Spartacus would say. Gannicus seems to find this kind of insulting, and quietly tells her that he’s speaking his own mind and no one else’s. He leaves Saxa standing alone by the tent, confused and a little hurt.
[OKAY LOOK: I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this episode but I am going to try as hard as I can to be diplomatic, dammit. YES. I WILL DO THIS THING. But, uh. I may fail.]
Among the shivering crowd of rebels is Castus, still with his hands bound as a prisoner, but mostly forgotten or overlooked by everyone else, as they’re mostly concerned with staying warm. Castus is awkwardly trying to sip at a small bowl of soup when Brictius spots him and decides to come over and start shit. Gladiators, man. They’re nothing but trouble.
Brictius, it appears, has one hell of a problem with seeing Castus sitting innocently in the snow sipping soup while Donar and Nemetes and countless other former brothers in arms are lying dead down in Sinuessa, thanks to the Cilician’s betrayal. Castus refuses to rise to the bait, as usual, and leans forward to continue eating. Brictius yanks the bowl away and dumps its contents into the snow. Come on, dude, it’s freezing out and people are starving. If you wanna be a dick, fine, but don’t be wasting soup.
Castus affects an air of complete unconcern, and thanks Brictius for his actions, since the soup wasn’t that great anyway. His determination to remain calm totally enrages Brictius and earns him a couple of vicious punches to the face. Nasir happens upon this scene of idiocy and tells Brictius to GTFO. Well. Brictius isn’t at all happy to take orders from Agron’s little boyfrand, and says so rather nastily.
Nasir just smiles a savage and bloodthirsty smile and tells Brictius to come on and have a go if he thinks he’s hard enough. Brictius ponders this for a moment and decides that he is not, in fact, hard enough to tangle with Nasir after all; instead, he stomps off grumpily.
Castus just can’t seem to take anything seriously, no matter how serious the situation truly is. He smiles at Nasir and tells him that he talks a big game for such a little dude. The look Nasir gives him is 100% pure and unadulterated BITCH PLZ. Don’t make him regret sticking up for you, Castus!
Castus actually manages to put aside his teasing manner for a moment to make the astute point that while Brictius is a dim douchebag, he’s sort of right – everyone does only see him as the bosom buddy and ally of those who so badly betrayed the rebels and cost them thousands of lives. Nasir knows a little something about being judged guilty by association, and firmly tells Castus that it’s not his fault that things happened without his knowledge and beyond his control.
Once again, Castus’ irreverent nature shines through, as he tells Nasir that he’s happy to be wherever the fates have led him, since he’s there with Nasir. Is this really the time, Castus? Nasir laughs helplessly at Castus for still trying to flirt while he’s chained up and bleeding. Castus protests that he just wants to enjoy life as much as he can, and to that end, he wants to join the rebellion and help them fight against Crassus.
Nasir is a little hesitant, so Castus explains – he earned Nasir’s trust by helping him fight and kill Romans, right? So hopefully if he kills many more, the rest of the rebels will come to trust him as well. Castus holds up his bound wrists, turns his best wide-eyed innocent puppy eyes up to 11, and unleashes them on Nasir. Nasir, however, spots Agron glancing over at him from across the camp and doesn’t rise to the bait. Instead, Nasir says that the decision to free Castus is not his to make. Castus watches him go, disappointed but still good-natured.
Spartacus enters the medical tent, where various injured rebels are resting on bloodstained pallets. One wounded unfortunate is being poked and prodded by a medicus, although it doesn’t look like there’s much that can be done for his gaping leg wound.
At the back of the tent, Laeta is huddled in a miserable little heap on one of the bunk beds. She quietly tells Spartacus that she never expected to see him again, and that the gods are surely mocking them both. Sparty’s not there to just shoot the breeze with her, though, he’s there to deliver a pointed lecture – apparently Laeta’s been refusing to eat anything and sulking mightily. When Sparty confronts her, she tells him to give her ration to someone more deserving, and he rolls his eyes at her dramatics, asking if she’s looking for pity.
Why yes, actually, it appears that she is. Laeta recounts the total pit of crap her life has become since she first met Spartacus – her city destroyed, her husband and friends murdered, and the entire life she once knew cast into hellish disarray. Oh, and then when she thought Crassus was going to save her, he instead handed her over to a filthy pirate who branded her as his slave!
