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‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Review: “Blood Brothers”

Spartacus War of the Damned Review Blood Brothers
Starz

Spartacus: War of the Damned’ turns the tide with its fifth episode of the final season “Blood Brothers,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) becomes divided from Crixus (Manu Bennett) during a crucial stage of the rebel plan, while Crassus (Simon Merrells) plots his first real strike and Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) seeks retribution for his father’s brutal command.

Last week’s ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode “Decimation” saw Spartacus struggling to prevent his men from turning on the Roman captives, as Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) slipped in among the rebels, and Tiberius and his men faced the brutal practice of Decimation for their actions in fleeing the last battle, so what will the latest episode of ‘Spartacus’ final season bring? Will the rebel armies triumph over Rome, or go down in history as a failed slave uprising?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode 5, “Blood Brothers!”

Nasir strings up the bodies of the fallen Romans, while a sullen Spartacus and Agron urge the men to salt the bodies for a further purpose. Elsewhere, Crixus trains more men, shooting eye-daggers at Spartacus, as Agron notes that many have begun to follow him. Spartacus acknowledges the rift, but denies the chance to break words before he heads off on a mission.

Over at the dock, Spartacus meets with Gannicus and Lugo in preparation for a mission on the seas, but the shifty Heracleo (Vince Colosimo) leaves the boat in his man’s care rather than travel with them himself. Sitting idly by, Caesar observes the proceedings, and formulates a plan of his own.

While Tiberius pouts in the followers camp, and yells at his men over the events of “Decimation,” Senator Metellus arrives to the camp wondering why Crassus has yet to take any real action against Spartacus. Crassus responds that he still needs to wait for a proper opportunity, and if Metellus has grown impatient he and his men may lend aid by approaching the rebel city of Sinuessa en Valle on a scouting mission.

Caesar having won his loyalty, Nemetes grants “Lyciscus” a sword to keep on his person. Caesar expresses his worry about the future, mentioning Spartacus’ sea mission in earshot of Crixus, who hadn’t been told of the matter previously. Caesar makes mention of Heracleo lingering within the city walls, while elsewhere Laeta thanks Agron for his protection of the remaining Romans. Crixus bursts in, demanding knowledge of Spartacus’ task, but Agron denies him and asserts their more savage days of killing unnecessarily are behind them.

Out on the open sea, Spartacus continues to press Gannicus toward leadership, telling him of their mission to attack Crassus’ grain shipments. Hours later, Spartacus and the men set upon a caravan of grain shipments, bloodily decimating all the Romans accompanying it.

Meanwhile, Crassus makes his way through the followers’ camp to Kore’s tent, observing a sulking Tiberius along the way. Kore urges her master to bridge the gulf between the pair, but Crassus insists his son must find his own way, and he and Kore make love. Elsewhere back in the rebel city, Nemetes and Caesar ply Heracleo with wine to learn of Spartacus’ secret mission, dumbfounded that Spartacus has made a move against Crassus without them.

Over in the remaining Romans’ villa, Nasir begs Agron to hear him about about Castus, but the matter is quickly interrupted by news from the front gates. A Roman scout group of 30 or so has appeared over the hill in the distance, and Crixus riles the crowd to open the gate and attack, despite Agron’s insistence Spartacus would command against it. Before Crixus goes through with it, Spartacus himself returns and agrees that the gate should be opened, but only as part of his plan to release the Roman hostages. Declaring Crixus no longer fit to lead, Spartacus storms off and threatens all who would follow the man.

Spartacus personally frees Laeta, informing her that he plans to leave Crixus and the others behind to find a new life in Sicilia, and leading them out the gates while the rebels scream obscenities and toss filth at the departing Romans. Returning to their chambers, Crixus accuses Spartacus of releasing the valuable Romans into a waiting Crassus’ hands, while Spartacus argues that was exactly the point. Laeta will leave the city under belief that Spartacus and Crixus stand divided and plan to go separate ways, while in reality Spartacus will attack grain stores in Sicilia, and return to corner Crassus’ weakened armies on either side. Crixus bemoans not having been told of the plan, but Gannicus reminds him he hasn’t been agreeable of late.

Heracleo bids Spartacus farewell, vowing to return later for Castus, while over at Crassus’ camp Metellus brings Laeta before the Imperator. Crassus questions Laeta’s survival of the attacks, noting that she gave aid to the rebels regardless of her intent to save remaining Romans, before receiving a message. Having finally found the opportunity he desires, Crassus orders the army to prepare to march. Meanwhile, Tiberius pays a visit to Kore’s tent seeking comfort from his father’s actions, but instead decides to get his revenge by raping his father’s beloved slave. Kore of course resists, but Tiberius reminds her she stands a slave, and must do as he commands.

Back in the city, Roman bodies are raised against the city wall as a deception, as Crixus prepares to lead his group away per the plan. Naevia breaks ranks to apologize to Gannicus for what happened with Attius, but Gannicus brushes her off. So too does Gannicus brush off the continued gratitude of Sibyl, while across the city Nemetes encounters Caesar going in the wrong direction. His deception at an end, Caesar slays the nearest rebels and draws his sword to Nemetes, but Nemetes cowardly offers to help the Romans in exchange for his life. Caesar acquiesces for the moment, but slashes Nemetes’ throat anyway, leaving him to die.

Spartacus and Agron greet a returning Heracleo, noting that Sanus fell in the journey, before revealing his new allegiance and a cadre of waiting Romans within the bowels of the ship. Caesar appears and stabs Spartacus through the shoulder, as a great battle begins throughout the city. While Spartacus and Agron fend off the Romans at the dock, Caesar leads a group toward the main gate, encountering Agron, Saxa and Lugo.

Crixus returns in the nick of time to save Spartacus at the dock, knocking a bloodied Heracleo into the water, while back at the gate Lugo barely manages to prevent Caesar from opening the front gate. Refusing to accept defeat, Caesar fights off Agron and Lugo, hurling oil and torches at the door until Romans manage to break through from the other side with a battering ram.

Spartacus takes a moment to thank Crixus for returning, as Roman ships appear on the horizon, and Caesar threatens Agron, Saxa and Lugo to run from the impending slaughter. Cliffhanger!

Given that the fifth episode of ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ acted almost as a season finale with its jaw-dropping spectacle, one might expect a similar quality to be found in “Blood Brothers.” Indeed, the emotions run high between Spartacus and Crixus, and accordingly Tiberius and Crassus, though “Blood Brothers” never quite reaches the same sense of impending danger. For as much action permeates the hours, some of it seems wonkily staged, and devoid of any real consequences, which deflates the tension of an otherwise impressive episode. The narrative certainly moves quickly, now that Spartacus and the rebels seems to have been forced from the security of the city, but it will be another episode yet before the ramifications of “Blood Brothers” can truly be felt.

What say you? Did you get your fill of blood-spattering ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ action?  What did you think about “Blood Brothers?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode recap of “Spoils of War” on Starz!

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