“Spartacus: War of the Damned” Episode 9 Recap: Ye Olde Gladiator Magic

Picture it: Sicily (well, at least Italy,) 1922. BC. (Okay, actually it’s more like 68 BC, but you see where I am heading with this.) A small group of Roman soldiers huddle around a fire. Their leader grouses that they have only one rabbit to eat amongst them. Guess his portion didn’t include the foot because suddenly, out of the night, a flaming arrow pierces him through the gut. Hmm.

Perspective. It’s all about perspective. And, in many ways, this penultimate episode of Spartacus is about perspective as well. Beautifully, the episode takes a good long glance backward before the series hurtles inevitably toward its bittersweet conclusion. We spend time remembering old friends and go back to where this all started—back to the sands, back to fighting gladiator to gladiator, as if we never left them at all.

Attacking this small group of Roman soldiers is Spartacus and company. However, these Romans do not wear the crest of Crassus. Laeta confirms for Spartacus that these are Pompey’s men. Great. Now the rebels are caught between two armies, each vying to be the one that causes Spartacus to kick his final bucket, if you know what I mean. Could things get any worse? Suddenly, a lone rider approaches. The figure is dressed in the cloak of a Roman solider, but this is no Roman. It is a battered and defeated Naevia. And she brings with her the only spoil of war that remains. The head of the undefeated Gaul, Crixus himself.

Oh, well. At least his hair has never looked better all season.

Naevia is clearly in need of a weekend at the spa and a few sessions on Dr. Phil’s couch, because the girl is majorly bumming that she has been walking around with a handbag made out of her dead lover’s cranium (helpful note to my readers: if Naevia offers you mints from her purse, pass.) She tells Spartacus and everyone of the many victories the rebels had and how they stood before the very gates of Rome itself until Crassus caught up with them. She tends to linger on the “Crixus getting stabbed from behind by Tibby” part of the story, but, if I were her, I’d try to look on the bright side of things. Girl, you are still alive, and you finally stopped rocking those dreads. Honestly, honey, things could be worse.

Nasir asks Naevia of the fate of Agron, but her silence seems, despite what William Shakespeare once said, not to herald any news of joy. Naevia says that she was spared only “to taunt Spartacus with vision of his end,” though, frankly, I would not mind it one bit if Spartacus decided to taunt the audience with a few visions of his end, because it looks like one fine piece of man-end, if you know what I mean. Spartacus says that the rebels should not fret over Crassus; Pompey, who seems closer, is the more pressing threat.

Elsewhere, Crassus and Tibby express their frustration that despite all of their various methods of torture, none of the rebels will spill any vital intel on where Spartacus is, what he is doing, and what he wants for Saturnalia this year. You mean torture doesn’t work? From your lips to Dick Cheney’s ears, Crassus!

News comes from the follower’s camp: it appears that the “working woman” who knew about Tibby’s rape of Kore has mysteriously been ripped from stem to stern. Caesar wonders aloud what might have transpired, and while Tibby is eager to blame some guy named Jack, Caesar knows better.

Two soldiers from Pompey approach, carrying news of a possible parley. Crassus snorts that he will never deign to be seen going into Pompey’s camp, especially because he dresses like a toughie and lives on the wrong side of the tracks (how very S. E. Hinton of him.) The envoy says that Pompey is suggesting that the two men bring twenty soldiers and meet on neutral ground. Tibby thinks this is a bad idea—he rambles on about saving face and Daddy Crassus has money, blah blah—while Caesar demurs. He suggests sending Tibby instead, as Tibby is the word and will of Crassus. Crassus is not sure Tibby is seasoned enough to play diplomat with Pompey, but Caesar heartily says he is. Tibby is pleased at this turn of events, imagining that his “quality bonding time” with Caesar has really adjusted someone’s attitude. Tibby is sent on to meet Pompey.

 

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