The epic tale of swords, sex, and sandals known as Spartacus finally comes to an end with the series finale on Starz at 9 p.m. on April 12. So we asked showrunner Steven S. DeKnight to pick the biggest, best, and boldest moments from a drama that never shied away from showing blood or naked bodies — often at the same time.

  • TV Show


For DeKnight, the show’s most shocking moment occurred back in season 1 when Spartacus (then played by Andy Whitfield, who passed away in 2011) was ordered to kill his best friend, Varro (Jai Courtney), after besting him in gladiator combat. ”I think that was a real turning point for the show,” says DeKnight. ”Not only Varro’s death but how it happened and Ilithyia’s [Viva Bianca] machinations of sleeping with the young Numerius [Lliam Powell] to give the order to kill. That whole story line and how it culminated was probably the biggest shock for the audience.”


This is a series that showed pretty much everything — and we mean everything — when it came to sex. Yet… ”My number one pick for the hottest sex scene shockingly has almost no nudity in it,” reveals DeKnight. ”It was in season 2 between Varinius [Brett Tucker] and Ilithyia, where they’re at the party and — I don’t know how to delicately put this — Varinius is manipulating her under her dress while the party’s going on. The insinuation of what was going on made it just so incredibly sensual and sexy.”


Spartacus has had some of the most graphic death scenes ever filmed for TV, so it’s no surprise that DeKnight can’t bring himself to choose only one. ”That’s a firm tie between Ilithyia killing Licinia [Brooke Harman] by smashing her face on the steps and Spartacus [now played by Liam McIntyre] slicing off the face of [unruly German slave] Sedullus [Conan Stevens] and his brains starting to slip out,” muses DeKnight. ”Those are the two deaths that even when I watched, I leaped off my chair.”


The entire arc of the series has been Spartacus seeking vengeance for his wife, Sura (Erin Cummings), who was taken as a slave and then killed, so it makes sense that DeKnight names the season 1 episode in which she dies as the most heartbreaking. ”Spartacus is planning on escaping with his wife, and she dies in his arms,” he says. ”It was such a beautiful performance by Andy and Erin Cummings. And a brilliant performance from John Hannah as Batiatus, where you realize at the end of the episode he had planned her death all along.”


DeKnight’s pick for the show’s best-ever episode is one we have yet to even see: the series finale on April 12. ”I think the finale just encapsulates everything that we’ve loved doing with this show. It has the romance, it has the amazing action, but it has an emotional core. It is just a gut-wrenching story, the way it unfolds. And I think the last two scenes of the finale are as powerful as anything we’ve ever done.”


  • TV Show