Whoa — Starz just renewed Spartacus for a third season.

The timing is a surprise, even if the news is not: Two months before Sparty is set to return for a second season, Starz has decided to pick up the franchise for a third round (the season numbers don’t include the six-episode prequel, Gods of the Arena). The move shows confidence in both the strength of the series and in new star Liam McIntyre, who took on the lead role of Spartacus after star Andy Whitfield withdrew from the series to resume “aggressive treatment” for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Whitfield passed away from the disease in September.

The show premieres as Spartacus: Vengeance on Jan. 27. Here’s a look at the poster and some behind-the-scenes video.

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