Pull on your waders because Spartacus and his hairy men are back, and they're waist-deep in blood and guts in their fight for freedom against Roman oppression.
On Friday's Spartacus: War of the Damned premiere, we meet up with the rebels many months after they defeated Glaber. Their ranks have swelled by the thousands, which is making the Roman Senate shake in their sandals. Enter Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells), the wealthiest man in Rome, who will fund and lead an additional 10,000 soldiers to take down Spartacus (Liam McIntyre).
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But how much have the rebels changed since we saw them? And is Crassus the man who will finally give Spartacus a run for his dinarii? Check out our burning questions from the Spartacus premiere below: [Warning: The following contains information from the episode that could cause spoilage like a horse carcass left in a tent. Proceed at your own risk. Gratitude.]
Have the rebels' non-warriors learned to fight? When last we saw house slave Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), she had to hack away at a man's neck as if she were making her way through a rainforest with a blunt machete. In the premiere, however, she's in the thick of the battle and easily beheads a foe with one powerful slash. Nasir (Pana Hema-Taylor) isn't quite so adept and fierce, but he's definitely showing well during practice. But not all of the thousands of newly joined ex-slaves want to learn to fight, so Spartacus is also dealing with untrained civilians and children in his camp.
What was with that horse carcass scene? Neigh! Apparently, Spartacus is a great military tactician, but he doesn't know how to run and manage a community. While he's overseen the training of his men, he's forgotten to provide enough food and shelter to all of the escaped slaves that have followed him in his cause. Hence, one fellow decides to portion out horse flesh from his tent. And yes, ancient Romans did eat horse, but usually only if you were wealthy. Horses were quite the commodity (not to mention useful in battle), which is why Spartacus was initially peeved at the guy for slaughtering one.
Where's the love? It's heartening to see that the Crixus-Naevia and Agron-Nasir romances are going strong. And even though Gannicus' (Dustin Clare) heart will always belong to the deceased Melitta, we're glad that he's found some sort of understanding with Saxa (Ellen Hollman). Her offering of two other ladies to join in their romps definitely shows that they're kindred spirits when it comes to matters of the flesh.
Why is Gannicus ignoring his duties as a general? The former Champion of Capua may fight side-by-side with the rebels, but he's still conflicted about their endgame. When will it be enough? Gannicus is probably the most well-traveled among the rebels, and his penchant for drowning in debauchery smacks of a jaded world-weariness that will never be satisfied.
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Is Marcus Crassus a match for Spartacus? Crassus is smart enough not to underestimate Spartacus and even goes so far as the learn fighting technique from a gladiator-slave. He also proves to be rather brilliant tactician when he orchestrates events so that Spartacus takes out two of Crassus' chief rivals. We have a feeling that even though Spartacus could win mano a mano, we've only just begun to see the extent of Crassus' ambition and wiliness.
Will Crassus' house slave Kore side with Spartacus or her master? On the one hand, it's clear that Kore (Jenna Lind) enjoys a very cushy life with Crassus, and the two appear to share respect and love for one other. On the other hand, she is still a slave, no different from the ones whom Crassus is trying to take down, in that she essentially a piece of property, not a free citizen. This impending battle with Spartacus will force Kore to face the fact that some slaves aren't as lucky as she.
How will Spartacus take care of his followers? As the Starks of Winterfell are wont to say on Game of Thrones, "Winter is coming." With the horse butcher's criticism still fresh on his mind, Spartacus knows that providing for his followers will be made more difficult when the weather turns colder. "Only a city can hold us now," he tells his generals. Romans, you better hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife, because the Sparty party is coming to town.
Spartacus' double-decapitation of the two Roman Senate members not only featured gallons of gushing blood, but also the cross-section showing off the severed spine and tissue.
Rebels/Romans Say the Damnedest Things:
Naevia: "Kill many Romans and return to my arms with their blood hardened upon you."
Crixus: "I am encircled by mad f---s. I begin to count myself as one."
Marcus Crassus: "Their a--es must be sore from the ramming Spartacus has given to come begging to me."
Do you think Spartacus has a worthy foe this time? Are you glad to see your favorite rebels return?
Spartacus: War of the Damned airs Fridays at 9/8c on Starz.