James Hibberd
March 30, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Spartacus second season finale “Wrath of the Gods” sent several popular characters to the afterlife in grand style, plus set the stage for Spartacus facing a Roman legend in season three. Below, writer-producer Steven S. DeKnight answers your burning questions: Who’s really dead, why they died and what to expect next season (time jump!).

EW: What were your goals with this finale?

DeKnight: I’m a strong believer in putting a punctuation mark on the end of a season. You get the sense there’s something more coming, but it’s also a complete experience; it’s not a big cliffhanger. I wanted to wrap up some story threads, especially looking toward the next season when we bring in Marcus Crassus and Julius Caesar going after Spartacus. There needed to be some housekeeping to make room for the next round of storytelling. More than anything, I want to go for an emotional tale that hopefully will have people leaping out of their seats and yelling at their television. I expect to get a few angry messages.

One of my favorites, Ashur, I figured he was doomed, but at least he went out in style. Since he wasn’t based on a specific person from history, can you talk about that decision?

I made that decision before season 1 was done shooting. I bumped into [Ashur actor] Nick Tarabay at the grocery store and I was like, ‘Oh I got a great ending for your character.’ There’s a lot of speculation on the Internet about who is going to kill Ashur. It came down to who is the most grievously injured by Ashur and that’s Naevia.

You got to have your cake and eat it too since Lucretia had a hand in that as well.

Yeah, considering how Ashur had turned the tables on her and was abusing her. We have a reputation of killing anybody at any time, but 99 percent of the time you get a great send off.

And Oenomaus, historically he died fairly early on during the revolt. Was there any thought about keeping him around?

He was historically the first to fall. Deciding whether to kill a character is not 100 percent based on their character, but their relationship with other characters. Like Naevia with Ashur. For Oenomaus, it needed to be a Gannicus moment. Ever since the prequel aired, they’re so tied to each other. It will help cement Gannicus staying with the rebels.

And then there’s the other thing we’ve all been waiting for: Lucretia getting revenge on Ilithyia. Was that exact ending always the one you had in mind?

Yes, that’s the outcome that brought Lucretia back at the end of season one. When I was first asked if she could come back I was like, ‘She has to die with Batiatus.’ Then the next day in the shower I had an idea, which was basically Lucretia as Mad Ophelia. And her wanting the baby and playing it out all season where you think she’s going to take the baby and raise it herself, then you realize she was insane. Her plan was always to take that baby to the afterlife and deliver it to her husband. I half expected Starz to say, “What do you mean you’re going to take a newborn baby over the cliff?!” But no they’re like, “Oh, great!”

Next: Is Ilithyia really dead? Mira’s fate. How Julius Caesar will be like Gannicus

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