‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’ Episode 6 Review – Victory Into Ash

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Todd Lasance in Spartacus WOTD Spoils of War Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 6 Review – Victory Into Ash

It seems like Sinuessa en Valle has become the place to bring out the worst in men, and as Spartacus: War of the Damned depicts, Crassus and his army redefine what it means to take a city back from the rebels who had briefly sought relief inside its walls.

‘Spoils of War’ picks up seconds after the thrilling ‘Blood Brothers‘ ended with Julius Caesar offering some sage advice to Agron and Saxa that fleeing would be in their best interest. The rebels briefly ponder his words even as Crassus’ army crashes through the city’s charred gate with a huge battering ram that packed a punch as fearsome as the animal it was carved to resemble. And with that, the hope of the rebellion was dealt yet another stunning blow by a man whose craftiness has proven to be a considerable, if not overwhelming challenge for the celebrated Thracian.

Last week’s episode saw the ideological divide between Spartacus and Crixus put aside in the hope that the rebel army would soon be able to attack Crassus on two fronts, outmaneuvering and eventually crushing his army with their combined might. But as Spartacus found himself battling a host of Roman soldiers delivered to the docks of Sinuessa by the traitorous Heracleo, (who’d been meeting secretly with the ever-cunning Caesar), he and his army were caught unaware, scattered about the city and forced to flee into the mountains so that they might live to fight another day.

Liam McIntyre in Spartacus WOTD Spoils of War Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 6 Review – Victory Into Ash

However, it seems that Crassus – “a man of infinite plots” – had been prepared for that eventuality as well, having built a massive rampart atop the mountain pass, which effectively traps Spartacus’ army and grants the Romans the upper hand. This development not only further establishes Crassus’ strategic dominance, but it pushes the narrative into an increasingly desperate situation that is reminiscent of the last few episodes of Vengeance, but with a far more somber tone that smacks of inevitability.

It’s also interesting to see the series choose to spend time away from its main character, in an effort to focus on his enemies and to hand the spotlight over to Gannicus. To that end, ‘Spoils of War’ divides its time between Crassus and Caesar celebrating a victory that has all but ensured them a glorious future, while Gannicus fights just so he and Sibyl (and later Laeta) may have a future beyond the next few hours. It’s at times a distressing hour of television, as Gannicus’ storyline sees him stumbling upon Sibyl while attempting to set fire to a portion of Sinuessa in an effort to distract Crassus’ legion from following Spartacus into the mountains. Following his declaration that his fall would be of “lesser concern” than that of Spartacus’, it was briefly unclear whether the writers’ vision of history move toward Gannicus making the ultimate sacrifice, or if his actions during the episode were simply intended to convey yet another step in the maturation of the character and his march toward greater honor and the salvation he has sought since Gods of the Arena.

Considering Crixus and Naevia embarked on a bloodthirsty rampage against the Romans who were held captive in the city, and Agron is otherwise consumed with undue jealousy toward Castus for making a pass at Nasir, it seems that Gannicus’ arc this season will offer the most persuasive case for what Spartacus’ storyline was intended to put forth, beyond the rise of Spartacus himself. As Laeta explains to Crassus, the war isn’t about revenge any longer; it is about serving a greater purpose that one would throw his or her life down for. Crixus and the others have an understanding of this, but the series seems to suggest that it is Gannicus who feels it as deeply (whether he admits it or not) as the rebels’ leader.

Simon Merrells and Todd Lasance in Spartacus WOTD Spoils of War Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 6 Review – Victory Into Ash

On the flip side, the now empty (of those who matter) city of Sinuessa appears to be Crassus’ reward to himself for a job well done – one that sees him offering Metellus a villa and portion of future taxes in exchange for his convincing the Senate this is deserved compensation for what appears to the beginning of the end for the slave rebellion. Meanwhile, his reward to Julius Caesar is that of credit for the victory in Sinuessa and the opportunity to once again resemble a proper Roman warrior.

