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Spartacus: Why Lucretia’s Ending Was Worse Than Game of Thrones’ Daenerys

After reigning supreme as one of the best shows on television, HBO’s Game of Thrones infamously faltered in its eighth and final season. A quality decline and rushed storylines were among the two biggest reasons for the downturn, not to mention the final Iron Throne reveal left many fans in jaw-dropping disbelief. Daenerys Targaryen’s arc, in particular, was a prominent sore spot for many, as her drastic descent into madness had little backing other than her father’s legacy. While there is no denying Daenerys deserved a better ending, Spartacus’ Lucretia even surpasses the Mother of Dragons when it comes to rushed finales.

Spartacus – Lucy Lawless and Naevia

Lucretia appears in Spartacus’ first two seasons and the prequel mini-series, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Unlike Daenerys, Lucretia functions as the antagonist, albeit a sympathetic one. Actor Lucy Lawless expertly captures the character’s nuance as Lucretia grapples with a hateful father-in-law, difficulty ascending Rome’s hierarchy, and the inability to give her husband, Quintus (John Hannah), an heir. She exists as a woman in a patriarchal society, forcing her to work in the shadows through her husband or other powerful men, and her struggle with conceiving a child only adds to her feelings of worthlessness.

Lucretia’s desire to have a baby becomes a plot point in all of her three-season appearances. The prequel mini-series spotlights her fertility issues and reveals her affair with Crixus (Manu Bennett) started with the intention of conceiving an heir for her husband. Blood and Sand sees her achieve that goal, only to have it violently taken from her when Spartacus and the other gladiators take over the Ludus. Vengeance reveals Lucretia survived the attack, only to discover her frenemy, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca), is pregnant. Thus, Lucretia murders her attending slaves and takes the baby before shockingly jumping off a cliff, committing suicide with the intention of reuniting with her husband and their new son in the afterlife.On the surface, this seems like a poetic conclusion to Lucretia’s story: she finally delivers an heir to her husband. However, once the shock wears off, Lucretia’s cliff jump makes little sense and, much like Daenerys, her otherwise captivating arc goes off the rails. Her suicide feels like an afterthought, with her sudden “madness” feeling very out of character.

Spartacus – Lucy Lawless as Lucretia in Vengeance

Vengeance sees Lucretia unexpectedly return disheveled, seemingly mad and claiming no memory of the massacre that occurred in Blood and Sand. Despite this, Glaber (Craig Parker) orders Ilithyia to clean Lucretia up with the intention of displaying her as a prophetic gift from the gods. However, Vengeance reveals Lucretia’s madness is all an act. In true antagonistic fashion, Lucretia uses her new title as mouthpiece to the gods to work her way into Glaber’s good graces. With Glaber on her side, she continues pulling strings to gain as much power and value as she can — something she desperately needs without Quintus to take care of her.It’s an interesting premise that highlights Lucretia’s cunning and ability to play the long-con. However, the storyline loses itself somewhere in Vengeance’s middle point. From there, Lucretia turns from obtaining power to plotting Glaber’s death while dealing with Ashur’s (Nick E. Tarabay) unwanted sexual advances. When that fails, she seems to settle on accompanying Ilithyia to Rome. Her end game turns murky, with her most obvious desire being to escape Ashur’s grasp and maintain a lifestyle similar to the one she had with Quintus.

However, everything changes when Ilithyia’s water breaks at the Ludus, causing Lucretia to proclaim, “This is a sign from the gods. It must be born within these walls.” Although Lucretia claims this is what she “always intended,” Vengeance’s story would suggest otherwise, considering she had planned to accompany Ilithyia to Rome only hours prior. Her talk of gods and curses also suggests she suddenly places value in these beliefs despite the season making a big deal about her prior “madness” being a performance.With Glaber randomly deciding to kill Lucretia and demanding Illithyia carry out the deed, it seems Vengeance wrote Lucretia into a corner. Yes, she gets the titular vengeance over Ilithyia by taking the baby she’d come to care about, but the Lucretia of seasons past valued self-preservation above all else. She even killed her father-in-law for it back in Gods of the Arena. For her to spend months faking madness and her prophetic gift to gain power only for her to throw it all away by killing herself is bizarre, to say the least. Not to mention that the supposed “plan” could have all unraveled if Glaber had been killed sooner or Ilithyia made it to Rome.

Spartacus – Lucy Lawless as Lucretia

The big twist spotlights Lucretia’s ruthlessness but undercuts her cunning and intelligence. It also reduces her to the “crazed” mother trope, which is ironic given her previous apathy toward children. While having a baby remains a big part of her arc, Lucretia never really desired children for any reason other than to please her husband and make her seem worthy and valuable in the eyes of Rome. So, for her to jump off a cliff for one seems far-fetched. And while it’s clear she loved Quintus very much, Vengenace doesn’t give quite enough attention to her heartache over losing him until its finale.

Thus, Lucretia suffers a similar fate to Game of Thrones’ Daenerys. Both women were driven to madness with little build-up. In Lucretia’s case, part of this can be blamed on story revisions. Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight revealed Lucretia’s story was meant to end in Season 1, with them shooting two takes of the finale episode in case they wanted to bring her back. After facing backlash for killing “the biggest name in the show,” DeKnight pushed back on his instincts to incorporate a “mad Lucretia,” similar to Hamlet’s Ophelia. DeKnight envisioned Lucretia as a mad woman putting on the act of a sane one. However, many interpreted Lucretia’s madness as an act, not her sanity. Lucretia’s Ludus attack survival, relationship with Ashur during that time and mourning of Quintus were all plot threads left dangling. In earlier seasons, Lucretia was a main character and focus, whereas Vengeance sidelined her to more of a support role. Thus, a “criminally insane” Lucretia is intriguing but needed more screen time to play out and give Spartacus’ most compelling villain the send-off she deserved.

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