Let's get back to our regularly scheduled blogging:
(mild spoilers below)
Spartacus' second season (but technically the third after the prequel season Gods of the Arena) picks up a few months after the events of the first season. Spartacus and his former-slave cohorts have massacred those in the House of Batiatus who formerly forced them to fight in the arena, and they are now waging a guerrilla war on the Roman soldiers that have been sent to subdue them. Spartacus is still out for the blood of Praetor Claudius Glaber, the man who originally enslaved Spartacus and his wife, and the season deals with each man trying to defeat the other.
There's just as much blood and violence this time around, but surprisingly not as much sex (boo). I mean, don't get me wrong, you still get a lot of nudity, but most of the sex is consigned to the background. This season is more about, unsurprisingly, vengeance, and the characters don't seem to have as much free time to get sexy.
There's also not quite as much political maneuvering. The previous two seasons were almost entirely set in the House of Batiatus, and felt almost like an R-rated Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey. This time around Spartacus is on the move and concerned with freeing more slaves to add to his army, keeping that army from tearing itself apart, and staying a step ahead of the Romans. Instead, the scheming comes from the secondary characters such as Glaber and his most-awesomely tricksy wife, Ilithyia. I confess that I love their plotting almost as much as the fight scenes and I'd glad to see their return to the show after an absence from the season season prequel.
If there's one quibble with Spartacus: Vengeance, it's that Spartacus' storyline became the least interesting. Liam McIntyre steps into the title role after Andy Whitfield's most unfortunate death due to cancer, and while he does a solid job (and certainly holds his own in the fight scenes), I think he lacks that essential star quality that Whitfield possessed. Spartacus may be concerned with avenging his wife, but he doesn't seem to do a lot more than brood and give semi-rousing speeches. I was hoping for something a little more dynamic this time around.
Despite this minor complaint, I still enjoyed the hell out of the season. Those crazy Romans don't seem to do anything but scheme and have sex, and that's fine with me. The characters introduced in Gods of the Arena made a very welcome addition to the cast, and the season ended with a lot of surprises, twists, and an extremely satisfying finale episode. There are some awesome battle scenes, some truly gross and creative deaths, and even some welcome girl power. Turns out former lady slaves have even more of an axe to grind then their male counter-parts...and they will grind it in your face.
Next season Spartacus takes the fight to Rome and the scope looks even bigger than before. He's going to have to step up to the role of general....and it's almost enough to make me regret not signing for Starz.
Sigh, it's going to be a long winter of waiting.