WHY WASN’T THIS 2 HOURS LONG. WHYYYY.
Romans are dying horribly in a number of firey miserable ways. From the shadows, Gannicus struts out, sword in hand, telling a dying man to warn all his bros to free their slaves or they’ll all be killed. How is he going to warn people if he’s dead? Gannicus, your logic is not of the earth logic. Half-Dead Guy asks who he is, and Gannicus announces that he is actually Spartacus.
Gannicus, that is a dirty fib.
Caesar and Crassus are looking over an annotated map of the region, grumping and grousing over the half dozen attacks during the past week. In every one, we see our rebel friends announcing to the dead and dying that they are Spartacus, and while Caesar appears to have fallen for the ruse, Crassus knows it for a cunning stratagem instead. He posits that the scheme was set to confuse Pompey, and the merest mention of their rival’s name is enough to set Caesar off on a rant: he’s sure Pompey will do his best to steal all their glory, and also will certainly make sure that if anything goes wrong, the blame will rest solely upon their shoulders. Crassus agrees, but is momentarily distracted by the sight of Tiberius’ plaster imago, or funeral mask, cast directly from his pretty dead face.
Caesar notes Crassus’ distraction, and, in somewhat softer tones, reminds him that there is nothing left of the rebel camp where Tiberius died, and no sign of where the rebels departed to. Crassus angrily tells him to have the men redouble their efforts, as he really wants to kick Sparty’s ass all over the battlefield ASAP. Caesar is totally down with this plan and sets off to see it done.
Over in the rebel camp, people are sharpening weapons and hauling bundles of wood and tending to chickens and whatnot. Gannicus and Spartacus are walking together as Gannicus laughs helplessly over whatever Sparty’s newest mad plan is. As usual, he finds it to be totally crazy, but is also totally down to take part. Sparty knows that Pompey is somewhat baffled in the North, but Crassus hasn’t been fooled and is thus advancing from the south. Whatever Sparty’s planning, it will hopefully occupy Crassus’ men long enough for the rest of the rebels to escape to the north.
Agron joins them, presumably freshly risen from his sickbed, and announces his intention to join them in fighting Crassus. Sparty and Gannicus share a helplessly resigned look, and Sparty holds out his sword to Agron: if Agron can actually grip the sword, then he’s welcome to join them. From the expression on Agron’s face, this is not the first time he’s been challenged thus.
Agron’s heavily bandaged hand stiffly closes around the sword’s hilt, and for a moment, it almost looks like he’ll be able to grab it out of sheer determination. Instead, the sword slips from his grasp and hits the ground, rendering Agron super miserable at all that has been stolen from him. Swords and battle are all he knows, dammit! Sparty tries to console him by saying that Agron still has an important purpose in the coming battle: his job will be to make sure the non-fighting rebels are able to escape over the Alps.
Sparty, dude. Your consolation needs some work. Even Gannicus can see that this is only going to make Agron more miserable. Spartacus doesn’t really listen to Gannicus’ warning that Agron is barely holding on; he’s more concerned with Gannicus still calling it Spartacus’ fight and not his own. Gannicus has no plans to be a martyr upon a cross, but he’s willing to fight to make sure others can also be free. Glancing over at Sibyl, who is, as always, lurking nearby, Sparty tells him to take some time to say his goodbyes.
As Gannicus and Sibyl hug it out, Naevia joins Sparty to watch them. She’s predictably depressed to think about how long it seems since she last saw Crixus. Sparty’s consolation of Naevia is much better this time around, as he reminds her that they’ll soon be fighting Romans and will get to kill an awful lot of them.
In the privacy of their tent, Nasir presents a very special gift to Agron. No, it’s not hot mansex – it’s a sword and shield combo that he made specifically so Agron can strap it to his forearm, thus negating the need to be able to grip a sword or shield handle in his mutilated hands. Agron is so unbelievably moved that Nasir did this for him, and it renews his determination to fight alongside his brothers. There’s no way he can flee to the mountains now. Agron tells Nasir that he’s going to have to disobey Sparty’s command and stay to fight. Nasir doesn’t even try to talk him out of it, he just states that he’s going to stick by Agron’s side no matter where he goes.
AND THEN THEY BOTH MAKE LITTLE SQUISHY FACES OF ALMOST-SOBBING LOVE AND IT IS GLORIOUS.
This is followed by desperate clingy hugs and kisses and epically tragic faces and it’s only 7 minutes in and oh my god we are all going to suffer.
