‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ Episode 8: ‘Balance’ Recap

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Liam McIntyre Spartacus Vengeance Balance Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 8: Balance Recap

Early on in ‘Balance’ there was a sense that during its runtime someone big was going to be leaving the show – it’s hard to say where this ominous feeling came from, but it was there nonetheless. For a brief moment, it even seemed like Crixus (Manu Bennett) might be injured (or worse) in his sparring with a ferocious Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robbinson). Thankfully, that was not the case, but to the credit of Spartacus: Vengeance, the show has, possibly more so than any other series on television, created an atmosphere of danger for every character that is truly palpable.

Case in point: Ilithyia (Viva Bianca), had been captured by Gannicus (Dustin Clare) in the final moments of ‘Sacramentum,’ and given her past actions on the show, it gave the impression that we would be saying our farewells to her before the end of ‘Balance.’

Certainly, that was the hope of Gannicus, who still struggles to see the purpose of what Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) is attempting to do. In hoping that his actions will not only put an end to the bitter struggle between the gladiator and Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker), but also in some small way rebuild the trust he so desperately wishes regain from Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), after the indiscretion with the former Doctore’s wife in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Gannicus continues to have blinders on to the bigger picture in which he finds himself involved.

Although many of the weary gladiators and slaves in Spartacus’ rebellion would like to think on Gannicus’ terms: that taking the life of Ilithyia would spare them, and the lives of innocent people caught between the two parties, from additional bloodshed – it is not to be. The cause they fight for has grown too large to be satiated by the death of a single woman; Spartacus’ cause can no longer be fulfilled by such a simple act of vengeance.

Interestingly enough, throughout the episode, we get to see Spartacus learn this for himself. At the onset, it seems clear that Spartacus views the execution of a woman as something of a hollow victory, but Ilithyia earns herself further time after informing him the child she carries is most likely the result of their single intimate encounter. Spartacus spares her, not because of the child, but because of a fear his late wife would judge him poorly when they see each other in the afterlife.

Though it is not readily understood by most of his party – especially Mira (Katrina Law), who has the unenviable task of competing with the memory of a dead woman, and now, learning that the object of her affection may have impregnated someone as detestable as Ilithyia – Spartacus decides to use his captive as leverage to supply his growing army with weapons.

While Lucius Caelius (Peter McCauley) is sent to Capua to negotiate the terms with Glaber, Mira pays visit to Ilithyia – seeing her as not only a burden to Spartacus, but also as a symbol of all that she had to endure in her life as a slave. It looks like the end of Ilithyia will be by the hands of Mira, but the execution is once more stayed by a disappointed Spartacus. As Ilithyia is looked over, it is hard to tell which failure hurts Mira more.

Hannah Mangan Lawrence and Lucy Lawless Spartacus Vengeance Balance Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 8: Balance Recap

In what feels like an old-west showdown, Gladiator and Praetor finally meet face-to-face, and it becomes apparent that in all his battles for vengeance, the greatest threat Spartacus has faced is the possibility he could become just like the man he wishes to kill. So, in being honorable, Spartacus leads Crixus, Gannicus and Agron (Dan Feuerriegel) into a trap where once more there is the sense that someone will fall forever.

Ultimately, it is Lucius who is ushered into the arms of those he lost by the swift sword of the fearsome Egyptian, while the other rebels flee back into the woods.

Though Glaber’s trick failed, and he is wounded in the scuffle, he returns to Capua believing himself unburdened of further responsibility for Ilithyia’s life, and able to rest comfortably in the embrace of the younger, more empowering Seppia (Hannah Mangan Lawrence). However, unbeknownst to Glaber, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) has stumbled upon the truth behind Seppius’ untimely death, and has shared it with the young woman.

In the end, it seems Glaber can do no right when it comes to those of the feminine persuasion, and perhaps that is what will finally do the Praetor in.

