We start off this episode with Brutus and Cassius riding along with their army. Brutus is in good form, he has been chatting with the men, but Cassius is a tad on the grumpy side, all these mouths to feed. Brutus tells him he has such an unromantic view of the army. They are marching to take on Caesar/Octavian, for the good of the republic
Of course, what they don’t know is that that Caesar/Octavian and Mark Anthony have made up, or at least have formed an alliance. Neither really likes the other, but needs must, and all that. Anthony is busy plotting how best to surprise the other army. CO says “well, duh, of course we surprise them” and suggests that the most prominent supporters of Brutus and Cassius should be killed. First of all to stop news of this new alliance reaching the Brutus, but also, they need the money. Anthony agrees, and begins to add a few names. Even Atia chimes in with her suggestion, the tradesman whose daughter seems to be such a bad influence on Octavia. CO isn’t about to agree to that, telling her off, that this isn’t a game. But once Atia reveals how wealthy he is, marble I believe, well, then CO agrees.
On the Avantine Gaia has been helping Vorenus’ eldest daughter with her make-up. Vorenus is less than impressed and orders her to take it off. Vorena the Elder scampers to obey, and Gaia gets a bit of a tongue-lashing. Which she then takes out on “third man” Mascius, as he didn’t stand up to Vorenus on her behalf. Mascius tells her that, yeah, he might like her, but Vorenus is top dog, and Vorena the Elder is his daughter, so what he wants goes. And then he warns her to be careful, he has his limits. Meanwhile, Vorena the Elder has taken off the make-up and heads outside, watching little Lucius play. She is asked for directions by a well-dressed man, and while he looks decidedly shifty to me Vorena seems a little taken with him. But she is quickly bundled away by her chaperones.
Mark Anthony has sent the orders regarding the killing of Brutus’ supporters to Vorenus. He organises the collegiate to take care of business, and also mentions the looting that will be allowed. This sudden wealth makes more than a few mafia-boys happy, until Vorenus begins to wonder what they might spend it on, and then suggests that they might follow an old tradition and provide bread and fish for the people. To get them onside. The mafia captains grumble and grouse, those were the old ways, why should they bother. Vorenus argues that once the upcoming battle is over, whoever wins, there will be peace. And that means that they won’t be able to get away with their bully boy tactics for much longer, they need to adapt.
He finishes his speech up by telling them that they can do what they want, but that he will be honouring the old tradition. And Memmio comes to his support. But he obviously has something planned, he organised the “moment” between Vorena the Elder and that man, and I tend to agree with Pullo’s assessment that he can’t be trusted.
Pullo has the job of killing Cicero, and thinks, sure his house in the countryside, why don’t they all head out for the day. So he leaves Eirenne, Vorenus, the two Vorenas and Lucius having a picnic in a field while he rides off to kill Cicero. But before he arrives, Cicero hears that Brutus and CO have joined forces and urgently sends a message to Brutus. The messenger gallops off and Pullo arrives. He and Cicero have a pleasant chat, Pullo picks some peaches, and then kills Cicero. Job done.
The messenger is riding flat out away from Cicero’s, but Lucius runs out into the road, forcing the messenger to halt so as not to run him over. He begins to shout at Vorenus and Lucius, which nearly earns him a beating, but Lyde interferes, telling him to “think of the children” and he relents. But not before the messenger has, unknowingly, dropped his message
Now that Anthony has the chance to do away with some enemies he is not going to let it drop, and sends Posca to CO with yet more names. After all, he has so many enemies that it takes a while to remember them all. Agrippa isn’t too happy with all this death. Over a thousand men of Rome! He heads out to take some air and meets Octavia, whereupon he promptly begins to make some excuse to leave her company and we learn that he has been avoiding her. He doesn’t want any further awkwardness. Octavia gets a little huffy at this, and says, well, at least she knows now that he didn’t mean it when he said he loved her. Agrippa argues that he did, he does, but it could never be. His father was a nobody. His grandfather a slave. He could never be with Octavia. She protests, she will marry who she wants. Agrippa disagrees, tells her that CO will marry her to some rich, powerful man of his choosing. She recognises that this is probably true and looks upset. Which of course makes Agrippa feel bad and he starts to apologise and before you know it they are kissing. And of course Maecenas chooses that moment to come looking for tax documents of some description, causing Agrippa and Octavia to stand about looking decidedly guilty.
Cut to a rabbi giving a speech to his congregation looking for money with which they can bribe the Romans and keep Herod as king of Judea. But Timon and Levi interrupt proceedings, why support a foreign king. Isn’t Judea their land? The rabbi is a traitor. This, as you might expect, results in a brawl. And coming to Timon and his brothers assistance are his henchmen, but they aren’t too sure about this whole religious thing, and even after Timon says that it is for the good of Judea and the kingdom of Zion they still look more than a little doubtful about the whole thing.
