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‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Review: “Men of Honor”

Spartacus War of the Damned Review Men of Honor
Starz

Spartacus: War of the Damned’ keeps its friends close with its third episode of the final season “Men of Honor,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre)  bargains with a group of morally dubious pirates in order to secure his rebel city’s food supply, while Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) attempts to get out from under the shadow of Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) by staging a bold attack on the rebel forces.

Last week’s ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode “Wolves at the Gate” saw Spartacus infiltrating the Roman city of Sinuessa en Valle with the hopes of overtaking it for the rebel army, while Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) recruited Julius Caesar to aid in his quest to bring down the rebellion, 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 3 “Men of Honor!”

Attius (Cohen Holloway) continues making swords for Spartacus and his men, hoping to coax a bit more coin out of the man along the way. Agron expresses his distrust of Attius, while Spartacus asks Sanus (Anthony Ray Parker) to ensure that the Roman prisoners are given a share of food, in spite of how it weighs on the rebels. Elsewhere, Crixus too expresses his distrust of Attius, while Gannicus and Saxa observe the young slave girl Sibyl (Gwendoline Taylor) longingly following him at every turn.

In exchange for desired coin, Nemetes offers a scrap of bread to Ulpianus (Charlie Bleakly) to feed his pregnant wife, but another Roman captive quickly lunges for the loaf. Seeing the discontent among the Romans, Crixus cruelly forces the men to fight against one another gladiator-style, despite Gannicus’ disgust at the reversal. Despite his lack of skill, Ulipianus manages to kill his opponent and claim the bread, though Naevia slices his hand in half when he reaches for the bread too close to a sword.

As Crixus consoles a traumatized Naevia and shrugs off Attius’ protests, Spartacus observes the dwindling food stores before being warned of approaching ships on the horizon. The rebels reluctantly allow a group of the men, seemingly pirates, inside the walls as they call for Spartacus, in order to celebrate their common hatred of the Romans.

Elsewhere, Tiberius and Caesar arrive at the encampment of commander Mummius (Adam Gardiner), who rudely brushes off Crassus’ son in favor of catching up with Caesar. As Tiberius again laments his standing, Spartacus sits with the Cilician pirate leader Heracleo (Vince Colosimo), who reveals that prior to his death the Edile shared an illicit agreement with them, bonded by a seal upon their documents. Spartacus offers to meet with the pirates later that night, sending his men to find the valuable seal in the meantime.

Gannicus and Attius confer about his ongoing role in the rebellion, while Mummius’ men bring one of the fatigued guards from Sinuessa before Tiberius. After listening to the man speak what little he knows of Spartacus’ army, Caesar brazenly kills the soldier for his cowardice, before Tiberius reminds him of his place in the chain of command, vowing to move toward Sinuessa.

Spartacus calls for a reluctant Laeta’s assistance in finding the Edile’s seal, despite her belief that her late husband would never have traded with the pirates. Previously unaware of her fellow Romans’ mistreatment within the city, Spartacus vows to end the tyranny if she helps to find her husband’s seal. Later that night, Spartacus presents the seal to Heracleo, and bargains for the pirates to begin delivering food to the city, albeit outside the city walls, finally affording Heracleo long-desired cause to celebrate.

The whole of the rebels and pirates celebrate their union over absinth, while Saxa confronts the young Sibyl for her continued pursuit of Gannicus. Nearby, Spartacus consoles a distraught Laeta and asks her to freely ensure the captive Romans’ welfare, surprising her with his generosity.

Back at the party, Nasir begins flirting with the pirate Castus (Blessing Mokgohloa), enraging Agron and starting a fight within the revelry. After Spartacus breaks things up, Agron fumes in his quarters, before Nasir calms him down and the two make up. Elsewhere, Gannicus drunkenly stumbles into his own quarters to find Saxa dressed up in Roman garb, with offerings of a scantily-clad Sibyl. Gannicus goes along with the threesome for a moment, before soberly dismissing the younger Sibyl, and focusing on Saxa.  Afterward, Gannicus finds Sibyl waiting outside to express her thanks for saving her life, but Gannicus advises her to stay away from men like him.

Taking Nemetes’ plunder to help pay the pirates, Spartacus gathers his somewhat-woozy men by the gates, preparing to meet with Heracleo and his men. The rebels begin their approach toward the pirates, unaware they’re being watched by Tiberius, Mummius and his men. Against his father’s wishes, Tiberius decides to make an attack on Spartacus, hopefully becoming the “wolf” Crassus wants at his side.

Back in the city, Saxa brings to Naevia’s attention that Ulpianus and his fellow Romans have disappeared, for which Naevia believes Attius to be responsible. Confronted in his smithy on his way to leave the city, Attius denies any knowledge of Naevia’s accusations, before Naevia attacks in a blind rage. Despite protesting his innocence, Attius fights back against the warrior woman, before she gets in a lucky blow and bashes his head in with his own hammer.

Both sides untrusting of the other, Spartacus presents the pirates with their payment, while in return they only offer a sample of the food, plotting to send the rest into the harbor directly. A stand-off quickly erupts over the change in plans, until a Roman assault interrupts the argument. Heracleo defends Spartacus in the battle, seemingly proving themselves among “Men of Honor,” as both sides work together against the Roman onslaught.

With the rebels gaining the upper hand, Mummius arrives with the Roman cavalry, leading Heracleo to throw up a torch as a signal to his ships. The vessels launch incendiary projectiles at the Roman reinforcements, quickly turning the tide in the battle, as even Tiberius finds himself wounded at the hands of the rebel Totus. Tiberius manages to shove his sword through Totus, leaving it behind as Sabinius drags him away to sound the general retreat. Crixus retrieves Tiberius’ sword from Totus’ body, while Spartacus and Heracleo reaffirm their trust, before all return to the city.

Back inside the gates, Spartacus and the rebels find themselves confused by the young Roman’s attack, as Naevia reveals Attius’ death and apparent betrayal. Gannicus remains confused why Attius would turn traitor given their earlier talk, as across the city we see that Laeta was actually the one to hide Ulpianus and the other Romans in her husband’s stables. Twist! Roll credits.

After last week’s “Wolves at the Gate” ended up saddled with the introduction of Julius Caesar and Spartacus’ overtaking of the city, “Men of Honor” settles into a much more morally complex discourse. Where previous seasons made clear the line between good and evil, “Men of Honor” illuminates the blurring lines as Crixus forces Romans to fight as cruelly as he once endured, while both Naevia and Spartacus have difficulty telling friend from foe. Tiberius’ ill-fated attempts to impress his father carry the predictable results, so we too hope Caesar comes to greater focus in the coming episodes, or Crassus himself.

The stage is definitely set for dissension within the ranks on either side, though “Men of Honor” felt somewhat light on action. All in all, a bit more complex than last week’s effort, and surely a portent of even stronger episodes to come.

What say you? Did you get your fill of blood-spattering ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ action?  What did you think about “Men of Honor?” Join us in two weeks* for another all-new ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode recap of “Decimation” on Starz!

*Next Friday (February 15) will repeat the first three episodes of ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned,’ returning on February 22 with all-new episode “Decimation.” See you then!

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