Sparty lets her snivel on for a moment or two before gently but firmly shutting her down. How is her pain and suffering any different from any other person in the rebel camp? Has she forgotten that they’re all branded as slaves as well? Laeta pulls herself together and asks how he got past all the pain and loss in his life, and COME ON LADY this is a ridiculous question. Of course he hasn’t got past it. HE STARTED A WAR BECAUSE OF IT.
Down in warm, comfortable Sinuessa, Kore is in the villa’s kitchen, preparing the afternoon meal. Tiberius shows up, startling her, and makes some idle comments about the food he’d like at his victory celebration. She notices that he’s back in his fancy armor and correctly deduces that he’s back in daddy’s good books once again. Tiberius confirms that his tantrumy whiny bratty days are indeed behind him, and he’s finally the man that Crassus always hoped he would become.
Kore is rightfully super uncomfortable to be alone with him, but hides it as best she can. Tiberius seems to be talking with her as though nothing ghastly and horrible ever happened between them, and Kore is pretty unnerved. Tiberius asks her if she thinks Sabinus would be proud of him as he stands now, returned to his father’s favour. Kore almost impatiently tells him that Sabinus most certainly would, since he loved Tiberius very much.
Tiberius seems almost penitent as he reminds Kore that she too once cared for him very much as Sabinus did, and Kore smiles a small but seemingly genuine smile before telling Tiberius that such things shouldn’t concern him anymore. Now that he’s back in his exalted position in Crassus’ army, he’ll surely go off and conquer foreign lands for the glory of Rome and further raise the stature of the House of Crassus, far away from those who once cared about him. Whether she’s just glad that she’ll be rid of him, or glad that the boy she once truly cared for as her own child will be successful, or glad that Crassus has repaired his relationship with his son, or even a combination of all three… well, we can’t really know, can we. I tend to assume it’s only the first one, but Kore has proven extremely complex in her feelings towards both Marcus and Tiberius.
Actually, the next scene seems to prove me wrong, oops. Tiberius explains that actually, instead of going off to foreign wars, he’ll be remaining in Sinuessa as his father’s representative, until he’s old enough to take the title and position of Tribune. Kore is utterly delighted to hear that he won’t be returning to Rome with Crassus and the rest of his household, and is barely able to disguise her glee when she tells Tiberius that she’s sure he’ll do just fine on his own.
Oh dear me no. Tiberius has some perfectly ghastly news – Kore is going to be staying in Sinuessa as well, where she will be able to “help” Tiberius whenever he needs it. Ugh.
Kore’s face is a picture of utter horror and despair. She’s absolutely frozen with fear and desperately trying not to let it show in her face. Tiberius, certainly not unaware of the effect his words are having, continues on relentlessly. He tells her, smiling happily all the while, that Crassus has granted her the position of vilica – sort of like the executive slave of the house. She’ll be the head of household, basically, and while it’s still a slave’s position, it’s pretty much one of the highest positions any slave could aspire to save manumission.
Kore is not nearly as excited by this news as Tiberius apparently was expecting. She can’t even look at him, but he forges on nevertheless. It’s so creepy I can’t even. I just. Tiberius seems really sincere and it is creeping me out. It’s similar to Ashur’s creepy sincerity when he told Lucretia that Glaber was giving her to him as a gift, along with the rest of the House of Batiatus. Tiberius then thanks Kore for her support during his time of need, and again, he seems totally sincere. He tells her that he’s looking forward to spending more quality time with her, and UGH STOP IT YOU HORRID BOY.
Even after Tiberius leaves, Kore is still too stunned and horrified to cry.
Crassus takes a report that his entire army awaits him up on the ridge, so he’d best get moving. Kore is lurking outside his study and steels herself with a deep breath before interrupting his last minute preparations to tell him that lunch is ready. Crassus is, as always, happy to see her, but he doesn’t have time for lunch anymore. Kore patiently interrupts him again, apologetic but firm – she really needs to talk to him before he goes off to war.
Crassus, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to see how serious and worried she is, and smiles briefly while telling her to make it quick. Kore asks if it’s true that she’ll be staying in Sinuessa with Tiberius, and this finally catches Crassus’ attention. He’s a bit put out that Tiberius told her already – Crassus had planned to tell her the “good news” himself, one on one. Kore seems poised to reveal all when a commander pokes his head in to tell Crassus that everyone is ready to go. Crassus says that their conversation will have to wait until after the battle is won, and tells Kore to dry her tears. Oh Crassus. IF ONLY YOU KNEW.
Oh how I hope you find out.
