The premiere of the third and final season of Starz’s flagship series got off to a strong but not completely victorious start Friday. The season debut of Spartacus: War Of The Damned pulled a 5.5 rating, the second-highest ever for a Starz series. It was bested only by the prequel Spartacus: God Of The Arena’s premiere January 21, 2011, which garnered a 6.3 rating. Previous Spartacus debuts Blood And Sand and Vengeance drew a 3.7 and a 4.7, respectively, from the network’s subscribers. The Season 3 show debuted Friday at 9 PM with 930,000 viewers, the 10 PM airing drew 469,000 and the 11 PM pulled in 443,000.

A breakout hit for the network, Spartacus first premiered in January 2010 with Blood And Sand. The Roman Republic-era series survived the loss of its star, Andy Whitfield, who died of cancer in 2011. Its second season, Spartacus: Vengeance, featuring Liam McIntyre in the title role, averaged more than 6 million weekly viewers.