It started as a guilty pleasure. Innocently wandering over to a friend’s house, I feasted my eyes upon a show whose entire mission statement seemed to be: get characters naked, have them kill people, other people have sex. In other words, it was exactly the kind of over-the-top ridiculousness that one could be excused for getting sucked into.

And at first, I thought it was a crappy show that made up for how crappy it was with absurdist and incredibly gratuitous nudity and violence. But something really funny happened as I began to sink my teeth into Spartacus’s first season on Starz: I sort of fell in love.

Because Spartacus: Blood and Sand isn’t exactly a normal TV Show (it airs on Starz, it has a shortened season, it’s practically pornography), and therefore doesn’t follow exactly normal TV reviews, it was actually surprising on a level that most shows can’t be. On top of that, beneath the over-the-top orgies of both the carnal and bloody varieties, this show had some of the best characters ever created. It almost defies writing about them. S
uffice it to say that Battiatus and Lucretia (the power couple that owns all the Gladiators, played by Lucy Lawless and John Hannah) were near perfect evil creations. And in Spartacus, viewers had the type of manly sentimental badasssery that is the only way to redeem a character who spent the majority of every episode drenched in other people’s blood.

The dialogue, always flavored with a Shakesperean lilt, only improved as the series went on, as did its fast-paced plotting and excellent use of supporting and recurring characters. By the time that bat shit finale finally came around, it seemed an impossible task to truly tie up all the loose ends flapping about. Of course, the finale told you exactly how it was going to do that right in its episode title: Kill Them All.

The finale was a bloody, sex-filled apocalypse, literally awash with dead bodies and carnage, and it totally hit the reset button for next season. On a different show, I’d be worried that nearly half the principle cast left the finale irredeamably, well, dead, but on Spartacus, it only opens up further ridiculous and amazing possibilities.

Season Finale: A
Season: A-

SIDE NOTE: All episodes of Spartacus: blood and sand are available for free on Netflix Watch Instantly.