Monday, February 05, 2007

HBO's Rome S2 Ep 4 (and some cast notes before that)

So the popular google search of the night seems to be regarding the cast change for Octavian. I'm not sure why this seems to be such a surprise to people, as Max Pirkis, wonderful actor though he is, has been too young for quite some time now. It would have been quite absurd to see him winning over Antony in battle!

Anyway, for those who didn't already read the comments, the cast for each episode can be found in Some of these are obviously going to be spoilerish. But the last time I checked, I found out all sorts of interesting things about the actors!

Lindsey Duncan played another one of my favourite people--Katherine in Under the Tuscan Sun. She was also an android voice in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. And, like our beloved Cicero, she had a Jane Austen role--Mrs. Price/Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999).

Polly Walker also had an Austen role. You'll never guess--Jane Fairfax in the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma. I think my jaw fell off when I read that. Pictures here.

And our newest cast member, Simon Woods, was in the new Pride & Prejudice as Mr. Bingley. That sort of makes me laugh.

Actually, Ciaran Hinds was Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, but that's Bronte, not Austen. It was also a strange version of the book (but then, most of the Jane Eyre movie adaptations are strange).

Edited to add: And my friend tells me he was also Captain Wentworth in the 1995 Persuation. So, Rome and Jane Austen--whodda thunk? He's also in the bad 2000 Jason & the Argonauts for that matter.

Anyway, on to the episode! SPOILERS as usual!

Picking up from where we left off last week, we see the kitchen girl dip her fingers in the stew and try some. She then brings the stew to Atia, and Atia requests that she sing "Crown of Sappho." Because I'm just that good (hahahaha), I recognized it immediately as Sappho 1. I'm really not "that good." It's the most commonly used Sappho, and Aphrodite's name is pretty easy to catch. That and I'm technically working with that poem at the moment (though my energies have been directed much more towards Sappho 31--and if anyone wants the text and can't find it online, I'll type it up). She gets through maybe two lines before we see blood coming out of her mouth. She tries to sing a little more, to her credit, but they soon realize she's been poisoned. Servilia's boy peeks in and tries to run off when he sees his failure.

Octavia and her new friend then come home to see Atia and Timon torturing the boy. Atia says Servilia is responsible and has said so, so Octavia asks why she's still torturing the boy. Atia says it's because the evidence won't be permissable in court unless the slave's been tortured (yay research team). Atia then tells the boy she'll spare his life if he says who sent him. He tells her Servilia, and then Atia tells Timon to kill him and dispose of the body.

Castor, who apparently hired the boy into Atia's house, comes begging forgiveness and offers his life. Atia suggests castration but then says eunuchs are unfashionable and sends him off warning him to buy boys from the market rather than picking them up from the street.

Timon kills the boy but looks obviously distressed about it. He goes home with blood still on him and argues with his brother about being a Roman and being a Jew. The argument escalates until he has his knife at his brother's throat. Then his boy sees him.

Then we're at Mutina, where Pullo seeks Vorenus. Instead, he runs into Octavian all growed up! Octavian offers to help search among the dead and then marks his seal for Pullo so that he can get through to Antony's army without problems.

Octavian goes to give his victory speech and tell his army they're going back to Rome for their money. I might also note that Simon Woods really looks like he's been studying Max Pirkis' Octavian. He's kept some of the same mannerisms, and I'm pretty happy with his continuation of the role. Agrippa is getting sent home to give news to his family and the senate. Agrippa looks very happy to be seeing Octavia again.

Pullo goes after Antony's army and finds Vorenus and tells him the children are a live. Antony gets an update about the dead while getting stitched up and decides to set up base camp in the mountains. Posca objects, but is ignored as always.

Vorenus comes up and asks permission to leave. Antony: "Now that is a real soldier for you--most men just slip away in the night, but this one--he asks permission before he deserts me. Well, what is it?" Vorenus tells him his children are alive but in slavery and that he must find them. Antony, surprisingly, lets him go. Then he tells them to tell everyone he'll get revenge--and first on Octavian.

Brutus, meanwhile, is getting ready with an army.

Servilia goes to pray to Isis (I thought it was this statue from the Capitoline museum, but it's not quite the same, oh well), and she is abducted. Next, we see her Atia's torture chamber, where Atia reminds her that Servilia promised her a slow and painful death. So Atia won't kill Servilia until she begs her to end her suffering. Servilia "stands up" to her (verbally). And so the torture begins. Atia asks, "have you had enough?" but Servilia only spits. Atia tells Timon to continue, and Timon finally loses it. Atia tells him to cut off her face, but he lets Servilia go instead and grabs Atia by the neck, screaming, "I am not an animal!"

