‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Season Premiere Review: “Enemies of Rome”
‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ strikes back with its first episode of the final season “Enemies of Rome,” as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) attempts to defeat two Roman commanders as he faces the increasing needs of his rebel army, while Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) is tasked with bringing Spartacus' rebellion to an ultimate end.
Last season’s ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ finale “Wrath of the Gods” saw Spartacus and his men finally triumphing over Glaber (Craig Parker) at the base of Mt. Vesuvius, while Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) took her final vengeance against Ilithyia (Viva Bianca), so what will the final season of ‘Spartacus’ 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’ premiere “Enemies of Rome!”
A massive battle rages between Spartacus’ army and the Roman forces on a field strewn with corpses, as the Roman soldiers report to their leaders Furius and Cossinius they’re losing the battle. Just then, Spartacus charges over the hill on horseback, followed swiftly by the rest of the army, decimating all in their path. Furius and Cossinius flee as the Romans sound the general retreat, but Spartacus sees only that the leading men once again slipped their grasp.
Taking shelter at a nearby villa, Cossinius and Furius debate their loss with Senator Metellus, who reluctantly agrees with them that only the massively wealthy Marcus Crassus can fund their cause for further men now. Meanwhile, Spartacus growls that Gannicus (Dustin Clare) hasn’t checked in with the other men, and plots his next attack against the Romans.
Over in Rome, Marcus Crassus spars with his personal gladiator Hilarus, as his bored son Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) looks on. Metellus arrives with word from Furius and Cossinius that they need reinforcement, but can only offer Crassus a command under their leadership. To all’s surprise, Crassus agrees to provide 10,000 more men via his own messenger and take command under the two leaders, telling Tiberius it matters not when faced with Spartacus’ death and the glory of Rome.
Meanwhile at the rebel camp, Gannicus continues to revel with Saxa (Ellen Hollman) and several more women, before finally making his way to Spartacus’ tent. Spartacus presses that Gannicus would do well as a leader among the men, but Gannicus’ only interest lies in women, wine, and honoring Oenomaus. Gannicus questions where Spartacus’ vengeance will end, Glaber, Ilithyia and Lucretia having already fallen, but Spartacus insists he’ll keep fighting until Roman cruelty is a thing of the past.
As Crassus continues plotting late into the night, his wife presses for Tiberius to be given honored position among the men, but Crassus would rather he earn it first. Meanwhile at the rebel encampment, Spartacus watches as Nasir (Pana Hema-Taylor) trains a crop of new men, before Spartacus follows several weaker-looking men to a strange tent on the outskirts. Inside, he finds a man named Theotimus giving horse meat to the hungry, unaware he’s talking to Spartacus himself. Theotimus worries that “King” Spartacus hasn’t plotted for the hunger and cold of winter, as Crixus (Manu Bennett) interrupts to call for Spartacus’ attention, stunning Theotimus. Spartacus reminds Theotimus that the freedom they fight for gives him the ability to speak his mind to whomever, even “King” Spartacus himself.
Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) digs alone on a forest path, before a number of Roman men on horseback surround her. As they inquire to her purpose, Naevia stabs the lead man through the head, as Spartacus and his men ambush the rest. In the aftermath, they find a message dictating that Marcus Crassus moves with 10,000 men, alarming the group. Spartacus reasons that they must finally dispatch Furius and Cossinius before taking on Crassus, and after some deductive reasoning, plots to quietly infiltrate their villa with Crixus and Gannicus.
The next night, Crassus continues to spar with Hilarus, but becomes dismayed when Tiberius dismisses any slave, even Spartacus as inferior to Romans. Crassus challenges his son to take on a “common slave” such as Hilarus, who easily bests the boy in armed combat. Meanwhile, Spartacus, Crixus and Gannicus approach the villa from a distance, and watch as the majority of the men are dispatched to deal with the perceived threat of Spartacus’ (secretly Agron)’s men in the north.
Crassus continues sparring with Hilarus, but grows irritated the slave won’t attack him with full offense. Crassus urges the man to fight him with full force, lest he take any doubt with him into battle against Spartacus, agreeing to free and reward Yolaris if he successfully strikes his master down. The two engage in an even more vigorous battle, as Spartacus, Crixus and Gannicus make their move attacking the villa.
Spartacus and his men battle, trapping Furius and Cossinius in their bath chamber, while Crassus continues his battle with Hilarus. Hilarus gains the upper hand, knocking both of Crassus’ swords away, but Crassus gets the jump on him by grabbing Hilarus’ sword by the blade, pretending to drop his flank, and whirling around to stab Hilarus with his own sword. Bested, Hilarus slowly dies praising his master’s honor, as Crassus kindly promises to use the reward money to erect a monument to the fallen warrior.
Furius and Cossinius trapped, Spartacus raises his swords to the men as they offer terms of surrender. Unwilling to trust a Roman’s word, Spartacus strikes both their heads from their shoulders, and collects them to be displayed to the remaining Roman soldiers. The next day, Metellus reports the deaths to Crassus, noting it curious Crassus’ men took a route so close to the rebels, and placing him in command of the army. Crassus admits to Tiberius he planned for Spartacus to intercept the orders, counting on him to do what any Roman strategist would have done.
Back at the encampment Spartacus’ men cheer his victory, but he notes that winter will soon be upon them. Facing certain doom if starved and frozen while facing Crassus, Spartacus reasons that the only way his army will thrive now is to capture an entire city to house them. Roll credits!
As dismayed as we are that we'll never see another season premiere of 'Spartacus,' there can be no denying the new season packs a hell of a punch. Not only has the action, even the fight choreography increased in epic scale, but the emotions between characters remains as real and relatable as ever.
We were worried that 'War of the Damned' might suffer from introducing so many unfamiliar characters, but if Merrells' portrayal of Crassus is any indication, the new players will only increase the excitement of the final season. With only brief insight, "Enemies of Rome" manages to paint Crassus as a formidable, yet altogether unique villain to challenge Spartacus, one who doesn't make the mistake of underestimating slaves.
With more boobs, blood and banter than ever, by Jupiter we're going to miss this series when it ends.
What say you? Did you get your fill of blood-spattering ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ action? What did you think about final season premiere "Enemies of Rome?" Join us next week for another all-new ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ episode recap of “Wolves at the Gate” on Starz!