As such, the recently groomed Caesar uses his downtime to pick up his battle of words with the suddenly reprehensible Tiberius, by first offering him the opportunity to share in his reward, and then switching gears and insulting the boy with a comparison of their achievements in the campaign against Spartacus. As his continued failures have led him down a gradually darker path, Tiberius once more turns to underhanded plotting in order to achieve some sense of revenge against those he perceives as having wronged him. After his assault in Kore last episode (followed by a threat to reveal the act as not only consensual, but of her design), freeing Donar and issuing a thinly veiled challenge to Caesar is most definitely the lesser of his crimes. But the act catches his adversary off guard and while it fails to rob Caesar of his life, it does suggest Tiberius has more of his father’s shrewdness to him than previously thought.

‘Spoils of War’ was a familiar kind of Spartacus episode that illustrates the motivations and infighting that so often occupies the lives of Spartacus’ enemies – a component of the storyline that makes them as interesting to watch as the plight of the Thracian and his army. With just four episodes left, this deviation from the main character’s story actually serves to heighten the feeling that end is very much on the horizon.

Todd Lasance and Simon Merrells in Spartacus WOTD Spoils of War Spartacus: War of the Damned Episode 6 Review – Victory Into Ash

Various Items:

  • Crassus’ order of decimation proved he is not one to forgive what he perceives as weakness. After Laeta was set free last episode, it seemed perhaps her story was at an end, or would somehow revolve around the Roman camp. Seeing her offered as payment to Heracleo, however, was a chilling reminder of the lengths Crassus would go in order to ensure victory.
  • It appears Heracleo’s story didn’t end last episode either; he survived his battle with Spartacus only to be met with a more grisly and fitting demise at the hands of Laeta.
  • Gannicus is up 2 to 1 in his confrontations with Caesar. Are we going to be treated to another titanic tussle between the two before the series is over?
  • Speaking of, where does Gannicus’ triumphant exit from Sinuessa stand in terms of this season’s most stirring moments?


Spartacus: War of the Damned continues next Friday with ‘Mors Indecepta’ @9pm on Starz. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. This episode furthers the established plot from last week’s episode that Marcus Crassus is indeed a very cunning and ruthless commander. At the end of the episode you are treated to a no-hope situation for Spartacus and his men. Brilliant weaving of story. Just sad that we only have 4 episodes left.

  2. A fun weekly hour long escape. Very intrigued how this will play out. Will Gannicus die in battle as the historical figure did (perhaps in the penultimate episode)? Will Pompey appear to steal the Roman Spotlight from Crassus? Will the often tagged line “Spartacus’ body was never found” in most historical accounts of his final battle be used for an ending that leaves us speculating? Should be a wild and bloody good time.

  3. man gannicus is just too frikin awesome him getting out of the city with sybil was insane. im hoping they change history and gannicus kills caeasar

  4. Watching this show is like watching Titanic, you know how it all ends (historically) but you still watch it hoping for a better outcome. They’ve done a great job of developing all the main characters and staying pretty historically accurate thus far. Excited and saddened for the end.

  5. Awesome episode! i really thought Gannicus wasn’t going to make it! he’ s the man! I wonder if him and Spartacus really ”stand as equals” with the sword?

  6. I’m surprised that you, Kevin, didn’t the triumphant and defiant death of Donar showing himself to be completely free of the Romans. That was a small but powerful moment.

    • Donar had his openings to defeat and kill Ceasar in their sword duel; sorry to see that he did not take advantage of them. He missed a wide open head butt when they were grappling, and the final scene when Ceasar lifted his sword to finish off Donar, Ceasar’s middle was exposed for a sharp sword thrust by Donar who instead chose to kill himself. Not to suggest however that Donar would not have been a dead man in any case even had he defeated Ceasar, but I was not impressed with how the climatic fight was written from Donar’s perspective; Donar could have-and easily should have-won the fight and killed Ceasar.