Spartacus leaves Ilithyia alive in the woods, but with the understanding that her life was spared not out of compassion, but because she no longer holds any value to her husband, and that makes Ilithyia useless to Spartacus as well.


Spartacus: Vengeance airs its penultimate episode, ‘Monsters,’ next Friday @10pm on Starz.

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  1. Glaber’s fate may be sealed this season. If so I am wondering who will take the place of a primary nemesis to Spartacus? I love the show and always looking forward to the next episode!!!

    • Julius Ceaser and some plutocrats next season

  2. crixus vs egyptian part 2

  3. The Egyptian is the scariest

  4. IMO that Egyptian is going to get his ass handed to him sooner or later by Spartacus, Gannicus or whoever. It would be a shame to see him die with the arrows. He is the type of characther that needs to be owned lol.

  5. I am still in awe of the writers’ ability to create great character depth and character change as the show progresses.

    Also, I am on edge for these last two episodes. I’m wondering when Lucretia will strike. She’s been very subdue this season and I’m wondering when we’ll see the viper unleashed.

  6. I love this show. Right now its the most compelling show on TV imo.
    However not to sound like a weirdo but is it me or is Crixus and Gannicus looking a little out of shape this season?? I feel weird bringing it up but I cant help but notice how much Crixus has changed. Once phyiscally imposing and brutish Crixus seems pudgy and mopey.. Trust me its a nitpick

    • I thought the same thing with Crixus but not Gannicus. But either way they both look better than me lol. All kidding aside I don’t think he looks bad

      • yeah true.. I actually caught a bit of the repeat and I admit I was wrong about Gannicus. I think he looks different to me because he is wearing shoes and isnt kicking ass in the arena. He is my favorite character by far. Crixus is a different story and I know its part of building him as a character but he seems to be under written with his infatuation with naviea.
        I get that they are probably building up his relationship with Naveia because then he will have something to fight for but still he seems grossly under used.

        This show is really great though and I felt GODS OF THE ARENA really helped them find their footing. Liam is starting to really grow into the role as well..

    • They all look a little out of shape but I think it keeps to the reality of different lifestyles of a gladiator who is training all day and a rebel group trying to survive by having to hunt, train, and fight.

  7. I also think Crixus was a different charactor in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. He was physically and mentally intimidating in this. But in Vengeance he is neither. He needs to step up.

    That aside the show is really exciting and has now surpassed by expectations!

    • Kstar i think you look Crixus very well . but some times you loss your reason even to be alive and become very weak .that is what happening to him . but know he get his reason to be alive and to be hero and that is Naevia . you will see him when he destroy the Egyptian or 3 or more .

  8. this series is getting boring and annoying

  9. Love this show! This episode was one of the better ones… I am so glad that Seppia knows the truth. I wonder if she will drag the relationship with Glaber just to later use and/or abuse him. And I wonder if Illythia is going to find a new love interest or fight Seppia to win back Glaber! Could Spartacus be wooed by Illythia and HIS baby? Juicy!

  10. My thoughts is that with an expanding cast…Crixus is getting less screen time. I’m also of the view that he’s getting softer…I mean he was captured (though he did put up a good fight in the mines)…got beaten by the German dude in a hand to hand combat (true, who wouldn’t…and it was noticeable that Spartacus was allowed to fight him sword to sword) and now the very cool Egyptian (who I hope gets an end fitting of his coolness) wiped the floor with Crixus and would have taken his life but for Lucius. Gannicus (last week) and Oenomaus (earlier in the season) had their “Man” moments…even Ashur has become a badass…when does Crixus get his (proper) moment? Perhaps Crixus needs to lose his woman again.

