I imagine, for some people, that “The Dead and the Dying,” the penultimate episode ever of Spartacus, will stand as an engrossing, exciting episode of television. It features Spartacus, upon hearing word of Crixus becoming the defeated Gaul, turning the tables on Crassus with some clever deception, then staging a battle in the arena to slaughter the Romans he captures (including, significantly, Tiberius). It’s a highlight reel, reminding viewers of the gladiatorial battles that were such a key part of the earlier seasons.
I wasn’t impressed. It was like Gannicus said – these were a pale reflection of earlier glory. Earlier duels almost always had some sort of stakes, whereas it was hardly difficult to predict the outcome of these battles between nameless Romans and heroic gladiators. I wish there’d been something more substantial here.
It wasn’t entirely unsatisfying. It’s hard not to despise Tiberius, so seeing him meet his end at the hands of Kore was rewarding. And the final funeral pyre, as Spartacus’s army chanted the names of the fallen, was certainly moving, particularly if you choose to forget the uglier side of the slave army seen this season. Regardless, I am looking forward to next week’s series finale.