Here's what I wrote as Blood and Sand was about to wrap up about 2 years ago:
Originally Posted by Flambe
So what's next for Spartacus? Obviously this is all conjecture because we haven't seen the season 1 finale yet, but here are my thoughts:
- This show has proven itself to be strong while focused on the Gladiatorial years. I think we would be well served to have the show continue for some more time without moving beyond the walls of the ludus. Do we really want to see the end of Batiatus, or Doctore, or Ashur?
- There hasn't been enough develoopment of life beyond the walls to have Spartacus start the revolution yet. Yes, slaves know him, but he hasn't met anyone outside the ludus besides the folks he's killed in the arena, or idly entertained while in service to Batiatus. They're going to have to spend some time showing why anything he started would succeed, for instance, the unhappy lives of slaves everywhere (everywhere that joins his revolution, that is) - or show more gladiators & slaves from around the countryside recognizing him as a leader. None of that has happened yet.
- The strength of the storytelling has been in the personalities and conflicts of people we've learned to know and love or despise. Taking the show in a different direction (like, say, with Spartacus leading an army of slaves) would be a serious departure from everything we've seen so far. I think it would be seriously challenging to keep up the quality of writing, pace of storytelling, and commitment to the characters if you had to literally expand to a cast of thousands
So... my gut says the revolution won't start this season. Probably not even next season. If I were the writers of the show, I'd make the very last episode of the very last season by the one where the revolt begins, because anything else requires a serious change in tone. Imagine all the people who'd say "I really liked season 2 because of all the epic battle scenes between slaves & the roman armies" while all of us would say, "I really liked season 1 because of the characters, storytelling, and personal touch in every episode."
Plus, they didn't take their women with them to war did they? How would they fit in all the beautiful ladies if they're off in the hot dusty hillsides of Italy?
I for one have felt that both the prequel and this Vengeance seasons were big letdowns over Blood & Sand. S:B&S made the whole thing personal. You got involved in every character and felt invested in all their decisions and betrayals.
Sadly, in S:V I just didn't feel connected to the characters nearly as much. part of it was undoubtedly the long time between S:B&S & S:V, part of it was the much-felt loss of Whitfield (& to some extent, Hannah), part of it was their unwillingness to let go of characters (such as Ilithya & Lucretia, both of whom overstayed their welcome by about .8 of a season) and part of it was sloppy writing.
Did any character's death this season affect you 1/10th as much as Varro's death in S:B&S? Did any betrayal by a character shock you as much as Lucretia pushing Ilithya & Spartacus together in coitus in S:B&S (and the violent murder immediately after)?
I think the show was MUCH more engaging when it was focused on the ludus and the small group of inhabitants therein. Moving out to the wilderness and growing the cast made us lose the personal side of the characters we grew to understand in season 1.
Remember the slow, methodical fight scenes we'd see in season 1 where you truly didn't know who would live, or how (in Spartacus' case) he'd live against overwhelming odds? Was there a single fight this entire season where you really cared how the fight ended and who won or who lost? For me the answer is no.
It's sad, I'm a HUGE fan of S:B&S. It's one of the few TV series I bought on Blu-Ray and show to friends who haven't seen it. But I have no interest in buying S:GotA nor S:V.
And next season is going to be even bigger? Now Spartacus leads an army? That's one step further away from what made the show great.
This one quote from what I wrote 2 years ago stands out to me:
"I think it would be seriously challenging to keep up the quality of writing, pace of storytelling, and commitment to the characters if you had to literally expand to a cast of thousands"
I think the writers have lost track of what makes us care about these characters. It's a shame. I for one am probably done with the Spartacus series. But I'll certainly continue to treasure my Spartacus: Blood & Sand blu-rays.