Rome S01E03: An Owl in a Thornbush or The One Where Atia and Octavia Have The Best Argument in the History of TV
This episode opens with Atia whipping her slave, Castor, in a fit of rage because she’s furious at Caesar, who, with Marc Antony is sending Titus and Vorenus and a contingent of soldiers back to Rome to scope out Pompey’s defenses and with a proclamation to be nailed to the senate doors if they meet no resistance. Caesar asks Antony why Vorenus is so morose and Antony tells him it’s because Vorenus is a strict Catonian and is pretty much horrified by what Caesar is doing. Caesar basically says, “I do want I want.”
Meanwhile, back in Rome, a man enters Niobe’s house and we finally see the father of Niobe’s son even though we don’t find out who he is. He says he just wants to see his son, but he also trues to convince Niobe to love him again. They’re caught by her oldest daughter who thinks Niobe should just tell Papa everything because he’ll understand. No, sweetcakes, he won’t. And if I remember my western civ classes correctly, I believe that means he has the legal and possibly the religious right to kill Niobe and all three kids.
Back on the road to Rome, Vorenus asks Titus how to make Niobe love him again. He confesses that he loves her but she doesn’t love him, and that makes him her slave which he can’t abide. (Of course.)
Atia decides to have a party, I’m assuming that it’s to prove she won’t be intimidated by Pompey’s supporters since she doesn’t seem to do anything without a politically motivated reason and goes to hire more men, but the lead hired man doesn’t want money, he wants to trade protection for sex which Atia eventually agrees to.
Titus, Vorenus, and the other soldiers come across some of Pompey’s scouts and Vorneus doesn’t want to attack. Titus has other plans and rides in. The others follow and Pompey’s troops cut and run and die. One of them makes it back to Pompey and Pompey realizes that he doesn’t have the men to defend Rome and decides to make a tactical retreat to the south, and that when his troops assemble, they’ll retake the city.
During Atia’s party, Pompey’s supporters attack her house and she bemoans the fact that Caesar is making them look bad. Pompey and family flee during the middle of the night after instructing one of his men to load up as much of the treasury as he can. Back at Atia’s, the mob starts in with a battering ram at the door and she invites her quests to stay the night.
In the morning, the soldiers helping load up Pompey’s wealth, kill Pompey’s man and take the treasury for themselves. Back on the road to Rome, Titus is still in a chatty mood about how to please a woman is the warm, beating hart of an enemy, but you know…barring that Titus suggests Vorenus should talk to Niobe and Vorenus is properly mystified.
Now, I thought this would be my favorite scene. Titus tells Vornenus to tell Niobe she’s beautiful all the time even when she’s not. And tells him where to find her clitoris, and he immediately assumes that Titus and Niobe had sex. And Titus explains that all women have them and it’s news to Vorenus that such a thing exists. He’s apparently the Ted Cruz of LegionXIII.
We see the treasury stealing soldiers kidnap a young woman on their way out of town, and a larger mob has gathered outside Atia’s home and the battering ram usage continues. Inside, begins one of my favorite scenes in all of television history. Atia is very calmly deciding who will kill Octavia and who will kill her and Octavian declares he’s old enough to take care of himself.
Atia offers some super polite suicide assistance to Servilia and her people and she equally politely declines.
Then this GLORIOUS exchange happens between Octavia and Atia.
Mother, I would rather it were not you killed me if you have no objection.
Why ever not? You can’t still be angry with me.- Is that an order?
I feel like you have never listened-
Cerberus is howling for us, and still you plague me with your ridiculous feelings?
If you had only let Glabius and I remarry-
Oh, always Glabius! I spit on Glabius! I piss on the wretch!
Oh, that’s right, mother, die as you have lived – Poison brimming in your soul!
I’ll not argue with you. Castor, be sure to cut Octavia’s throat before you cut mine.
Please, Castor, let mother do it. I won’t deny her one last pleasure. It would be undaughterly.
Happily no one has to commit suicide because Pompey’s supporters have left the city and anyone left in the city will be considered an enemy of Pompey in the senate. Servilia and Brutus have a discussion about the best thing to do. Brutus chooses Pompey and Servilia (who’s Caesar’s mistress) has decided to stay because she loves Caesar.
Octavia sneaks out in the middle of the night to see Glabius and Atia is furious when she finds out and sends men to kill him. Octavia is heartbroken when she finds out in the morning and Atia pretends she has no idea who would have done such a thing.
Meanwhile, Titus, Vorenus, and company come across the deserting soldiers with the treasury. They battle, the oxcart drives away dragging the young woman behind it. Titus wants to see what’s in the cart and rescue the woman, but Vorenus is all “we have to follow orders” and nails Ceasar’s proclamation to the doors of the Senate, then he deserts Caesar’s army. Titus tries to talk him out of it, but he returns home to Niobe and apologizes for being a douchebag and she kind of sort of confesses to having an affair, but he says the past is over and they’re starting again.
Titus returns and finds the cart, frees the woman and puts her on the wagon seat. He looks inside the boxes, and realizes that he’s suddenly rich. Right as he’s figuring out what’s up, he sees Caesar and the rest of the thirteenth marching toward Rome, so disguising his identity, he takes the cart and the woman and goes in the opposite direction.
Now, the questions.
My favorite part of the episode:
That fantastic argument between Atia and Octavia. Brilliant. Followed closely by Titus giving Vorenus marriage advice.
My least favorite part of the episode:
I guess it would be Atia having Glabius killed. That was shitty.
Atia’s morning after a murder dress.
Team Atia or Team Servillia, and why:
I feel really bad for Servillia, she’s in love with Caesar and she’s losing her son over it. Atia is just fucking awful about literally everything, but I can’t help adoring her.
Favorite watch-a-long tweet (obviously used with permission):
Guess Jess’s head canon.
The Titus/Vorenus ship continues to sail full steam ahead, particularly with the advice giving and the sad puppy dog face when Vorenus went AWOL.
What made Jenny super happy?
Cato saying “Juno’s cunt!” And also the brilliant Atia and Octavia argument.