Preview/Review of Spartacus Vengeance
I'm writing this preview from my balcony of my hotel in the coolish sunny day in Los Angeles after having watched the screener of the first episode of Spartacus: Vengeance from the Starz Press Kit.
We last saw Spartacus and his gladiators in the fantastic season finale Kill Them All where Spartacus brought about the death and destruction of the house of Batiatus.
We flash forward to Spartacus: Vengeance and the aftermath of that rebellion. Starz has the following outline of what is to transpire in this series:
On the heels of the bloody escape from the House of Batiatus that concluded "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike fear into the heart of the Roman Republic in "Spartacus: Vengeance" Gaius Claudius Glaber and his Roman troops are sent to Capua to crush the growing band of freed slaves that Spartacus leads before it can inflict further damage. Spartacus is presented the choice of satisfying his personal need for vengeance against the man that condemned his wife to slavery and eventual death, or making the larger sacrifices necessary to keep his budding army from breaking apart. Containing all of the blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, and villainy and heroism that has come to distinguish the series, the tale of Spartacus resumes in epic fashion.
The first episode is called Fugitivus and the log line is: Spartacus learns that being a leader of freed slaves brings great responsibilities; Spartacus tries to keep his rebellious band intact.
Alrighty now that is out of the way we get to the real question that needs to be answered in the wake of Andy Whitfield's passing. The question on everyone's lips is can Liam McIntyre fill Andy's shoes and become Spartacus.
Liam cannot be Andy. Liam cannot walk in Andy's shoes because there is only one man who can do that. That's Andy.
Liam needed to walk in Liam's shoes and make the role his own. He needed to become Spartacus, the leader of the gladiators and anyone else who wanted to join in the rebellion.
In my opinion, Liam IS Spartacus. A different Spartacus from what we saw with Andy but he is Spartacus. A standout performance at a time when he could have easily been intimidated and swallowed up by the prospect of taking on this role. It takes alot of courage to walk into a well established show and take on the lead role.
On the Roman side, standout performances by Lucy Lawless, Viva Bianca and Craig Parker. Poor Glaber he really can't get away from that Thracian and Craig is just superb. Lucretia and Ilithyia made me rub my hands in glee. Those two are going to light up the screen in the next 9 episodes; superb performances by those two. Ilithyia was just delicious to watch in her attempted manipulations and Lucretia...poor Lucretia...batsh*t crazy (that isn't a spoiler unless you have been hiding under a rock and haven't read any of the interviews). Delicious.
On the Rebel side Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett and Katrina Law are standouts although I'm not sure what game Mira is playing but it's going to be interesting to watch how that unfolds.
Overall it was a good introduction - a solid start in laying the groundwork to the series.
There is a moment of absolute heartbreak in this episode that really made me wish Steven DeKnight did not have such an evil streak but it is powerful. I think it will become one of the most powerful scenes in the entire series.
It's going to be interesting to watch this episode with other fans and the cast tomorrow at the premiere.
I give this episode as solid 8/10.