  11. ! Episode 8 was totally disappointing! Ilythia should be dead.Mira should have choked the life out of her without intervention from Spartacus. I don’t not like the acting of the actor that replaced the original Spartacus.. he has only two looks . stupid and very angry. his range is lost of this season. yes the season is named vengeance but the ugly scowl on his face is not menacing it’s just boring now. the way that he treated Mira in episode 8. wow! and Glaber should have been graevously injured. why I ask would you leave your enemy alive . Spartacus continues to make this mistake. When opportunity is presented you should remove your enemy from this life they would not offer Spartacus any mercy and so it should not be his to give at the expense of others. Follow him to death for what? he is not a strong leader but a blind one. You cannot leave the likes of Lucretia, Illythia,Ashur or Glaber alive . They are born of snakes lies and deceit. And what of the great deed of Gannicus.Spartacus has once again squandered opportunity!I love this show however Episode 8 was crap and a waste of the writer’s pens. Luckily The Game of Thrones will return soon. Let’s hope that episode 9 of Spartacus can redeem this season. 1-7 were great and now this???? really? C’mon!

  12. This episode was pure brilliance and continues to exceed with each episode. @Steve Dream – you are entitled to your opinion – but right now Game of Thrones doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Spartacus.

    Balance was indeed a suitable title for this episode. Some focus was finally shifted back to Spartacus this week. Undeniably overshadowed the supporting characters this season – we saw his ever fracturing relationship with Mira and his internal struggle to refuse some degree of vengeance by sparing Illythia’s life.

    It’s great to see Gannicus still involved in the mix and even better his ongoing search for respect with Oenomaus. The sense of trust will take time to rebuild and the it was a great scene between the two showing that some resolution will take time.

    I agree that Crixus is becoming marginalized to a degree. He’s more of a content character now that he’s got Naveia. It may need her to be killed to spark him back into life.

    Glaber is now truly the dominant villain we were all waiting for him to be. Craig Parker brilliantly conveys a man who’s calm exterior can unleashes moments of rage and intensity.

    Of course the highlight was the Spartacus / Glaber face off. It simply was one of the best scenes of the season. The stakes are getting ever higher and you just know were in for a thrilling finish.

    Agreed with comments that the Egyptian looks scarily awesome. My money’s on Oenomaus to sort him out once he fully recovers.

  13. I really want to get someone else’s opinion on Spartacus being Ilythia’s child’s father. Remembering that scene, Lucretia and Licinia walk in while Spartacus and Ilythia are still in progress so I didn’t think he finished. No finishing, no pregnancy. Also the time frame. She doesn’t look that far along, but I am not sure how long it has been.

    • Just because he didn’t finish doesn’t mean she can’t become pregnant. I’m not 100% how long the time frame is from when they had sex to now. I don’t think that much time has passed though.

    • I agree , i still feel its the kid who Ilythia’s seduced baby.

  14. I think The Egyptian gets the best of Gannicus.Gannicus will sacrifice his life for someone.

  15. Of the 4 male characters we love… History suggest Doctore (Peter Mensah) departs this life first! I know, that sucks! But like in most wars, history is written by the winners. Losers (meaning dead men) cant tell their side…lol. But imo, the writers are doing a great job. And i’m hooked on the show. Awaiting a great finally! Lets see if history wins out. Or in true hollywood fashion… We get a rewrite of history! Either way i say, ”Sit back and enjoy the ride folks.” And i agree… The new Spartacus is funny looking, and doesn’t own the role or hold his own like the the first Spartacus did.

  16. Of the 4 male characters we love… History suggest Doctore (Peter Mensah) departs this life first! I know, that sucks! But like in most wars, history is written by the winners. Losers (meaning dead men) cant tell their side…lol. But imo, the writers are doing a great job. And i’m hooked on the show. Awaiting a great finally! Lets see if history wins out. Or in true hollywood fashion… We get a lame rewrite of history! Either way i say, ”Sit back and enjoy the ride folks.” And i agree… The new Spartacus is funny looking, and doesn’t own the role or hold his own like the the first Spartacus did.

  17. crixus must face and challenge the egyptian .just to show he is strong not only he is to save his life but simply to keep naevia alive .he is a great gladiator and lover .