Episode Title: "Wrath of the Gods"
Writer: Steven S. DeKnight
Director: Jesse Warn
Trapped on the top of Vesuvius by Roman soldiers, it's a desperate situation for Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and his followers. So much so, that Nemates (Ditch Davey) leads a small band of rebels down the mountainside in an attempt to get by the Roman guard and escape or get food. At that moment, Ashur (Nick Tarabay) and the warrior known as the Egyptian arrive to taunt the Roman guards on duty just when the rebels attack. But the attack is quickly foiled and few survive before Spartacus and some of his best warriors arrive to save them.
Ashur takes an arrow to the shoulder from Mira (Katrina Law), but as the rebels flee, Mira catches an axe to the chest and dies shortly after. Sparatcus rages at Nemates for the loss of Mira and several of their number, and the escaped slaves seem divided. On the road to Vesuvius, a very pregnant Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) travels with Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) and she is stunned to learn that Lucretia has been promised to Ashur by her husband. Ilithyia promises to help her friend escape Ashur's heel.
When reunited with her husband, Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker); Ilithyia is true to her word and she gives Glaber the bracelet taken from Seppius and claims that Ashur told Seppia the truth about what had happened to her brother, sparking her murder attempt against Glaber. At first, Glaber doesn't quite believe that Ashur would betray him because Ashur's fortunes were so closely tied to his own. But ultimately, Glaber decides that not only must Glaber die, but Lucretia as well in order to protect the secrets that she holds.
Ilithyia is surprised and possibly even saddened by Glaber's order, but she does not speak in favor of her friend. Outside, Lucretia kisses Ashur goodbye knowing that his death will come soon. As Ashur boasts about his fortune to the Egyptian and his other fighters, Glaber confronts him with Seppius' bracelet flanked by several soldiers. And much to Ashur's dismay, the Egyptian and his men quickly turn on him in return for higher payment. Ashur maintains his innocence and Glaber gives him one final opportunity to serve him.
On the mountain, Spartacus dutifully wraps Mira's body in vines before Gannicus (Dustin Clare) approaches him and they bond over their impending deaths in battle against the hated Romans. Gannicus also seems to have repaired his bond with Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), who no longer looks at him with open hatred for betraying him with his wife. Ashur soon comes to the mountain top unarmed and carrying a message from Glaber: all those who surrender will be allowed to live as slaves.
Even Nemates thinks that's a terrible deal and when Crixus (Manu Bennett) moves to execute Ashur, Spartacus makes no move to prevent it. But it is Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) who demands that she be able to kill Ashur for his many sins against her. Reluctantly, Crixus allows her to fight Ashur in a duel. Unfortunately for Naevia, a few weeks of training is no substitute for even Ashur's minor gladiatorial skills. But when Ashur toys with her, Naevia manages to stab his scrotum and eventually behead him.
Back at the house of Batiatus, Lucretia speaks about her freedom and friendship with Ilithyia, unaware that her "friend" is sneaking up behind her to push her over the edge to her death. But Ilithyia's water breaks and the impending birth of her child puts an end to that plan as Lucretia ushers her inside. On the mountain top, Spartacus comes up with a plan to fashion the vines into ropes so that a handful of warriors can climb down the cliff and take the Roman guards unaware. Crixus, Gannicus and Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel) join him.
As Spartacus and his chosen few take out the Roman guard and acquire the fireball cannons, Glaber openly daydreams about seizing greater power in Rome after the death of Spartacus. But that dream is short lived as the rebels bombard the Roman camp with fireballs and decimate their ranks. Spartacus is soon joined by the bulk of his forces and the final battle is on. Back in Capua, Ilithyia is stunned when Lucretia murders her slaves and announces her intention to cut Ilithyia's child from her body and claim it as her own.
In the midst of the battle, the Egyptian fatally wounds Oenomaus before Gannicus slays him in return. Oenomaus dies in Gannicus' arms and tells him that he will be reunited with his wife in the afterlife and that they will wait for him there. Back at the cursed house of Batiatus, a badly bleeding Ilithyia crawls outside to find Lucretia holding her child near the edge of the cliff as she madly states that she always wanted to give her dead husband a son. Lucretia calmly throws herself and the child to their deaths before Ilithyia collapses and dies as well.
Spartacus and his followers slaughter the remaining Romans and Spartacus finally gets his vengeance on Glaber himself. Before Glaber succumbs to his wounds, he taunts Spartacus and says that Rome will send Legions after them and he will die at their hands. Spartacus acknowledges that it may happen that way, but for now, he's content to shove his sword down Glaber's throat and graphically kill him. Spartacus then tells the survivors that now they are an army.
Steven S. DeKnight and his team deserve a lot of credit for ending "Spartacus: Vengeance" in a bold and even shocking way. I think everyone expected some of the characters to be killed off… but six major characters dead in a single episode? That's half of the main cast!
The death that surprised me the most was Mira's, because she was the defacto female lead and I never bought into her breakup with Spartacus even though she hinted at lessons for his next lover shortly before she died. The tragedy of Mira's demise is that she never got a chance to define herself outside of being Spartacus' lover despite that being a recurring theme throughout the season. But then again, it's not a tragedy if you don't feel for the character, so in that regard it was a success.
Oenomaus' death was also tragic, but expected. The historical Oenomaus is rumored to have died early in Spartacus' rebellion, so his time was always going to be tenuous on this show. Plus, once Oenomaus' feud with Gannicus was settled, there wasn't much dramatic ground left to cover for him. At the end of last week's episode, I felt that the Egyptian wasn't worthy enough to kill the great Oenomaus and there was a seven day stay of execution. But it was ultimately the Egyptian who slew him, despite being the least interesting adversary on "Spartacus: Vengeance" this season.
Far more intriguing was Ashur, who was hilariously convinced that he could become the new Batiatus and take his old master's wife and house for himself. There was a brilliantly comedic scene when Ashur was boasting about making his men swear loyalty to him once his new Ludus was up and running. I only wish we knew whether Ashur's men even understood what he was talking about; which could have made the moment even funnier if it was just gibberish to them. Or if they had realized what a blowhard he was and reacted accordingly.
At the very least, Ashur got a memorably brutal demise at the hands of Naevia. But I'll miss having the snake around as he was fun to hate. It was also a little disappointing that Lucretia didn't get a chance to kill him herself.
As for Lucretia, it seemed obvious that she was planning some kind of doublecross for Ilithyia, but I don't think anyone expected that to play out the way that it did. Lucretia not only never regained her sanity (despite all appearances), she was even crazier than she let on. Even the Starz network brass can't convincingly bring Lucy Lawless back from this death. However, Ilithyia's death was less clear and it required a post-finale interview by DeKnight to even confirm that she had died. Onscreen, it seemed like Ilithyia could have survived. But without Glaber or Lucretia around, there wouldn't have been much room for Ilithyia in the third season. Her story had run its course.
Finally, there's Glaber, who died in a failed attempt to innovate the sword swallowing trick. Until the ninth episode of the current season, I was convinced that the "Spartacus" producers were going to draw out the conflict between Glaber and Spartacus into another season. It's gratifying that their story came to a close in this season and it gave the conclusion the thunderous moments that it needed. If the "Spartacus" TV series had ended here, this would probably be the happiest ending it could possibly get. The historical story only gets bloodier and more tragic from here.
There are very few TV shows that even attempt to create an epic scale much less live up to their lofty ambitions. This season, the cast and crew of "Spartacus: Vengeance" reached that goal with a grand finale. It's hard to ask for more than that.