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Rome: 2-9C Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus - Capsule Review

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

Previously: The gold is stolen / Octavian chooses a new wife / Pullo shouts for a doctor / The world’s coldest supper / Octavia shamed / Antony banished / Octavia & Agrippa say goodbye / Antony & Atia say goodbye / Octavian informs his intended of his sexual proclivities / Vorenus confronts Vorena the elder / Vorenus resigns and requests to accompany Antony to Egypt / Pullo and the Aventine Collegium fight Memmio and his allies for control / Antony & Cleopatra reunite


Opening scene.

Vorenus’s bed, Egypt. Vorenus awakens and for a moment imagines himself in bed with Niobe. But it’s only a freaky looking bald-headed Egyptian whore with a bad temper and worse wig.

The streets of Alexandria. Vorenus, dressed in full military gear, makes his way through the crowded streets, past the docks, and to the palace.

The palace in Alexandria. Vorenus encounters Posca, who asks if his “monthly debauch” is finished already. Posca is wearing Egypt eye makeup. (Vorenus isn’t.) “Where is he?” Vorenus asks. “A deep question”. Posca replies. In the throne room with Cleopatra and a delegation from Rome headed by Senator Bibulus. Posca has left because Cleopatra ‘growls at him’ and he fears for his life.

The Throne room. As the delegation from Rome waits and fumes, Antony is giving Cleopatra archery lessons. Antony is made up and dressed as an Egyptian. Their target is a man in a stag’s pelt, crawling about and simulating the prey. The lesson is punctuated with kisses. Cleopatra takes a turn. Her first shot breaks an urn, angering her.

The delegation try to continue negotiations, offering double the price for grain, if it can be delivered within the month. “Triple” says Cleopatra angry over missing another shot. “And Carthage, annexed to Antony’s control.” “Perhaps.” More quibbling over Octavian’s motivation. ‘Love of the people’ says the senator. Antony says the people love him, not Octavian. “Right, Vorenus?” “Right” says an obedient Vorenus. The agreement apparently completed, the delegation bows to leave, but Antony adds “And Spain.” As the senator sputters, Cleopatra makes her final shot – right through the unarmored neck of the victim. Her audience applauds as the ‘stag’ expires on the floor of the throne room. ‘Too bad, no deal, pleasant voyage home, boys.’ And Antony and Cleopatra exit over the body of their target. Vorenus orders the body of the target removed and offers to show the delegation to their quarters. “Is he always like that?” “Like what?” Vorenus laconically replies.

Antony & Cleopatra’s private quarters. The lovers discuss the conversation. Antony’s convinced that Octavian will not declare war. Cleopatra suggests Antony declare war first. Antony’s angling for political effect, however and wants the onus of war to be on Octavian, so he can return to Rome as a savior. They are interrupted by their children, Helios and Isile.

Aventine Collegium, Pullo’s quarters. Gaia and Pullo are in bed – the sound of an angry mob awakens them. Pullo dresses as Gaia pouts. They engage in a little lovers’ talk, but Pullo must be off.

Outside. Pullo makes his way through the mob and climbs to speak on a balcony. Mascius hobbles into the crowd on crutches as Pullo speaks. Speaking plainly and simply Pullo explains the day’s ration is gone, and if he opened the granaries as the crowd wants, they’d be satisfied today, but starving tomorrow. The crowd apparently realizes he’s making sense and disperses. After the speech Mascius and Pullo exchange a few friendly words as the Vorenus children approach. Pullo chides them for coming out in a dangerous situation, but Vorena the elder says ‘blessed Urbona would protect them’. "Then run along and ask her to send a few grain ships," Pullo comes back. We see that little Lucius is now played by yet a third actor, and is more like young Lucius.

Inside the granary. Pullo asks how much grain is left. “Ten days at a quarter ration.” Mascius says the bakers were around earlier. Offering “six hundred a sack”. Pullo ‘pisses on the offer’. He drops a fragment of food onto a cage in the corner, and we discover that tongue-less Memmio, hairy as a Gaul, is being kept in a cage in the Aventine Collegium as an object lesson to anyone else who would think of revolting against Pullo. Memmio seem to be insane. Pullo calls for his best clothes and says he’s going to see “his honor”.

