Spartacus: War of the Damned finished the series with an episode so exciting and yet heart-wrenching it just might be in my top 5.
Spartacus is one of those oft overlooked shows, an underrated gem that is passed over by many viewers, either because they simply haven’t heard of it, or that they never got past the admittedly poor first few episodes. Developed by Starz Originals and created by Steven S. DeKnight (Buffy, Dollhouse), it’s quite surprising that Spartacus survived as a show during its first season, what with its heavily stylised graphic violence and sexual content.
Spartacus is a story I’d wager most of us know. Spartacus is a legendary figure of history, a man whose name is synonomous with the fight for freedom of the common man. Originally played by Andy Whitfield in the first season, he had to retire from the role after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, of which he sadly died of before season 2. Liam McIntyre took over the role for Spartacus: Vengeance and War of the Damned. In my opinion, Spartacus is a show which consistently improved every season. The writers are excellent storytellers and character creators, and the dialogue on the show (a curious mix of Shakespeare and brazen cursing) is a joy to listen to. You can tell that the actors were always giving 100%, and this really helped to create some intense and often emotional television. The choreography of the fight scenes on Spartacus was as good as, if not better than some films.
Even though we knew what was going to happen to Spartacus and his band of rebels in the end, the impact of their defeat was no less severe. Characters we have grown to love over the course of the show fall in battle to a superior Roman force led by the ruthless Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) and his right hand man Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance). Spartacus himself is given deserved end, as he beats Crassus one-on-one but is mortally wounded before he can finish. Like history the Romans never find his body, as he is whisked away from battle by friends where he dies a free man. I never expected to get such manly tears at the sight.