"Spartacus" fans will probably find that to be horribly disappointing news, but the series, while a hit, has had a troubled run, though most of that was because of issues outside of the control of Starz. The biggest of those problems was related to the health of Season One's star, Andy Whitfield. Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma after the first season, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," debuted in 2010.
At first, it looked like he might be able to beat the cancer, and Starz delayed Season Two to allow him to recover. Instead, the network aired a six-episode prequel, starring two of the other stars of the first season, Lucy Lawless (Lucretia) and John Hannah (Batiatus) called "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena." However, Whitfield eventually succumbed to his cancer, and died in September of last year.
With that, the network had to choose a new star, and they chose Liam McIntyre. Season Two of the show, called "Spartacus: Vengeance," aired earlier this year. The new and final season will be called "Spartacus: War of the Damned." It will will debut in January of 2013.
Many already know that the tale of Spartacus does not end well for him. Season Two didn't end well for a lot of characters in the show, either, with the finale, "Wrath of the Gods," essentially being a bloodbath and cleaning house. At the time, fans believed the death of many major characters, which included Lawless and others who, in history, do not play a role in Spartacus' final fate, was simply to clear the way for actual events, when the Romans go after Spartacus in force.
It seems, instead, it was to clear the way for a rapid end to the series.
Series creator Stephen S. DeKnight said, “Looking at the story in the history books, it’s wave after wave of Roman senators going after Spartacus who are defeated until [Roman general Marcus Crassus] comes in. So let’s pick out the most interesting moments in this struggle and lay out a clear narrative for Spartacus and his rebellion. I wanted to lay out a strong forward narrative with a strong antagonist.”
Praising the network, DeKnight added, “This show has always been a challenge. I’m particularly thankful to Starz. Any other network, if the show’s lead actor had fallen ill and eventually passed away, they would have canceled the show. Starz felt like we owed it to the audience and to Andy [Whitfield] to finish the tale.”
In Season Two, Spartacus and his rebel band of slaves, who had escaped from the House of Batiatus at the end of the first season, defeated the Romans at Mt. Vesuvius, including Spartacus' longtime nemesis Gaius Claudius Glaber. There, a number of series regulars died, but the new season adds Todd Lasance as a young Julius Caesar and Simon Merrells as Crassus.
Watch the first teaser trailer for Season Three, below.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons