‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Review: “Separate Paths”
‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ cuts ahead with its eighth episode of the final season “Separate Paths,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and Crixus (Manu Bennett) decide to say their goodbyes and pursue different ends for the rebels, while Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) teaches a lesson to Caesar (Todd Lasance) in the wake of his father's growing recklessness.
Last week’s ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode “Mors Indecepta” saw Spartacus desperately attempting to keep his people alive and find an escape from the snowy ridge of their entrapment, while Kore (Jenna Lind) and Caesar attempted to take action against a newly re-instated Tiberius, 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 8, “Separate Paths!”
While the rebels continue onward traversing the marshes, Spartacus and the others take down a regiment of Crassus’ nipping at their heels. Crassus himself and his men find their bodies in the marsh some three days later, before Senator Metellus demands an audience with the Imperator. Inside his tent, Metellus chastises Crassus for failing in his entrapment, but when the senator mentions the name of Kore, Crassus beats him down and urges him to do as commanded returning to Rome.
While the rebels camp, Agron notes a growing shortage of food as Spartacus plots the next move, though Crixus seeks only to turn and fight the Romans. Nearby, Agron observes a growing affection between Castus and Nasir while helping poor Laeta set up her tent, reasoning to her that Spartacus deserves some happiness for all he’s done.
Kore calls for aid in helping a rebel woman give birth, but after the child has safely been pulled, Spartacus sees the mark of Crassus on her arm. Kore insist that she fled the Imperator’s son rather than he himself, and Spartacus allows her to stay on condition Laeta take responsibility for her. Elsewhere, Caesar breaks words with Tiberius that Crassus has begun to go off the rails , and perhaps his son can spur him back to reason. Caesar notes that Tiberius must have done something to make Kore flee, but Tiberius turns things around reminding Caesar it was he who brought the slave to the ridge, allowing her escape.
Back at the camp, Crixus observes the newborn and his mother, lamenting to Naevia how he hasn’t been able to give her a real life. Naevia insists she’ll follow him no matter what, as Crixus is called to Spartacus’ tent. Once inside, Gannicus brings word of a nearby valley they can plunder for supplies, but Crixus balks when Spartacus reveals he intends to press north and disperse the rebels to the wind. Crixus and Spartacus debate abandoning the cause, given they’ve challenged the very idea of slavery, but Spartacus fears bringing death to those who deserve a free life. Reaffirming their brotherhood, the pair agree to part ways, Crixus marching on Rome with his followers, and Spartacus pressing north.
Before parting, Spartacus and the army overtake the nearby valley, and throw a massive celebration in honor of Crixus and his impending exit. All of the rebels enjoy their revelry, while Agron heartbreakingly informs Nasir he intends to part with him and follow Crixus. Elsewhere, Spartacus and Crixus share a drink and remember their early days under Batiatus, before breaking off. Spartacus finds Laeta eager to see him, and though they still spar over their opposing backgrounds, the pair finally embrace and sneak off to hold their own party. Bowm-chicka!
The next morning Crixus says his goodbyes to the others, leaving Spartacus with the sentiment that they became brothers in this lifetime, despite his words years earlier such a thing would prove impossible. Elsewhere, Crassus, Tiberius and Caesar realize that the rebel force has split in two, and that Crixus intends to march on Rome itself. Caesar protests that they cannot leave the city with a single Roman legion to defend it, while Crassus and Tiberius insist Spartacus is the worthier prize. Afterward Caesar confronts Tiberius in his tent and questions his commands, for which Tiberius finally snaps and declares his intent to teach Caesar a lesson his father earlier practiced. Using his guards to beat and hold Caesar down, Tiberius asserts his dominance in much the same way he did Kore. Ouch.
Elsewhere, Crixus, Naevia, Agron and the others forge a bloody trail of victory across Italy, stopping short of Rome itself. With the city in the distance, Crixus riles the rebel army with inspirational words from Oenomaus, before descending on the small Roman legion of Aryus. After another bloody battle, Crixus and the others stand victorious over Aryus, but quickly see their joy turn to ash when Crassus and his legions appear over the hilltop, having decided to protect Rome after all.
Crixus urges his surviving followers to begin the battle anew against Crassus’ forces, but the casualties quickly begin to mount. Tiberius fells Agron from horseback, and Crixus nearly kills Caesar before Tiberius manages to shove a spear through the Gaul’s midsection. The battle comes to a close as Naevia is taken hostage, and forced to watch as Tiberius reclaims his sword, and beheads Crixus as a message to be sent to Spartacus. So passes Crixus.
Wow. Just...wow. As strong as 'Spartacus: War of the Damned' has been this season, occasional episodes have suffered from a bit of piece-moving and wheel-spinning. That time has undoubtedly ended as the series reaches its final three episodes, pulling out all the emotional stops and tugging at the heartstrings with every word. History dictates that Crixus broke off from Spartacus eventually, but "Separate Paths" beautifully illustrates the heartfelt relationship between the two as they break discourse on the concepts of slavery and freedom, reminiscing on their evolving relationship from the days of Batiatus. The same goes for Agron and Nasir, putting a heartbreaking cap on their relationship even as the narrative somewhat glosses over Agron's death in battle.
Plenty of tense drama erupts on the Roman side as well, now that we've finally begun to see Crassus cracking without Kore, and Tiberius sail off the deep end to keep Caesar under his heel. The sheer brutality between the three neatly sidesteps their occasional sympathy, allowing the rebels full spotlight this week to give proper goodbye to Crixus. We can't help but wonder if Crixus' own campaign might have been better served over an additional episode or season of 'Spartacus' rather than rushed to its end, but absent future adventures, 'War of the Damned' has given one hell of a send-off to his character, with incredible action and brutal emotional beats that only raise expectations for the final two episodes.
What say you? Did you get your fill of blood-spattering ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ action? What did you think about “Separate Paths?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode recap of “The Dead and the Dying” on Starz!