It’s been more than a year since we’ve had a new episode of “Rome” to watch, and I always find it interesting, especially with these shows on HBO, how our everyday lives roll on as the cast and crew work furiously to but together twelve or thirteen episodes to entertain us for three months before the process starts all over again for another season.
Tonight’s episode picks up moments after Caesar’s murder, and all hell’s breaking loose in the city. For the most part, the creators did a beautiful job of seamlessly rolling the first season into the second. But Atia (Polly Walker) looks quite different to me, so much so that I almost didn’t recognize her when she first hit the screen. It’s possible that they wanted her character to look like she’s aged five to ten years and gained ten to twenty pounds, but something tells me that was an issue the creators had to deal with when they started shooting for the second season.
This episode dealt with the aftermath of not only Caesar’s death, but Niobe’s as well. It’s not often that a show will kill off two of their main characters at the same time, but the parallel storylines make for compelling television.
First, the political implications of Caesar’s death had to be dealt with and it was clear right from the start that Octavian was stepping up his role in the political realm. He’s extremely savvy, so it’s no wonder why Caesar bequeathed his estate to the young man, effectively making Octavian his son. As his mother tres to get the family out of the city, he quickly formulates a plan, and with Mark Antony’s help (and his mother’s approval), he effectively seizes control of the city. Brutus made the mistake of trusting Antony against the advice of all of his advisors, including Servilia. When she put in her two cents, his line – “You too, mother?” – was priceless.
Meanwhile, Lucius is reeling from Niobe’s suicide, but it was clear that he was going to kill her anyway for having a child by another man while he was away at war. He made the mistake of cursing and banishing his children and almost immediately regrets it.
Titus and his slave girl have a nice moment in the woods when he had the best line of the show: “I know I didn’t get us started off on the right foot, killing your man, and I’m sorry for that.” He proposes to her and she agrees to be his wife, but it’s clear that she’s having a tough time understanding that she’s a free woman now. Anyway, once someone rides by yelling about Caesar’s death, Titus hilariously knocks the guy off his horse and uses it to head back to the city.
There, he finds Lucius in a serious tailspin, but helps his friend pull things together. Lucius is torn up about placing a curse his children and the two men discover that their old boss abducted them. After a bloody attack on the boss’ hideout, the man informs the duo that for Lucius’ past transgressions, he “f*cked them, killed them and threw them in the river.” And that was the end of that guy.
It may take a while for Lucius to recover from he day’s events, and he’s not unlike the city of Rome trying to recover from Caesar’s death. Brutus has been sent to the country, so it looks like Antony, Octavian and Atia will control the city for the time being. Octavian and Titus also had words during the episode and it’s clear that kid trusts the big man. Over the season, Octavian is going to develop into more of a leader and it will be interesting to see what role Titus (and Lucius, for that matter) play in the future of the empire.
All in all, it was a great premiere and I can’t wait to see more.