Submitted by Jason Pace on Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 9:48AM
In its second full season, Spartacus continues to surprise and to rise above the blood and gore to present a compelling, if ficticious, narrative of the slave uprising in ancient Rome. Spartacus: Vengeance is well worth watching.
The first season, Blood and Sand, introduced us to the world of Spartacus. It was a place where people were bought and sold, and lives were lost and won within the confines of the gladiator's arena. The titular character arrives, struggles to find his place, and eventually leads his fellow gladiators in a revolt agains the house of Batiatus. What made this season so great, so special, was how it started as little more than people being killed on screen in gruesome detail, but each episode, as it unraveled the politics of the world and crafted its characters, it got better and better. It's rare that a TV show manages to progressively get better through its run - most, at best, start high and end high with a lull in the middle.
A major part of that success was Andy Whitfield as Spartacus. He was electric and fascinating. After the first season was over, he announced he was being treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer, and was not ready for the second season to begin filming. Starz delayed it to wait for Whitfield and instead quickly produced a 6 episode mini-series, Gods of the Arena, that served as a prequel to Blood and Sand, back filling the story of the house of Batiatus. Whitfield recovered, but relapsed, and was forced to abandon any plans to return.
Without Andy but with his blessing, Starz made the decision to recast the role of Spartacus and move forward with the originally planned second season, Vengeance. In it, Praetor Claudius Glaber is sent at the head of an army to crush the rebellion. Spartacus struggles between his desire to kill the man who condemned his wife to slavery and death, and that of leading his budding army in their revolt against oppression.
Like Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena before it, Vengeance maintains both its level of hyper-violence and its increasing quality as the season progresses. This Blu-ray set captures the visual spectacle of the show in all of its glory, and more. There are extended episodes with scenes not aired on TV as well as episode commentaries and a slew of bonus features - making of, behind the scenes, VFX breakdowns, bloopers and more.
There is also a War of the Damned teaser, the forthcoming next season of Spartacus, and it looks to be every bit as entertaining as the rest.
Panem et circenses.
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