Octavian taps Vorenus to oversee the transfer of Herod's bribe from the docks to Rome, and if it had gone smoothly, we really wouldn't have much of an episode this week. First of all, Gaia ends up killing not only the baby but Eirene as well. Nobody suspects, but obviously Pullo's in no shape to accompany the gold shipment, so Mascius goes instead. Maecenas and Posca are plotting to steal a cut for themselves, and when Mascius gets the shipment ambushed out from under him, fingers are pointing in every direction. The members of the Triumvirate suspect one another, but not as much as Maecenas suspects Posca and Mark Antony of double-crossing him. He takes his scattershot revenge by spilling a double handful of beans: Antony's still screwing Julii Cooper, and Agrippa's been screwing Octavia all along. Prig that he is, Octavian puts his mom and sister under house arrest, exiles Antony to Egypt, and cuts Agrippa a break. Agrippa dumps Octavia just before learning that she's pregnant (by whom, we don't yet know). Also, Octavian is about to marry a young woman named Livia, who is already almost as scary as he is. We still haven't found the gold, though, have we? That's because Memmio stole it. Vorenus knows this; now he just has to find the leak in his organization. They think it's Mascius at first, but when one of Vorena's little wicker totems pops up at an opportune moment, Vorenus realizes that his daughter has betrayed him. They have a wicked fight, and Vorenus ends up inviting himself along to Egypt with Antony rather than trying to fix things at home. He leaves Pullo behind in charge of both the family and the Collegium. Memmio buys off the other captains to get them to join him against Pullo and the Aventine, and in a climactic battle scene, Pullo ensures that Memmio's smooth-talking days are over, as is Omnipor's weaving career. But we won't know until next week how everything else turns out on that front. Finally, Antony arrives in Egypt, and it looks like he and Cleopatra will be together again for the first time.
At his villa, Octavian is delivering a lecture to the upper-class women of Rome that's all about how, while Roman men were strong and powerful in the old days, it wasn't until they had wives to civilize them that the culture began its rise to greatness. He credits female virtue and morality with making Rome what it is today. And of course, his unwitting hypocrisy is underscored by shots of Mark Antony screwing Julii Cooper (so, clearly, they got back together), Agrippa screwing Octavia, and Gaia leaving the apothecary's shop with the evil, fetus-killing herbs tucked into her dress. I can't tell you how glad I am that this storytelling technique was not available to news reporters years ago when Newt Gingrich was going after Clinton for having extramarital affairs. Octavian promises to make laws rewarding fertility and punishing all forms of sluttery. Legislating morality, in other words. That always goes well.
Afterward, there's a reception going on the courtyard. Maecenas rescues Octavian from having to schmooze some old women, quietly telling him that the audience "bought it wholesale." "I mean every word," Octavian protests tightly, but Maecenas isn't cursed with Octavian's sincerity. "I suspect the women of old Rome were a parcel of whores and termagants," he remarks. Octavian pompously lets the subject drop, just in case you still thought there was anything he couldn't do pompously. Maecenas points across the courtyard to a young woman, and Octavian declares her "very presentable." And about fifteen. Maecenas assures Octavian that she comes from good stock, and has already proven fertile; she's got a son named Tiberius. "Introduce me," Octavian orders. They head over, Maecenas makes the introductions, and Octavian's first words to the girl, Livia, are, "Tell me -- how would you like to be married to me?" And here we thought Octavian had no game. Livia and her mother can't believe their good fortune, and Livia's smile reveals her as something of an orthodontic heir to Brutus. She says that would be awesome, as long as her husband doesn't mind. Octavian asks who that is, and upon being told it's Claudius Nero, he says there shouldn't be a problem, what with the Neros being a "patriotic" (i.e. Octavian ass-kissing) family. "See to the details," he orders the women, and he and Maecenas move on. Octavian expresses his approval of Livia before they move on to the real business of this episode, which is the huge bribe that's expected from Herod any time now. Apparently the ship with its twenty thousand pounds of gold is waiting offshore at Ostia. Maecenas says that he's planning to have our good friends of the Aventine Collegium oversee the delivery. Octavian's cool with that, but he wants Maecenas to make sure he has plausible deniability. If they get busted, he wants Antony to take the fall alone. So splitting everything three ways has its limits, I guess.