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Spartacus: War of the Damned – Separate Paths Review – Mindnumbingly Boring

Sometimes in a series, there will be an episode that compels you, sucking you into the show’s universe and surprising you an hour later when suddenly it’s finished. And other times, an episode will be so catastrophically boring that you’ll forget what year it is and find yourself looking at free stuff on Craigslist instead of paying attention. ‘Separate Paths,’ unfortunately, is the latter. I can safely say that this is one of the most boring and pointless television episodes I’ve ever seen.

It’s really difficult to even write a review for this, because I can barely remember anything happening. Probably because, in fact, practically nothing happened. And what did happen was embarrassingly cheesy. So I suppose I can focus on that. Here’s what I remember of the most recent hour of my life:

19:13 - Crixus makes an “inspirational” speech to Spartacus about how he has to defeat the Romans and how Spartacus taught his people to never be satisfied in servitude, or something along those lines. His monologue is enhanced by an obvious uplifting musical score that seems to have been borrowed from a 1980’s “Braveheart” knock-off. Rather than listen to what Crixus has to say, I’m entranced by this music. Why is it there? Who decided this was a good idea? Did their usual sound designer contract meningitis and they had to replace him at the last minute with the intern? This is like, B-movie level music. What’s funny is that the speech actually seemed okay, but something as small as a soundtrack destroys it. Unable to stand it, I begin to peruse Facebook.

24:45 - Gannicus is apparently now officially with Sybil. You know from the last episode's review how I feel about her, so this news is even more eye-rolling. I could have forgiven the writers for Gannicus and Sibyl’s lusty romp in the snow. But making them a couple is just too much to handle. It just makes no sense. Sibyl is probably the weakest character of the entire season, both physically and personality-wise. And Gannicus has always had so much complexity as a character that putting them together is, simply-put, illogical. Their sappy dialogue and sweet kisses make me immediately hate Gannicus, and before this he was my favorite. Not to mention Saxa just lets it all happen, completely aware of the situation. Only a few episodes she was threatening Sibyl for even looking at Gannicus, and now she couldn't care less that they’re the new high school “it-couple.” I keep holding out, waiting for the moment when Saxa goes badass and declares a battle over Gannicus or something. It never happens. She just shrugs and goes back to making out with a nameless lady. It feels like it’s been an entire episode already at this point. I check the progress bar and sigh.

39:52 – In order to assert dominance over the threatening Caesar, Tiberius rapes him. I’m embarrassed for the writers. Clearly they are unable to come up with anything else for Tiberius to do, since anytime he feels threatened he has whip out his junk. This moment is meant to be intense, showing Tiberius is an evil lunatic. Instead all I can think about is how the writers’ meeting for this episode went. “Well, okay, what can Tiberius do when Caesar threatens to expose him?” “Well he could just unzip his pants again.” “Yeah, no one will notice we already used that.” He could have done anything at that point, yet the writers choose this. It’s so idiotic I can’t even think straight. I turn to Twitter to vet my frustrations.

41:00 – A blur of the same bad CGI from “Blood and Sand” parades in front of my eyes. I thought they got rid of those green-screen flames in Season 2. Why are they back? No one liked them to begin with. Crixus then makes a speech that lasts until 43:30. On a battlefield, where things should be exciting. The writers try to spice things up by adding flaming corpse-balls to the mix, but the “weapons” just sort of roll to the bottom of the hill and sit there. I’m now embarrassed for the special effects guys, too.

Bad Green Screen
48:30 – In the last four minutes of the episode, things finally happen. Lugo and Agron are slain. Crixus is beaten and beheaded by Tiberius. I get excited at how things are finally looking up, and the episode ends. I’ve wasted nearly an hour waiting for this.

I’ve never been so disappointed by an episode before. Sure, the last ten minutes or so are awesome, but everything leading up to it was so incredibly awful I actually felt ashamed to be watching it. Is it a coincidence that the writer of ‘Separate Paths’ also wrote ‘Men of Honor,’ another atrocious episode?



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