[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the most recent Spartacus episode.]
The Undefeated Gaul finally fulfilled his destiny.
On Friday's Spartacus: War of the Damned, the rebel forces parted ways... permanently. Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) led the fugitives north toward the Alps and the promise of freedom, while Crixus (Manu Bennett) took his group westward towards Rome and ultimately, to their death. And although Crixus' defeat was disheartening, it was to be expected. "Well, historically, it was going to be the case anyway," Bennett tells TVGuide.com. "Anyone who went onto Wikipedia knew."
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It's a bittersweet ending for Bennett, who is the only actor to have starred in all three seasons of Spartacus and the prequel series. That means that he's one of the few who has worked with both of the men who portrayed the series' titular hero: the late Andy Whitfield who died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma after portraying Spartacus in the first season and McIntyre, who took over the role in the second season onward.
"We had a lovely moment [in my final episode] where I said to Spartacus, 'I once said we could have been as brothers,'" Bennett says. "It was a homage to a similar moment I also had in the first season with Andy Whitfield. So that was a very poignant moment for me in terms of going full circle with this television show." Bennett had also been a vocal supporter of the Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Be Here Now, a documentary that chronicles Whitfield's battle with cancer, and called his former co-star a "great, great man."
Check out what else Bennett had to say about his Spartacus swan song:
Even though history dictated that Crixus died, we were still halfway hoping that he'd succeed in taking over Rome.
Manu Bennett: [Laughs] That would be a whole new series! We would all be speaking French there. ... We'd be buying croissants in Rome.
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We can't find an account of how Crixus was specifically killed. Why do you think he was beheaded on the show?
Bennett: I think the idea of that was so that symbolically, in the next episode following, [his partner] Naevia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) could return my head to Spartacus.
Were you satisfied with the way you were beheaded? We only saw your head get lopped off in slow-mo through a reflection in Naevia's eye.
Bennett: They treated it beautifully. ... Most bodies just flop to the ground in this kind of unceremonious splatter of blood that is very dehumanizing to the spirit of most characters that get killed on our show. Whereas they didn't show that mortal end for Crixus. They decided to make it poetic and shoot into the eye of Naevia. ... It made it somehow just an emotion, much like a lot of his story line with Naevia was. It was almost semi-romantic.
Did you have to make a cast of your head?
Bennett: They did. Funnily enough, it came back looking nothing like me. In fact, it looked like one of our stunt guys. We were all laughing. ... I still haven't seen the following episode when it's presented to know whether or not it looks like me.
It seems that in these past few episodes, Spartacus wants more peace, while Crixus can't let go of his bloodlust.
Bennett: Crixus keeps trying to say to Spartacus, "Why are we turning from the Romans?" Spartacus is always saying, "Because we're trying to free these people, not get them all killed." And Crixus is like, "We can use them as an army and wipe out the Romans forever." Crixus made a decision to take who he could, and Spartacus took who he could. In any historic reference to battles where forces are divided, they don't actually end victorious. You can see that the division of numbers can be also critical.
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What do you make of Naevia becoming the most bloodthirsty rebel of them all this season? She chopped Ulpianus' hand in half when he reached for bread, and she killed Attius (Cohen Holloway) for a crime he never committed!
Bennett: When it came to the Ulpianus (Charlie Bleakley) hand-slicing moment, she unraveled yet again. ... Reading all the blog sites, I saw there was a lot of venting against Naevia, saying, "What's she doing? She's crazy! She's going to drag Crixus to his death." With her newfound bloodlust to take vengeance against Romans, she veered Crixus off into the same direction. He knew that he'd either hold her hand in some sense of eternal love, whether it'd be running off into the sunset or turning towards the gates of Rome. He always knew it was one or the other. Crixus was hoping for a more romantic end to his scenario with Naevia.
Why do you think that even though Crixus was facing off with the mighty Caesar (Todd Lasance), it's the young Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) who ultimately took him down?
Bennett: Unfortunately, there's little Tiberius behind me with his spear, so that Crixus is brought down by this child, which is quite profound. He's brought down by the symbolic youth of Rome, the future of Rome. ... He can't overpower Rome because symbolically it's got that ongoing force that's going to go on for centuries to come.
Was it also fitting because Crixus took Tiberius' sword from that earlier battle?
Bennett: At the time, I went up to [Spartacus executive producer Steven] DeKnight, intrigued, and said, "Why am I taking this sword?" No one had given me an answer on it, except, "That sword comes in later on in the season." So we shot this scene where Crixus did examine this sword, and it was the harbinger of his own demise further down the line.
Speaking of swords, did you get one from the set as a memento?
Bennett: Well, because I finished two episodes out from the end of the series, I ended up heading off to L.A. and whatnot. We got this email saying, "For those of you who are interested in acquiring things from set, don't even ask because it's all being shipped off to Starz to be auctioned." It was lousy. I really wanted Crixus' outfit from the last scene. But the thing is, we were recently in New York for a promo, and I nicked one of the swords there. [Laughs] We were ringing the NASDAQ bell, and I made the suggestion that we have swords, and they said, "Oh, that's a good idea," so they flew all of these swords down to New York from the Starz headquarters. Then I had the sword in my sights. ... I kind of snuck out the back door with it.
Will you miss Crixus, Naevia and Agron? What did you think about the lesson Tiberius gave to Caesar?
Spartacus will return for its final two episodes on Friday, April 5 at 9/8c on Starz.