Meanwhile, Gannicus is saying goodbye to Sibyl in a somewhat more private fashion – WITH HIS PEEN. Since I’m not super down with this pairing I can’t really get into this scene, but I did very much enjoy seeing both of their pretty hairdos tossing in dramatic slow-mo.
They don’t get much time to enjoy the sexy afterglow, as the shouting and bustling of impending battle is loud outside their tent almost immediately. Sibyl doesn’t want to be parted from her Disney prince of a gladiator, and begs him to abandon his friends and join her in the mountains instead. Gannicus tells her, quietly and seriously, that he has to stay behind to fight so that the rest of them can escape.
Over in the Roman HQ tent complex, Crassus is sweatily and shirtlessly fighting two soldiers at once, as part of his daily HULK SMASH SPARTACUS training routine. One of the soldiers comments that Crassus’ skills are getting ever more impressive, and Crassus manages not to preen. As he sets both men on their butts in the sand, Kore appears at the far end of the training square, awaiting a private word with Crassus.
Kore stands before Tiberius’ funeral mask, looking miserable and alone. Crassus, cleaned up and freshly be-uniformed after his practice session, joins her and notices the object of her attention. Crassus asks her if she thinks Tiberius looks like he’s at peace, and Kore quietly agrees that he does. Crassus says that this peaceful expression wasn’t one he got to see on Tiberius very often; he mostly saw Tiberius looking worried, or concerned, and he’s realized, somewhat belatedly, that Tiberius got this from Crassus himself.
Crassus then asks Kore if she remembers Tiberius as having been different, and Kore says that she remembers him rather differently, and that she wishes things had not turned out the way they did. Crassus, temper flaring slightly, asks her to tell her the name of the slave who supposedly killed Tiberius. Kore hesitates for a moment and then gives a very wooden answer, the exact same answer doubtlessly drilled into her by Caesar when they agreed to deceive Crassus – she describes an older slave, with the “scars of his master well-etched upon flesh”. Crassus doesn’t seem to notice her obvious lie, and simply says that he wishes the slave had been killed so that Tiberius could have survived.
Caesar arrives with a report that forward scouts saw a company of rebel soldiers off to the north. Crassus gives the order to break camp and march north immediately. Kore asks if this means that the war will soon be over, and Crassus seems confident that this is indeed the case. He tells her that the guards will escort her back to “where she belongs”.
Before Crassus can ride off to battle, Kore asks him why he hasn’t asked her why she left him in the first place. Crassus doesn’t even want to hear it, since nothing she can say will undo her betrayal, or bring Tiberius back to life. Kore just wants to know if there’s even the slightest chance that he might one day forgive her, but Crassus doesn’t seem willing to give her much hope.
The rebels are packing up camp and getting ready to move. Sparty is giving Laeta some last-minute advice, and she interrupts to tell him that she’d be a lot more confident of their ability to escape if Sparty was leading them. Sparty tells her the same thing that Gannicus told Sibyl – he needs to stay behind and deal with Crassus, or no one will survive. Laeta tells him, in tones that defy all possible arguments, that they will wait for him to catch up with them at the foot of the mountains. Sparty’s having none of it, so Laeta reminds him that she’s a free woman to do as she chooses, so Sparty just tells her not to risk her life in order to wait for him.
Laeta looks offended and outraged at the thought that Sparty could possibly fall in battle against Crassus, and tells him that she has faith in him. Sparty thanks her for her belief in him, and for doing lots of hot sex with him. Inexplicably they do not make out. Hmph.
Sparty and Laeta head for the center of camp, where Agron and Nasir meet them. Agron calmly informs Spartacus that he and Nasir will not be heading for the mountains with the non-fighting rebels, and Sparty’s all “dude, we talked about this like a dozen times.” Agron and Nasir stand united as they explain how Nasir has HANDCRAFTED A GLORIOUS SWORD-SHIELD for his boyfrand and that, with or without Sparty’s blessing, they are going to fight to the bitter end.
Sparty grabs Agron’s forearm and looks at the gladiator brand from Batiatus’ ludus. He gets a little emotional as he tells Agron that of all the brothers who stood beside him in the ludus, Agron is the only one still alive, and Sparty would be honored to keep fighting with him. WHERE ARE THE HUGS.
