In this week’s “Rome” re-watch, the younger generation is making all sorts of power moves.
Luckily, the folks with a few years on them are there to snap them back – and maybe even snap their necks.
In “Heroes of the Republic” (original airdate Feb. 11, 2007), written by Mere Smith and directed by Alik Sakharov, Octavian (Simon Woods) manipulates Cicero (David Bamber) into convincing the Senate to appoint him consul.
It’s an astonishing power grab for someone so young, but Cicero figures Octavian will quickly crash and burn.
At his first session, Octavian makes a well-received speech about restoring order and decency to the Republic.
Then he swerves and demands that the Senate approve a measure declaring Brutus and Cassius murderers and enemies of the state.
Umm, this is so not what Cicero expected.
Through a letter, Cicero warns these “heroes of the republic” (Ding Ding! We have a title) of Octavian’s actions.
Brutus (Tobias Menzies) is encouraged: With Octavian and Mark Antony (James Purefoy) at each other’s throats, he and Cassius must merely wait and save Rome from the wreckage.
Cicero overplays his hand, telling Octavian if he resigns now, he will plead for leniency – based on Octavian’s youth. Octavian’s four legions are no match for Brutus’ 20.
Octavian feels defeated – until in walks his mother Atia (Polly Walker).
Before you can say, “Cue up some sultry seduction music,” Atia is riding into Mark Antony’s camp like the queen she is and bedding our newly bearded rogue.
Enemies embrace as brothers – OK, as brothers who just might shiv each other in the back – and the Republic is saved.
And things are looking pretty dire for Brutus, Cassius, and Cicero.
Back in everyone’s favorite crime-ridden corner of the Aventine, Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) asserts his might as mob boss and daddy of the year.
The latter is a new thing for him, especially with the children whom he damned to perdition, but he’s trying.
Also trying: These kids, to get away from the monster they hold responsible for Niobe’s death and their months of torment in captivity.
Vorena the Elder (Coral Amiga) leads her siblings on an escape, but Lyde (Esther Hall) reasons with her. What future awaits her without her father’s protection?
She plays the Niobe card: “Your mother would want you to live.”
It works … for the moment.
Vorena returns home, pretending to be the dutiful daughter, bottling her rage.
My favorite dialogue:
A distressed Eirene (Chiara Mastalli) cries about being left behind and accuses Pullo (Ray Stevenson) of loving Vorenus more than her.
Pullo: “If both of you were drowning in the river, I’d save you first. No question.”
Pullo: “You’re half his weight.”
James Purefoy shows off a beard and unkempt hair, and millions of viewers no doubt need to fan themselves.
There’s been another quick-change cast switcheroo in the younger set, but unlike the new Octavian, you probably never noticed.
Valery Usai now plays Vorena the Younger, taking over for Anna Fausta Primiano.
Why the cast change? One can guess: The original actress reportedly didn’t speak English, and so her part was silent. Usai gets a couple of words in this episode, but overall the role remains decorative.