Up on the ridge, the legions are setting up a fancy tent and seating area. Across the field, Sparty watches with Agron, Crixus, and Gannicus, and all four are vastly irritated to see that a veritable pulvinus is being erected, as though Crassus thinks this will be a fun and interesting afternoon’s entertainment. Crixus is eager to give Crassus a real show of what determined gladiators can do, but Agron is worried that determination won’t be enough – while the rebel army has strength in numbers, there aren’t enough truly trained warriors among them.
Spartacus, for once, agrees with Crixus – they’ve done the impossible before and can do it again, but they need to use sneaky cunning instead of crazed brute force. To this end, Sparty outlines his plans: Crassus has set up his praetorium (his personal fancy General’s tent) too far ahead of the rest of his legions, as though already anticipating his victory. Obviously the gladiators will have to pay Crassus a sneaky nighttime visit to show him the error of his ways.
Agron points out that surely the fancy tent will have more guards than the rest of the camp, but Sparty’s sure that the oncoming storm, combined with the dark of night, will be more than enough to conceal their approach. Crixus asks, suspiciously, how many men Spartacus plans to take with him – only a few of the very best, Crixus, like you yourself. CAN’T THEY JUST HUG IT OUT ALREADY.
The plan is simple – kill off Crassus before the fight even begins and ideally the legions will fall apart without their strong leader. There are two voices of dissent: Gannicus doesn’t think this plan will work out as easily as it did with Cossinius and Furius, and Crixus wants to attack with the entire army instead of sneaking in to kill Crassus while he sleeps.
Oh Crixus. Can’t you see that there is no way an entire army of undisciplined former slaves will be able to SNEAK UP on anything? Sparty loses his patience and tells Crixus not to be an idiot, and that even child could see that this plan is crap. Crixus immediately takes massive offense and is clearly spoiling for a fight. Sparty backs down immediately and apologizes for his hasty words, telling Crixus he wants him by his side throughout the battle.
DON’T YOU SEE, CRIXUS. HE TRUSTS YOU AND LOVES YOU LIKE A BROTHER AND I HATE IT WHEN YOU GUYS FIGHT. IT MAKES ME SO SAD. PLZ HUG.
Night falls, and the Roman sentries stand at the edge of their camp. They only have about 10 feet of visibility in every direction, as the storm is whipping the snow up into their faces in a blur. The Centurion on duty peers out into the night and sees three torches off in the distance. He sends a pair of soldiers off to recon the situation, and while everyone’s attention is on the field before them, Sparty and his team sneak up behind them and cut everyone’s throats. HA.
Further back into the camp, the soldiers are shuffling around trying to keep warm while remaining alert. None of the dead men on the front lines had enough time to call out, so the rebels’ next attack takes the Romans completely by surprise. From the shadows provided by the storm, they take out a dozen soldiers with bows and arrows. When the last surviving sentry tries to sound the alarm, Sparty shuts him up with a spear to the chest.
Naevia, Saxa, Nasir, and a handful of archers lurk outside the praetorium to prevent any escape from within, and Sparty heads inside with Gannicus, Agron, and Crixus. Inside, they do not find what they were expecting. Instead of Crassus asleep in his bed, they find Donar’s crucified corpse. Carved into Donar’s chest is “MORS INDECEPTA,” which Sparty translates as “death is indeceivable”.
Outside the tent, the rest of the legion is charging in to attack. There’s nothing left for Our Heroes to do but meet them in battle. Sparty and his core allies, along with maybe a dozen other rebels, throw themselves screaming at what looks like about 70-80 soldiers, or a reasonably historically accurate century. Again, as we’ve seen a thousand times throughout this entire series, the soldiers are just not as prepared for a real, full-on, balls to the fucking wall fight to the death as the gladiators are. No one ever learns from anyone else’s mistakes in Rome, apparently.
Despite being wildly outnumbered, the rebels are doing pretty damn well until a spear-waving soldier manages to duck beneath Naevia’s defenses and slash her thigh open. She screams really horribly but still parries his next thrust away. His follow-up smacks her in the face, and she falls. Crixus hears her scream and sees her fall but is too far away to do anything about it. He quickly ends his current battle by virtually ripping his opponent’s heart out, but there’s just no way he’s going to get to Naevia in time. As the soldier raises his spear to finish Naevia off, Sparty lunges at him from behind and guts him like a fish. Before the soldier even hits the ground, Sparty has Naevia lifted up over his shoulders, and takes off at a dead run, shouting for everyone to retreat.