Octavian’s offices. Pullo explains the situation before Octavian, Maecenas, and Agrippa. Maecenas makes jokes, but Agrippa comes up with a serious proposal – send three legions to Africa and let Lepidus feed them, which would extend the city’s grain supply by a month. “Let it be done,’ Octavian commands. Pullo turns to leave, but Octavian stops him to ask what the people are saying. Pullo responds honestly but tactfully that the people blame Octavian, not Antony. Octavian thanks Pullo, who departs. After he leaves, three discuss tactics. Octavian thinks they cannot declare war on Antony unless the people are with them, which is not yet the case. Octavian sends for Atia and Octavia to come to dinner.

Atia’s villa. Grandma Atia picks up her granddaughter Antonia, who Octavia is looking for. Octavia grouses that Antonia doesn’t listen to a word she says. Atia observed that that’s just like Octavia was as a child, whereas Octavian was ‘no trouble at all’. Atia is looking, as every day, for a letter from Antony, which never comes. Atia still expects Antony to send for her. “Even if he did,” Octavia asks, “do you think Octavian would let you go?” Castor informs them that Octavian has summonsed them to dinner.

Octavian’s dining room. Another cold dinner as Octavian observes “nothing like dining with family and friends.” Octavian requests Octavia go to Egypt and ask her husband to free up the grain shipments. Octavia says Atia should go instead. Octavian suggests they go together. Atia responds coolly to the suggestion and asks ‘what’s in it for us?’ Octavian more or less invites them to name their price. Atia says she’s tired of Pompeii, perhaps a villa in Capri? And Octavia? A villa would be nice, and perhaps some gladiators as well? But finally they decide on plain cash. Octavian agrees and tells Maecenas to have the newsreader announce it.

Octavian’s bedroom. Octavian and Livia engage in some vigorous, and sadomasochistic sex. But unlike his previous discussion, Octavian seems to be on the receiving end of the violence. Which apparently suits him just fine. Livia seems to have adapted to the new lifestyle quite well. As they lie gasping afterwards, Livia makes some irrelevant observations about birds and eggs. But then the conversation turns to Octavian’s motivation for sending Octavia and Atia to Egypt, and we see that Livia has a strategic mind to equal Octavian’s. Perhaps he married better than he thought. She reasons that Octavian wins either way – either Antony publicly turns away and humiliates his wife, leading to loss of face with the Roman public, or he acquiesces and Octavian gets his grain.

A ship in the Mediterranean. Atia paces as Octavia feels sick. Atia wonders if she’s changed since Antony saw her last. Octavia sarcastically says no she’s the same as she always was, and Antony will ‘fall into your arms in a delirium of love.’ Atia says Octavia has changed, become mean and bitter. Octavia says Atia has become ‘girlish and sentimental.’ A servant’s retching makes Octavia feel worse. “Land ho!” And we see the ship glide into the Alexandria harbor.

The palace in Alexandria. As Vorenus watches, Caesarion plays a game of ball. The game consists of throwing a hard ball at a cringing servitor. Caesarion changes the rules as suits him. Tiring of the game, he dismisses the servant and plays a bit of catch with Vorenus. He asks Vorenus to ‘tell me about my father’. Vorenus discusses “his father” in terms that seemingly could apply to either Caesar or Pullo. But finally when he comes to the topic of eating it seems he’s describing Pullo, not Caesar, though Caesarion doesn’t realize this. Posca dashes into the room asking “where are they?”

The bedroom: Antony and Cleopatra are in bed, Posca telling them that Atia’s ship is in the harbor already. Antony and Cleopatra discuss the meaning of the unexpected visit. Antony seems to realize Octavian’s strategy of forcing Antony to choose between Atia and Cleopatra, thus striking at Antony’s support among the people if he turns away Atia, which, he assures Cleopatra, he will. Cleopatra proposes ‘throwing a lovely party’ but Antony vetoes this. Antony says he no longer loves Atia, but doesn’t want to publicly humiliate her, which to Atia is the whole point – that’s why Atia is there. OK, Cleopatra proposes, as an alternate, let’s kill them, thus no humiliation and a message to Octavian. Or their ship can have a ‘little accident on the way home, happens all the time.’ But Antony does still have some feelings, and responds angrily to the proposal. Cleopatra begins to escalate the argument to crockery throwing, but Antony easily dodges.

