This is how you end a series. Season 3 of Spartacus brought the show back in a big way after the meandering of season 2. After 2 episodes, I was hooked, thanks in large part to the interesting villains. Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest man in Rome; the senate tasks him with ending the slave rebellion To aid him in this task he enlists a young Julius Caesar. This part is historic fabrication as there is no records of his involvement in the conflict against Spartacus. However, the show smartly had a subtle answer for this. Crassus’ eldest son, Tiberius, is enlisted as his 2nd in command. Again, no record of Crassus ever having a son either. These three characters alone added a much needed flair to the show.
Spartacus’ war continued to take it’s toll on the rebels as they came to learn about the massive amount of supplies needed to feed an army. They decide to infiltrate and capture the city of Sinuessa. In doing so, much interesting groundwork is laid for conflicts between the rebels later in the season. Some feel that all the Romans of the city should be killed, while Spartacus orders that the women the children are to be spared. Still, Spartacus himself kills many Romans who surrendered. Even though he’s our hero, he’s done many horrible, but necessary things. To me, this showed the meaning of the subtitle, War of the Damned.
Tiberius, against his fathers orders, attacked Spartacus to prove he was better than Caesar, a competition that continued through the season. Tiberius is wounded but saved by his best friend. They retreat. For disobeying orders, Crassus brings back the arcane punishment of decimation, reduction by a tenth. The 50 soldiers draw lots, 40 must kill the other 10. Tiberius kills his friend. This breaks the child and causes him to do deplorable things. First he rapes his father’s concubine, as she was the one who suggested his father treat him like any other soldier. Much later, when Caesar learns of how he hurt her, he threatens to tell Crassus. Tiberius has two soldiers hold Caesar down while he sodomizes him. The boy had become a horrible creature. Tiberius was eventually stabbed by the woman he raped. The funeral mask made of the boy was smashed by his father in anger when he learned of the rape, explaining why the boy was missing from the history pages.
To open the gates of the city, Caesar infiltrates Sinuessa as a slave. Sowing seeds of deceit, he bided his time until the moment came to open the gates. Spartacus usually doesn’t end with a scene for the next episode to pick up on directly, but here they did it perfectly. Caesar fought off a few slaves while dowsing the gate in pitch and igniting it. Three slaves stood before him as the gate began to weaken and crack from Romans on the other side braking apart the portcullis. Caesar smiled at them and said “Run” before the credits rolled. Definitely a cool scene. Since Caesar was on an infiltration mission, this would explain why he wasn’t mentioned as part of the Spartacus conflict. At least that’s my theory.
There were many great moments that played out during the season, but the final battle stood out above them all. Finally, Spartacus, Crassus, and their respective armies faced each other on the battle field. Spartacus’ rebels were buying time for the none combative slaves to escape through the mountains. The small army went into battle knowing they were going to die. The battle was filmed during the day, allowing the special effects to really shine. This wasn’t a good battle scene for TV, this was a good battle scene period. Spartacus finally fought Crassus. Proving he was the better man, Spartacus handily beat the man. Just as he was delivering the coup de grace, a spear exploded through his chest, then shoulder and leg. The man was nearly unbeatable in single combat, it was sad to see him fall by being stabbed in the back. Thankfully two of his lieutenants raced up to save him. They fled the battlefield to join the small group fleeing through the mountains.
As he laid dying, visions of his wife played in his head. His people spoke to him, he reminded them Spartacus was not his name, only the name of the legend given to him, and how he looked forward to hearing his real name pass his wife’s lips. He died happy, knowing he saved at least some of his people. The credits rolled, showing all the characters through the entire series, finally ending on a scene of Andy Whitfield in the arena. The show couldn’t have ended any other way. I won’t lie, I was a little choked up.
As much as I hate when good stories end, I’d always much rather they choose to exit early before over staying their welcome. Spartacus was the perfect length. I look forward to watching the series again.