Spartacus: Gods of the Arena

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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Spartacus-Gods of the Arena Key Art.jpg
Genre Historical drama
Mini-series
Created by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by Jesse Warn
Rick Jacobson
Michael Hurst
Brendan Maher
John Fawcett
Produced by Steven S. DeKnight
Robert Tapert
Chloe Smith
Charles Knight
Aaron Lam
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Maurissa Tancharoen
Jed Whedon
Aaron Helbing
Todd Helbing
Seamus Kevin Fahey
Misha Green
Brent Fletcher
Starring John Hannah
Manu Bennett
Peter Mensah
Nick E. Tarabay
Dustin Clare
Jaime Murray
Marisa Ramirez
Lucy Lawless
Jeffrey Thomas
Stephen Lovatt
Music by Joseph Loduca
Editing by Allanah Milne
Country United States
Language English
Original channel Starz
Original run January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21)  – February 25, 2011 (2011-02-25)
Running time 300 minutes
No. of episodes 6
Preceded by Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Followed by Spartacus: Vengeance
Official website

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is a Starz television miniseries and prequel to Spartacus, which premiered January 21, 2011. The series follows the character Gannicus (Dustin Clare), the first gladiator representing Lentulus Batiatus to become Champion of Capua. Cast members and characters reprised from the original series include John Hannah as Batiatus, Lucy Lawless as Lucretia, Peter Mensah as Oenomaus, Nick E. Tarabay as Ashur, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Naevia, Antonio Te Maioha as Barca, and Manu Bennett as Crixus.

The miniseries aired in Canada on Movie Central and The Movie Network,[1] on Sky1 in the United Kingdom and on FX in Latin America.

Plot[edit]

The mini-series features the bloody history of the House of Batiatus and the city of Capua before the arrival of Spartacus. Quintus Lentulus Batiatus becomes a lanista (manager) when he takes over his father's ludus of gladiators. He has ambitions of stepping out of his father's shadow by seeking recognition for his own name and achieving further greatness for his house. By his side stands his beautiful wife Lucretia who will help her husband achieve his ambitions, whatever the cost. Batiatus puts all his fortunes on the man who will gain him fame and glory. That would be his best gladiator, the Celt, Gannicus, a skilled warrior who wields dual swords with deadly purpose. Those who oppose Batiatus and his future champion(s) of Capua do so at their own peril.

Purchased as an undisciplined and disheveled recruit in the first episode, Crixus the Gaul endures mockery and threats of death to become the champion after Gannicus. As Batiatus fends off repeated attempts by his professional rival Tullius to obtain Gannicus, his relationships with his father Titus and friend Solonius begin to suffer the strain of his relentless ambition. Former champion, Oenomaus, reluctantly becomes Doctore, while Syrian recruits Ashur and Dagan try to prove themselves worthy of being gladiators. Veteran gladiators Barca and Gannicus note the rising star of Crixus, as the machinations of Batiatus and Lucretia end in tragedy for several members of the household. Against all of this, the city's splendid new arena nears completion and with it the opening games that will make slaves into gods. When the arena opens, Batiatus' gladiators prevail in the contest. Gannicus again proves himself to be the champion of Capua and a god of the arena. By virtue of his win against Solonius' gladiators, he gains his freedom and Crixus becomes the new champion.

Cast[edit]

