Quick rundown of the episode: Vorenus dreams that he’s in bed with Niobe (Indira Varma got before-the-credits billing for just rolling over, smiling, and kissing Kevin McKidd, so things are really coming up Indira), but he’s slept with an Egyptian woman. He’s been in Egypt for a while. Long enough for Posca to become a pot head who avoids Antony and Cleopatra, because they’ve become tyrants with no respect for human life. They’re using slaves dressed in deer skins for a hunting game involving real arrows and real death, and barely paying attention to the Roman senators who have come to negotiate a deal with Antony. Rome needs grain because its people are starving. All Antony cares about is his popularity with the people in Rome, and the chances of getting Octavian to declare war against him.
So, how long has it been since the last episode, exactly? Long enough that Cleopatra has bore Antony two children who are now preschoolers, and Gaia has moved easily into Eirene’s place. Pullo has also moved up, taking over Vorenus’s place as leader of the collegium. Because of the grain shortage, he’s not a popular dude. Starving people are demanding more grain rations, which Pullo can’t give them.
Vorena the Elder appears to have joined whatever religious order her aunt has, and Lucius has finally aged. That kid was five for five years, I swear. After the big fight at the end of the last episode, Pullo has been keeping a now-tongueless Memio in a cage and feeding him scraps. So, don’t cross Pullo, I guess.
Even though Antony is refusing to send grain, and the newsreader is telling everyone what’s up, the people still love Antony more than Octavian, and Octavian knows that if he declares war against Antony, everything is going to go to shit real fast. Octavian suspects Antony’s weakness is probably Cleopatra, and gets this great idea to send Octavia to Egypt to negotiate with her husband. Octavia says he should send Atia, and Octavian is like, yeah, you should both go. Atia is all for it, because she’s still waiting for Antony to send for her. Also, because both women are still under house arrest. Atia puts the squeeze on her son, asking for a villa in Capri, and cash for Octavia.
Vorenus tells Caesarion about his father. Not Caesar, but Pullo, the kid’s real father, dressed up as stories of Caesar. Vorenus is the only member of the household who doesn’t coddle Caesarion, and it seems to be something the kid wants, and he respects Vorenus for it.
When Octavia and Atia arrive in Egypt, Antony won’t see them. He’s too busy getting all opiumed up with his his new girlfriend, who wants Antony to murder Atia as proof of his love. When Atia refuses, it sparks a huge fight that goes from Antony and Cleopatra beating the fuck out of each other to Antony and Cleopatra just fucking, all while Atia and Octavia wilt outside in the heat. Jocasta comes outside to chat about styles and bitch about the queen, but Posca comes and herds her back inside. Cleopatra insists that it’s a good idea to send Octavia away and start a war, and Antony agrees; Vorenus tells Octavia and Atia that they have to turn around and go home. Atia is crushed and humiliated, and it would be heartbreaking if you don’t remember that in the grand scheme of things, getting dumped is hardly payback for all the evil shit she’s done in her life.
Because war is on the way, Posca and Jocasta intend to flee Egypt with nothing more than what they can carry. Vorenus catches them, but Jocasta begs him not to tell Antony. Vorenus lets them go, and sends a message for Pullo and the children. When he sees Antony, he tells him that things did not go well. They did not go well at all. Vorenus gives Antony Octavia’s message about him being cowardly scum. Vorenus tells Antony that he’s not a coward, but that he has a disease in his soul, and Vorenus knows because he has the same disease. And Caesarion watches this whole exchange like, fuuuuuuck, this is what I have to be when I grow up?
Having returned to Rome, Atia smacks Octavian, because she’s figured out that he’d sent her to Egypt to be shunned on purpose. She tells him to keep the villa he promised her, she just wants him to destroy Antony and Cleopatra. Speaking of their deaths, Posca has stolen their will. In it, Antony declares Cleopatra is his wife and gives all the eastern provinces to their children, and promises Rome to Caesarion. The newsreader is having the best week ever, telling a horrified crowd that Antony has turned his back on Rome, started wearing makeup, worships Egyptian dog gods, and, perhaps most horrible of all, dances with cymbals. Octavian uses the same sensational news to rile up the senate, and insinuates that Antony has been bewitched by Cleopatra.
Octavian asks Titus Pullo to go to Egypt with him, in the hopes he can talk to Vorenus and get something done from the inside. Pullo is reluctant, until Octavian mentions that Caesarion will have to be killed. And since Pullo knows that’s his kid, that sways him to go. He gives the children the message about Vorenus sending them kisses, and they’re like, fuck our dad, our mom is still dead, so we still hate him.
While Pullo packs to go to Egypt, he notices that Memio has broken out of his cage. Memio attacks Pullo, but Gaia stops him and gets stabbed in the process. As she’s dying, she confesses to Pullo (who’s fallen in love with her and can’t figure out why the fuck this is happening to him again) that she killed Eirene. Pullo goes from “oh no, she’s going to die,” to “fuck this bitch,” in like two seconds. He crushes Gaia’s windpipe, then takes her dead body out into the street and dumps her like garbage.
My favorite part of the episode: The gratuitous violent sex between Livia and Octavian, which involves slapping and choking and actually takes place in a red room. How could I not find that funny?
My least favorite part of the episode: As much as I hate Gaia, I hate the fact that she dies even more. I mean, yes, it’s satisfying to see her get her comeuppance, but that’s only until you remember that she exists entirely to set Pullo up for as much man-pain as possible. Gaia arrives on the scene, kills Eirene, then is killed by Pullo, all so we can see him go through something. And it’s not anything that’s important to the story. You could cut Eirene’s death and Gaia from the plot line and nothing changes. So what was the purpose? Pullo killed Eirene’s bethrothed, so Pullo is punished by Eirene’s death. Gaia killed Eirene, so she’s punished by death at Pullo’s hands. The only real consequence Pullo has faced in the narrative as a result of what he did to Eirene’s boyfriend is that Eriene died. Nothing has happened to him, it’s all just happened to the women around him. That’s some bullshit.
Favorite costume: I’m going to start with my least favorite costume, thank you very much. Cleopatra’s flea market Ankh earrings:
With all the attention to detail this show invests in costuming, why the hell did someone think these clearly modern earrings that someone probably picked up at Claire’s or Icing were a great idea for a closeup?
My most favorite costume? Antony’s man-romper. Antony has had so many wild looks this season.
Team Atia or Team Servilia: Team Servilia is still going strong, as Atia’s life continues to crumble to ashes.
Favorite watch-a-long tweet:
Antony has a henna douche-tat. SO EGYPTIAN. MUCH CULTURE. #LegionXIII
— Lauren Billingsley (@Noisy_ninja) May 3, 2016
What hairdo or costume would Bronwyn steal? I feel like I’m always picking Octavia for this, but she really does dress in stuff that Bronwyn would covet:
Guess Jess’s head canon. Vorenus telling such fond memories of Pullo to Caesarion only proves that Vorenus misses and loves Pullo.
Now go check out Bronwyn’s post, as Jess is still nursing her injury from the fight she lost to an avocado, and join us Monday at 9 PM EST for season two, episode ten, “About Your Father”. Tweet to #LegionXIII to join us!