      • Donar was trained by Doctore. He was wounded, but was taught to finish the fight no matter what the wound. If he had killed Casaer, he still had to face death by the Romans. Better he take his own life with honor than to be killed savagely as the others. I believe Casaer will battle Gannicus again, but he will cheat. Gannicus will be cruixfied with Casaer hammering the nails to shame Gannicus as fighter. Sidebar Question? One of the pirates in the blacksmith shed was an actor from the house of B in the earlier episodes Vengence or Gods of the Arena.

        • Well-argued points; not sure that I agree with them though. Killing yourself removes all alternatives. Had Donar killed Caesar as I initially suggested, the Romans may have spared him-doubtful but possible. As long as Donar drew breath, he kept hope alive and retained a chance to take advantage of other opportunities which may have arisen. I do not recall in the previous segments regarding the training of the gladiators where they were told to kill themselves. Also, I cannot fathom Gannicus losing to Caesar one-on-one in a sword fight-cheating or not-however as always we will see what the series writers have in store for us. Hopefully, it will be an improvement over the Donar/Caesar contest.

  7. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I just want to reach through my t.v. and punch Tiberius right in the neck!!!!

  8. It’s obvious that the writers are setting up Gannicus as the hero in the finale or at least the symbol of hope when Crixus and Spartacus meet their end IF they follow history. So maybe when Crixus and Spartacus stand together as brothers in their final battle but are captured/defeated, the viewers still can hold hope that Gannicus will continue the rebel surge. Who knows? Starz might be looking at a spin-off with Gannicus again.

    • by the looks of the promo, Crixus is going apeshh again, so i think that he will be the first to die, then Agron and, at the end, Gannicus and Spartacus.

      • In history between Spartacus and Crixus, Crixus is the first one to die.

  9. Crassus summed this season up best: We both think ourselves the heroe and the other the villain. Only history will truly decide.

    That’s how I have felt this entire episode. I had a strong dislike for the previous villains especially Glaber but this season I can honestly say I neither like nor dislike Crassus and Caesar. This year’s antagonist is far better than the previous two.

    • You never liked Batiatis, don’t know how to spell it correctly, as a villain. I thought he was great and was kind of sad he got killed off after the first season. Glad he was in the prequel to sands though.

      • Kyle, I loved him in Gods of the Arena and I liked him in Blood and Sand and thought he was well written and had more sympathy for him because of the events in GOTA but Crassus is just on a whole other level than Batiatis and Glabber were.

    • I believe that history has already made its’ resounding decision that Spartacus is indeed the hero in that he stands as a symbol of freedom in its eternal duel with the proponents of tyranny as represented by Crassus and the Romans. As to Crassus himself, he stands a far more challenging adversary to Spartacus and his followers than did Glaber; my intense dislike for him-and for Caesar-stems for that fact. Glaber was in many respects to me, almost a comic book type adversary for Spartacus. The soap opera surrounding him and his wife throughout the entire Vengeance saga only accented the essential ineffective nature of the challenge which Glaber represented. Frankly, I had with difficulty trouble not feeling sorry for Glaber at his end; Nothing of the Crassus character stimulates anything remotely approaching sympathy.

      • George,

        I’m sort of at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, Spartacus does stand for freedom on so many moralistic levels that he is indeed a hero; however, what Crassus and Caesar are doing in their own right is heroic as well. They are fighting for a republic they believe in and a system they were raised to believe was right. I’m not saying they were right because I think they were wrong but from a Roman pov they are very heroic.

  10. If they show Gannicus die I might shed a real tear

  11. Not commenting on the episode nor on the article (episode 5 airs here tomorrow so I’m avoiding spoilers) but I had this thought since he first appeared.

    The guy playing Caesar looks so much like Green Arrow that if the character is featured in a movie, that guy should play him.

  12. This is a far better and tighter season than the last. One poster denoted the historical accuracy of the series. As a period piece the Romans were quite a brutal lot incorporating the blood-lust from their forebears, the Etruscans, who actually were the ones that developed gladiatorial combat. However, in general as studies have shown, the Romans were just plain mean spirited as a people.