Romans

Slaves

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
1 "Past Transgressions" Jesse Warn Steven S. DeKnight January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21) 1.10[2]
Opening a number of years before the arrival of Spartacus, Batiatus finds himself administering his father's ludus, while his father is in Sicilia living in semi-retirement. Seeking fame, he (with the support of his old friend Selonius) tries to win favor with a local nobleman, Tullius, by paying 50 denarii for a Gallic slave worth only 10 named Crixus- by noting his potential to be a great fighter. Arriving at the ludus, Crixus soon meets veteran gladiator Oenomaus (who has a slave wife called Melitta), as well as Syrian slave recruits Ashur and Dagan. Meanwhile, Lucretia welcomes the sudden return to Capua of Gaia, a young but recently widowed friend, and "party girl" from Rome who is attracted to both the delights of the ludus and of opium. In an attempt to participate in the opening games of the soon to be completed arena, Batiatus selects his most skilled gladiator, Gannicus the Celt, the original champion of the House of Batiatus, for a duel in the marketplace. Unknown to Batiatus, however, is that young Vettius, the owner of a rival ludus, is merely an agent of Tullius -- leading to deadly consequences as he is soon outmaneuvered in his own game.
2 "Missio" Rick Jacobson Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon January 28, 2011 (2011-01-28) 1.14[3]
A week has now passed since the murder of his bodyguard and severe beating at the hands of Tullius' men and Batiatus continues to recover. Tullius sends him a message, via Batiatus' good friend Solonius, and offers to double his offer to 400. Batiatus is in no mood to compromise, however, and soon plans his own revenge on Vettius with the aid of the Syrians. Quintillius Varis comes to Capua to select gladiators for his games, but Gaia and Lucretia seemingly bump into him, and offer to have him wait at Batiatus' house -- where Batiatus will seemingly act surprised, but then offer his ludus' services instead. Meanwhile, Doctore is irked when Batiatus criticizes him as his father's man, and names Oenomaus to succeed him. Shamed, he suddenly challenges Oenomaus to a duel, in which Oenomaus eventually kills him and becomes the new Doctore. Meanwhile, inside the ludus, Gannicus (victorious from his bout with Crixus) and Melitta are ordered to have sex for Varis' entertainment, leaving both of them troubled, but with Batiatus succeeding in securing the position of primus for Gannicus in the upcoming games.
3 "Paterfamilias" Michael Hurst Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing February 4, 2011 (2011-02-04) 1.26[4]
Batiatus is pleased with himself for having arranged Varis' primus. He and the household are not, however, prepared for the sudden return of the lanista and pater familias, his father, Titus, who treats his son's caretaking skills with disdain. He laughs when he hears that Gannicus will represent the house in the games, and sets out to make amends with Tullius, thereby undermining most of the younger Batiatus' schemes. Titus manages to mend relations with Tullius and follows his terms, to pit his own men against each other in some more honorable afternoon games. While father and son are away, Varis returns to the Batiatus home with a friend, Cossutius, expecting to again experience the pleasures of his previous visit, this time with one of the virgin slave women. In the arena, Barca's lover Auctus and newcomer Crixus, duel in the arena and the lesser experienced Crixus manages to kill him, thereby earning the mark of the brotherhood. Surprised by his son's newfound gladiator, the father sees some merit in his son's plans and abilities after all, and decides never to leave the ludus again - much to his son's chagrin.
4 "Beneath the Mask" Brendan Maher Seamus Kevin Fahey & Misha Green February 11, 2011 (2011-02-11) 1.11[5]
The tensions between the younger and the elder Batiatus continue, particularly in the old arena where the elder continually reminds his son to remember his place and station. At home, the Roman women are also having difficulty accepting the father's ongoing - and seemingly permanent - presence. When Gaia meets an acquaintance at the market, she introduces him to Lucretia and he immediately comments on the pleasures available at her home. Gaia again sees an opportunity, but the elder Batiatus would never condone such debauchery. His son however manages to convince him to leave for Neapolis, ostensibly to purchase new slaves and receive the salt air. Lucretia agrees to proceed, with Selonious as chaperone, and the night seems to go well, until the unexpected arrival of Tullius, who wishes to fight Gannicus - a duel he is ordered to lose. Recovering from his wounds, Gannicus is however able to share an intimate moment with Melitta. During their liaison, Gaia underestimates Tullius and she dies at his hand. The sudden return of the Batiatus' simply make matters worse yet again, particularly for Lucretia.
5 "Reckoning" John Fawcett Brent Fletcher February 18, 2011 (2011-02-18) 1.38[6]
In the wake of Gaia's death, Batiatus senior resolves to cleanse the house of her presence. In responding to his father's ultimatum that he choose between his home and his wife, Batiatus attempts to gain time is not appreciated by Lucretia who believes she would have him leave. She also has her own solution to her husband's desire for a son - via a liaison with Gallic virility in the form of Crixus. Meanwhile, Titus announces a tournament to determine the worth of the new men that make up half his stable of gladiators, with the losers to be sent to the mines. Tullius again visits the ludus, again seeking Gannicus while offering preferential matches in the new arena. Meanwhile, Melitta and Gannicus increasingly desire after one another, but Gannicus, sensing despair, deliberately lowers his guard allowing Crixus to win and sealing his sale to Tullius. Titus, weakened and now bedridden by the ongoing poisonings of Lucretia, finds himself at her mercy when the others leave seeking medicine. He is finally silenced by the honeyed-wine given to him by Tullius but poisoned by her - and, perhaps deliberately, so is Melitta. Quintus and Doctore return, and begin to mourn the dead.
6 "The Bitter End" Rick Jacobson Steven S. DeKnight February 25, 2011 (2011-02-25) 1.72[7]
Batiatus now seeks vengeance against Tullius for all that has befallen him, including the death of his father. Gannicus pushes Batiatus to complete his sale to Tullius so that he may seek revenge for the House of Batiatus by killing Tullius himself, but Solonius counsels caution and a more sensible, if final, solution. Meanwhile, Naevia replaces Melitta as the personal body-slave to Lucretia, who promises her that no man will ever touch her as happened to Diona. In the end, Tullius and Vettius both fall into the trap - Tullius is bricked into the foundations of the new arena, and at the opening of the new Capua arena, Vettius informs of the sale of his ludus to Solonius and departs for Antioch. Batiatus now has a new rival, his former friend who he has distanced by his continual rebukes, and one willing to use his own methods against him. The opening games begin with the execution of prisoners (including Diona), and after winning the final mass night-battle of the opening ceremony, Gannicus (at Solonious' suggestion) receives his freedom from the magistrate. He soon departs the ludus - but not before entrusting his champion necklace to Crixus.