As the rebels flee, one of the remaining half dozen soldiers yells after them that they’re a bunch of little sissy cowards. This would appear to be a grave mistake, because Crixus immediately turns back and gives them a Look of Disapproval.
DISAPPROVAL… AND DEATH.
In the time it would take a normal dude to put on his pants and adjust his package, Crixus storms back up the hill and messily slaughters the handful of soldiers before they can even raise their swords. It’s fucking glorious to behold.
Another century is approaching from the Roman camp, and you can totally tell that Crixus just wants to kill them all right the hell now. Spartacus can tell this as well, and shouts to Crixus to get his ass back to camp with the rest of the rebels. Probably the only thing that could actually pull Crixus out of his berserker rage right now is the sight of Naevia’s half-conscious body draped across Sparty’s shoulders – Crixus dashes off behind them.
Down in Sinuessa, Crassus is disappointed that his ploy to catch Sparty was unsuccessful. He’s still pretty pleased to have given Sparty something to think about, though. He gives the order to awaken Tiberius and Caesar, and get everyone ready for the real battle.
When Caesar finally hauls his ass out of bed, he’s grumpy at having been awakened and even more grumpy to see Tiberius back in his fancy armor and at his father’s side. He’s slightly happier to hear that it’s time for the final attack on the rebels, but his happiness is ever so fleeting – Crassus interrupts to tell Caesar that he’ll be remaining in Sinuessa to gather up the rest of the troops in town, and then, under Tiberius’ command, they’ll all join Crassus up on Melia Ridge above town.
Caesar isn’t about to just accept this embarrassing demotion without a fight. He bitches openly and without much forethought that it should be him leading the charge, the man who singlehandedly snuck into Sinuessa and retook the city, blah blah blah, instead of the little boy who failed in his forbidden attack and lost his sword. Crassus lets him witter on a bit and then just icily cuts him down. Is Caesar complaining that Crassus hasn’t done enough for him? Even though Crassus has paid off all of Caesar’s many and costly outstanding debts, and sent Metellus back to Rome with overblown stories of Caesar’s bravery to feed the Senate. Not to mention the victory celebration in Caesar’s honor, arranged specially for him by Tiberius himself, the very man that Caesar is just dissing left and right.
Caesar backtracks immediately, giving Crassus his best wide-eyed gaze of innocence, and protests that he was merely offering some suggestions. Crassus doesn’t fall for his innocent bullshit and tells him to chill the fuck out. It was Crassus’ plan that made Caesar successful, and it’s going to be Crassus’ plan that kills Spartacus, with Tiberius at his side. Caesar pouts and is all BUT WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE. Oh Caesar. You’ll be there too, being victorious and gathering laurels, as long as you pull your head out of your ass and do as you’re told.
Caesar prunefaces grumpily but promises to do as commanded, and Crassus gives him a manly backslap. Sigh. How is Crassus so brilliant in so many aspects of his life and so utterly brainless in others? How does he not see that Caesar needs much more careful attention than this? He is going to stir all the shit and cause all the trouble otherwise.
Crassus prances off to the ridge, totally unconcerned that everything will work out just dandy. As soon as he’s gone, Tiberius snarks nastily at Caesar that everything’s back the way it should be: Tiberius restored to command, with Caesar beneath his heel. Caesar gets right up in his smirky little face and tells him to watch his fucking back. Tiberius continues smiling his bratty little smile and tells Caesar to get the men together as he’s been commanded, and swans off.
Yeah, they should prolly have wild, furious, crazed hatesex, ASAP. I am just saying.
Once he’s alone, Caesar indulges in a childish temper tantrum, full of ragequit tableflips. As he paces back and forth in the hallway, he spots Kore lurking halfway up the nearby stairs, and bitches her out for spying on his undignified situation. Kore apologizes, saying that the shouting drew her attention, but this only makes Caesar more irritated, since she stuck around to see him get chewed out.
Kore takes a deep breath and then takes what may very well be the biggest risk of her entire life – she confides in Caesar that she doesn’t trust Tiberius now that he’s been restored to power. Caesar is full-on shocked that Crassus’ devoted bed-slave would speak out against her master, and Kore says that she just wants to discuss their common enemy… and how they can stop him from being a problem.