Naevia steps up to tell Spartacus that the non-fighting rebels are ready to leave. Sparty addresses them and gets even more emo, telling them that he and the fighters will be thinking of them as they escape, and that if they die in battle, it will be worth it, knowing that the rest of the rebels have escaped. The fleeing rebels get pretty sniffly themselves, and everyone wants to come over and touch him and hug him and thank him for his sacrifice.
Castus and a handful of men ride up on cavalry horses to announce that Crassus’ men saw them riding south of the camp as planned, and are on the move. Sparty tells everyone to get going towards the mountains and freedom, because there are asses that need kicking.
Laeta tells Sparty that she’ll be praying for Crassus’ death and Sparty’s triumph, and kisses him goodbye bravely and without a single tear. As she walks away with Sibyl, Gannicus tells Sparty that he’s tired of saying goodbye and wants to chop off some Roman heads instead. Sparty is similarly inclined and they suit up for DEATHMAKING.
The Romans are advancing to the north with their legions and their cavalry and their massive ballistae. Sparty and the rebels are heading south, mostly on foot, but with equal determination. Both armies stop a few hundred metres apart, and Sparty gives the order for no one to move without his command. A single rider approaches from the Roman side and is stopped in his tracks by the spear Sparty tosses directly in front of his startled horse.
The Centurion calls out that he’s not there to start shit, he just needs to deliver a message from Crassus himself. Sparty, never taking his eyes off the Centurion, calls for another spear – if he doesn’t like the message, the Centurion is going to be in all kinds of trouble.
Apparently the message was that Crassus wanted a private meeting with Spartacus. Atop a nearby ridge overlooking the battlefield, Crassus and Caesar wait with a half-dozen soldiers. Spartacus arrives with Naevia, Castus, Agron, Nasir, and Gannicus.
Crassus doesn’t even turn at Sparty’s approach; he’s still staring out over the assembled armies when he asks Sparty if he’s ever seen so many men bent on mayhem and death all in one place. Sparty just wants to know why Crassus called this damn meeting in the first place, and Crassus tells him he did it for the same reason that Sparty came: curiosity.
Crassus points out that they’ve been fighting each other for months and have never met nor spoken a single word to one another, and Sparty tells him that there aren’t any words that would make much of a difference. Crassus isn’t put off by this, although all his men draw their swords. The rebels similarly arm themselves, and everyone is quite tense until Crassus hands his sword over to Caesar. Sparty draws his own sword and hands it off to a hilariously incredulous Gannicus.
Crassus dismisses his men, despite Caesar’s epic bitchface, and the rebels melt away with only a glance from Sparty. Soon Sparty and Crassus stand alone atop the ridge. Man, I really hope there is a scene in this season’s gag reel where they run towards each other in slow motion to hug passionately.
They stand in silence for a moment and then Crassus asks Sparty if he knows that he can’t win. Sparty says that belief has been shared by all the Romans he’s killed so far. Crassus points out that his son was among those, and Spartacus has no apologies to give for the death of the soldier who killed Crixus. Crassus loses his temper right away, and says that Crixus died on the field of battle, an honor which was denied to Tiberius.
Spartacus then unknowingly undoes all of Caesar and Kore’s careful work at deception when he tells Crassus that Tiberius’ death was not by his orders, but he can’t fault “the woman” who killed Tiberius, since Tiberius had badly mistreated her. Crassus startles visibly at this but refrains from asking further questions, instead trying to turn the conversation towards something they have in common – loss. But when Crassus brings up Sparty’s wife, Sparty loses his own temper. Tiberius voluntarily took up arms for the Republic, while Sura was entirely innocent and unwilling when she was enslaved and later murdered by the Republic. There is no comparison.
Crassus asks if Sparty really intends to lead thousands of people to their death for this still, and Spartacus practically rolls his eyes at Crassus’ words: he’s not forcing them to fight to the death. They’re choosing it as free men and women in charge of their own lives, dammit. Crassus wants to know what Sparty will do if the rebels actually do manage to win this battle – will they leave the Republic, content that justice has been served? Sparty tells him that there’s no chance for justice anymore, not in this world. Crassus is almost affectionate when he tells Sparty that this is finally something they can agree upon.
Crassus holds out his hand for Sparty to shake, and Sparty looks like he’s considering whether or not to fling Crassus off the ridge, but eventually they clasp arms. Sparty tells him that the next time they meet, he’s going to kill Crassus. Crassus is like “no, you’re going to TRY.”
