Episode Title: "Chosen Path"
Writer: Misha Green
Director: Michael Hurst
Previously on "Spartacus: Vengeance":
On the outskirts of Vesuvius, Spartacus (Liam McIntyre), Mira (Katrina Law), Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel) and more return to the previously abandoned temple in triumph, as they relate the tale of the Arena's destruction by their hands. Gannicus (Dustin Clare) accompanies them only to speak to the gravely injured Oenomaus (Peter Mensah) once he awakens. Crixus (Manu Bennett) and Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) are reunited at last, but Chadara (Bonnie Sveen) is upset to learn that her lover, Rhaskos (Ioane King) died in the arena… and it upsets Chadara because it leaves her without position among the freed slaves.
Back in Capua, Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) impatiently listens to the reading of the will of his father-in-law, Senator Albinius (Kevin J. Wilson); whom Glaber murdered during the collapse of the Arena. With the power in his marriage returned to his hands, Glaber dominates Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) and warns her to protect their child with her life. Later, Ashur (Nick Tarabay) once again cautions Glaber that anyone of Spartacus' freed gladiators can kill three of his soldiers. Glaber puts that theory to the test and allows several of his men to attack Ashur.
To the surprise of all, Ashur demonstrates his skills effectively and proves his point. Impressed, Glaber greenlights Ashur's proposal that he seek out men of similar backgrounds to use against Spartacus. Later, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) confronts Ashur over his disobedience regarding the potion that Ilithyia had planned to use to abort her child. Ashur scoffs at Lucretia's attempt to dominate him and he callously rapes her. Back at the temple, Spartacus is eager to recruit Gannicus to his cause, but Gannicus thinks that Spartacus' war against the Romans is doomed to failure.
Gannicus also turns down Chadara's attempt to hook up with him, which just makes her more desperate to land a new lover with position within the group. Elsewhere in the temple, Crixus attempts to get intimate with Naevia, but the memory of her constant rapes leads her to recoil at his touch. Back in Capua, Lucretia and Ilithyia bathe together and they reconnect over their recent setbacks. Later, both women are present when Glaber meets with Seppius (Tom Hobbs) in an attempt to bridge the gap between them and commit Seppius' men to Glaber's leadership.
However, Seppius maintains his grudge against Glaber and agrees only to consider joining forces. Lucretia advises Ilithyia to extend an invitation to Seppius' grieving sister, Seppia (Hanna Mangan Lawrence); which Glaber grudgingly admits was a good strategy to change Seppius' mind. Back at the temple, the disgruntled Roman, Liscus (Joseph Naufahu) helps train Mira and others with the bow and arrow, shortly before Mira witnesses Chadara get shot down again by one of the warriors. Mira tells Chadara to find her own place in the world without spreading her legs.
When Oenomaus awakens, Gannicus finally gets his audience with his former friend. Although Gannicus assures Oenomaus that his wife loved only him, Oenomaus calls Gannicus a man without honor who stands only for himself. Elsewhere in the temple, Naevia seems to contemplate suicide before Crixus stops her, but she does convince him to teach her how to fight. After Gannicus inadvertently comes upon Agron and Spartacus while they plan an attack on the incoming Roman slave ships, suspicion turns to Gannicus when the maps go missing along with all of the money seized by the rebels.
As Gannicus attempts to leave, Spartacus and his band surround him. Gannicus and Spartacus then engage in a one-on-one duel that seems fairly evenly matched, although Gannicus appears to be landing more blows. Mira notices Chadara trying to sneak away during the fight and she fires an arrow at her that fatally wounds her despite Mira's intent to merely injury her. On Chandara's body, the stolen maps and coins are found, clearing Gannicus' name. Spartacus apologizes to Gannicus and allows him to leave.
Meanwhile, Ashur's newly assembled team of warriors attack Seppius' house and decimate his guards while Glaber confronts a wounded Seppius and tells him that this wouldn't have been necessary if he had simply agreed to merge their forces. Before Glaber kills Seppius, he tells him that he will comfort Seppia with lustful intent.
Last month, CraveOnline ran a poll asking our readers to vote on the most dangerous warriors in "Spartacus: Vengeance." Glaber came in at dead last, with less than three percent of all votes. But if that poll was taken again today, the results may be different after the events of "Chosen Path."
Glaber appears to have realized that the best place to hide a murder is in the middle of a war, as Seppius' death will almost definitely be blamed on Spartacus and his men. And while that suits Glaber's short term needs, it may also play against him in the long run if the strike upon Seppius' house is added to the lore of Spartacus. But in the interim, Glaber has embraced his inner villain with his ruthless behavior towards his wife and Seppius; while also setting his sights on Seppia if Ilithyia's heart is no longer his.
For the first time in "Spartacus: Vengeance," Ashur got to demonstrate that he has true fighting skills of his own. But rather than build Ashur up for his impressive showing, the episode almost immediately reminds the audience what a bastard he is by having him rape Lucretia. At least now we know how Ashur will eventually die. Lucretia may currently recoil in fear from Ashur, but I've long suspected that most of Lucretia's physical mannerisms are a well practiced act. At her first chance, I fully expect that Lucretia will get her revenge on Ashur.
Because Lucretia and Ilithyia are so devious, it's difficult to tell if their renewed affection for each other is sincere. They are like two vipers coiled up together, at some point, one of them will strike at the other if it suits them to do so. What they have between them isn't love or friendship. It simply exists because Lucretia and Ilithyia have no one else to turn to anymore.
The high point of this episode was the long awaited battle between Spartacus and Gannicus; which wasn't quite as definitive as I would have liked. But the fight in the rain was well staged and it made both of them appear to be equally formidable. Bringing Gannicus into the rebel camp (however briefly) allowed some fresh drama to enter Spartacus' side of the story. Gannicus conflicts with Spartacus and Oenomaus seem more organic than the sudden rehash of tensions between Agron and Crixus.
Chadara's story was kind of a non-starter; which led only to a flimsy excuse for Spartacus and Gannicus to fight. I'd be more interested in that story if Chadara's death had led Nasir to start questioning his devotion to the rebels. Note that Nasir was the only one who seemed truly sorry that Chadara was dead. Among the rebels, Liscus has been a very fun character during his short appearances in the last two episodes. I love the idea that Liscus is actively training some of the house slaves to become warriors. Hopefully, Liscus will get some further development in the episodes ahead.
While "Chosen Path" allowed the series to catch its breath after last week's epic installment, this was still a fairly effective and entertaining episode. If this is the midpoint of the season, than "Spartacus: Vengeance" appears to be heading in the right direction.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.