Caesar brings her into his chamber for some quiet conversation, and Kore thanks him for talking to her privately. He’s still really pissed off about life in general and the House of Crassus in particular, and tells Kore to get to the goddamn point. So she does – she explains that she and her position are in as much danger as Caesar and his, now that Tiberius has been reinstated by his father’s side. Caesar rolls his eyes at the thought that some mere slave woman could have been so wronged by Tiberius, but when he asks her what the problem is, Kore refuses to elaborate. From the assessing look in Caesar’s eyes, I think maybe he suspects? We shall see.
Either way, Caesar doesn’t want to get involved in some convoluted family argument and scheme. He’s prepared to storm out and ignore Kore completely, until she warns him that if Tiberius and Crassus defeat Spartacus together, the victory will deepen their relationship enough to leave Caesar out in the cold. Okay, he’s convinced.
Up on the ridge, a small group of rebels, Sibyl included, is seated in a prayer circle around a small fire. Spartacus watches them for a moment and then returns to camp. The rest of the rebels are struggling to set up the rest of the tents as the storm grows stronger.
Inside their private tent, Crixus is helping Naevia sip a cup of water. She’s still bedridden from her nasty injury. Spartacus enters and is really genuinely pleased to see how well she’s recovering, and Naevia thanks him for saving her life. Sparty almost blushes and says anyone would have done the same. Crixus doesn’t feel like joining in their friendly hugfest and grumpily tells Spartacus that Naevia needs her rest. Sparty thinks she’ll have plenty of time, since the storm is too heavy for the Romans to try an attack, but Crixus really meant that he wants to drag Sparty outside the tent to yell at him some more.
Crixus is still totally mad, and Spartacus is fed up. As Crixus fills Naevia’s water jug with ice from a trough, Spartacus has it out with him – is this how it’s going to be with them from now on? Is Crixus always going to be the same contentious jerkface he was when they were back in the ludus? Crixus thinks it’s Sparty who has changed, from the bold and hardassed commander he was at the beginning of the war to someone who isn’t willing to take necessary risks.
The worst thing is, they’re both kind of right.
Crixus rages on relentlessly, telling Sparty that they should’ve attacked in force like Crixus said they should, and that Spartacus was completely bested by Crassus’ “more devious mind”. Oh no he didn’t.
Crixus just wants everyone to grab a sword and attack Crassus’ army immediately, and pays no attention to the very logical reasons Sparty gives him why this is a shitty idea. Sparty refuses to give in to Crixus’ considerable bloodthirst and reminds him that not everyone in the rebel army is a gladiator who would be as happy with victory as they would with a glorious death. Crixus sasses right back that what they REALLY want is for someone to actually lead them for a change.
Sparty tells him that he’s not leading his people to their deaths, and Crixus is all I AIN’T GONNA DIE RUNNING AWAY LIKE A LITTLE BITCH, BROSEPH. Crixus, goaded beyond reason, shouts that he’ll take whoever will follow him and attack on his own. Spartacus gets right back in his face and tells him to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. So Crixus smashes the water jug in Sparty’s face.
Ooooh. Shit just got real.
So yeah, huge ridiculous brawl and I am just SO IRRITATED WITH BOTH OF YOU OH MY GOD. Stop being such stubborn babies!
Eventually Agron and Gannicus show up to haul them apart, and while Agron is just as irritated as I am to see these idiots brawling, Gannicus seems to find it pretty amusing. Crixus stomps off angrily, and Spartacus lunges away from Gannicus to run after him, but Agron hauls him back – the medicus’ tent has been blown over by the storm’s winds, and they need to set it back up while finding an alternate shelter for the patients in the meantime.
Over in the Roman camp, Crassus is laughing with his commanders that the storm might just kill off the rebels before they get a chance to do it themselves. His good humor comes to an end when Caesar arrives, unannounced and therefore uninvited. Not only has Caesar disobeyed Crassus’ command to stay with Tiberius, he’s brought Kore up to the camp with him. Crassus is furious with them both, but Kore begs him to hear her out. Crassus dismisses everyone and turns to Kore, grim and displeased.
As Caesar leaves the tent, Tiberius arrives and bellow after him, which Caesar all but ignores. When he finally stops, he barely bothers listening to Tiberius’ angry ranting, and tells him that he had more important things to take care of. Tiberius whines that he’s going to tattle to Daddycakes, and Caesar laughs in his face, telling him to wait til Crassus isn’t busy with his beloved slave. Tiberius knows right away that Kore is up to something that he won’t like.