As soon as Crassus and Caesar get back to the Roman HQ, shit gets real. Crassus angrily interrogates Caesar about Tiberius’ death, and Caesar stubbornly sticks to his story of an older male slave doing the deed. As Caesar trots out the same old lie, Crassus backhands him almost contemptuously, insisting that Spartacus would have no reason to lie. Kore is escorted into the tent by some guards and catches the last few words of their argument, and knows right away what’s up.
Crassus tells her that the only way he’ll ever be able to forgive her is if she tells him the truth, and, breaking down in tears, Kore confesses that she was the one who killed Tiberius. I don’t know what Crassus was expecting, but it most certainly was not this. He looks so stunned and so shocked that I almost feel bad for him. On the floor behind him, Caesar facepalms helplessly. This is the opposite of what he wanted.
Crassus asks Kore why she would do such a thing, and before she can even answer, he lunges at her with his dagger at her throat. Caesar leaps up behind him and confesses all: Crassus is blaming the victim, since Tiberius’ death was directly caused by his rape of Kore. Caesar alludes to many other similar acts that led Tiberius to this “deserved fate,” but does not mention that he himself was such a victim as well. Crassus shouts that they’re both lying, but Kore confirms it as true. She explains that Tiberius hated him for Sabinus’ death in the decimation, and decided to hurt his dad as badly as he knew how – through the one thing Crassus truly loved.
Stunned into inaction, Crassus lowers his dagger and asks Kore why she never told him. SHE TRIED, DAMMIT! Kore explains that she DID try, up on Melia Ridge, and Crassus flashes back to the memory of telling her that he can’t think of a single thing that Tiberius could do which would go unforgiven, all the while having thought he was assuaging her fears.
Caesar steps up to tell him that they chose to lie so as not to cause Crassus further pain in the wake of Tiberius’ death, but Crassus just dismisses him. Caesar looks down at Crassus’ hand, still clutching the dagger, and leaves with a final regretful look for Kore, who he doubtlessly assumes is about to die. Kore follows Caesar’s glance and braces herself for death.
Instead, Crassus drops the dagger and grabs Tiberius’ death mask, ranting about how the son is just a reflection of the father. Did Tiberius really learn this sort of thing from him? He smashes the mask in a fit of rage. Kore tearfully tells Crassus that he’s a good man who does what he has to do. Crassus looks at her helplessly for a moment and then apologizes for everything she’s suffered, and Kore stares at him in absolute shock, because no matter what their previous relationship was, it is pretty much completely unprecedented for a Roman dominus to apologize wholeheartedly to a slave. Crassus kisses her wildly and they cling to one another for a moment before he tells her that this will all be over once Spartacus is defeated and the war is a distant memory.
Kore looks unimaginably relieved and happy for the first time in ages, and Crassus looks more determined than ever to finish off the rebellion.
In his own HQ tent, Spartacus is looking over his maps and little horsie marker things. I don’t know what the hell to call them, okay. They’re horsie things.
From beneath the local maps he’s perusing, Spartacus pulls out another map – of Thrace, his homeland. He stares at it sadly for a moment, giving Gannicus the opportunity to slip in unnoticed and startle him with a comment. Gannicus still doesn’t entirely believe that they can defeat Crassus. He knows that Sparty has done the impossible in the past, and he’d never bet against him, but everyone knows there isn’t much hope this time around. Spartacus, having known this all along, is pretty shruggo about this revelation.
Gannicus smiles and says that he’d offer Sparty a drink to cheer them up, but he hasn’t been getting wasted so much lately, which Sparty has noticed. Obviously it’s because Sibyl frowned on it, which Sparty also knows because Sura frowned on it herself. He also recalls how Sura once told him that the gods had set Sparty on his path, and that he would never love another woman, which has pretty much turned out to be true.
Furthermore, Sparty doesn’t really think that he can gauge his victories by the deaths of Romans any longer. Instead, he’d rather think about how many lives are being saved by their actions, and how many former slaves will be able to gain freedom. Gannicus agrees that this is a worthy sentiment, and Sparty cunningly uses this agreement to relaunch their oldest argument – Gannicus needs to believe in this sentiment, and believe in himself, and finally take his place as a leader of the rebellion.
Gannicus just totally does not want to hear this, and gets up to leave, but Sparty tells him that they can’t do this without him. There’s no one more deserving than Gannicus of this position, either. Sparty neglects to mention that there isn’t really anyone left to do so at this point. Gannicus finally relents and asks what Sparty wants him to do. “The impossible.”
Oh, well then.
