Octavian is one cold fish of a man. There’s a lot of stuff going on here. He more or less takes another man’s wife as his own. She doesn’t really object. She doesn’t object either when Octavian tells her he gets off with physical abuse during sex. On her, you know. He controls the lives of both his mother and his sister. And he doesn’t seem to mind much that a secret gold shipment is stolen. There’s always more gold, having a wife is about presentation, and women are to obey the men in their lives. That sort of stuff screams “WRONG” to a modern audience, but was probably pretty darn acceptable in the old Roman Empire.
That doesn’t make Octavian, as presented by Rome, as anything less than a cold fish.
What causes all this mess? Well, there are essentially two plots dovetailing. Octavian is promising the virtuous women of Rome that he will, at some point, pass some laws making things like adultery and screwing around too much a crime. Don’t you hate it when the government tries to legislate morality? Well, he’s unaware that his sister (married to Marc Antony) is screwing around with Agrippa, or that Marc Antony (you know, married to Octavia) is screwing around with Atia.
When a gold shipment under Vorenus’ watch is stolen by thieves who knew a little too much, the accusations between the members of the Triumvirate and their various underlings in the know start flying. Poor Lepidus is basically ignored, but he’s wrong anyway so who cares? Pullo was supposed to be guarding it, but he was grieving the sudden death of Eirene during a miscarriage. Granted, that was caused by the abortion drugs Gaea slipped Eirene, but only she knows that at this point. Vorenus’ #3 man alone survives, and does seem to be a prime suspect, though Vorenus is also pretty suspicious of gang leader Memmio.
But when Maecenas, the sleaziest general in all of Rome, decides to take the heat off himself for the robbery (which, again, doesn’t seem to bother Octavian all that much), the thing to do is tell Octavian about the frolicking going on at Atia’s house. As expected, Octavian doesn’t take kindly to that, and basically blackmails Antony into leaving, has Atia and Octavia put under house arrest for the time being, and Agrippa, a fundamentally honest man, is mostly forgiven for stepping forward. Agrippa won’t lose his master’s favor again, so he has to break off what he had with Octavia. Too bad she’s pregnant with somebody’s child. She didn’t think either of the two potential fathers are worthy of the title. Antony, under fear of being labeled a cuckold in the streets, leaves for Egypt. He’ll take Vorenus with him.
Why Vorenus? Well, he found out the security leak was his oldest daughter. And he found out she hates him, as the younger two probably do, and blame him for killing Niobe. He didn’t, but they didn’t know that. He did curse them and leave them to slavery. They have reasons. And, quite frankly, that bad temper of hers clearly comes from her dad. Vorenus sees the only thing to do is leave his family, and the organization, in Pullo’s care. Marc Antony will gladly take Vorenus with him to Egypt.
He’d take Atia too, but can’t. Not yet. He’ll send for her. Oh wait, there’s Cleopatra in what looks like a dress that is barely a dress. Why bother wearing clothes in a desert country if they don’t really cover anything anyway?
But yeah, it was Memmio who stole the gold. Vorena passed information along to a sleazy boyfriend. And Memmio has used some of the gold to bribe the other gang leaders into siding with him. Since his dispute was with Vorenus, surely a more reasonable Titus Pullo can make a deal?
Er, this is a Titus Pullo who just lost his wife and infant son. He’s not in a position to be reasonable. Not when he can just yank Memmio’s tongue out with a bite attack and then lead the fighters of his organization (including Gaea) to massacre the other gangs.
A co-worker who watched the show once referred to Titus Pullo as “such a happy murderer”. Well, he isn’t all that happy here. But he does seem to be the best fighter/killer in the entire Roman Empire.