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Sometimes I find it hard to think that these episodes are not the work of a committee which doesn't actually see the other parts



By which I mean that while I really like this episode, I thought it was a bit all over the place in how it affected me. Some of it was quite, quite marvellous, but some of it I just found myself going 'enough, already!' I get it that Atia is ruthless and cold and a woman of needs!

The Atia vs. Servilia stuff I could have done without. I don't actually hate Servilia like many people do, so I couldn't be all gung-ho about the retribution or whatever Atia was doling out. Mostly I was astonished that these people were all so very stupid. Who kidnaps an aristocratic Roman whose son has 8 LEGIONS IN THE FIELD, has her raped and beaten and let's her know for sure that that is what you are the person behind it? Who does this in THEIR HOUSE WHERE ALL THE SLAVES CAN HEAR IT AS COULD ANY VISITORS? Are there no gangland holes you can do this in? Even if Servilia will not act openly against Atia because she won't want to admit the rape then what is to stop her burning down Atia's house? Or moving against Octavia say, - she's got the power, she's got the connections. Bah. I am tired of Atia at the moment; she's the least interesting thing the show had this week, which is a pity because quite clearly she is the one who is supposed to showcase a lot of Rome's corruption and its capacity for endless cruelty up close and on a personal level. Going from the trailers for next week she is still evilly plotting doom for Octavian - I wonder how she will react to the Octavia-Antony marriage?

Despite the brilliance and the emotion of Vorenus' reunion with his children, I found what I was most moved by was Cicero's parting words to Agrippa; 'it's all vanity, you know.' I know Cicero is not everyone's cup of tea and he can be a hard man to like, but I do believe that he was the only one out of the whole pack of them who actually believed and cared for the republic. I may not share his view of what that republic should have been, but I think that in the end he was disinterested in a way that none of the others were. And that must have been a terribly lonely position to have held.

I really hope we get the scene where Antony and Octavian bargain over who they are going to kill and Octavian swaps Cicero for Antony's uncle, like some sort of trading card. Now, that's coldness for you....

Agrippa's mad crush on Octavia is rather nice; given that Octavia is about the only woman in the running who isn't ruled by her lustful urges (to use a nice term from the historians they obviously use for their view of Roman woman) it's nice that she is actually getting some screen time in her own right and not as an appendage of evil mother or winsome brother.

Date: 2007-02-05 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vaznetti.livejournal.com
The Cicero and Agrippa scene was a real highlight for me.

Mostly I was astonished that these people were all so very stupid. Who kidnaps an aristocratic Roman whose son has 8 LEGIONS IN THE FIELD, has her raped and beaten and let's her know for sure that that is what you are the person behind it? Who does this in THEIR HOUSE WHERE ALL THE SLAVES CAN HEAR IT AS COULD ANY VISITORS? Are there no gangland holes you can do this in?

Hahahhaha! I've sort of given up thinking about anything to do with Atia, but the line about Brutus having 8 legions in the field amused me enormously. Yes.

Date: 2007-02-06 02:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I usually give up and just let the madness take over where Atia and Servilia are concerned but this (besides being grotesque) made no sense to me. Even by Roman standards Atia is a sociopath now, which she had always sort of been, but now she's a stupid one. I expect her to start riding her chariot over people in the streets any moment now...

Date: 2007-02-05 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenofthorns.livejournal.com
The Atia stuff is turning into a weird mixture of Wile E. Coyote not being able to finish off the roadrunner and Jacobean tragedy with the OTT violence. NONE of that made much sense to me, but then, I was just waiting for more Pullo and Vorenus there :P (And Timon's conscience appears to be quite snobbish, because he's much more disturbed about tormenting a noble lady than he was about anyone else - if it were just his self-preservation sense working, why kidnap Servilia in the first place? ARGH! That storyline is giving me a headache!)

And thanks to YOUR giving me an appreciation of Cicero back in Season 1, I adored all of his scenes.

Date: 2007-02-06 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I figured with Timon there is probably still something about going after a woman and Atia sheer's off-handedness about the whole thing that flipped some switch. In any case he struck me as a thug more than a torturer - I'd guess it's one thing stabbing people and another watching them be raped and tortured over hours.

Even by the rather lax standards of the Romans Atia is morphing into a sociopath; I don't recall them thinking that hanging around directing torture was something that one should be spending one's hours doing. Let alone doing it that level of sang-froid. I am not sure how they can top it except by having her try and kill Octavian.

Date: 2007-02-05 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alexandral.livejournal.com
I found what I was most moved by was Cicero's parting words to Agrippa; 'it's all vanity, you know.'

I loved this scene (though I was surprised to see that Cicero invented the "vanity, all vanity" phrase, but I could be greatly mistaken). It is great to see Cicero portrayed properly this season. And wonderful serious Agrippa!! I like him almost as much as I do Pullo and Vorenus (and I have only seen him in two episodes).

Date: 2007-02-06 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I loved the way Agrippa switched from being all nervous and love-struck with Octavia to being serious and slightly threatening with Cicero. And with all the arrogance of youth when Cicero is so weary of everything.

Date: 2007-02-05 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raincitygirl.livejournal.com
I really hate what they've done to Atia this year. I mean, last season she was pretty inconsistent but at least Polly Walker was able to transcend the two-dimensional writing and give the character some depth and shading. Which isn't to say that S1 Atia was *sympathetic*, but the audience could at least understand what motivated her. And for all her poor impulse control, she was rarely totally stupid. People with better long-range planning skills did get the better of her every so often, but she did have a brain.