The harbor. A stately procession, as Atia and Octavia are carried in shaded sedan chairs toward the palace by slaves. The procession stops at the palace door, which is not open.

Inside. The fight is still on as hair is pulled and ears bitten.

Outside. Atia and Octavia swelter in the hot sun and grouse about the impolite reception. The door opens a crack, and an Egyptian maiden slips out. She speaks – it’s Jocasta in full black wig, and Egyptian eye makeup. “Her majesty doesn’t like the Roman style, she explains.” She asks then why they are there, and Atia wonders where their reception is, and asks Jocasta to go and fetch Antony, which Jocasta explains she can’t do, as no one is allowed to speak to Antony without Cleopatra’s approval, excepting only Posca and Lucius Vorenus. Posca comes out of the palace and is horrified to find Jocasta there, makes stammered and incoherent noises at Atia without responding to anything she says, and hustles Jocasta back inside. “They’ve all gone insane!” Atia observes.

Inside. The fight has turned into steamy sex.

Outside. Octavia and Atia steam as well, though not so pleasurably.

Inside. The sex is over and a cat clambers over the lovers. Cleopatra is telling Antony that he’ll “be much more happy when the war begins.” Vorenus enters. Antony tells Vorenus he has a “delicate mission” for him.

Outside. Vorenus comes out to the two travelers accompanied by multiple Nubian guards with weapons. He tells them Antony has ordered him to escort them back to their ship and make sure they leave when the wind allows. If they won’t go peaceably, the men with him will force them. Atia attempts to call Antony out, recalling the scene where Antony called out Atia before leaving Rome. Atia’s calls are more vulgar and to no avail. Atia slaps and strikes Vorenus in frustration, then collapses, crying, before being led off. Octavia tells Vorenus to “tell my husband he’s cowardly scum.”

Inside. Posca and Jocasta are hurriedly packing. Vorenus interrupts “Going somewhere?” Posca says they were merely taking a stroll to the harbor to look at the ships. Jocasta begs him to "please don’t tell, they’ll kill us.” Vorenus, knowing perfectly well what they are doing, says go quickly, “the wind is changing and the ships look best when their sails are set,” “Come with us," Posca says, but Vorenus declines, citing his duty. “If you happen to see Titus Pullo, ask him to kiss my children for me.”

The streets. Posca and Jocasta slip out and head for the harbor.

The ship. Atia lies disconsolate. Posca and Jocasta enter and request asylum.

The Palace. Vorenus and Caesarion are talking again, and Caesarion presses for more details about his father. “Look to yourself,” Vorenus says. “You are what remains of him.” Antony appears and asks how his mission went. “They’re gone.” “Good, good.” “Atia take it with her usual poise?” “No” “And where is Posca?” “I don’t know, sir, do you want me to go and look for him?” “No.” “Sir, your wife instructed me to tell you that you are cowardly scum.” “She did, did she? And what’s your opinion of that.” “It’s not my place to have an opinion, sir.” “Tell me anyway.” “Is that an order?” “Yes.” “You’re no coward. But you do have a strong disease in your soul. A disease that will eat away at you, until you die.” “Really?” (sighs) “And what is this disease?” “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.” “No you’re not, so how can you be so sure of your diagnosis, then?” “I recognize your symptoms. I have the same sickness.” Antony sighs again and departs. Cicero and Caesarion return to playing catch.

Long shot of the hills of Rome. In his offices, Octavian receives Atia and Posca. Atia opens the discussion with a rousing slap. Fortunately, Octavian doesn’t take this as foreplay. “Hello, mother” he says calmly. He says he wished for a better outcome. Atia says Posca has something that will help him destroy Antony. The something is Antony and Cleopatra’s last will and testament, which Posca says is genuine. Maecenas take it from Posca and reads. The provisions are (1) Antony to be buried in Alexandria, (2) Cleopatra is his wife and they are living gods, Isis and Osiris (3) to his children by Cleopatra he leaves all the eastern provinces, and (4) Caesarion is to be given Rome and the west.

The forum square. The town crier dude reads the shocking terms of Antony’s will. “He worships dogs and reptiles. He blackens his eyes with soot like a prostitute. He dances and plays the cymbals in vile Nileotic rites.” Oh no, not the cymbals! This is too much! Ian McNiece is in fine form.

