Absolute, edge of my seat the entire episode. Or, rather, sitting cross-legged in my chair, one hand over my mouth the entire time. Cried through the second half. I know that 98% of people who I know would not enjoy with show, what with the extreme, exaggerated violence of plentiful sex and nudity (although, to be honest, both actually declined as the show went on -- it didn't get less violent, but it was a bit less over the top (sometimes), and the random background sex/nudity became (a little) less common), but it got so, so good by the middle of the first season. It was frequently horribly beautiful, with such real, raw, flawed characters. The relationships were so painful and real and the show never flinched from showing the negative -- once the rebellion really gets going, there's really no plan as to how to control and feed and shelter the "army," and absolutely no idea about what's going to replace the Roman government should they actually overthrow it (which, you know, we know that they won't). Even people who are allies often don't get along and sometimes don't even like each other. Individuals on both sides do terrible things and amazing things and there are really no characters who are completely good or evil.
As various people were pointing out in the comments for the AV Club review, in the end, nearly everyone is dead, and certainly everyone from the first few episodes. But most of their deaths were amazing and devastating. And the final credits montage, ending with a shot of the late Andy Whitfield, was stunning.
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