    In terms of accuracy as far as the Spartacus legend is concerned, the general events that transpire are in relative terms to actual history as well as the personality of Spartacus, who to this day is considered one of the great battlefield commanders of antiquity. However, the people that surround Spartacus are filled with idiosyncratic differences from the history that has been uncovered. For example, Crixus, in Barry Strauss’ history on the matter, was a Celt not a Gaul and that is important as the two types of warriors fought differently on their own; the Celts defeated the Romans in England while the Guals, who were less organized were defeated themselves finally by Caesar.

    Spartacus did not lose his wife as the series contends but she in fact traveled with him on his escape and subsequent engagements with the Romans.

    The most powerful men Spartacus had at his disposal were actually not the gladiators as the series contends but instead the farmer\slaves who were absolutely huge and powerful men from all of the physical labor they were forced to engage in.

    However, to be fair it should be noted that the defeat of the Romans so consistently by Spartacus and his men as the series demonstrates is very accurate since Romans could not fight nearly as well as their more mobile adversaries when not able to maintain formations. This was noted in the histories of the Romans in Numidia and also is the reason why the Gauls were difficult to defeat. As I mentioned earlier, the Celts were trained to be highly mobile and like the later German Hordes were impossible for the Roman Army to summarily defeat.

    As to the ending, I am hoping that it will offer the speculation of Spartacus’ survival since whatever histories we do have of this warrior, they seem to agree that though his helmet was found his body never was…

    • Excellent summary. Most of the historical accounts have speculated that Spartacus have fallen in the Third Servile War but also mention that his body was never found. Also to note that not much is known about whether Gannicus was among those captured. Some have speculated that he was one of the “generals” that escaped capture. The great thing about this series is that, yes, it’s a historical portrayal but the historical account of the Servile War is mostly given from the roman aspect and doesn’t really give insight as to who was actually captured/killed. This series can go in soo many directions but I think they will stick to the assumption that they all fall

  13. I’m not sure what to do with my life after the series is over. :/ So many tears, screams, and happy shoutting have been caused by this show and i’m sure after it’s gone, I’ll be filled with a void. For me this episode -episode 6- was judge a bridge-filler. It’s use of sacrifices actually made me look away (that quartering scene was so hard to watch), so I’ll give tham that. Also, I knew Gannicus wasn’t going to die in Sinuessa and yet, the actor and the writers did an amazing job with making me feel like he could. :] The hatred I feel for Tiberius is (ironically) TOO DAMN LOW. :/ I wish this piece of crap wasn’t responsible for Caesar’s murder.

  14. I’m amazed by Manu Bennett…. He’s pulling double duty playing Crixus here on Spartacus and Slade Wilson(Deathstroke) on that Arrow show on CW…. wow…

    • Also, is he still on Sons of Anarchy as a motorcycle gang member?

  15. One flaw that bothered me was when the Romans came crashing through the gate and Cesar had his back to them and they all just acted like they knew he was a Roman on their side instead of another slave. Unless he was identified as being with the Romans there’s no way they’d not only leave him alone, but follow his lead to boot.

    • Remember that Caesar at first was present at the docks to greet the arriving Romans on the pirate ship. Then he disengaged from that conflict to lead a squad of Romans to open the main gate. He was clearly operating under some pre-arranged plan-even if the writers in the dialog did not make that point clear. Presumably, the Romans crashing through the main gate seeing that the gate had been set afire from the inside to assist them to gain entrance realized that Caesar was likely present that he had set the fire, and they were already aware that he would likely be there, and to look for him.

  16. Seeing the setup at the conclusion of Episode #6, where Spartacus and his men are seemingly trapped on that frozen ridge, seemingly waiting for Crassus to arrive to finish them off, I do perceive a scenario where the ridge can yet become a trap for the Romans if/when they arrive. Wonder if Spartacus and the series writers see it as well, and if so, will they use it as a possible alternative ending to the saga? Hmmm; in any event, it is there (I think?).

  17. Can someone clear up for me what Gannicus and Spartacus were talking about at the end of this episode? They were looking in the distance and talked about how this could happen? I couldn’t put it together. thanks