Well, THAT happened.
The season finale of “Spartacus” was perhaps even more brutal than people could have imagined, with the body count astronomically high by hour’s end. And these weren’t simply extras dressed as Roman soldiers finding themselves on the wrong end of a sword. Major character after major character fell throughout the hour, culminating in one of the most shocking moments in show history.
I spoke at length with creator Steven DeKnight about the show as a whole, and you can read that here. But I also had some questions about the finale in particular. Now that it’s aired, I can finally share his thoughts on what went down, why it went down, and what that means heading into the show’s third season. You can read my full review of the finale here, but below are some additional thoughts on those sent to the afterlife in tonight’s episode.
How tempting was it to keep Ashur alive, even though his accumulation of sins all but called out for him to die?
It was very, very tempting to keep Ashur alive. I love writing for Ashur. I love what Nick Tarabay does with the character. He brings such a great flavor to the show. He’s really the villain you love to hate. But, I had this notion at the end of Season One, going back a few years ago, that the logical end of this story was that Naevia kills him. I remember it was near the end of Season One, and the finale hadn’t aired yet, and I ran into Nick and Leslie-Ann Brandt, who was playing Naevia at the time, in a grocery store. I said, “I have a great idea for the end of next season: You’re shipped off to the mines, you’re rescued by Crixus, he trains you, and atop Mt. Vesuvius, you chop Ashur’s head off!”
It just felt so right. A lot of people on the Internet have speculated that Oenomaus is going to kill him or Crixus is going to kill him. But if you look carefully through this season, you’ll see that’s where I’m leading with the training of her and her saying, “No man will ever put his hands on me again.” I always felt like this was an emotional thing that she had to do to move forward because of what happened to her.
In a similar vein, is Oenomaus’s death something that had to happen to move Gannicus forward?
Oh, absolutely. We also knew that Oenomaus would fall at Vesuvius since the start of the series. It was always about the hows and the whys. Bringing Gannicus into it certainly made it more emotional. We also had a lot of talking leading up to that, in which we considered bringing those two together sooner. We had one story, I think it was in episode nine (“Monsters”) where they had the drunken fighting contest that Spartacus hatches, and they made up. Then we said, “No, no, no, let’s hold off and literally not have this ‘I love you, brother’ moment until he’s dying. Because that’s the way it should go.” And then we brought in Melitta, and the whole idea they would meet in the afterlife as brothers.
In terms of the twist involving Lucretia’s character: You mentioned before about the differences you and Lucy had in terms of your perception of her character this season. But how much of what she does in the finale was planned from the start this year?
It was planned before we started writing the season. That was the idea that I had in my shower that morning. I thought, “Of course we should have Lucy back! She’s going to take the baby over the cliff to her husband! Of course!” Because that was her whole thing in the prequel, and the first son: giving her husband a son. And this was the perfect opportunity.
I was expecting a huge fight from STARZ, with them saying, “What do you MEAN you’re going to kill that baby?” Not a peep! They were absolutely fine with it. They thought it was a great closure to the story. That’s the thing: everybody watching this season has somewhat picked up on the fact that [Lucretia’s arc] had something to do with the baby. That she wanted that baby. That she would kill Ilithyia and take the baby off into the sunset. That’s just not the Steve DeKnight “Spartacus” way. Lucy called me up and asked, “Is Lucretia insane? Is she batshit crazy?” And I said, “Yes…but she’s criminally insane.” She starts off completely out there in the first episode, and while it seems later that she’s alright, she is in fact insane all season. If you go back and watch it, you’ll see things she does and says that indicate that she’s never completely recovered. There’s something wrong with Lucretia all season. And it’s not until that final moment that she says the words, “Your child?” when Ilithyia is in labor that you think, “Ooooooh. Yeah. There’s definitely something wrong with her, and she planned to carry that kid to the afterlife the whole time.”
Can we definitively say we’ve seen the last of Lucretia? No more hedging?
Yeah, I don’t think she’s gonna survive that one. I’m going to go out on a limb here. The Lucretia character was the only one everyone was the most nervous about killing. It wasn’t a problem of taking the baby over the cliff. It was a problem of taking her over the cliff. We had conversations with STARZ about her taking the child and reappearing next season. My very strong feeling was there was no story there. She couldn’t take the child to Rome and be on the Crassus side. Crassus is going off to war against Spartacus. There’s no place for her there. And then the suggestion was, “Could she somehow be integrated into the rebel side?” Well, the problem there is either Crixus or Naevia would murder her on the spot. There is no forgiving what she did. There would be no taking her in. So even though everyone realizes this is a huge risk, she’s a huge draw, she was fantastic on the show…the right thing for this story is her taking that baby over the cliff.
Plus? I think it’s just a crackerjack ending to that story. She takes the baby over the cliff, and Ilithyia dies…I just couldn’t ask for a more grand, operatic finish to their story.
Did she actually die? Or just pass out from shock? I’ll admit I thought the latter.
If Lucretia could survive Season One, I thought there was a medicinal possibility that Ilithyia might make it.
She’s completely and totally dead.
What did you think of the finale? Leave your thoughts below!