Well thank the Heavens for Agron because until his timely arrival to save Spartacus I was THIS close to giving “Victory” the series finale for Spartacus, my lowest grade of the season, and perhaps the lowest grade in the series’ entire run. Ok so maybe expectations were unfairly high but throughout its previous three seasons, one thing that the series has always delivered with flying colors has been season-ending finales. That was damn near flushed down the toilet by the events in the final minutes but more on that in a moment.
As I’ve noted in past reviews part of the challenge of wrapping the series up is that we know that everyone, or most everyone has to die, so the writers, you’d think, would need to do pull out all the stops. Sadly they didn’t. “Victory” lacked that momentous feel of season one’s “Kill Them All” and Season Three’s “Wrath of the Gods”. The entire episode had a maudlin approach that seemed in direct contrast to everything we’ve seen up to this point. It was like watching the condemned slowly walk to the hangman’s gallows. By the time Spartacus fired up his ‘Braveheart’ William Wallace speech to inspire the troops it was anti-climactic.
And speaking of Braveheart, I mean what the hell? It seemed like the entire final battle against Crassus’s legions was blatantly lifted from Braveheart. From Spartacus’s speech about freedom, to imploring his troops to “hold” repeatedly as the Romans rushed towards them it was like a reply with different costumes. Crassus’s charge towards Spartacus on the battlefield was much the same as the English commander’s charge towards William Wallace. Heck, even Gannicus leading a force of cavalry in a surprise attack on the Roman’s rear flank was lifted entirely from Mel Gibson’s film. I have expected Mel to get a producer’s credit at the end.
The best scene in the episode was the fictionalized meeting between Spartacus and Crassus before the final battle. While undoubtedly this meeting never happened in real life, it’s one you can give them a pass on for dramatic purposes. Like two titans the foes acknowledge their grudging respect for each other. The head-to-head battle between the two commanders is also a work of fiction but again, understandable that the writers went in this direction.
Yet as Crassus was poised to end Spartacus’s life the only thought I had was that if Crassus kills him I’m leading a march on the Starz studios with torches and pitchforks. Hence, Agron’s timely arrival to help the gravely injured Spartacus from the battlefield. This at least can fit with the historical fact that while presumed dead, Spartacus’s body was never found…at least not by the Romans.
The other standout scene, although short, was finally seeing Pompey on screen. In keeping with history Pompey gets the lion’s share of the credit for defeating Spartacus even though his role was largely mop-up duty. Still it was fun to see someone of high enough stature to put Crassus in his place and force him to acquiesce.
While “Victory” failed to live up to the high standards of previous season’s finales, it didn’t detract from what has been a fantastic show. While it didn’t get the hype of “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones”, pound for pound it may have very well have been the best of the three shows. And hopefully you stayed around for the credits to see all of the actors who have been in the series including the late Andy Whitfield. That was a nice tribute.