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Rome Fodder

Rome: 2-8C A Necessary Fiction - Capsule Review

Rome: 2-8C "A Necessary Fiction" - Capsule Review

Previously: Herod escapes death, Levi does not. Thug 2 and Vorena the elder snuggle, Pullo and Eirene snuggle, Memmio pulls his sting, Gaia visits an apothecary, Antony and Octavia wed.


Opening scene.

A lecture hall? The triumvirate? Octavian lectures a group of Roman matrons on the morality he wishes to restore to Rome. He makes the point that virtuous women are the backbone of Rome. He says he intends to reward fertility and punish adultery and immorality. His words are contrasted with scenes of his mother making love to his brother-in-law.

After the lecture, Octavian strolls with Maecenas and they discuss Maecenas’s search for a suitable bride for Octavian. Maecenas points out lovely Livia, who is young, comely, and of suitable nobility. Of course, she’s already married with a small son, Tiberius, but both agree this will be no great impediment, and indeed, as we saw in Octavia’s case in season one, it will not be. Maecenas presents Livia and her mother, Alphidia, to Octavian. After a minimum of chat, Octavian springs the question, the question being “How would you like to be married to me?” Only slightly taken aback, Livia responds positively. Little social climber.

Alone again, Octavian and Maecenas discuss security problems with the shipment of gold that’s coming in from Herod. No problem, Octavian’s best man, Vorenus will handle it.

The streets. Timon and family are leaving Rome, and discuss excitedly their new life in Jerusalem.

Elsewhere in the streets. Posca and Jocasta are shopping. Posca is indulging his young wife, and sends her into a shop to buy an item. “Take your time,” he says. Across the street, he pokes his head into a garish – what is the name, please, for these canopied ‘rooms’ carried about by slaves? Anyway, Posca pokes his head in the curtains, and we see Maecenas relaxing with a boy and girl hugging each other across from him. The boy and girl are dismissed and Posca crawls in. They discuss the details of their plan to intercept the bribe money. Maecenas seems to be taking the matter lightly, and Posca reminds him that if Antony or Octavian discover what they’ve done they both will die most unpleasantly.

The Aventine Collegium. Pullo, Vorenus, and Mascius discuss the shipment of gold due tomorrow, and the secret route the gold will take. Vorenus places Pullo in charge of the detail, which upsets Mascius.

The Aventine tavern. Gaia serves a cup of tea to Eirene. Don’t drink it, Eirene! She does. Cut to nighttime in the Aventine – Pullo is running about in a panic asking someone, anyone! to fetch a doctor, “She’s bleeding!” The doctor comes, along with a chanting priestess, but they can do nothing. In her final moments, Eirene asks Pullo to bury her as is the custom of her people, not burn her as the Romans do. And she asks if her child was a boy or girl. A boy. Pullo doesn’t want hear this talk of dying, but Eirene knows better and insists on his promise, and dies.

A burial, on a hill with a view. Pullo makes a moving burial speech which testifies to his love for her. We learn that she came from “somewhere beyond the Rhine”, and her original name was Adella. Pullo vows to dedicate his life to the gods, if they in return will look after Eirene and their boy in the afterlife.

A road. We see Mascius and a group of men warily making their way with the treasure.

Aventine Collegium. A servant reports to Vorenus – trouble with Mascius. Mascius is brought in, badly wounded. He says they were intercepted by a group of armed men, and had no chance. The gold is gone. Asked if he knows who they were, Mascius says ‘no, but they were good and they were waiting for us.’

The triumvirate. The triumvirs and Maecenas discuss the loss of the gold. Maecenas accuses Antony of having something to do with it, since Vorenus was his man. Antony suspects Maecenas or Lepidus. Vorenus appears and reports he has not found the gold, but will. Asked why Pullo was not on the shipment, Vorenus explains about his wife having just died. Antony reminds him of his responsibility, and he (Vorenus) knows the penalty for failure. Lepidus suddenly come up with alternate suspects. “Gauls – they breed like rabbits and they’re all thieves.” After the triumvirs clear out, leaving Posca and Maecenas alone, each accuses the others of pulling a double cross and keeping the gold for themselves.

