The final episode of Spartacus:  War of the Damned approaches.  Who will live?  Who will die?

We’ve already lost Crixus, and Naevia returns to the rebels’ camp with his head cradled in her arms.  With little life in her, she shares with Spartacus the final story of the undefeated Gaul.  Undefeated still, in Spartacus' eyes.  This season the war has been equal parts battle and strategy, and a ruse takes shape.  Caesar, of all people, helps them continue towards desired outcome.

They try to lure Crassus to  meet “Pompey,” but Tiberius goes in his stead, realizing belatedly that he has fallen into a trap. Spartacus grabs him by his scarlet cape and drags him off his horse.  Tiberius, much to my unbridled joy, turns and runs like a little boy.

Agron, to my surprise, still lives.  But we see him nailed to a cross at Crassus’ command.  It is unlikely this gladiator will ever again wield sword against enemy.

In honor of Crixus and the fallen, Spartacus declares that games are to be held.  Gladiators will once again take to the arena, but this time they will battle the captive Romans.  Spartacus goes first, and in a moment of spectacular gore, he jumps up and in mid-air stabs a Roman with two swords in the back of his head, gouging out both his eyes.

Kore visits Tiberius in captivity, and she pretends for a moment to care about his plight.  Then she informs him she will return to watch him die.  He’s beginning to accumulate Roman enemies quicker than Spartacus.  As I watched him squirm, I wondered what sort of death he may face in the arena.  Nothing quick would suffice.

While Tiberius sits shackled, forced to watch his men die gruesome, bloody deaths, the rebels revel in the carnage.  Naevia prepares to battle him one on one, and it’s amazing that she is able to stand somewhat calmly while she waits.  Some of her fire may have been doused by Crixus’ death, but her heart yearns for vengeance still.

The games conclude when Caesar arrives, offering an exchange of 500 prisoners for Tiberius.  He hints that Tiberius may not survive the perilous journey back to Crassus, however, and Tiberius has to wonder if he may not be better off in the gladiatorial arena than delivered into Caesar’s  hands.

Did he get what he deserved?  Some may say not nearly enough, and I would agree.

With the wounded prisoners returned to their families, the rebels light a funeral pyre for Crixus’ head.   While the flames consume what is left of him, the crowd chants the names of those who have fallen before, leading into a chant of Crixus!  Crixus!  It’s a powerful moment, and the names bring back memories of those lost in the first season.  What a long road we’ve traveled since then, seeing Spartacus go from free man to slave to gladiator.  Seeing his wife die in his arms. Destroying the ludus and gaining his freedom once again.

What will the final episode bring?  Victory?  That’s the title of the episode, so that’s a good thing, right? But at what cost?

The final episode of Spartacus airs this Friday on Starz.

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