Spartacus is the Starz breakout original series that blew expected ratings out of the water. The electrifying, blood-soaked action-drama is based on the violent and grotesque gladiatorial fights of ancient Rome.

Season one grabbed my attention for its highly developed, cinematic action scenes and the dramatic relationship development between characters and story plot.

Lucy Lawless (Lucretia) and John Hannah (Batiatus) are an upper-class couple in the city of Capua. Batiatus owns a ludus and trains gladiators to fight in the city’s tournaments for money, household honor and glory. He purchases a slave as a gladiatorial trainee, and Spartacus is born. Andy Whitfield (Spartacus, season one) impressed audiences with his creation and development of the main character Spartacus. He transforms into a gladiator and a slave, while remaining a man with a grudge who will not be broken.

Fans have been waiting since 2010 for season two, and it is finally here.

The second season airs after unfortunate circumstances that led to recasting the lead role of Spartacus.

Shortly after the debut of season one, ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand,’ in early 2010, Whitfield was diagnosed with stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Starz worked with Whitfield. Whilst he received treatment for his cancer, Starz created a six-episode prequel titled ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ that aired Jan. 2011. The prequel not only gave Whitfield time to heal, but also kept fans interested and tied the story together, giving greater depth to character backgrounds.

In June 2010, Whitfield was issued a clean bill of health and was ready to begin filming season two immediately, but unfortunately the cancer returned, and Whitfield decided that it was time to recast the part of Spartacus. Whitfield passed away Sept. 11, 2011.

Liam McIntyre is the new Spartacus and knows he has a large role to fill.

From the trailer, McIntyre plays the role convincingly; however, only the full release of season two will tell.

Season one concluded with Spartacus (Whitfield) leading the gladiators in a bloody rebellion against Batiatus in his ludus. Season two will open with the now free and violent gladiators seeking revenge. The Roman Republic in the city of Capua is terrified as the band of freed slaves, led by Spartacus (McIntyre), continues to grow. Spartacus needs to decide if his need for revenge is greater than the lives of his followers.

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‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ airs Jan. 27, 2012 on Starz

WARNING: Contains graphic violence, viewer discretion is advised.