Memmio’s den. Vorenus visits. ‘Celebrating something?’ he asks on seeing the festive mood. ‘No, we’re just happy people,’ Memmio replies. Memmio denies having anything to do with the robbery. ‘Makes us all look bad,’ and suggests ‘Look to your own people.’ After Vorenus leaves, Memmio tells an underling to fetch Cotta and Ascerbo for a little coup plotting.

The triumvirate. Maecenas talks with Octavian. Maecenas accuses Antony of disrespect, i.e. continuing to sleep with Octavian’s mother while married to his sister. And water is wet and fire is hot, Maecenas. Octavian doesn’t believe Antony would disrespect him like that. Based exactly on what, we wonder? Octavian summonses all members of the family to a little discussion.

Memmio’s den. Memmio talks to the other captains, His message: Time to put an end to Vorenus. The captains figure that means Memmio conducted the robbery. Memmio begs the question for a moment and continues to ask for their cooperation. They look like they may pull out, but Memmio says ”I didn’t expect you to help me out of brotherly love,” and opens a chest and begins tossing gold coins to the assembled captains.

Octavian’s chambers. He’s discussing the upcoming marriage with Livia, and asks a strange question. “Does your husband ever beat you?” “No.” “Did your father ever beat you?” “No, I never gave them any reason to.” That’s good, Octavian says, it means you were a dutiful wife and daughter. One little thing. After their marriage, he will beat her occasionally, he says, with his hands or a small whip. She should not take this personally, he says, its not for any shortcoming of hers but for his own sexual pleasure. Ewwwww. I think we see now why Max Pirkis had to make way for a new actor. Livia is social climber enough, and Roman enough, that she takes this revelation without comment.

Octavian’s chambers, later. The whole family, and family-to-be, and family-might-have-been are here. Antony, Atia, Octavia, Agrippa, Livia, and Maecenas. Octavian introduces Livia to the family, saying he wants her to see the family she’s marrying into. Octavian begins by telling Octavia that she has betrayed him. Antony jumps in “You’re talking about my wife!” Octavian details his grievances – Antony has continued to sleep with Atia, Octavia is sleeping with Agrippa all while Octavian has been preaching morality to the Romans. He banishes Antony to the eastern provinces, telling him if he (Octavian) spreads the news about Antony’s philandering, Antony’s soldiers will no longer obey him. Atia and Octavian he banishes to their households where he will keep them under guard. Antony, livid, grabs Octavian by the throat, but Octavian stares him down and Antony is beaten. Another scene where Max Pirkis would have been at a disadvantage. Octavia, in parting, tells Livia “Nice to have met you. Take care. You’re marrying a monster.” Livia takes all this in rather coolly. Agrippa apologizes to Octavian. Octavian tells Agrippa he will not banish him, he needs him in Rome.

The Aventine. Pullo is morose. Vorenus asks Gaia if he’s eaten anything. No. Pullo and Vorenus discuss the robbery. Only Mascius and one other survived. Pullo says it was most likely Memmio and Vorenus agrees. But who tipped him off? Vorenus says Memmio all but said it was someone inside the Vorenus organization. They go to see the wounded Mascius, lying on a table. As they question Mascius with more and more ominous questions, Vorena the younger chases little Lucius though the room, crying “Give it back!” After they’re gone, Pullo approaches Mascius for more ‘questioning’ with a wicked looking knife. The children run through again and this time Vorenus confiscates the object of contention, shouting at the children to stay in their quarters. Pullo approaches Mascius with the knife, but just before Mascius can be filleted, Vorenus glances at the object in his hand, a straw and wicker figure. He’s seen someone making one of these before. Vorenus puts two and together, smells a rat, and stops Pullo.

Vorenus goes to the children’s quarters and asks little Lucius where he got the figure. This leads him to the chest under Vorena the elder’s bed, and the secrets unravel fast. Vorena tries to maintain she bought the objects, but this doesn’t stand before Vorenus’s angry glare. Vorena cops to spying for Memmio. Asked why she betrayed him, Vorena spills it all out. ‘It was you! – you killed our mother, cursed us to Hades, and made me a whore! And I wish you were dead.’ Vorenus tries to explain what he should have much earlier – that he didn’t kill their mother. “Liar,” Vorena exclaims, “she never loved you!” Vorenus starts to choke her, and might have completed the act but is checked by a quiet “Vorenus” from Pullo. Vorenus releases her and leaves. Pullo hugs the sobbing Vorena.