Tiberius demands to know what Kore told Caesar to convince him to bring her up to the camp, and Caesar practically rubs his hands together with supervillainish glee. Oh Tiberius, wouldn’t you love to know? Caesar is sure that Crassus will let his trusted son know everything that Kore has to say eventually. Tiberius actually looks frightened for a moment.
Inside the tent, Crassus pours Kore some wine and presses her to get to the point. He’s irritated that she disobeyed him, but he doesn’t lose his temper or yell at her in any way. He glances outside at the storm and says that as soon as things die down, he’ll send her back to Sinuessa with Caesar. Kore pounces on this statement, asking why she’s being banished to Sinuessa while he remains in Rome.
Well. This is an embarrassing misconception, apparently. Crassus actually giggles a little at how wrongly she’s interpreted the situation. Crassus’ plan all along was to keep Sinuessa as his holiday home, where he and Kore could finally be together, free from the jealousy of Tertulla and the judgment of all of Rome. He really sees this as something wonderful that he’s proud to be able to do for his beloved, and ARGH PAINFUL TO WATCH. Crassus can’t really understand why she wouldn’t be happy to have the exalted title of vilica of the House of Crassus in Sinuessa, and even when Kore asks, small and shaky, if she’ll be beneath the command of Tiberius, he still doesn’t cotton on to the real problem.
Instead, Crassus unknowingly reopens all of Kore’s wounds and grinds salt into them, telling her how glad he is that she’ll be there to help Tiberius as she has in the past, with the benefit of her love and wisdom. He practically glows with happiness when he tells her that Tiberius loves her so very much, and that he’s so proud that Tiberius has finally become a real man with her guidance.
Kore hesitantly tells Crassus that she’s worried he’ll blame her if Tiberius turns out not to be as successful as he’s hoping, and Crassus dismisses it as impossible. Kore tries again, saying that Tiberius has disappointed them both in the past, but Crassus still can’t see it. He admits that Tiberius has been an ass in the past, true, but now everything has changed for the better, and Crassus is sure that his son is all that they ever dreamed he could be.
And then, in a genuine and loving effort to set Kore’s mind and heart to ease, Crassus instead destroys all chances for her future happiness in any possible way – he tells her that he’s sure there is nothing Tiberius could ever do that would keep Crassus from loving or forgiving him wholeheartedly. Kore can’t hold back her tears and actual gasps of pain at these words, and Crassus tries to cuddle her out of her heartbreak, assuming that she’s crying with relief. YOU GUYS WHY.
Kore smiles at him lovingly and brushes her tears away as foolishness from a silly girl. Crassus says that he hopes the woman now knows her mind instead, and Kore looks him straight in the eye and, calling him by his given name, says that everything is very clear to her now.
Then they make out a bunch and have the sex and it is really upsetting because SHE JUST LOVES HIM SO MUCH AND HE IS A RUINER AND DOESN’T EVEN KNOW IT OH GOD.
Agron and Nasir are crowding the injured patients recently left homeless into an already overcrowded shelter. Nasir’s concerned that freezing to death will be the least of their problems if no one can actually breathe, but Agron would rather huddle up with gangrenous wounds than have his balls freeze off. Typical.
Agron stops in his tracks at the sight of Castus huddled among the patients. Nasir warns him off of starting their old argument yet again, but Agron ignores him to kneel down in front of Castus. Castus is too cold and exhausted to be charming or argumentative, and just says tiredly that Spartacus commanded him to be there – he’s not there to specifically annoy Agron, dammit! Agron whips out his belt knife and Castus stares at him nervously, waiting for the inevitable.
Instead, Agron cuts Castus free from his bindings. At Castus’ disbelieving look, Agron blusters that Nasir talked him around, but otherwise he’d totally kick Castus’ ass! Nasir smiles the sweetest, proudest smile on earth, and Agron grumbles at him irrationally for being so goddamn adorable.
Saxa is helping Spartacus herd the patients into the other end of tent when she realizes that she hasn’t seen Gannicus in a while. She’s really concerned, and asks Sparty if he knows where he is. Sparty’s surprised that Saxa has no idea where he is, and immediately heads out into the storm alone to find Gannicus.
Gannicus, actually, is off being a Big Damn Hero. Sibyl is still sitting with the rest of the prayer circle, and has just bled herself all over a small carved idol while entreating the gods for their favour. She collapses, barely conscious, just as Gannicus runs over to yell at her for being out in the storm. He carries her off back to the camp, while yelling at the rest of the prayer circle to get inside before they freeze.