The next morning, the two armies meet again on the battlefield. Crassus and Caesar sit on their fancy horses, looking over the armies, and Caesar says that the men are ready to go. Crassus thanks him very seriously and solemnly for his loyal service, and Caesar looks thoughtful, and maybe a little tiny bit suspicious that he’s going to end up with a knife in his back.
One of Crassus’ Tribunes sneers that Sparty is an idiot for facing them with so few men, but Crassus isn’t ever going to underestimate Spartacus again, and tells his buddy not to be a schmuck.
Across the field, Spartacus heads to the front of the rebel lines with Nasir, Castus, and Agron, where Naevia stands watching. Everyone is tense but psyched for Roman blood. Spartacus glances at the red serpent painted on Agron’s shield, the same serpent that has long been his own sigil since his days in the House of Batiatus, and suddenly remembers Sura’s warning from so many years ago: that she saw him on his knees, dying before a huge red serpent. “Great and unfortunate things,” indeed.
Sparty tells the rebels that the battle is about to begin and gives them a rousing speech about defeating slavery and killing Romans. It works rather well, and the rebels are shrieking for blood.
On the opposite side of the field, Crassus announces to the legions that no quarter is to be given: every rebellious slave is to be made into a terrible example of what will befall any other slaves who have a mind towards rebellion.
KNOWING HISTORY IS A TERRIBLE THING RIGHT NOW.
Crassus calls for the catapults and ballistae to be prepared, and the soldiers launch their first flaming missiles at the rebels. As Sparty sees the artillery strike heading their way, he calls for the rebels to advance and get out of range.
Following the flaming missiles are the huge spears flung by the ballistae, and in the midst of this confusion, Crassus sounds the army’s advance. The rebels charge forward as well, only to stop in the middle of the field, mightily confusing the Romans.
Sparty reminds everyone to hold their positions, and the Romans charge at them excitedly. Oh, you poor silly Romans. Didn’t you know that Spartacus has planned for this all along?
Taking a page from Crassus’ cunning playbook, Sparty has had the rebels dig a huge trench along the battlefield, full of sharp stakes. This death trench was then covered up with woven mats and dirt such that it was identical to the solid ground nearby. And now hundreds of soldiers are falling to their gruesome and screamy deaths. And there’s no time for the advancing men to stop; instead, they’re swept into the trench by their fellow soldiers shoving at their backs, eager to fight the rebels. HA HA.
In the midst of this enjoyable confusion, Sparty calls for the rebel archers to take position. The confused Romans die by the score until they manage to fall back to their testudo formation and shield themselves from the arrows. Naevia is delighted to see that they’ve done exactly as predicted, and Sparty calls for the next unexpected move: the rebels dig up concealed ladders and throw them across the trench, and everyone barrels over to smash the Romans to tiny bits.
At the back of the Roman lines, Crassus and Caesar look grumpily impressed.
The soldiers aren’t so much taken by surprise as they are simply frozen with confusion, and the battle descends immediately into a wild melee. Heads are getting lopped off left and right and soldiers are falling willy-nilly into the deathpit. In the face of this madness, Crassus gives a controversial order: he demands that the catapults and ballistae be re-targeted onto the mixed mess of rebels and soldiers. Caesar is shocked that Crassus would knowingly attack his own men like this, but Crassus is just like “whatevs broseph, war is heck.”
The flaming missiles and spears take our soldiers and rebels alike. Sparty calls for the rebels to press forward further into the Roman lines to escape the artillery onslaught, but his order comes too late for Lugo, who is caught in a blaze. Even as he dies, he takes out a couple of nearby soldiers with his massive war hammer before a third one cuts him down.
Caesar’s still put out by the death toll due to friendly fire, but Crassus thinks it’s an acceptable loss if it brings them closer to killing Sparty. They’re both het up and ready to start bickering when the rearguard sounds an alarm – the rest of the rebel army, led by Gannicus, is mounting a cavalry attack from behind. The Romans are now fighting on both sides.
Gannicus and his army seize control of the catapults and ballistae. Saxa and a handful of rebels quickly re-range the massive weapons and turn them on the Roman army. Crassus sends Caesar off to deal with this new irritation, while his cowardly Tribune whines that they have to retreat. Don’t be an ass, dude, that’s what Spartacus expects them to do. Instead, Crassus orders the army to advance.
