I recently came across Spartacus, the television series which was inspired by the tales and historical accounts of Spartacus, a Thracian fighter and a later gladiator who had started a grand slave uprising against the Roman Republic. I have been looking forward to watching this one since a long time ago, but got the chance only later. The Third Servile War which occurred between 73 and 71 BC, depicted here has the take mostly from the viewpoint of the slaves and has more to do with ideals of Spartacus himself as expected.
I have managed to watch all the three episodes and also the prequel. Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned as well as the prepared prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena brings the story of the slave rebellion with interesting changes, and stylish presentation of another page from the history stained with blood and war. There is no shortage of moments which would make the parental guidance advisory list very long with its sex and violence, but Spartacus remains big entertainment.
The question about Spartacus aim being immediate freedom or ending slavery will forever be doubted, and so will the extended aims behind them. But this television series got us the legendary slave himself, giving life to the historical figure in an interesting way, beginning as the man who is sold to slavery and wishes to free himself and his wife from Rome as he rises in the gladiator ranks eclipsing the champion of the time, Crixus the undefeated Gaul by defeating the man they called “the shadow of death”. But with the death of his wife, and knowledge of treachery, he changes his path.
The first season is actually the best of them all, with interesting gladiator fights and an end which is very much satisfying with the death of the bad people of the time. It also has the one Roman who remains respected throughout the season until death, a feature which is absent otherwise. The battles as well as the opponents are very much catching our attention too. This has Spartacus moving away from the aim of being with his wife and focuses on freeing the other slaves from captivity.
Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless are the ones who continues the awesomeness of the first season into the second from the Roman side. Replacing Lesley-Ann Brandt with Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Naevia comes as the big mistake of the second season, with Andy Whitfield already being lost to cancer and Liam McIntyre replacing him as Spartacus. Even though that latter replacement does work later, the change of the lady playing Naevia works completely against the series.
Except for a few battle tactics and some talks about ideas, Spartacus: Vengeance remains the weakest of all seasons. The only hope remains Katrina Law as Mira and Nick E. Tarabay as Ashur along with Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless in a story which is less thick. The later efforts from Gannicus also bring some relief to this one, and the ending is fair. Even with two of the best Roman female characters dead, the excitement returns to Spartacus: War of the Damned as the ideals as well as the aim becomes clear here.
The last season is the deciding one, as Spartacus understands that justice will never exist in this world and decides to leave beyond the reach of Rome while Crixus decides to march on Rome with his people only to meet his end to the large army of highly trained Legionaries. Gannicus getting his spot is the biggest boon of this movie, and in the end, we know what happens. The prequel deals with how Gannicus had risen to the great hero and the God of the Arena. I would talk about these in detail later, and consider this post as what has come to my mind right after watching all the seasons.
***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of Spartacus television series.