‘Rome’: Two funerals, a wedding, and one helluva curse

Picking up just seconds from the season one finale, “Rome’s” sophomore premiere, “Passover” (airdate Jan. 14, 2007), finds Caesar in puddles of his own blood and Vorenus cradling the body of his beloved Niobe.

Seconds for the characters, about a year and a half for the actors.

In the DVD commentary, series co-creator and writer Bruno Heller notes that both Ciaran Hinds and Indira Varma flew in for a couple of days merely to play dead, tributes to their professionalism and their regards for the series.

In this episode, Caesar and Niobe are mourned by those who loved them – and a few who hated the former.

Pullo (Ray Stevenson) marries Eirene (Chiara Mastalli).

All it takes to seal the deal is a smudge of dirt on both their foreheads.

Vorenus (Kevin McKidd), mad with rage, curses Lyde (Esther Hall) and the children.

That’s an act that will haunt him, as the four disappear, kidnapped by local mob boss Erastes (Lorcan Cranitch).

Erastes gets an especially delicious exit scene. Seeing how Vorenus and Pullo have annihilated his men, he knows he’s about to die.

He uses his last breath to torment Vorenus: He says he took his children as payment for Vorenus’ many slights to him. He fucked them, he killed them, and then he tossed their bodies in the river.

Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) is haunted by his actions. (Photo: HBO)
Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) is haunted by his actions. (Photo: HBO)

Vorenus beheads him and walks through the streets of Rome with his trophy for all to see.

But what’s curious about this episode is what isn’t seen: Mark Antony’s (James Purefoy) speech to the mob that wins them over to him – and against Brutus (Tobias Menzies) and his conspirators.

Heller says in the commentary that filming that sequence would have been a “production nightmare” that would have taken three weeks to capture.

Instead, he opted to show the aftermath, as Mark Antony rubs Brutus’ failure to his face and urges him to leave Rome, and then in a bar as one of Erastes’ henchmen re-enacts how the crowd fell under Antony’s spell.

It’s not quite convincing, and it feels as if something important was lost.

Next: “Son of Hades”

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