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‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Review: “Wolves At The Gate”

Spartacus War of the Damned Review Wolves At The Gate
Starz

Spartacus: War of the Damned’ scores a major victory with its second episode of the final season “Wolves at the Gate,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) attempts infiltrating a Roman city with the hopes of overtaking it for the rebel army, while Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) recruits Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) to aid in his quest to bring down the rebellion.

Last week’s ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Premiere “Enemies of Rome” saw Spartacus and his men attempting to defeat two Roman commanders as they face the increasing needs of his rebel army, while Marcus Crassus was tasked with bringing Spartacus’ rebellion to an ultimate end, 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 2 “Wolves at the Gate!”

Spartacus summons Diotimos to his tent, revealing that they intend to take an entire city to house the rebel force, but Diotimos isn’t certain it can be done given that the Aedile of the city confiscates all weapons within the walls. Gannicus remember a blacksmith he knows within the city, who could conceivably forge them swords once inside, if sufficiently paid off.

Spartacus, Gannicus and Crixus enter the city, nearly turned away before Spartacus uses the name of Diotomos’ former master Laurus. Once inside, they happen upon a  scene of Laurus and the Aedile stoning a slave to death for sympathizing with Spartacus, a scene Spartacus himself ends with a killing throw.

Meanwhile in Rome, Crassus inspects his son Tiberius’ order of armor for the men, before getting word his guest has arrived. The unshorn, but muscular guest quickly attacks the guards, before Crassus breaks it up and identifies the man as Julius Caesar. Having just returned from a war, Caesar wishes to clean himself and return to his wife, but Crassus proposes they align against Spartacus, to make better name for Crassus and help settle Caesar’s debts.

Spartacus bargains with Gannicus’ friend Attius to forge the swords, though the man seems somewhat untrustworthy. Following the deal, Spartacus meets with the Aedile’s wife Laeta (Anna Hutchison) in search of grain, making false pretense of planning to house his slaves in the city.

As servants bathe Caesar under order not to cut his hair, the man makes unwarranted advances on Crassus’ trusted slave Kore (Jenna Lind), before Crassus sends her away. Tiberius learns of Caesar’s presence from Kore’s crying, and overhears his father telling Caesar he needs a figurative wolf at his side to kills Spartacus, not his “pup” of a son.

Walking around the city, Spartacus stops to aid a young girl playing with her mother, before being accosted by Laurus for use of his name. Laeta saves Spartacus from discovery, before informing him the entire city is under curfew during the rebellion. The curfew poses a problem toward sneaking up on the city guards and opening the gate for the rest of their forces, but Attius reluctantly agrees to help them in the effort.

Back in Rome, Crassus informs his packing wife she isn’t to accompany him for fear of her safety, before similarly dismissing Tiberius’ questions what title he’ll hold in the campaign. Instead, Crassus retreats into the arms of his beloved Kore, and insists she use his name when she accompanies him on the campaign, rather than treat him like a master.

With Crixus and Agron waiting beyond the city reach before Spartacus’ army, Attius provides a distraction as Spartacus and Gannicus make their attack. Dodging spears from above and guards at every turn, Spartacus and Gannicus manage to barely open the gate, just enough for Crixus and the others to begin slipping through.

As Roman guards and civilians alike are killed in droves, Diotimos gets cut down by his former master Laurus, before Gannicus cuts Laurus’ head in half. Diotimos dies, fulfilled his master went before him, while a young slave girl takes a liking to her rescuer Gannicus. Elsewhere amid the chaos, Laeta desperately searches for her husband, before Spartacus appears and reveals his true identity to her.

In a private chamber, one of Crassus’ slaves takes a razor to Caesar’s inner thigh on his instruction, as Tiberius enters, perturbed by the sight. Caesar realizes that Crassus hasn’t shared his plans for Caesar with his son, and taunts that the boy will serve under his command. Meanwhile, Spartacus and Laeta observe the many dead Romans of the city, including the young girl and mother from earlier, when Crixus brings news the Aedile is threatening to burn the stores of grain.

The Aedile holds the rebels at bay and keeps a torch handy to burn the entire supply of grain, and Spartacus demands of Laeta she help her husband see reason. Laeta talks her husband down, hoping her actions will spare the lives of remaining Romans, but Spartacus and Crixus use the distraction to kill the Aedile anyway. Laeta breaks down at the unjust death of her husband, while Spartacus demands of his men that no more Roman blood be spilled. Spartacus assures Laeta of his sympathy for losing loved ones, but instructs the woman be chained anyway.

As Crassus prepares his men to move out, he surprisingly appoints Tiberius as his second-in-command, so long as the boy proves himself worthy. Caesar protests the slight, but Crassus assures him they have greater purpose in mind, for one another, as they look out over the enormous army tasked with bringing an end to Spartacus’ rebellion. Roll credits.

“War of the Damned” delivers yet another rousing hour with “Wolves at the Gate,” albeit more more given to plot development and introduction than drama. While Crassus continually proves himself a complex villain, the inclusion of Todd Lasance’s Caesar will likely divide fans. The character proves intriguing enough (and certainly a sight for the ladies) though it remains to be seen what Crassus really intends to do with his so-called wolf. Elsewhere, we’re hoping to see more of Laeta as well, given the unique foil she provides to Spartacus in the wake of his true nature. All in all, a solid, if procedural entry into the final season.

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

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