Spartacus: War Of The Damned Episode 2 “Wolves At The Gate” Review
Spartacus: War Of The Damned “Wolves At The Gate” Review – Julius Caesar Enters The Fray!
Warning: This article discusses spoilers in Season 3, Episode 2, titled “Wolves At The Gate”.
With Spartacus’ end game in sight, Wolves At The Gate introduces the last of new core characters to the cast and sets up scenarios for the next several episodes.
As seen in Enemies of Rome the number of rebels have grown to the tens of thousands. Spartacus’ primary objective at hand is to strategically position his army and seek shelter before the dawn of winter. His chance encounter and leniency towards the horse butcher in the premiere episode, led to information on a highly fortified city on the Southern coast.
Though Spartacus considers the raid on the city as liberation, the surviving Roman inhabitants will certainly view it as an occupation. This scenario sets up some questions to be played out in upcoming episodes. As freed slaves become the new masters and former masters enchained, will the cycle of vengeance turn the rebels into the very thing they want to destroy? And what’s becomes of the man who leads a crusade of blood and vengeance?
A part of Spartacus’ journey this season is reconciling his ideals of liberty and equality with the loss of countless lives caught in the crossfire. Wolves At The Gate does not paint the rebel’s uprising as virtuous; rather it’s been stained with blood, the weight of which is not lost on their leader.
Spartacus’ initial instinct is to rescue a bound slave to be stoned to death but in doing so would jeopardize the plan to secure shelter for his army. Instead, it is an act of mercy that brings him to throw a large rock that splits open the slave’s skull, putting a quick end to the public execution. The thematic thread on Spartacus’ moral toll extends to the scene where he sees the bodies of an innocent young Roman girl and mother he met earlier in the day.
One of the city’s resident is a young noble Roman woman named Laeta (Anna Hutchison). Based on first impressions, Laeta is a kind-hearted woman of certain moral principles. Her function may be to act as sounding board for Spartacus and as a possible love interest.
There’s a flutter in Laeta’s eyes when she asks the dashing rebel leader if he has accommodations for the night. Spartacus killing Laeta’s husband, a man who believes that violence should only be used as a last resort, is not exactly the best start to a potential relationship, but as fans of the show know there will be many unexpected twists and turns this season.
The season premiere did a great job of introducing Marcus Crassus. His characterization is further fleshed out in Wolves At The Gates. Where Batiatus’ disposition was influenced by an overbearing father, Crassus places confidence in Tiberius by allowing his son to close a business deal and appointing him as his word and will to the chagrin of Julius Caesar.
The succinct words of advice in treating Tiberius as a man rather than a boy is expressed by house slave Kore (Jenna Lind). As hinted at in Enemies of Rome, Crassus has no love for his wife but has a soft spot for Kore. Crassus does not view slaves as beneath him which is a quality lacking in other Romans who underestimated Spartacus at their peril.
Perhaps this value is a lesson learned from being looked down upon by the Roman elite and having to create a name for himself. Crassus is primarily tolerated by the Senate because of the wealth he has accumulated. He is not a descendant from a renowned lineage which makes his alliance with Julius Caesar, whose familial name holds great prominence, ideal.
Julius Caesar, as portrayed by actor Todd Lasance, is an unshorn, athletic man in his late twenties. Caesar is unconventional by Roman standards; not to mention his strange fetish for bloodletting that Tiberius walked in on. There’s an untamed and unpredictable aspect to his personality that will prove to be more than a match for Spartacus.
One of the challenges in building up a worthy antagonist in War of The Damned is that Spartacus has never met Crassus or Caesar. Whereas it was intensely personal for Spartacus when he killed Glaber, the Roman that enslaved him in the very first episode of Blood and Sand.
On the other hand, the show can use the fog of war to build suspense in watching Spartacus attempt to outmaneuver an opponent whose capabilities are unknown to him. Also unbeknownst to Spartacus is that Crassus has already manipulated him into killing Cossinius and Furius last episode. Further, it will be interesting to see how Caesar will covertly use Spartacus’ knowledge of Roman tactics to his advantage.
Like the opening moves of chess, Wolves At The Gates put pieces into play and initiates a sequence of events that will hopefully pay off in the end. As much as the best matches involve a test of will and strategy, the ultimate end game is Victory which will undoubtedly come with great sacrifice.
Odds & Ends:
Nice moment when Gannicus stays with Atticus, the blacksmith, to spend time with his old friend, which was really a way to keep an eye on the slime ball from double crossing them.
The look on Crixus’ face as he heroically dived through the air and caught the flaming torch was fantastic!
The fight choreography was great as always. Nice to see them mix it up a bit with Spartacus’ flying leg throw (or whatever its called). Also, the big dude that tosses a Roman up in the air and then axes him. Awesome!
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Posted on February 3, 2013, in Spartacus War Of The Damned, Television and tagged Anna Hutchison, Dustin Clare, Julius Caesar, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett, Simon Merrells, Spartacus, Spartacus S3E2 Review, Spartacus Season 3 Episode 2 Review, Spartacus War of the Damned, Spartacus Wolves At The Gate Review, Starz, Todd Lasance. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.