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Spartacus: War of the Damned: “Victory”
Friday, April 12
Starz, 9pm ET

So it all comes down to this for our favorite peaceful Thracian turned gladiator turned revolutionary leader. Spartacus: War of the Damned ends its season — and the series — with a violent, epic (and epically violent) hour that pits the fierce warriors of the slave revolt in ultimate battle against the vast armies of Marcus Crassus and his Roman legions. The episode is called “Victory,” but that’s a term that surely requires some Obi Wan Kenobi-certain-point-of-view-type of thinking.

*****SPOILER ALERT***** There is a whole lot of slo-mo and blood that still — after three seasons and a prequel — looks like crayon-colored syrup.

Another spoiler alert, history. Executive producer Steven S. DeKnight does not waver on his insistence that the show stay true to the historical version of the Spartacus story, although there are enough gaps in the records to allow for plenty of dramatic interpretation. War of the Damned promised to be a gigantic season, filled with grandiose battle scenes that would make everything that came before them look like minor skirmishes, and it hasn’t disappointed. Although, truth be told, there’s just so many times you can see Spartacus leap in the air and bisect a hapless Roman before it loses its impact. Plus, the middle episodes were filled with fight scenes that you knew deep down wouldn’t result in any big deaths. But we know now that we’re playing for keeps, and with the recent death of Crixus (Manu Bennett, the final remaining original cast member), nothing is off limits.

Liam McIntyre has grown in confidence and stature since taking over the role in Season 2, and he has his war face perfected to an appropriately badass level. In “Victory,” he finally rises above the story to become the focal point. Often it seemed as though he was feeling his way around this world, his relatively slight build a good metaphor for him trying to take command. But he found his groove just in time, making Spartacus the magnetic force of nature that one believes could inspire a slave revolt.

RELATED: Liam McIntyre takes on Spartacus role with a “Vengeance”

It won’t be the battle scenes I’ll miss most about Spartacus — a show I’ve covered since the sizzle reel unveiling at Comic-Con in 2009 — but its unapologetic glee toward itself. You can joke about how awful the CGI blood looks, but they’re only going to pile on more. If you played drinking games by how much nudity there was per episode, you’d be on your third liver by now. And it’s still a wonder to me how many variations on the words “remove cock from ass” one show could come up with. Spartacus reveled in showing all the dirty parts of the ancient world that we all know was there, but for some reason never saw depicted on I, Claudius. It gave us the Caligula version of Rome at a time when the world was finally ready for the Caligula version. (Note: It was waaay better than Caligula.)

Liam McIntyre "Spartacus: War of the Damned" Starz

Photo: © 2012 Starz Entertainment, LLC.