Last week I talked about the amazing first season of Spartacus on Starz. This week I’ll continue discussing the next part of the show, Gods of the Arena. Unlike other seasons, this is a 6 episode miniseries. Sadly, in March 2010, during the airing of the first season of Spartacus, the titular character himself, played by Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with non-Hogdkin lymphoma. Many people think this is the ‘good’ kind of cancer, as in, if you are to get cancer, this is the most easily treatable. This is also the same cancer that actor Michael C. Hall, Dexter on Showtime’s Dexter, contracted. Whitfield immediately underwent treatment. Starz delayed production of season 2, Vengeance, during this time. Starz instead opted to commission a miniseries instead of a full season to wait for Whitfield.
What was originally planned as a flashback episode in season 2, was spun out into 6. Usually, this doesn’t work out well. Trying to stretch out stories tends to lower the overall quality (see Lost: Stranger in a Strange Land – A.K.A. the tattoo episode). However, I am happy to report that this wasn’t the case.
Gods of the Arena is a prequel to Blood and Sand. We see life in the ludus before Spartacus’ arrival. Many things were in place or talked about in Blood and Sand; Crixus was the golden boy of the ludus, Gannicus was the only slave to earn his freedom via combat, Ashur was a snake with an injured leg. Gods of the Arena showed how all this came to be. We finally saw Gannicus and learned how he earned his freedom.
Most importantly, we get more John Hannah as Lentulus Batiatus. This alone made miniseries worth it for me. When we met him in season 1, he was the owner of the ludus that was in his family for generations along side his wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless!). This wasn’t always so. His father owned the ludus. Batiatus had ambitions to step out of his fathers shadow and make a name for himself at any cost, while Lucretia supported him. Many suffered within his house due to his relentless ardor. More John Hannah is a good thing. I agree, he needed to die by Spartacus’ hand in the first season, but the series overall suffered from his lose.
While Blood and Sand was 13 episodes, the remaining 2 seasons were only 10. I think the series was only budgeted for 3, 13 episode seasons. Producing 6 episodes for Gods of the Arena shortened the other two. This isn’t a necessarily a bad thing as it tightened up the plots for the remaining seasons.
Next week I’ll talk about the controversial (from a quality standpoint) season 2, Vengeance, and finish up the series by discussing season3, War of the Damned.
Did you enjoy Gods of the Arena? Delighted to get more John Hannah? Comment or tweet! If you enjoyed what you read, please share my post.
“I am your Dominus! I will have your f**king hearts!“