Spartacus, Starz, War of the Damned, Roman Gladiators

The Spartacus: War of the Damned Finale: Nearly Perfect

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I was not hooked on Spartacus: Blood and Sand by the first episode. Nor the second. But sometime between the third and sixth episode of that first season, I was drawn in. And the show never stopped surprising me as I fell in love with characters I knew would die, as the plot twisted and turned, and as the ancient saga of the rebellion by the former gladiator, Spartacus, drew to it’s inevitable conclusion.

At some point, I will have to sit back and digest the entirety of the series but right now, I’m still blown away the the finale, which aired Friday night on the Starz network. It was not the ending I completely wanted but it was definitely the ending I and other viewers needed.

These were the highlights for me:

1. The Spartacus-Crassus confrontation.

From their one-on-one parley halfway into the episode to their epic battle near the end, these two were perfect enemies. Crassus was the perfect, upright Roman, intelligent, conniving and yet deeply protective of the Republic. Spartacus was empathic, emotional, and completely dedicated to tearing down the system his enemy protected.
Crassus’ saw Spartacus’ worth. But Spartacus knew his enemy didn’t truly understand why he was fighting.

It was perfect that Spartacus won their final battle, even wounded, only to be struck from behind. But also perfect that Crassus’ was defeated and down at the end of their duel.

2. Spartacus’ death.

“That is not my name.” I never expected Spartacus to survive the finale but, as I was watching him take his last breaths, I wanted him to live anyway. But dying knowing he was free, knowing others he promised to help made it to safety, and with the memory of his beloved wife in his uppermost thoughts, was heart-wrenching, sad, and fitting.

3. The death of Kore and Crassus’ Damnation.

I hated this. But it made perfect sense.

Crassus was ready earlier this season to sentence his son to a horrible death to prove a point about discipline. When Crassus forgave his beloved slave for killing his son, I felt for him, as if he was someone trapped in a bad situation doing the best he could. He clearly loved Kore and she loved him back. He probably believes he did the only possible thing by crucifying Kore for even temporarily joining the rebellion. And it drove home the point that no matter how beloved a slave, there is no safety without power.

In many ways, Crassus is like a lead from one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, with so many virtues but none that could overcome his faults.

He’s far more trapped than Spartacus. He’d damned and he knows it. It may explain why he does not care that Pompey receives the credit at the end for Spartacus’ defeat.

4. The Survivors

Agron and Nasir were the only couple to make it out of the episode alive and free, probably causing a happy dance Nagron shippers all over the globe, myself among them. But also surviving was Laeta, the Roman woman who grew to love Spartacus, Sybil, Gannicus’ lady love, and the mother and baby born on screen only a few episodes past. It was a hopeful sign for their future. And, hey, who had Laeta on the “live” list when this season began? Certainly not me.

5. Aw, No, Not Gannicus!

I hoped beyond hope for a happy ending for the gladiator who claimed no cause was his own, especially since he finally became a leader. It was not to be and his being crucified was as tough a moment as there has been on the show. I know someone had to lose. At least we could see he found peace in his final moments. But, still, I wanted him to live or at least die on the field of battle.

6. The Final Moments for The Warriors

Saxa, Naevia, Lugo…they all went down fighting and took many enemies with them. Saxa even made a joke to Gannicus as she died in his arms.  I had hoped Naevia would survive but she seemed at peace, hoping perhaps to join Crixus in the next left.

7. Spartacus Pulled out His Bag of Tricks

I love that this show, even in a finale where certain things had to happen, could still surprise me, like Spartacus’ hidden ditch filled with spikes or Gannicus and his warriors coming in like the cavalry.

8. The farewell to the late Andy Whitfield.

Placing Whitfield’s “I am Spartacus,” from the first season at the very end of the closing credits was the a lovely tribute to the man who originated the role.

The end credits were also a nice gesture to all the great cast members from all the seasons of the show.

Overall, I only have one word to the show’s creators for the four seasons of entertainment.


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7 thoughts on “The Spartacus: War of the Damned Finale: Nearly Perfect

  1. Lovely post, we just got the finale here in the UK and while inevitably it was heart breaking to watch those who died…die, it felt like…well one big “this is for you Andy” moment didn’t it?

  2. Love this article, I have just watched Spartacus on Netflix from the beginning of the first season to the end of the fourth season. I couldn’t stop watching it, every possible opportunity I turned it on and when I couldn’t watch it I was thinking about it. I knew that Spartacus would die and the Romans would win but seeing how the show got to that end point was gripping. I have never been so emotionally invested in any TV series, and I have seen some good ones. I had to mute the tv as I couldn’t bear to hear Gannicus being crucified. Thanks for writing this and putting into words some of my thoughts

  3. Spartacus may be one of the most under-rated shows of all time. It is brilliant. I just had comic creators Fiona Staples (Saga) and Corinne Bechko (Dark Horse Star Wars) tell me how much they loved the show and how it’s their favorite, even over Mad Men.

  4. Brilliant Show,watched it quite a few times.I can’t stand Game of thrones,watched it in the beginning,once Sean Bean went out of the first series that was it for me,in a word CRAP,it must be another US show because again too violent, I know so is Spartacus,but all of the Actors can act. cheers

  5. Thank you for writing this article I couldn’t agree more with it. I may be a little late to the party but just finished the finale and have also just finished crying like a little girl too. So bitter sweet it hurts. A truly wonderful show x

  6. I stopped watching Spartacus with Gods of the Arena a few years back. I just couldn’t stand the story of Gannicus. Later on I found out about Andy’s passing and saw the documentary his wife made within his last months of life. My heart still aches today, but I find some comfort every time I see a butterfly.
    A couple of years later I started watching Spartacus again from the beginning and it felt so cringy seeing him being intimate with Sura. I brought myself into watching the prequel with Gannicus and I ended up disliking him even more for what happened with Oenomaus and Melitta AND getting away with walking a free man. I dreaded the following season knowing Andy won’t portray Spartacus. Seeing the actor playing Andy’s role made me stop watching once again. Here we are today, years later, watching the last episode of the Spartacus saga, crying my eyes out and sobbing uncontrollably for Gannicus. I never imagined I could get to love his character so much in the end. I never held Crixus dear either, yet my heart broke seeing him getting decapitated through Naevia’s eyes. On the other hand, I felt totally disconnected from Spartacus because of Liam throughout the remainder of the series. His voice, his intonation, his manner but pale shadows of what Andy brought to the character. My heart was void of emotion when Spartacus died, to be brutally honest. Regardless of actors however, the characters’ stories will remain legendary, true gods of the arena.

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