I wasn’t totally sold on the new guy who took on the role of Spartacus, honestly speaking, when the new season first premiered early this year. I felt that the late Andy Whitfield was the perfect person to play Spartacus and until now, my feelings have not changed.
However, as I started to watch the succeeding episodes in earnest, I find that my feelings for the show have also not changed, as despite elements that were not the same (the actress playing Naevia has also been replaced), the core of the story remains strong. Bloodshed, betrayals and the constant struggle to break free from the chains of slavery.
As the pursuit against Spartacus’s group heats up in the heart of the city, Spartacus and Crixus decide to focus on their journey to save his lady Naevia, who has been passed along from dominus to dominus in an effort to lose her trail. This causes dissatisfaction among the ranks and factions are formed when not all of the members of the group are in favor of their quest. Lies begin to taint the brotherhood formed by the gladiators’ vow to liberate the slaves of Rome from oppression and questions of their success arise when the group parts ways. Meanwhile, Oenomaus struggles with his own demons, leading him to a vulnerable state while Claudius Glaber finds himself pressured not only by his duty to capture the symbol of the rebellion but also by his wife Ilythia and father in law’s schemes to conspire with the powerful statesman Varinius. Adding to the web of conspiracies is the re-emergence of Ashur, and the reappearance of Lucretia, now a self declared prophetess, whose motives in seeking Ilythia’s favor is still left unclear.
Bloodbath and betrayal are on the menu of the opening chapters of the show’s second season (technically its third), and viewers once again become invested in the characters of the show, both old and new. The violence escalates to a whole new high as those who hold the power continue to toy with the minds and hearts of the people of Rome, even as they plot amongst and against themselves. As old villains fall, new ones are eager to step up the plate and assume position, courting the viewers loathing and disgust with each villainous act. As the show moves along, audiences will also find themselves getting used to the new Spartacus, although my only complaint would be that he looks too pretty to be doing the type of things he does in this series. Ganacus also returns to join the ranks of the fugitives to earn the forgiveness of Animaeus, his best friend whom he once considered brother. With each episode, more questions are revealed, making the show more exciting than it already is. At the heart of that is the clear direction that the series is taking into building a solid story that viewers can totally get into.
I might have been wrong to judge the show too soon after Andy Whitfield’s departure from the series. I find myself now as hooked to the show as I was in the beginning. The last eight minutes of the Episode 5 alone (Libertus) was enough to get me off my feet and start biting my nails, as the suspense was so intense that it felt like a season finale.
It is a torture to have to wait for the following week to find out what happens next in this emotionally charged action series and the amount of surprises, especially with the characters’ true intentions and capabilities are part of the big question. It was a good call for the producers to continue the show and tell its story. If they went the other way, then it may have deprived viewers of excellent entertainment and good television.