Spartacus returned for it’s third and final season with war of the damned. The first episode “enemies of Rome” being the series premiere excellently sets up the plot for the season and also introduces new characters such as Marcus Crassus on the most superb level.
The series return also is on a much grander scale compared to the limitations of the arena although grand in itself, the Spartacus program has become more ambitious in its scenes. Such as the opening battle scene for the episode, the scale and number of Spartacus and his rebels battling against the Roman legions is something not capable of Hollywood blockbusters not so few years ago. It’s great to see something so presented for a television program.
There are a few new characters introduced mainly based in Crassus’ side including Crassus himself in which Simon Merrells does quite a good performance in establishing the dominance of his character as one of the titans of Rome. While his son is but a shadow of what Crassus is due to his age I would say the same for the actor that plays his son Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) but it’s not of much consequence it does enough as is seen in episode two later on it seems Crassus thinks he needs to be more like someone else…..
The other main character seemingly introduced to the series in this episode is Saxa (Ellen Hollman) who appears to be the love interest attached to Gannicus (Dustin Clare), while her appearance is brief it was memorable and stood out in the episode.
Returning cast members such as Spartacus (Liam McIntyre), Crixus (Manu Bennet), Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel) give expected performances that have become standard for the show but they are not to be overlooked and in the action scenes they all do well to provide the necessary entertainment, just like the gladiators they play.
It seems as well that one of the main themes for this season will be the importance of strategy. Already it is seen that Crassus is preparing and training with a gladiator to understand the mind and thinking of men of that particular training. Crassus repeatedly attempts to best the man with varied strategies against him. While Spartacus to stresses not to underestimate opponents which is a “Roman trait” he says, so what Spartacus has already learnt is something which Crassus is learning. While Crassus’ son makes expected mistake in underestimating the slaves as he sees Marcus Crassus’ training partner, he thinks that position alone will allow him to best the man, a thing proven wrong by Spartacus many times in battles against Roman legions and particularly Glaber in past seasons.
Overall the episode does well to set up what looks to be a most entertaining season this year with much anticipated blood and glory to follow as Crassus pursues the Spartacus rebel hordes in battle and the change of strategies and problems that may occur along the way will make the show an interesting one to watch in coming weeks.