Quick rundown of the episode: Things open with elephant tragedy, and then it just gets worse from there. Cato and Scipio off themselves in the desert, and I marvel at the casual attitude the Romans have to suicide. News of their deaths apparently have reached Rome, since Caesar, Anthony, and Brutus enjoy a play about it.
Well, Brutus doesn’t seem to enjoy it, but. You know. He’s also living with his mom, who thinks he should have committed suicide rather than come home.
So anyway, Caesar is back in Rome. Everyone is back in Rome. It’s been two years, and when Vorenus gets back, he finds his apartment is tricked out with new decor and four slaves, and his wife an entrepreneur who owns a butcher shop with her sister. Pullo is happy to see Eirene, who now speaks Latin. Which, you know, for the purposes of the show is English but with a German accent. Vorenus and Pullo go to work in the butcher shop, where Vorenus runs afoul of the local mafia. So Vorenus has to send his kids to the countryside to avoid them being raped and murdered, and he waits with Pullo and Niobe for Erastes Fulmen (who’s basically the Godfather) to come start some shit.
Octavian is back in Rome, too, which gives Servilia a plan. She’s pissed off that she has to make nice with Atia and Caesar at social functions, so she leverages her on-going love affair with Octavia to find out stuff about Caesar. First, Servilia just asks Octavia to find out whether or not Caesar has the affliction Octavian said he does. Instead, all Octavia can find out is that Octavian helped torture and kill Vorenus’s brother-in-law. Servilia suggests that Octavia sleep with Octavian to find out what’s up with Caesar, and she convinces Octavia to do it by telling her that Atia killed Glabius.
While Vorenus and Pullo wait to fight Erastes Fulmen, somebody else shows up. It’s Caesar, with a job offer: magistrate of the lower Aventine, which is like, the neighborhood where Vorenus lives. So when Erastes shows up to kick some ass, he sees a lot of soldiers waiting, and decides to leave it for another day. But this brings up another problem: Pullo feels pretty unsuccessful next to his friend who’s come home to find himself flush with cash and a new job in politics.
Octavia does manage to seduce Octavian, who knows the whole time that she’s trying to get something from him. So basically, he fucks his sister knowing it’s a transaction, and shames her for it afterward. Atia finds out her kids have committed incest and she freaks out, like people generally do. It’s actually kind of nice to know that there is some upper limit to how fucking terrible she is. I mean, it’s pretty high up there, but at least it’s there. Octavia tells Atia she did it because Servilia told her Atia killed Glabius. And Atia swears on a bunch of gods that she didn’t, because Atia apparently figures she can talk her way out of shitting on the gods, too. We already know she totally killed him.
Pullo comes home drunk and tells Eirene a story about how she reminds him of his mother. Then he rapes her, because she’s a slave and can’t consent to his advances. She clearly is not into him.
It’s Yom Kippur and Atia’s man, Timon, who is Jewish, is out to get a job done. A job he’s clearly not okay with being a part of, either because it’s a religious holiday, or because it’s fucking terrible, or both, considering his religious conviction storyline in season two. Anyway, in retribution for Servilia tricking her kids into incest, Atia has her men attack Servilia’s litter, strip her, and cut off her hair before leaving her in the street.
And this whole time, Vorenus’s kids are like, fleeing to the country, thinking their parents are dead. Which nobody really mentions at all.
My favorite part of the episode: Caesar is a giraffe murderer.
Caesar: “It is the height of four men, with a long neck, like a goose, spots like a leopard, and the speed of a horse.”
Brutus: “I don’t believe it. A new chimera.”
Caesar: “I assure you, it is quite real. With any luck you might see one at my triumph. I’ve been trying to bring one over for months now, but the wretched creatures keep dying on the way here. They do not like the sea.”
My least favorite part of the episode: I know it’s HBO and everyone is terrible, but Pullo drunkenly raping Eirene is so disheartening for me. Especially when I know what happens next week.
Favorite costume: This a twofer:
Here’s why I like this so much. It looks a little gray in the screencap, but Octavia is wearing pale lavender here. Throughout the episode, she’s wearing purples of various shades. Now, she’s committed this terrible crime against nature as a means of a plot. Now, what’s Atia wearing? Ding ding! Purple. Octavia has become Atia, and the purple clothes have foreshadowed this for the entire episode.
Team Atia or Team Servilia: Team Atia. First of all, fuck Servilia for stringing Octavia along for two years only to use her as a weapon. Second, the revenge Atia plots against Servilia is ruthlessly cruel, to the point that Atia could be running the Roman mafia, and to be quite honest, I admire that kind of hardcore cruelty in a historical woman character. I didn’t know anything about the importance of a Roman woman’s hair, but apparently it was a BFD. As in, women had busts of themselves made with interchangeable wigs. As in, there are tons of surviving sculptures showing women doing their hair, so centuries later we know that they spent a lot of time on it. So Servilia having her hair cut was the ultimate attack, probably just as bad as being stripped naked in public.
Favorite watch-a-long tweet:
I feel like “concentrating on poetry” is Roman version, of “But, mom! We’ve got a gig!” #LegionXIII
— Bronwyn Green (@Bronwyn_Green) January 26, 2016
What hairdo or costume would Bronwyn steal? This might be the “safe” choice, but I know that Bronwyn is a) a sucker for green, and b) a sucker for girdles.
Guess Jess’s head canon. Jess was sadly absent this week, but I’d like to think it would involve that scene where Pullo is naked and oily.