Season 2 of HBO’s gory epic of Ancient Rome began last week, and this second yet final season (which will only consist of 10 episodes) promises to be as brutal and amazing as the first season was. Now that Caesar is dead, Marc Antony, Cassius, and Brutus have some ‘splainin’ to do. Octavian has been named Caesar’s son in his will, and will inherit all of Caesar’s assets, and he takes Antony as his favourite, telling him to declare a truce, forgive all of the sins of Caesar’s assassins, and forgive Caesar of any of his crimes, so he dies a hero.
Meanwhile, greedy Atia agrees to her son’s ideas because it will make her “the mother of the richest man in Rome”; Servilla comes to pay her respects to Caesar, enraging Caesar’s widow; Pullo (played by the fabulous Ray Stevenson), newly married to his former slave whose fiancé he murdered, must figure out how to get her to stop calling him Master.
Yet the most intriguing story of all is that of Vorenus (played by equally fabulous Kevin McKidd), who discovered at the end of season 1 that his “grandson” is actually the son of his wife, and as he came at her in a wild rage, intending to kill her, she did the job herself, flinging herself off their balcony. Despite his initial malicious intentions, he is inconsolable over her death. His anger had been a momentary insanity, and now he’s faced with the permanence of the consequences of his actions. Season 2 begins with him holding his wife’s body, and when his children return, he curses the lot of them and banishes them. Another temporary insanity. Hours later, he realizes they’re the only family he has left, and when his friend Pullo returns, Pullo reassures him that the curse won’t take, and they’ll return to him, and they’ll all go back to being a big happy family. Minus mom.
But things don’t go according to Pullo’s plan. Vorenus finds out the local mobster has kidnapped his children, and when he and Pullo confront the man at his palace, massacring most of the place to get to him, he tells them he raped the children and had them all killed. If you’ve seen season 1, you know how this scene ends.
Are the children really dead? Vorenus is completely gone now, and with the head of the mob dead, he’s set to become the new heavy of the area. He has nothing to live for but vengeance. Despite a rocky start at the beginning of season 1, where Vorenus wasn’t exactly a likeable fellow, he became one. But he’s snapped now, and appears to be lost forever.
The second episode has aired, and I’ve got it PVR’d and can’t wait to see it (Cleopatra will be playing a far bigger role this season, so that should be exciting), but if you haven’t yet experienced Rome, get season 1 on DVD. It’s a terrific show, and despite not having the marketing power behind it of other HBO series, it far surpassed any recent season of The Sopranos.