With its star Andy Whitfield recovering from cancer treatment, Spartacus is looking back rather than ahead with the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. But since we already saw what happens next, we already know who lives and dies, right?
SInce this new guy Gannicus (Dustin Clare) wasn't in the first season, he dies in battle, doesn't he? Not so, said producer Steven S. DeKnight at the Television Critics Association fall press tour on Aug. 7.
"Yes, there are characters, obviously, that you know survive into season one, and there are new characters who aren't in season one who you may be suspicious that don't survive," DeKnight said. "We do have a way to mix that up so you're never quite 100 percent sure. It's pretty much the thing we were faced with in season one. In Spartacus you know he's going to live, you know he's going to survive that battle, but you can still squeeze some mighty fine drama out of it getting up to that."
See, it's not all about telling stuff we already heard about. Part of the prequel will actually set up things they're planning for season two. Maybe Gannicus comes back to do battle with Spartacus?
"There are things that happen in the prequel that come back around in season two," DeKnight said. "So it works to fill in the gaps of season one, and it also works to platform things that are going to happen in season two. So in that way it all ties together. If the prequel were purely telling stories and filling in information that we learned in season one, I would have had some doubt."
Still not convinced? *Spoiler alert* if you don't want to know about season two ... but someone who died at the end of season one is still coming back. Lucretia returns for the prequel but also remains in the cast for season two, and you thought you saw her die.
"I was thinking she was still twitching at the end of season one, if you look," DeKnight said. "The original plan with Lucy and that character was to kill her at the end of the season. Basically we had John Hannah and Lucy Lawless for only one season. That's what we could get them for. Towards the end of season one, Lucy was having such a great time, and we all loved her so much, there was interest in bringing her back. I got a call from [producer, and Lawless's husband] Rob Tapert saying, 'Starz called, and they'd really like Lucy to come back, and Lucy really wants to come back.' I said, 'Absolutely not. She's going to die. That's the way the story goes.' Then the next day I called him up and said, 'Rob, I got an idea.' We're thrilled Lucy will be back in season two. Where the story goes with her is really something special."
Some of the prequel will pay off hints that were dropped in season one. You'll see whole episodes devoted to one line of backstory. "We're thrilled to be able to go back and tell a lot of the things that you hear about in season one," DeKnight said. "Little one-liners like when Peter Mensah mentions his wife in one line, now we built an entire story around that. It was unfortunate circumstances, but I think we've really made the most of it."
Once Whitfield is back to full strength, they are planning to move ahead with the official second season of Spartacus. DeKnight says Whitfield's already on his way. "Andy looks better than I have ever seen in my entire life. He looks fantastic. He's in great spirits. He's recovered, he's training. He's actually talking about bulking up bigger this year. So, yeah, he's doing great."
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena starts in January on Starz.