Vorenus and Pullo are heading to the slave camp, and Pullo decides he better clear things up and assure Vorenus that he never slept with Niobe. He then makes Vorenus feel better by telling him that Evander "screamed like a stuffed pig." Vorenus replies, "Good."

Pullo warns Vorenus that the slave camps aren't pretty and asks if Vorenus will kill the boy. Vorenus says that honour demands it.

Servilia is home being attended by her slavewoman and seeming very understandably disturbed.

Agrippa arrives in Rome, and Octavia is shocked that Octavian won. Agrippa accidentally blurts out his feelings for Octavia (so cute!), who suddenly changes the topic to her brother's eating. Agrippa apologises and Octavia says she's sure they'll be good friends once they get to know each other.

Atia comes in and is told the news. She looks horrified before she's reassured that Octavian is fine and won. Hard to tell what she's thinking about Antony, though . . .

Agrippa goes to Cicero with the news, and Cicero looks very concerned about the new Caesar and his army coming to Rome. "Gods I'm so tired of young men and their ambitions." Agrippa says that Octavian only has the interests of the Republic at heart, and Cicero warns, "I felt the same when I was a young man, but it is all vanity, you know--vanity."

Pullo and Vorenus arrive at the slave camp, pretending their bounty hunters. Pullo says they're looking for runaways who belonged to Caesar and presents Octavian's seal. They aren't believed, but Pullo uses his intimidating glare. They find the younger daughter and the boy (whom Vorenus accepts and hugs), at which point the slavers realize they're not bounty hunters. The eldest daughter isn't with them, though, and they find her with other women of her age being used as you'd expect. Vorenus, again, goes mad and kills the slaver before they walk off with the children.


Blogger Dave Csonka said...

I can't help it, Pullo and Vorenus are my reason for watching Rome. Regardless of the fact that I can guess how the major plot-lines are going to end (because of history), I am of course still terribly addicted to the show.

So it is the plot revolving around these two soldiers, whose ending remains completely open, which gets me excited every Sunday evening.

*A friend will help you get out of jail, a best friend will help you get your kids out of slavery and kill everybody who stands in your way.. hah*

8:40 AM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

Pullo/Vorenus are a big part of it for me, but it's really Atia/Servilia that get me--talk about fictionalized history! But this time, it's in an exciting way.

I really never dreamt when it first came on that I'd get so addicted to this show. I was expecting it to go downhill at some point, but it really hasn't. And after the utter failure that was ABC's "The Empire," I'm still shocked somebody bothered to do a show with so much research (at least for cultural details, even if the history facts are rather wonky at times).

10:35 AM  
Blogger Dave Csonka said...

I imagine the historical innacuracies are somewhat like the adaptation of a novel to a movie. The story has to meet the expectations of the audience to a certain extent.

If the show ended up like a documentary, it might have been aired on the History Channel instead of HBO..

5:06 PM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

Oh I'm certainly not suggesting I want them to change it. It's one of the few shows that manages to be great entertainment and still teach people a fair number of things about history that actually aren't inaccurate.

It puts entertainment first, knows it's putting entertainment first, and still manages not to sacrifice everything historically. Moreover, it knows how to take a historical point and use it to its best entertainment potential. I really can't say any of that about most historical fictions.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Choppa said...

There's an awful lot of experimentation going on nowadays with ficumentaries and docusoaps etc. Hard to know where the direction and editing stops and "spontaneous reality" starts.

I think the same went for the Romans (and Greeks), kind of... Caesar wrote about the campaign in Gaul with a very clear political and dramatic bias, and did it so well it's easily the best intro to the period. Tacitus is extremely dramatic and a Muhammad Ali of rhetorical dance and punch. Moving towards our own day, we have Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution and the amazing 10 Days that Shook the World by John Reed (both available free on the Net). Hollywood version of Reed - Reds.

When you read the intro to Marx's The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, on history repeating itself as first tragedy, then farce, or on the masks of former revolutions donned by the leaders of new ones (the French Revolution's leaders saw themselves as Roman republicans...) you get a feeling for the amount of *acting* involved in reality. But then we know all about that from our personal relationships ;-)

The great thing today is that the best practitioners are getting very close to the actual meld of acting and reality going on back in the day. Truth will out!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Ambrose Fulton said...

I was looking up Jocasta on IMDB, only to find her credited as Scribonia (?!), who of course, historically was Octavius' wife and mother of Julia. She was allegedly a paragon of virtue, unlike Jocasta.

Anybody know what this may portend -or just an error?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

That *is* strange. She's listed both ways!

But if you look at Atia, Servilia, and Octavia, they weren't exactly supposed to be as they are in the show.

2:26 PM  

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