Saturday, 27 April 2013

TV: Spartacus: War of the Damned (9/10)

Why did I watch it?
Because I am Spartacus.

What's it all about?
After disposing of Praetor Glaber at the end of Spartacus: Vengeance, Spartacus' rebellion marches on and takes control of the city of Sinuessa en Valle to house it's growing numbers. Meanwhile, the Roman Senate turns to the ruthless and powerful Marcus Crassus to lead his legions, including his son Tiberius and a young Julius Caesar, to defeat Spartacus.

Should you watch it?
Fans of this hugely entertaining show will love this epic final season, which closes the chapter on Spartacus' journey from Thrace to Batiatus' ludus to hero of the slave rebellion.

The final season sees Spartacus as de facto leader, supported by the gladiator heroes of the previous seasons, Crixus, Gannicus and Agron. The leaders routinely clash of the rebellion's direction and objectives, Crixus in particular driven by uncompromising vengeance on the republic, dreaming of smashing an army through the gates of Rome, while Spartacus has grown more responsible, dreaming of a free life for his followers if not for himself. Seeing the two spar reminds of seasons of old. Gannicus also mellows, and finally finds a cause to fight for other than the traditional spoils of victory, wine and women.

Are you not entertained?

Following the precedent of previous seasons, War of the Damned is loaded with copious amounts of blood, sex and scenery chewing speeches, perhaps even more than before. The montage at the beginning of the first episode beats 300 for blood spilt and sprayed across the screen. The scheming and trickery of Lucretia and Illythia from past seasons is replaced by that of Caesar and Tiberius, fighting for the lead role under Crassus. I originally disliked the casting of Caesar, but after time newcomer Todd Lasance won me over with his ambitious, scheming, hot headed take on the famous leader.

For a show that many dismissed as trashy and gratuitous, Spartacus is surprisingly accurate (for a TV show) with respect to its historical basis. Spartacus' rebellion was squashed by Crassus, he was betrayed by Sicilian pirates, the names of Oenamaus, Gannicus and Crixus were among the rebellion leaders and those captured were crucified along the Appian Way into Rome.

The final episodes build up to the inevitable ending, firstly dedicating suitable time to Crixus, before a fantastic finale worthy of the show's epic nature, culminating in some emotional final scenes. The closing credits returned many of the fallen character over the four seasons and as a touching gesture were book ended with both Liam McIntyre's and Andy Whitfield's Spartacus. Gratitude.

Overall, a fantastic show featuring a cast of largely unknown bunch of Aussies and New Zealanders that only got better and one that will be sorely missed. 

On to The Borgia's for my over the top historical fix.

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