Spartacus Vengeance's Steven DeKnight On Lucretia, Ilithyia, And Some Season 3 Details

I doubt I’m alone in still grieving the loss of so many characters during last Friday night’s Spartacus: Vengeance finale. Series creator Steven DeKnight spoke to the press today about the finale and what’s ahead for Season 3. If you aren’t caught up on Spartacus: Vengeance, there are major spoilers from the finale mentioned, so stop reading now!

This article does contain some spoilers from Season 3, but they’re mostly vague descriptions. Still, keep that in mind before reading on!

We’re hoping to get a full transcript of the conversation Steven DeKnight had with the press today, in the meantime, we do have some interesting tidbits to share with you, including DeKnight’s story of how he brought Lucretia back from the almost-dead while in the shower, and where things are headed for the third season, including the introduction of Crassus and Caesar, and where they fit historically and dramatically into the series.

Before we get to that, a couple of quick things. First, Season 3 of Spartacus has yet to receive a subtitle, but they’re working on it. It will jump forward about six months after the conclusion of Vengeance. Also, there will be three new female characters introduced to the series, but DeKnight was mum on the details there. It also sounds like Saxa (the blonde, German rebel woman) will be featured a bit more in Season 3. DeKnight wouldn’t confirm whether this includes a romance with Gannicus, but it sounds like a possibility.

On the subject of Season 3, here’s how DeKnight broke things down as far as Crassus and Caesar’s involvement in the story, and where the rebels will be.

Next season we finally - after three seasons of talking about it - will be introduced to Marcus Crassus and will start that section of the war. Next season, we’re actually going to jump forward about six months. So, we’re deep into the war. Spartacus’ army has grown to what it is in history. Or it’s on the way of being that big. It’s not a few hundred people, it’s thousands of runaway slaves that have joined his cause. Crassus will be brought in to try to quell the rebellion, and he will enlist Julius Caesar to help him. This is a young Julius Caesar. Right around 27.

DeKnight jumped right into addressing potential historical inaccuracies regarding this, stating:

And I’ve already been pelted by messages on the internet. ‘You’re ruining history! Julius Caesar has nothing to do with the Spartacus war!’ - Which is actually true and not true. This is an odd period in Julius Caesar’s history, a man that we know so much about. This time period - there’s not a lot known about him, except that he was a military tribune in Rome, and of all accounts that I’ve read so far, most of them say that he may have been or most likely was part of this army sent after Spartacus. Especially since he does have a relationship with Crassus. It’s often a bit of a tumultuous relationship, but they do know each other, and of course, as everyone knows according to history, Crassus, Caesar and Pompey over-throw the republic later on.

DeKnight describes his series as “historically adjacent,” and spoke about putting a “dramatic spin” on historical events...

“The fact that there are large gaps in what is known in this time period, especially about Spartacus, has been incredibly liberating to actually tell the story. Next season we are taking a lot of these events that are known and putting a dramatic spin on them. The fact that there aren’t a lot of facts really, really helps us when we’re trying to develop a dramatic story. As I always say, Spartacus isn’t a documentary. You shouldn’t write a term paper based on this show. First and foremost, it’s entertainment. To me, that’s my job #1 - to entertain the audience. My job #2 is not to completely turn my back on history. We call it ‘historically adjacent.’ We want to be in the neighborhood of history - not go completely off the rails.

As for Lucretia, it’s likely that fans of hers were disappointed to see her step off the edge of the cliff near the end of Vengeance’s “Wrath of the Gods.” As much as I’m going to miss Lucretia, and Lawless on the series, it was pretty brilliant moment and a conclusion fitting for such an excellent (and clearly mentally unstable) character. I asked DeKnight about the decision to kill of Lucretia, and he explained that it went back to the first season, when she was originally set to die at the hands of Crixus...

