I watched the latest two episodes of Spartacus: War of the Damned and came to the conclusion that, after a half hearted following of the series since Gods of the Arena, I am in love with the show again. I’m invested in the characters again, spending all of Spoils of War worried about the fate of Gannicus and Agron and worried about Crixus‘ dissension and Naevia’s violence and worried that Nasir and Agron won’t kiss and make up.
I was even worried about Spartacus himself, even though I know he can’t die just yet.
It’s not like the story and characters have been failing until now. My problem has been that I just haven’t been able to let go of Andy Whitfield. I watched Vengeance with half a heart because I didn’t feel Liam McIntyre could fill such big shoes. Truth is, I wasn’t giving him a chance to do so. Apologies, Liam. I am over this problem now and back to appreciating the manflesh and caring about the fate of the slave revolt, which means I spent the last few episodes worried about who was going to die.
Not many shows offer that kind of tension anymore. There’s no fear that the star player might die, or if someone is going to die, it is ridiculously obvious who it will be. Spartacus’ deaths aren’t always as shocking as these moments, but the important thing is that I care enough about these characters and, since this is a war and all, there’s a good chance someone important will die. Probably in slow motion and with a lot of spurting blood.
I’m back to enjoying the twists and turns and betrayals, some of them more obvious than others (Come on, Spartacus! They were mercenaries! What did you think would happen??). I miss the machinations of Illithya and Lucretia, but their time had come. I love the change in the women who have become prominent characters. Where Ilithyia and Lucretia were the scheming and deadly noblewomen, we now have the slave women – some turned warriors themselves and standing equal to the men in battle.
I love that nothing is wasted. No storyline is dragged out unnecessarily. Relationships are developed. Plots are hatched and come to maturation or failure. Characters introduced serve a purpose and are not forgotten.
And I love that, in a few more episodes, there will be an end.