Season 3, Episode 1 ("Enemies of Rome") offers some great, bloody battle scenes and checks in with the characters to give an idea of where things are starting out, but Episode 2 ("Wolves at the Gate") is where things really get going, as Spartacus and his men attempt to secure shelter ahead of the approaching winter, and Crassus enlists Caesar's help. While the second episode offers better momentum than the first, both episodes give us an idea of where Spartacus is as a leader and how he's managing to maintain control and make choices for the cause, for himself and for the men and women looking to him for direction.

This is the last season, and fans are likely hoping for something spectacular. It's all been leading up to this as we watched Spartacus go from warrior to slave and gladiator, to free man and military leader. Crassus and Caesar could prove to be a devastating force to Spartacus and his army, putting the lead character to what may be his final test as this story wraps up.

I've admitted in the past that I didn't love Spartacus: Blood and Sand from the start. It took word of mouth to get me to give the show a second look, and I'm glad I did. What I came to learn was that the first few episodes of the series were really just laying the groundwork for some fantastic story and character drama to come. I'd place War of the Damned's premiere far above Blood and Sand's, as Steven DeKnight's series has come a long way from it's start in its storytelling, but there really is the sense of a new beginning and new settings and characters that make the series feel a little bit unfamiliar at the start. But, as was the case in Blood and Sand, once the story got rolling, Spartacus got really good. If "Wolves at the Gate" is any indication, a similar formula applies to War of the Damned," and there is much to look forward to as this compelling, action-packed, bloody drama approaches its end.

Spartacus: War of the Damned premieres Friday, January 25 at 9:00 p.m. on Starz.

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