after rescuing Naevia from the mines. The episode could be subtitled “The Roman Empire Strikes Back” since Glaber’s troops systematically wipe out most of Spartacus’ rebel band. And Naevia’s PTS-inspired mania may cause the Thracian leader to second-guess if the lives lost to save her were worth the cost.


Back in Capua, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) schemes to divorce her husband and marry Varinius (Brett Tucker). Lucretia helps seal the deal by bedding Senator Albinius, much to his daughter’s dismay. I had earlier surmised that Lucretia had designs on Ilithyia’s unborn child. On the contrary, the widow Batiatus schemes to make sure that kid is born despite its mother’s intent to end the pregnancy as a means of removing “encumbrances” to secure daddy’s blessings for a divorce. Although Lucretia tells Asher to replace the contents of the mysterious vial with plain water, he improvises and instead narcs out Ilithyia to her husband. That’s gonna have consequences down the road.


            The capture of Crixus (Manu Bennett) in episode 203 made his eventual rescue inevitable. Such story tropes have existed since before the Robin Hood myth and through Return of the Jedi and beyond. But the manner in which Spartacus and his rebels effect the rescue in “Libertus” was truly spectacular. Although dealing with treachery from within his house, the praetor plans to publicly execute Crixus, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), and a third guy we don’t really care about in the coliseum—guess which one doesn’t survive? Veteran gladiator-turned-mercenary Gannicus (Dustin Clare)—making his first appearance since Gods of the Arena—evidently has squandered his winnings on wine and whores and has been retained to dispatch the rebel fighters. I guess gladiators really were the rock stars of ancient Rome.


            Spartacus hatches a bold rescue plan after being reunited with Agron (Dan Feuerriegel) and his followers near the foothills of Vesuvius. The volatile rebel, meanwhile, is delighted to see Nasir (Pana Hema-Taylor) has survived the journey from the mines, despite nearly succumbing to grave injuries, and openly reciprocates the young Syrian’s affection. The rebel plan is foolhardy but works: they sneak into the coliseum through the aqueducts, pose as Roman soldiers using stolen armor, and burn down the motherfrakker down.


            During the ensuing chaos, Gannicus helps Oenomaus escape with the rebels since the two have unfinished business. And Glaber seizes the opportunity to turn the tables on his father-in-law by not just letting him perish in the fire but by crushing his skull. (Insult… meet injury.) The praetor seems well on his way to the dark side. Perhaps living in the Batiatus estate is taking its toll on Glaber’s scruples.

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