When Spartacus and Crassus finally face off on a sandy summit above a swirling, immense battle, “Victory,” the finale of Spartacus, isn’t afraid to be emotionally manipulative. It’s hard not to be overcome with dismay as Crassus grasps Spartacus’s sword and swings it towards him (from “Enemies of Rome”), or stunned delight as Spartacus blocks the blow. Just as it seems each of the men are facing their final moments, the other’s allies arrive (conveniently last minute) to turn the tide.
Emotional manipulation isn’t bad when it works, and “Victory” revealed the heart that beats under Spartacus’s blood and boobs. Director Rick Jacobson did an exceptional job capturing the scale of a full-fledged battle on a low budget, full of strategic to-and-fro and an overarching sense that, just maybe, the battle won’t end as we know it must. There were truly moving moments as the sense of hope dissipated, as the slave army fell, one by one, to Crassus’ legions, as Gannicus was lifted onto his crucifix and as Spartacus closed his eyes for the final time. It ended with a necessary tribute to the original Spartacus Andy Whitfield.
“Victory” serves as a stirring end to an excellent, underrated series.