Spartacus returns to the tent alone, and the hastily-concealed anguish on Saxa’s face is just fucking awful. He tells her that he wasn’t able to find Gannicus, and she immediately stands up to go out into the storm and find him herself. BECAUSE SHE LOVES HIM SO GODDAMN MUCH OH MY GOD.
Sparty drags her back, and she’s already so cold and exhausted that she almost collapses in his arms. Sparty tries to joke that Gannicus always has too much wine in his blood for him to freeze to death, but Saxa just shoves him aside and turns her face away to hide her damp eyes.
Laeta, watching the entire scene, calls Sparty over to share her blanket rather than stand there freezing to death. He tries to refuse, but relents when Laeta admits that it’s as much for her warmth as for his. Sparty’s also concerned when he sees her grimace with pain from her slowly-healing stomach wound. Looks like they’ll be cuddling for warmth after all.
Oh god I think I ship it.
Gannicus trudges through the snow with Sibyl, lost in the storm. Finally, he spots an overturned and broken cart, and they hollow out a space beneath for shelter. Gannicus jokes that once again they find themselves stuffed beneath an awkward spot, nursing their wounds and praying not to die horribly. Sibyl laughs at the thought of him actually praying for something himself for a change, and he admits that it’s happening more often than he’d expected.
He then remembers to berate her a bit more for being out in the storm, and Sibyl explains that she was making an offering to the gods on behalf of Spartacus and everyone following him, and while Gannicus still seems kind of shruggo about the whole “gods intervening” possibility, he’s ready to admit that lately he’s been thinking there’s more to it than he’d thought.
A huge gust of wind sets off a small avalanche rumbling across the valley, and Sibyl huddles up to Gannicus, weeping and shivering. He pets her head and tells her not to worry, and she lunges at him for a clumsy kiss. Gannicus pushes her away and reminds her that he told her to stay away from men like him, and Sibyl tells him that shit is just goddamn impossible. So yeah and then they do the sex and whatevs.
SORRY BUT I AM JUST NOT DOWN WITH THIS SCENE YOU GUYS. NOT AT ALL.
Okay, but. I will say this: Sibyl is a gentle, beautiful girl that was enslaved to a horrible, brutal, violent man who enjoyed seeing people suffer. There is little doubt in my mind that her virginity is not only long gone, but was taken from her by force and likely at a young age. This is probably the only time in her entire life that she got to choose for herself. So I’m glad that she got the chance to choose someone that she truly seems to care for, no matter how unrealistic her breathless girlish fantasies about him truly are, and no matter HOW MAD I AM ABOUT THIS ARGH GANNICUS WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS SAXA IS THE FUCKING BEST.
sorry. i tried. YOU ALL SAW ME TRY.
Kore tiptoes through Crassus’ tent while he sleeps and, glancing about nervously, takes a large knife off the table.
After the storm, Sparty, Agron, Saxa, and Lugo find the prayer circle’s members frozen solid, still sitting around the remains of their small fire. Sparty looks furious and miserable at their deaths, and it’s even worse when he hears from Agron that nearly a thousand rebels died in the storm. Miraculously, Gannicus and Sibyl wander over, safe and sound, and everyone is pretty happy to see them, I guess. Gannicus says that the gods saw them to shelter, and Saxa tells him that not everyone was so lucky. She also takes note of how they’re holding hands, and yeah, Saxa knows exactly what’s going on here. And she is having none of Gannicus’ shit.
Gannicus knows that he’s been caught out being a huge jerkwad asshole, and has no defense to give. He just sort of stares at Saxa guiltily until she turns away in disgust. Meanwhile, Sybil has finally noticed that the rest of her prayer circle is dead, and realizes that they died in the bitter cold while she was off sexing up Gannicus. She’s wallowing in total despair – they begged the gods for a sign and this is what ended up happening?
Spartacus stares out over the rebel camp at the piles of frozen dead bodies and suddenly has an idea.
Sparty tracks down Crixus to share his cunning idea. Crixus is still brooding grumpily and doesn’t have the time or the patience to listen to Sparty witter on; he demands that Sparty get to the point for once. It goes a little something like this: Spartacus explains that they’re going to cross the trench and attack the breastworks on the far side. Simple, no? Crixus thinks he’s lost his fool mind.
But wait, it makes sense! Kind of. So far, how many times has Crassus done something that was not as it seemed? Quite a few, actually – when Caesar was sent among them as a spy, when Herocleo’s loyalties turned, when the tent trap was laid with Donar’s body. So why should they trust that the breastworks are as well guarded as they appear to be? Why would Crassus even waste men up on the wall when the trench itself is huge and seemingly impassible? Maybe because Crassus only wants them to believe that there is an entire army waiting for them on the far side? Eh? Eh?
