Spartacus: Gods of the Arena

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7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Pushes everything to the extreme

Hit and miss, feels kind of trash

 

spartacus-gods-of-the-arena-title-card-review-episode-guide-listWith his father Titus (Jeffrey Thomas) leaving him in charge, Batiatus (John Hannah) works to bring his house glory in the Capua arena.  Unfortunately, Batiatus and his wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) find themselves in conflict with Tullius (Stephen Lovatt) who seeks their greatest gladiator Gannicus (Dustin Clare).  As the construction of a new arena approaches, Batiatus tries to raise his house’s status and undermine Tullius.  The arrival of a Gallic slave named Crixus (Manu Bennett) changes things amongst Batiatus men…and soon new gods will be born as blood is spilt in the arena!

Spartacus:  Gods of the Arena aired on Starz from January 21, 2011 to February 25, 2011 as a six episode mini-series.  The series serves as a prequel to the first season of the Spartacus series called Spartacus:  Blood and Sand.  The series was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Stunt Coordination (“The Bitter End”).

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Ain’t no party like a Spartacus party

At the end of Spartacus:  Blood and Sand the series suffered a major problem.  The dramatic bloodbath of the final episode left an incredible cliffhanger, but an outside factor threatened to end the series.  The star of the show Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and fighting it leading to delays.  As a result, Spartacus:  Gods of the Arena was created to fill the time while Whitfield fought the cancer (and unfortunately loss the battle on September 11, 2011).

Despite the unplanned nature of the series it was a welcomed edition to the series.  A lot happened before Spartacus arrived and here you get to see the events that led Oenomaus to becoming Doctore, Crixus becoming champion, the crippling of Ashur, and Batiatus taking control of his house.  It is rich and fun like Spartacus:  Blood and Sand, but is a bit more divided in its storytelling by focusing on so many players without a central character like Spartacus holding it together.

I do enjoy a lot of the cast and many of the players in this series do not survive the end of the first season so it is good to see them again.  I would say John Hannah, Dustin Clare, and Manu Bennett are essentially the stars of this series since each character is shown in their rise to power.  The series does however rely on flash instead of acting.

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A prequel but the same level of violence you’ve come to expect from Spartacus!

The series does continue the over-the-top visuals that began in Spartacus:  Blood and Sand.  Buckets of blood (along with limbs, heads, and appendages) fly in this series, and it is done in a style like 300.  It isn’t realistic and instead relies on shock and extreme.  The crazed nature of the series does provide a lot of the fun…plus, some really crazy sex.

Spartacus:  Gods of the Arena is good, but not quite as good as the first season of the series.  The series does not quite function as a stand-alone and despite being a prequel, it should be watched after Spartacus:  Blood and Sand.  Following the death of Andy Whitfield (whose voice is heard at the end of the series), the crew of Spartacus was faced with a decision to end the series or recast the star and it chose to recast Spartacus with Liam McIntyre.  Spartacus:  Gods of the Arena was followed by Spartacus:  Vengeance which takes up the story from the end of Spartacus:  Blood and Sand.

Spartacus:  Gods of the Arena Complete Episode Guide:

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“Past Transgressions”

Episode 1       Past Transgressions Airdate:  01/21/11

Quintus Lentulus Batiatus (John Hannah) is making a name for himself among the world of gladiators.  When he discovers a Gallic slave named Crixus (Manu Bennett), Batiatus sees potential in him…if he can be broken.  Batiatus’s wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) finds Gaia (Jaime Murray) has returned to Capua and discovers Gaia is raising problems.  Batiatus’s ego gets the best of him and finds himself fighting his best fighter Gannicus (Dustin Clare) in a deadly battle in marketplace…and Batiatus’ words might have gotten him in too deep.

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“Missio”

Episode 2       Missio Airdate:  01/28/11

Batiatus recovers from his beating by the men of Tullius (Stephen Lovatt) and seeks revenge for being banned from the games.  The arrival of Quintillius Varis (Peter Feeney) to Capua brings opportunity by Batiatus and a fight to impress Varis gives Crixus the chance to show his skill against Gannicus.  A decision by Batiatus about the fate of Doctore (Temuera Morrison) and Oenomaus (Peter Mensah) leads to a big change in the life of Oenomaus, and a further attempt to impress Varis leads to a compromising position between Gannicus and Oenomaus’ wife Melitta (Marisa Ramirez).

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“Paterfamilias”

Episode 3       Paterfamilias Airdate:  02/04/11

The sudden return of Batiatus’ father Titus (Jeffrey Thomas) means Batiatus’ plans for the primus with Varis have fallen through.  Varis continues to test Batiatus’ hospitality by bringing Cossutius (Jason Hood) to taste the slaves.  A move by Ashur (Nick Tarabay) and Dagan (Shane Rangi) against Auctus (Josef Brown) and Barca (Antonio Te Maioha) raises tension among the men.  With a battle between Titus’ men planned for show, Crixus learns that his fate could soon be decided in the arena when he faces a skilled Auctus.

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“Beneath the Mask”

Episode 4       Beneath the Mask Airdate:  02/11/11

Titus has decided to stay at his home causing more problems for Batiatus when Lucretia learns that the house’s reputation as a sexual destination are growing.  Luring Titus away from the home, Lucretia and Gaia plan an orgy with only the elite invited.  When Tullius crashes the party, a forced fight with Gannicus leaves Gannicus injured and rendezvous with Gaia changes everything.

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“Reckoning”

Episode 5       Reckoning Airdate:  02/18/11

The party and Gaia’s death causes Titus to force Batiatus to choose between his house and Lucretia.  A tournament to judge the gladiators is arranged and the losers could face the mines.  Ashur’s actions toward Dagan causes a rift between them that can only be ended by battle.  Lucretia seeks to provide an heir for Batiatus and turns to Crixus for help.  Naevia (Lesley-Ann Brandt) finds Diona (Jessica Grace Smith) cannot go on after her treatment as a sex slave and plots her escape.  Melitta finds her desire for Gannicus growing despite her love of Doctore and plans for a trade to Tullius forces Gannicus to make a decision.  As Batiatus finds his time for decision growing closer, Lucretia reveals her real intent with deadly consequences.

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“The Bitter End”

Episode 6       The Bitter End Airdate:  02/25/11

Titus is dead and Batiatus seeks vengeance against Tullius for the murder.  Doctore mourns Melitta and Gannicus debates telling him the truth about her death.  As the new Capua arena prepares to open, Batiatus finds he might have a new enemy as his gladiators are pitted against the gladiators of Solonius (Craig Walsh-Wrightson) in the opening ceremonies.  As the final battle approaches, Crixus seeks to prove himself and Dagan plots revenge against Ashur.  The ring of fire is drawn and the gods of the arena will rise!

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Spartacus:  Blood and Sand

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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