‘Rome’: Don’t dare tempt the gods

In this week’s “Rome” re-watch, Vorenus dares the gods, Octavian defies his mother’s lover, and Mark Antony crosses paths with the woman who will change his world and only the entire world.

It’s a rich character-driven episode, is what I’m saying.

“Son of Hades” (original airdate Jan. 21, 2007), written by series co-creator Bruno Heller and directed by Allen Coulter, picks up just a split-second after the previous hour.

Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) tosses the severed head of Erastes to the floor of his apartment and collapses on his bed.

Mark Antony (James Purefoy) can enjoy no such luxury.

As the consul of Rome, he’s besieged by those looking for favors, by Octavian (Max Pirkis) demanding the release of the money promised to him in Caesar’s will, and now this strange Egyptian woman who wants him to formally recognize her 4-year-old as Caesar’s legitimate son.

Heller’s script deliciously turns the saga of the western world’s most notorious lovers on its head. Mark Antony and Cleopatra (a returning Lyndsey Marshal) can’t stand one another.

Cleopatra (Lyndsey Marshal) is not a woman who recognizes the word "no." (Photo: HBO).
Cleopatra (Lyndsey Marshal) is not a woman who recognizes the word “no.” (Photo: HBO).

“You’ve changed since we last met,” Antony says.

“Have I seen you before?” Cleopatra wonders. “Those uniforms you wear. You all look alike.”

She gets slappy with him when he tries to touch her.

“Nice manners for a whore,” he says.

“If I must prostitute myself for the good of my country and my family, I will. But the customer always pays first, does he not?”

“Your son will eat shit and die before I make him legal.”

Oh, yeah, these kids have a great future together.

But at a formal dinner at Atia’s (Polly Walker), he sees her in a new light.

“We shall act as if we are all equal,” Cleopatra purrs. “It’s much more fun that way, don’t you think?”

Frustrated by Antony’s refusal to release the money owed him, Octavian takes out a massive loan and goes public with his promise to play the plebs.

Mark Antony takes the news well – he pummels Octavian and tries to throttle him.

Atia finally separates them.

Octavian, however, is resolute: He will follow in Caesar’s steps and begin his political life, and so, he leaves home.

In the wake of Erastes’ death, the gangs of Rome are warring in the streets. Antony orders Vorenus to restore order to the Aventine.

Vorenus gathers all the captains for a sitdown, “Sopranos” BC style, and lets them know he’s the boss.

A little blasphemy and the destruction of a sacred idol go a long way to convince the men that Vorenus, is, as he boasts, truly the son of Hades.

Pullo (Ray Stevenson) doesn’t like it. “The gods don’t like this sort of shit from mortal men.”

Vorenus has lost his wife and children.

“How can they punish me?” he says.

Oops.

As Octavian leaves the city, he unwittingly passes by a crowded slave cart – carrying Lyde (Esther Hall) and Vorenus’ children.

Lyde and the children are very much alive. (Photo: HBO).
Lyde and the children are very much alive. (Photo: HBO).

Random bits:

When Octavian protests that he is capable of protecting the family, Atia says, “Mark Antony buggers boys like you for a morning snack.”

Now that’s an image.

Some new faces this week, but one to keep an eye on is Gaia (Zuleikha Robinson), a brothel supervisor Pullo agrees to hire.

Spoiler: He’s going to regret that.

Next: “Those Being the Words of Marcus Tullius Cicero”

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