Now that we’ve gone beyond the basic introductions of both this feature and the show itself, let’s move on to see how things develop. History tells us Caesar will defeat Pompey in the end, but that he would be better off staying home on the Ides of March. These things will happen, and home viewers probably know that. The fun comes in seeing not if they get there but how.
While Caesar and Pompey are playing political games with each other, its easy to see who’s better at it. Caesar really knows how to play to a crowd, be it his Legion or the one back home. And the best way to do that is to send Marc Antony home as a new Tribune for the People, a role that will allow Antony to be Caesar’s voice in Rome.
You know, I didn’t really say much about Antony last time, but he’s a bit of a horndog. Taking a shepherdess on the ride home and then settling in with a very, shall we say, vocal Atia back in Rome…I wonder if Caesar knows if Antony is screwing his niece. Further, I wonder if he cares. Atia’s daughter does. Octavia is being kept away from her ex-husband by her mama. And she isn’t happy about that forced separation. Her attempt at some social humiliation by impersonating her mom when Antony is over for dinner doesn’t seem to work too well, but the girl has to score some hits when she can.
As for her brother Octavian…man, that guy sure does get his way a lot. He remind me a little of Joffrey Baratheon…if Joffrey were less psychotic and more politically astute.
But these guys are the big movers and shakers. Yeah, we need to see what they’re up to, but our POVs into life in Rome are still Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. Octavian gets them to stay for dinner with his mother, where Vorenus is hardly a political ally to Atia’s ambitions, and Pullo is just crude. Vorenus just wants to get home to his wife Niobe, and Pullo wants to go hit the brothels.
But you wouldn’t know it when Vorenus gets home and sees his wife for the first time in eight years. He’s, well, mad. Why? She has a baby in her arms. Is it hers? Her initial reaction to seeing Vorenus is, “You’re alive?!” And his initial reaction is to demand to know whose baby it is. She says its his grandson, that the older of their two daughters (aged thirteen) is the mother. That doesn’t exactly made Vorenus happy, especially when he meets his daughter’s boyfriend, a laborer with a good income about her age. He agrees to the marriage, but only after threatening just about everyone involved first.
Pullo, meanwhile, gets his rocks off in the obligatory HBO brothel scene, then goes gambling with his reward money in Pompey territory. And it seems that the dice are rigged, so he goes nuts stabbing people and gets clocked in the head. He manages to stumble into Vorenus’ house and the only solution to his probable concussion apparently is brain surgery. You know, without anesthesia. But he got the BC version of a steel plate in his head, and there’s no airport security to stop him for it in those days.
But the title of the episode says Pullo brings down the Roman Republic. How?
Well, Pompey tries some legal Senate maneuvering to make Antony issue a veto to make sure anything that happens in the power struggle between himself and Caesar would not in any way be Pompey’s fault. But the Speaker of the House guy (I really need to learn the names of these guys in the Senate that aren’t Pompey, Antony, or Brutus) doesn’t hear the veto and then on the walk to the Senate, the party–including Pullo and Vorenus–are attacked by Pompey’s mob. Trying to put a hit on the Tribune would mean all of Pompey’s legal work goes to nothing and gives Caesar a great political excuse to do what he does next.
Yeah, but, Pompey told his men not to attack Antony. He needed that veto. So, what happened? Oh yeah, the guy that attacked first wasn’t after Antony. He was a friend of the guy that cheated Pullo and got a sword through his throat when Pullo figured it out. He was trying to kill Pullo, who was standing next to Antony. And only Pullo knows that, and he ain’t sayin’ nothin’.
So, while Caesar literally crosses the Rubicon, a wounded Vorenus wakes up to figure out he’s just joined a group trying to bring down his beloved Republic while he was unconscious. Yeah, Vorenus suspects it’s Pullo’s fault, but he can’t prove it. His life isn’t going all that well at the moment.
It’s a bit worse than he thought because back at home, it turns out it really is Niobe’s baby. Sucks to be that guy.