The decision to kill Lucretia’s character actually starts way back at the end of Season 1, when I decided to kill her the first time. It always makes me chuckle when I read that - people are saying “Ah, you killed Lucy Lawless! I’ll never watch the show again!” Because in my mind, Lucretia got a reprieve. She was in a six episode prequel, and then another entire season when she was supposed to be dead at the end of Season 1. Going back to Season 1, I really felt at the time when I was structuring it, that Spartacus had to kill Batiatus, and Crixus had to kill Lucretia for what they did. And, we actually shot it both ways. We shot it where Lucretia was clearly dead at the end of Season 1, and one where she was still twitching, because there was still some discussion.I was approached by Starz and my producing partner Rob Tapert, who’s married to Lucy, and the concern was, in the second season, should we bring back what is arguably the biggest name in the show. And I was absolutely adamant. ‘No, she had to die. Wouldn’t work any other way.” Basically, everyone said, ‘Ok, you know what you’re doing.’ And then the next morning, in the shower before I came to work, I had this idea about “mad Lucretia,” a take on mad Ophelia.I thought at the time, wouldn’t it be great if Ilithyia’s pregnant and Lucretia - criminally insane at this point - has designs on the child? And everybody thinks - the audience will think she wants to take the child and run away with it, but if you look back over the season, you realize she wants to take the child to her dead husband in the afterlife. And she goes over the cliff.So, that’s the idea I had that morning. I called Rob up and said, ‘Rob, I got an idea.’ She was brought back based on this idea. We didn’t bring her back and then decide what to do with her. I wanted to know clearly where that character ended. And I also thought that Lucretia and Ilithyia both had to die together to really conclude that story-line. So, that was the entire thrust of bringing her back, is that she needed to be instantly tied into Ilithyia, and their story-line needed to be tied together in grand operatic fashion.

So, apparently, Lucretia was on borrowed time as it was. And instead of her death being tied to her relationship with Crixus as it was meant to happen in Season 1, it was tied to her relationship with Ilithyia. Crixus stabbing her was a shocking moment, but watching her tip backwards off the clip was, as DeKnight put it, “grand operatic fashion.” Unfortunately, those of us hoping Ilithyia managed to survive the forced C-section Lucretia gave her, DeKnight confirms that she’s totally dead...

She’s completely dead. So many characters died, but especially with Lucretia and Ilithyia, we really looked at what was coming next in the story, with Crassus and Caesar launching a full-scale war against the rebel slaves. Ilithyia and Lucretia just didn’t have a place in that world. There was no scenario where Crassus was going to take those two with them, or take Ilithyia with them. Crassus doesn’t know them. They would be damaged goods no matter how you sliced it, so they really didn’t fit into the world. We felt that jamming a character into the season just to bring the actor or actress back just didn’t feel right.As much as the audience may love that character, I personally think that if you don’t do the character justice in a season, they will start to not like that character. It will change their memory of that character. So, best to end on a high note. Could she come back in a flashback? Absolutely possible. No plans at the moment, but I absolutely love Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless, and they were fantastic together. So, I won’t rule out a flashback, but at this point there’s no plans.

A flashback or two featuring the characters in Season 3 would be great, assuming they can find a way to work them into the story fittingly.

One of the other things DeKnight spoke about, which I thought was especially interesting, was the creative freedom Starz gives him and the other writers with regards to the show. He also mentioned getting to work with Joss Whedon. Fans of the Buffy creator know he’s another one not afraid to cut beloved characters loose.

I’ve been very lucky in my career, to work with some great people, Joss Whedon #1 among them, in my time on Buffy and Angel, which is thrilling in its own right, to work on something you’re so excited about. But once you get to the level of creating a show and working on a show in that kind of excruciating detail, you really, really hope it’s a show you’re excited to work on, and not a show you have to drag yourself to your computer every day to write for the paycheck. That’s the great thing about this job. A lot of people always say ‘It’s not about the money,’ but it really isn’t on this show.It’s such a fantastic opportunity that I never, never in my life dreamed that I would be able to, not only work on a show like Spartacus, but create it and executive produce it along with my partners, and just be involved with a show that just excites me every day.The other part of that equation is working on this show with Starz, where they give us absolute creative freedom, as evidenced by the season finale this year where - If I was on network television, I guaranty you they wouldn’t let me kill off all those main characters, and they certainly wouldn’t let me take a baby over a cliff. I feel like I’m in this dream-like position of being on a show that I love, and having a network that is incredibly supportive and allows full creative control, which is so rare these days. Usually you’re just micro-managed to death. But Starz really gives us a lot of latitude.

Hopefully we’ll have the full transcript of the call to share with you soon. In the meantime, we have until January 2013 to speculate (and obsess) over what’s ahead for those characters who did survive Season 2.

Update: Full transcript here!

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site. She an expert in all things Harry Potter, books from a variety of genres (sci-fi, mystery, horror, YA, drama, romance -- anything with a great story and interesting characters.), watching Big Brother, frequently rewatching The Office, listening to Taylor Swift, and playing The Sims.