The more he thinks about it, the more Crixus starts to wonder. Naevia, at last rising from her sickbed, has overheard the entire conversation and comes out to join them. What if Sparty’s wrong? Well then, at least they’ll die fighting, which should appeal to Crixus.
Apparently it does.
Up on the wall, one of the sentries pauses in his rounds and peers over the wall suspiciously. Has he heard something? He’ll certainly never know, because now he has an arrow poking out of his eye. Armed with a few grappling hooks, some bows and arrows, and a whole lot of brass bound balls, Sparty and a handful of rebels rip down the breastworks and scale the side of the trench.
Once atop the wall, they easily cut down the few sentries and are gratified to note that Spartacus’ suspicions were correct – there’s barely 100 men on the far side, and they’re quickly dealt with by sword, spear, and arrow.
The gladiators bring the fight directly to the undermanned camp and utterly destroy the unprepared soldiers. Agron almost gets whacked from behind as he’s busy with another soldier, and it’s only thanks to the quick thinking and quicker swordwork of Castus that he doesn’t take a nasty wound. They give each other a bro-grin from across the battle. YAYS.
As the fight winds down, Sparty sends Lugo and Brictius off to gather some men to chop a hole through the near side of the wall, so none of the rebels will have to climb.
Crassus’ commanders barge into his tent to give him the bad news that the rebels have managed to breach the wall. Crassus is lying very still in his bed, and we’re obviously meant to assume that Kore has killed him with the knife she was holding earlier. AS IF I WOULD FALL FOR SUCH FOOLISHNESS. How insulting!
She is, however, nowhere to be seen, and as Crassus gives the order for the legions to fall into formation, he realizes that she’s gone. As the rest of his commanders rush to complete his orders, Crassus asks his valet if Kore was escorted back to Sinuessa. His valet looks startled and says that no one has left the tent.
Crassus notices a rear flap of the tent rustling in the breeze. When he pulls it aside, he sees that the rear guard is dead in the snow.
As the rebel army streams through the hole cut in the wall, we see exactly why the guard is dead.
Kore has cut her losses and joined the rebellion. I was totally spoiled for this last week, THANKS FANDOM, but my reaction then was HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
Sparty hurries everyone along, as surely the Romans are close behind them, and Kore stops briefly to stare at the heaps of dead bodies on every side. This is probably the first time in a very long time that she’s seen firsthand this kind of suffering and deprivation, even though she’s been a slave all her life. She looks stunned.
On the far side of the wall, Crassus is stomping along through the abandoned rebel camp in a daze, with Caesar and Tiberius at his side. He can’t believe Kore has abandoned him for the rebellion. He berates Caesar for bringing her up to the ridge in the first place, without which she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to run away. Caesar tells him, shortly, that he thought Kore had a good reason to want to talk to him. Crassus doesn’t give a shit what Caesar thinks. Instead, he demands a report from one of his commanders.
The report is, of course, that there is no sign of any of the rebels, and no guards are left atop the wall. None of them can figure out how Sparty and the rebels managed to get across the trench, and even when they see it for themselves, they’re still completely shocked.
The rebels have piled up all the dead bodies of those lost in the storm and made a bridge to cross over to the wall. Tiberius thinks this is just more evidence that Spartacus is a mindless savage, but Crassus knows the truth: Spartacus has once again been underestimated.
Crassus assumes that the rebels can’t be moving too quickly, and gives the order to bring the legions up to the wall to advance after them. But it seems that YET AGAIN, he has underestimated Sparty. The rebels haven’t gone anywhere at all – they’re waiting atop the wall with spears and arrows and you’d all best run for your lives.
The dozen or so soldiers form up around Crassus to protect him, because Crassus hasn’t moved a single inch. Instead, he’s staring up at the wall, directly at Spartacus, who is staring right back at him with a tiny victorious smile. The soldiers have to practically drag Crassus away from his feverish eyefucking.
Get a room already, you two.
The rebels shout taunts and insults as Crassus and the soldiers flee from their missiles. Agron dourly reminds everyone that the Romans will be back with battering rams and ballistae, but Sparty’s not disheartened. Let Crassus smash down his own wall with fire and rage, who even cares? Sparty and the rebels will be long gone by then.