Spartacus: Vengeance “Chosen Path” Review

If someone had told me a year ago that my favorite episode of Spartacus: Vengeance would be the one with the least amount of sex and violence in it, I would have told you…

Well, I would have told you, “Probably right.” Because knowing what I know—the skill of the actors present and the production as a whole—I would have said, “Excellent time to dig deep into the meaty flesh of this insanely good story.”

‘Course I would have been right.

In true Spartacus: Vengeance fashion, the show’s episode titles usually hold some sort of double meaning. “Chosen Path” held quintuple meaning, if not more. Crossroads were reached. Decisions were made—for good or ill, we still do not know.

It’s hard to criticize an episode I liked so much. Crixus’ (Manu Bennett) reunion with Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) was poignant, with Bennett (as always) excelling in any scene that lets him use his emotions. Addai-Robinson has improved just a bit, though I note her wig has not. And I fear for what we may see when this rather unathletic girl begins her training regimen. Addai-Robinson has yet to fully convert me.

Everything else? Like a meaty pie. I hardly know where to start.

“Rome is propped up by more than a few wooden beams,” said Gannicus (Dustin Clare), and I’m reminded by the spoilers that history provide that Spartacus’ story does not end well for our hero. He wants to take down Rome itself. A quick check of any history book will tell you that did not happen, so we’re left wondering, exactly, how the story will differ from the already-known tale.

It kind of makes you wish for an Inglourious Basterds moment, where the heroes actually do get to kill Hitler!

(No, I’m not suggesting Spartacus should kill Hitler.)

(Actually, that would be kind of cool.)

We found Glaber (Craig Parker) and Ilithyia (Viva! Bianca) in the midst of their ever-troubled marriage. It seems as though Ilithyia, now grieving for her dead father, is starting to see the world through different eyes. She shared some very interesting glances with her husband. (With Bianca—watch the eyes, always watch the eyes, they flicker to and fro and tell us far more than her mouth ever will.) Oh, sweet subtext! The Glaber / Ilithyia relationship becomes more and more interesting as this season progresses, and I love watching them onscreen together, even though I’m (relatively) certain their tale will end tragically.

We got that rare moment of true regard between Ilithyia and Lucretia (Lucy FLawless), though I fear it is because both of them have frayed sanity. “You have uncovered the veiled schemes of two old women,” Lucretia told simpering Sepia (Hanna Mangan Lawrence). Ilithyia was not thrilled to be included in that “old” duo, was she?

Lucretia and Ilithyia teaming up against anyone is a scary prospect, much less the inadequate Sepia.

Ashur (Nick Tarabay) finally saw his mouth get him into trouble rather than out of it, though he acquitted himself well against a slew of armored (and overconfident) Romans. Even he has grown since his early days. “And I was considered lowest in the brotherhood,” he snarled. Choice words. Tarabay! When the really skilled actors step up to the plate, it’s really good. Tarabay gave Parker and even Lucy FLawless as good as he got. (More literally with Lucretia, when he began raping her against the wall.)

(Best exchange: “I would have words.” “Fuck your words.” “It is not with you that I seek them.” SPLAT!)

It was good to see Gannicus and Crixus reunite in conversation. And perhaps even better to see Gannicus and Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) face off—the respective Alpha Males of season one and two going toe-to-toe in the rain.

Glaber got the final scene again. And who saw that coming? Seppius (Tom Hobbs) falling shockingly before Glaber’s growing fury, just like that. Seeing Seppius gurgling there on the floor made me do a spit-take; it felt like Seppius and Glaber were still circling one another like wary tigers, just minutes before, and suddenly—bam. Dead Roman.

I think Glaber has a few more tricks up his sleeve too. Stoked for what’s to come!

If you prefer your Romans dead, follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, plebes!