You’d think it would be difficult — if not impossible — to keep fans happy when they know their hero is about to die. But the folks behind Spartacus: War of the Damned don’t seem too worried. In fact, as the Starz series prepares to launch its final season on Jan. 25, creator Steven S. DeKnight reminds us that Spartacus’ death at the hands of his Roman oppressors is “not unlike the story of the Titanic. It’s no big secret the boat will sink. It’s how you get there that keeps the audience invested.”
In War of the Damned, the former gladiator (Liam McIntyre) leads a massive, growing army of rebel slaves. That soon pits him against the up-and-coming Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) and Rome’s hotshot military commander Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells). The latter ultimately defeated Spartacus, who — depending on which history you read — either perished in battle or was captured and crucified. Whichever way, “we will leave our fans with quite a gut punch,” promises DeKnight. “But the final episode is also rousing and inspiring and really beautiful. I was moved to tears in the editing room — and I wrote the damn thing!”
Every year, Starz’s “Spartacus" ups the ante, and the new season — the drama’s final go-round — is no exception.
In HuffPost TV’s exclusive video above, the show’s producers, technical wizards and actors talk about the epic new sets and the massive battles the show has built for its January return.
Gone are the days when Spartacus and his band of brothers were locked inside their ludus or skulking around Capua: The gladiators and their followers, who have rebelled against the Roman system of slavery, are taking their show on the road. In “Spartacus: War of the Damned,” we’ll also see the snazzy villa of Marcus Crassus, a wealthy new character, in addition to cities, towns and encampments. We’ll witness massive battles between the slaves and the Romans sent to quell their rebellion. Glimpses of all those sets and some of those upcoming scenes can be seen in the exclusive video above.
"This season especially, I would hate to waste an episode since we only have 10 to wrap up the story," creator Steven S. DeKnight told HuffPost TV in a June interview. “And I can tell you, production-wise, it’s a huge challenge because every single episode is just gigantic.”
Before the gladiators hang up their swords for good, the “Spartacus” team is burningto bring its loyal audience something pretty epic, as you can see at the tail end of this video.
"Spartacus" returns for its final season in January on Starz.
IGN TV: So let’s just start with the first and foremost question: Why end the show right now?
Steven DeKnight: Starz always does the unexpected. This show has been challenged, to say the least, in many, many ways. We’ve faced many difficulties and tragedies on the show. My original plan was to attack the show in a five to seven season arc. Once we got into it and after Andy’s passing and looking at the historical story of Spartacus, we came to the decision to basically end on a high note. We certainly could have continued for a few more seasons and stretched it out, but we really wanted to end high and not feel like we were treading water - and really just condense the rest of the history into one amazing ten-episode, badass final season. You know, the whole show was a huge risk from the start for Starz, and it was another huge risk when I decided to try to keep the show going after Andy’s passing. Any normal studio would have just cancelled the show at that point and not risk the financial downside of it not working. But Starz, thankfully, really stuck by the show, and they really wanted it to be told all the way to the end. They didn’t want to cheat the viewers and just suddenly pull the plug. So they gave us this opportunity to wrap up the story, and we’re certainly taking that opportunity and running with it. This is by far the biggest season we’ve ever attempted.