Castus, Nasir, and Agron are fighting within a few feet of one another, so Nasir is close enough to shout a warning when a Roman cavalry soldier rides up behind Castus with mayhem in mind. Castus doesn’t have enough time to fall back, and the soldier lays open his chest to the bone. Nasir catches Castus as he falls, and both he and Agron hear Castus’ last words: a lament that he could not have been Agron – and therefore Nasir’s beloved BOOOOYFRAND – for just a single day. Nasir goes a little chin-trembly at this statement and runs off to avenge Castus’ death. Agron lingers behind for a moment, thoughtfully, before following Nasir.
Sparty is fighting nearby, and shouts to Agron to keep the flank open so they don’t end up surrounded. He then almost casually hacks a nearby soldier’s leg off. Sparty then sends Naevia off to help Gannicus with the artillery. Once Sparty is alone in the middle of the battle, Crassus rides up on his fancy horse and bellows Sparty’s name.
Crassus’ Centurion buddy rides up on his own fancy horse and leaps to Crassus’ aid, dragging him back behind the shields of a handful of nearby soldiers. Sparty has his sword in hand by now, and is joined by Agron and Nasir, but there are too many soldiers between them and Crassus. Sparty sends them off to kill more soldiers while he pursues Crassus alone.
On the far side of the field, Gannicus has his hands full. Aside from the scores of men that the rebels are currently engaging, there is a century of soldiers approaching from behind in careful formation. Gannicus and Saxa start flinging amphorae of pitch at the formation, splattering them thoroughly. Gannicus follows with a lit torch, and that’s the end of their orderly advance.
Gannicus feels terribly satisfied with himself and turns to head back into the melee. He is stopped dead in his tracks when he sees Caesar approaching, and they bellow madly at one another like crazed rhinos.
Crassus’ personal guard has hauled him to the top of the ridge overlooking the field. The Centurion gives orders that a medicus be sent to tend to Crassus’ wounds, but Crassus shouts him down – he wants to get back out onto the field and do some more killing. The Centurion doesn’t want Crassus to risk himself any further, since his death would give Sparty and the rebels an enormous advantage.
This is, of course, when Sparty barrels over the top of the ridge, bloody swords in his hands and bloody murder in his eyes.
Crassus’ men leap to his defense with drawn swords but Spartacus slices through them with ease. One by one they fall to his swords.
Down on the field, Caesar and Gannicus are absolutely overjoyed to finally have a chance to hack one another to tiny pieces.
Off to the side, Saxa has abandoned her catapult and is fighting off soldier after soldier. Covered with the blood and guts of her fallen enemies, Saxa looks as happy as we’ve ever seen her.
Atop the ridge, only the Centurion stands between Sparty and Crassus. Sparty finishes him off with a monstrous hit to the face, splitting it almost in two. Sparty kneels down to finish him off and then looks up at Crassus, who despite finally looking somewhat nervous, stands his ground bravely.
Saxa’s just taken a nasty smack from a Roman’s shield when a second soldier takes advantage of her momentary distraction to bury his sword in her stomach. From a few feet away, Gannicus screams her name and runs to her side. Saxa has enough strength left to kill the man who shield-smashed her, and then she collapses to the ground. Gannicus catches her at the last moment, and she tells him, with a last bit of amused affection, that she’s once again found herself in his arms after all. She dies moments later.
(While watching this scene it occured to me that Gannicus still doesn’t speak German and therefore has no idea what she just said to him. DEKNIGHT YOU MONSTER.)
Gannicus lays her gently down on the ground and, with a crazed and bloodthirsty roar, runs off to kill more Romans.
Exhausted, bloody, and battered, Sparty stands before Crassus and reminds him that he promised to kill Crassus the next time they met. Looks like Crassus’ number is up. And Crassus is ready to fight for it.
Down on the battlefield, the Romans advance across rebel lines. Naevia sees Caesar and rushes to engage him, scoring a hit to his sword arm before he even realizes the danger. Another soldier’s sword catches her across the throat, nicking her enough to slow her attack on Caesar. He smirks nastily and darts in to hamstring her. Even on her knees, choking on her own blood, Naevia still raises her sword to meet Caesar’s approach. He stops her arm easily, laughing at her like an enormous fucking assface.
Caesar snatches the sword from her hand – Tiberius’s sword, claimed by Crixus, reclaimed by Tiberius, used to kill Crixus – and sneers while telling her “this does not belong to YOU, slave.”
Caesar buries the sword in her shoulder, in exactly the same move that Sparty used to unwillingly kill Varro.
Gannicus is again forced to watch his friend die, helpless from a few feet away. Caesar sees him and pulls the sword out of Naevia’s back, and heads off to engage Gannicus.
Naevia dies quietly and alone.
Gannicus suddenly realizes that he’s just about the only one left of his army. Surrounded on all sides, he nevertheless fights on. Caesar darts in for a few contemptuous blows and laughs as Gannicus finally falls. The soldiers lean in to finish him off, and Caesar calls them back. He struts up to Gannicus with his usual nasty smile, which Gannicus returns in kind. Instead of killing him, Caesar knocks Gannicus out with the hilt of his sword. No quick deaths for rebellious gladiators, after all.
Back up on the ridge, Sparty and Crassus are pretty well-matched. They’re both incredible fighters, and they’re both fighting with two swords apiece. And, most importantly, they’re both totally exhausted and badly injured.
Crassus takes the upper hand for the briefest of seconds and that’s all he needs to knock one of Sparty’s swords away. Before he can become complacent, Sparty returns the favor, knocking Crassus back and forcing him to drop one of his own swords. They’re now down to one each.
Sparty’s practically in a fugue state of rage and exhaustion. As he raises his sword to smite the crap out of Crassus, he sees Sura’s face as she screams and struggles while being dragged off to Roman slavery. With his next blow, Sparty relives Mira’s death at the foot of Vesuvius. The next brings him remembrance of Varro’s death at his own hands, forced by Numerius. The next, he recalls Sura’s death in his arms, at Batiatus’ command. Whatever Crassus is dealing with, he can’t match that kind of loss, betrayal, and rage.
Spartacus smacks the sole remaining weapon from Crassus’ hands and moves in for the kill. At the very last second, Crassus grabs the sword by the blade and yanks it out of Sparty’s grasp. He whirls around to bury it in Sparty’s stomach, and Sparty repeats the same move, grabbing the sword by the blade. Sparty headbutts Crassus viciously and then flips him onto his back. Left holding the only sword, Spartacus stands over Crassus, ready to end his life.
Instead, Spartacus is taken by a spear through his back. A trio of soldiers has crested the ridge behind them, and one by one, they hurl their spears into Sparty’s back. Once all three spears have pierced him, the soldiers draw their swords.
Sparty and Crassus stare at one another wordlessly the entire time. As the soldiers move to finish Sparty off, Crassus shouts for them to hold back. Sparty leans down and yanks a spear out of his leg, but is too weak to do anything other than drop it and fall. He reaches forward, scrabbling in the dirt for a sword, but Crassus drags it away from him, climbing unsteadily to his feet.
Crassus tells Spartacus, with very genuine admiration, that he wishes Sparty had been born a Roman so that they could have stood beside one another, as equals. Sparty gasps out that he thanks all the gods that it didn’t work out that way. He makes one last desperate lunge towards Crassus and the sword, but is rebuffed as easily as a kitten.
Sparty kneels in the dirt and sees that he’s lost Sura’s little purple scrap of fabric, that he’s carried with him all these years. He has time for only one thing, and must choose between reaching for Sura’s talisman, or facing his death at Crassus’ hands. Sparty chooses the latter.
Crassus raises the sword to end Sparty’s life, quickly and cleanly. But it is not meant to be, as Agron and Nasir come galloping up on stolen fancy horses to save the day. They cut down the trio of soldiers as they ride past, and Agron knocks Crassus off the side of the ridge; he falls about 15 feet to the ground below. Agron contemplates going after him, but Nasir’s panicked shouts bring him over to Sparty’s side instead.
Sparty asks Agron for his sword, to end his own life, and Agron is ready to hand it over, but instead, he and Nasir drag Sparty away to the horses. Sparty stays conscious long enough for one last look back over his shoulder at the battlefield, and can clearly see that the rebels are moments from utter defeat.
Below, Crassus clomps around in a bloody rage as Caesar hauls ass towards him with a company of soldiers. By the time they get back to the top of the hill, Sparty, Nasir, and Agron are nowhere to be seen. Crassus orders the men to search all surrounding hills for the three men, since he’s sure Sparty can’t have gotten far with his horrible wounds.
Caesar says that there are still plenty of rebels left alive on the battlefield, and Crassus reminds him of their previously arranged plans for any survivors – they are to be made an example of, along the Appian Way towards Rome.
Gannicus, bloody and injured but still struggling angrily, is the first such survivor to suffer Crassus’ lesson in rebelling against the Republic. Gannicus is tied to a cross and nailed through the wrists. He braces himself at first but can’t help screaming horribly in pain. As he’s hauled up into place, Crassus and Caesar watch approvingly.