Production[edit]

The opportunity to produce Gods of the Arena emerged when the second season of Spartacus was halted while lead actor Andy Whitfield battled Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Series creator and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight expanded a single flashback episode for the second season into a six-part mini-series.[8] Production for Gods of the Arena began in New Zealand in August 2010.[9][10]

Reception[edit]

IGN gave the series positive reviews, especially the finale, giving it a 9.5/10 and calling it "Incredible".[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harris, Bill (August 12, 2010). "Lawless returns to 'Spartacus'". London Free Press (Quebecor Media). Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (January 24, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush: Alaska,' & NBA Lead Night +'Smackdown,' 'Spartacus,' 'Victorious,' 'Merlin' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  3. ^ Gorman, Bill (January 31, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush: Alaska' Leads Night, 'Spartacus' Steady, + 'Smackdown,' 'Winter X-Games,' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 7, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush: Alaska,' 'Wizards of Waverly Place' Lead Night, 'Merlin' Down + 'Smackdown' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  5. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 14, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush: Alaska,' Leads Night; 'Merlin' Steady; + 'Spartacus: GotA,' 'Smackdown' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush: Alaska' Ends Season on Top; 'Merlin' & 'Spartacus: Gods of The Arena' Rise + 'Wizards of Waverly' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 28, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'WWE Smackdown!' Leads Cable; 'Spartacus: Gods of The Arena' Rises + 'Merlin,' 'Hall Of Game Awards' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ Fowler, Matt (August 7, 2010). "Lawless and Hannah Talk Spartacus: Gods of the Arena". IGN. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  9. ^ Kennedy, Gerrick D. (August 7, 2010). "TCA Press Tour: 'Spartacus': 'Gods of the Arena' or gods of TV?". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ Hibberd, James (September 27, 2010). "Cancer-stricken "Spartacus" star may be replaced". Reuters. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 

External links[edit]