The Senate. Octavian details Antony’s excesses and maintains there is no course but “to fight and destroy him”, to the applause of the senators.

Later. Alone in the senate, Octavian receives Pullo accompanied by Posca. He asks Pullo to accompany him to Egypt, possibly to act as intermediary with Vorenus. He hopes to avoid fighting if possible, but Antony and Caesarion, he says, will have to die. Mention of Caesarion gives Pullo some pause, but Pullo agrees. Posca delivers Vorenus’s message to Pullo.

The Aventine Collegium, outside. Pullo is explaining his trip to the children. Lyde is present as well. He tells them he may see their father. Vorena the elder refuses, Vorena the younger and young Lucius reluctantly accept kisses on the forehead. “Can I give him kisses from you?” He asks. “No” says young Lucius, which I believe is his first spoken word, perhaps even sound, in this long saga – 21 hours and three actors in. “He killed our mother.” “It’s true isn’t it?” Vorena the elder asks. Instead of disputing, Pullo responds “You’re a hard one, you.” “My father made me so.” “I hear you.”

Egypt. Vorenus lies alone at night, eyes wide.

Aventine Collegium. Pullo gives instruction for his absence. No stealing, skimming from the grain ration, extortion, robbery or arson. But aren’t most of these their normal activities? “Unless under direct license by Mascius.” Oh, OK, then. “Anybody steps out of line they’ll be sharing their dinner with Memmio." Who, named, grabs insanely at the bars of his cage.

Later, alone with Gaia. Pullo is packing. Gaia wants to go. “It’s a war, not a shopping trip” Pullo says. Pullo goes out to the tavern area for a late snack. Looking around idly, he notices Memmio’s cage is open, the lock picked with a bit of bone. Alert, he picks up a knife from the table and begins looking and calling Memmio’s name. Memmio appears behind him and clubs him unconscious. He kneels over Pullo's unconscious body and slaps his cheeks. He wants Pullo to see the knife coming. Before he can plunge the knife into Pullo’s heart, Gaia appears and struggles with him. In the struggle, Memmio knifes Gaia, but she manages to beat his brains out with a metal jug before collapsing.

The bedroom. Once again the doctor and priestess are in attendance as Pullo frets over a lover bleeding to death. “Not again, why me?” he wails. “You selfish bastard,” Gaia says between gritted teeth, “It’s me dying not you. It’s me being punished.” In her pain, Pullo holding her hand and sobbing, Gaia says she can’t go to the afterlife with lies in her heart. “Nemesis won’t let me pass.” “What lies?” Pullo asks. She asks him to send the attendants away, then when they’re gone asks Pullo to “Remember, when I’m gone, what I did, I did out of love for you.” Finally she confesses to poisoning Eirene. The news takes a while to sink in on Pullo, but when it does his fingers close on her throat. “Goodbye, love” she says, with literally her last breath. Pullo’s fingers tighten and his eyes grow hard as he increases the pressure, shortening Gaia’s life by a few minutes. As she expires, he gasps and draws back, seeming, perhaps, to have second thoughts. But if so, it’s too late. He sits alone with her blood-soaked body, head bowed.

The streets outside. Pullo carries Gaia’s bloody body, unshrouded, though the streets, a grim look on his face. He come to a stagnant body of water, and tosses the body unceremoniously in, turns, and without a backward glance leaves the body floating there half submerged. Our point of view pulls back from her face as we fade to black and somber credit music plays.


Next Week: In, sadly, our final installment of Rome, we see quick fading glimpses of all our major characters. “ROME” “The Season Finale” “Marc Antony has called the dog out” says Antony. “He will put himself and his woman in my hands without conditions” declares Octavian. “The Road to Glory” Antony fights. “The Fight for Supremacy” Ships. Court Scenes. Demands.” All of Rome Hangs in the Balance” Antony and Cleopatra. Tears. “Find the children.” "No, he’s just a child.” “There can only be one son of Caesar.” A triumph. “The Dramatic Series Conclusion.”

- Cecil


Full Review now available, HERE.

Previous Capsule: 2-8C “A Necessary Fiction” - Capsule Review

Next Capsule: 2-10C “De Patre Vostro” (About Your Father) coming Mar 25

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

Posted by Cecil on March 16, 2007 7:52 PM
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