Get ready to hear "I am Spartacus!" one last time.
It has only been three years since Spartacus splashed its bloody way across Starz, and Friday's epic series finale (9/8c) will conclude the legendary rebel leader's quest to free the slaves of Ancient Rome. And although history spoils the ultimate outcome, it is how each character has lived — and in some cases, died — that is the key to the show's appeal.
Spartacus' Manu Bennett on Crixus' downfall
Death is a complex thing on the series. Although there's no denying that it can be gloriously gory and over-the-top, at the same time, it is closely tied to the underlying theme of freedom. Slavery or death? That's the choice that masters force upon their slaves sent into the gladiators' arena and on the flip side, the choice fugitives make when they escape to join Spartacus.
Who will live? Who will die? Who will send men to their deaths? Check out this preview of the final Spartacus: War of the Damned and then continue reading for the cast's thoughts on killing or being killed on the series:
John Hannah & Lucy Lawless, "Quintus Batiatus and wife Lucretia"
Deaths: Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) slashed Batiatus' throat in a gladiator uprising; A seemingly mad Lucretia stole her friend's baby (from her womb!) and then toppled over a cliff with the child to join her husband in the afterlife.
"It would be hard to call it the best death ever, but it was certainly my best death," Hannah says. "It was certainly the hardest. It was the toughest. It lasted for like two days. I seem to remember it was wet." Adds Lawless" "Xena got her head cut off, but this is probably better because that was so ignominious. I always find that a bit humiliating, decapitation. And I did not just fall off a cliff. I was taking the baby to my husband, where it belonged."
Liam McIntyre, "Spartacus"
First kill: No-name brothel patron
"If you think back to Episode 1 of Vengeance, they go into an establishment of ill repute," recalls McIntyre. "And there's a lot of gentlemen with one poor unfortunate lady. My first kill was cutting off his wing-wang. Not extremely glorious, but it was also extremely stressful. I was like, 'Ah, I haven't had a lot of practice with this, and you've only got a little A-frame protecting what is very important to you.' But it worked out. He's OK. He can still have children. Everything's good."
Manu Bennett, "Crixus"
First kill: Auctus (Josef Brown), a hoplomachus (spear fighter) from Batiatus' ludus
"I [as Crixus] had just been down in the ludus, learning how to fight and had my ass kicked a lot of times," Bennett says. "Gannicus (Dustin Clare) had come up and said to me, 'Look, if you're going to fight the hoplomachus ... you have to rid him of his spear to gain advantage.' When we actually shot that scene, they didn't even implement that advice. I went to the producers afterwards and said, 'Hey guys, it's kind of crazy that ... we never used it in the fight scene.' So we shot an insert that shows the ridding of the hoplomachus' spear.... [When Auctus dies,] I chose to look at the sky and scream this primal scream that was an exhilarating moment to take Crixus from being this long-haired hauler of stone."
Death: His beheading was viewed in a reflection of his lover's eye. Check out Bennett's extensive thoughts on his death in this interview.
TV Scorecard: What's canceled?
Todd Lasance, "Gaius Julius Caesar"
First kill: Undercover as a slave, Caesar earns Spartacus' trust by stabbing a so-called Roman who was trying to infiltrate the rebels at Sinuessa en Valle.
"My first kill was awesome," Lasance says. "I just got to go to town with this dagger and tackle this guy to the ground, and we're in this massive castle set. So it was full-on to have that moment, that realization that I was not only playing Caesar, but here I am on set, the battle has already begun and it was only a few episodes in."
Dan Feuerriegel, "Agron"
First kill: He uses the murmillo style (sword, shield, arm guard and helmet) and killed his opponent in defense of his less-skilled brother Duro (Ande Cunningham) in the arena.
"My first kill was in the arena when I was fighting alongside my brother Duro, and it was awesome," Feuerrigel says. "It was the first time I got to dress up in the arena clothes. I really did feel like part of the show then. I felt like a gladiator then. You had the fountains of blood pouring out of the neck and all that stuff."
Cynthia Addai-Robinson, "Naevia"
First kill: After escaping the slave mines, she trained until she could exact revenge on Ashur (Nick Tarabay), the slave whose duplicity had sent her there. She faces off with him one-on-one atop a cliff before finally beheading him.
"It was hard as a character and it was hard as an actress. It took about a week to film that last scene," Addai-Robinson says. "Showing up to work every day trying to chop somebody's head off is not an easy thing. It took three attempts to chop off Ashur's head."
Christian Antidormi, "Tiberius"
First kill: In a sneak attack on Spartacus and the pirates outside of Sinuessa en Valle, Tiberius takes down several rebels, including the big lug Totus (James Wells).
"It was a pretty good first kill," Antidormi says. "I didn't know how to give it justice, especially when you've got these fancy cameras that are shooting at incredible frames. Just grabbing that energy and that intensity just to take you there and just go for it, it's pretty exciting because obviously you have to play that you're in war with thousands of people killing for the glory of Rome."
25 Bubble Shows: Which will survive?
Ellen Hollman, "Saxa"
First kill: When the Romans raid the rebel camp in Vengeance, Saxa takes down several of the enemy while wielding two daggers.
"Oh my goodness, one of the first guys I killed was probably Josh [Randall], who is one of our amazing stuntmen," Hollman says. "He's probably 6-foot-4, big Kiwi guy. You couldn't break him if you tried, and trust me, I tried. But it was quite invigorating. I got a taste for blood and it hasn't stopped since."
Nick Tarabay, "Ashur"
First kill: He betrays Barca's (Antonio Te Maioho) plan to gain his freedom and then stabs him .
"I killed Barca and that was just delicious because it was the birth of what Ashur was going to become, his knowledge of his true power as a very smart guy," Tarabay says. "So it was a transition mode. Even though I love Antonio and I hated killing him, I was like, 'Dude.' But it looked great on screen even though a lot of people hated me for it."
Death: After a protracted fight with Naevia, he is decapitated.
"I knew it was coming to an end because he just went all-out. After a while, you start missing the angles, and that's what happened to Ashur," Tarabay says. "And even in the afterlife, nobody is with him. He's all by himself."
Are you ready for the Spartacus finale? What are your favorite kills or deaths?