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Rome: 2-4C Testudo et Lepus (The Tortoise and the Hare) - Capsule Review

Rome: 2-4C "Testudo et Lepus (The Tortoise and the Hare)" - Capsule Review

(Author’s note: It’s been pointed out that my capsules aren’t very capsulely. I’ll try to do better and keep the scene summaries shorter here, so that I can got to the full review sooner. I might note that DVD/computer compatibility problems keep me from using it for the quick capsule reviews, so I’m relying solely on notes. The full review, of course is with full consultation of the DVD to review the episode)

Previously: We see everybody fighting everybody: Atia/Servilia, Vorenus/Pullo, Duro/Servilia, Lyde’s Escape, Children in slavery, Octavian’s letter to Atia, Agrippa/Octavia , the poisoned stew approaches Atia.


Opening scene. As she brings the stew, Althea takes a taste. When she presents it, a bored Atia asks her servitor if someone can sing during her supper. The servant points out that Althea has a wonderful singing voice, and Atia asks her to sing “Crown of Sappho”. Althea begins, and she does have a lovely voice but those high notes must be murder, because she begins to bleed from the mouth, then collapses.

Duro is caught looking on, gulps and runs. Castor flashes to what happened and chases.

Short scene of Pullo galloping into Gaul.

Octavia and Jocasta enter the house tittering, then are distracted by screams. Following them, they find Mom and boyfriend Timon torturing the formerly handsome young slave Duro. Duro ultimately give up Servilia on Atia‘s promise to spare his life for ‘one name’. After he gives it, Atia orders Timon to take him out, kill him, and dispose of the body.

Timon returns to his house still bloody. Brother Levi rebukes Timon and vice versa. Just like fights with my brother, knives end up being drawn.

The town crier dude announces Octavian and the two generals are about to engage Antony near Mutina, Gaul.

Cut to Gaul, and if we didn’t get to see much of the battle of Pharsalus in season 1, we see a broad battlefield scene here – at least the aftermath of one, as Pullo wanders among the wounded seeking Vorenus. As Pullo searches for Vorenus, we hear his name called by an officer on horseback. Pullo recognizes Octavian, but we don’t because he’s now played by another, older actor. Octavian’s won, then. Octavian’s now calling himself Caesar, too. He tells Pullo that he’ll have men search the wounded for Vorenus, but if he’s not here he’s retreating north to the Sisalpine hills with Antony, and Octavian gives him courier credentials to allow him to pass into enemy lines.

Octavian retires to his tent to consult with his hangers-on. He dispatches general Agrippa to Rome to bear messages to Octavia, Atia, and Cicero. The two generals he departed Rome with seem to have rather conveniently died of battlefield wounds, allowing Octavian to have all the glory, unshared. He gives a speech to the soldiers rallying them to return to Rome with him to collect their rightful pay, and it seems another Caesar will ‘cross the Rubicon’.

Pullo finds Vorenus in the retreating column. Vorenus is bitter and barely acknowledges him at first, but galvanizes into action on hearing his children are alive but enslaved. He reports to Antony and requests permission to leave the army. We learn Posca is still alive and as irreverent as ever. Antony is bemused that a soldier is asking permission to desert instead of just slipping away ‘like the rest’, but agrees when he learns Vorenus’s purpose. He instructs Vorenus and Pullo to tell everyone they meet that ‘Mark Antony will be back!’

Short scene of Brutus and Cassius congratulating each other for having raised 8 legions so far in the east. Brutus seems to be over his angst from last episode.

Servilia is praying somewhere (Shrine of Vesta?). Men slip up behind her and throw a bag over her head. When it’s whipped off she finds herself in Atia’s torture chamber. A long period of torture ensues with the screams ringing through the house. Finally Atia tries to push torturer Timon to one last act of brutality, which he rejects, cuts Servilia loose, and tells her to go, pushing Atia down against a wall. The chamber clears as Atia remains collapsed on the floor.

Scene of Pullo and Vorenus riding hard. When finally forced by darkness to camp, Pullo delicately raises the issue of the likely conditions of the girls in a slave camp, and Vorenus’s intentions toward the boy, Lucius, whom by Roman custom Vorenus should kill. “Bit hard on the girls, though”, comments Pullo.

“You talk too much”.

“We all have our faults.”

Back to Servilia’s house where her female chief servant is trying to comfort a near-fetal Servilia, who gibbers in terror.

Agrippa reports to Octavia with Octavian’s messages. Octavia’s shocked that Octavian won. Agrippa starts to confess his love of Octavia to her, but she snubs him, then lets him down more gently. Atia appears and is equally mystified that Octavian has beaten Antony.

Cut to the senate, where Agrippa gives Cicero the message that Octavian is shortly returning to Rome ‘with his army’. Oh my, sighs Cicero, “I’m so tired of young men and their ambitions”. Then he either displays his Hebrew scholarship, or reinvents Solomon “All is vanity, you know, all vanity.”

Pullo and Vorenus arrive at a slave quarry. Pullo asks Vorenus to let him do the talking. You know how well that will work. They find a supervisor and ask the way to the procurator’s tent. With a little bribery, and Pullo soothing things over whenever Vorenus’s temper erupts, they finally get directions and arrive there.

Pullo spins a story of being in search of runaways from Augustus Caesar’s house. They use the courier credential with Octavian’s seal on it to back up their story. The procurator finally agrees to take them to the slaves. Vorena the younger and Lucius are working in the scullery. Pullo and Vorenus find the younger girl first, and comfort her. Lucius stumbles into the scene and drops his grain sack trembling at the site of the man he thinks wants to kill him. Vorenus approaches as if still considering the possibility, but then hugs the boy instead.

We see Pullo and Vorenus led down the central walkway of a brothel area. A curtain is thrust aside, and a man is undressing, beyond him Vorena the elder cowers, face toward the wall.

We next see the procurator stumble from the brothel and collapse, bleeding. Vorenus, leading his older daugher by the hand, walks over him, and picks up Lucius. Then Pullo stops to remove a large knife from the procurator's back, and picks up the younger Vorena.

As they exit the tent, we fade to black, and the usual ending credit music returns, after the Iberian themed music of the last two episodes.

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Next Week: “Heroes of the Republic” – Families are reunited, forces are divided, and war looms. All may not be well in the Vorenus household, as Vorena the elder is seen telling Lyde that “He killed our mother.”

- Cecil

Previous Capsule: 2-3C “These Being the Words of Marcus Tullius Cicero”

Next Capsule: 2-5C "Heroes of the Republic"

Full review now available HERE.

Click here for complete "Rome" broadcast schedule, including reshow days, times, and HBO Channel


Posted by Cecil on February 4, 2007 3:07 PM
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