Rome: Season 1, Episode 11–The Spoils

Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo (left) and Kevin ...

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This episode’s theme was redemption, but of course there will be no redemption for Gaius Julius Caesar. Several characters hit rock bottom– Vorenus is reduced to bribing his fellow former brother soldiers into submission to Caesar’s plans, Pullo is out being a killer for hire and Brutus has finally realized what a total puppet he is.

Pullo’s redemption starts when he sacrifices and prays in his cell before being led away to the gladiatorial ring to pay for his crimes. Vorenus’s redemption comes full circle there, when he throws himself into the ring for the honor of the Legio XIII, and to support his brother Pullo. The scene where they leave the gladiatorial ring together is one of the most touching moments in the series. Brutus, meanwhile, is pushed beyond his ability to cope by Caesar’s “request” that he quit the city and become mayor of some far off place. He realizes that Caesar does not trust him because he has become untrustworthy, not because he has acted against Caesar but because he hasn’t acted in accordance with his own conscience. Of all the redemptive moments, I think Brutus’s is the weakest because Brutus of HBO Rome is a weak man. He has principals, but he doesn’t truly have the virtus to support them.

Pullo’s redemption is fullest because he can admit to himself where he’s gone wrong. His last prayer in the cell is for his friends and the woman he loves, not for himself.  However far away from the light he’s wandered, he is at heart a truly good guy, perhaps one of only two characters in the series (the other being Octavia) who has that interior nobility. Vorenus is still very conflicted between honor and duty, and that conflict will most likely destroy him.

Octavian, who I have been worrying about, got his moment too when he goes against Caesar’s wishes to try to hire a lawyer for Pullo.  This bit of defiance and doing what’s right instead of what’s politically expedient makes me think much more highly of this character. He’s still a bit problematic in certain aspects compared to the actual Octavian Augustus Caesar, but he’s coming along. Only one episode to go for Season One!

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1 Comment

  1. May 19, 2011 at 5:22 am

    I love the idea of interior nobility – if only we knew how to develop that these days – used to be the Church did if for us (or at least laid out a map) but now all we seem to have is the media and we all know where their interests lie. That’s not to say that the Church wasn’t self-interested as well – of course it was and still is – but at least when we make some effort to turn toward the Divine we have half a chance there’ll be some communication…..

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