Spartacus now commands an army—there’s no doubt of that in the final season of Starz’s monster hit, Spartacus: War of the Damned.
I’ve seen the first two episodes of the season and can report that the season premiere, “Enemies of Rome,” opens with a massive body and lots of dead bodies—and more blood than I think I’ve ever seen the show spill. Afterwards, we see the massive tents that house Spartacus’ army, but not everything is good within the ranks.
Spartacus meets someone who is selling horse organs for food. Who even dumps the leftovers of that on the ground for kids to fight over. As Spartacus talks with the man (Theotamus) – who has no idea who he is – he learns that fighting a war isn’t the only hard part. Keeping his army happy and healthy is just as important as keeping them free.
Spartacus quickly realizes like Ned Stark that “winter will soon be upon us” and that a “only a city can hold us now.” Capturing that city is what the second episode, “Wolves at the Gate” is all about.
Throughout that battle and Spartacus’ continued determination to destroy any Roman elders or Senate leaders that remain in his way, Spartacus tries to maintain some sense of honor and morality.
When Theotamus freaks out that he spoke ill of his leader without realizing who he is, Spartacus, however says, “While I draw breath, you have freedom to speak your heart.”
He even nearly risks his life to stop the stoning of a man, but Crixus convinces him it will give away their position in the city they wish to capture. Instead, Spartacus finds another way to end the man’s suffering.
Spartacus not only needs to deal with the difficulties that come with raising an army, but he’ll also have two new foes this season. Marcus Crassus possesses wealth absent name and Caesar possesses name absent wealth, as Caesar tells Marcus. (Yes, THAT Caesar. But this one is much, much younger than the one you know of.) Together, they will raise and command an army to take down Spartacus.
Marcus may be Spartacus’ most difficult enemy yet as he is the first one to admit he knows how hard the battle will be. “A man’s true enemy is doubt,” Marcus says in the first episode, “A thing I would not carry into battle against Spartacus.”
The first two episodes set up the final season epically and fantastically. There is plenty of time spent on the other characters you care about; it’s especially interesting to see what sex and love is to Sax and Gannicus versus Agron and Nasir. Even Gannicus and Spartacus, once enemies, have a heart to heart discussion.
The son of Marcus, Tiberius, is so far the only weak spot in the new actors—but his storyline may prove to be important down the line, as does his mother Laeta’s.
For a fan, it was a shame to hear Spartacus: War of the Damned would be the final season. But it appears all involved want the show to end strong. Spartacus, as history teaches us, is damned. He doesn’t make it out of this alive—and it should be amazing to watch how it all unfolds.
Spartacus: War of the Damned premieres tomorrow night on Starz at 9 pm ET. I’ll be attending a red carpet premiere of the show here in New York tonight with all of the cast. Look for videos in the coming days.