After the grand spectacle that was last week’s ‘Libertus,’ it only makes sense that Spartacus: Vengeance takes a brief pause to rearrange the pieces left standing. As is the common theme running through this installment of the series, many characters find themselves questioning their place and their future amongst the chaos of rebellion. In ‘Chosen Path,’ however, it is not merely slaves who seek adjustment to the shift in the balance of power, but those who would enslave them as well.
The murder of Albinius (Kevin J. Wilson) has a ripple effect that immediately alters the plans and lives of those closest to him – namely his daughter Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) and his son in-law Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker). The effect is to immediately see Glaber wrest control of his wife and unborn heir; while Ilithyia sees her hopes of a marriage to Varinius (Brett Tucker) vanish without the influence of Albinius to guide her wishes.
Glaber’s brazenness is not limited to Ilithyia, as we will soon see, and those seeking more power are tempted to follow suit. Ashur (Nick Tarabay) played his cards right in ‘Libertus’ and figuring one good turn deserves another, suggests to Glaber that three of his Roman soldiers do not stand a fighting chance against one of Spartacus’ gladiators. Forced into demonstration, Ashur puts down a trio of Glaber’s men before informing the Praetor that he was considered lowest amongst Batiatus’ men.
Earning favor with Glaber instills Ashur with more wickedness – which he displays by raping Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), after she chastises him for informing Glaber of Ilithyia’s plans to terminate her pregnancy. The aftermath finds the bond between Ilithyia and Lucretia reformed in pain and suffering, as Lucretia tells a despondent Ilithyia, “If the gods have cast us adrift, we must together discover the cause for return to the blessings of their shores.”
Meanwhile, despite the victory in demolishing the arena, uncertainty grows amongst some in Spartacus’ group. While Mira (Katrina Law) continues to find ways to be of aid to Spartacus, Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Chadara (Bonnie Sveen) are far less certain of the path they are on. As Chadara seeks her place by giving herself to men, Naevia is so traumatized by her time in the mines that she contemplates taking her own life, stopped only by Crixus (Manu Bennett) and the assurance that he will teach her to live a life of value despite all that has been taken from her.
Perhaps least certain of his path is Gannicus (Dustin Clare), who remains with the group only to see that his friend and source of guilt, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah) will recover from injuries sustained in the collapse of the arena. Naturally, given Gannicus’ skill and fortitude, Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) is eager to convince him to join their ranks, but (for the time being, anyway) it appears Gannicus intends to walk in solitude – a fact confirmed when Oenomaus tells him, “You are a man who stands only for himself.”
Before he can leave, though, Gannicus is thought to be in possession of a map, which would lead the Romans right to the rebels’ camp. The denial only serves to brings Gannicus to an inevitable confrontation with Spartacus. The ensuing fracas is the kind of thing everyone wonders: when two heroes face off, who would be the victor? It’s like seeing Wolverine go toe-to-toe with Captain America – we know there will be no clear winner, but the brief display of awesomeness is satisfying, nonetheless.
After Mira’s well-placed arrow reveals Chadara to be the real culprit, the fight is proven to be for naught, and Gannicus is once more on his way.
Spartacus and his men may soon feel the lack of Gannicus, as Ashur has raised a fearsome group of his own – including an Egyptian seemingly brought up from the pits of hell. Glaber quickly puts the men to task by having them storm Seppius’ house. The defiance of Seppius (Tom Hobbs) is literally crushed under Glaber’s boot, as we see the Praetor gloriously begin to manipulate his circumstances, much like John Hannah’s Batiatus did before.
As Glaber and Ashur round the corner into reprehensible villainy, we inch closer to a showdown between Spartacus’ men and a terrifying group formed in response to their victory.
Spartacus: Vengeance returns with ‘Sacramentum,’ Friday @10pm on Starz.