It's like the writers reviewed S1 during the break, realised Walker had stymied their attempts at making Atia a caricature rather than a character, and redoubled their efforts so she couldn't get away with it this season. Grrrr. I mean, the ONE thing about Atia in S1 that you could set your watch by was that she'd fight like a tigress for her kids, because she loved them in her own (admittedly rather psychotic) way. And when push came to shove, she'd put what she perceived as her children's best interest above all other considerations. By taking that away, the writers have pretty much crippled the character.

Date: 2007-02-06 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Atia has gone from scheming into stupidly sociopathic in the wink of an eye. Her love for her children always struck me as being a bit limited to loving them when they behaved as she wanted them to and being willing to pimp them out a necessary, but I guess it was a sort of love (but then I think Servilia loves Brutus in the same sort of way). So for me it does sort of make sense that she would reject Octavian when he goes against her...

But two torture scenes in one episode? And her directing both of them with not a twitch? (Something we haven't even seen the soldiers be able to do with the same coolness.) And being so dumb about it all?

Date: 2007-02-06 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raincitygirl.livejournal.com
It's the being so dumb about it that I can't forgive. If only she were a COMPETENT sociopath.

I agree that Atia's version of maternal love is kind of, um, warped. She really sees those two as extensions of her own ego, and her past efforts have been as much about basking in reflected glory as helping her children achieve success. She wants them to achieve success and happiness on her terms. I don't think it's even occurred to her that they might perceive their own choices as being more affected by what they want than what she wants. She's very self-centred and always has been.

However, I can't see her choosing a boyfriend over her only son unless she thought she was actually helping Octavian. If she'd decided he was too young and naive to play with the sharks and she was protecting him from his own bad judgment, I could've bought it. Given her recklessness with Octavian's life in S1, it would be a bit much to swallow, but it could be justified. Caesar's death would've hit a lot closer to home than all the previous political machinations. Not to mention the fact that with Caesar's death, her own position is suddenly revealed as far more precarious than she probably believed before.

So I could buy her rejecting Octavian if it were presented as her getting cold feet and wanting to preserve what she and her kids already have, rather than trying and failing to get more, then getting killed or made destitute. Concern for her son's safety wrapped up with her own self-interest and her inability to see beyond her own ambitions (i.e. It hasn't occurred to her to maneouvre her son into this high political place, and if she didn't think of it first, clearly it must be preposterous).

So, you know, if for plot reasons they really needed to put Octavian and Atia on opposite sides, they could've done it in a more plausible way just by adding a few lines of dialogue. Antony could've fed her existing underestimation of Octavian's abilities, and tried to convince her that she'd be saving both herself and her son if she put the brakes on his ambition. As it is, though, she seems to be alienating her only son for no particularly good reason, running around having people tortured, and doing all of this stuff very ineptly. If you're going to torture your worst enemy, for fuck's sake kill them afterwards. She's starting to rival Servilia for pointless Cruella de Vil antics.

There are things I like about S2, but Atia's dramatic drop in IQ isn't one of them. Octavia does seem to have picked up a few of her mom's lost IQ points though, on the bright side. Which actually makes it all the less convincing that a villainess who's that bad at being a villainess would've given birth to and raised a couple of ruthless, tricksy, scheming, competent opportunists. Not that Octavia is in her little brother's league yet, but she's a lot more decisive than she used to be.

Date: 2007-02-15 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baleanoptera.livejournal.com
Hello!

I found you through [livejournal.com profile] alexandral and [livejournal.com profile] queenofthorns and you have such interesting posts - ancient warfare, Rome and Star Wars. And you list Robin of Sherwood as an interest! So I guess my rather sudden leap into your LJ leads to: May I add you to my friends list?

And that must have been a terribly lonely position to have held

I felt that cinematography in the scene with Cicero and Agrippa in a way symbolised this. They meet in an empty senate, and the only ones there except them are sweepers. It's dark and all the sounds have a hollow echo. It was really a beautifully thought out scene.

I'm so glad Cicero has been give a more feisty role. He seemed a little odd in season one. Where was the man that had delivered the Catiline Orations?
That said I liked his talk with Brutus at the beach.

And in regards to their portrayal of Roman women - apparently the timeline will stretch as far as Livia. It will be interesting to see how they portray her.

Date: 2007-02-16 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Friend away - I am afraid my posts are bit thin at the moment, so it may be rather boring for you. But I love reading other people talking about Rome!

Lovely point on the Cicero scene; they do like to linger on him doing business on the Senate chamber, unlike Antony and Octavian who come in there to show off to the senators.

I look forward to seeing Livia. I wonder how Octavian will square his moral crusade with running off with another man's heavily pregnant wife? It should be interesting...

Date: 2007-02-16 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baleanoptera.livejournal.com
Huzzah! I must admit I felt a little awkward showing up like this, but couldn't really think of another way.
(and now I sound like a Jane Austen character fretting about not being formally introduced. ;) )

they do like to linger on him doing business on the Senate chamber,

Yes, and we hardly ever see Cicero outside the senate or on non-senate business. Now this may be because of the limited character space, but still - the effect is that one connects him very firmly to the Senate.

I wonder how Octavian will square his moral crusade with running off with another man's heavily pregnant wife?

In real life didn't he explain it by some prophesy or sign? An eagle dropping something in her lap? I might remember this completely wrong though. All in all Livia should be interesting.

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