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‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Review: “Spoils of War”

Spartacus War of the Damned Spoils of War Review
Starz

Spartacus: War of the Damned’ suffers a bitter setback with its sixth episode of the final season “Spoils of War,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and his followers are driven from the city, while Gannicus (Dustin Clare) becomes trapped within its walls and Crassus (Simon Merrells) holds a ceremony in honor of Caesar (Todd Lasance)’s victory.

Last week’s ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode “Blood Brothers” saw Spartacus becoming divided from Crixus (Manu Bennett) during a crucial stage of the rebel plan, while Crassus plot his first real strike and Tiberius sought retribution for his father’s brutal command, 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 6, “Spoils of War!”

Caesar again urges the trio of Agron, Saxa and Donar to run, as Romans burst through the flaming door. The Romans seem to be winning the battle in the main courtyard, until Spartacus, Crixus and the others turn the tide. Agron soon alerts them to “Lysiscus” betrayal and Spartacus suggests that they flee the city, while Gannicus volunteers to stay behind and cause enough distraction for their escape. Moved, the rebels flee while Donar (Heath Jones) remains behind to help.

As Agron encounters Nasir and Castus, taking the latter as prisoner, Gannicus and Donar’s efforts to burn the city’s food store are interrupted by a cowering Sibyl (Gwendoline Taylor). Gannicus lights the blaze, but Crassus ignores the distraction and urges his men to keep pressing after the rebels. Gannicus fights his way through, with Sibyl at his side, but Donar sadly falls to a stray sword.

Spartacus and the others lead the fleeing horde through the north gate, just as Crassus and his men appear to lock eyes with Spartacus for the first time. Spartacus sets fire to the gate, just barely slipping out from under its fall and preventing the Romans from pursuing further. Caesar urges the men to pursue, but Crassus seems unworried about the setback. Meanwhile, Roman scouts learn that Donar yet survived his injuries, while Gannicus and Sibyl take refuge in Laeta’s stables.

The battle over, Crassus and a newly-shorn Caesar tend to Senator Metellus, while Crassus assures Caesar that their victory over Spartacus will be complete in due time. Shortly thereafter, Caesar finds a bound Laeta being led through the city, and orders her bonds cut. Laeta recognizes Caesar’s deception of the rebels, but takes comfort in the news she is to be bathed and fed before being brought before Crassus. Nearby, Sibyl tends to Gannicus’ hand and expresses her faith the gods will see them through this.

A jumpy Kore finds herself greeted by Crassus, and relieved to learn she’ll be taken out of the follower’s camp (and Tiberius’ reach). Tiberius himself soon appears, subtly pressing to Kore that he took much comfort in her of late, as Crassus expresses relief to see his son hardened to purpose of war. Crassus assures him he will regain his title in due time, but must first present the celebratory executions honoring Caesar, a humiliating if necessary task.

Tiberius takes his aggression out by threatening Kore not to talk, while elsewhere Gannicus and Sibyl are nearly found by passing soldiers. Their hiding place finally discovered, Gannicus leaves Sibyl a knife to take her own life should he not return, but after a short skirmish above, Gannicus returns the victor after all. Meanwhile after her bath, a made-over Laeta joins Caesar to visit Crassus.

Initially worried of Crassus testing her loyalties, Laeta thanks the Imperator for his generosity, and shares her findings of Spartacus that his motivations come not from vengeance, but a deep-seated belief in his cause. As Crassus reflects on his enemy, a still-living Heracleo (Vince Colosimo) enters and demands his wage from Crassus, which extends beyond a wealth of coin to Laeta herself! Laeta protests her fate, but Crassus reminds her she still gave aid to the enemy previously.

Elsewhere, Caesar indulges himself with his many spoils, summoning Tiberius before him to rub in his face how he brought down the city where the boy had failed. Meanwhile, Gannicus and Sibyl observe the streets from a rooftop looking for a way out, seeing Heracleo and his men leading a captive Laeta to Attius’ old smithy. Once there, Heracleo presses to his captive bride that he’ll give her a better life than the Romans would, but one that all would know belongs to Heracleo, branding an “H” onto her arm. Gannicus enters and slays Heracleo’s men, but finds himself at a standstill when Heracleo holds a knife to Sibyl’s throat. Before Heracleo commits the kill however, Laeta shoves the red-hot brand through his throat from behind, killing the pirate. Gannicus resolves to leave Laeta behind, but Sibyl presses that the brand makes her one of them.

Elsewhere at the ceremonies, Romans tear one slave limb from limb, while Crassus shares his ambitions to seize the entire city for himself, offering a sizable portion to Metellus in exchange for his help persuading the senate. Donar is offered up as the last sacrifice at the celebration, but seeing Donar’s disdain for Caesar, Tiberius seizes opportunity to dispatch his enemy. Tiberius praises Caesar and purports to honor the man with the killing blow, but Donar suspiciously escapes from his chains and fights back against the Romans. Realizing the plot, Caesar goes along and offers a sword to Donar, choosing to kill the man in combat to prove his own worth. Donar nearly gets the upper hand until Caesar attacks his wounded midsection and slashes him into the gut, but Donar takes his own life with the sword before Caesar can strike the killing blow.

Wearing Heracleo’s cloak, Gannicus leads Laeta and Sibyl toward a pair of horses by the front gate, until a passing Caesar notes that Heracleo was only granted one woman. The ruse uncovered, Gannicus spirits the women to horseback and fights off their pursuers, joining Sibyl as they race toward the front gate. Laeta sustains a wound in the escape, but the three manage to push past the guards and escape, angering Caesar further. Shortly thereafter, Caesar once again bemoans that they let more rebels escape, but Crassus sinisterly reminds him it won’t be a problem.

Out in the frozen wilderness, Spartacus and his followers huddle for warmth as they worry about their next move, before Gannicus and the women finally appear. The group greets the reunion warmly, but Spartacus quickly informs Gannicus their troubles have far from ended, as Crassus’ planned all along to have the snowy ridge blocked off. Within a day’s time, Crassus will trap them against the ridge, and kill them all. Literal cliffhanger cliffhanger!

Last week we couldn’t help feeling somewhat let down by the climactic battle of “Blood Brothers,” which pushed aside any real consequence of the hour in favor of the feud between Spartacus and Crixus. Thankfully, the tension of “Blood Brothers” well continues into “Spoils of War,” which decides the battle somewhat quickly but weighs its consequence much more heavily. Not only is Donar given a dignified end, but Gannicus finally develops the purpose that Spartacus had been pushing him toward, once again paired with Sibyl. We’re relieved to see that both made it out alive, taking Laeta with them as well, who now shares official cause to join Spartacus’ side. All in all, “Spoils of War” still feels a bit burdened by the piece-moving, but delivers a much more thrilling and satisfying tale than its predecessor. Onto the final four!

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

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