War is drawing near, and the soldiers of CO and Anthony are making ready to leave Rome, which makes Pullo nostalgic. He talks to Vorenus about it, yes he is second man now, but that isn’t really who he is. He is a soldier, and that is all her has ever known. Vorenus tries to cheer him up, they can do great things now. But Pullo isn’t about to be persuaded He is a man of violence, and while Vorenus may be successful in peace time, Pullo doesn’t think it will work out for him.
“Second Hour” reveals some old dude, who seems to be blind, as he shuffles about a “den of inequity”, and we see that while Agrippa and Octavia may know that they won’t be getting married, that doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun But all to soon it is “third hour” and Agrippa has to leave. Octavia remains behind as he armours up and runs off through the streets. Turns out that today is day that the army moves out. He arrives, apologising for keeping CO waiting, and mounts up. And just then Octavia comes running out of the house, farewelling her brother The army rides off, and Atia turns to her daughter, with a smirk, asking how long it has been going on between Octavia and Agrippa. Then uses that old “I know what you are doing so admit it” trick in order to get Octavia to admit what is going on. Atia isn’t that bothered, once Octavia realises that nothing can come of it. Octavia says she knows, “but I love him”.
Atia’s “soft as cheese” response seems quite fond, but before this mother daughter conversation can continue tradesman’s daughter arrives, screaming, revealing that men came in the night, killed her family, raped her and know she nothing. Octavia, all concern, says that everything will be okay, she can stay with them, under their protection. Atia the reason for her distress, agrees, of course she can stay.
The soldiers leaving has obviously not helped Pullo and his nostalgia. He takes out his old helmet and begins to polish it, when Eirene comes in, and after a little conversation about fish smells asks about the helmet. Pullo shrugs it off, just spitting and polishing, you know, but if he did join up again he’d be of higher rank. And status. And wouldn’t that be great? Eirene obviously doesn’t have such fond ideas about war and soldiers, because she bursts into tears. All this does however is annoy Pullo. He tosses the helmet back where it belongs and grumbles that he was only talking. But his grumbles stop when Eirene reveals that she is preglant. Pregnant? Pullo asks, and now she is annoyed, “preglant, however you say it.” she cries and lies down on the bed as Pullo looks all proud and “haven’t I done well”.
Back with Brutus and Cassius; a scout arrives to reveal that Octavian has been sighted. This news makes them happy, until they hear the rest of it, Mark Anthony is there to, meaning their 14 legions against 19. Cassius begins to make plans to retreat, but Brutus says “No. Leave it out. We’re fighting.” And Cassius shrugs, like, whatever dude.
The camera pans over the many thousand of cgi soldiers zooming in on Brutus and Cassius, with their fancy armour on. And suddenly, Brutus remembers that it is Cassius’ birthday. Unfortunately he has forgotten a cake, ah, the avoidance of worry and fear conversation. Opposite them Anthony and CO are also dressed up in pretty clothes and plumes. Anthony clearly having a ball. CO, not so much.
The armies advance. Cue the battle, the blood, the violence.
But not for Anthony and CO, Anthony is having a bite to eat, while CO is trying to see what is going on. Anthony doesn’t know, and doesn’t seem bothered by his ignorance, but then he tosses his half eaten bread to the side, “when in doubt, attack” and he and his cavalry charge into battle CO glances over towards Agrippa, who resembles a straining dog on a lead, he wants to charge too. CO gives him the nod and with a grin Agrippa gallops after Anthony’s cavalry.
But soon the battle stops being fought and becomes a bit of a rout, as soldiers flee the field, tossing away armour and helmets. Brutus is told that Anthony has smashed through the right flank. Not good news. Neither is the fact that Cassius has just been brought by on a litter, clearly mortally wounded, though Brutus does offer encouragement. But it is too late. All around them their army is retreating and running away. Brutus looks down to discover that Cassius has died, Brutus ignores the advice to flee from a soldier and gives his dead friend a hug, he then asks a soldier to make up a good story for his mother and, taking a short sword from a soldier, walks towards the advancing army. He cuts open the ties on his armour and peels it off. The draws his own sword and attacks the now stationary cohort in front of him. At first they don’t react, but as he tries to whack a few they begin to respond and before you know it is hidden under a mass of stabbing arms.
A while later we see Mark Anthony ordering that, when found, Brutus’ head is to be preserved in salt, after all, people appreciate the little touches. And as we hear him see this we see a soldier scavenging the dead bodies, he comes across Brutus’ body, we know this because he lifts a hand in front of the camera and the ring that his mother sent him is clearly visible, before he cuts off the finger and places the ring on his own hand. It really is those little touches.