The forum. The Town Crier Dude announces that Mark Antony will be leaving to govern the eastern provinces. Also that Rupert will be selling a fine selection of slaves for all budgets, tomorrow. (I was afraid that we’d see Vorena the elder in this auction but it didn’t happen.)

The street outside Atia’s house. Mark Antony marches up, announced by his lictors, but his entrance to the house is barred by a stern centurian with orders not to admit anyone. A lictor asks Antony “should we use violence?”, and I’m thinking that they’d take a lot longer to get those axes out of their bundles of sticks than it would take the soldiers to draw a sword. Antony, however, demurs, and shouts “Atia” at the top of his lungs. For a minute I have visions of a torn t-shirt and a shouted “Stella!”, but Atia appears at the door and my reverie is burst. The Centurian won’t let Atia out, either, but with a quiet word from Antony promising ‘talk only’ relents and lets her through.

Antony tells her he is leaving Rome. “Goodbye, then,” Atia replies, a little coldly. But she warms when Antony says he’ll send for her. She pushes him to say when, but Antony can’t say for sure. She asks him to “Promise”, and Antony vows “On my life, I promise.”

Antony’s offices. Clerks are burning papers as Antony and Posca supervise. Vorenus enters and Antony wants to know if he’s found their gold yet. No, Vorenus says, but he knows where it is, and Pullo will get it. He asks permission to accompany Antony to Egypt, saying he’s resigned his post in the Aventine, and needs to leave Rome for personal reasons. Antony decides he could use a loyal man and agrees to take him. “You won’t turn to drink will you? You stoic types often do, when disappointed.” Vorenus assures him he won’t. Been there, done that, got the angry daughter.

Outside. Pullo meets Vorenus and asks what Antony said. “We sail tomorrow,” Vorenus responds. Pullo asks if Vorenus is coming home to say goodbye. No.

Atia’s house. Atia tells a morose Octavia that there’s a ‘surprise’ for her in the kitchen. Finally prodded to go, she finds Agrippa there. She proposes running away together, but he says he’s there to say goodbye – not that they won’t be seeing each other in the future, but that he’s breaking off the relationship out of loyalty to Octavian. She accuses Agrippa of loving the power her brother confers more than he loves her, and of being a coward to boot. As a parting shot, she tells him she’s having a baby. “Whose?” he asks. ‘Who knows or cares?’ she says, ‘neither of the possibilities are worth a brass obol.’

The Aventine market. It’s full of plebs buying and selling, and doing all the stuff contented plebs do. But armed men begin filling the square from opposite sides. Pullo’s there, and he’s got all his armor on, though no helmet. Even Gaia is there, with a wicked lance in her hands. The clamor dies down, and the plebs make tracks, leaving the square to the opposing groups. Memmio steps out and makes a little speech, smarm dripping from his lips, suggesting a parley, and he knows Pullo is a reasonable man, not like that madman Vorenus. You and me can do business, he says. Pullo and Memmio step out from their groups, approach each other, and eventually clasp arms. Memmio smiles. Pullo kisses him. Full mouth kisses him. Full mouth tongue-sucking kisses him. Full mouth, tongue-sucking-and-biting-off kisses him. Blood erupts from his mouth as Pullo apparently stabs him left handed, never letting go the right hand clasp. General fighting erupts. Gaia lances some baddies. Pullo is swinging an axe like a crazed German. Someone is calling “stand fast you cowards” as others flee, and we think Pullo’s group is winning, though we don’t actually see it as there’s a swift cut to…

Egypt. Cleopatra’s court. Antony enters and approaches the throne, but Cleopatra’s not there. Instead, we see her off to the side, and she approaches calling “Mark Antony” (guess she remembers him, now.) “Cleopatra” he says, and strides toward her. Fade to Egypty sounding credit music.


Next Week: My daylight-savings-time benumbed senses don’t take in much of the swiftly flashing previews (This stuff is practically subliminal, folks). I’ll give you a complete recap in the full review. Almost all my guesses were wrong last week, anyway.

- Cecil


Full Review now available, HERE.

Previous Capsule: 2-7C “Death Mask” - Capsule Review

Next Capsule: 2-9C “Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man)”

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Posted by Cecil on March 9, 2007 6:02 PM
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