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Spartacus: War of the Damned – “Separate Paths” Review

Spartacus: War of the Damned – “Separate Paths” Review

“Separate Paths” is a truly disappointing episode in Spartacus: War of the Damned’s homestretch.

 

Note: Full spoilers for the episode follow.

 

As we near the end of Spartacus’ legendary war against the Romans, I’ve prepared myself for what was, I suppose, predetermined to become a pretty bleak ending to the rebels’ story.  That said, I wasn’t sure exactly how close the show’s writers would stick to history. I’m just going to come out and say it though – this was one of my least favorite Spartacus episodes ever. Yes, I knew that quite a few of the protagonists would likely soon meet their end, but the way that things went down this week left me both dumbfounded and quite livid. The writing in this episode was just horrendous. I love  this show, as the scores I’ve given in my reviews this season will attest, but “Separate Paths” let me down greatly.

 

 

The only redeeming factor of this episode was the strength of Manu Bennett’s and Liam McIntyre’s performances as Crixus and Spartacus. Both men’s point of views are thoughtfully fleshed out. Spartacus wants to flee from the Romans to give the rebels a chance at survival, especially all the unarmed women and children. Crixus would rather strike at the heart of the republic, ending the Romans’ reign of terror once and for all. He reasons that the slaves built their republic with their blood and lives, and can see it fall at equal cost. Crixus would rather die fighting than live in a world where he and the rebels are not truly free. I loved his line, “You opened my eyes to this Spartacus, do not ask me now to close them.” Their final celebration and conversation about life in Batiatus’ ludus and taking down the arena at Capua before parting ways, was emotional. It’s such a shame that Andy Whitfield could not reprise his role for these final scenes, as they would hold much more weight. Agron’s choice to follow Crixus into battle, and part ways with Nasir, was equally emotional. When he broke this news to Nasir, I knew he would fall alongside the Undefeated Gaul in combat during this episode.

 

Spartacus War of the Damned - -Separate Paths- Review - Crixus 1

 

The real downfall of this episode began with the absolutely surprising and ridiculous raping of Julius Caesar by Tiberius. Caesar has been built up all season long as the ultimate badass, and he can’t take out two nameless guards and a 15 year old boy? It will be incredibly hard for me to stomach now if this is the same man that is to take down Spartacus or Gannicus. And the shot of him standing alongside Crassus and Tiberius, unable to ride a horse because his ass was too sore? It was like something from a South Park episode. I’ll never again be able to take this guy seriously.

 

Beyond that, the whole side story with this Sybil girl and Gannicus feels way too forced. They just don’t feel like a good match, and Saxa is way cooler. I keep waiting for this girl to murder Gannicus in his sleep or something. I just don’t trust her. And while I don’t mind Laeta, her sex scene with Spartacus felt even more forced.

 

The final straw for me was Tiberius killing Agron, then spearing Crixus through and finally decapitating him. I get that the writers are trying to shape Tiberius into the ultimate heel, but we all very much hate him already at this point. I would have been fine with Crassus taking him down. It strains credulity that Tiberius would be able to escape retribution for so long while continuing to commit heinous acts. Tiberius’ death needs to come soon, and it needs to be this show’s most memorable.

 

Spartacus War of the Damned - -Separate Paths- Review - Crixus 2

 

Overall, “Separate Paths” featured some strong acting, but that couldn’t save this extremely weak episode. Crixus deserved a much better swan song. The wind has definitely been taken out of this show’s sails in the homestretch, which is truly disappointing. Next week’s episode better be a masterpiece.

 6.3/10

 

  • Boblkbas

    I concur totally

    • http://www.metalarcade.net Jason Bakker

      I know! They’ve undone all the great characterization they’ve worked so hard for up to this point. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way!

  • Ben

    Just because you didn’t like the plot, that doesn’t merit you giving the quality of the show a bad rating. Very unprofessional.

    • http://www.metalarcade.net Jason Bakker

      Actually it’s not unprofessional, a review is an opinion. The writing on this episode was horrendous, and the writing is an integral part of a show. If you read my other reviews from this season, they were all 8.0s or above. Bad writing=bad quality.

  • An

    “Caesar has been built up all season long as the ultimate badass, and he
    can’t take out two nameless guards and a 15 year old boy?”
    Because breaking free from the hold of two larger men after being smashed in the head with a vase is clearly a very easy thing.

    “It strains credulity that Tiberius would be able to escape retribution for so long while continuing to commit heinous acts.”
    It strains credulity that you think retribution is a real life force that can stop person A from driving a spear into the back of person B. Crixus being vulnerable to blind-sided attacks was hinted at Spartacus saves him from such an attack earlier in the episode, and thus makes sense. The problem is not Tiberius killing Crixus, the problem is Tiberius saving Caesar. That is were the show loses coherency.

    • http://www.metalarcade.net Jason Bakker

      There were a lot of problems in this episode, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion. And whether or not Caesar could have broken free, that scene should never have been written in the first place. As I said it completely ruined his character build-up and it will be extremely hard to swallow if this is the guy that takes out Spartacus or Gannicus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.joasil Patrick Joasil

    This review is absolute garbage. This was actually one of the best spartacus episodes yet. It had one of the best dialogue and action sequences of any of the spartacus episodes. The episode was an excellent blend of drama and action playing like a mini blockbuster movie. you hammered the rating of this episode simply because Tiberius killed argon and crixus. Your logic is flawed because its not like Tiberius went toe to toe with crixus or argon and defeated them. Tiberius’s blows were all sucker punches from behind that any lucky soldier could have have got in. So it doesn’t matter that he is unskilled and 15 years old and killed crixus or agron. it also didn’t really matter who chopped off his end at the end anyway. Crixus was surrounded by Romans and on his knees. Tell me you didn’t appreciate the cinematography of his head being chopped off as a reflection in the eyes of naevia. That was so original and emotional. How about the speech about how the sand demanded blood and tears and then his own blood and naevia’ s tears wet the sand at the end. The writing was superb and was the first episode this season that brought the ideal of all the seasons together. I’m so sick and tried of people wishing that Andy Whitfield was still playing spartacus. get over it. Andy was a great spartacus and was excellent in season one but this new spartacus is good too and doesn’t make the show worse because he is not Andy.

    • http://www.metalarcade.net Jason Bakker

      If you actually READ the review, I praised both Manu Bennett and Liam McIntyre’s acting in this episode, among other things. But stop kidding yourself, this is far from the best Spartacus episode yet. It was bad enough to make me want to stop watching, if I didn’t have to review it every week.

    • http://www.metalarcade.net Jason Bakker

      Also I never said the show was worse because of Andy not being there, only that the scene between Spartacus and Crixus would have been more meaningful. I think Liam has been great.