Spartacus War of the Damned – “Decimation” Review
Spartacus War of the Damned – “Decimation” Review
** FULL EPISODE SPOILERS **
After a failed attempt at defeating Spartacus, a command that directly disobeyed his father’s orders, a young Tiberius was dealing with both physical and emotional defeat. By suffering a defeat at the hands of Spartacus, Tiberius had brought shame to himself and his father Crassus. Crassus was more concerned with the fact that Tiberius’ legion fled from battle, more in fear of Spartacus and his rebel army than the punishment for shaming Rome. What sort of punishment could place enough fear in his own legions so that such an occurrence would never happen again?
Meanwhile, back at Spartacus’ camp the situation with food and grain has become dire, even with the new allegiance to the pirates. The supplies they’ve brought are helping, but not enough to satiate the appetite of a growing army. Making matters worse, the few remaining Romans within the city are causing much contention. Many feel that they should simply be killed, especially since the Romans have never shown them such kindness. However, Spartacus has made it clear that he and his followers cannot fall to that level, otherwise how would they be any different that the oppressors they rose up against? Unfortunately, convincing his generals and most loyal followers isn’t a task that has gone smoothly.
A young Julius Caesar has managed to infiltrate Spartacus’ city. He has posed as a former slave who is looking to join up with the rebels, and his cunning wit is soon obvious as he befriends one of Spartacus’ best soldiers, a German warrior. Early during his time in the city, he faces Gannicus in a training session. Gannicus bests him easily, but clearly Caesar is holding back. It would seem that the two will eventually face each other again. It’ll be interesting to see the outcome. Caesar is most certainly a skilled sword fighter, and the fact that Gannicus beat him with ease might cause him to underestimate his opponent. I would hate to see Gannicus fall to Caesar, but we shall see.
Crassus is livid that Tiberius didn’t follow orders, and very upset with the fact that the history books will have their first encounter as a victory for Spartacus. The punishment decided is “Decimation,” which comes from the latin decimus, meaning tenth. In other words, even tenth member of the deserting army will be killed by his fellow soldiers. 50 men, 5 who must suffer punishment of death at the hands of their comrades. A brutal form of punishment that hasn’t been practiced in a long time, but one that will certainly instill fear and respect amongst the remaining legions.
Caesar is busy furthering the descent that is brewing within Spartacus’ camp. This is a man who is capable of reading people, and influencing them to do what he wants. He recognizes the food shortages, the growing debate amongst the rebels about what to do with the Roman prisoners, and how to use this to his advantage. In a chance encounter between Laeta and the young girl infatuated with Gannicus, she finds out that Laeta is taking food to the Roman prisoners thought to have escaped at the hands of Attius. Such a revelation has serious repercussions. It will widen the rift between Spartacus and those who think the Romans should be killed. It will reveal Naevea’s lies. And it will provide Caesar with more fuel to douse upon the fire.
When Gannicus finds the Roman prisoners, he immediately realizes that Attius was murdered for false crimes. He rushes off to find Naevea, realizing that she lied about what had happened and killed Attius in cold blood. At the same time, Caesar is lead to a Roman woman being held prisoner in secret. Shen is battered, bruised, and had far worse done to her, without Spartacus knowing. Caesar is told to have his way with her and inflict a fresh cut upon her to prove his allegiance. The woman begs Caesar to kill her, and free her from this torture. Caesar reluctantly obliges, and we’ve come to see a different side of him this episode. His reaction at the sight of Fabia, the tortured woman is one of compassion. He even uses the situation as a way to champion the cause of killing the remaining Romans, hoping that such a movement could topple the rebel army from within. This is a man who cannot be underestimated.
Crassus has summoned all of the legion soldiers who fled from battle. They will be punished by decimation, and Crassus has even ordered his son to stand amongst his men. Crassus tells Tiberius that he is not his father in this matter, but his Imperator, or General. Tiberius draws a black stone, and has escaped death. His close friend is not as lucky, however. He has drawn a white stone, and must face a brutal death. The other soldiers must kill him with clubs, and Tiberius has to join in the fray. The scene is extremely graphic as the men are bludgeoned to death with clubs. Bones are broken, heads smashed. Tiberius delivers the fatal blow, and afterwards addresses his father as Imperator, and says the lesson has been learned.
The situation at the city isn’t much better. Upon learning of Naevea’s lies, Gannicus confronts her, and he and Crixus begin fighting. Just as it seems Gannicus is going to kill Crixus, Naevea intervenes and hits Gannicus with a rock. Caesar uses the fight to give a passionate speech, calling for Romans to be executed. Naevea helps convince Crixus that Spartacus is wrong, and he gives the order to kill all the Romans. It would seem that the rebel camp has plunged into madness, due in large part to Caesar’s manipulation. Romans are slain without mercy, and just when it seems that Spartacus has lost control, he is able to intervene and stop the city from falling into chaos.
“Decimation,” was a harsh and brutal episode, even by Spartacus standards. Julius Caesar has shown what makes him such a pivotal character in history, and Spartacus recognizes that the fight within his walls is just as important as the battles outside against Rome.
Review – 9 / 10
Robert Birmingham is Editor-in-chief at flydrs.com.