Caesar smirks that it’s a pathetic end for someone who was once a legendary god of the arena. Crassus doesn’t have any time for legends or dreams; the only thing left for him is “the harsh sun of reality.” We see exactly how harsh his reality is when he glances down the road towards the next crucified prisoner – Kore.
Caesar has no nasty smirks or taunts for Kore; instead, he tells Crassus that it must be difficult to see someone he loved suffering so badly. Crassus calmly says that Kore was known to have fled to the rebels, and while he forgave the reason for it, he had to see her punished as a rebel. Kore stares at them from the cross, weeping silently.
From the far end of the road, a pair of heralds announce the arrival of the very last person either Crassus or Caesar wants to see. It’s Pompey, looking epically douchey in his fancy white uniform, accompanied by Senator Metellus. My god, what a pair of schmucks.
Pompey greets them smugly as old friends, and claims to be glad to see them still alive after Pompey defeated Spartacus and his army in the north. Crassus is all “what the actual fuck, yo,” so Metellus explains that Pompey and his army came upon the fleeing rebels heading for the mountains and “defeated” the army of women and children and injured old men. They immediately dispatched a messenger to Rome to claim credit for winning the entire war all by themselves.
Caesar is outraged, and accuses them of claiming “false laurels,” but Crassus shouts him down, agreeing that Pompey was indeed the super special victor and all-around winner of the universe. Pompey’s smug grin is taken down a few notches by Crassus’ easy willingness to defer his own victories to Pompey, but he’s pleased nevertheless. Crassus says that he’s doing it to honor Rome, and anyone who wants to see nothing but success in the future. Pompey sees the formation of an unholy alliance in their future, and tells Crassus to look him up when they’re back in Rome. They’ll do lunch, it’ll be fab.
Pompey rides off triumphantly, and Metellus spares them one last bitter, prune-faced look of constipation and loathing before joining him on the road.
Once they’re out of earshot, Caesar turns to Crassus and chews him out for letting Pompey and Metellus get away with this total goddamn bullshit. Crassus impatiently lectures Caesar on the importance of supporting Pompey’s claim so they can all be allies and rule the fucking Republic like GODS. Caesar can’t understand why Crassus wants to plan so far into the future, and Crassus explains that the past is lost to them, and the present certainly sucks sweaty moose balls, so the future is all that they have. Crassus gives Kore one last unhappy glance and they depart.
Up on his cross, Gannicus is fading fast. He stares down at a man standing nearby and recognizes something familiar about his bracelets. The man turns to face Gannicus, and it’s Oenomaus.
Gannicus smiles weakly down at the hallucination of his oldest and most beloved friend, before slipping further into visions of the time of his life at which he was the happiest – when he was a champion gladiator and a god of the arena. He sees the cheering, ecstatic crowds, screaming his name, and returns their cheers with a giddy, blood-smeared shout before dying.
Sparty awakens abruptly to a world of pain. Agron calls out to the small band of rebels that Spartacus is still alive, and everyone hurries over to say hi; Laeta and Sibyl are among the group of survivors.
Agron tells Sparty that they’ve reached the mountains and will be able to escape, but that Pompey killed off most of those who tried to flee with them. Sparty looks happy to see his friends but sad at the news that more of them have died. Laeta thinks that they should carry him off to the mountain pass as soon as they can, but Sparty knows he won’t survive the trip.
He tells Nasir that he’d rather rest there for a while, and when Nasir tells him sadly that it’s not safe for them to stay there, Sparty explains that he wants them to go on without him and leave him to die.
Knowing they have no choice but to leave him behind, Agron and Nasir make their super tragic faces again and it’s all just too fucking much.
He dies with a tiny peaceful smile on his face, and at that very moment, clouds cover the sun and it starts to rain.
Agron leans over to tell Sparty that one day, when Rome is long gone, people will still remember him. Agron gives him a little forehead kiss goodbye.
The remaining rebels pack up and head for the mountain pass. Behind them, they leave a cairn of rocks above Sparty’s grave, with Agron’s red serpent shield atop it.
various still screencaps courtesy of dangermousie and ofwgblake on tumblr
10,000 tissues courtesy of those lotiony things from kleenex i think
10,000 hours of therapy and alcohol-induced liver damage courtesy of steven deknight, history’s greatest monster
you guys im sad now