‘The Greater Good’ is the first episode of this young Spartacus: Vengeance season to allow advancement of the various plotlines, now that the necessary exposition and set up has been handled by the premiere and last week’s episode: ‘A Place in This World.’
Here, Spartacus is determined as ever to help Crixus locate the missing Naevia, although it may mean putting the lives of those who follow them at great risk. Seeing this as a detriment to the cause, and his own life, Spartacus’ close ally, Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel), deceives Crixus by telling him that the woman he seeks is dead. Agron and his newfound Syrian friend Nasir/Tiberius (Pana Hema Taylor) fabricate Naevia’s demise under the belief that a prolonged search for one slave is contrary to the group’s ultimate goal.
Spartacus is far less pragmatic, unwilling to consider the whole greater than the sum of its parts –which he demonstrates in his speech to the group upon learning of Agron’s deceit. Unfortunately, the decision to follow Crixus to the mines in search of Naevia results in a major depletion of Spartacus’ ranks. Instead of joining them, Agron takes several men to intercept slave ships and hopefully bolster the rebellion’s numbers.
As the men head off toward the mines, Ashur (Nick Tarabay) attempts to work over Oenomaus (Peter Mensah) with a disturbing amount of glee. However, Ashur’s former Doctore is made of stern stuff, and refuses to utter single word. Oenomaus’ stubbornness has Glaber refer to him as “a statue that bleeds” – which puts Ashur in the uncomfortable position of offering the Romans nothing of value.
Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), however, comes to Ashur’s aid, coaxing him down the path of deceit and betrayal that has seemingly always filled the House of Batiatus. Wielding the truth behind the death of Oenomaus’ wife Melitta (Marisa Ramirez), and the revelation of her infidelity (forced and otherwise) with Gannicus (Dustin Clare), Ashur is finally able to elicit a response from the bloodied Oenomaus. Though he doesn’t come right out and say it, Oenomaus’ words are enough that Ashur can pinpoint the rebels’ destination.
Meanwhile, displeasure at Glaber’s inability to quell the rebellion quickly has brought Varinius (Brett Tucker) and Ilithyia’s father to Capua with the promise of gladiatorial combat to better distract concerned citizens from the omnipresent fear of slave rebellion. Glaber’s wish to rise in the senate is constantly thwarted by his father in-law, who clearly favors Varinius, and sees Glaber responsible for the current Spartacus situation.
Glaber’s professional aspirations begin to take a toll on his personal life, as he finds himself unwilling to make love to his wife, referring to it as a “task,” which he cannot complete as his mind is elsewhere. Glaber’s troubles (intimate and professional) appear to be in stark contrast to the force that drives his adversary, and those who would follow Spartacus.
But Glaber finally puts one in the win column as he announces to the crowd gathered in the arena that his troops have been dispatched to capture Spartacus once and for all. This move not only delivers a crushing blow to Spartacus, but also publicly embarrasses Varinius and earns Glaber favor with the people of Capua.
Things go south in the mines after Glaber’s forces arrive with Ashur in tow. Although the rebels recover Naevia (now played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson), they soon learn the price for her is Crixus’ freedom, which the Gaul gives freely to see her taken to safety.
The examination of passion as a driving force, and all the facets that surround it make ‘The Greater Good’ arguably the best episode of Spartacus: Vengeance thus far. Now, on the run, and with his control of the Gauls in question, it looks as though Spartacus may face his biggest challenge yet in next week’s episode: ‘Empty Hands.”
Spartacus: Vengeance airs Friday nights @10pm on Starz.